The Two Cities is a podcast dedicated to Theology, Culture, and Discipleship. This podcast originally began as a blog back in 2011 (thetwocities.com), and now we are extending our eclectic array of theological integration to the world of podcasting. Contributors include professors, PhD students, and pastors based around the world.
African American Readings of Paul with Dr. Lisa Bowens
In this episode Dr. John Anthony Dunne, Grace Emmett, Grace Sangalang Ng, and Rev. Daniel Parham are joined by Dr. Lisa Bowens, associate professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, and the author of African American Readings of Paul: Reception, Resistance, and Transformation, which was published by Eerdmans in 2020. In this episode Dr. Bowens talks to us about her research on the primary sources from the 18th century on through the Civil Rights movement, chronicling some key insights in the interpretation of Paul in slave petitions, essays, speeches, sermons, conversion narratives, etc. In particular, she describes the diversity of African-American pauline hermeneutics, the way that white slaveholders used Scripture to impose slavery, how African Americans read Scripture through the lens of liberty, how that liberative reading of Paul in regards to slavery led to additional liberation for women as well, and how reading Paul in a liberative manner led enslaved African Americans to reinterpret the significance and value of their own bodies.
Critical Theory: Fact, Fiction or Fallacy? With Dr. Matthew Arbo and Dr. Scott Coley
Back by popular demand, Dr. Matthew Arbo and Dr. Scott Coley join Amber Bowen and Dr. John Anthony Dunne for a joint discussion on Critical Theory. Dr. Arbo is Associate Professor of Theological Studies at Oklahoma Baptist University and was previously on our podcast episode entitled “Critical Theory and Ethics”; Dr. Coley is Lecturer of Philosophy and the Director of the Global Encounters program at Mount St. Mary’s University, and he was on our podcast episode entitled “Understanding Critical Theory.” In this episode we discuss whether some of the most common objections to Critical Theory (and particularly Critical Race Theory) constitute “Fact, Fiction, or Fallacy” (or some combination of the three). This episode was recorded Epiphany, the day of the violent insurrection against the US Capitol in Washington DC by pro-Trump extremists attempting to undermine our democracy while Congress was certifying the Electoral College votes. This blatant display of white privilege is an important backdrop to the conversation that we need to name explicitly and reject unequivocally.
Women in the Patristic Era with Dr. Lynn Cohick
As part of our broader series on gender in biblical scholarship, Christian tradition, and the contemporary church, we turn to discuss Women in the Patristic Era. In this episode, Dr. John Anthony Dunne, Grace Sangalang Ng, and Dr. Chris Porter are joined by Dr. Lynn Cohick, who is Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs, and Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lisle, Illinois. We begin by hearing how Dr. Cohick first became interested in the broader topic by studying the visions and spirituality of Julian of Norwich. As the conversation progresses, Dr. Cohick informs us about several prominent women in the early church, such as the martyr Perpetua, and St. Thecla and the cult that emerged in her remembrance. Dr. Cohick also responds to our questions regarding the way asceticism may have shaped the relative roles of women in the early church, how early Christians were reading the New Testament in regard to what it says about women, whether women in the early church held the same ministerial titles that we see in the New Testament, and whether the early church continues a liberative trajectory, such as the one Robert Webb sees in the development from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
Neither Complementarian Nor Egalitarian with Dr. Michelle Lee-Barnewall
Continuing our conversation on gender dynamics in Scripture and the Church, in this podcast episode we talk about the binary of Complementarianism and Egalitarianism regarding how to conceive of the relationship of men and women in marriage and in the church. Has the entrenchment of the binary led us to miss aspects of the text? For this conversation, Dr. John Anthony Dunne, Grace Emmett, and Grace Sangalang Ng are joined by Dr. Michelle Lee-Barnewall, Associate Professor of New Testament at Biola University in La Mirada, CA and author of Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective To The Evangelical Gender Debate (with Baker in 2016). Over the course of the conversation Dr. Lee-Barnewall tells us what she finds to be deficient in both Complementarianism and Egalitarianism, what is often missing from and overemphasized in the debate, how her unique approach fits in church contexts, how Complementarians and Egalitarians alike have responded to her book, how her books fits into contemporary gender identity and gender discourse, and how to think of her ideas in the light of broader cultural interests in diversity of all sorts.
