Monday, May 19, 2008

Adam and Eve in Genesis and First Timothy

Why did God say to the woman that her desire would be for the man, and the man would rule over her? Was this—as traditional belief would have it—God’s means of punishing the woman for being the first to sin and then leading the man into sin? Or was this simply God’s announcement of what the woman would suffer as a natural consequence of both her sin and the man’s sin? And how did this alter the relationship between woman and man?

Eve was deceived by the serpent to believe that God had been withholding his blessings, and that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil would in fact be good for her, not bad. So she disobeyed God’s command by eating the fruit. She then prevailed upon Adam to eat the fruit, thus leading Adam into disobedience as well. Given that Adam was not deceived but knew very well that the serpent’s words were wrong and untrue, he would likely have had some serious reservations. Yet, Eve had the upper hand with him.

So it was that when God came to Adam and Eve after their disobedience (from which they showed no signs of repenting), God told Eve that her desire would be for the man, and he would rule over her. Although various interpretations of the woman’s “desire” have been advanced, I am inclined to agree with Richard Hess, who explains in Discovering Biblical Equality (DBE), p. 92, that this is not a sexual desire but rather a desire to dominate. Sin created a struggle of willpower between women and men.

In saying that the woman would “desire” and the man would rule, God was not issuing directives or commandments to Adam and Eve. God was simply explaining what they had gotten themselves into. The punishment fit the crime, as it were. This was the way their sin had made things to be. From now on, Eve would want to have her way with Adam—as she had done after her first sin—but she would not continue to prevail over him. She would want to have her way, but she would not. He would not let her; he would rule over her. Both would live henceforth in sin. She would want to rule him. He would rule her. This is a classic picture of the “battle of the sexes.” From the beginning, man and woman have been drawn to each other—as God made them to be. Yet ever since Genesis 3:16, man and woman have also sought to get the better of each other—as sin has made them to be.

Since male rule is a consequence of sin and not God’s commandment, it should not be sanctioned or enforced, but ameliorated as much as possible—likewise with respect to the other consequences of fallenness (pain in childbearing, weeds and thistles and so on). Yet the roots of male rule go deep into the soil of sinful humanity—inextricably deep. Although we should seek to alleviate the effects of the fall, we cannot expect eradication of sin’s effects until the new heavens and the new earth have come.

Understanding the dynamics of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden helps us to understand why Paul brings Adam and Eve into the picture when he tells the Christians in Ephesus not to permit a woman to teach or authentein a man. (The Greek word authentein has been translated various ways, including “assume authority,” “have/exercise authority,” “domineer over.”) In 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Paul draws an allusive picture of the post-fall set-up. Paul sees in the men and women of Ephesus a situation that is reminiscent of the fall of Adam and Eve. Certain women who, it would seem, were deceived and dictatorial, had been seeking to impose false doctrine on the men, just as Eve had done when she imposed the serpent’s lie upon Adam. Eve had been deceived and so had prevailed upon Adam to accept and act upon false teaching concerning God’s word. Paul is saying to the Christians in Ephesus that a woman must not do what the first woman had done.

An understanding of Paul’s prohibition as forbidding a woman to do to a man what Eve did to Adam accounts for the use of the unusual term authentein. This term does not necessarily mean having or exercising authority in the ordinary way (as it is typically rendered in modern translations). It more likely speaks of exercising a dominating influence upon someone to go along with a specific agenda or to engage in a particular activity.

Gordon Fee sums up the situation in this way: “Paul prohibits a woman from teaching a man so as to dominate him because he does not want the women in Ephesus to replay the sin of Eve, who was deceived and led Adam into sin” (DBE, p. 377). Linda Belleville summarizes Paul’s prohibition in verses 11 and 12 as follows: “Let a woman learn in a quiet and submissive fashion. I do not, however, permit her to teach with the intent to dominate a man. She must be gentle in her demeanor.” She concludes that “Paul would then be prohibiting teaching that tries to get the upper hand—not teaching per se” (DBE, p. 223). (For more detailed treatments of this text, see my essay “Leading Him Up the Garden Path,” as well as Linda Belleville, chapter 12 in DBE, and Andrew Perriman, Speaking of Women, chapter 6.)

Paul's concern appears to be with the process whereby a person becomes deceived into believing a satanically twisted view of God's Word and then proceeds to impose this teaching upon another, thereby leading the other into disobedience to God. This is what Eve did to Adam. This is evidently what some women were doing (or were in danger of doing) to some of the men in the church at Ephesus. And this is what Paul will not permit.

