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Models of Women’s Leadership in the Bible

When searching for models of women leaders, the most obvious place to begin for many

Christian readers is the Bible. Throughout its pages there are numerous positive examples

of women who were active in leading, prophesying, and teaching. There are also

numerous examples of women who were not. Yet a journey through the biblical text is

helpful to appreciate the contribution of women to community leadership. There are

many factors that have effected their contribution within ancient cultures. The main

factors that we will highlight as we explore a biblical theology of women in leadership

are the shifting cultural and political landscapes of the communities in the biblical text.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for contemporary readers of Scripture is to understand the

cultural framework in which the communities existed. The first lens through which we

will develop a biblical theology of women is the cultural framework of patriarchy (or,

patrilineal 11 in the least). The patriarchal world of the biblical text can seem far removed

from our own contemporary experience or ideals. This structure, in general, excluded

women in the Old Testament from participation in formal leadership roles. The examples

of women in the biblical text who functioned in formal leadership roles are limited. So

apart from a few women who entered the domain of formal, male, public leadership, the

majority of women it seems could only demonstrate leadership or influence through

informal, private avenues. Yet, when looking beyond the public sector to the private, the

contribution of women is enormous. This factor is connected to the second area of

interest in this biblical theology of the contribution of women; the governmental

framework or social organisation of the community. This structure was not static in the

‘Bible’ but developed from a nomadic family group to an institutional monarchy in the

Old Testament, to a multi-cultural nexus in the New Testament. Therefore the

participation of women in the private and public leadership of the community must also

be examined in the light of its changing governmental structures. From this study we can

gain an appreciation of the diverse models of leadership provided by women in the

biblical text. 11 Carol Meyers, Discovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 2

About Jacqui: Graduating with a BA in 1994, Jacqui served as the AOG chaplain and campus director for Students For Christ at Sydney University until 1998. After studying at Southern Cross, she completed her honours and doctoral studies through CSU, graduating in 2006. Jacqui has served as the Student Dean (2002-2005), Dean of Christian Studies (2006-2008) and Academic Dean of the College (2009-2014). Currently, Jacqui is associate professor of Biblical Studies, specialising in Old Testament studies. Her publications include Them, Us and Me: How the Old Testament Speaks to People Today, Raising Women Leaders (edited volume with Shane Clifton), andThree's A Crowd: Pentecostalism, Hermeneutics and the Old Testament as well as various articles and book chapters. Jacqui is an ordained minister of the Australian Christian Churches, and speaks regularly at local and international events. She has also appeared on various nationalTV and radio programs in Australia, including the ABC TV's Q&A program. Jacqui is committed to the mission of higher education in the church, and provides assistance to Pentecostal colleges in developing their institutional goals. She currently serves on the executive of the Society of Pentecostal Studies, and is part of the steering committee for Biblical Ethics in the Society of Biblical Literature. Her research interests include pentecostal hermeneutics, prophetic literature and feminist readings of Scripture. Jacqui is a member of Mountains Church (a church plant of Hawkesbury Church). She loves travelling, photography, art and coffee with friends.Jacqui is a member of the TEQSA Register of Experts.​ Taken from the Alphacrucis website. Jacqui blogs here (Extract from Grey, J, ‘Models of Women’s Leadership in the Bible’ in Raising Women Leaders: Perspectives on Liberating Women in Pentecostal and Charismatic Contexts, Jacqueline Grey and Shane Clifton (eds), Chester Hill, NSW: Australasian Pentecostal Studies, 2009, pp.71-88. Permission Approved.)

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