Interviewed by Andy Naselli

Andreas J. Köstenberger is professor of New Testament and director of Ph.D. studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has taught since 1996. He earned his Ph.D. in NT under D. A. Carson at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1993, and he has served as editor for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society since 1999. He blogs at www.biblicalfoundations.org, and his voluminous publications are listed at www.biblicalfoundations.com (including his publications on gender issues). MP3s of some of his lectures and sermons are compiled here.

This interview discusses one of Köstenberger’s meticulously researched articles: “A Complex Sentence: The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12,” in Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (2d ed.; ed. Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 53-84, 204-7.First Timothy 2:9-15 (ESV) is the passage under discussion:

9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness–with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach [didaskein] or [oude] to exercise authority [authentein] over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

1. In the book Women in the Church, your essay picks up where Henry Scott Baldwin’s left off. The six essays in the book progress from historical context to a word study to syntax (your essay) to exegesis to hermeneutics to application. Would you briefly explain the main issue that the book addresses and how your essay fits into the overall argument?

I believe that often the reason we come to different interpretive conclusions with regard to passages of Scripture is that we don’t always follow proper principles of biblical interpretation. We take a passage out of context, misconstrue the historical-cultural background, don’t pay proper attention to lexical or grammatical matters, and so on. (I have discussed this in some detail in an article I wrote a number of years ago, “Gender Passages in the New Testament: Hermeneutical Fallacies Critiqued,” Westminster Theological Journal 56 [1994]: 259-83; reprinted in Studies in John and Gender and available as a PDF).

When it comes to a passage as important and controversial as 1 Tim 2:9-15, therefore, it occurred to us that it was critical that we follow all the proper steps in interpreting that passage. This resulted in the six essays you mention:

  1. historical background (S. M. Baugh)
  2. lexical study (H. S. Baldwin on the word authentein, “have or exercise authority”)
  3. sentence structure (A. J. Köstenberger on the word oude, “or,” joining the words “teach” and “have authority” in 1 Tim 2:12)
  4. exegesis in context (T. R. Schreiner)
  5. hermeneutics (R. W. Yarbrough)
  6. application (D. K. Patterson)

I have summarized the major contribution of the respective chapters of the first edition of Women in the Church in a survey article, “The Crux of the Matter: Paul’s Pastoral Pronouncements Regarding Women’s Roles in 1 Timothy 2:9-15,” Faith and Mission 14 (1997): 24-48 (reprinted in Studies in John and Gender and available as a PDF). Some might find it helpful just to read through this article.

2. What, in essence, is the argument of the book?

In short, the natural reading of the passage is that Paul here prohibits women from serving as pastors or elders in the church, because he does not permit women to teach or exercise authority over men. This has been the church’s understanding of this passage for almost two millennia and was not seriously questioned until the advent of modern feminism in the 1960s.

Those evangelical feminists who claim that Scripture, rightly interpreted, teaches complete gender equality, not merely in terms of personal worth and dignity and salvation in Christ but also in terms of ecclesiastical role, naturally cannot accept this natural reading of the passage and as a result have resorted to various ways of reinterpreting the passage, touching every one of the six aspects mentioned above.

With regard to background, they have argued that the problem was particularly with the women in Ephesus when Paul wrote the letter, so that the teaching no longer applies today (though there have been a variety of constructions in this regard, even among feminists). In his chapter in Women in the Church, S. M. Baugh, an expert in first-century Ephesian inscriptions, shows that this argument is invalid and that there is no good scholarly or other reason that Paul’s teaching in 1 Tim 2:12 should be seen as limited to first-century Ephesus only.

Second, H. S. Baldwin takes up the matter of the likely meaning of authentein. The KJV translates this word “usurp authority,” and more recently many feminists, such as I. H. Marshall, have argued that the word has a negative connotation. If so, they say, Paul prohibited only women’s negative exercise of authority in the church, as well as women’s false teaching, not their exercise of these functions, properly conceived. Baldwin’s study shows that authentein was an exceedingly rare word in NT times that occurs in the NT only in 1 Tim 2:12 and elsewhere only once or twice prior to the writing of 1 Timothy.

3. So, then, in the case of 1 Tim 2:12, is the word study method by itself inconclusive?

Yes, I believe that’s right. The fact that lexical study in this case, owing to the limited data, of necessity remains inconclusive leads naturally to the next chapter in the book, where I consider the sentence structure of 1 Tim 2:12. Specifically, I proceed from the known to the unknown. The first word linked by the Greek coordinating conjunction oude (“or”) is the word “teach,” didaskein, which is frequently used in the Pastoral Epistles and virtually always has a positive connotation, referring to the instruction of the congregation by the pastors and elders of the church (e.g. 1 Tim 4:11; 6:2; 2 Tim 2:2).

