Women with Priesthood in Ancient Christianity

By: Mormon Heretic
January 10, 2011

With BiV and Hawkgrrrl discussing feminisim, female priesthood, and sexism, I thought I’d try to give a historical perspective on female priesthood in ancient Christianity.  I attended Sunstone back in August, and Bridget Jack Jeffries (who runs a blog called Clobberblog) gave a fascinating presentation on female priesthood holders in the ancient Christian church.  Following her presentation, I asked her if she would share her PowerPoint presentation, which she graciously did.  You can view them as well with this link to her website.

She noted that in the New Testament period and onward, there is evidence for

  • Women as apostles, bishops, elders, priests and deacons
  • Women performing baptisms and administering the Eucharist

She references Romans 16:7, which references Andronicus and Junia.  Some translators changed the name Junia (female) to Junis (male.)  Clearly Junia was an apostle.  Early Christian Father John Chrysostum (who lived from 347-405 AD) is quoted as saying, “how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.” (In ep. ad Romanos 31.2)

Female Deacons are found in Romans 16:1-2 and 1 Tim 3:8-11.  Other women mentioned in the New Testament.  The following are definite or probable church house leaders.

  1. Lydia (Acts 16:14-15; 40),
  2. Nympha (Col. 4:15),
  3. Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11),
  4. Stephanas (1 Cor. 16:15-16),
  5. Priscilla (Rom. 16:3-5),
  6. and possibly the “elect lady” and her “chosen sister” in 2 John.
  7. Euodia & Synteche are mentioned in Philippians 4:2-3.  Theodore of Mopsuestia (c. 350 – 428) read this as a struggle between the two women for leadership.

Some may wonder if a deaconess is simply the wife of a deacon.  However, wives of male deacons were generally not given the title of “deaconess”.  She says that descriptions of their function don’t start appearing until the late second and early third centuries.  She also shows a painting possibly depicting women administering the Eucharist (LDS refer to this as the Sacrament.)  Archaeologists are split as to whether this truly represents the Sacrament.

In the 5th century, Testamentum Domini 2:20 states that if pregnant women could not attend church on Sunday, deaconesses could take the Eucharist to their home.  She also notes that in 511 AD, 3 Gallic bishops were chastised for allowing women to assist with the Eucharist.  This obviously indicates that women were involved in the practice. Canonical Resolutions 24 (6th century) states that deaconesses could distribute the Eucharist to their female companions who lived in convents in Edessa.

An ancient book called Acts of Paul and Thecla (2nd century) depicts the woman Thecla performing a self-baptism (similar to the story of Alma in Mosiah 18:13-14.)  Early church Father Justinian said it was acceptable for women to baptize as long as they met certain requirements.  In several texts as early as the first half of the third century, female deacons are described as assisting with baptisms and anointing the bodies of the female converts with oil before or after baptism.  In others, it is the women themselves performing the baptisms.

In her presentation, she said that “female priesthood” is a somewhat anachronistic term, but it is clear that women participated in ordinances that we would consider priesthood ordinances. I posted a longer version of this post on my blog, and John Hamer commented,

when the Christian church actually emerges with what we think of as priesthood and offices (bishop, priest, deacon), there isn’t female priesthood anymore, and that when women were in “priesthood” roles (as deaconesses and apostles) this was an era before you could really speak of a “Christian Church” and priesthood, but instead should think of multiple, non-systematized Christianities. In an actual, historical sense, Joseph Smith’s 1830s creations bear little resemblance either to the followers of the historical Jesus during Jesus’s life, nor any to the diverse, competing Christian communities that emerged after his death. In that sense, the Restoration was not an actual restoration, it was a conceptual restoration. The early Mormons believed they were reliving the New Testament, but they were actually doing something new.

So, there does appear to be ample evidence for female priesthood in the ancient Christian Church.  Women performed baptisms, blessed with oil, and many other ordinances that they are not allowed to do today in the LDS church.  I loved how Bridget ended her presentation.

