Sunday, January 16, 2011

1 Timothy 2:13: Further exegetical remarks.

"I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over man; she must be silent." (1 Tim.2:13)

It is my personal opinion that this decree of God should not merely be limited to the sphere of the bishopric. It involves any formal office that holds the teaching of the Word in the forefront. The complementarians are just as guilty of eisegesis here as the heretical feminists.

Allowing the text to speak for itself, I suggest that it forbids women any teaching ministry over other men. As such they cannot become theologians, they cannot become professors in biblical studies, they cannot publish articles in biblical or theological journals, and they cannot write books. All such things presuppose that a woman is free to break silence in the things of God and begin to teach man....which is wrong.


Theophilus said...

I take it you assume the resurrection accounts in Matthew, Mark and John are fabrications. These three gospel accounts clearly depict women being commissioned as the first preachers of the good news of the resurrection of Jesus. (Luke is only marginally less explicit.) Naturally Paul should be read in a simplistic, straightforward manner and portions of scripture that then run contrary to these interpretations should be excised and burned, yes?

Emerson Fast said...

Actually, no.

The Synoptics and John nowhere "commission" women to be "preachers." I follow the wording of the story quite closely. None of the women rushed into the synagogues in order to proclaim the good news, or gathered an "ekklesia" for preaching, or "met in the home" of a saint to give authoritative instructions for the disciples in the post-resurrection Word.

The text says they rushed to share the news with the rest of the apostles. Sharing is not preaching, teaching, or having authority and dominion over man. Holding a teaching position in theology, shepherding a church, and writing dogmatic articles in theological journals that literally direct the thought life of the Body of Christ IS.

Again, I have the clear Word and commandment backing me here. I won't budge an inch for the modern/secular/feminist/abomination..whatever you wish to call it.

Theophilus said...

You're being a pedant. When God sends an angel to tell you to do something, that's a commission. It is the same with instructions received from Jesus himself. That's why we speak of Matthew 28:18-20 as the "Great Commission." Your definition of preaching is similar in its arbitrary and unwarranted narrowness.

And your notion of authority is limited by its blindness to non-institutional forms. If the women at the tomb really had been "sharing" (where do you draw that word from, anyways?) without any authority, there would be no reason for them to have been believed at all. Yet, in the Matthean account, the disciples follow the instructions of Jesus, as relayed by women, who you say should not have possessed the authority to tell the male disciples what to do, that is, go up to Galilee.

Moreover, unless you use an outdated translation or one of the newer translations that shamefully and deliberately mistranslates Romans 16:7, the woman Junia was called "apostle" by Paul. It is absurd to suggest that she might be called an apostle and yet wield no authority; the apostolic office is, by definition, authoritative!

If the scriptures are not in conflict with themselves, then the restrictions in 1 Timothy must be circumstantial and not universal.

Emerson Fast said...

Apostle means "sent one." That's it. Junias was a sent one. Sent for what purpose, the text does not clarify. Not all apostles necessarily taught the Word.

I will accept your definition of commission. And because I do, a woman being "commissioned" by Jesus for a purpose does not necessitate that she is to go out and teach the Word and exercise authority over man. This turns the scripture into a contradictory laughingstock. And it is purely arbitrary, because the resurrection accounts do not depict Jesus "commissioning" women to become teachers of the Word with authority over man.

None of the gospels relate that the women were given instructions to "tell the male disciples what to do". They are nowhere given the instructions to command the disicples to go up to Galilee. They relay (a synonym for 'share') some information. Jesus does not knight them as bishops on the count that they were to tell the other disciples what they had seen. Following your logic, the fact that the wife of Manoah was the first to hear the angelic news of her conception of the Nazirite Samson means that Jewish women had divine right to take on the levitical role of instructing the people in Torah regulations. There is such an infinitely vast lacuna in your reading of these historical accounts, and it is no surprise to me that the consequence is a severe contradiction with other scriptures.

Emerson Fast said...

I must add that it is an act of desparation on the part of egalitarians to rely on an ambiguous name in order to feel vindicated in flagrantly violating Paul's divine orders in 1 Timothy 2:13.

Even granting that Junias is incontestably a female name, there is no evidence to suggest that Junias used her apostolicity to disobey God in teaching men and exercising authority over them. And if she did, she used her authority wrongly.

So, assuming that Junias was a female, and assuming that her apostolicity was expressly for the purpose of teaching the Word, and assuming that she was of one mind with the commandment of Jesus Christ the Lord in 1 Timothy 2:13, she may have been the church's first apostle to the women.

Theophilus said...

