Thursday, July 15, 2010

Prodigal Thought on 1 Tim. 2

I know my readers will want to read this post by Scott on 1 Tim. 2:8-15. Scott treats verse 12 within the context of the entire passage and refers to the worship of Artemis in Ephesus as well. I too believe that this is an integral part of the context. He proposes that the author is writing about one woman in particular.
    Therefore, from 1 Timothy 2:11-12, I would argue that Paul was not silencing all women for all time. Instead, he was silencing one particular woman who had been deceived. For why else would Paul switch from the plural to the singular? And Timothy would have known exactly whom Paul was talking about. But since the letter would have probably been read publicly, Paul refrained from mentioning her name, helping to pave a way for repentance and restoration for this woman.
However, he concedes that even if this is not the case, the instructions are still in response to a heresy. He concludes,
    In the end, even if one does not accept that Paul is addressing one particular women in vs11-15a, one must at least recognise that Paul was addressing a particular situation in the Ephesian church where a particular heresy (or heresies) were being espoused, possibly from current Artemis worshipers or those who were newly converted Christians but had not yet come under solid teaching. And, thus, it is very obvious that Paul’s words are confronting these particular women and this specific situation in Ephesus.

    Thus, I am still very convinced Paul is not laying down a command for all time that women should remain silent and never exercise authority over men. And, by no means is this founded in the creation account. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if Paul is addressing part of the wrong teaching that was coming forth in Ephesus, reminding them in vs13-14 of what really took place: 1) who was created first and 2) who was actually deceived. But none of this should be seen as a foundation to the gospel for all time that women must remain silent and not exercise authority over men. The new creation has come!

Scott has written in response to a post by TC which brings up the importance of the role of women in the church.

My only quibble, a minor one, is that Scott appears to assume that autentein means "to exercise authority." This is widely held misconception, but in fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that this was one possible meaning of the word. It is a kind of urban legend, and an instrument of deceit, a ploy of Satan, an impertinence of man, wishful thinking on the part of the immature - whatever you want to call it.

But "to exercise authority" is not a meaning of authentein found in antiquity. I have put this challenge out on the blog, and no one has offered this evidence.


Ron Price said...

I think Scott's argument amounts to special pleading. The meaning of 1 Tim 2:11-12 is obvious, which is why it's so controversial. It clearly demands that women be submissive. If it's any consolation, Paul did not write the so-called pastoral epistles, and 1 Cor 14:33b-36 was probably an interpolation, perhaps even by the same man (!) who penned 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus.

Kristen said...

Ron, I'm not sure I'm quite convinced of all of Scott's argument either-- but what is "obvious" in 1 Tim 2:11-12 is that Paul is saying "a woman" (whether this means one or many) is to be allowed to learn. Too many people omit the focus on the focus on the need to learn correct doctrine, that is one of the main themes of 1 Timothy as a whole.

Anyone who is in the process of learning must be submissive while learning. That is also obvious. I also think that the fact that Eve was created after Adam should be read in the same context-- Eve was deceived because she was created second and did not have all the information Adam had learned while he was naming the animals.

In short, it is far from "obvious" that Paul's words are not a temporary injunction, in place until "a woman" or women in general had enough learning to teach. To teach before one has learned is to usurp the authority of one's teachers. That may very well be the sense in which "authentein" is meant.

Whether or not Paul wrote 1 Timothy, the fact remains that it is canon. There are a number of Christians, myself included, who are not willing to toss out parts of the canon so casually. What makes more sense to us is that when the "obvious" meaning of a text clearly contradicts the clear message of Scripture (such as that women are "saved" by having babies, a few verses later), we recognize the distorting quality of our modern language barriers and cultural glasses, and look deeper.

Anonymous said...

I am certain you have read the book by Kroger and Kroger, "I Suffer Not A Woman," where they deal as linguists with the word "authentein." I too have urged others to read this in answer to the meaning of the word, but have had only a few really go to the trouble of investigating it.

It definitely did not mean "authority."