  • Option 1 – We can Reject or Dismiss this information.  We can say things such as: “We don’t care if apostate Christian groups were ordaining women.”
  • Option 2 – We could offer a polemic attack against Joseph Smith. We can look at this data and say, “Look what Joseph Smith neglected to restore.”
  • Option 3 – We can accept this information.  Yes, women did hold a priesthood in ancient times.  The 9th Article of Faith allows that God still has things to reveal; gives Latter-day Saints room to be accepting of this data

She let me know of a couple of other links you might find interesting regarding female priesthood.

So, what do you make of Jack’s presentation?  Which option do you prefer?

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43 Responses to Women with Priesthood in Ancient Christianity

  1. Henry on January 10, 2011 at 7:16 AM

    Who really knows what happened back then? If you were not there, you don’t know. Let’s not forget Huldah the prophetess and Deborah the Judge. The Lord can use anyone he wants even if it falls out of the norm. Look at Samuel the Lamanite in the Boof of Mormon. Can you imagine the fair and delightsome Nephites reaction at a dark man coming to preach to against/to them?

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  2. Course Correction on January 10, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    Option 3 is clearly the rational choice, but people in power seldom care to relinquish or share it. Option 1 is the likely choice for Mormon leaders and members who dislike change.

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  3. Mike S on January 10, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    Henry: Who really knows what happened back then? If you were not there, you don’t know.

    This is a bit of an irrational argument, especially when used in any religious discussion. This could effectively discount the entire Bible and Book of Mormon. None of us were there during ANYTHING written of in any of these books.

    Similarly, none of us were there in Joseph Smith’s time, so should we discount all of his writings?

    And you quote Huldah and Deborah? How do you know anything about them? Where you there when they lived?

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  4. Mike S on January 10, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Course Correction:

    I agree with your comment exactly. I do think there are many examples of women holding the priesthood, but given the current state of things, think it is unlikely anything will change for a long time.

    A perfect proxy is blacks and the priesthood. If you read accounts of the leaders involved, it seems that God will provide an answer to the questions, but the leaders themselves have to be in a state of mind to actually ask. For many decades, the leadership of the Church didn’t really care to ask if blacks could have the priesthood.

    For the case of women, I think it will take the same thing – the current generation of young people will need to rise to the highest levels for this to even be considered. And it may take longer. The hierarchy tends to raise those who already agree with them. A person who supports option 3 will likely go less “high” in the hierarchy than one who supports the option 1 status quo.

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  5. mh on January 10, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    mike, I agree with you completely. I have thought a lot about BiV’s petition about women gaining the priesthood. I feel like I have already been marginalized in my ward for plenty of other things I have said and taught in church. I fully support women gaining the priesthood, and I too agree that it is similar to the blacks and the priesthood question.

    I would like to sign the petition, but don’t want to alienate my already alienated wife who is ambivalent about the female priesthood ban. I don’t want to create stress in my family by rocking the boat more. am I a chicken?

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  6. N. on January 10, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    So since you’ve poisoned the well regarding the Option 1 (leaving only a negative response to people who don’t agree with your conclusion)… lemme answer with a question.

    When was the Great Apostasy in full swing? and could all these sources from 200AD+ be a part of it?

    Your conclusions are not the only ones possible from the evidence.

    At what point *in time* do we decide that the doctrines have strayed enough that there needed to be a “Restoration?” Why are we not just Armenian Apostolic (doctrines alleged founded in the 1st century by Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus) or Coptic Orthodox (alleged AD 42 by St. Mark) or Ethiopian Orthodox (alleged AD 50 by Philip the Evangelist)?

    Since you’re not the only one who can play the loaded-question-game, here’s another: how many ancient historical practices does one have accept to get the one or two that one wants to use *today* (if your basis of inclusion is merely historicity)?

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  7. Mike S on January 10, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    N.

    In the OP, many of the sources for females with authority are from the New Testament. While they aren’t specifically described as “having” the priesthood, neither are any of the men. They seem to be doing many of the same things as the men, however, so one would assume that they have the same authority.

    Everyone picks and chooses. We choose “baptism for the dead” out of the NT as something that has fallen away and that we have “restored”, which other churches haven’t. At the same time, other churches have “restored” a leading role for women in their churches, which we haven’t.

