Beyond Authority and Submission: A Review

By Jonathan Master - Posted at Reformation 21:

Although I do not know Rachel Green Miller personally and I am not on social media, I have been able to follow some of the debate surrounding her writing for a number of years. In my work for ACE, I have published her articles in the past, and have defended her in various ways both publicly and privately, while also voicing what I hope were fair and constructive criticisms. Miller's recent book, Beyond Authority and Submission, published by our friends at P&R, was endorsed by some close personal friends of mine, people whose expertise and acumen I greatly admire. In addition, several positive endorsements of the book have appeared on ACE sites. All of these things contributed to my interest in reading and reviewing the book for myself, though, because of the constraints of time, this will be less than a full academic review.

Miller's argument in the book involves three key parts. The first is essentially historical. Miller surveys Greco-Roman and Victorian views of women, and also briefly surveys modern feminism. She argues that the Greco-Roman and Victorian view of women has clouded modern conservative biblical interpretation. In her discussion of feminism, she seeks to show that the development of modern feminism is not an unalloyed evil, but rather contains both good and bad elements.

The second part of the book (which she also surveys at the book's outset) attempts to address some of the key biblical texts to give both a big-picture perspective and to respond to teaching on specific passages. Finally, she critically engages with what she considers to be dangerous views found within the church - views which result in heresy, confusion, or abuse.