This book is a very thought provoking, thorough expose of just what exactly the partiarchy IS. Birkey does in fact have some new and insightful things to say about this topic.
The first chapters he covers just what exactly the partiarchy is and the damage it causes. Like violence against women, racism and permissive sexism. I would go as far to say he is also pretty harsh on those that try and "christianize" the partriarchy, when its basically an impossibility in his view. He talks about Jesus against the partriarchy, but does it in an interesting way. Instead of the usual "Jesus talked to women, women were disciples, etc, etc" he talks about how Jesus spoke to the religious leaders as examples of the partriarchy. The white washed tombs of religiously also represented the lack of life in a perpetual patriarchy. He also does a lot of research on the early church fathers. Before reading this book, I had independantly read the early church fathers and frankly, did not have a very high view of them because it was obvious they had bought into secular societies view of women then. And that crept into their theology (read: pushing women out of the church leadership and establishing and overarching hierarchy of dominate males). He harshly critisizes evangelicals for their lack of knowledge of the first two centuries of the church and looking into what the cultural conditions were of that day and how they may have affected church doctrine after the canon was closed. The line between evangelicals and fundamentalists is starting to blur and its quite embarassing. It seems we have a generation of people who do not know how to critically think about what they are being taught by those from the pulpit. He sounds hopeful though that things can change. He is frankly more of an optimist than me.
He covers the gamet of egalitarian thinking, from percieving verses like 1 Tim 2 to being a verse that was descriptive, to talking some about the Greek that it was written in. He also talks about Paul Against the Partiarchy. He makes an interesting case for women elders/bishops and the use of "authority" in those cases. And how it evolved to become something that Paul did not intend.
My only critisism of the book would be I felt his tone could be a little bit harsh sometimes. and that is from ME! I am pretty harsh myself on those that still hold the view of the subordination of women. He never actually STATES that he questions the salvation of those that espouse the patriarchy, but sometimes I get the feeling he may THINK it. But again, I think its mostly because of the attempt to "Christianise" something that is so TERRIBLE and UNJUST. That is completely an opinion and I am not about to put words in his mouth.
But I would mark this book as a rather large challenge to those "complementarians", to answer to all of his critisisms. Oh and for the record, he does not just say stuff about "complementarians" he also talks about egalitarians and flaws he percieves. I am still trying to get my head around what he said about Webbs work. I really like the redemptive heurmanutic myself, but maybe he is still okay with patriarchy, at least that is what Birkey got from it.
On the whole though, the book was a really good, if somewhat depressing read. Depressing because patriarchy is all around us and he really makes you SEE it for what it is. Its dark and ugly, no matter how "nice" you try and make it.