In terms of syntactical pattern, I conducted careful searches of the use of oude in the NT and in extrabiblical Greek literature and found over 100 parallels. In each case, oude serves as a coordinating conjunction linking verbs of like connotation: either both are positive, or both are negative. For example, in Matt 6:20 Jesus said, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where . . . thieves do not break in and (oude) steal.” Notice that both “break in” and “steal” have a negative connotation, in the present case following a sequential pattern, thieves first breaking in and then subsequently stealing.

The upshot, then, is the following: if didaskein (“to teach”) has a positive connotation and oude (“or”) always links verbs of like connotation, it logically (and syntactically) follows that authentein must have a positive connotation as well, thus invalidating the argument by most evangelical feminists. Paul prohibits not merely the negative exercise of authority by women over men in the church, but even the otherwise legitimate exercise of authority. Put simply, Paul wants men, not women, to serve as elders (confirmed in the immediate context by his reference to elders as “faithful husbands” in 1 Tim 3:2).

Of course, this is anathema in largely egalitarian cultures (such as the United States) today. Many judge it simply unacceptable that Scripture could “discriminate” against women in such a way. This, then, places Scripture and some (though not all) cultures in conflict, and people must choose which they will follow: the surrounding culture or Scripture. (Of course, evangelical feminists would not agree that there is a conflict here; according to them, Jesus and Paul were egalitarians just as they are, despite Paul’s teaching in 1 Tim 2:12.)

4. What about the rest of the book?

In the fourth chapter, T. R. Schreiner, who has studied and written on these matters for decades, provides a careful discussion of the many exegetical issues that have been raised with regard to the interpretation of 1 Tim 2:9-15. In particular, he draws attention to the verses immediately following 1 Tim 2:12, where Paul clearly states his own rationale for stipulating that women are not to teach or have authority over men in the church: the order in which the first man and woman were created (the man first, then the woman; v. 13) and the reversal of authority that took place at the fall with disastrous consequences (v. 14). As Schreiner points out, most evangelical feminists do not adequately account for the way in which these verses clarify Paul’s prohibition in verse 12. Also, when they say that 1 Tim 2:12 is an isolated, difficult passage that must be interpreted in light of Paul’s clear egalitarian teaching elsewhere (citing Gal 3:28), they fail to consider that Paul himself, as evidenced in 1 Tim 2:13-14, saw role distinctions between men and women in the church rooted all the way back at the very beginning of creation, in Genesis 2 and 3.

In the fifth chapter, R. W. Yarbrough, prolific scholar and astute observer of culture, sets the debate in its proper historical and larger hermeneutical context. He shows that the arguments of many evangelical feminists have their roots in “content criticism,” that is, an arbitrary distinction between biblical passages based on questionable criteria. Such interpreters set aside passages that prove unacceptable to contemporary mores while preferring passages that are. This is essentially what people do who say Gal 3:28 (“neither male nor female”) is the paradigm passage while 1 Tim 2:12 is of temporal, limited relevance. (I have dealt with this in the above-mentioned article on hermeneutical fallacies in the gender debate.)

Finally, D. K. Patterson, who has been an outspoken female voice for a role distinction between men and women with regard to church leadership roles for many years, chronicles her own pilgrimage and discusses practical ways in which women can apply the teaching of 1 Tim 2:12 in their lives today. The bottom line is that the historical context, lexical and syntactical considerations, exegetical and hermeneutical factors, and matters of application all converge in suggesting an evangelical non-feminist reading of 1 Tim 2:12.

5. Why is this issue important to the church today?

There is mounting pressure on the church on the part of the surrounding culture to conform its practice to what the culture judges acceptable. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain that Scripture teaches that certain teaching and authoritative roles in the church are limited to men.

In recent years, we have seen important developments particularly in the Anglican church worldwide. At least in certain cases, there also seems to be a larger pattern of an ideology stressing individual choice that includes advocacy of women’s ordination and the tolerance, if not advocacy, of practicing homosexuals in the church, not merely as members, but in positions of leadership. Clearly, the role of women in the church is not an isolated instance but is part of a larger set of interrelated issues that will continue to engage the church for years to come. While not a first-order, salvation issue—no one is saved based on their view regarding women’s roles in the church—it is a matter of considerable practical and doctrinal consequence.

6. You close your essay by interacting with fourteen responses to the original essay in the book’s first edition (1995), observing that your syntactical conclusion “has met with virtually unanimous acceptance and has held up very well” (p. 84). Have you found that still to be the case?