Your sense of apostolic authority is unwarranted in its restrictiveness. "Not all apostles necessarily taught the Word" - why are you fabricating things without any support from the Bible or tradition? Teaching was, in fact, part of the apostolic function (Acts 2:42). And regarding your speculation that Junia was an apostle to women: Did not Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, also assert authority over Jews? Likewise, did not Peter, apostle to the Jews, assert authority over Gentiles? Even if Junia was then an apostle to women, she would still be justified in asserting authority over men. The apostles were authoritative because they relayed the commands of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:2). And there is no difference between this apostolic mission and the work of the women at Jesus' tomb, particularly in Matthew, where they do in fact "tell the male disciples what to do", that is, go up to Galilee.

Scripture does contain contradictions within itself. It's how you deal with it that's important. For example, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 cannot both be historical accounts, because one inverts the order of events described in the other. A sensible reader will understand that at least one of these chapters is a parable rather than a history. In the same way, the New Testament contains contradictory accounts of the appropriate role of women. The choice we have is between narrowing the context of some of Paul's commands and denying the historical roles played by women as recorded in the New Testament. I choose to respect the historicity of the Bible, and therefore think it wiser to contextualize Paul.

Emerson Fast said...

Actually what you are doing is treating recorded history as precedent, which lands exegetes in trouble all over the place. A familiar example is how often the case of Pentecost is used as a justification for all sorts of whacko behavior in the church of today. I suggest that a better hermeneutical rule is to seek out those portions of scripture that offer a clear commandment or promise if ones purpose is to develop an ethic for the Christian life (be it individually or communally).

First, the name "Junias" or "Junia" is not a settled matter. It just isn't. There is alot of honest textual debate centered around this name, and no scholarly consensus. Egalitarians are forced to jump the gun in order that they can have something in the scriptures to set there foot on so they may disobey God. Even granting that this was a settled matter, there is still ZERO evidence that Junia ever set foot in a synagogue or christian assembly to exercise authority over MEN. Since you crave history, I demand historical evidence.

Honestly Theo, I am just not able to pull so much out of the women's task to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen. I agree that they did, and I agree that they were right in doing so. If Jesus was born in my time, died and rose again, and the only person to see it was a woman, I would sure as heck want her to come and tell me! Women in the Old Testament were equally priviledged with the task of relaying information from God to others. Manoah's wife is a keen example. The wise woman from Tekoa was sent by Joab to persuade King David to bring Absalom out of exile. The maidens of Israel in the days of Deborah stood by the watering places and recited the Acts of the Lord in song. NONE of this was EVER a precedent for women taking up the priestly duty of instructing the villages in the law of the Lord. The levitical teachers were strictly male. I dare say if this order was breached there would have been severe consequences, for "it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the assembly" (1 Cor.14:35b)

Theophilus said...

This is precisely where I depart from you. You wish to derive your theology strictly from the discursive writings, without consulting the narrative ones. This is what I understand you to mean when you say one should "seek out those portions of scripture that offer a clear commandment or promise". But then why do we even have the narratives? Why not stick to discourse, and have a scripture like the Qu'ran? Sure, it's harder to draw theology out of narrative texts than discursive ones, but I suggest that dismissing the theological authority of narrative texts is either sheer intellectual laziness or an ideological hedge against uncomfortable theological challenges.

Your perspective requires you to deny the authority of many parts of the Bible. Whether it's the song of Miriam in Exodus (the voice of a woman in the Law!), the song of Deborah, the prophetess Huldah (who was viewed as an authority by men, even priests!), the Magnificat, or other passages, you cannot accept these passages as having authority over you, since they are the voices of women. Yet they are part of the scripture you consider the Word of God! The hermeneutical principle you've explained may well be a good starting point, but you set up its results as rigid dogma without considering whether it is consistent with the rest of the scriptures. It's an important step, and you would be well advised not to skip it.

Theophilus said...

Oh, and the bit about the name "Junia" being contested? The masculinized form "Junias" does not appear in any Greek manuscript until the ninth century, and was recognized as a redaction as early as Erasmus. The church fathers also considered Junia to be female, notably Jerome and John Chrystostom. The scholarly consensus generally supports the form Junia as well; most recent translations use the feminine form. Moreover, in some manuscripts the name is misspelt "Julia" a transparently obvious feminine name far easier to mistake for another woman's name than a man's. There is a scholarly consensus. It's Junia. You're ignoring it.

Emerson Fast said...

Referring to the church fathers is not credible in this discussion. Your point is that their received textual tradition is Junia. I could point out that their received ecclesiastical tradition is that women have no business speaking in the assembly. Is their authority only to be limited to the reception and transmission of texts?

