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Not without justification, Christian theologians (most of whom have been men) have been described as male chauvinists. But to the extent that such an accusation is fair, Paul Jewett would argue, these theologians are not living up to the genius of Christian theology. That is the burden of this provocative new book.
In Man as Male and Female
Professor Jewett sets forth and elaborates a full-orbed theology of human sexuality. The key to it is embedded in the Genesis account of creation. Not only are we told that Man is created in God's image but also "male and female created he them
." The differentiation between the sexes, Jewett argues, captures something of the trinitarian character of the Creator, particularly the dimension of fellowship.
What that means is that the relationship of man to woman is one of partnership, not hierarchy. Man and woman are properly related when they accept each other as equals whose differences complement each other in all areas of life.
Quite a different view took hold as the religion of the Old Testament developed. Man was seen as superior, women inferior; man made the rules, woman obeyed them. Jesus made no radical verbal challenge to that system. But his way of life and his treatment of women, Professor Jewett argues, bespoke a profound new theory, later given definite expression by the Apostle Paul: "In Christ there is . . . no male and female
." In response to those who would quote Paul to support the other side, Professor Jewett contends that Paul's practice simply did not always match his profound and revolutionary insight.
Interspersed among the steps of Professor Jewett's careful theological study are fascinating notes concerning questions like sex in the final eschaton, the marital status of Jesus, the hatred of women in Western thought, and the ordination of women.