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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Eta Linnemann and the JBMW

I thought I was being a bit over the top when I wrote my post about Sheri Klouda the other day, saying,

    A woman may teach a man Greek and Hebrew if she does so in another country, not her own.
I actually thought that we were beyond this, that those were the bad old days, when a white woman could teach the Bible to a non-white man and get away with it in the complementarian community. However, I find to my shame that this attitude is alive and well. I feel a little embarassed belonging to the white race at this point.

I have myself benefited from the friendship of men from the First Nations and would not even dream of holding the view that they constituted an exception to biblical teaching on manhood. This pastor was a fatherly mentor to me.

This reminds me of Piper's list. Who else is on it? Evidently more than a few men. Stories like the following just make me cry.

Here is the story. The current Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood , recommended by Jim Hamilton, is entirely written by women. Although it is subtitled "For Women by Women" the preface remarks that,

    Scripture is clear that authoritative teaching in the church belongs, by God’s design, to men. It is equally clear that women contribute to the church in many and varied ways. One of these ways is scholarly writing, like that of Linnemann, a brilliant lady who is also submissive to the teaching of Scripture.

    Written scholarship tends toward nonpersonal, non-directive influence. It is, thus, an influence women may exercise while upholding the God-given order that exists between men and women. We must conclude, therefore, it is fitting that our male readership also benefit from these articles, writings of learned and holy women of today who follow by disposition, by motivation, and by virtue the ancient pattern.
So Eta Linnemann is submissive to scripture according to the teaching of John Piper, I must assume, because she left her her job as a professor in Germany to teach the Bible to native pastors in Indonesia. Therefore men may read her book?

    Eta Linnemann taught New Testament at Philipps University, Marburg, West Germany, until her personal spiritual crisis and conversion. Later she became a missionary teacher of native pastors at a Bible institute in Batu, Indonesia. She lectures on historical-critical theology throughout Europe and North America. ebay (I acknowledge that ebay is my weakest source so far and not acceptable on a scholarly paper. If someone could confirm this story for me I would appreciate it so much.)
Personally I find this hard to believe. But the JBMW writes at length about Linnemann, holding her up as 'learned and holy', and above all 'submissive.'

If women are permitted to translate the Bible into minority languages as they do, and to teach the Bible to minority peoples as Linnemann does, women should be permitted to teach the Bible and biblical languages in America. Women should be permitted to contribute to each and every English Bible translation that is going to be read by women - or men.

Note: I would like to thank Jim Hamilton for bringing this story to my attention - inadvertently, I would imagine.

21 Comments:

At Sun Feb 04, 07:31:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Now I am all confused. I have just read about how Piper wants ethnic diversity in the church. But Piper creates the model whereby a woman cannot undertake personal directive teaching of men, unless they live somewhere else. Is it the geography that matters?

'Only in her hometown, among her relatives, and in her own house is a prophet without honour.'

 
At Sun Feb 04, 08:22:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

While I hardly think it is a fully reliable source, you can find a sympathetic paragraph outlining the Linnemann story on page 128 of Concordia Theological Quarterly, January-April 1995, conveniently reprinted here.

Basically Linnemann, who held a non-permanent "honorary" position at at Philipps, best associated with Bultmann, a famous proponent of form criticism. Although her early work made contributions to form criticism, she was never offered a permanent position.

Linnemann's work, even during her early academic phase, but was famously rude to other scholars. In her second book, based on her Habilitationsschrift, Studien zur Passionsgeschichte (1970), she made remarks about J. Klein (pp. 103-108) and J. Schreiber (pp. 137-146) so extreme that they drew a rebuke from the Journal of Biblical Literature.

As I understand it, she later renounced her earlier views (changing completely her position on Q.) To recount the rumors here would be lashon hara. While I admire her courage in expressing her views, I cannot admire her later scholarship, which seems to only evidence greater vitriol.

 
At Sun Feb 04, 09:02:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

In the full JBMW article you mention, Peter Schemm's preface favorably cites a study by Robert Yarbrough. I looked up Yarbrough's article and found this is what he said about Linnemann:

Her work as exemplified in her first two post-conversion books is not a model of scholarly disquisition due to its (in places) sermonic form, abrasive tone, and failure to take account of other literature. On the other hand, sermons are sometimes needed where they are not desired. What she seeks to prove—that the synoptics are not literarily interdependent—may turn out to be unprovable using statistics alone, or indeed by any means whatsoever.