Thus Paul does not bar women from ministries that involve teaching and/or having authority over men (either locally or universally). Rather, when Paul says that a woman must neither teach nor authentein a man, he has in mind what the first woman did to the first man. It is the repetition of the error of Eve that Paul disallows, not a woman’s faithful exercise of her teaching and leadership gifts in the church body.

Paul's reference to "the childbearing" in 1 Tim 2:15 seems to evoke the promise of redemption God gave to Eve in Genesis 3:15. While the woman Eve was deceived by Satan when she failed to submit to God’s true word, the woman Mary heard and believed the word of the Lord to her, and so through her the Christ child was brought into the world. Thus Paul concludes his stern warnings regarding Eve and the Ephesian women on a more positive, encouraging note.

Indeed, in Genesis 3:15, even before God pronounces the dire consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin, he hints that this moral disaster is not the end of the story. There will be redemption and, what is more, the woman will be in on it. God has put enmity between Satan and the woman. That means the woman is on God’s side. She is not inherently unclean or defective, as many of the early church fathers and men throughout the millennia have assumed. God does not give the woman over to iniquity. He gives her a starring role in redemption’s drama. And this speaks not just of the one-time event of the birth of Christ. As all women (not just Eve) have in some way borne the brunt of male rule, so God desires all women (not just Mary) to serve a significant role in God’s redemptive drama. For we are each one—male and female—God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We each have an important part to play, a part prepared by God and determined not basically according to our gender but according to the whole person God made each one of us to be.

37 comments:

The Scottish Reslers said...

Excellent essay. I read your husband's blog regularly (and even add a comment or two when I am brave enough!) and he pointed me this way.

I went to Denver Sem and count myself blessed to have Doug as a teacher for two classes (as well as having you for one class during Christian ethics). I also took a class on women from Emig and Beck that was very good and challenging. It is always good to think.

To put my cards on the table, I am a struggling complementarian myself and am glad to wrestle yet again with the issues that you raise here. I am convinced of Hess' reading of Gen 3 and, through your elucidation of I Tim. 2, find it very helpful and thought-provoking. I do struggle with trying to unpack what is contextual from what is normative in regards to this issue. I might not be where you are yet, but I really appreciate your heart and scholarship here.

Your essay does a great job in steering a mediating course from those who suggest that the passage is purely contextual (which I find not satisfactory) or is purely normative (again, which I find unsatisfactory). Your argument maintains the biblical tension of the Fall argument with the practical use of Paul's greater teaching on the order of worship in Ch. 2.

However, I would like to hear your thoughts on I Tim 2:13 and how it relates to your overall argument? Your argument tends to favor 2:14. I know one can't make too much out of priority of creation, yet there seems to be a economical difference in Gen 2 whereby Adam named all created beings prior to Eve's creation. This would be my only question or challenge to your wonderful essay.

Cheers and keep on writing (ps. my wife really liked reading your book while at Denver as well - I forget which one it was though!).

Gunnar said...

I'm confused, are you arguing for equal female participation in all leadership roles, including the priesthood, and if not how does the all male priesthood fit into your theological approach to the different roles between women and men.

Gunnar said...

As a follow up, for a more specific example, Jesus only chose men as apostles, yet his mother is Queen of Heaven, does this not show that God Himself allows for distinct roles for women and men?

Beth said...

Gunnar, I’ll let Rebecca speak for herself, but wanted to provide some input on the questions you brought up. In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter quoted part of Joel 2, including “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy...” (Acts 2:18). My study Bible’s commentary on this verse says “Peter explains the unusual events of Pentecost in terms of the outpouring of the Spirit predicted in Joel’s messianic word. The outpouring of the Spirit in the OT had been largely reserved for the spiritual and national leaders of Israel. Under the New Covenant, however, the authority of the Spirit is for “all flesh”, all who come under the New Covenant. Every believer is anointed to be a priest and king to God.” (notes by Dr. Gary Kinnaman)

Gunnar said...

My question wasn't so much directed at the universal shared priesthood of all believers received at confirmation (i.e. outpouring of the Holy Spirit, being sealed in Christ) but the ordained priesthood of Holy Orders that is clearly only shared by men in the New Testament, starting with the apostles and highlighted throughout Acts and the Letters of Paul.

Beth said...