As you mention, I point out that my findings regarding the syntax of 1 Tim 2:12 in the first edition of Women in the Church were widely accepted even among feminist scholars (though, of course, they still do not agree with the book’s overall thrust on other grounds). There has been a recent exception, though, in the case of Philip Payne, who recently published an article in the journal New Testament Studies. In my 1995 essay in the first edition, I provided a thorough critique of Payne’s earlier unpublished 1988 paper on oude. Now Payne, in turn, has responded to my study, claiming that nine of the over 100 syntactical parallels to 1 Tim 2:12 I presented do not match the pattern. I will respond in detail to Payne’s article in a forthcoming publication, Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles (B & H). In brief, let me say, however, that, first, even if Payne is right and nine of the over 100 instances don’t fit the overall pattern, that would still be an over 90% success rate!

What is more, I carefully looked at Payne’s article and each of the nine instances he discusses, and I found that Payne’s analysis does not hold true. Essentially, he seems to be operating on the basis of the notion that verbs are “positive” or “negative” largely in and of themselves. More properly, however, verbs convey a positive or negative connotation in context. For example, one of the nine instances in which Payne disputes the validity of my argument is 2 Thess 3:7-8 (“For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you”). I maintained that both being idle and eating others’ bread without paying for it are viewed negatively by the author (Paul). Payne objects that there’s nothing wrong with accepting “free meals,” so here one negative and one positive verb are joined. I continue to maintain that, in context, “eating anyone’s bread without paying for it” is viewed by Paul negatively, as is made clear by the following clause “that we might not be a burden to any of you” (clearly not viewed positively by Paul).

For this reason I would argue that Payne’s rebuttal is itself invalid and that my original conclusion stands. The other eight instances Payne cites can be answered similarly, and I have done this in the forthcoming publication mentioned above. For now, I’m content to let the reader decide if Payne’s argument with regard to 2 Thess 3:7-8 is convincing or not. That’s the beautiful thing about scholarship, isn’t it, especially in the age of blogs and the Internet? In the end the most compelling argument will prevail, and people must make up their own mind on a given issue based on the strength of the evidence. It’s not a matter of oratory or rhetorical skill, but of substance and the most likely explanation of the available evidence.

7. I understand that you are just finishing a year-long sabbatical. What are some of the projects you’ve been working on?

Thanks for asking. I don’t know a single scholar who doesn’t enjoy telling others about his projects, especially coming off a sabbatical! First of all, let me say, though, that my sabbatical has taught me, more than ever before, the importance of proper priorities in my life in particular and in the life of the scholar in general. I have taken time to reconnect with each member of my family on a deeper level (most importantly my precious wife), engaged more fully in ministry in my local church (teaching a Kingdom Families class made up of people from close to twenty countries that has become very dear to me), and spent time being still before God. In this vein, more than ever before, writing and research have become for me an exercise in Christian ministry.

  • In terms of projects, just this month IVP has released Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel (co-authored with S. Swain).
  • I contributed the material on John’s Gospel to the Commentary on the NT Use of the OT (ed. Beale and Carson) and to the forthcoming ESV Study Bible.
  • I helped my wife Margaret prepare her first book, Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is? (forthcoming with Crossway this fall).
  • I also finished work on The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: A Comprehensive Introduction to the New Testament (B & H; co-authored with S. Kellum and C. Quarles).
  • I also made substantial progress on two other volumes, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation (forthcoming with Kregel) and a Johannine theology (part 1). The latter will be part of the Biblical Theology of the New Testament (BTNT) series, of which I am the general editor, published by Zondervan. In 8 volumes, this exciting new series will cover the theology of the entire NT. Contributors include M. Wilkins (Matthew), D. Garland (Mark), D. Bock (Luke-Acts), D. Moo (Paul), G. Guthrie (Hebrews), and T. Schreiner (James, 1-2 Peter, Jude).
  • I am also in the process of preparing a 25-minute presentation for the John, Jesus, and History group meeting at this fall’s annual SBL conference in Boston alongside A.-J. Levine (Vanderbilt) and Judith Lieu (Cambridge University) on new books by P. Anderson, R. Bauckham, and D. M. Smith.