Thus, it seems that the editor of JBMW either (a) believes it is OK for women to write sermons for men (that attempt to prove the unprovable) or (b) is so academically bankrupt that he didn't even bother to read the Yarbrough article he cites.

Which do you suppose it is?

"For this evangelicals can be grateful -- especially evangelical men."

 
At Mon Feb 05, 07:10:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

This is way over the top. You have given no quote from Piper that I can see that has him saying that it's ok for white women to teach the Bible to non-white men but not for them to teach the Bible to white men. The only thing I can see in the examples you give is a view about women teaching men in their local congregation. What that has to do with race, particularly in a multicultural congregation like Piper's, is hard for me to discern. Why you would assume that missionaries are always working across racial boundaries is also hard for me to figure out, and why cross-racial missions must be white people in a mission to non-white people is also hard to fathom. Given that Europe is one of the most unchurched (and Europe is even mentioned in your post as one of Linnemann's places to lecture), biblically illiterate areas of the world, and that Korea, Latin America, and other places are sending large numbers of non-white missionaries all over the place, I would have thought we were beyond all this.

 
At Mon Feb 05, 07:25:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Now, as to the last comment (before mine), the answer is obvious. The editor explicitly states that he thinks women can write sermons for men. End of discussion. His criterion was about directness. Attempts to persuade are fine even in person, as long as they are not authoritative but persuasive. If it is not direct, then there's even less cause for concern on his view. So what would be the problem with women writing sermonic books that men would read? I don't see how he'd worry about that.

I also see no problem with the Yarbrough quote. Yarbrough was trying to argue that her work isn't scholarly enough, saying that it sounded too sermonic. Even if the editor did have a problem with women writing sermons for men (which he clearly doesn't), why would he have to be either ignorant of the Yarbrough article or agree with it? Couldn't he just disagree with Yarbrough about whether her work counts as sermonic? Isn't it possible to read something, be aware of what it says, and disagree with it? The only thing he cites approvingly about Yarbrough's article is that she's a former liberal critic who had views that oppose evangelicalism and that she is now arguing for positions that evangelicals would agree with. He didn't cite Yarbrough about whether her work is good, just about what her views are and what they were.

 
At Mon Feb 05, 09:06:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

The editor explicitly states that he thinks women can write sermons for men. End of discussion.

Not quite. Can you find the word sermon anywhere in the preface? I didn't think so. Can you find a euphemism for sermon anywhere in the preface? I didn't think so.

What Schemm says is that it is OK for women to produce impersonal scholarly writing. But then, the one person who has actually read Linnemann (as opposed to just listening to a speech) says she is not scholarly. (And if you read her work too, as I have done, you would see the same.)

However please don't let the fact that you didn't read Schemm's preface or Linnemann's work inhibit you from making "end of discussion" final comments. It certainly didn't inhibit Schemm.

 
At Mon Feb 05, 10:29:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

On a more positive note, I think it will be interesting to draw to your attention the interesting points made in the following comment (abbreviated) by Bryan L on the post on Jim Hamilton's blog:

...when I read the editorial and the other incarnations of this particular view point that have come out recently, I can’t help but feel like complementarians saw a inconsistency in their beliefs and could no longer admit that they don’t learn from women in various ways (especially scholarly works). So somebody came up with a loophole that would enable comps to learn from women “indirectly” through books or other means as long as it wasn’t in the ultra personal and authoritative relationship of Senior Pastor, thus not disobeying their interpretation of 1 Tim (which seems to get looser and looser as time goes by). Honestly, reading the editorial felt like I was reading the words of a clever lawyer.

It seems even in the complementarian position there is still a certain going along with the culture just as egalitarians are often accused of (even the term complementarian seems to be an attempt at sounding more culturally acceptable than patriarchalist). The complementarians of today are still more lenient and egalitarian than the patriarchalist of the past; the editorial being a good example of this. And it seems just going along with this trend, that complementarians in the future will give women even more freedoms and come up with other rationale to allow women more room in the church (and in the Seminaries as well) in terms of ministry and teaching.

So I wonder then, is the point of complementarianism to always to be a bit more culturally conservative than the rest of Western society but still slowly and grudgingly going along with the changes? I mean is it worth it for the complementarians to spend so much effort to fighting this fight when 20 to 30 years down the road the main proponents of this movement will look more like the egalitarians of today?...

