I think one important concept that each of us has to make a decision on is the relationship between Bible and culture. It’s sort of a chicken-and-the-egg situation. Which came first? Did the Jewish culture determine the basic viewpoints behind what’s written in the Bible or did the teachings that were encapsulated in the Bible shape the Jewish culture?
This question comes into play in many discussions, but it’s at the forefront of the discussion about gender. Does the Bible say what it says about male leadership because it was produced by a patriarchal society? Or did the Jewish culture become patriarchal based on what God instructed them?
I haven’t encountered anything that moves me away from the second position. I think we see enough queens and priestesses in the ancient world to know that Jewish society could have been much more gender inclusive than it was. I believe that they didn’t move in that direction because they were so instructed by God.
Don’t really mean to make this about gender. The principle has much wider application. Is the Bible nothing more than a reflection of the culture in which it was written? Or does the Bible present inspired teachings that helped shape the culture which first received it?
I think culture shaped how the thoughts of the Bible were presented, the language that was used, the specific examples that were given… but I believe the teachings originated with God.