    We choose the “not a drop” interpretation of the modern WofW over the historical NT practice of using wine for the sacrament. Some other non-LDS churches might see this as a sign of “apostasy”, or changing things from how Christ originally implemented them.

    So, at the end of the day, everyone picks and chooses whatever they want, making the scriptures a proof text. And if there is something they don’t like, they just say that it was a part of “apostasy” or something else.

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  8. mh on January 10, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    I don’t think think the apostasy was an event, but rather a process. it began early. paul was preaching against many apostate teachings in his letters. I guess the case could be made that women are supposed to be silent in church, but then what do we make of these new testament women that he discusses (like junia)? where does paul really stand on the issue of female priesthood?

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  9. Bishop Rick on January 11, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    What is Judaism’s stance on women and the priesthood?
    Is this merely a Christian phenomenon or is there evidence of this in the OT?

    Henry mentioned Huldah and Deborah, so there seems to be pre-apostacy evidence for women holding the priesthood, therefore, its not accurate to state that this is a result of apostacy.

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  10. mh on January 11, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    bishop rick, i don’t quite agree with your interpretation. the only people that could hold the priesthood in ancient judiasm were levites.

    in the modern lds church, we equate priesthood with being a prophet, but ancient israelites did not equate them. for example, christ was from the tribe of judah, not levi. the woman at the well said to christ ‘i percieve that thou art a prophet’, yet christ clearly was did not hold the levitical priesthood. deborah could have been a prophetess without the priesthood, and I am pretty sure she was not of the tribe of levi.

    modern judiasm (to my knowledge) doesn’t understand priesthood in the same sense of christianity, so it is a little harder to make comparisons like you did. to become a rabbi, one simply attended a rabbi school. reformed jews allow female rabbis. orthodox jews do not. I don’t know if conservative jews allow female rabbis, but I think they do.

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  11. Joseph Antley on January 11, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    I disagree with others that early Christian women held the priesthood, at least in the Mormon sense of the term. There is only indications that they were given certain titles and little if any indication that they were ordained and functioned similarly to male priesthood holders. 1 Corinthians, for example, seems to exclude the idea of a female leading services in the early Pauline church at least.

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  12. Will on January 11, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    MH,

    You seem to be grasping at straws with this one. You really need to do your homework. This is one of the worst cases of scripture citation I have every noted. How do you glean Women were Deacons from Romans 16:1-2 or 1 Timothy 3:8-11? In fact, the next verse in 1 Timothy states: “Let the Deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses as well”

    You lost all credibility with me at this point and I quit reading your citations.

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  13. Ms. Jack on January 11, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    #6 N ~ I’m pretty confused as to where you think there’s well-poisoning going on. The three options I gave (which Mormon Heretic is summarizing) were meant to be broad categories based on reactions I’d received from Mormons when introducing them to this data. The list was never meant to be exhaustive.

    In spite of this, you seem to be making the exact argument that I anticipated with my #1. So I’m not really sure what it is that’s bothering you.

    #11 Joseph ~ You don’t think performing baptisms would be indicative of holding the priesthood?

    #12 Will ~ In Romans 16:1-2, Phoebe is given two titles, διάκονον and προστάτις. Literally, διάκονος (diakonos) means “servant” but colloquially it’s used elsewhere in the New Testament to indicate the office of deacon (1 Tim. 3:8, for example). Phoebe isn’t just called a διάκονος though; she’s called a διάκονος of the church in Cenchreae, which strongly indicates that this was a church role of some sort. Then there’s προστάτις (prostatis). Literally, προστάτις means “a woman who presides;” colloquially, it means patron or benefactor. Paul’s instructions to the church to greet Phoebe and help her with whatever she needs indicate that she is probably his letter carrier, which seems like a pretty important task.

    Many English translations of the Bible obscured the force of these words and translated these words as “servant,” “succourer,” or “helper,” probably because the translators could not accept the idea of a female Christian office holder. Often they were wildly inconsistent about this; for example, the NIV-84 rendered διάκονος as “servant” for Phoebe but “minister” for Timothy. Some of the newer English translations are finally working to remedy this:

    NIV-11 ~ I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.

