Monday, 5 August 2019

Lucy Peppiatt on the Third Creation Story

I’ve started dipping into Lucy Peppiatt’s Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women and finding a lot of good stuff in it. The chapter on 1 Timothy 2:8-15 well sets out the probable Artemis cult background to this strange passage and is persuasive. I haven’t read them yet, but there are also chapters on 1 Corinthians and on the household codes in Ephesians and Colossians, as well as on the Genesis creation stories. In her second chapter, which I am reading presently, Peppiatt looks at how women figure in the overall biblical narrative—and this passage caught my eye especially, as I think it’s a wonderful example of theological insight concisely stated:

There are three creation stories of the creation of humanity in the Bible. The first is that humanity is made in the image and likeness of God. The second is that a human is formed from the dust of the earth and woman is taken from man: she is flesh of his flesh. The third is that humanity is reborn through a Savior, who is born of a woman, and he is flesh of her flesh. When God chose to come to earth, he chose the hiddenness of a woman’s womb. When God chose to take on flesh, he chose to take this flesh from a woman. When God chose to appear, he chose to come as a baby, entrusting himself to a woman’s body to be born and to a woman for his care and nurture. Through a man, God reveals himself to us, and through a woman, God makes the connection to humanity. There is no doubt that in the ancient world, this represents an elevated status for women.


These words follow immediately on from the above, from the same paragraph and page, but I wanted to ‘split’ them to allow each set to speak for itself:

In addition to this, women see something in the chosenness of Mary (albeit in a unique fashion) of how God might also choose to use them. She stands as a symbol of a female life submitted to God and then used by him in the most powerful and world-changing way possible. Mary stands in the great line of prophets, judges, and leaders of Israel, appointed by God to fulfill his purposes first for his own people and from there to the whole of humanity. This is, of course, nothing but an apostolic role. 

I’ve emphasised the final couple of sentences here because I think they’re important. I’ve often heard Mary labelled as some kind of role model for women, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard her described in terms of apostolicity or linked to male leaders in quite this way. This is good stuff, surely.

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