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With exposure to classes and experience in teaching, women's Bible knowledge was both emphasized and improved during the period of this study. They did not normally address themselves to subjects of a deep theological or doctrinal nature (only a select group of ministers did), but they strove to acquire a face-value grasp of the Bible, particularly the New Testament. Josephine Jenkins Truett, wife of Texas's most celebrated Baptist minister, Mrs. Truett was also the daughter of a well-known Baptist layman and Baylor trustee, Judge W. H. Jenkins, and sister of the missionary to China, Annie Jenkins Sallee. She was active in Woman's Missionary Union and was particularly supportive of its educational goals. wrote the weekly Sunday school column carried in the Baptist Standard in the early 1900s, but she did so anonymously. Her authorship was acknowledged following her retirement in 1902. See BS , April 3, 1902, p. 4. Her lessons were simple verse-by-verse explanations of a Bible passage—the adult-Bible-study format common to Sunday school literature—but they were well-written and judged suitably instructive even for male readers. Mrs. Truett and other women demonstrated that they had the biblical knowledge to participate in the denomination on equal footing with men, just as they had the managerial skills, but they chose to limit themselves in order to maintain the ideal of sexual hierarchy whose rationale they were inadvertently destroying.

Those men who felt certain that women would continue to maintain some degree of subjection or who were unthreatened by their achieving equality celebrated these educational accomplishments as the solution to the social upheaval in women's role. With the loss of the demand for women's physical labor in industrial society, women might have been reduced to mere sexual objects,

human parasites,
explained J. M. Dawson, but Christian enterprises expanded to include them. Women were able to replace the physical with mental activity and to employ what they learned to accomplish
the mightiest task that ever loomed on the horizon of time. . .the evangelism of the world.
BS , June 19, 1913, pp. 1, 3, 11. E. C. Routh, addressing women graduates of the seminary training school in 1915, echoed the same sentiment: he viewed education and the resulting skills as the proper replacement for women's lost domestic functions if they were accompanied by strong religious devotion; otherwise
weakened domestic and self-sacrificing traditions of women
a dangerous thing."
BS , July 8, 1915, pp. 1, 5, 25. Dawson, a remarkably fair man, clearly felt that return to those confining
"self-sacrificing traditions
was not an option. In addition to encouraging women to develop their educational potential, he acknowledged that by doing so, they could correct the church's misogynist imbalance and bring into existence
a full, well-rounded expression of Christianity.
BS , June 19, 1913, p. 11.

During the nineteenth century the role of the clergy in Southern Baptist churches evolved to one of greater power, authority, and status, from the simple frontier farmer-minister to the ministerial professional. At a time when the status of the clergy was declining among the older, more established Protestant denominations, Baptist preachers were just forming seminaries, winning financial support, and working full-time for a single congregation. Southern Baptists as a group were moving from a scattered, sectarian form of government to an organized church-type structure; the denomination, as well as its professionals, was still on an incline. Historian Kenneth K. Bailey affirmed that clergymen retained exalted status in the South through the 1920s and until the present in some regions. Kenneth K. Bailey, Southern White Protestantism in the Twentieth Century (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1964), p. 163. Until well into the twentieth century, when other professional classes developed, ministers stood out as men of prominence, education, and intelligence in many rural Texas communities. Baptist ministers, although they hold no official rank within the movement, ironically had access to nearly unlimited power. A Baptist pastor with dramatic talent and personality could gain higher prestige within his group than is accorded official priests in other denominations. Paul M. Harrison, Authority and Power in the Free Church Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959), p. 217.

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Source:  OpenStax, Patricia martin's phd thesis. OpenStax CNX. Dec 12, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11462/1.1
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