Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Response to the Open Letter Part 2

In my recent post Response to the Open Letter I responded to three of Dr.Grudem's challenges in his Open Letter to Egalitarians. Mike Seaver of Role Calling has kindly agreed to an exchange of posts on this topic.

Mike has also posted his own open letter here. I have responded with a couple of comments but I realize that I have not completed my response to the original open letter. Here are the three points in Grudem's letter that I had not responded to. First, Dr Grudem's question and then my answer.

Dr. Grudem writes,

3. “or’’ (Greek ē): In 1 Corinthians 14:36, some of you argue that the Greek word ē (“or’’) shows that the preceding verses are a quotation from the Corinthian church which Paul denies. Therefore you say that Paul is not really telling the Corinthian church, the women should keep silence in the churches. ...

Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where this word for “or’’ (¯e) is used to introduce what the readers know to be false, so the author can deny both what goes before and what follows?


In the notes of the NET Bible, we find this conclusion, regarding 1 Cor. 14:34-35,
    The very location of the verses in the Western tradition argues strongly that Paul both authored vv. 34-35 and that they were originally part of the margin of the text. Otherwise, one has a difficulty explaining why no scribe seemed to have hinted that these verses might be inauthentic.
The notes clearly suggest that these verses were in the margin, based on manuscript evidence, and then argue from silence that Paul must have written them. (Let me add that there is no consensus among complementarians or egalitatarians on the status of these verses.)

Until there is a consensus on the placement of these verses in the original, we cannot do more than speculate on the meaning of the word "or" in this passage.

Dr.Grudem writes,

5. “neither X nor Y’’: In 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man,’’ the grammatical structure in Greek takes the form, “neither + [verb 1] + nor + [verb 2].’’

Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where the pattern “neither + [verb 1] + nor + [verb 2]’’ is used to refer to one action that is viewed positively and one action that is viewed negatively?


In my previous response I explained that there is no evidence for a positive connotation for authenteō in 1 Tim. 2:12. BDAG cites its meaning as "to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to." In fact, Dr. Kostenberger comments,
    owing to the scarcity of the term in ancient literature (the only NT occurrence is 1 Tim. 2:12; found only twice preceding the NT in extrabiblical literature) no firm conclusions could be reached on the basis of lexical study alone.
In fact, no one has provided an occurrence of authenteō at the time of the NT which has a positive connotation. However, there is an example of a negative occurrence for didaskō (to teach) here in Titus 1:11,
    They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.
In conclusion, there is no positive occurrence for authenteō (to dominate see BDAG) and there is a negative occurrence for didaskō (to teach). It is therefore probable that both verbs were meant to be taken negatively.

Dr. Grudem writes,

6. Women teaching false doctrine at Ephesus: In 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man,’’ many of you say the reason for Paul’s prohibition is that women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus (the church to which 1 Timothy was written).

Will you please show us one reference in all of ancient literature, whether inside or outside the Bible, that states that all the Christian women at Ephesus (or even that any Christian women at Ephesus) were teaching false doctrine?


This is an argument from silence. What we do know is that there was a goddess Artemis worshiped at Ephesus. She was the patron goddess of women in childbirth and there were priestesses in her service. This was clearly a very contentious issue and caused a considerable commotion in Acts 19:34.
    But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
It is therefore possible that Christian women at Ephesus were still faithful to Artemis in some way.

While any answer to these three questions of Dr. Grudem's can only be speculation, I hope that I have demonstrated that the balance of the evidence does not support the complementarian view to the exclusion of the egalitarian view.

11 comments:

Clix said...

Suzanne, has anyone looked into the "I do not permit" in the Timothy passage? I have always thought that it sounded like the author was explaining himself, not giving orders. But I don't think I've ever seen discussion on the matter.

Lin said...

"I hope that I have demonstrated that the balance of the evidence does not support the complementarian view to the exclusion of the egalitarian view."

And that would be the whole point! Grudem conveniently leaves OUT information to make it seem his view is the only one. Quite frankly, it astonishes me that we have built an entire new 'law' in the NC on such vague proof texts.

What about the fact that 1 Corin 14 contradicts 1 Corin 11 where the women WERE praying and prophesying in the Body. Why didn't Paul mention how wrong they were to do so?