    NRSV ~ I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.

    As for 1 Tim. 3:11, the Greek there simply says γυναῖκας which literally means women. What’s debated is whether this means “wives” or “female deacons;” I would argue that without a definite article for γυναῖκας, the latter is preferable. There’s also contextual evidence. If these were instructions for the wives of deacons, it’s odd that there were no similar instructions for the wives of elders in v. 2-7, which makes sense if the church at Philippi was accustomed to female deacons, but not to female elders.

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  14. Stephen M (Ethesis) on January 11, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    But, Ms Jack, you are agreeing with Hugh Nibley and others in your reading. Doesn’t that concern you?

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  15. MH on January 11, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    Thanks Ms. Jack (I never know if I should call you Jack or Bridget.)

    To further Ms Jack’s point, the KJV refers to Phoebe in verse 2 as “servant”. Go to Blue Letter Bible to see other translations for this word:

    NLT: “deacon”
    NIV: “servant” (but footnote says “deaconness”
    RSV: “deaconness”
    YNG: “ministrant”
    DBY: “minister”

    If you want to read the Latin or Greek, they’re all there too. I never quite understand why Mormons are so proud to trumpet that “we believe the Bible to be the word of God so far as it is translated correctly”; yet when shown that there are better, more accurate translations that seem to contradict Mormon notions, suddenly the 500 year old King James Bible (that Joseph “corrected” on numerous occasions), suddenly seems to be the best translation out there. I mean it is a well-known fact that KJV is translated from a later Latin text, rather than earlier, more accurate Greek translations.

    Personally, I believe that if Joseph had lived longer, he would have organized the Relief Society as a priesthood quorum. It seems to me that was the direction he was going. Now, would it have been the same as a male priesthood? I don’t know, but Sidney Rigdon claimed that Emma was the first woman with the priesthood. (Wait for my post next week.)

    And while we’re at it, let’s not forget that there are plenty of other women in Romans 16 mentioned by Paul, including Priscilla (v 3), Mary (v. 6), Persis, Tryphaena, & Tryphosa (v 12), the Mother of Rufus (v 13), Julia & Sister of Nereus (v 15). This seems to be a far cry from the “women should be silent in church” version of Paul in 1 Corinthians. It makes one wonder if the same Paul wrote both letters, doesn’t it?

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  16. MH on January 11, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    Furthermore, Ms. Jack wrote an interesting summary of the characters in Romans 16: See her commentary.

    As for 1 Tim 3:8-11, check out some of the other translations. Yes, Will is right that verse 11 of the KJV refers to “wives” of deacons, but the NLT has a footnote that says “women deacons”. Here are some alternate translations, including:

    NIV: “deaconnesses”
    NASB: “either deacons’ wi.e. or deaconesses”

    Is that enough homework for you Will?

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  17. Will on January 12, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    MH,

    NO.

    I recognize the KJV of the Bible, with the JS translation, as the correct version. All of the others have been butchered to meet the philosophies of men.

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  18. mh on January 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    will, so are you saying that joseph smith fixed every single error in kjv?

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  19. Badger on January 12, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    MH, permit me to disagree with your statement that “…KJV is translated from a later Latin text…”. There are certainly translations that fit this description–Wycliffe’s and the Douai Bible come to mind–but the KJV is not one of them. However, I agree with your actual point that the text from which the KJV was translated is not above criticism.

    Getting back to the main topic, I see a fourth option, which is to believe that certain acts which require priesthood authority today did not require it in the ancient church. I’m not an advocate for that point of view, but I think I’ve heard something like it put forward for some practices in early Mormonism, which I believe include blessings with oil performed by women.

    In present LDS culture I don’t see a lot of interest in expanding women’s participation. I think quite a bit could be done even without touching on priesthood for women. For many years it was a rule that women were not to offer the opening and closing prayers in sacrament meetings (or was it just one of the two?). This was not a matter of priesthood authority, just policy.

