infinitive -> finite verb

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at
Fri May 24 02:34:03 EDT 2002

> Dear b-greekers,
> I wish to disagree somewhat with Iver.

Fine, let me comment on your points below:

> >1) Who are Paul talking about? - Women.
> >2) What does he say about women? - Be in silence.
> >3) What should they do in silence? - Learn/be taught.
> >4) What should their attitude be as they are taught in silence? -
> >Submission.
> >5) How strong a submission? - Full/complete/heartfelt. (The word
> >"all" is fronted within its phrase, because it is more prominent than the
> >noun it modifies. One needs to look at clause level prominence and phrase
> >level prominence as separate layers.)


> >1) Who are Paul talking about? - Women.
> No. Not so. The Greek word here in verse 11 is GUNH. This does not mean
> "women" - it means "woman". And "wife". Ditto verse 12 -
> singular. This is not a minor matter, changing this singular to a plural.
It makes the
> reference become one relating to women in general, and thus gives a basis
> (albeit a false one) for making this passage relate to women in general
> (notice how Iver uses the plural throughout his explanation?)
> Those taking  this line also pluralize the reference to ANHR (verse 12,
> ANDROS). Then it is an easy step to relate this to the whole church, and
then to women in
> general in relation to men in general. Thus by changing the underlying
> Greek we can arrive at an interpretation that women must not teach men in
> church.

If I understand you correctly, you claim that GUNH and ANHR are not relating
to women and men in general. But are you suggesting that a particular
unnamed wife and a particular unnamed husband is in view? Or are you
suggesting that the words relate to married women in general and their

Both singular and plural in Greek and English can be used for general
reference. If singular is used, it is as a representative of a class. When
the context indicates, as here, that no particular woman/wife or man/husband
is referred to, I take it that the reference is general to a woman/wife
representing a set of individuals who can be described by the same noun. I
used plural here because plural is used in the preceding verse and plural is
common for general reference in English, but if you would rather say "any
woman/wife" to show the general reference, I am happy with that. The
singular in Greek may well be used here because the notion of class
representative is in focus, that is "any woman/wife". Since Greek does not
have an indefinite article like English, I need to add "any" in English to
get the sense of class representation.
You seem to object to the general reference, but give no alternative. Do you
suggest that the reference is to a particular wife of a particular husband?

I would be happy to restrict the reference to married men and women, since
in that culture at that time, men with authority to teach were married men,
and unmarried women were normally under the authority of a father or brother
and would not be allowed to teach, if a married woman who had higher status,
was not so allowed.
> There are several ways of approaching the interpretation of 1 Timothy
> 2:11-15, yielding very different results. But first, we should recognize
> the use of the singular in the Greek through these verses. Second, we
> should take note of the range of meaning of GUNH and ANHR. They are the
> standard words in the G.N.T. when you want to say "husband" and "wife".
> Third, a basic principle of exegesis is that one Scripture throws light
> upon another in instances of ambiguity or uncertainty. So we
> should take a  look at the parallel in 1 Peter 3:1-7, which discusses many
> similar issues (count all the points of comparison) and which translates
> same words to be speaking of husbands and wives. Fourth, there is nothing
> anywhere in 1 Timothy 2 which limits the scope of reference here to being
> church or a meeting of the church. If we see such a meaning, it is because
we read it
> in.

Your point one, two and three say nothing new or debatable. You have chosen
1 Peter 3 as reference, because there the context indicates a home
situation. Most English versions recognize the difference between the two
contexts by translating GUNAIKES as wives and ANDRES as husbands in 1 Pet
3:1, but as woman/women and man/men in 1 Tim 2.

Then you claim that there is nothing anywhere in 1 Timothy 2 which refers to
a church meeting.
Are you suggesting that the prayers in 2:1 are prayers said by a man and
wife at home without reference to a church meeting? Are you suggesting that
the "men in every place" in 2:8 who are to lift holy hands when they pray
refers to a husband at home as he is praying with his wife? Are you
suggesting that the teaching which Paul prohibits a woman/wife from engaging
in is teaching her husband at home? If this was the case, are you saying
that Paul does not allow a woman to teach her husband at home, but can do so
once they are in church?

