Thursday, June 29, 2006
Are the Daughters of Philip Among the Prophets of Acts?
I have an article just out in the most recent issue (Spring 2006) of the Journal For Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, published by the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Jeff Robinson has done a review article on the whole issue.
My article is titled "Are the Daughter of Philip Among the Prophets of Acts?" In it I explore the mention of the prophesying daughters of Philip in Acts 21:9. Many feminists naively jump on this brief mention to argue that these women were filling the public ministry office of prophet in the church, thus justifying egalitarian roles in the contemporary church. I argue for a complementarian perspective on Philip's daughters, noting that though these women prophesy, they do not fill the office of prophet, a role that is singularly reserved for men in Luke and Acts.
Here is a slightly edited excerpt from near the end of my article:
It must be acknowledged, for example, that Luke does not depict women as serving in leadership roles in which they exercise doctrinal or teaching authority over men. Women do not teach or preach in Acts. Like Dorcas, they are known for being "full of good works and almsgiving" (9:36) which might have included skillful sewing for the widows (9:39). Luke presents women who open their homes for the meetings of the church, as did Mary, the mother of John Mark (12:12). Like Lydia, they extend hospitality to the itinerant prophets (16:15, 40). It is true that Priscilla "explained" to Apollos the "way of God more accurately" (18:26), but only alongside her husband Aquila. It should likewise be noted that the four prophesying daughters are clearly "in the household of Philip" (21:8). The implication is that they exercise this ministry under their father’s authority. It is difficult to find any liberationist models of women overtly engaged in leadership within the Christian movement in Acts. Ivoni Richter Reimer’s effort to find a redeeming feminist message within the Ananias and Sapphira story (Acts 5) or in the brief mention of the daughters of Philip reveals how difficult, and indeed futile, the search is. Yet this need not mean that Luke represents a "retrograde movement" in early Christianity with respect to the place of women in early Christianity. The most satisfying conclusion that one may draw upon reviewing Luke’s depiction of women in Acts is the complementarian perspective. Luke affirms women as equal participants in the Christian movement and yet he also clearly affirms that certain offices, like that of prophet, are limited to men only. As for the daughters of Philip, once again, Luke can affirm the fact that they prophesy. This does not mean, however, that they serve as prophets.
Hopefully the whole Spring 2006 will soon be posted online on the CBMW journal page.