Sunday, March 04, 2012

women who proclaim

I am a cheerleader for women in ministry.
I also cheer leaders who are, and are for,  women in ministry.

Yes that includes "ordained" women pastors.

Never mind (for now) that debates over whether "ordination" as we usually know it is even in the Bible (it isn't)..
...and  whether the Bible ever even suggests that the norm is each local church is lead by a pastor   (it doesn't.  For a good time, see this and this)..

I love what Jeff Dodson (mayor/pastor/prophet dude) said:
"I finally looked up 'some' [in Ephesians 4, 'God gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be  pastors and teachers'] and found that "some"  means "men and women.'"!"

So Jeff and I cheerlead for "some" women pastors. (:
(Don't ask me right now about Melissa Scott)

Some posts of mine on that issue are here and here.
Some discussion of Scriptures often used against women pastors are here .
It is tempting to fall into the trap of those on the other side of the issue, and find some prooftexts.

They are  not there.

Instead, the entire stream and narrative of Scripture affirms women in leadership as basic assumption, not as argument.

Paul mentions, in passing, Junia as "outstanding among the other apostles."
Yes, I know some debate that translation, but research it yourself;  see especially Scot McKnight's E-book, linked from  my post,"Junia's sex change:female apostles lost in translation"), and  Suzanne McCarthy's series of posts).  Tony Campolo goes as far as to say that translators intentionally mistranslated the name masculine!

The following  Scripture is also not a prooftext (partly because the context is not preaching as the NT knows it) though some will be tempted to use it that way.
It's better to add it to the mix as a surprising affirmation that is often overlooked and underappreciated 
for an interesting reason:

In some Bibles, it's not there!

Here you go:

Psalm 68:11 - New International Version:
"The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng"

I heard that head-scratching.

Didn't know that was in the Bible, did you?
In some Bibles, it's actually not.  It becomes something like:

"The Lord announces the word, and those [ or 'the company'] who proclaim it are a mighty throng"

In fact, in the first version of the NIV (1983) the verse said nothing about women.
But in the 2011 update;  thank God (literally), women are there.
(To follow the unnecessarily controversial changes from NIV to TNIV to NIV, see this , this , this and this.).

See where your favorite translation lands below, and ask if there may have been any bias
(Interesting, though,  that the ESV and the Holman Christian Standard Bible, two translations by a team most likely NOT in favor if women's ordination, both translate "women." It just seems the most reasonable and faithful translation):

 "company" "or "those":
 King James Version, New King James Version, Revised Standard Version, New Revised Standard Version,  New Living Translation (1st ed),  Today's NIV, and New International Version (1983

New American Standard  Version,   New Living  Translation(2nd ed), American  Standard  Version, English Standard Version,  English Revised Version , Good News Bible,  The Holy Bible: An American Translation (Beck),   Amplified Bible, Young's Literal Translation, Moffat’s translation, and God’s Word to the Nations, New Interbational Version 2011

Well...which is it: company" or women"

The immediate answer is "yes."
It's a both/and.
It's a fiuzzy set.
Its a "marker trick."

It could be translated either way.

But the best...and I maintain, final...answer is:
It shouldn't be translated either way,
Context and grammar (and grandpa!) make it clear that women are to be highlighted here.

One article:

         The literal rendering of Ps. 68:11 (68:12 in Hebrew): “The Lord gives the Word. The ones   
[or women] bearing the tidings are a great host [host=male].”
The translation is difficult. It all hinges on one Hebrew word, תורשבמה (hamevasroth), a feminine plural participle, thus “women” is not an inappropriate translation. But the participle is followed by the noun אבצ (tsava), which is masculine, and means “host” or “company” or “army.”

Here the best translation of the Hebrew participle itself is “the women bearing the tidings.” ..It affirms..the privilege and duty of the priesthood of all believers, including men and women, to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel and the marvelous deeds of the Lord to one another and to their neighbors. In the context of Psalm 68, this is exactly what is happening in Israel: “God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him!” (Ps. 68:1; ESV). It is precisely this news that the women are proclaiming. The Lord is victorious over His enemies. While the men are away with the army, the women are proclaiming the news of the victory (v. 11) and dividing the spoil (v. 12).-

But check this, an even stronger case:

As with many other languages (including Greek), Hebrew masculine plural verbs can have subjects that are exclusively male, or they may be male and female; typically, only context can tell. However, when a feminine plural is used, women are exclusively in view. Sadly, the feminine plural participle mebasarot (“to proclaim good news”) in Psalm 68:11 has often been translated in a way that obscures the gender of the ones proclaiming:  -


I would add this Scripture to the impressive catalog of Scriptures that can't be taken in isolation/eisegesis, but taken together evidence that women are meant to be included in every level of leadership.

Ever noticed that in the most conservative churches who make a big deal about "women keeping silent in church"...who teaches kids Sunday School?

Even in the broader culture, we don't have enough women leaders?

They might be making radical moves like this.or this.

Stuff we men can be too manly..or chicken to do and say.

 We wouldn't waste time asking dumb questions like  "I'm a guy. Is it wrong for me to listen to Beth Moore?" or doing some things like  demanding  "Sex At Least Once a Day"


Finally, for any women pastors/leaders still reading, two words:

Thank you.

And I would love to hear a few words (or far more) from you ( you can get started here).

It's long overdue.


  1. Dave,

    Thank you for being a cheerleader to women in ministry. I determined a long time ago that I wouldn't be influenced by "critical people" who discourage women in ministry.

    One day I will have to answer to God whether or not I followed his leading... yes HIS leading. Although sometimes it was more like his prodding or his pushing. God stretches me, you know, to venture out into areas where I am not comfortable. I want to be among the faithful who followed God and gave their all even if people do not understand.

    I am no longer concerned with defending my theology about women in ministry. I would rather touch people's lives and let them struggle with the theology.

    It's really all about the heart. When people see your heart for God and your love for them, they accommodate you. More than once I have been told, "I don't believe in women in ministry but I do believe in you." So there they stand with their awkward theology. And I just smile. Now they are being stretched.

    The sad part of my story is my family. They are hurting. Those "critical people" have said things about their MOM, their wife. It's personal for them and they struggle to trust the church. And that makes me sad. I know they will have to work this out.

    In all of this God has been wonderful. Just like the story that Tony Campolo shared... he whispers in my ear. God tells me that he loves me, he believes in me and HE calls me. So I follow. I must.

  2. so well said, Belinda. wow!


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!