Rebecca, I was getting ready to respond to your post when I got sidetracked. Thanks for answering my question about Gen 3:16b and also explaining some of the related verses. As usual, your arguments are Biblical and clearly expressed. I agree with your analysis, as I am a frequent witness to power struggles between men and women, sometimes because I am involved. Regarding power struggles, I wonder why Ephesians 5:22 to the end of the chapter gets so much attention while the verse immediately preceding that passage, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” gets so little, and is even separated into a different paragraph in many Bible translations when it is clearly laying a foundation for Christian relationships.

cokhavim said...

Rebecca, I read Hess' chapter in DBE, but I don't have the book in front of me (someone borrowed it and hasn't yet returned it), and I don't remember Hess' chapter well. Does Hess say anything about Katherine Bushnell's research about the word "desire"? Her book, though rather old, presents a wealth of evidence that the original word meant "turning" and not "desire" (which makes better sense of the accompanying Hebrew preposition "el"). I don't remember anyone ever presenting evidence refuting Bushnell. If Bushnell is right, then God is describing something very different from the woman's desire to dominate. Her interpretation is that the woman is turning from a dependence/alliance with God to a dependence/alliance with the man, and as a result, the now-sinful man would rule over her. What do you think?

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

To: the scottish reslers

It is always encouraging to find a complementarian who is willing to engage the arguments fairly and with an open mind. I have heard that the mentality on this subject in the UK is considerably less rigid and prejudiced than in the U.S. As far as I know, there has been no serious, scholarly review of DBE in the U.S., but I know of two out of England: Themelios, as well as Evangelical Quarterly (78.1 [2006], 65-84, in case anyone is interested). Both, I think, reviewed DBE together with Wayne Grudem’s Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth. Both reviews leaned toward the patriarchal-complementarian view (especially the Themelios review), but at least DBE was acknowledged and treated seriously!

I’m not entirely sure what your question is, but I will hazard a response, and if it doesn’t get at your concern, then let me know. In 1 Tim 2:13 Paul may just be setting out a bare-bones description of the Adam and Eve situation, since this is the story from which he draws his exhortation to Timothy and the Ephesian Christians. Paul’s words in this passage are rather elliptical and allusive, so perhaps in noting that Adam was formed first, then Eve, he is alluding to the different circumstances of their creation and that which follows from it. This would include Adam’s naming the animals before Eve was created, which served to show the man that he needed an “ezer” to help him, and that none of the animals would fill the bill: it had to be someone like him. Paul’s comment that Adam was formed first, then Eve, also sets the stage for the dynamics of their fall into sin, which is his main point, addressed in the next verse.

To: gunnar

I am arguing that the Bible does not restrict women from participating in church leadership roles. I do not hold to the Catholic doctrine of an all-male priesthood. As a Bible-believing Protestant, I do not believe that Mary is the “Queen of Heaven,” because that doctrine comes from the Catholic papacy, not from Scripture. (The Bible does speak of the Queen of Heaven, but only to condemn goddess worship. See Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17-19, 25, where the Israelites were worshipping the Queen of Heaven and Jeremiah was prophesying against them for doing so.)

Yes, Jesus chose 12 male disciples during his ministry on earth. But these twelve apostles were also all Jewish. The Bible does not say that the maleness of Jesus’ twelve apostles requires church leaders always to be male. This is merely an inference, and a weak one at that: If Jesus’ choice of the Twelve signals that only men can be church leaders, it should, by the same token, mean that only Jews can be church leaders.

Jesus chose twelve Jewish males for his apostles in order to affirm the Jewish foundation of his covenant. The Twelve represented the twelve patriarchs for which the twelve tribes of Israel were named. They also represented the newly constituted Israel under the new covenant in Christ. Thus it was necessary that they all be free Jewish males. These considerations, however, are not relevant to the question of whether or not church leadership should be limited to men in the predominantly Gentile church today. See DBE, p. 133-136.

The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, of which Beth was speaking, does indeed entail that “every believer is anointed to be a priest and king to God.” In the new covenant in Christ, there are two priesthoods: the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6, 5:10) and the high priesthood of Christ (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 4:14; 6:20; 8:1-2). The priesthood of the Old Testament is now defunct, to which the entire book of Hebrews attests. The Lamb of God has made the final sacrifice, and Jesus Christ is high priest forever. In the believers’ priesthood, all are to offer sacrifices acceptable to God, a privilege that was restricted to the priests in the Old Testament. Because there is no longer a strict division of clergy and laity in the church of the new covenant, the anointing and outpouring of the Spirit is not restricted to certain qualified (free Jewish male) religious leaders, but to all those who put their faith in Christ.

