Though the ordination of women has been hotly debated in a number of churches (and in particular in the world-wide Anglican Communion) there has been a strange silence on the subject from academic theologians. ""They have left the debate,"" says the author of this book, ""for the most part, to the also-rans."" Without Precedent seeks to examine the arguments that, in the absence of serious academic contributions, have been advanced. In particular it looks at claims of ancient precedent for modern practice. What did Jesus think about women? Was Paul a misogynist or a feminist, a reactionary or a revolutionary? Does the role of Mary of Magdela, in scripture and tradition, offer any guidance (as many have claimed)? Were there female priests, and even bishops, in early Christianity? Extravagant claims have been made and repeated in all of these areas, and have crucially influenced decisions taken. This book provides, in the words of former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams: ""a lucid and helpful survey, which quite rightly punctures some awful historical nonsense."" ""I read it with appreciation for its clarity and comprehensiveness. It is undoubtedly a lucid and helpful survey, which quite rightly punctures some awful historical nonsense."" --Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalen College Cambridge; former Archbishop of Canterbury ""This elegant survey will no doubt cause quite a stir, and rightly so."" --Aidan Nichols, OP, Lecturer in Theology, Blackfriars, Cambridge; author The Panther and the Hind ""Disagree though I may with Geoffrey Kirk's final position, I must strongly recommend this sparkling volume on women's ordination to the priesthood. Dr. Kirk skillfully engages the pertinent Scriptural texts and historical record, and witheringly exposes the largely flabby arguments still making the rounds in church debate. Along the way, he uncovers logical missteps and conceptual failures that have littered the discussion. This is a book that will make reflection wiser and more honest, and finally, one hopes, more faithful to the integrity of our Christian common life."" --Ephraim Radner, Professor of Historical Theology, Wycliffe College, Toronto Geoffrey Kirk read English Literature and theology at Oxford and was for many years National Secretary of Forward in Faith, a campaigning group in the Church of England opposed to the ordination of women. He was an Anglican parish priest and in 2004 entered the Catholic Church.