8. Many thanks, Andreas, for taking time to serve the readers of JT’s blog with such helpful comments!

You’re welcome. Let me share a concluding story, if I may. Just last week, on a vacation in the Canadian north, I swam in a clear, remote lake during the evening hours. At one point, when I paused for a moment, I noticed that everything around me was perfectly still. I could hear every tiny sound, even from far away. It occurred to me that this is what we are to be as Christians, spiritually speaking: fully alert, fully alive, fully attuned to what goes on around us. We are to be people who truly hear, see, feel, and touch. I believe this is what Jesus was–completely in touch with the world around him. May you and I be the kinds of people who are sensitive to God and others–people who have eyes to see, ears to hear, people whose hearts beat for God, care deeply for others, and yearn for the salvation of the lost.

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27 thoughts on “Interview with Andreas J. Köstenberger on 1 Timothy 2:12”

  1. Sandra says:

    Thanks for the interview. I taught my ladies’ discipleship class this passage last week. I’ll be sure you link your article to my posted notes.

  2. Mat says:

    It’s a shame that so much of the missions work and the explosion of the Global South church is unbiblical…Who will tell them that they’ve succumbed to western post-modern thinking when they are discipling their pre-modern nations to Christ? I regret to think that many of us are squabbling with each other at a “council in Jerusalem” while the “Church of Antioch” is bursting at the seams.

  3. Alex says:

    “This has been the church’s understanding of this passage for almost two millennia and was not seriously questioned until the advent of modern feminism in the 1960s.”

    I don’t think the feminists are questioning the original intent of the passage. I think they know exactly what Paul is saying and simply disagree with him.

    Surely there were many disagreements between Paul and other leaders over church governance in the early church. So the real question for our age is whether this is a legitimate difference that should just be decided at the local church/presbytery level or it is an apostolic command inspired by God himself.

  4. CD-Host says:

    In terms of this has been the understanding of the passage up until recently that is simply false. That understanding of the passage really didn’t emerge until the dark ages. For the first 500 years there was (in modern terms) a theory of gender not a theory of sex and so it didn’t apply to unmarried women. Then there were other views for the next 1000 years; and only in the post reformation world (and really in the last 200 years) does the argument start to take on a modern form.

    I wrote a series on the topic of the historical views of the church towards women as contrasted with patriarchy (the next step to the right of what Köstenberger is advocating)
    defense against patriarchy. The fact is these guys far from preaching historical Christianity are preaching a modern reactionary Christianity that is wholly different than the view of any group of Christians until recently.

  5. Ray Ortlund says:

    Thank you, Andreas, for your witness in this generation.

  6. Matthaeus Flexibilis says:

    If I, as a man, shouldn’t be taught by a woman, does that mean I should skip Mrs. Patterson’s contribution to this book? Ditto on Patterson’s, Elisabeth Elliot’s, and Dee Jepsen’s contributions to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Where do we draw the line?

  7. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    In fact, here is a typical use of the word authenteo,

    “And the children will lay hands on their parents. The wife will give up her own husband to death, and the husband will bring his own wife to judgment like a criminal. Inhuman masters will lord it over[authenteo] their servants, and servants will assume an unruly demeanour toward their masters.” Hippolytus 2nd – 3rd century

    If there is any occurrence of authenteo in which this verb is used of a human and has a positive connotation, I think it would be useful if that example were to be provided. I have not seen one within several centuries of the epistle to Timothy.

    However, there is an example of didaskein used with a negative connotation.

    “They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.” Titus 1:11

    If the evidence shows that authentein has a uniformly negative connotation when used of humans, and didaskein can have either a positive or negative connotation, then we need to proceed from there to the syntactic pattern and conclude that “teach,” in this verse is associated with a negative action on the part of those being spoken about.

    On the historic question, naturally one would like to see a simple recitation of facts. The Vulgate had dominare, the same word as is used in Gen. 3:16 for the husband. Dominare was the accepted translation and came into English as “lord it over” or “be the lord of.” Then Erasmus translated the Greek into Latin as “authoritatem usurpare” and this was translated into English diversely as “exercise authority” and “usurp authority.” The majority tradition had “usurp authority.” However, I would point to the translation from Hipploytus, above, where you can see that authenteo was still translated, in texts other than the Bible, as “lord it over.” There is no text where authenteo is used of normal church leadership.

  8. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    The first word linked by the Greek coordinating conjunction oude (“or”) is the word “teach,” didaskein, which is frequently used in the Pastoral Epistles and virtually always has a positive connotation, referring to the instruction of the congregation by the pastors and elders of the church (e.g. 1 Tim 4:11; 6:2; 2 Tim 2:2).

    There is also no indication that the anthropois mentioned in 2 Tim. 2:2 are either “men” or “pastors.”

    Thanks, Justin, for providing the opportunity to pursue truth on this matter.