    How many present limitations could be dissolved in the same way? Could women serve as general authorities in parallel quorums, with similar teaching and administrative responsibilities to their male counterparts? Assuming no change in the male-only priesthood, what couldn’t such women do? When a new stake president needed to be set apart a man would have to do it, but as I understand it any elder can theoretically perform such ordinances if authorized. The hypothetical female GAs could call on locally available men who would be authorized to act as their agents in such matters by a general policy issued by the first presidency. With this in place, it seems the women would be able to function equivalently to their male counterparts. It would be a very substantial change in practice, but I can’t think of a specific scripture that would absolutely rule it out.

    My point is that the limitation of the priesthood to men only is one thing, and the present restrictions on women’s activities in the church are another. The first is a convenient justification for maintaining the second as it currently stands. Is it a sufficient justification? I’m not sure that question is being asked very often.

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  20. MH on January 13, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    Getting back to the main topic, I see a fourth option, which is to believe that certain acts which require priesthood authority today did not require it in the ancient church.

    Yes, I agree–that’s what John Hamer and Ms. Jack were referring to when they say referring to a female Priesthood is a bit anachronistic. The fact is (contrary to Sunday School lessons) that Christianity was not clearly defined after the death of Christ; there were many flavors of Christianity: Gnosticism and Orthodox Christianity were the 2 largest groups, but there were many competing forms of Christianity (Montanism was HUGE in Turkey, and Gnosticism itself had many different flavors.) Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares was a great way of describing the many competing Christianities. Even Paul complained about some of the heresies in his letters.

    I’m not an advocate for that point of view, but I think I’ve heard something like it put forward for some practices in early Mormonism, which I believe include blessings with oil performed by women.

    Yes, Mormon women did bless with oil–that’s the subject of my post next week. I don’t want to give too much away, but these women did it with consent of all the prophets until 1946. It was seen as acceptable and women were not doing it as priesthood holders. However, apparently it was close enough to the priesthood ordinance that leaders decided to do away with the practice. I think that is a real shame. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were strongly in favor of allowing women to bless others (even men), and many were healed by the laying on of hands of women.

    Today we view these as priesthood blessings, so the case could be made that Mormon women held the priesthood, but that isn’t 100% accurate. However, they could lay hands on the sick, and we now consider that a priesthood ordinance. I think it’s a shame that this has been taken away.

    Whether deaconesses held the priesthood in ancient Christianity is subject to a similar debate, but clearly women blessed & passed the sacrament, and baptized in ancient Christianity. Today only the priesthood is authorized to do that. I think it is a pretty strong case that ancient women participated in priesthood ordinances, much more so than today. For some reason, we would freak out if women were passing the sacrament, even though women did this in ancient times. I think Joseph Smith would be much more liberal and open to this practice than current church leadership.

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  21. Bishop Rick on January 13, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    MH #10

    “bishop rick, i don’t quite agree with your interpretation. the only people that could hold the priesthood in ancient judiasm were levites.”

    We are all just speculating here as not enough was written about this stuff. My speculation is derived from deductive reasoning.

    Deborah was Judge of Israel.
    This was a religious calling.
    She was the mouthpiece of the Lord at this time (Prophetess)

    Seems to add up that she held the priesthood.

    Another take:
    Who is to say that Deborah was not a Levite? Barak was a Levite and a Judge was a tribal leader.

    Still another take:
    There is a school of thought that the priesthood was available to all tribes in the days of Deborah. Levites were not mentioned in the bible until long after her death, causing many to believe that being a Levite was more of a social designation that later evolved into a tribal designation encompassing priesthood holders.

    There is no evidence against Deborah holding the priesthood, and through deductive reasoning you can put her in that role.

    Walks like a duck to me.

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  22. mh on January 13, 2011 at 7:43 AM

    I did some chexking, and deborah was from the tribe of issachar.

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  23. Ms. Jack on January 13, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    #17 ~ I recognize the KJV of the Bible, with the JS translation, as the correct version. All of the others have been butchered to meet the philosophies of men.