To: Beth

Including Ephesians 5:21 in the same paragraph with 5:22 makes sense because both are about Christian submission in relationships with one another. Even more, verses 21 and 22 should be considered part of the same thought, because the verb “submit” in verse 22 is not in the Greek text but is borrowed from verse 21. So it would go something like this: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ—wives to your husbands as unto the Lord.” Thus the submission of wives to their husbands is one expression of the attitude of submission that all believers are to have toward one another. I think the newer Bible translations are more likely to put Eph 5:21 and 22 in the same paragraph. But since the Greek manuscript does not have paragraphs or even punctuation to speak of, it is up to the team of Bible translators to parcel out the paragraphs and sentences and so on.

To: cokhavim

I want to see if I can ask Rick Hess a couple of things before I respond to your questions. So stay tuned!

The Scottish Reslers said...

Thank you for your response. Yes, you did understand my question correctly. I do disagree with you that 2:13 is not simply setting the stage for 2:14 and that more needs to be addressed in the discussion. However, I do appreciate your exegetical work in the field.

Yes in the UK this issue is not an issue. However, the Fall as a historical event as well as the inerrancy of the Scriptures isn't either so I don't know if it is a good thing or not.

I look forward to your next posting. Thanks again for your hard work and conviction - the church is better off for it.

Gunnar said...

I am a bit of a loss regarding your response to me.

First, your response regarding not believing in things that come from the Pope but only things in the Bible obviously isn't true since you are arguing for women in the ordained ministry, something which is not in the Bible. (on a side note, since Jesus is King of Heaven and Mary is his mother, it is a matter of logic that she is the Queen of Heaven since she is the Queen Mother of her son just like Solomon's mother in the OT, etc.). Plus, it is a non sequitor to the point I was making of there only being biblical evidence for an all male priesthood.

Second, the twelve apostles were Christian males, no different than a Christian male today (no difference in faith, so your argument that the male requirement is equivalent to the "jewish" requirment does not follow since, once a Gentile converted to Christianity he was of the same faith as the apostles, grafted onto the tree of Israel")

Third, most of the arguments I have read on this website seem to stem from the assumption that authority is something deserved or earned, however, it seems that authority, like faith is an underserved gift freely given for the glory of God, therefore, it is irrelevant that woman are equally capable of having priestly ministry since Jesus did not give the authority to women. (see e.g. Saul, who was persecuting Christians but made and apostle by Christ anyway after his resurecction, certainly he did not receive this gift based on deserving it by his actions or abilities).

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

To: Gunnar

I am sorry you feel at a loss. I will make one last attempt to clarify my views for you. I will respond to each of your three points.

First, it is not “obvious” that God has excluded women from the ordained ministry. That is the question under discussion. Second, in the Bible only the Old Testament had an all-male priesthood. With the new covenant in Christ’s blood, the Old Testament priesthood was abolished. The New Testament speaks of pastors, teachers and shepherds for the people, but there is no priesthood other than the high priesthood of Christ and the priesthood of all believers.

Second, The Jew/Gentile difference is fundamentally one of nationality, not faith, just as the male/female difference is fundamentally one of gender, not faith. Your attempt to show my analogy to be false does not obtain. If the example of Jesus' 12 apostles means that male gender is the criterion for leadership in the church, then Jewish nationality should also be a criterion.

Third, God bestowed authority equally on both man and woman at creation (see Genesis 1:26-28). Likewise, the spiritual authority that every believer has in Christ is neither earned nor deserved. These things I stated in my first post, titled “Let’s Start at the Very Beginning.”

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

To: the scottish reslers

A fine state the church seems to be in: Either give up civility or give up biblical authority! I, for one, am not giving up either.

Now that I know better what your question was, let me try to explain my view in more depth. My thinking is that in 1 Tim 2:13 Paul was either setting the stage for the next verse and the account of Adam & Eve’s fall into sin, or he was alluding to or implying something about what follows from Adam’s being formed first and how that bears on Eve’s deception and sin.

If the latter, the question is: What was this implication that Paul had in mind? He does not say. One can only surmise. I choose not to surmise anything specific regarding Paul’s possible implication in 2:13 because there does not seem to be sufficient information to derive a reliable conclusion. Paul mentions the sequence of Adam and Eve’s creation only once in this text, and without elaboration or explanation. However, 2:14 does connect with Paul’s concerns in both 1 & 2 Timothy regarding deception. So it seems safe enough to surmise that in 2:14 Paul is implying that the Ephesian women ought not do what Eve did.