  9. Joe Blackmon says:

    Even if, as a commenter her as alleged, that the Greek word here for teaching was being used in the negative sense that in no way, shape, form, or fashion implys or suggests that a woman can pasotr a church. Clearly, the discussion of qualifications for a pastor in 1 Timorhy 3 are all refering to men “husband of one wife…he desires a good work”. It’s pretty sad that some people just can’t accept the clear teaching of God’s word just because they don’t like what they’re hearing.

  10. CD-Host says:

    Joe –

    Assume for a moment that rather than indicating that only men could be elders with his “of-one man woman” he had wanted to say “faithful spouse”. That is in a long passage listing moral qualities rather than status, he had wanted to list another moral quality and not a status item. What would he have had to change about the way he phrased this in Greek?

  11. Sue says:

    First there is no declaration from Paul that elders need to be male. They are to be “husband of one wife.” Are single men or widowers not allowed? What about Paul? It seems clear that they are not to be “husband of two or more wives.” We can’t extrapolate further than that.

    What really puzzles me is why Dr. Kostenberger does not mention Titus 1:11,

    “They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.”

    It is also important to realize that authenteo is not used with a positive connotation anywhere within several centuries of the NT, if at all.

    I would prefer to see how Dr. Kostenberger argues that authenteo can have a positive connotation. I have never seen an argument for this. Until one is made, and since didasko can have a negative connotation, we should assume that authenteo and “teach” are referring to some altogether negative thing that a woman or women were doing in Ephesus.

    This is a long post. I do not think that it is sad to ask for more attention to be made to exact detail.

  12. Joe Blackmon says:

    CD Host
    You are not a Christian according to your blog profile. Furthermore, God inspired Paul to write exactly what he wanted him to write.

    Sue
    In 1 Timothy 3:…..on second thought nevermind. I’m not even going to dignify that with a response.

  13. Sue says:

    Maybe some day Dr. Kostenberger can be persuaded to blog about what authenteo really means.

  14. CD-Host says:

    Joe -

    You are not a Christian according to your blog profile. Furthermore, God inspired Paul to write exactly what he wanted him to write.

    I’ll grant the part about direct divine inspiration. It is irrelevant. My question was about Greek not divine inspiration. So again assume that Paul (or if you prefer God) had wanted to indicate persons faithful to their spouse how would it have read?

  15. Joe Blackmon says:

    CD Host

    I don’t know Greek well enough to answer that question. However, if you’ll indulge me in a bit of speculation I would guess that he would have written it the same way that he did in fact write it. You would respond possibly that your conclusion would be that him saying man or husband was just a general term for person, then, and would not prove that Paul was saying a pastor had to be male. Therefore, we need to remember the verse that is the subject of this blog post. It would serve us well to further remember that if God had intended for Paul to speak only to women teaching in a negative sense in this church and that his admonition was not one for all times/all places that he would have said so. The fact that he didn’t cover this issue in other letters does not imply that it was only a problem in Ephesus. It is always an unbiblical practice for a woman to serve as a pastor or to teach men. Period.

  16. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    Joe,

    That is why this verse is so important. However, it simply does not say “have authority” – that phrase is not in the Greek of this verse. In my opinion, scholars need to deal with what the verse does say, rather than what the verse does not say.

    I am sure you can see that Dr. Kostnberger does not provide lexical support for any meaning of authenteo. This is because the evidnce is all negative. Therefore, it is in his interest to not provided this evidence. He does say that “teach” is “virtually always” used with a positive connoatation. Howwever, it is not ALWAYS used with a negative connotation.

    I would like Dr. Kostenberger to explain how he gets around this. I would like to see him interpret the verse using the known facts. That does not seem like to much to ask, in a post of this length.

    Why do you think he fudged it?

  17. CD-Host says:

    Joe –

    However, if you’ll indulge me in a bit of speculation I would guess that he would have written it the same way that he did in fact write it. …

    Your speculations are all correct and thank you for staying with me. You see here is the problem you are now (at least from my perspective) starting to argue in a circle. Sue showed the 1Tim 2:12 involves invalid not valid authority. You responded that the message applies in general because of verses like 1Tim3. Now you have just agreed that verse doesn’t necessarily mean anything about men vs. women but could mean faithful spouses. So you can’t use 1Tim3 to nullify Sue’s argument.

    So yes we have are some vague allusions in scripture that could be taken to mean women shouldn’t teach. But that is far from the clear teaching of scripture.

    That is you have been quite emphatic that this is a clear teaching of scripture, “ It is always an unbiblical practice for a woman to serve as a pastor or to teach men. Period” yet the evidence is not so clear. You haven’t presented any clear evidence and further and over the course of history your position was rejected so it wasn’t clear to the vast majority of Christians during any point in human history based on the scriptures.