But this is all moot, since the church fathers have been wrong before, even in textual transmissions. A good example would be the entire Old Testament, which for them was only available in the shoddy LXX version.

NT scholar Eldon Epp counters your idea of a scholarly consensus. He points out in his own work that the primary Greek texts which are available to us are given in capital letters without accents. You have no accents, you have no gender determination.

The fact that later manuscript editions in the miniscule form placed a femine accent on the name means nothing to me. That isn't authoritative. That does not escape the subjectivity of the matter. Miniscules can be drafted wrong...they are subject to the itnerpretation of the copyist. It also makes sense to me why later editions would accentuate this name. Andronicus and Junias are paired up like Priscilla and Aquila are in 16:3, and we know for a fact that the latter are a couple. Moreover, Paul refers to A and J as "relatives" which again provides a good foundation for assuming that we have a married couple here. With these two contextual notations in mind, it makes perfect sense why later copyists would interpret the verse by giving J a feminine accent. I don't fault them for doing so. But this is not conclusive evidence. They made an interpretation which is not infallible. Their conclusions may have been wrong. Our earliest manuscripts can be taken either way.

Egalitarians jump the gun here in their rush to disobey God by insisting that the later manuscripts should have greater authority than the earlier ones. Who are they to indoctrinate us with such lousy text-critical rules?

I leave it open whether the verse should be Junia or Junias because the majiscules require me to do so. If you wish to build your argument on such shaky foundations, that is fine by me. You have already moved beyond narrative authority in this respect. You won't accept commandments or apostolic decrees. All you have is an equivocal name.

Again, I don't accept your logic of the resurrection accounts. This is your argument:

A. Jesus appeared to women and told them to relay the news of his resurrection to the disciples.

Therefore women have the right to be anointed bishops and teachers of the word of God in the ekklesia.

Therefore Paul was speaking vain gibberish in forbidding women to preach (even though Paul too was perfectly comfortable with women sharing news about the Christian truths to other disciples).

I will use your EXACT logic and apply it to the Old Testament. Note the disaster which follows.

Emerson Fast said...

A. King David is seen praying on behalf of Israel.

Therefore Judahites have the right to enter into the holy of holies and offer propitiatory sacrifices and oblations on behalf of the sins of the people.

B. God tells Abraham to listen to Sarah's demands concerning Hagar.

Therefore ancient near eastern society was matriarchal.

C. The Levites broke Sabbath in attending to their God-given duties at the Tabernacle.

Therefore it is absurd to think that God would punish anyone for breaking the Sabbath.

D. Moses married a woman from Midian and Samson a woman from Philistia.

Therefore the Israelites should be allowed to intermarry with the surrounding nations.

E. Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and slept with her father-in-law, and was considered righteous for it.

Therefore Israelites are allowed to engage in prostitution and incest.

Need I go on? My logic is identical to yours, and it makes a blasphemous joke of the whole Bible.

If you wish to pursue your little narrative games at the expense of what is clearly commanded in scripture, such is your own business. Not mine.

Theophilus said...

The fact that you think there is no difference between Jesus and Samson or Moses or Tamar in terms of being examples for us is ludicrous and denies the perfection of Christ. That you consider the example of Jesus to be insignificant, and ignore large tracts of Scripture when defending your ideas, leaves me utterly baffled as to what you consider the basis of Christian faith. From my perspective it looks like blind misogynism.

You are also ignorant of the history of the names "Junia" and "Junias". There is only one reference to a male Junias in all extra-biblical Greek literature, whereas there are hundreds of references to women named Junia. Moreover, since Junia/s was clearly Jewish, it is reasonable to assume that the name in question is a Latinized form of a Hebrew name. The Hebrew name that best fits Junia is Joanna. Also, appealing to Eldon Epp to argue that there is no contemporary consensus on the term is balderdash. His own book on the subject was entitled Junia: The First Woman Apostle. You're tilting at windmills here.

Emerson Fast said...


My point was not that Jesus or Moses or Tamar or Samson or Sarah were providing bad examples in the concrete actions I listed. They weren't. The case of Samson marrying the Timnite woman was actually "from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines."

What WOULD be wrong, would be taking any of these examples and using them to controvert related commandments given to the assembly of God, be it Israel or the church.

