The Struggle for Female Authority in Biblical and Mormon Traditions
DATE: February 19 (Fullerton) and February 20 (La Canada – Flintridge).
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
We are pleased to have as our February 2016 Miller Eccles speaker, Dr. Cory Crawford, Assistant Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Ohio. He will speak on his timely article, “The Struggle for Female Authority in Biblical and Mormon Traditions,” published in Dialogue — A Journal of Mormon Thought.
THE TOPIC: The Old Testament refers to righteous women exercising authority, such as Deborah, the Prophetess and a Judge of Israel (Judges 4). Likewise, in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul mentions righteous women as fellow servants, such as Phebe, Junia and others. Yet many statements attributed to Paul concerning the role of women in the primitive church are contradictory.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Michael Otterson, managing director of LDS Public Affairs, cited the absence of precedent as the reason women are not ordained in the Church: “Holding offices such as Bishop and Apostle—there is no scriptural precedent for that, and so we don’t ordain women to those positions.” What is striking about the recent official LDS appeal to scriptural silence is that it appears to ignore the most polemic passages, such as 1 Tim 2:8–15 (“no woman . . .[has] authority over a man”) and Gen 3:16 (“[Adam] shall rule over [Eve]”) as precedents for a gendered priesthood ban. Thus it may signal the emergence of a parallel with LDS discourse about race, in which appeals to scripture and tradition were replaced with similar expressions of agnosis. Continued attention to scriptural precedent and discourses of gender, as well as to the best recent scholarship on this issue, seem warranted, especially in the absence of detailed official commentary on the matter.
Scholarly investigation of the cultural context of racial concepts of priesthood has done much to shed light on the origin and development of the racial priesthood ban, and it is toward a further understanding of the gender ban that the Dr. Crawford undertook his research.
THE SPEAKER: Dr. Cory Crawford (PhD Harvard, 2009) is assistant professor of Biblical Studies in the Department of Classics and World Religions at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Before Ohio he taught ancient history at Brigham Young University (Department of History). In 2014-15 he held a Volkswagen/Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Eberhard-Karls Universität in Tübingen, Germany. He currently serves as associate editor of Studies in the Bible and Antiquity, a publication of the Maxwell Institute at BYU. In addition to the recent Dialogue article on the struggle for female authority, Dr. Crawford has published on the Israelite Tabernacle and Jerusalem Temple, on ancient art and text, and on the notion of Apostasy in the Bible and LDS narratives. He is currently working on a manuscript that examines the role of the Temple in the creation and manipulation of Israelite cultural memory.
Cory is currently serving as Elders’ Quorum President in the Athens, Ohio Ward, where he lives with his wife, Rebekah Perkins Crawford, and their three children.
Posted by Scott Volmar