    Now if you are using some sort of extra biblical standard then I think you should qualify your statement. Otherwise this just sounds like “girls have cooties and therefore can’t teach”.

    I’m sorry for being uncharitable here, but lots of women are hurt in the Christian community by this attitude.

  18. Joe Blackmon says:

    CD Host
    I’m sure homosexuals are “hurt” when they are told that homosexuality is a sin. That doesn’t make it all of a sudden not a sin.

    I give you and Sue the last word because, quite frankly, I’m never going to agree with you. I’ll just continue to go to my church where women are allowed to teach only when appropriate and that no woman will ever be allowed to pastor while Sue can go to her church and you, well, do whatever it is you do when you’re not online.

  19. Sue says:

    Thanks. I will go to my church and my comments here will just be one more effort out of many to get biblical scholars to enter into an honest dialogue with the Greek of the NT.

    Joe,

    I understand your position very well. It is Dr. Kostenberger that I cannot understand. He ought to be aware of what is and what is not in the Bible.

  20. Sandy Grant says:

    Excuse what will be a very long post done by a complementarian genuinely trying to work through the issues. I am a pastor, not an academic, and so I am sure there might be places where my efforts could be corrected or improved.

    Suzanne wrote, “If there is any occurrence of authenteo in which this verb is used of a human and has a positive connotation, I think it would be useful if that example were to be provided. I have not seen one within several centuries of the epistle to Timothy.”

    She also wrote says “Dr. Kostnberger does not provide lexical support for any meaning of authenteo. This is because the evidnce is all negative. Therefore, it is in his interest to not provided this evidence.”

    I have a couple of responses. Firstly, she would be aware that the meaning of authenteo was not Dr Kostenberger’s primary are of research. In his summary article referenced in the interview, he referred us to Scott Baldwin’s research on the meaning of the word. Baldwin’s research argued that the root meaning of this term involved the concept of authority.

    In his summary article, Kostenberger also noted “Moreover, while Baldwin surveys a total of eighty-two instances of [authenteo] in ancient Greek literature, only two (!) date prior to the writing of First Timothy, a sample size so small as to preclude any certainty regarding the meaning of the word at the time the epistle was written.”

    Baldwin did give a range of possible meanings including some positive or at least neutral and some negative – this is scarcely hiding evidence! – and said that further research was needed before one could narrow down the meaning of the word in the particular context of 1 Tim 2:12.

    It was Dr Kostenberger who provided some of the research regarding the sentence structure of 1 Tim 2:12, particularly on the use of the conjunction oude linking either two positive verbs or two negative verbs, research which has stood up very well over the decade since.

    One of the things Baldwin did was to list in Greek and in English translation all the occurrences he could find of authenteo. Kostenberger references this. So he does not avoid this evidence as alleged by Suzanne.

    I have looked over this list again, as I did the first time. There are some examples of what appears to me to be a positive or neutral use of this verb in regards to a human subject within several centuries of the epistle to Timothy as requested by Suzanne.

    But first of all, notice how she seems to assume that use of this verb with God as the subject and thus with a positive connotation (e.g. Eusebius On Ecclesiastical Theology; Athanisius Testimonies from Scripture,; Epiphanius Medicine Chest Against All Heresies) must somehow automatically be inadmissible in determining the meaning of the verb in regards to human subjects. But why should that assumption hold?

    However, note these counter-examples to Suzanne’s assertion that it’s always negative of human subjects. These examples come from Chrysostom c. A.D. 390.

    In the Homilies on Genesis he writes of Eve, “the woman was given to you as a helper, not as being in charge [= Gk authentousan,]; as one who agrees, not as mistress of the manor; as of one mind, not as tutor; as yoked together, not ruling; as subject to, not highest over; as being in concert with you, not as prevailing over.” It seems that in this series of antitheses, the second in each case is not a bad thing in itself, just something in Chrysostom’s view not given to Eve. For example, it seems to me that being a female household ruler, or a tutor, or ruling others are legitimate human activities in the right context, although not given to Eve in her context, in Chrysostom’s view.

    In the Homilies on Acts Chrysostom writes of Peter taking the lead in seeking a replacement for Judas in chapter 1 as follows, “For observe, they were a hundred and twenty, and he asks for one out of the whole body: with good right. He has authority (or ‘gives orders’ BDAG) firstly of (‘in’ or ‘regarding’) the matter[= Gk prΩtos tou pragmatos authentei] as having been put in charge of them: for to him had Christ said, “And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

    (This is the Parker translation. However, I have inserted the additional words in italics of the relevant textual variant translated as best I could myself. It appears Parker left the variant untranslated. Baldwin appears to not have noticed this and wrongly italicized the following phrase as a translation of authentei.)

