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16 February 2010

St Paul was really a pinko-liberal

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

By Sholto Byrnes

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.

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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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