 
At Mon Feb 05, 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Schemm very clearly says that the things that make scholarly work ok for a woman include its impersonal nature ("writing to a general audience is on the non-personal end of the continuum) and that its persuasiveness (as opposed to the commanding nature of someone who has authority over someone else, i.e. it is not from an authoritative office such as elder). Since the same things are so very clearly true of general-audience written sermons, how would what he says not simply apply directly and immediately? Now maybe specific kinds of statements in sermons would be bad on his view, e.g. if she were directly ordering specific people in the general-audience sermon. But general-audience sermons need not do that (and ought not anyway). Since all of his criteria are met, he could just as easily have said: "When a Christian woman produces" general-audience sermonic writing, "she hopes to persuade all who are willing to read what she has written and to learn from her in the process."

Peter, I don't agree with Piper's view, but I think his view is perfectly consistent. The principles Schemm draws from that Piper introduction strike me as applying to this case in exactly the way Schemm applies them. Given that, Brian's words (in the first paragraph of what you quoted) sound to me like anti-intellectual laziness and an unwillingness to draw careful distinctions or to follow nuanced views to their logical conclusion. He'd rather put together straw man views and then try to fit everyone into them than admit that people can have engage in hard work to make their views more plausible without abandoning the general principles they want to retain. I consider this a great insult to the entire discipline of philosophy, which by its very nature seeks to do exactly the sort of thing he is dismissing as clever, lawyer-like behavior.

 
At Mon Feb 05, 05:06:00 PM, Blogger Bryan L said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Mon Feb 05, 06:57:00 PM, Blogger Bryan L said...

Really Jeremy? How would you explain the view, advocated in the article which I was responding to, coming into existence since it wasn't even being argued that long ago, not until comps could no longer say they don't learn from women in various ways (including scholarly works). Just curious. BTW my first paragraph is related to the other 2 and they build on the point I was making in the first so I'd be interested to hear what your assessment of them is.

Also, you don't need to insult me to make your point.

Blessings,
Bryan L

 
At Tue Feb 06, 09:59:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Jeremy, I can understand that what I wrote, quoting Bryan, could be understood as insulting to lawyers as a profession, but hardly as insulting to philosophers who were not mentioned. Or perhaps you are really taking offence because they are insulting to soft complementarians and you count yourself as one? The hard patriarchal position is at least consistent, although abhorrent. The soft one, it seems to me, is full of inconsistencies. Even its own adherents often admit that it is illogical, and justify this by the argument that we shouldn't think in terms of logic when it comes to obeying what God has commanded. The flaw in this argument is the uncertainty of what God had commanded, and this helps to explain the furious reaction of some people to those who promote Bible translations which don't support their preferred interpretation of certain passages.

 
At Tue Feb 06, 11:42:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

No, it is an insult to philosophers. It is the very business of philosophers to do the kind of thing that Bryan is poo-pooing. Philosophers spend a lot of time looking at views someone might have thought plausible, adjusting them in the face of objections to make them more plausible, and ending up with a stronger view not as susceptible to objections that doesn't go quite as far. My profession is insulted when someone tells me that doing that sort of thing is finding loopholes like clever lawyers who don't care about the truth but just want their client to win by any means necessary.

Bryan, complementarians never could say that they don't learn from women. It's only with an extremely thin conception of what counts as learning that anyone could think such a thing. Do you think Jonathan Edwards would say that he never learned anything from his wife, including information about where she left his knife after using it to cut vegetables? That's learning. So is learning patience by having to put up with someone's difficulties or by admiring how she endures difficulties. It's not learning from women that complementarians or traditional patriarchalists have ever been against. It's just that they've had a blind spot for how they've put their view, and now people are testing the edges of what was never explicit, and it needs to be clarified, with some people coming down on one side and others on another.

As for explaining how the view came about, isn't it already clear how I think that happened? Someone holding a view facing an objection went back to the foundational elements of that view and discovered that the view can be held without leading to that objection. This is how careful thought is done. Someone holds a more extreme view. Someone else objects. The person realizes they don't want that consequence and reexamine the view, coming up with a stronger view as a result. There's no reason to treat it as a grudging concession or to think that it's mere conservatism for its own sake, as if what matters is just that the view is a little left of center, regardless of where center is.

Peter, I don't know of any inconsistency in the position I have articulated. There are difficulties for some ways of putting different views together, but that's true of any issue where you might take different views along several different dimensions of disagreement. That doesn't mean every view that isn't the hard extreme on either end will be inconsistent. I don't think Blomberg's view is inconsistent. I just disagree with one of his assumptions. I don't think Piper's view is inconsistent either. I just think he adds things not in scripture. I don't think Carson's view is inconsistent, because I think it's basically true.