> The provenance for this passage is home and family, not the question of
> ministry in a meeting of the church. And therefore ANHR and GUNH
> should be
> translated here a "husband" and "wife", as in the parallel in 1 Peter 3.

I think you are reading into the text what you want it to say. Whether GUNH
is to be translated woman or wife depends on the context in which the word
occur, not on the context in another writing by another author in a
different setting.

> Paul must
> not be pressed into saying and meaning something he did not say or mean.

I agree completely, but not on who is pressing Paul to say what he did not
say or mean.
> >2) What does he say about women? - Be in silence.
> The Greek word here is hHSUCIA. It does NOT mean silence (that is
> SIGH/SIGAW); rather, it means "quietly", "in quietness". This
> term does not require absolute silence.

I used "silence" because it is the common word used in English translation,
but I am happy to accept "quietness" in English. If the word is used to
describe the wife, it is good word, because it indicates an attitude that
contrasts with AUQENTEIN which I take to refer to a dominating attitude. I
think we should all try to learn in quietness/humility, whether men or women
(sorry, whether a wife or a husband).
However, if the setting is indeed a church meeting, then I assume the
gathering would be modelled after the Jewish synagogue pattern where the
older men and leaders were close to the front, younger men behind, and women
were on the balcony or furthest in the back, if there was no balcony. Almost
all the early churches started out with converted Jews as the core, and
there were many Jews in Ephesus. Actually, the main occasion for Paul's
instructions to Timothy were culture clashes between Greek culture and
Jewish culture, exactly because Greek culture allowed a freedom to women
that Jewish culture was not used to. And in this context, I believe the word
indicates keeping quiet in the sense of refraining from teaching, not in the
sense of teaching with a low voice.
> >3) What should they do in silence? - Learn/be taught.
> True - once we have it clear who is doing the teaching, and that it means
> "in quietness", not "in silence".
> >  4) What should their attitude be as they are taught in silence? -
> >Submission.
> True - once you put it into the singular (which it is in the passage) and
> link it with passages which explain the biblical teaching about headship,
> and especially the explicatory passage Ephesians 5:21-33). The
> implication here in this fourth point is that a general submission is
> required of all women to all men at all times. I protest that that is not
> what Paul is saying.

This is not my implication at all, and I would disagree with those who draw
such conclusions. What I think Paul is saying is that he did not want women
in the Church meetings in Ephesus to correct or contradict the men leaders
on doctrinal matters at that time when the church was struggling with
cultural clashes between Greek and Jews. At that time, women were somewhat
disadvantaged when it came to education and thorough knowledge of the
Scriptures. I do not think this applies to all times, and certainly not to
our times in the West where women are no longer disadvantaged in such a way.
But now we are moving away from the Greek text.
> >  5) How strong a submission? - Full/complete/heartfelt. (The word
> >"all" is fronted within its phrase, because it is more prominent than the
> >noun it modifies. One needs to look at clause level prominence and phrase
> >level prominence as separate layers.)
> So the word PASHi comes between EN and hUPOTAGHi. Nothing remarkable in
> that - a perfectly normal word order. There is no basis here for making a
> big deal out of this.

I am not making a big deal out of it. I was just commenting on the fact that
the word PASHi does occur here. It is correct that the word is inherently
prominent, and therefore it occurs before the noun it modifies as the
default option, unless the noun is made more prominent. My comment was
related to prominence and word order, not a general theology of "women in
church leadership".  Word order within a phrase corresponds fairly closely
to stress in English. In a phrase like "three blind mice" you can stress
each of the three words to make that word relatively more prominent. I don't
know whether ancient Greek used stress, but word order carries much of the
function of English stress in the sense that the stressed word will be
fronted unless other restrictions prohibit such a fronting.

And then I was trying to attempt a meaningful rendering in English. You
cannot say "all submission" in normal English, but have to say something
like "full submission" as NRSV does.

Best wishes,
Iver Larsen

More information about the B-Greek mailing list