Friday, June 16, 2006

"1 Timothy 2:12—Once More"

Readers of this blog will recall that we had a discussion recently on this blog regarding the proper interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 ("I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet" [ESV] / "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet" [NET]--and similarly almost all translations).

Some commenters flatly said that the passage was "mistranslated." I suggested that this conclusion was not based on good scholarship, and that the best exegetical-linguistic work in this area showed that the word "authentein" probably means "authority" (in a neutral or positive sense), and that the syntax of the sentence decisively demonstrated this.

The responses questioned how I was in a position to judge what scholarship was "best," suggested that the word study on authentein was inconclusive (to which I agree), and tried to show that their arguments are indeed based on good scholarship--not through argumentation, but rather based on the fact that I. Howard Marshall (a good scholar, no doubt) holds to this view (as cited on an review).

Now Andreas Köstenberger weighs in on the discussion over at his blog with a post entitled
1 Timothy 2:12—Once More.

You’ve heard it said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Well, the same is true with regard to scholarship. Those who are unaware of the best and most recent scholarly work on a given issue will be greatly handicapped in discussions of that issue. This is true, among other things, regarding the proper interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12.

Köstenberger provides an interesting window into the responses of egalitarians to his work:

Since the publication of the first edition of Women in the Church in 1995, both complementarian and egalitarian scholars have reviewed the work, whether in book reviews or commentaries. In the second edition of Women in the Church, which appeared last year (2005), I take up the last decade of scholarship on the syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12 and review all the responses to my syntactical study (see Women in the Church, 2d ed., pp. 74–84).

Here is what I find. With the exception of Linda Belleville, even all the egalitarian scholars who reviewed my chapter on the syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12 agree with my conclusion! This includes even those, like Kevin Giles, who are vehemently opposed to the overall message of the passage and its implications as interpreted in the book. Tellingly, Giles, for example, argues that the author of the Pastorals here probably broke the rules of Greek grammar!

Egalitarian scholars such as Alan Padgett, Craig Keener, and, it appears, also William Webb likewise concur with the construal of the syntax of 1 Tim. 2:12 in Women in the Church. Perhaps most remarkably, a German reviewer, Judith Hartenstein, writes,

My theological position is very different from that of Köstenberger. Nevertheless, I often find his analysis of texts and exegetical problems convincing and inspiring, especially if he uses linguistic approaches. . . . . Likewise, I agree with Köstenberger’s reading of 1 Tim 2. Köstenberger shows that the text demands a hierarchy between men and women and is meant as normative teaching. But with a different, far more critical view of the Bible, I need not accept it as God’s word. (It helps that I do not regard 1 Timothy as written by Paul.)

Read the whole thing
--especially for Köstenberger's thoughts on I. Howard Marshall's exegetical methodology on these issues.

For those who are interested, the second edition of the book Women in the Church can be found at