And how can they possibly believe there is a 'work' of salvation or sanctification for women in 1 Tim with childbearing? But they do.

It is OK to question the experts. We must. The Bereans did.

believer333 said...

The Classical Greek scholar Dr. A. Nyland has a note about the word translated "or" in 1 Cor. 14. She says that it is a word that means something akin to 'rubbish'. Specifically it is a negative sound like pshaw! or ffffttt! Thus the word itself establishes that Paul is disagreeing with the previous statement.

I have to say that Paul's words afterwords do read like a disagreement.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

You have all brought up some really good points. I consider myself to be very conservative as an exegete so I am really trying to present facts that we can all agree on.

The word translated as "or" could mean, "on the contrary" but it does have a huge list of meanings.

When Paul says "I do not permit" he is specifically talking about himself in this situation. Clearly not everything Paul says is for all time - he was clear about that elsewhere.

But in this case, I understand the word authenteo to be very negative and something no one should do.

Don B. Johnson said...

Paul uses the eta or expletive of repudiation in many places in 1 Cor and well as some in Rom. In 1 Cor it is like he is talking to people at Corinth.

I recommend Bruce Fleming's book at www.thinkagainbooks.com.

believer333 said...

Please forgive my straying from this topic. I don't know any other place to contact you to ask this question.

I am concluding a Church Bible study of Romans. In Chapter 16 in verse 2, the online interlinear wibsite show two words in that verse that are not translated. They are no shown in my personal Greek interlinear and Nyland does not mention them in her translation.

Are these words only found in a certain copy and not others? If so, which one. And do you know what words are and their meaning. It looks like prosdezEsthe autEn ???

http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/NTpdf/rom16.pdf

If you could I would really appreciate some input on this. Thanks in advance.

believer333 said...

Sorry, about the multiple misspellings. :) I was in a hurry.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

B333,

The interlinear is showing two variants. The first one has "WH" above for Westcott-Hort and the second "NA" for Nestle Aland. This does not affect the meaning in any way. They are not extra words, but words that appear in a different order in the two different texts. So nothing has been left untranslated in this passage.

believer333 said...

Ahh thank you so much Suzanne. :)

Toppo said...

Suzanne,

Re question 4.

You agree therefore with Dr Grudem, that there is not one example in all ancient greek to support a common egal claim (obviously not yours)that Paul is rejecting a Corinthian quote.

Re question 5.

You also agree with Dr Grudem and Dr Kostenberger that there is not one example to show that Y is positive when X is negetive, therefore both are either positive or negetive. Therefore you also remove yourself from the common egal claim that 'to teach' is positive, but 'to exercise authority' is negetive.

Re question 6.

You agree with Dr Grudem that there is not one internal or external source to say that a woman or women were false teachers in Ephesus. You must admit therefore, that to say there is a woman false teacher(s) is pure speculation.

As i see it, these questions are not theological ones. Dr Gurdem asserts himself, that is is only about 'factual evidence'. Why is it that Egalitarian's continue to give interpretations or 'theologies', when there are simply no 'facts' behind there grammatical interpretations. Seems odd don't you think?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Toppo,

Welcome.

You agree therefore with Dr Grudem, that there is not one example in all ancient greek to support a common egal claim (obviously not yours)that Paul is rejecting a Corinthian quote.

No, I don't agree with that. Since the best scholarship places the preceding verses in the margin of the earliest manuscripts, I have not bothered to pursue this question at all.

You also agree with Dr Grudem and Dr Kostenberger that there is not one example to show that Y is positive when X is negetive, therefore both are either positive or negetive. Therefore you also remove yourself from the common egal claim that 'to teach' is positive, but 'to exercise authority' is negetive.

I agree with Kostenberger and Grudem that they both have to be either positive or negative. I believe that most egalitarians view them both as negative, as I do. You are welcome to provide me with evidence to the contrary.

You agree with Dr Grudem that there is not one internal or external source to say that a woman or women were false teachers in Ephesus. You must admit therefore, that to say there is a woman false teacher(s) is pure speculation.

There were priestesses in Ephesus. This all depends on how one defines a false teacher.

Sorry I cannot be more specific. I feel that any application of this text to the Christian walk must depend on much speculation. It is better to be guided by a moral code of doing right.