Saturday, 12 July 2008

the lost apostle

just finished reading the lost apostle by rena pederson. pederson goes on a search for Junia, the female named by Paul alongside her husband as an apostle in Romans 16. She's the only woman to be named an apostle. It's another example of Paul's egalitarianism, he is happy to consider the women important in the Jesus movement as important as the men. He affirms their place in this movement, he commends these women to the communities to whom he writes. he doesn't seem interested in pointing them out as extraordinary, because women don't usually do this stuff - as BB Scott last night was saying, the distinctions humans think important, like male/female are unimportant to God. God simply sees people with whom to make a covenant, people to love and be in relationship with. and this is the radical approach Paul takes. 
some of the things men have done in the past - and I agree with pederson, it's difficult to comment without sounding like a man-hater, but I'm not - are quite incomprehensible. I don't understand how or why men thought they needed to establish a hierarchy, why they needed to subjugate everyone who was different. I know fear is one of the roots of this behaviour, but what were they afraid of? what are men afraid of now when they stammer arguments against ordaining women, for example? 
some of the comments of people Pederson talked to as she researched this book are strange to me - this fear of disrupting the family if women go out to work. what's that about? the whole structure of men at the head of the family comes from the hierarchical writings attributed to Paul, but not actually of Paul, and to the very hierarchical structure of the Roman Empire which was all invasive in the early centuries CE. That was an empire Paul spoke against. 
some of this stuff comes from Scott's talk last night, and some from the book. funny the timing of the two, coinciding like that. 

anyway, Pederson has done a great job, offering some reflections that will help many understand who Junia was, why we don't know about her, and what role the women played in the first communities of people following the Way of Jesus. I recommend it. 

1 comment:

Rena Pederson said...

Thanks very much, Sarah, for your thoughtful review of "The Lost Apostle." You made my day! Working on the book and tracking down the story of Junia was a real labor of faith and love, so I am grateful that you "got it." Thanks for helping inform others about the brave women believers of the early church. I hope summer brings good things to you! Blessings and thanks again, Rena Pederson