The patriarchal-complementarian (PC) view surmises that in 2:13 Paul was alluding to Adam’s having authority over woman as a result of his being created prior to the woman. However, the creation account does not say that the man was given authority superior to the woman. So this view generally involves drawing in the notion of primogeniture (the firstborn male has special status); but this ancient cultural custom does not tell us what God may have intended in creating Adam first. Nor is the principle of privilege via “firstness” a biblical principle; rather, God seems to operate in quite the opposite way (for more discussion on this, see my article “Leading Him Up the Garden Path,” at www.RebeccaMerrillGroothuis.com; this article is also linked on the above post).

Or the PC view may conclude that Paul is here speaking of Adam’s superior authority because Paul had just talked about the woman’s lack of authority in 2:12. But if 2:12 states clearly man’s authority over woman (as the PC view would have it), then 2:13 does not confirm the man’s superior authority but only assumes it based on a certain interpretation of the previous text. Thus it tells us nothing new at all; the argument is circular and 2:13 cannot serve to confirm the PC view of 2:12.

Moreover, it is not at all evident that in 2:12 Paul was speaking of woman’s lack of authority to teach men, since Paul did not use the usual Greek word for authority, but a rare word that has several possible meanings. Furthermore, the PC interpretation of 2:12 actually ends up contradicting Scripture itself. If 2:12 says that God has deprived women of the authority to teach or have authority over men, then God would be contradicting himself, for women did teach and direct men in Scripture with God’s favor upon them for doing so. One must then draw a hedge around the law, employing casuistry to determine what is and is not included in what is—at face value—a blanket prohibition (i.e., NO teaching of or authority over men at any time under any circumstance in any sense by any woman). (On this sort of casuistry, see Gordon Fee in DBE, pp. 378-380.)

In short, I believe the PC view of 1 Tim 2 is too questionable a basis for silencing women who are gifted in teaching and leadership, especially considering that: (a) nowhere in Scripture is this interpretation explicitly stated or corroborated, (b) if God did create woman to be subordinate to male authority as the PC view would have it, then this logically entails that women are inferior to men in nature and not merely in role (see DBE, chapter 18), which flatly contradicts the biblical view of humanity, especially as set forth in the first chapter of Genesis, (c) the church desperately needs all the Spirit-gifted teaching it can get, and (d) Scripture offers no reason or indication that women should silence and suppress themselves in certain areas of ministry and giftedness, but rather exhorts all believers to use whatever gifts have been given them (Rom 12:3-8, 1 Pet 4:10-11) and to go forth and reap the harvest, for the workers are too few.

In short, the case for NOT suppressing women’s teaching and ministry gifts is overdetermined, and the case for doing so is underdetermined.

The Scottish Reslers said...

Fair enough. Thanks for your time in answering my questions - gives me good scholarship in which to think about. This world is in definite of as many "workers" as possible.

ryan said...

Rebecca,

I post this on your husband's blog, which I really love, and he told me to post my comments here so here they are.


I have to say that you wife is a great writer, far better than I will ever be. It is obvious that she has done her homework on the matter and brings a healthy spirit to the debate. I must say though she seems to lack in her engagement with a number of critical points, areas where I have also seen you fall short as well.

1. God is sovereign. Throughout the development and formation of Israel God providentially guided its development. Thus the patriarchal culture of Israel was hardly something of chance but rather the formation of the Creator. God never rebuked or punished his people for the patriarchal nature of their society. Which leads to our second point.

2. God's Old Testament prophets were always willing and called to speak out against injustices and wrongs; they were anything but traditionalists. The prophets railed against the abuse of power that oppressed women (Mic. 2:9) but never against the family structure of their culture. In fact we see quite the contrary, they saw the rule of women as God's judgment against Israel (Isa.3:12). So when the egalitarian point tries to argue with the example of Deborah we see an anomaly which actually highlights the failure of Barak to lead in that given passage.

3. Paul's appeal to creation norms in 1 Tim. 2:11-15 supersede the cultural happenings of that time. It is intentional that Paul speaks of the one role that is exclusive to women that men could never fulfill, no matter how unjust they believed it to be; childbearing. With the one role that men are intended to fulfill. This does not mean either is inferior it means they together reflect the Biblical mandate to be vice-regents of God's creations, through role cooperation.

Besides if Paul thought the best route to dealing with foolish women in this context was to ban all women from teaching then this is reckless and foolish leadership that does not match up with the rest of the Biblical narrative.

