I have great respect for Ian Paul. So, when he offers a view that I find unpersuasive, I’m glad to give it a hearing anyway.
Here, then, is the gist of his ‘considered summary’, arising from his study of the main biblical texts (Gen 1, 2 and 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 11 and 14, Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2). But here are the bare bones.
1. The creation accounts offer no evidence of hierarchy in male-female relationships as part of the original created order. In fact, this is a surprising absence given the patriarchal context in which these texts were written and read…
2. The gospel accounts appear to show no embarrassment about the commissioning of women to roles that would normally be restricted to men in relation to witnessing the resurrection, communicating this witness to others, and offering reliable testimony that others should trust (though they often do not)…Moreover, the women here are frequently offered (more or less explicitly) as models of testimony or discipleship, and are often presented in sharp contrast to the main group of (male) apostles.
3. The evidence from Acts and Paul goes further. As God gifted them, women appeared to occupy the roles of deacon, leaders, teachers, church planters and even apostles…There is no uniform limitation of certain roles or positions along gender-defined lines.
4. The critical texts in 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and 1 Timothy are best understood as offering a corrective in particular contexts in the light of the outpouring of the Spirit…
5. There is no textual evidence that the New Testament envisages any permanent prohibition on women exercising authority or a teaching role on the grounds of their gender…
6. The nature of the texts on women’s roles sets this issue at some distance from current debates on same-sex relations. There is no positive recognition of same-sex sexual relations to parallel the positive texts on women’s examples and leadership, even if these are set alongside the texts which are disputed or which have been read negatively in the past.
Of course, Ian Paul offers a more extended discussion and defence of his reading of the key biblical texts.
I, for my part, am unconvinced. But, as I say, I’m glad to have such a clear summary of an egalitarian understanding.