    That is one of the most hilariously ironic comments I’ve seen in weeks. Thanks, Will.

    #19 Badger ~ I agree with a lot of what you say. I’ve pointed out in several other places on the Bloggernacle that most of the inequality problems that fall under “women and the priesthood” could be remedied without formally giving women the priesthood. It also could theoretically happen that women could be granted the priesthood, but continue to occupy a subordinate status in function (rarely called to leadership callings, still hardly ever cited in official church materials, etc.).

    The thought did occur to me as I was working on this presentation that one could argue that perhaps women were performing baptisms and administering the Eucharist not on their own priesthood authority, but on authority that had been delegated to them, similar to (arguably) how women perform washings and anointings on other women today or how Mormon women in the 1800s were giving blessings. There’s actually something of a word for this: semigalitarianism or semi-egalitarianism. It’s the idea that women are functioning in the same ecclesiastical capacities as men not because they have the same authority as men, but because the men are granting them the authority to function in that way. On paper and in theology textbooks, they’re still “under male authority,” but in practice there’s little discernible difference between what men are doing and what women are doing.

    Maxine Hanks was the respondent to this presentation, and she had some absolutely lovely comments on different ways that Mormon women perform “priesthood” functions without formally holding it. It’s too bad I can’t summarize what she said better here.

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  24. Will on January 13, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    MH,

    It was good you acknowledge the errors on the Bible. Joesph Smith fixed some of those errors and some still exist. The point is corrections should come through the proper Proesthood lines to a Prophet.

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  25. Thomas on January 13, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    Will,

    What’s your take on the Joseph Smith Translation version of John chapter 1, which downplays the Incarnation and seems to make Christ something less than God? I note that this re-write never gets quoted. Is it more or less accurate than the KJV text?

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  26. Will on January 13, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    Thomas,

    I am quite disappointed this doesn’t get more attention, because it adds so much clarity. He was, after all, the SON of God; and, the SON of a mortal mother. He was not God; and, by his own admission was not perfect until his resurrection. Compare Matthew 5:48 to 3 Nephi 12:48. He was sinless; but not perfect.

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  27. Bishop Rick on January 13, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    MH #22,

    “I did some chexking, and deborah was from the tribe of issachar.”

    This can’t be known for sure. It is merely speculation. The same logic used to put her in that tribe can be used to put her in the tribe of Levi.

    Others speculate that she was from the tribe of Ephraim because it was the overwhelming dominant tribe at that time.

    Still others put her in the tribe of Benjamin because that is where she served as Judge.

    Bottom line is we can’t know with the limited knowledge we currently have, so one theory is really no better than another.

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  28. Mormon Heretic on January 13, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    Ok, the Jewish Encyclopedia
    says Deborah is from Issachar. It seems pretty reliable to me.

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  29. Mormon Heretic on January 13, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    Will, sometimes I think we Mormons are guilty of idolizing our prophets. It is as if nothing happens unless the prophet says so. We should not be commanded in all things. We should study the scriptures. We should study it out in our minds, just like Joseph did, and ask if it be right. If we exhibit faith like Joseph, maybe we’ll get visions like Joseph. Too many people abdicate personal scripture study to the prophet.

    It reminds me of the story of the man trapped by a flood. A helicopter and boat come to rescue him, but he sends them away saying God will save him. When he gets to heaven, he asks God why he didn’t save him, and God says, “Hey, I sent a helicopter and a boat. What more do you want?”

    We need to remember that the “glory of God is intelligence.” While I understand that there is some debate here, it seems to me that when we uncover better translations, we need to use them. We need to use our minds, and pray to know these things ourselves, and quit abdicating all decisions to the prophet. Too many Mormons can’t think for themselves. If a translation is shown to be in error, we need to ditch our 500 year old Bible that we all know is full of errors and embrace the truth. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as long as it is translated correctly. If there is a better translation out there, it seems to me that this article of faith gives us permission to use it.

    I mean we’ve learned a lot about the Bible in the past 500 years since KJV was published, yet most Mormons seems stuck with King James english. Welcome to the modern world of the internet–there are better translations out there. Don’t shut your eyes to them. You might actually increase your spirituality.

