Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Mon Aug 14 08:17:45 EDT 2000

To all B-Greekers:

The thread originally marked by the subject-header, "1 Tim. 2:12, meaning
of AUQENTEIN" is now closed; please let us have no more messages on this
subject at the time.

The passage in question has always been one of the two or three most
contentious Biblical texts dealt with on B-Greek, so much so that I have
always had apprehensions about the course of a new thread on it whenever it
arises, as it always seems to arise again, two or three times a year or
even more frequently; the last such thread was in October of 1999, and
list-members are welcome to consult the archives for that or earlier
threads. I recall with a curious mixture of nostalgia and regret my
participation in one of those threads:

At 4:07 PM -0400 5/18/98, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>I don't wish to renew a debate of yesteryear, but I would just call
>attention, for the sake of those who wnder what women on the list might
>have to say about this, and for those who might like to review it, to the
>correspondence on our list in November and December of 1995--I think it's
>all there in the archives. I should note that this was before there were
>list rules and enforcement of civil discourse ("There was no king in Israel
>in those days: everyone did what was right in his/her own eyes"). In late
>November there was a knock-down/drag'em-out battle over the Junia passage
>in Rom 16:7 (subject header: "Re: Junia/Junias nochmals"), and the
>resolution of this was followed on December 2 by a post by Jim McGuire
>entitled "Women elders and apostles," which was the trigger that made the
>stuff hit the fan. Jim McGuire called up the relevance of the passage in 1
>Timothy 2:11ff. I and some others responded at length. In the midst of it
>all a truly heroic Ellen Adams spoke out (although her user name was "Mike
>Adams"). We haven't heard from Ellen for a long time now, and I miss her; I
>know that for a while she and Mike were acting in a pastoral role in a
>rural church outside of Denver and she frequently sought advice from our
>list on interpretation of crucial passages. [I did have a nice note from
>Ellen last Christmas, I may note.]

I think that our list-members hold widely-divergent views on the status and
legitimate role of women in the church; I dare say that the view each of us
holds--quite regardless of where it falls on the spectrum--is shaped by
powerful Biblical understandings. The problem is that our Biblical
understandings are themselves widely divergent. This is the reason why our
FAQ says:

"Respectful discourse: Those who participate in the conference represent a
wide range of theological and denominational perspectives, perhaps even
including some whose interests are purely academic.  Deep religious
convictions surely characterize many, perhaps most, of the
list-participants, and some of these convictions bear directly upon how the
Biblical text is to be understood. At the core of our discussion, however,
is not what our convictions are but what the Greek text may legitimately be
understood to mean. If discussion of this nature is to succeed, proper
respect and courtesy to other list members is important.  While scholarly
debate, including disagreement, is encouraged as a goal of this conference,
attacks upon the character, intelligence, or faith of those participating
are not acceptable. Criticism must focus upon the arguments of others; it
may not be directed to the individual.  Those who violate this policy will
be contacted politely by the B-Greek staff and requested to conform to
these guidelines.  Those who continue to violate the policy will no longer
be welcome in the conference."

Although the FAQ does not yet explicitly say so, it implies and
list-moderators have repeatedly stated that B-Greek message should avoid
raising theological doctrines or hermeneutical positions whether to defend
or to attack them. I would be inclined to say that the present thread has
evoked the doctrinal and hermeneutical demons in substantial measure,
although I suspect that those deeply engaged in the discussion would
dispute that assertion.

My own view is that the current thread became unwieldy and incapable of
sustaining in a civil fashion as soon as the position was taken that there
is one and only one conceivable right way of understanding 1 Tim 2:12 and
that this one and only right way must be defended. Appeals to ways of
understanding other NT passages on the proper role of women as keys to
understanding this one and appeals to traditional ecclesiastical
interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12 left the simpler question behind: "what does
the Greek text of 1 Tim 2:12 actually say and does that text allow for
alternative interpretations? Once the question of what the Greek must mean
was left behind, the domains of hermeneutics and theological doctrine came
into play and the lines had been crossed which the list-leadership have
agreed to enforce.

I hope that is enough by way of explanation of the closure now brought to
the current thread on this passage. Participants in the discussion are
free, of course, to continue their discussions of the passage, but not
publicly on B-Greek.

Carl W. Conrad
Co-Chair, B-Greek List
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at
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