The Religious A priori


Women And Christianity



Neither Male Nor Female:


Forbidden to Teach?


Page 2


1 Tim.2:11

11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.






Analysis of The Passage:


11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.

This is not a general statement about the subordination of women. This statement applies to the learning environment. The term for 'silence,' hesuchia, means "to be quite, to be at peace, to be silent." Thayersdefines it as "quietness description of the life of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others silence." This is not a command that "women must be silent in the churches!" It is a statement about the proper attitude toward learning that any student was expected to exhibit in that day (unlike our own).

The important point, often overlooked, is that it does say to let the women learn! It says "let a woman receive instruction...." It is opening the door to educating women, something he Jewish world did not do in Palestine of that day, although it was closer to the norm in Paul's native Asia minor (as Ramsay and others show).

But I do not allow a woman to teach...

Not a command in the imperative. Paul does not command Timothy, "Do now allow.." He makes a statement, "I do not permit..." He is informing Timothy of his habit, his current practice, not laying down a universal command for all times. He does not say "Not I but the Lord" as he does in 1 Cor. when he feels that a command is clearly from God. This is ad hoc advice that deals with a contemporary problem in a local setting. Moreover, it may be qualified in two important ways:

(1) Temporary.

The statment is present tense and may be read "I am not now at this time allowing," so it may only pertian to that crisis.

Even if that is not the case

(2) It is qualified by learning.

Why let women learn, if the expectation is not that someday they will be educated? Since in Chapter one the concern is stetted that those false teachers do not possess the knowledge that qualifies them to teach, it would seem that the statement here is logically qualified by the condition that those who do learn might someday teach.

...or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet

This is a problematic phrase, because the root word, AuthenteoMeans to commit murder. Wayne Grudeum has tried to argue that this is not the case and that it means just any ordinary sort of authority. But it does not, Liddell and Scott define it as to commit murder, and the word used in this passage, derived from that word, authentien means to wield the power of a murderer over his victim, to have absolute power and absolute sway.Katherine Kroeger argues taht the word means "sexual mastery," or something like it.She bases her view on any examples of classical Greeks and finds that it has a sexal connotation. But in the context of this passage it probably refurs to an extreme level of authority. Clearly Paul is not speaking of the standard sort of authority found in regular church offices. He is speaking of the sort of authority that a teacher in the ancient world had over a student, a disciple, the sort of authority Jesus had over the disciples, the authority of a "guru," to put it in modern parlance. Clearly this is something that pertains to the local situation of Timothy's Ephesus. Apparently part of the problem was that some teachers were claiming for themselves a form of power greater than that which they should have possessed anyway.

Paul was a fine writer, and he had a keen facility for language. He does on occasion use words in a way that no one else does. He was sometimes a creative writer in terms of word choice. This is the only use of this term anywhere in the Bible. This could just be an example of Paul's word play, but it seems that a mind as keen as Paul's knows how to put its facility for words into precise use. So we should suspect that he had a definite and contextualized meaning and that he was not just being creative, but had a point to make by the use of a word that is not much used. That should cast a taint on the word and tell us that something different is meant here, something out of the ordinary. Paul is not forbidding ministry to women, he is warning of a practice that is over the line.

13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

Paul cannot predicating female submission upon chronological priority in creation, becasue he decontructs that kind of thinking in 1 Corinthians 11. He frist says Man is the "source" (Kephale) of woman, but then turns around and says "but man now comes from women, and everything comes from God." Thus he reverses the order and shows that there is no basis for supremecy in chronological priority.Moreover, not only is he principel not stated in Genesis, but it's contradicted. God makes the animals before man, man is over the Animals. Why woud God then turn around place male over female by making female last?

Complamentarians and Traditionalists take this statement to be the signature verse demarcating the grounds of female subjugation. This would seem logically connected to the prohibition upon women teaching and wielding authority over men. The problem is, no such pronouncement is made in Genesis, and it contradicts what Paul clearly tells us in Galations 3:28, "...neither male nor female in Christ Jesus." We should suspect, then, that something else is being said.

It's equally logical to connect the stament to learning and ignorance, since he just spoke of how the women should be taught and they should learn with a quite sprit or attitude, in silence, in quite, and they should be taught. So it would make more sense to think that rather than the grounds for submission, he's actually grounding his entire thought, the statement about learning, teaching, and authority, the whole thing, in the notion that he voices back in the first opening verses of the letter, where he says "they want to teach but don't know anything." Here is he elucidating the dangers of ignorance. Ignorance leads to sin. He is talking about deception, not rebellion!

This is an important point, if Paul is here saying that woman brought sin into he world, and thus must be subordinate as punishment, then he's contradicting his own theology penned in Romans 5, where he places the blame for sin squaring on the shoulders of the man: "Through one man sin entered the world." If the woman is to blame for sin, then the whole Adam type-ante-type view of Christ's atonement goes out the window, and Mary will have to be savior of the world! I speak tongue in cheek, but it's true, he does rest the responsibility on Adam's shoulders, and the upshot of that is Christ as the Second Adam. It would be pointless to think of Christ as the second Adam if the first Adam did not bring sin into the world.

He's speaking here of the consequences of ignorance and the importance of letting the women learn. He's saying that it was through ignorance that the woman sinned, that's the danger of not learning. He's not concerned with deciding which one is to blame for sin in the world, that's not the issue here. What is the importance of Adam being formed first? The complamentarians will say it is a secondary basis for male supremacy. But wait, that fits the knowledge/ignorance motif. Adam was older, he knew better, he was the one to whom Eve looked for guidance and instruction. So Paul is saying Eve was younger and needed to be taught. She was deceived, Adam was not deceived. Are we to say then that Adam didn't sin? Of course not! But his sin was one of rebellion and pride not of ignorance. Eve sinned from lack of knowledge and experience, because she was formed second.

Paul is not only alluding to the importance of learning and knowledge, he's also alluding to the Gnostic creation myth. Since he's battling pre-Gnosticism, and the problem is that this faction wants to teach before they know anything, he's hinting at the flaw in their wisdom, that they have gotten the basic creation story wrong. There is no way to prove that the specific group in Ephesus had the specific creation myths that we associate with Gnosticism, but it is likely that they had a similar story, because the Gnostics did have a creation story in which Adam was made second, and Eve was made first, Eve was wise and related to the wisdom Goddess Sophia, and Adam was the one who needed enlightening. Paul in grouping these concepts to show that "this is how dangerous ignorance is, and the error it can lead one into, they want to teach, but they don't even know the basic story." He does allude to points of the law they have gotten wrong in chapter one.

This last passage establishes a firm link with proto-Gnosticism as Paul warns Timothy to turn away from that which is falsely called ‘knowledge’ – Greek: gnwsewV (gnoseos), from which Gnosticism derives its name. 1 Timothy 4:3 includes among their beliefs forbidding marriage, the result of some Gnostics’ skewed belief in an ontological dualism, in which anything to do with ones humanity was deemed evil – including marriage, sex and having children. 1 Timothy 1:4 links a devotion to myths to these proto-Gnostics, and Gnostic literature abounds with myths, one specifically that reverses the order and events of creation (all bolded emphases mine):



Next:page 3 analysis of v15 'the childbearing'

Gnostic Female Teachers of Ephesus


The Religious A priori