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  30. Mormon Heretic on January 13, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    If I could read Latin and Greek like Ms Jack, I would. Certainly the BYU professors refer to other Bibles, don’t you think? You’ll even hear non-KJV bibles in GC on occasion (but only if you listen closely.)

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  31. Bishop Rick on January 13, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    MH #28

    “Ok, the Jewish Encyclopedia says Deborah is from Issachar. It seems pretty reliable to me.”

    Come on MH, that claim is baseless. It is using the same logic that can be used to place her in any other tribe. Just because it is the Jewish Encyclopedia doesn’t change this fact.

    But for fun, let’s put her in that tribe. Did you notice that the tribe of Levi was left out of the ode? This leads many to believe that there really never was an official tribe of Levi, which means any tribe could hold the priesthood. This actually makes more sense than only people born in a certain tribe can hold the priesthood. That just seems silly to me.

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  32. Ms. Jack on January 13, 2011 at 11:29 PM

    I think the real problem with believing that all translations were “butchered to meet the philosophies of men” except for the KJV and the JST is that those books are in English, which 75%-80% of the world’s population does not speak. That would not be as much of a problem if the LDS church were actively working to remedy these elusive errors in the text and get “authorized” (for lack of a better term) translations into the hands of those who speak other languages, but it isn’t. The church sells the Bible in 56 languages on its official Web site and not a single one of those translations originated in Salt Lake City. Instead, the church relies on the work of groups like Wycliffe Bible Translators when it sends missionaries to countries that speak those languages. The 8th Article of Faith may talk about the need for correct translation, but I don’t see the LDS church doing anything to bring better translations of the Bible to others.

    Things are worse with the JST. I’m not even sure if that’s available in languages other than English.

    But hey, Will’s got his KJV and his JST, so he’s good to go. Who cares if the rest of the world has to suffer with butchered translations that are so far beneath Will that he won’t even look at them?

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  33. MH on January 14, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    Bishop Rick, it still seems to me that you are using 21st century LDS logic and customs and projecting those back thousands of years to Deborah. I just don’t think the priesthood in the days of Deborah operated like the LDS church does today.

    Let’s look at some other examples of prophets from tribes other than Levi. Amos and Joshua (Numbers 13:8) were from Ephraim. The Jewish Midrash says Elijah was from the tribe of Gad. Malachi was from Judah.

    Biblical prophets were recognized for their prophetic ability, not because they came from a certain tribe. Certainly the president of the Quorum of 12 did not succeed Joshua to become the next prophet. Things were a bit different in the Old Testament.

    Let’s not forget that steadying the ark by non-Levites meant death, so priesthood was pretty important then. Even Jesus submitted to John to be baptized, because of the priesthood.

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  34. Bishop Rick on January 15, 2011 at 1:27 AM

    MH #33,

    “Bishop Rick, it still seems to me that you are using 21st century LDS logic and customs and projecting those back thousands of years to Deborah.”

    Of course I am. The church was restored correct? It should be the same today as it was thousands of years ago.

    You are ignoring my other assertions about the tribe of Levi not being a real tribe, but having evolved into a “tribe” that simply includes priesthood holders. The ode of Deborah hints at this possibility by omitting Levi. If this is true, then the whole “you have to be from the tribe of Levi to hold the priesthood” falls apart.

    You are spending all your efforts defending your stance without considering mine. I have admitted that this is all just speculation, but there is room for this to be valid, and it makes a lot more sense than some nonsensical mandate of being from 1 particular tribe. What about the rest of the world?

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  35. MH on January 15, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    Bishop Rick,

    While I am readily willing to assert that there are lots of errors in the Bible, I’m not at the point of asserting it is completely unreliable. Your supposition seems to call into question fundamental assertions in the text.

    There are those that claim that Moses is completely made up, as are the 12 tribes. I’m somewhat familiar with these opinions (as evidenced by my post questioning the Exodus, for example, but I’m operating from a position that Moses and the 12 Tribes are not made up. Your supposition operates from a different set of assumptions–that the Old Testament is unreliable, especially the stories of the 12 Tribes. I mean I understand the arguments, and I think proponents make a good case, but I believe these biblical stories are legitimate.