Jesus' appointing of women to tell the good news of the resurrection to the disciples was not wrong. It is even exemplary. I want women to share the good news. But as soon as it becomes a matter of violating Jesus' clear commandment against women teaching and having authority over man in matters of the Word...end of discussion for me. This is not chauvinism. This is me LISTENING to the Bible. Not chunks of the Bible which are set about for the convenience of the modern Anabaptist (who, historically speaking, has no business shrinking back from the hard, culturally irrelevant commandments). I get that for you, the Word of God is limited to what Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us, and especially the nice subjective narrative portions. But for me, and anyone else who wishes to maintain the traditional sense of canon (the sense that Menno Simons very clearly took the scriptures), it is not," Yes Jesus, I'll listen to what you say. Except for when you tell me that the Law, Prophets and your chosen apostles are endowed with the authority of God, and that anyone who breaks the least of these commandments will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven. No Jesus, you are in the wrong there."

As for Eldon choosing to go your route, that offers no blow to my argument. He has made a choice based on the evidence. He agrees that there is no consensus. He proposes my view as a respectable alternative.

You ignore the fact that Junias was a Hellenistic Jew. Hellenistic Jews had all sorts of fun Greek and Latin names. That you require us to convert the name into a Hebrew rendering is, again, subjective and without the slightest textual evidence.

The fact that there is one other reference to a male Junias (that we know of) is quite enough. Even if the Romans reference was all we had, your argument would still not escape subjectivity. How many times have our assumptions about what is and isn't so in Hellenistic culture been dashed to bits by a new find?

Theophilus said...

If, as you say, the conduct of these various Biblical women is exemplary, then you consider good that which you also say God's commandments condemn. You therefore declare that the commandments are bad. In effect, you say "Yes God, your commandments are good, except when women in the Bible break them, in which case they do not matter." Even one instance of a woman commendably wielding spiritual authority over a man is quite enough to expose your brittle legalism for the unsupportable trope that it is. And there are many instances throughout Scripture of women wielding spiritual authority over men and being praised for it. To see you who I have seen cling with such tenacity to grace over and against the law slide into the depths of legalism here is truly dishearting. At this rate, I am beginning to dread the day when I hear you say that you are similarly literalistic in your reading of verse 15, and claim that whereas men are saved by grace, women are saved by childbearing!

You cannot praise Biblical women who exercised spiritual authority over men and simultaneously forbid contemporary women from doing so without evacuating your thought of reason. It is not sensible to latch onto a literalistic reading of 1 Timothy 2 when doing so would render vast tracts of other scripture nonsensical.

Emerson Fast said...

Yes I can,

Because the women who went out to let the disciples know that Jesus had risen from the dead were not exercising spiritual authority over these men. And if they were, its magnitude peaked at this little knoll: "By the way, Jesus said that you (and we as well) should go to Galilee where He will meet us again."

You know my doctrine of Law. At times it is to be situationally qualified (ie. in times where other scripture verses make provision for this, as in the case of the Levites who have legal provision to break the Sabbath). Yet in the case of the women and the resurrection I do not even see a qualification. I just don't see authority. Perhaps what you are suggesting is that a line needs to be drawn somewhere. I agree with this suggestion, so long as it falls within the bounds of the provisions of scripture. Pushing the margin on Jesus' commandment that women not teach or exercise authority over man is not scriptural thinking. That is called presumption.

I affirm the Law in all of its offense. I affirm that he who "breaks the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven." This is not being legalistic. Paul concluded his doctrine of the righteousness that comes by faith apart from works to be the real "upholding" of the Law. It is the only way for man to stand back and say," All of God's commandments are Just and Holy and Good, and through Jesus Christ God reckons me righteous....the former accusations have come to an end because I have fulfilled the whole Law in Him."

The man who seeks a righteousness based on the Law is always cherry picking. He knows deep down that he cannot obey all of God's commands so he selects some and neglects others to his own convenience. But Jesus says that the Law demands we practice the Greatest without neglecting the least (Mt.23:23-24). If you are a pacifist, love your enemies and maintain sexual purity but appoint women as preachers and teach others to do the same, you have become a lawbreaker. "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."

I know Theo that you are not a Law-keeper in and of yourself. Neither am I. In and of myself I can boast that I am probably far more culpable and self-righteous than you could dare to dream of being.

This is why our continual exchange of admonishing, rebukes and debates over scripture are so salutary. This is also why (I suspect) Jesus and the apostles still give us precise commands, even in the age of grace where we partake of the ineffable liberty. The Law is useful for exposing guilt.

Emerson Fast said...


And women are not the only ones who are and will find themselves saved by childbearing (Gal.4:4-5). There is no evidence in the Timothy text to suggest that Paul is setting up a soteriological contrast between men and women.

And I think my reading of this text is the literal reading. Paul is quite precise in his epistles with using motifs of redemptive child-bearing (cf.Gal.4:27; Rom.9:7-9)