What’s With Paul & Women? (Book Review)

1 Timothy 2:11-12 has been used as a “clear” mandate to silence women in the church for over 1500 years. And enough is enough!

In What’s With Paul & Women? Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2, Jon Zens, author of A Church Building Every ½ Mile, exposes the fallacies of this interpretation, and opens up the meaning of 1 Tim.2:9-15 using insights gleaned from the Artemis-saturated Ephesian culture where Timothy was left to stand against false teaching (1:3).

Going beyond 1 Tim.2, this book covers the major issues in gender inequality with three Appendices: one on the Ephesian social world in which 1 Timothy was written, another on 1 Corinthians14:34-36 and an extensive review of John Piper’s What’s the Difference? Manhood & Womanhood Defined According to the Bible.

If 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 have puzzled you, What’s With Paul & Women? will help in your quest to discern the mind of the Lord as the gender debate lingers.  For those who believe that women should keep their mouths shut and tend to the children… I challenge you to read one of the strongest presentations that early Christianity was a faith of  “women and widows.”

I have had the privilege of getting to know Jon over the last year.  And I have recently read What’s With Paul & Women? I firmly believe that…

“Jon is one of the church’s best kept secrets today.  This little book presents a colossal challenge to years of subjugating women in the name of Christ.  It is a theological bulwark against those who would use the New Testament to teach a second-class citizenship in the kingdom of God.”

What others are saying…

“This is an important book. It provides new insight into a topic which has sadly divided the Church for much too long. I have been greatly enlightened by the work Jon has done in this book and I strongly recommend it to everyone who takes God’s Word seriously.” ~Keith Giles, Orange, CA
author of The Gospel:For Here Or To Go?

“This passionate, well-researched work is not only a fair treatment of the subject, but one that is biblically sound, drawing from the entirety of the Word of God. Intelligent, captivating, covering new ground — a must read!” ~Stephanie Bennett, Ph.D.
Palm Beach Atlantic University 
W. Palm Beach, FL

“In this engaging and careful study, Jon Zens provides a thoughtful and unique examination of the thorny passage in 1 Timothy 2 that deals with a woman’s ministry in the church. A hugely insightful read.” ~Frank Viola, author of From Eternity to Here, Reimagining Church, Pagan Christianity, and Finding Organic Church

Jon Zens

Jon earned his B.A. from Covenant College (1968), an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary (1972), and a D.Min. from the California Graduate School of Theology (1983). He became the editor of Searching Together in 1978.  Since 1979, he and his wife, Dotty, have traveled world-wide sharing with assemblies their insights about living under grace and extending grace to others.

What’s With Paul and Women? Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2 by Jon Zens will be released in paperback by Ekklesia Press during the first week of April, 2010.

The book is now available for preorder at www.jonzens.com!


About David D. Flowers

David received a B.A. in Religion from East Texas Baptist University and a M.T.S. in Biblical Studies from Houston Graduate School of Theology. David has over 20 years experience as a pastor and teacher in and outside the church. He currently pastors an Anabaptist congregation in Pennsylvania. View all posts by David D. Flowers

21 responses to “What’s With Paul & Women? (Book Review)

  • Al Newberry

    I might just have to read this one. Have you read Gene Edwards’ book “The Christian Woman. . . Set Free”? Gene really exposes how scripture has been carefully mistranslated so as to hide the respected position women had in the Church–contrary to much of the culture at the time.

    • David D. Flowers

      Thanks, Al. I have read Edward’s book. It was certainly helpful when we first began to discover the truth about women. I would definitely get Jon’s book to add to your collection. It is a thorough theological treatment that primarily deals with the biblical text itself. And it’s not very long! 🙂

  • cindyinsd

    It looks like a great book–I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the review! 🙂

  • Rod of Alexandria

    Whoa, he is a former Westminster grad, now supporting women. interesting.

  • Bonnie Jaeckle

    Jon Zens has obviously done his homework! With Scripture used in its proper context, this study of 1 Tim. 2 offers a broader panoramic view than any I have read. One cannot rightly deny the clear image which Jon paints of the Artemis cult and its tremendous impact on the church in Ephesus. With our lenses cleared of distorted interpretations we are enabled to clearly picture 1 Tim. 2 in this context; our understanding of God’s Kingdom will be changed forever!

    My heart leaps with excitement as I consider the freedom soon to be experienced and expressed by our brothers and sisters set free through God’s Truths in What’s with Paul & Women!

  • Jan

    I was always troubled with the fact that numerous christian brothers and sisters have confirmed a speaking gift in me. So if God gave me a speaking gift, why would He then tell me to shut up. Never made much since. Grateful to Jon for his scholarly work in this area.

  • TL

    Do you have a link where this book can be bought?

  • lawdawg23

    Thanks for this review David. This is something I was thinking about just the other day.

  • pam hogeweide

    This looks great. So glad to see men in positions of leadership and influence write about this…I have to add a however though….

    I am waiting for the day when men will share that with the women around them. Jon’s book, as compelling as it looks, could be all the more rich had he a woman co-author helping him navigate some of the research and the implications. There are many, many qualified women theologians. I’m not picking on Jon, I don’t know him nor anything about him. This is the first time I have ever heard his name. He is simply a current case in point about the movement of men towards gender equity in the church. As if women must patiently wait for our men to write the books and sound the call for a reconciliation of the sexes in the glorious beauty known as the bride of Christ. That is what I am hoping and aiming for. Men are amazing. Women are amazing. Together we are a phenomenal expression of the image of our Creator. The devil was BRILLIANT to keep half of the church in doctrinal bondage from following their call. (If you feel called to preach, like Jan above, but don’t have a theology that allows for it, then, well, you’ve hit the so-called stained-glass ceiling in your own mind. Ask women what their theology is about themselves. It will blow your mind what many, many women have been taught covertly and overtly about their “role” in the church and kingdom of God…)

    I really, really do appreciate books like this. But again, where are the women to write such works and have them published? Just saying….