    We can look at the genocide of Joshua with great horror, as I did in this post, but I think that adds to the authenticity of the Bible. The Bible writers were writing from their perspective that holy war was God-commanded.

    While I can reject that God commanded Joshua to wipe out the city of Jericho, I can accept that the biblical story actually happened, and that Joshua believed God commanded him. I mean this is a bit of a more nuanced position than you’ll hear in Sunday School, but I don’t question the legitimacy of the stories of the Bible. It seems to me your position that the Levite tribe never existed questions the legitimacy of the Bible. I think it is an interesting question and worth study, but I’m not prepared to accept the assumptions required for this argument.

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  36. MH on January 15, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Bishop Rick, it still seems to me that you are using 21st century LDS logic and customs and projecting those back thousands of years to Deborah.

    The church was restored correct? It should be the same today as it was thousands of years ago.

    Bishop Rick, I hope you’ll agree that the worship services have evolved over thousands of years. Adam’s worship services were different from Abraham’s. His were different than Moses. Worship was different in the days of Isaiah than in the days of Malachi, and these were different from Christ, who organized things much differently by creating a group of 12 apostles that never existed before about 30 AD.

    I mean Christ changed things radically. He was the sacrificial lamb. Previously, Jews practiced animal sacrifice, were circumcised, and didn’t eat pork for example (today’s Samaritans in Israel still do animal sacrifice.) Christ immediately changed the animal sacrifice, substituting the sacrament in its place. The early apostles via revelation learned that it was ok to eat pork and men don’t have to be circumcised.

    So Joseph never intended to restore Christianity to the Jewish form of the days of Deborah. It seems quite apparent to me that Old Testament Judaism differs quite radically from New Testament Christianity. Joseph tried to tie the Old and New Testaments together, but was using the NT as a template, not the OT for organizational structure.

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  37. Bishop Rick on January 15, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    MH

    [35] “Your supposition operates from a different set of assumptions–that the Old Testament is unreliable, especially the stories of the 12 Tribes.”

    I think you are taking my comments further than they were intended. My assertion wasn’t that the 12 tribes didn’t exist. My assertion was that there is evidence that points to the tribe of Levi not existing at the time of Deborah, and that it evolved over time to include those that held the priesthood (even though they were actually from other tribes).

    In other words, when these folks received the priesthood, they were adopted into the tribe of Levi just as LDS are adopted into the tribe of Ephraim (or whatever) after baptism. I am not a literal descendant of Ephraim, but I have been placed into that tribe.

    Now if this assertion is correct, then it doesn’t really matter what tribe Deborah is from. That is all I’m saying.

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  38. Bishop Rick on January 15, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    MH

    [36] “Bishop Rick, I hope you’ll agree that the worship services have evolved over thousands of years. Adam’s worship services were different from Abraham’s. His were different than Moses. Worship was different in the days of Isaiah than in the days of Malachi, and these were different from Christ, who organized things much differently by creating a group of 12 apostles that never existed before about 30 AD.”

    That comment about the restoration was more tongue-in-cheek than anything, but you bring up an interesting point about the quorum of 12 apostles.

    The quorum of 12 apostles was an invention of Joseph Smith. Jesus didn’t create a quorum of 12 and go about filling the positions. It just so happens that 12 men agreed to follow him. There is no real evidence that Jesus organized anything. It is my opinion that his goal was to reform Judaism, not invent another religion.

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  39. MH on January 15, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    #37 – there is evidence that points to the tribe of Levi not existing at the time of Deborah, and that it evolved over time to include those that held the priesthood (even though they were actually from other tribes).

    Where are you getting this evidence? I’m not familiar with such a theory.

    #38 – John 15:16, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

    Mark 16:15-16, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

    It sure seems like Jesus was trying to start something, rather than 12 guys just choosing to follow him. Of course Stephen also replaced Judas, so there seems to have been some sort of continuation of the quorum.

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