I think these are important points to consider as people continue to wrestle with these issues.

Beth said...

Ryan, thanks for your thought-provoking post. God never rebuked or punished Israel because slavery was part of their culture. There were regulations to ensure that slaves were fairly treated, but not condemnation of slavery itself. That does not mean that slavery is God ordained.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

To: cokhavim

In Good News for Women, I offered up several options for the meaning of the woman’s “desire,” including “turning,” which I got from Walter Kaiser’s book, “Hard Sayings in the Old Testament” (1988), where he vigorously affirmed Bushnell’s research on the “turning” interpretation. But Rick Hess reports to me that he “can find no lexicon that accepts the meaning of ‘turning’ or even mentions it.” Moreover, he “can find no root that the noun may be derived from that would support this. However, ‘desire’ does occur in the roots and is unanimously witnessed as the only meaning in the lexicons” that he checked. Thus, the “turning” view, whatever its history may have been, seems at this point to have fallen quite out of favor.

(I’ll answer your other questions under the “Adam: First but not Best” post.)

ryan said...

Beth thanks for the kind response. Truth is I think slavery is much more complicated issue than we understand.

Truth is that we always think of Civil war slavery when the word is brought up. Those connotations are quite natural giving our historical situation.

We must not commit the Biblical fallacy of imposing our definition on a word that it did not have in the Bible. Slavery from a Biblical perspective especially NT was much more akin to indentured servant hood and those in it were often considered part of the family and could earn their freedom. It was also part of the economic system of the time. Think of all those who are "enslaved" to Visa and MasterCard in our times; being designated as a servant for those you were indebted to was kind of the same thing then.

Therefore I have to respectfully say that I think slavery is not comparable to male leadership. The book of Proverbs is filled with biblically inspired truths that point out that the familial structure of the Israelite culture was God-honoring.

Beth said...

Ryan, thanks for your response. I respect your opinion and find the dialog beneficial. There is something that I have been wondering about, as I have not been taught the complementarian view and my understanding of it is limited. Would those who interpret I Timothy 2:12 as banning all women from teaching believe that it is wrong for Rebecca to write this blog, since she is performing exegesis? Or that it is OK for women to read it but not men?

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

Ryan:

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding biblical equality. Here is my response to your first concern. I will get to the rest later.

I am dividing up your comments somewhat differently in order to better address the content. Also, in this segment I have included a response to the exchange between you and Beth.

You said: “God is sovereign. Throughout the development and formation of Israel God providentially guided its development. Thus the patriarchal culture of Israel was hardly something of chance but rather the formation of the Creator. God never rebuked or punished his people for the patriarchal nature of their society. God's Old Testament prophets were always willing and called to speak out against injustices and wrongs; they were anything but traditionalists. The prophets railed against the abuse of power that oppressed women (Mic. 2:9) but never against the family structure of their culture.”

RMG response: It seems you have a false dichotomy here: either the patriarchal culture of Israel was mere chance OR it was the formation of the Creator (in the sense of being God’s ideal culture for his people, which seems to be your point here). Precisely because God is sovereign, nothing occurs by chance. God directs all that occurs in this world. However, this does not entail that everything that occurs is in accordance with God’s specific design and perfect pleasure for his people. This is a fallen world, and sin pervades every aspect of human social structures this side of Eden.

Patriarchy was the culture of ancient agrarian societies, including the heathen nations. The culture of the day was not only patriarchal but also polygamous, in both Israel and the heathen nations (as it still is in Islamic countries). Patriarchy and polygamy fit together: If women are basically without social power, opportunity, or authority, then they need to have the protection and provision of a man. Thus, every woman must be married. This requires that some men have more than one wife. Nowhere do the Old Testament prophets speak out against polygamy. Are we then to conclude that polygamy is God’s ideal order for human society?

You are quite right that God did not treat patriarchal culture as intrinsically evil—as he did, say, idolatry. God viewed the patriarchy and polygamy of ancient Israel as simply the culture of the time. Patriarchy was not the offense to God’s holiness that idolatry was; but this is no reason to conclude that it was entirely pleasing to him. God regulated the culture of the Israelites, reforming it in various ways. God certainly regards some cultures as more sinful than others, and he also desires his people to seek to renovate culture according to biblical ethical principles. However, God’s rule in this world is not directed primarily to transforming human culture to his divine standard, but rather to transforming the hearts of his people.