    (and thanks david for directing me here from shapevine!)

    • David D. Flowers

      Hey Pam,

      I don’t understand your concern for Jon not taking on a female co-author. How can there be anything critical to be said of this dear brother’s efforts to set the record straight from his own personal study? It’s not less credible because it comes from a man. If anything, in this one major way, it may be more credible… since it is MEN that have oppressed women in the church for many years.

      So… don’t wait on women to write the books. Set your sights on taking on the task or writing a female theologian near you.

      Here are two books sitting on my shelf that are co-authored by women:
      “Why Not Women? A Fresh Look at Scripture on Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership” by Loren Cunningham & David Joel Hamilton w/ Janice Rogers
      “Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry” by Stanley Grenz & Denise Muir Kjesbo

  • Pam Hogeweide

    Hi David,
    Thanks for your reply. Like I said, I do not mean to pick on this brother specifically. It’s just another case of where’s the woman?

    You’re right…I have Why Not Women? (gave five copies away when it came out!!) and yes, Janice helped with the crafting of the manuscript, but her POV is not a part of the content. I LOVE that book, especially being a former YWAMer.

    I recognize that I am likely overly sensitive, as many women are, about this particular issue. And you are so right : I can sit here and complain about it or I can help be a part of the solution. Totally.

    I am not familiar with the Grenz and Kjesbo book. I’ll look for it at Amazon.

    You know, I think I need to lighten up about whether it’s a man a woman or whoever…if someone is writing about liberty among the genders then a great big YAY is needed. Harriet Beecher Stoww, a white middle-class woman, daughter of a minister, became a catalystic voice in the movement towards the abolishment of slavery when she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Here she was, a white woman, able to capture the POV of a black slave in such a way that more than one nation was moved by her novel. Her voice, a non-black-non-slave voice became prophetic.

    I need to remember that and not react out of my own frustration with the long history or gender inequity in the evangelical tradition. My frustration will keep me paralyzed. And really, I like to walk and run. Alot.

    Ok. Recalibrated. Yay for Jon and this book of his. I will totally put it on my wish list of books and when I can get it, I will review it.

  • cindyinsd

    I ordered it! Only I guess it’ll be a few weeks. Since I was at Jon Zens’ site, I also ordered a couple of other things, and he was nice enough to write back and say he’d already sent them, but the new one wouldn’t be available until sometime in March. (sigh) He does have a DVD of a talk on the same subject, so I’m looking forward to that! And I thought it was great of him to go ahead and send the rest of the order instead of waiting.

  • Anthony

    I’m not a theologian. I barely speak English, let alone Biblical Greek. I can only bring to the table my experience which is – when we remove all of the constructs of the modern church – and bring it back to a family, a meal, and a kitchen table – it really clears up a lot of these controversies. Dear sister can you pass me the bread and tell me what is on your mind?

  • Sara

    Context context context… So many people who read this big compilation of a book forget that it was a bunch of letters (ok, Paul’s letters were letters) pulled together for a group of specific people and citing a specific topic or issue. And get all uppity over one verse which is the be all that is the end all. The Bible doesn’t mention modern conveniences but we have embraced them. Even the Amish make modifications, depending on their churches. Bending the rules. But can’t go against our dear lord Paul. He founded our church after all! I’ve had many a heated debate with the men-in-power at my old church over these verses and listened to the wimminfolk-in-leadership defend them, saying they really didn’t want to lead or be pastors anyway. So be it. I shake the dust off my feet and move on. Those who will not hear won’t. It’s a minor point. But I’ll still go toe to toe with them if they get in my face and insist my place is in the kitchen or nursery and there only.

    Let’s dance, boys. 😉

  • Mark

    I ‘m glad no one has said the cover art (with actual idol of Artemis/Diana of the Ephesians) disturbed them…as the designer, I was a bit worried it might put off some people, and asked Jon about possibly using a different image. Still, it is dramatic. Thoughts? input?


  • Michael Kear

    This is definitely a book I’ll want to get and read. The foreword was written by my pastor, Wade Burleson, who has taken a lot of grief from his SBC brethren. Thanks for the review!

  • jaredcburt

    Interesting. Does he challenge the viewpoint of John Piper and Wayne Grudem’s book. I’m not sure that they teach a second-class citizenship (if that’s what the book is getting at). Clearly there is a hierarchy in marriage and home – even in the Trinity. This does not lead to second-class. It is hard to see how this structure at home would not be reflected in anyway in the church.

    But there I go, talking about a book I have not read. Oh well… Forgive me.

    • David D. Flowers

      Hey Jared, I would argue (as does this book) that there is certainly “order” within the family (as well as the Trinity). I don’t recall all of Piper or Grudem’s specific views, but I’m sure it is in keeping with the SBC view I learned growing up. The challenge this book brings is done so while concerned with the biblical text within its historical context. I think you will enjoy the dialogue in conjunction with the thoughts of Piper and Grudem. There are also plenty of scholarly treatments of the Trinity as ordered relationship as opposed to what Jesus would call a Gentile (Roman) hierarchy. Miroslav Volf and Stanley Grenz are the first that come to my mind.

      Yes, it is a book worth reading. 🙂

  • Bonnie

    Mark, I love the cover! I helped edit this book and Jon sent a preview of this cover before the book went out. My first thought was, “WOW! This grabs my attention! I think it’s perfect! Good job!

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