Saturday, October 06, 2007

Authority 6: returning to the evidence

This is the evidence on αυθεντεω which Grudem discusses. There really isn't anything else.

1. Scholia Graeca in Aeschylus, Eumenides 42a (first century B.C.): "The murderer, who had just committed an act of violence [authenteō ]," where authenteō (perfect participle) means "to commit violence" or "to murder."

2. BGU 1208 (first century B.C.): "I had my way with him [authenteō ] and he agreed to provide Calatytis the boatman with the full payment within the hour."

3. Philodemus, Rhetorica II Fragmenta Libri [V] fr IV line 14 (first century BC): "These orators ... even fight with powerful ( authenteō ) lords." (This is a hypothetical reconstruction of a fragmentary text.)

4. Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos III.13 [#157] (second century A.D.): "Therefore, if Saturn alone takes planetary control of the soul and dominates (authenteō ) Mercury and the moon ..."

What about this evidence? According to Grudem Linda Belleville quotes this evidence to prove that αυθεντεω means "misuse authority". Of course, it is the same evidence that Grudem and Kostenberger use to prove that αυθεντεω means to "exercise authority". I do not believe that the evidence supports either case.

Grudem writes this about the first quote,
    But the first example should not be considered relevant for this discussion, since the comments on Aeschylus, Eumenides found in the Scholia Graeca are from a 10th century A.D. manuscript.21 Belleville gives the reader no indication of why she claims a date of "first century B.C." for this 10th century A.D. reference.
The second quote is the one that is listed in the original study by Baldwin under "compel, to influence someone." and Grudem agrees with this assessment. Ev. Fem & Biblical Truth. page 677 - 680. According to Grudem other translators suggest "prevail" and mention that this is a hostile relationship involving insolence. The fact that Baldwin was able to find someone who would provide a translation with "exercise authority over" has no relevance whatsoever to the argument. As Grudem says, page 680, "The translation of this text is disputed."

The third quote is from the Philodemus fragment. The problems with it are so manifold that I am surprised to find it quoted at all. It no longer exists except as a hand-made facsimile. The word authentein is reconstructed within this fragment. Grudem writes,
    In the third (the fragmentary manuscript), the meaning, "authoritative lords" makes good sense, and it would be impossible to demonstrate the meaning "lords who misuse authority." Baldwin's gives the translation, "those in authority."
This is not valid information. In fact, there is no evidence that there is any word which can be translated as "lords" in this fragment. Baldwin quotes Hubbell's summary of what might be in this fragment if we knew what the words were. There is no translation and no paraphrase, only a condensed abstract of a general idea. Grudem cannot claim that this fragment has been translated because not enough of it remains.

About the last reference Grudem writes,
    In the fourth example, Saturn rules or exercises authority over Mercury (the text is talking about the influence of the planets and no sense of "misuse authority" would be appropriate: Saturn does not "misuse its authority" over Mercury). Baldwin gives the translation, "Saturn ... dominates Mercury and the moon,"24 which is an appropriate way to speak of the relative influence of planets, but once again we find no meaning like "misuses its authority."
While there are many later quotes which supply the meaning of dominate or control in a negative way, there is no actual proof of the meaning of this word apart from its use in astronomy. As far as I can see, one can only prove an amoral use of power such as dominate, for authentein. The truth is that I do not find any command in the Bible for men to behave like this in the church. I do not believe that this is intended to be the benign and appropriate exercise of the teaching gift.

Clearly, in 1 Tim. 2 Paul instructs men not to fight with each other and women not to dominate. There does not seem to be any reference to men dominating in a positive way and thus exercising their authority. Nothing is said about this. Neither would we assume that because Paul does not instruct women not to fight, that they may fight.

I do not believe that it is warranted to postulate a meaning of either "misuse authority" or "exercise authority"for authentein. It is time for those who think they know what this word means to acquire humility and admit that there is no evidence other than "use personal power to make something happen." Is that what Christian leaders are supposed to do? Show me the scripture for this.

It is about time that 1 Tim. 2:12 be translated properly and that people stop talking about a women not "having teaching authority". Teaching is a gift and has authority if it is based on knowledge of the word. There is no other authority.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


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