Fallacies in Interpreting Gender Passages

The last few decades have witnessed an increasing awareness of the importance of hermeneutical procedure in interpreting the gender passages in the New Testament. Grant Osborne contends that “the determining factor in the discussion [of gender passages in the New Testament] is hermeneutical.”

Robert Johnston attributes the differences in approach regarding the role of women in the church taken by evangelicals to “different hermeneutics,” calling the study of women’s roles a “test case” of evangelical interpretation. If Johnston is correct, evangelical hermeneutics seem to have failed the test, since the existing exegetical conclusions on the New Testament gender texts vary widely. What is perhaps even more disturbing is the apparent lack of consensus regarding a proper methodology.

The present essay therefore seeks to readdress some of the issues taken up in earlier treatments, taking into account developments since these studies appeared. It also attempts to sharpen further the discernment of improper methodology. It is hoped that the critique of fallacious methodologies will contribute to better hermeneutical procedures. This, in turn, might lead to a greater convergence of exegetical conclusions.

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