Thursday, November 13, 2008

Authentein in Wolters Part 2

I am going to try and summarize the various meanings of the occurrences of authentein found in Al Wolters article.

I will exclude meanings

- derived from lexicons, as that is considered secondary evidence, not primary.
- 4th century or later
- created for the direct purpose of creating citations of "to have authority" for authentein in order to prove that women should not have leadership positions in the church.
- created to prove that women should have leadership positions in the church.

I will include as many other meanings of the word that I can find in these various studies.

Baldwin's study in Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth

Baldwin's study in Women in the Church
Wolter's article
Belleville's article

1) Philodemus. - This has no meaning assigned by Wolters. It is a reconstructed fragment and the notion that authentein was associated with the meaning of "those in authority" was accidental. Whether authentein was in this fragment cannot be firmly established nor its meaning.

2) BGU 1208 - Wolters assigns it no meaning. Baldwin and Grudem in his footnotes assign it the meaning of "compel." Baldwin suggests that here "compel" means to "seek to exercise authority" but without corroborating witness from outside the study. This untranslated fragment has been available on my site for some time but no one has offered to show how the author sought to have authority. It is a private letter about a private quarrel. No legal authority is in view. I record "compel" or "prevail on."

3) Aristonicus Alexandrinus - Wolters suggests "doer" and "speaker." Belleville offers "author" and Baldwin to "instigate."

4) 1 Timothy 2:12 - meaning unassigned

5) Ptolemy Tetrabiblos - Wolters and others concur that it means "dominate" or "control."

6) Moeris Atticista Lexicon Atticum - "have independent jurisdiction"

7) Another reconstructed fragment unfamiliar to me - similar to 5).

8) Origin - Commentary on 1 Corinthians. Origin writes that 1 Tim. 2:12 means that women are not to be leaders of men in the ministry of the word. The difficulty is that this meaning is for the purpose of proving that women cannot be leaders in the church. Origin does not use authentein himself in any other context so we cannot see how he would use the word.

9) Hippolytus, On the End of the World - "lord it over"

That about wraps it up for uses of authenteo before the 4th century. The question is why anyone says it means to have leadership in the church. Clearly Origin carries a lot of weight. Odd duck, that one. We aren't too committed to some of his other beliefs.

9 comments:

tom said...

Thank you for the effort here, Suzanne...it got me back into Wolters' text. Let me comment on your comments re how Wolters takes the meanings of authentein in the texts you & he refer to. Whether he's right or wrong, we do want to be fair to Wolters (et al.). I'd suggest other readers of this blog also read Wolters article and decide for themselves. We all bring 'a spin', and together thru dialogue, prayer, study, etc., we hope to neutralize unwarranted spin from whatever source.

1) Philodemus. - This has no meaning assigned by Wolters.

{It is a reconstructed text as you note, and Wolters admits that if [a big IF] authentein is present, the meanings of ‘rule’ or ‘have authority over’ would be appropriate. This is not just an appeal to the lexicons, but a statement of agreement with them in this case.}

2) BGU 1208 - Wolters assigns it no meaning.

{I’d say rather that Wolters accepts the standard meanings of ‘to have full power or authority over’}

3) Aristonicus Alexandrinus - Wolters suggests "doer" and "speaker." Belleville offers "author" and Baldwin to "instigate."

{Wolters says a bit more, citing Acts 14.12, “chief speaker” and the German Wortfuhrer, interpreter, mouthpiece, spokesman, spokesperson, spokeswoman. And in his conclusion he claims "It is clear that all these examples illustrate the verb authentein, in the sense ‘to be an authentns’, and are semantically dependent on the meaning ‘master’ (or its variant ‘doer’). It would seem that speaker/doer retains for Wolters a sense of 'master' and so 'authoritative speaker/doer’.}

4) 1 Timothy 2:12 - meaning unassigned

5) Ptolemy Tetrabiblos - Wolters and others concur that it means "dominate" or "control."

{Actually Wolters seems to prefer ‘predominate’ … which is a significant shift; he only mentions that other translations have used "dominate" or "control."}

6) Moeris Atticista Lexicon Atticum - "have independent jurisdiction"

{"have independent jurisdiction" is the meaning of the lexical synonym; Wolters, therefore, glosses authentein as “to be master in one’s own sphere”

7) Another reconstructed fragment unfamiliar to me - similar to 5).

{Is not “rule” given as a probable meaning?}

8) Origin - Commentary on 1 Corinthians. Origin writes that 1 Tim. 2:12 means that women are not to be leaders of men in the ministry of the word.

{O. is, though, citing the text and ‘explaining/applying’ it; thus his use of ‘leader’ is an indication of how he understood authentein (which he explicitly cites). (I'm not sure your ad hominem reference to O.'s other views adds much of value. We are looking at how he as a 3rd century user of Greek understood the words. You are right, of course, that we do need to evaluate as much of the total picture as we can.}


9) Hippolytus, On the End of the World - "lord it over"
{not cited by Wolters, is it?}


And again, in his conclusion Wolters claims "It is clear that all these examples illustrate the verb authentein, in the sense ‘to be an authentns’, and are semantically dependent on the meaning ‘master’ (or its variant ‘doer’).”

To honour his conclusion we’d have to see how this is the case in each of the above, at least from his point of view. I’ve tried to give some indications. And, again we note the influence of his 'word-family' methodology.

Peter Kirk said...