Beth commented that “God never rebuked or punished Israel because slavery was part of their culture. There were regulations to ensure that slaves were fairly treated, but not condemnation of slavery itself. That does not mean that slavery is God ordained.”

You responded: “Truth is I think slavery is a much more complicated issue than we understand. Truth is that we always think of Civil war slavery when the word is brought up. Those connotations are quite natural giving our historical situation. We must not commit the Biblical fallacy of imposing our definition on a word that it did not have in the Bible. Slavery from a Biblical perspective especially NT was much more akin to indentured servant hood and those in it were often considered part of the family and could earn their freedom. It was also part of the economic system of the time. Think of all those who are "enslaved" to Visa and MasterCard in our times; being designated as a servant for those you were indebted to was kind of the same thing then. Therefore I have to respectfully say that I think slavery is not comparable to male leadership. The book of Proverbs is filled with biblically inspired truths that point out that the familial structure of the Israelite culture was God-honoring.”

RMG response: Yes, slavery in ancient Israel and in the ancient Greco-Roman society of the NT was milder and more humane than was the slavery of Africans in the U.S. However, this fact does not bear on the point at issue. Although it was quite different, it was essentially slavery, nonetheless. What is the essence of slavery? It is that a human being legally owns another human being, and so requires the enslaved human to perform services for the benefit of the master without just remuneration from the master; thus the slave is forcibly deprived of his freedom. This is true for all forms of slavery. However, it is not true for people today who use a credit card. Credit card holders do have freedom of choice, and if they choose to spend beyond their means and so become beholden to their financial institution, that is the consequence they must suffer for their choice. Here we seem to have the fallacy of equivocation: using a word (“slavery”) in two radically different senses. Yes, there is a sense in which people in debt are enslaved; but it is not the same sense in which people of biblical times were enslaved.

That said, let us attend to the basic argument that Beth offered: If the ownership of one human by another human is not an institution ordained by God, yet God permitted slavery and did not condemn it but rather regulated it, so too the social institution of male rule (patriarchy) may well be merely a social structure that God permitted and regulated; it is not necessarily God-ordained. Thus it does not follow that if God’s prophets did not condemn patriarchy it was therefore God’s ideal design for human culture for all time. Of course, this argument assumes that slavery is not God’s ideal will for human life and culture. If one believes that at least certain kinds of slavery are ordained by God, then this argument will not persuade.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

To: Ryan

You wrote that the OT prophets “saw the rule of women as God's judgment against Israel (Isa.3:12). So when the egalitarian point tries to argue with the example of Deborah we see an anomaly which actually highlights the failure of Barak to lead in that given passage.”

In assessing the observation that Isaiah “saw the rule of women as God’s judgment against Israel (Isa. 3:12),” we need to understand WHY this was seen in such a light. Fundamentally, it is a picture of the total breakdown of ordered society (by the standards of society in the ancient near east). Reference is also made in Isa. 3:4 to boys and children in official governing positions. As the commentator of my NIV Study Bible succinctly notes, “In the Near East, neither the rule of the young nor that of women was looked on with favor.” Indeed, it was the perspective of the entire near east—including that of the pagan and idolatrous nations—that government by women or young people was an indication of extreme political instability and social disarray. By definition, patriarchal culture is ruled by men. When men do not rule in such cultures, it is an indication that the social structures are disintegrating. This is precisely the situation described by the prophet Isaiah in chapter 3. The allusion to boys and children and women ruling is a telling metaphor (they were not actually ruling) of the ruinous state of anarchy that the prophet was predicting for the nation of Israel.

Ought we then conclude that the prophet’s picture of Israel’s ruin is somehow in view in the account of Deborah’s godly, beneficial, and victorious leadership of Israel (Judges 4 & 5)? In view of the biblical narrative, which offers only praise for Deborah, I think not. The nation of Israel cried out to Deborah, their national leader, and she delivered the people from twenty years of being oppressed by a Canaanite king. Deborah, who was also a prophet, began her military campaign with a prophetic word for Barak: God was commanding him to take the troops to Mount Tabor. This was not just a clever idea that Deborah had come up with; it was the word of the Lord. Barak should have recognized it as such and offered unconditional obedience to God’s call upon him; but he did not. He would only obey God’s command if Deborah went with him. Barak evidently did not believe that God would go with him unless Deborah—upon whom God’s hand obviously rested—would go with him as well. There is no indication in the text that Barak was rebuked because he failed to exercise his God-given male leadership. There is not a hint of even the concept of God-given male leadership. What is quite evident from the text is that God had commanded Barak to do a thing, and Barak agreed to it only under his conditions. This is not wholehearted faith and obedience; this is faint heartedness—a failure to trust wholly in the Lord. And this is a sin whether it is committed by a man or a woman. In the end of this story, everyone is a hero—Deborah, Barak, and Jael—but God alone is given credit for the victory. A lovely picture of men and women serving God as leaders together!

