1 Tim. 2:12, meaning of AUQENTEIN

B. Ward Powers bwpowers at eagles.com.au
Sun Aug 13 11:17:35 EDT 2000

At 06:25 AM 000813 -0500, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote, first citing my 
previous post to the list:

> >The New RSV translation informs the reader in its footnotes to 1 Timothy
> >2:11-12 that the Greek can be translated alternatively as "I permit no wife
> >to teach or have authority over her husband". For reasons of context in 1
> >Timothy 2 and the 1 Peter 3 parallel, this is far and away the preferred
> >translation.
>It is a possible reading of the verse, but the traditional understanding of
>a church setting is far more likely. Paul does not have the authority to
>forbid a wife to teach her husband. But that is what Paul would be
>forbidding in 1 Tim 2:12 according to the above view. There are many other
>contextual indicators opposed to the above translation.
>                                 Yours,
>                                 Harold Holmyard

May I respectfully suggest to Harold Holmyard that he is begging the 
question, affirming as fact that which is to be established.

1. He states that the traditional understanding of the verse is more 
likely. If it is more likely because it IS traditional, i.e. if we are 
simply to accept what is traditional, then (apart from reading our 
predecessors to ascertain what tradition says) we can all shut up shop on 
New Testament scholarship. But if Harold's preferred understanding ("a 
church setting") is to be accepted because it is in fact the one more 
likely, then he needs to address the task of showing this to be so: and 
then whether this view is traditional or no is secondary.

2. Harold asserts that a church setting [for the passage] is more likely. 
As this list is a forum on Biblical Greek it is not appropriate here for me 
to give a detailed answer to this. Any who would like to read such a 
detailed answer to this viewpoint will find it on pages 33 to 57 of my book 
"The Ministry of Women in the Church" (SPCK Australia, 1996, ISBN 
1-876106-05-0, $US20). A brief answer is: the Greek here is ambiguous, as 
GUNH can be understood as "woman" or "wife", and ANHR as "man" or 
"husband"; and in situations of such ambiguity in the Greek one needs to 
take very full and careful account of context. There is nothing within 1 
Timothy 2:8-15E which indicates a church setting. The praying by men of 
verse 8 is as appropriate for men in their role as head of a household as 
within a church context: note especially the expression EN PANTI TOPWi. 
Women get dressed at home, not in church (verses 9-10). The rationale which 
Paul gives for verses 11-12 is Adam and Eve (verses 13-14) - they were a 
married couple not a church. Women gave birth to their children in their 
homes, not in the context of a church service (verse 15). If "a church 
setting" is to be found in the context of verse 12 it is because it has 
been first of all read into it. The passage does not contain it.

3. Harold asserts that Paul lacks the authority to forbid a wife to teach 
her husband. Yet (presumably, on Harold's understanding of it being a 
church setting) Paul has the authority to forbid ALL women from teaching 
ALL men. He can do the greater forbidding, but not the lesser. This is a 
bold and courageous assertion. I wonder how it could be supported.

4. Finally, Harold says that there are "many other contextual indicators 
opposed to the above translation" i.e., of GUNH and ANHR here as wife and 
husband. As these are not pointed out, I do not know what Harold has in 
mind and in consequence I am unable to answer this assertion. However, 
there are seven significant points of similarity with what Paul says here 
(2:8-15E) about GUNH and ANHR and what Peter says about the people to whom 
these same Greek words refer in 1 Peter 3:1-7. In the latter passage, as I 
pointed out in my previous post, these words are translated as "wife" and 
"husband". What are the "other contextual indicators" in 1 Timothy 2:8-15E 
which mean that, to the contrary, the right translation in this passage is 
"woman" and "man"? Or, Harold, would you say that that is also the correct 
translation in 1 Peter 3?

5. The GUNH referred to in this passage is (in verse 11) to be in "full 
submission" to the ANHR. The only person to whom a woman is ever required 
to be in submission in NT teaching is to the husband with whom she is "one 
flesh", and that is because he is the "head" of this one-flesh 
relationship, and is to love his wife, and treat his wife as his own flesh, 
a part of his own body (Ephesians 5:22-33E). The one always and only ever 
goes with the other. The idea that a woman is to be in submission to males 
other than her husband, who do not owe her the commitment outlined by Paul 
in Ephesians 5, is a monstrous idea and is foisted upon the NT, not taught 
by it.

I realize that opinions differ in relation to this passage. (Otherwise we 
would hardly be spending time on it, trying to come to an understanding of 
its meaning.) With full recognition of these other viewpoints, and aware 
indeed of the possibility that I can be the one who is mistaken here, I 
respectfully submit my interpretation of the Greek of verses 11 and 12. But 
I would hold that it is not sufficient to assert that my understanding is 
incorrect. To demolish my case it is necessary to address each of my 
arguments and show how they are invalid or in error.

Then I will be persuaded to amend my views, and will publicly do so.



Rev Dr B. Ward Powers             Phone (International): 61-2-9799-7501
10 Grosvenor Crescent             Phone (Australia): (02) 9799-7501
SUMMER HILL  NSW  2130            email: bwpowers at eagles.bbs.net.au
AUSTRALIA.                      Director, Tyndale College

More information about the B-Greek mailing list