Book review: Spencer, Salty Wives

My attention has been drawn to this new book which I will now review.

F. Scott Spencer, Salty Wives, Spirited Mothers, and Savvy Widows (Eerdmans 2012)

Engaging feminist hermeneutics and philosophy in addition to more traditional methods of biblical study, Salty Wives, Spirited Mothers, and Savvy Widows demonstrates and celebrates the remarkable capability and ingenuity of several women in the Gospel of Luke. While recent studies have exposed women’s limited opportunities for ministry in Luke, Scott Spencer pulls the pendulum back from a negative feminist-critical pole toward a more constructive center.

Granting that Luke sends somewhat “mixed messages” about women’s work and status as Jesus’ disciples, Spencer analyzes such women as Mary, Elizabeth, Joanna, Martha and Mary, and the infamous yet intriguing wife of Lot — whom Jesus exhorts his followers to “remember” — as well as the unrelentingly persistent women characters in Jesus’ parables.

This book probably has pros and cons. My view is that it is valuable but should be used with care because it might have traces of a softer complementarian position. Let me explain why.

  • Luke does not send “mixed messages” about women.
  • Eerdmans is good but it isn’t as trustworthy as IVP.
  • I’m not particularly happy that the author has felt the need “to engage” with feminist hermeneutics and philosophy, even if it restores the more constructive hard complementarian center. That sort of thinking can be safely ignored, not “engaged”. Would you “engage” with Hitler, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or the anti-gun nuts? No, thought not.
  • I am happy that the author has criticized the exposing (and “exposing” is exactly the right language) by Liberal Bible Scholars that Luke was a feminist and believed that women had “limited opportunities for ministry”. Luke was a hard complementarian who loved women through his medical ministry.
  • I am happy that more traditional methods of biblical study are used. Frankly, too many Liberal Bible Scholars have ignored J. I. Packer for far too long so it is good to see him being used in a book that will be read by them. Of course, hard complementarians never stopped using Pastor Packer. Some soft complementarians claim they never stopped but then they don’t have a problem with ladies teaching women so I doubt it every much.

But I’m particularly endorsing this book  (with all due qualifications) because “salty wife” is how I describe my wife after what I have done to, all over and sometimes in, her when I colonize her in the martial bed (on which see Pastor Mark Driscoll with Mrs Mark Driscoll and Jared C. Wilson and The Gospel Coalition). And she has never once complained.

– Pastor Randy Hawk

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