Saturday, September 29, 2007

Authority Part 2: the Philodemus Fragment

I have been in a discussion of the meaning of authentein in 1 Tim. 2:12 on Denny Burk's blog and he has now decided to moderate out any further discussion on my part about the evidence for authentein. I wish to post here some of the evidence and resources which I have collected.

Denny recommended that I read Grudem's book, Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, to see the evidence for authentein meaning "exercise authority". I have done this and found that the reference to Philodemus is incorrect. I am posting the resources for this today and will pursue the discussion as I find the time.

Here is my comment #70 in full from Denny's post,

    By way of explanation, Denny commented to me,

    “Once again, I would direct readers to Kostenberger’s study. It’s very convincing.”

    I don’t know if I have read the right article by Kostenberger. However, I read this one.

    In the footnotes, Köstenberger provides the only two pieces of lexical evidence which he thins are relevant. He says,

    41These two references are: Philodemus (1st cent. BCE): “Ought we not to consider that men who incur the enmity of those in authority (συν αυθεντουσιν) are villains, and hated by both gods and men”; and BGU 1208 (27 BCE): “I exercised authority (Καμου αυθεντηκοτος) over him, and he consented to provide for Calatytis the Boatman on terms of full fare, within the hour.” For full Greek texts and translations, see Baldwin, “Appendix 2” in Women in the Church, 275–76. (in the PDF page 13)

    The first citation is a reference to Philodemus. However, authentein is definitely not translated as “those in authority” but as “powerful lords” or something of the kind. Several lines later, there is a reference to “those in authority” but not in connection to authentein. It seems there has been a mix up.

    The second citation it the one that Grudem suggests should be translated as “compel”. Therefore, in spite of Köstenberger’s footnote, neither of these two citations gives the obvious meaning “exercise authority”. Whatever the meaning is, I would like to see it properly cited.

And here is # 69,

    The Philodemus quote is a bit difficult, since it is, as I said, a fragment, and the phrase is a quote from an unknown source, so undated, I would presume.

    But the phrase is “fighting with powerful(?) lords(?)”

    διαμαχοντοι και συν αυθεντ[ου]σιν αν[αξιν]

    Since anax is not in BDAG, I am guessing that it is not a Hellenistic term at all.

    My guess is that it is a Homeric term, but that is just a guess. But maybe the word isn’t anax, it is reconstructed also.

    The entire fragment is not translated but Hubbell gives a precis of sorts. It is all available on the internet, so you can translate this yourself and see if authentein has a positive or negative meaning. But it most certainly is not translated as those in authority, as Kostenberger claims. “Those in authority occurs further down in the piece.

    I think that if this quote is being used to shore up the translation “exercise authority” then it should be properly translated, possibly by a secular and non partisan scholar. But I don’t really think that anything new will be revealed from a fragment.

    Philodemi Volumina Rhetorica


    The Rhetorica Philodemus.

    Do you have the reference?

    My guess is that it is a more or less neutral term referring to the exercise of sheer might in this case, a secular power with no moral right attached to it. That is a concession BTW, it could mean usurpers - who knows?

Comment # 75,


    Unless you can assure me that Andreas has corrected his citation of these two references, it is not worth my time and money to acquire the book. Basic accuracy must be attended to.

    If you have the book, then it would be helpful at this point to cite how Andreas deals with Baldwin’s study.

    I have to assume at this point, given your reluctance to respond, that there is no evidence to support the meaning “exercise authority” for authentein.

    To whom will Jesus say,

    “Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” Luke 19:17

    I claim that God gives authority to the one who is faithful in a very little.

    You claim that God gives authority to the male.

Denny responded with,

    If that is your assumption, then your assumption would incorrect. The simple truth is that I have spent a lot of time going back and forth on this thread, and I simply don’t have time to keep it up. Yes, there are alternate translations of the passages you cite. I could get them for you and type them out, but I’m not going to. You can read them in the appendix 7 of Wayne Grudem’s book, Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than 100 Disputed Questions. What you’ll find if you survey the over 300 uses of this term (all of them are listed in Grudem) is that “exercise authority” is a possible rendering for some texts within the timeframe you’ve cited. Let me encourage you to investigate some of that evidence.

    For those who have been watching this thread, I am going to have to exit at this point. It’s becoming too time consuming. There are plenty of answers to the questions that Suzanne is asking, most of which are provided in the Grudem book I cited above. I hope that interested readers will take time to investigate this matter fully.


Denny then started moderating comments and I was unable to let him know that Grudem makes the same error. I did actually publish that error earlier in the discussion. I would be willing to continue this discussion if anyone asks for further references.

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