Thanks, Suzanne. Your mention of Origen (the correct spelling) makes me wonder if Galatians 5:12 might be a suitable response to those who try to use this word to undermine the freedom and unity of 3:28!

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Tom,

Thanks for reviewing this and for giving me the incentive to reread his article. I emailed Wolters last year and we reviewed this data thoroughly.

It is Wolters opinion that authentein means "to have authority." Yet nowhere does he cite independent evidence for this.

The nature of such evidence would have to be some indication that authentein had already been translated as "to have authority" when it occurs elsewhere in Greek literature. There is no case of this. Wolters opinion that this could be done, is not the same thing as proving that it has been done. It has not.

This is the difference between evidence and opinion. I have not expressed my opinion in this post, but have cited the evidence. Each of us, myself, Wolters and others, have the same evidence before us.

Does this make any kind of sense? I am not sure how to explain what evidence is. But this is why Kostenberger claims that the word had been used only once or twice and its lexical meaning is not clear. He is perhaps quite aware of this evidence.

tom said...

Hi...well, Wolters' philological approach to the 'word-family' evidence, is evidence...and evidence that would/could bear on all the members in the family. I note, Suzanne, that you have studied biliteracy, so perhaps you are aware of the studies of the cognitive processing-reality of morphological groupings, both derivational and inflectional. I suspect Wolters 'word-family' approach can be supported and sustained, though likely not without some modifications required...the point being, the case could well be made that this is a form of 'independent evidence'.

To ask for 'translation evidence' as the key here is not, from my perspective, the strongest form of such evidence, nor certainly the only form for such "evidence." Though linked with the word-family approach, Wolters does provide some rather interesting evidence from "Ancient Translations and Loanwords" (see his section with that title). I think Wolters is right (for the reasons he gives), that "the evidence of ancient translations needs to be handled with discretion."

Likely, though, I gather that this is not the best forum for such ongoing discussions, which would need to be increasingly technical, addressing various foundational concerns--including, what is evidence/opinion, and post/modern hermeneutical concerns, bearing on, e.g., what a request for "independent evidence" actually entails and what is meaning, specifically in relation to morphological variants, i.e.'form'; etc. Such discussions would as well best be pursued in a safely non-polemical ethos. You have been most gracious, and I thank you; not all entries, though, invite such open explorations.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I have tried to proceed through the various issues, one step at a time. All occurrences of the verb authenteo previous to or around the NT have a negative or neutral but non-human context. There is no evidence that authenteo is an acceptable way for one human being to treat another human being. I see no context which would suggest godly or protective leadership.

Certainly we could continue with a word study examination if you are interested. I welcome your well researched comments.

Do you think that the uses of athentes suggest a leader in the church? I will spend more time on this if you are interested in discussing it.

tom said...

Let me take a break here to do more background reading.

btw: your link says 'Baldwin's study in Evangelical Fem. and Bibl Truth' (rather, Grudem's)

Don said...

What are the dates for the various texts?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Tom,

I need a break too, but I appreciate all your points. You have given me lots to think about and I look forward to your further comments.

Don,

I'll try to add the dates this evening.

Janice said...

On page 2 of the .pdf Wolpers says of the use of 'authentis' prior to 312AD that,

"It should be pointed out that in none of these cases is ‘master’ used in the pejorative sense of
‘autocrat’ or ‘despot’. In fact, it is used twice in Christian contexts to refer to the lordship of Jesus Christ."

The argument is that if the word is used to refer to Jesus' lordship then it must have a "good" meaning. Fine. Then why not translate the relevant part of 1 Timothy 2:12 as, "I do not permit a woman (yet - which is how the Online Greek Interlinear Bible translates the "de" particle) to teach nor to have lordship over (lord it over?) a man"?

It's all very well to say that 'lord' and 'master' didn't have any pejorative connotations prior to 312AD but times have changed. Do any of us now view the elders or pastors of our church as our 'lords' or our 'masters'? Of course we don't. These days those words have connotations that are appropriate to Jesus and to no one else. If you do apply them to anyone else you are most unlikely to be using them in anything but a pejorative sense.

So 'master' wasn't a pejorative term prior to 312AD. No doubt some 'masters' were good masters. But, all other things being equal, I think it's most likely that those who had a 'master' back then would have preferred not to be under a 'master' but to be their own 'master'. None of us likes being bossed around. Even little children protest about being told what to do by their older siblings. They say, "You're not the boss of me."

These days 'master' is a pejorative term. The word suggests a power to compel obedience in every aspect of one's life. That is not suggested by the term 'have authority'. These days, in Western democracies, authority has limitations. A person may have authority to read your electricity meter and record the reading so that you will be billed for your electricity usage, and that's all. A person may have authority to celebrate marriages, and that's all. No one has authority to compel obedience in every aspect of another person's life. So the word 'authority' seems fairly innocuous and non-pejorative.

But what about when the sphere of authority isn't defined? In the translation, "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men," the 'yet' is missing and no sphere of authority is defined. Hence the lack of authority of all women over any man is absolute. Because of that translation we see the spectacle of male leaders of CBMW trying to find a way of saying it was OK to vote for Sarah Palin even though, had she been elected, she would have had Vice-Presidential authority over millions of US men.

If linguists would just translate 'authentein' according to what they think the word meant in Paul's day (so we could discover what it meant to be a 'master' of someone else in Paul's day and then apply that understanding to our current situation) and stopped trying to give it a meaning that is non-pejorative these days we'd all be better off.