 
At Tue Feb 06, 11:43:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

No, it is an insult to philosophers. It is the very business of philosophers to do the kind of thing that Bryan is poo-pooing. Philosophers spend a lot of time looking at views someone might have thought plausible, adjusting them in the face of objections to make them more plausible, and ending up with a stronger view not as susceptible to objections that doesn't go quite as far. My profession is insulted when someone tells me that doing that sort of thing is finding loopholes like clever lawyers who don't care about the truth but just want their client to win by any means necessary.

Bryan, complementarians never could say that they don't learn from women. It's only with an extremely thin conception of what counts as learning that anyone could think such a thing. Do you think Jonathan Edwards would say that he never learned anything from his wife, including information about where she left his knife after using it to cut vegetables? That's learning. So is learning patience by having to put up with someone's difficulties or by admiring how she endures difficulties. It's not learning from women that complementarians or traditional patriarchalists have ever been against. It's just that they've had a blind spot for how they've put their view, and now people are testing the edges of what was never explicit, and it needs to be clarified, with some people coming down on one side and others on another.

As for explaining how the view came about, isn't it already clear how I think that happened? Someone holding a view facing an objection went back to the foundational elements of that view and discovered that the view can be held without leading to that objection. This is how careful thought is done. Someone holds a more extreme view. Someone else objects. The person realizes they don't want that consequence and reexamine the view, coming up with a stronger view as a result. There's no reason to treat it as a grudging concession or to think that it's mere conservatism for its own sake, as if what matters is just that the view is a little left of center, regardless of where center is.

Peter, I don't know of any inconsistency in the position I have articulated. There are difficulties for some ways of putting different views together, but that's true of any issue where you might take different views along several different dimensions of disagreement. That doesn't mean every view that isn't the hard extreme on either end will be inconsistent. I don't think Blomberg's view is inconsistent. I just disagree with one of his assumptions. I don't think Piper's view is inconsistent either. I just think he adds things not in scripture. I don't think Carson's view is inconsistent, because I think it's basically true.

 
At Tue Feb 06, 06:41:00 PM, Blogger Bryan L said...

Jeremy I think I would say that what many egalitarians see as inconsistent is comps saying a woman can't teach a man based on 1 Tim and then finding ways that men can still learn from women (biblical related things as I wasn't speaking about learning in general) through various ways like scholarly books or like the example shown in the article that Suzanne pointed out. I'm sorry if you didn't notice, but real people were having difficulty wondering whether reading a book or article or listening to an audio sermon by a woman was violating their complimentarian beliefs? They saw the inconsistency in their views. You may not see it because you only interpret 1 Tim (or the Biblical data in general) to be talking about regular teaching in the church. Other comps see it as broader than that and that's why they don't allow women to teach men in some seminaries or even to enroll in D min programs or to teach men one on one outside of the normal church service church. So maybe it's not inconsistent with your brand of complimentarian beliefs, but it is with others.

Jeremy what I'm "poo pooing" is the implausible argument in the editorial. You admit that Piper appears to be going beyond the Bible. He does appear to be going beyond the Bible to me and it seems to be stretching the data really really thin. Seriously when I read it I think 'that's interesting and all but where did you get that from 'cause you sure couldn't have pulled that out of the Bible and there's no evidence that Paul had those criteria in mind when writing the things he did'? I'm all for making good arguments for your views and adjusting them in the face of objection. I just thought that was a weak argument and looked like someone looking for a loop hole instead. And I don't think it adequately dealt with the inconsistency that many egals see in the practices of many comps.

This doesn't really have anything to do with philosophy Jeremy (especially since neither Piper nor Schemm are philosophers). It has to do with people disagreeing with about the practical implications of a particular interpretation of the Biblical data on an issue. If you think this is directly insulting to philosophers then you might as well get insulted at every disagreement about the Bible.

Honestly Jeremy I really don't feel like debating this (especially since we both know given your philosophy background that I would be heavily outmatched in the debating skills dept. Heck I could barely understand some of your sentences the way you worded them!). I was just giving my observation and opinion (which resonated with some others) and asking some questions. If you don't agree then fine. I don't expect you too. Have a good day : )

Blessings,
Bryan L

 
At Wed Feb 07, 09:24:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I don't find anything at all implausible with the idea of criticizing Piper on the grounds that he's got a larger view that doesn't seem to be based in scripture. But what the particular argument we were discussing does is it starts with Piper's already enumerated criteria and applies them to this case. It seems to me that what Schemm did is exactly that, and taking issue with the greater view of Piper seems to be beyond the scope of criticizing Schemm's particular argument. All his particular argument aimed to show is that someone can hold to Piper's style of complementarianism and still accept women writing scholarly papers, and I think Schemm did an excellent job of tracing out the implications of Piper's view, even if I disagree with Piper's view. I don't find what Schemm was doing implausible in the least.