Women in Matthew's Genealogy of Jesus with Dr. Jeannine Brown
In this episode we talk about the significance of the women mentioned in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus. For this conversation, Dr. John Anthony Dunne and Brandon Hurlbert are joined by Dr. Jeannine Brown, Professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary (St. Paul, MN), member of the NIV Translation Committee, and author of a few commentaries on Matthew. We talk about why genealogies are worth digging into rather than skipping, why it's significant that women are mentioned at all in a genealogy in the Bible, and what's significant about the four named women in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and "the wife of Uriah"). Some read these four women in terms of the sexual scandals associated with their stories, but Dr. Brown calls our attention to their whole stories and how they are seen as paragons of faithfulness in the contexts of their stories. Additionally, Dr. Brown notes the ethnic commonalities between the four women as Gentiles. We also discuss the similarities and differences between Luke and Matthew's genealogies, as well as the differences between their respect infancy narratives and whether Matthew's Magi should be included in Nativity sets for Christmas.
Women in 1 Corinthians with Dr. Lucy Peppiatt
Carrying on in our conversation on gender, we turn to discuss women in 1 Corinthians with particular attention given to the passage about head coverings in 1 Cor. 11 and women being silent in the church in 1 Cor. 14. In this episode, Dr. John Anthony Dunne, Brandon Hurlbert, and Dr. Logan Williams are joined by Dr. Lucy Peppiatt, who is Principal of Westminster Theological Centre in the UK and author of a number of related books, including Women and Worship at Corinth (Cascade, 2015), Unveiling Paul's Women (Cascade, 2018), and Rediscovering Scripture's Vision for Women (IVP, 2019). Dr. Peppiatt's background is in Systematic Theology, so she identifies herself as coming to the text as a theologian rather than a Pauline scholar. In her reading of 1 Cor. 11.2–16—the passage that speaks of head coverings and kind of sounds like women are inferior to men—these verses are not Paul's words, but rather part of rhetorical response to the perspective of the Corinthians. Dr. Peppiatt explains that she does not think that Paul believes these words, and that, if he did, the only legitimate interpretation in her view would be that Paul affirms the subordination of women both functionally and ontologically. She notes that this is how one scholar, Michael Lakie, reads the passage does, suggesting that Paul views women as subordinate and less than men. See Michael Lakie, Image and Glory of God: 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 As A Case Study in Bible, Gender, and Hermeneutics (LNTS 418; London: T&T Clark, 2010). On its face, Dr. Peppiatt does not disagree with Lakie's interpretation of 1 Cor. 11.2–16; she disagrees with him regarding who's perspective it is. She affirms that that theology is in the text, but she contends that it's the perspective of the Corinthians. If it were Paul's perspective, it would not fit what Paul says elsewhere in his letters, or what Jesus says in the Gospels, or indeed what we know from the rest of the Bible. For these reasons and more Dr. Peppiatt reads the passage as a rhetorical interaction with the Corinthian perspective. Such a reading benefits from the fact that Paul does quote “Corinthian slogans” elsewhere in 1 Corinthians, and so Dr. Peppiatt extends this phenomenon to include 1 Cor. 11.2–16. Otherwise, Dr. Peppiatt explains that there's also no reason for women to refrain from wearing head coverings either. At this point in the conversation we had a little bit of fun commenting on who was and wasn’t wearing head coverings during the recording of the podcast. From there we shift to 1 Corinthians 14 and the passage about women being silent in church. We talk about the interesting text-critical possibility that Paul did not write 1 Cor. 14.33b–36, and that these verses were inserted later by a scribe, but Dr. Peppiatt explains why she does believe that Paul wrote those words originally. We then discuss some practical matters about how to engage with people who are committed, on the basis of conscience and a sense of Scripture's authority, with reading 1 Corinthians 11 as teaching that head coverings are mandatory and women are subordinate to men ontologically. And further we conclude with hearing from Dr. Peppiatt on how people should address this topic further who want to see more women in ministry, but feel like they cannot get beyond what they see as the implications of 1 Cor. 11.