St Paul was really a pinko-liberal

Are we wrong to think that St Paul was a misogynist?

Reverend Mark Oden, the Church of England curate who called for women to be "submissive" to their husbands, may find he has a challenge from an unlikely quarter.

The injunction he quoted is from St Paul, in his Letter to the Colossians. It is one of the reasons why the apostle is widely considered to be the originator of all that is repressive and misogynistic in Christian teaching (not to say an MCP, as the old feminist terminology would put it).

But in a forthcoming episode of Channel 4's excellent series The Bible: a History, the historian and regular New Statesman contributor Tom Holland will argue precisely the opposite. Tom, who will be taking part in a talk at the British Library on 3 March with other presenters from the series, tells me that we have it all wrong on St Paul.

Apparently we should consider him to be the father of liberalism and equal rights.

I can't say any more for the moment, but I do think that Tom's programme will be one of the more compelling -- and provocative -- in the series. Certainly something for Oden, who made those decidedly odd remarks in a St Valentine's Day sermon, to consider . . .

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Sholto Byrnes is a Contributing Editor to the New Statesman
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Theresa May takes early lead in the Conservative leadership race

The first poll of the Tory contest puts the Home Secretary well out in front

Theresa May, the Home Secretary is well ahead among Conservative members according to a new YouGov poll for the Times

She is both the preferred first choice of a plurality of members from an open field (she secures 37 per cent of the vote, with her nearest rival, Boris Johnson, 10 points behind) and roundly trounces Johnson with 55 per cent to 38 per cent. In all other head-to-heads, Johnson wins comfortably.

Although YouGov have a patchy recent record in national contests - they predicted the London mayoral victory but failed to foresee the Conservative majority or the Brexit vote - they are four for four as far as internal party contests are concerned, having accurately predicted both the result and the final vote share of the 2015 and 2010 Labour leadership contests and the 2005 and 2001 Conservative contests. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.