    So, if I have understood this correctly, the key thing is that Peter is the subject of authentei and Chrystostom entirely approves of Peter taking the lead in this matter of appointing a replacement for Judas. So the variant shows a use of authentein in a positive way, with an human subject in the centuries following 1 Timothy.

    Lastly, I would also note Chrysostom’s Sermons on Genesis, where he mentions that Eve once taught (= Gk verb didaskein) Adam and exercised authority (= Gk verb authentein) over Adam, in each case he adds an adverb “wrongly” (= Gk kakΩs) to modify the verb. This provides evidence that the verb authentein by itself was not clearly negative in this context.

    Apologies for this lengthy post, but I may have pointed out the counter-examples requested by Suzanne. I await correction or comment.

  21. Sue says:

    Sandy,

    Thank you for responding.

    Baldwin’s research argued that the root meaning of this term involved the concept of authority.

    I have read Baldwin’s list and I am familiar with the examples. I disagree with his assessment of the meaning of authenteo. The BDAG, L and N, the REB, CEV, KJV, TNIV, also disagree with this assessment. It is obviously not something on which there is consensus.

    But first of all, notice how she seems to assume that use of this verb with God as the subject and thus with a positive connotation (e.g. Eusebius On Ecclesiastical Theology; Athanisius Testimonies from Scripture,; Epiphanius Medicine Chest Against All Heresies) must somehow automatically be inadmissible in determining the meaning of the verb in regards to human subjects. But why should that assumption hold?

    I think it is appropriate that God compel humans, but it is not appropriate for one human to do this to another.

    Let’s look at the other examples you use.

    “the woman was given to you as a helper, not as being in charge [= Gk authentousan,]; as one who agrees, not as mistress of the manor; as of one mind, not as tutor; as yoked together, not ruling; as subject to, not highest over; as being in concert with you, not as prevailing over.”

    “Ruling,” “prevailing,” “highest over” – these things are not the usual attributes of a church leader. This can hardly be called a positive connotation.

    If authenteo meant “to be in charge of” in a benign way, why did Chrysostom tell a husband to never authenteo a wife?

    in each case he adds an adverb “wrongly” (= Gk kakΩs) to modify the verb. This provides evidence that the verb authentein by itself was not clearly negative in this context.

    And if someone is violently abused, does that mean that the word “abused” is not a negative word. This example can prove no positive connotation either.

    Regarding Peter, I would guess that the first use of authenteo in an accepted way for a human is in the context of popery. I would have no trouble with a translation that said that a woman could not be a pope.

    I do not see any appropriate examples of the word used in a positive way of church leadership close to the time of the NT.

  22. Sandy Grant says:

    G’day Sue. A few quick comments before I go for the weekend – got my twins birthday party tomorrow, and sermon to finish for Sunday.

    I remind everyone that Baldwin acknowledged a range a meanings – positive and negative – for the word in dispute authentein although suggesting that the concept that tied the range of meanings together was authority. This is similar to the range allowed by the UBS dictionary and BDAG which says to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to – not uniformly negative, but dependent on context for its shade of meaning – like so many words!

    Secondly, I note that Sue concedes that Chrysostom does use the word positively in the commentary on Acts that I mentioned. Whatever you think of Chrysostom’s comments on Peter and the papal tendencies there, Chrysostom was obviously positive about it, and used the authentein word in that context. He certainly also used the word positively of God. In other contexts as Sue mentioned he used it negatively. That’s the point – it can be positive or negative depending on context.

    Lastly, I notice that Sue ignored some of the activities that were in parallel to the word in the Homilies on Genesis such as being the mistress of a house or a tutor. Are these also bad things? These would seem to be positive things for a woman in the right context.

    So I am not convinced Chrysostom must have thought authentein was always negative of humans!

  23. Sue says:

    Chrysystom explicitly said that a husband was not to authenteo a wife. It is denied between marriage partners.

    Interesting that Jerome translates authenteo with dominare the same word as he uses in 1 Peter 5:3,

    not domineering over (lording it over) those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. ESV

    Luther follows this by translating both 1 Tim. 2:12 and 1 Peter 5:3 with herrschen (lord it over).

    Baldwin concludes there is a concept of authoriity based on the Philodemus fragment which is now acknowledged not to be a valid occurrence.

    Since Chrysostom’s use of authenteo is so much more negative than positive, Chrysostom has been ruled too late to be evidence by all the complementarian scholars that I have engaged in dialogue.

