Tell Her Story: How Women Led, Taught, and Ministered in the Early Church, By Nijay K. Gupta
Tell Her Story
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: March 14, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0074
  • ISBN: 9781514000748

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A Comprehensive Look at Women Who Built the Early Church

Women were there. For centuries, discussions of early Christianity have focused on male leaders in the church. But there is ample evidence right in the New Testament that women were actively involved in ministry, at the frontier of the gospel mission, and as respected leaders.

Nijay Gupta calls us to bring these women out of the shadows by shining light on their many inspiring contributions to the planting, growth, and health of the first Christian churches. He sets the context by exploring the lives of first-century women and addressing common misconceptions, then focuses on the women leaders of the early churches as revealed in Paul’s writings. We discover the major roles of people such as:

  • Phoebe, Paul’s trusted coworker
  • Prisca, strategic leader and expert teacher
  • Junia, courageous apostle
  • Nympha, representative of countless lesser-known figures

When we understand the world in which Jesus and his followers lived and what the New Testament actually attests about women in the churches, it becomes clear that women were active participants and trusted leaders all along. They were welcomed by Paul and other apostles, were equipped and trained for ministry leadership, instructed others, traveled long distances, were imprisoned—and once in a while became heroes and giants.

The New Testament writers tell their stories. It's time for the church to retell them, again and again.

"At last, an analysis that gives thorough attention to Scripture's context, culture, and history! Nijay Gupta's Tell Her Story unearths the stunning leadership of biblical women and their allies. It may be the final nail in the coffin of Christian patriarchy."

Mimi Haddad, president of CBE International

"A first-rate introduction to the place of women in the earliest churches. With care and sensitivity to the ancient context, Nijay Gupta skillfully uncovers the stories of a range of female leaders, teachers, and missionaries, and highlights their relevance for today. If you think that only men held leadership roles in the first-century church, you need to read this book! Highly recommended for students and church groups alike."

Helen K. Bond, chair of Christian Origins and head of the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh

"Oh, what we can learn when we tell her story! Wherever you stand on women in the church, Tell Her Story will enrich you. This book shows that we still have a lot of work to do in making women visible. What do the stories of women in Scripture teach us about our God, discipleship, and ministry? How we listen to these stories can reveal what we value. Nijay Gupta gives witness to God's work in the unfolding of the prominence of women in the Scriptures, which also makes visible the overarching story and our location in it as the bride of Christ."

Aimee Byrd, author of The Sexual Reformation

"This book is a significant contribution to the ongoing conversations about women in leadership in the early church. Nijay Gupta takes the reader on an important journey throughout the New Testament and demonstrates that 'wherever men were doing ministry, women were there doing it as well,' leading, teaching, and ministering not as second-class citizens but as equals bearing witness to the power of the gospel to transform lives."

Lisa Bowens, associate professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary

"The history of Christianity is filled with untold, even hidden stories of women's contributions to the ministry of the church from Scripture and beyond. That's why it's my pleasure to recommend biblical scholar Nijay Gupta's most recent book, which features the stories of prominent women from Scripture and the early church based on the most current scholarship. In a readable, informed, vulnerable, and engaging way, Gupta sets the record straight that women could and did serve in significant roles in ministry leadership from Christianity's inception."

Jennifer McNutt, Franklin S. Dyrness Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Wheaton College

"In Tell Her Story, Nijay Gupta brings to the topic of early Christian women (and some of their foremothers) a mastery of New Testament texts and backgrounds. Combining academic expertise with approachable prose, Gupta takes a fresh look at stories, people, and contexts—from judge Deborah leading Israel to deacon-patron Phoebe delivering the Epistle to the Romans to apostle Junia doing prison time. In exploring the prominent place of women in the history of our faith, the author recovers lost meanings and casts a vision for men and women partnering to serve God's people."

Sandra Glahn, seminary professor and general editor of Vindicating the Vixens


Foreword by Beth Allison Barr
Introduction: Hidden Figures

Part One: Before the Women Leaders of the Early Churches
1. Deborah: Prophet, Judge, Mother over Israel
2. Going Back to the Beginning: Genesis 1–3
3. Women in the New Testament World
4.The Women in Jesus' Life and Ministry

Part Two: The Women Leaders of the Early Churches
5. The Early Churches
6. Women Co-laborers in Ministry Leadership
7. Phoebe, Paul's Trusted Proxy
8. Prisca, Strategic Church Leader and Expert Teacher
9. Junia, Venerated Apostle and Imprisoned Hero

Conclusion: Putting It All Together

What About . . . ?
What About Paul Prohibiting Women from Teaching in the Church?
What About the Submission Texts in the New Testament Household Codes?

General Index
Scripture Index


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Nijay K. Gupta

Nijay K. Gupta (PhD, University of Durham) is professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary. His books include A Beginner's Guide to New Testament Studies, Paul and the Language of Faith, and commentaries on Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1-2 Thessalonians.