It's true that real people have wondered whether this is consistent with complementarian views, and the truth is that it depends on the particulars of the complementarian view in question. Here are three views. One is that it's always wrong for women to teach men in any way in any circumstances. I've already explained why I don't think anyone ever thought that. Another is that it's wrong for women to teach men in an authoritative way (because the opposition to women teaching is really opposition to their having authority over men). That's Piper's view. Then it comes down to figuring out what counts as authoritative teaching. Then there's the third view that it's wrong for women to teach men as a part of the authoritative teaching ministry of the local manifestation of the church as directed by local elders.

It's very clear to me that the first view, which no one has ever really held even if some have thought they held, is inconsistent with allowing women to write scholarly work. It's very clear to me that the third view is fully consistent with such a practice. What's not clear is whether the second view, which is closest the traditional patriarchal view of the three, results in what some have thought it results in. Piper's way of determining what counts as having authority over someone seems to me to be an extremely plausible account of that (even if I disagree about that being the right issue to care about). What I think you've done is you've found Piper's view that women shouldn't have authority over men to be implausible, and you've extended that implausibility to cover his view of what counts as having authority over men. I don't think his view on the latter issue is implausible at all, even though I agree with you that his view on the first issue is implausible as a view of what the Bible teaches. It really does seem to me that direct teaching can be authoritative in a way that writing a persuasive article is not, and direct exhortation to an individual can be authoritative in a way that writing to a general audience is not (although I think a direct exhortation can be non-authoritative as well, depending on how it is couched).

Now I also do think this is philosophy, because it is philosophy of ministry and because it is ethics. It isn't about biblical interpretation, as you've pointed out, but it's about starting with a thesis about what is morally wrong and following through on what its implications are for practical cases. It's about determining whether a more moderate thesis could reach some of the implications of the more extreme thesis without all of them. Philosophy is exactly what that is. It's true that Schemm and Piper are not Ph.D.-trained philosophers, but you don't have to be a Ph.D.-trained philosopher to do philosophy. Theologians do philosophy all the time, sometimes without realizing it and sometimes while fully admitting it.

 
At Wed Feb 07, 12:10:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Jeremy, I don't see how it is logically and philosophically possible for anyone to insult someone else without mentioning them or anything relating to them, by referring to different people. There is a philosophical problem for you to discuss. And I really don't think you can get round it by redefining everyone as a philosopher as you come close to doing with "you don't have to be a Ph.D.-trained philosopher to do philosophy".

 
At Wed Feb 07, 06:04:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

The kind of thought process Schemm was engaging in was philosophical. As a philosopher, I was mildly impressed at how carefully he had traced out the ethical implications of the philosophical distinction Piper had made. It was exactly the kind of thinking good philosophers do when they think through the implications of philosophical views. Bryan was saying derogatory things about that very thought process. I don't know how much more I can say if you don't trust the judgment of a professionally trained philosopher about what counts as philosophy.

 
At Wed Feb 07, 10:52:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

I had trouble seeing how Eta Linnemann fit into Piper's distinctions. Don't you think Schemm made an exception for Linnemann because he liked her post-conversion perspective? Or did he mean she was submissive in her writing but not in her Bible teaching. She was selectively submissive?

 
At Thu Feb 08, 04:24:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I don't have any idea whatsoever what he was specifically referring to, if anything, about her being submissive, but his argument was that her scholarly writing does not count as not being submissive. That much is absolutely clear. He does not discuss her Bible teaching, but he does point out the resources necessary for drawing the conclusion that on his view her Bible teaching is also submissive. Since it is not direct but indirect and not specifically directed to certain people but general, I can't see how Piper's criteria would consider it authoritative teaching.

 
At Thu Feb 08, 06:42:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

Why is Bible teaching to Indonesian pastors not direct? I would guess that Schemm knew about this but did not wish to disqualify her. She traveled and lectured surely to a mixed audience. She held a fixed position in a Bible school, she taught male pastors - I don't get it.

 
At Fri Feb 09, 02:57:00 PM, Blogger Ali said...

What I don't get is what this has to do with better Bibles?

 

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