    What about Hippolytus’ use a full century and a half closer to the NT. Also very negative.

    The great preponderance of evidence is for the negative. Dr. Kostenberger needs to admit this and respond.

  24. Don B. Johnson says:

    The second qualification: “Faithful spouse” (3:2)
    The second qualification in the list deals with the
    overseer’s married life. Careful research has shown that
    this qualification means that whether one is a husband or
    a wife it is important to be a “faithful spouse.” It requires
    that an overseer, if married, be faithful and be “a one-spouse
    kind of person.”

    According to Lucien Deiss (notes to the French
    Bible, the TOB, Edition Intégrale, p. 646, note a), this
    Greek phrase was used in Asia Minor, on both Jewish
    and pagan gravestone inscriptions, to designate a woman
    or a man, who was faithful to his or her spouse in a way
    characterized by “a particularly fervent conjugal love.”

    When I read Deiss’ comment about how this phrase
    was used on ancient grave inscriptions in Turkey, where
    Paul and Timothy ministered, I confirmed it with him
    myself, reaching him by telephone in Vaucresson, France.
    Some might find this insight into 1 Timothy 3:2
    surprising because modern versions of the Bible
    translate this Greek phrase as – “husband of one wife” –
    making this qualification appear to be restricted to men
    only! Instead, rightly understood, this qualification is
    about faithfulness in marriage by a Christian spouse. It is
    not saying that oversight is “for men only.”

    Pages 87-88
    Think Again about Church Leaders by Bruce C. E. Fleming

    —–
    So the term can refer to either gender, it is an idiom.

  25. Sandy Grant says:

    Don, thanks for your reference to Lucien Deiss and his note in the French Bible. I have done a little work trying to track this down on the internet. All I get is the similar quote from Fleming’s book.

    I would love to know if Deiss’ work on this phrase has been published in any scholarly journal.

    Have the inscriptions he refers to been listed and referenced and independently examined and translated?

    I am sure Lucien Deiss is a credible scholar, but even scholars make mistakes. My request is standard practice. Indeed it is exactly what has been done with the work of Baldwin and Kostenberger and others. Their translations and discussions of various pieces of evidence have been probed and in some cases challenged. Fair enough. (That’s why it is impressive that they listed all their examples in Greek and with English translation.)

    I am just asking that the same be done with Deiss’ work, or if it has been done, can someone please tell me where. Otherwise, we just have a scholar’s assertion that he has examined grave inscriptions where the phrase “husband of one wife/man of one woman” is applied to women.

    That’s not really good enough.

  26. Sandy Grant says:

    Sue, I was simply responding to Suzanne’s challenge that she was yet to see a single occurrence of authenteo in which this verb is used of a human and has a positive connotation, within several centuries of the epistle to Timothy.

    She asked that someone should provide it. I think I have done that. And I think you have admitted that.

    It would be a pity to change the goalposts on me (as we say in Australia)!

    The meaning of the relevant word can be positive or negative and it depends on context. (This is also true of exousiazein and kurieuein – words which also can be translated as “have authority” or “rule”.)

  27. Sue says:

    Sandy,

    You will have to appeal to Dr. Kostenberger to present the material in full. Clearly he has not done an adequate job in this post. He does not state whether he wishes to reference one or two occurrences of the word, (He does not explain why he has excluded all other evidence but clearly he has) he denies Titus 1:11, he claims that “have authority” is the interpretation of 2 millenia, when it can be traced to 1516. Surely, we should not accept this post as the final word. Would men restrict themselves from serving God in certain ways on the basis of such a poorly constructed argument? Hardly.

    We must interpret it in the light of the scriptures, that women were apostolos – Junia, diakonos and prostatis – Phoebe, prophesied – Philip’s daughters, taught – Priscilla, and had households and churches that were known by their name – Lydia, Chloe, Nympha, and the elect lady. They certainly had some leadership position over men.

    PS kurieuein – Gen 3:16

    If church leadership is interpreted as “lording it over” then we have some fairly serious problems. Let’s consider 1 Peter 5:3,

    not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

    Once again, for Jerome, Gen. 3:16, 1 Tim. 2:12, and 1 Peter 5:3 all used the word dominare. I just don’t see anyone actually reviewing the history of interpretation. What I read are statements like,

    In short, the natural reading of the passage is that Paul here prohibits women from serving as pastors or elders in the church, because he does not permit women to teach or exercise authority over men. This has been the church’s understanding of this passage for almost two millennia and was not seriously questioned until the advent of modern feminism in the 1960s.

    The evidence does not support this.

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