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BOOK REVIEWS

551

DANIEL L. HOFFMAN, The Status of Women and Gnosticism in Irenaeus and Tertullian (Studies in Women and Religion 36; Lewiston/ Queenston/ Lampeter:

Mellen, 1995). Pp. [viii] + χ + 240. $89.95.

The impetus for Daniel Hoffman's Ph.D. research, the results of which have now appeared in revised form, was Elaine Pagels's book The Gnostic Gospels (New York:

Random House, 1979). H. analyzes one chapter of Pagels's book in which she argues that the higher status of women in gnostic communities, compared to orthodox communities, is linked to positive feminine imagery in gnostic cosmologies. But H. attempts more than a critique of Pagels; he fully explores the views of Irenaeus and Tertullian on the role of women in the church. Pagels's strongly stated thesis (Gnostic Gospels, 59) is that gnostic ideas were condemned as heretical because gnostic Christians derived "social consequences from

in terms that included the feminine element." H. argues

that female elements are treated negatively in most gnostic cosmologies. The pair God the Father-God the Mother is rare. What Pagels sees as exceptions (e.g., "de­ stroy the works of femaleness," Dial. Sav. 144.16-20) H. shows to be the rule, and in this he follows some early reviewers of The Gnostic Gospels. Kathleen McVey, for example ("Gnosticism, Feminism and Elaine Pagels," TToday 37 [1981] 498-502) made important points about the patriarchal nature of most gnostic cosmologies. H. simply adds more evidence from Nag Hammadi texts that contain antifemale state­ ments. Of course, Gnostics might have negative views of female cosmic powers yet still allow actual women to have prominent roles, as Frederik Wisse notes ("Flee Femininity," Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism [ed. Karen L. King; Philadelphia:

their conception of God

Fortress, 1988] 203). The more valuable part of H.'s work is the close examination of the role of women in orthodox and gnostic circles according to Irenaeus and Tertullian. The primary source in Irenaeus is his account of Marcus and his sect (Adv. Haer 1). Whereas Pagels (Gnostic Gospels, 60) sees women celebrating the Eucharist among the Marcosians, H. suggests that the rite was a reenactment of gnostic cosmogony and, therefore, that the women's roles involved no priestly status. He shows that the rites of the Marcosians are open to various interpretations, as is the role of women

in those rites. H. also corrects Pagels's statement (Gnostic Gospels, 59) that Irenaeus' church forbade women to prophesy in church and demonstrates that Irenaeus has been cited selectively. The same "selective" principles are apparent in Pagels's use of Tertullian. It is easy to cite Tertulliano description of "heretical women" (Depraescr. 41, quoted by Pagels, Gnostic Gospels, 60): "They have no modesty; they are bold enough to teach, to engage in argument, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures, and, it may be, even to baptize," and to argue that he condemned Gnostics because they gave women prominent roles, but then one must ignore Tertulliano challenge to Marcion (Adv. Marc. 5.8): "Let him also prove to me that in his presence some women

both

Christ and God and the Spirit and the apostle will belong to my God." H. argues that Tertullian's primary concern is a disciplined life for both Christian men and women and that "intolerant expressions directed toward women" (p. 182) are rhetorical flour­ ishes occasioned by his sense of impending crisis.

If all such proofs are more readily put in evidence by me

552 THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL QUARTERLY I 58, 1996

Hoffman's conclusions echo the points made in early reviews of The Gnostic Gospels. Second- and third-century orthodox churches allowed women some types of ministry, though not priesthood. There is no clear evidence of women's leadership in gnostic groups, when the sources are examined closely. The Montanists did have women leaders, but the Montanists lacked the distinctive gnostic cosmology; thus, the link between female leadership and positive female cosmology is lacking. The weak- ness of H.'s book lies in the dissertation style: many very lengthy notes are retained but are printed at the end of chapters to make reading difficult. In spite of this, he builds a convincing case proving that authors of historical studies intended for non- specialist readers should be particularly careful to avoid selective and misleading use of sources.

Janet A. Timbie, Chevy Chase, MD 20815

MORNA D. HOOKER, Not Ashamed of the Gospel: New Testament Interpretations the Death of Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994). Pp. 143. $10.99.

of

Eschewing such historical questions as the identity of those responsible for Jesus' execution and Jesus' own understanding of his approaching death, Hooker explores "a few of the many different ways in which the death of Jesus came to be explained and interpreted by our New Testament authors" (p. 1). Testimony comes

from Paul, the four evangelists, and the author of Hebrews, with a single chapter

assigned to 1 Peter, 1 John, and

As the title suggests, an issue of these authors is how each grapples with the historical and theological "shame" of the cross. The scandal of the cross is thus treated in an introduction, with reference to crucifixion in the ancient world and to the problem of Deut 21:23 for those who would accord the cross of Jesus positive significance. Early Christian interpretation, according to H., did not sidestep the embarrassment of the cross but addressed it directly with reference to the Scriptures and, ultimately, to the work of God. Those familiar with H.'s prior studies of these issues will not be surprised to find a lengthy chapter on Paul wherein the significance of the death and resurrection of Christ is worked out above all in terms of "participation." It is not that H. is unaware of other images of the cross in Paul; rather, she insists that "participation" ("Chris- tians share his death, and they share his life, but because the life they now lead is his life, it must be conformed to his," p. 45) is of central importance for Paul and, thus, for her presentation of Paul's theology of the cross. Along the way, H. casts doubt on the appropriateness of attributing a penal substitutionary view of the cross to Paul. Hooker turns from Paul to consider the death of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, noting above all Mark's notion that Jesus' messiahship can be understood only by those who grasp that it will be proclaimed through his death. She notes how Matthew stresses the fulfillment of Scripture and the innocence of Jesus, deemphasizing Mark's story of weakness in order to accord greater privilege to God's power at work through the cross. H. observes how Luke underscored the necessity of Jesus' passion and, with

Revelation.