Rather than being an object lesson on the failure of male leadership, the remarkable story of Deborah’s leadership of Israel single-handedly refutes the notion that God has ordained that leadership authority is the sole province of men. As I noted in “Good News for Women,” proponents of male-only leadership “often try to explain that a ministry of such power and prominence as Deborah’s was an exception to the rule of male authority in the Bible. But exceptions to rules occur in the natural and social realms; they do not occur in the realm of God’s moral law. If God called Deborah to her ministry, female leadership cannot be said to violate moral principles ordained by God.” This can be boiled down to a simple modus tolens argument (the argument form “If P then Q; not Q, therefore, not P”). The following construction of the argument is taken from notes by Doug Groothuis. (1) If men have universal and God-mandated authority over women in the church, then we should find no divinely authorized woman leader in the Bible. (2) Deborah was such a leader in both spiritual and political capacities. (3) Therefore, there is no universal and God-mandated authority by men over women in the church (by modus tolens).

ryan said...

Rebecca I truly appreciate the time and thought you put into the eloquent reply to my comments.

Some of your remarks will require me to go and do a bit more study! I must say though that I think the point of the prophets never speaking out against male leadership is important, especially since they did speak out against its mutation or sin of female oppression.

I would also push back and say that the Biblical narrative established in Genesis of the formation of the nation of Israel through the patriarchs; Abraham, Issac, and Jacob points that there is not really a false dichtomy in raising this point. God created the nation of Israel, unlike its pagan counterparts who engaged in oppression of women, through male leading patriarchy. This was his chosen nation which he called according to his purposes, and at no point did he deviate from patriarchy or have his prophets speak judgments against his people for structuring their culture such a fashion.

Anyway, thanks for your response I will continue to read your blog and reflect on the ideas you present.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

We cannot derive God’s ideal for human culture from a world in which sin is imbedded in every social structure. The fact that God did not directly rebuke polygamy and patriarchy does not indicate that these structures were his ideal for human culture. No, God’s ideal culture would have to be discerned from pre-fall culture—of which we have little information. But we do have God’s pre-fall account of marriage (Genesis 2:24), which exactly reverses patriarchal culture.

In patriarchal culture, a woman leaves her parents’ home and is taken into the extended family of her husband. She becomes a part of her husband’s family, under the rule of her husband and the family patriarch (typically her husband’s father). But in Genesis 2, after God created the woman and before the man and woman fell into sin, God decreed a very different picture of marriage: the oneness between woman and man would come from the man leaving his own family and cleaving to his wife. The two would then become one unit, one flesh.

ryan said...

Rebecca its not that God did not directly or indirectly rebuke patriarchy; its that he sanctions it by choosing it as his means for establishing his nation. Abraham, Issac, and Jacob are the great patriarchs of the nation of Israel. The big "E" on the eye chart hear is that God establishes Israel through the means of patriarchy, I can't think of a much stronger endorsement of it then that.

Never did he sanction multiple wives, in fact when the Israelites did practice plural marriage the biblical narrative speaks of negative consequences. Therefore these two issues are not comparative.

I promise I will let you have the last word this time (if you want it), since it is your blog and I am a guest. Thanks for all the constructive thought.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

I am responding only to those points that I have not previously addressed.

Of course God did not sanction multiple wives, and of course polygamy generated negative consequences; it was not God’s creation design for marriage. Nonetheless, God’s prophets never spoke out against the institution of polygamy, just as they never spoke out against the institution of patriarchy. God tolerated these cultural institutions, and worked within them to accomplish his purposes.

If God “established Israel through the means of patriarchy,” then God established Israel through the means of polygamy, as well. Jacob produced his twelve sons (who became the twelve tribes of Israel) by means of his two wives and his two concubines.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

Ryan:

You wrote: Paul's appeal to creation norms in 1 Tim. 2:11-15 supersede the cultural happenings of that time. It is intentional that Paul speaks of the one role that is exclusive to women that men could never fulfill, no matter how unjust they believed it to be; childbearing. With the one role that men are intended to fulfill. This does not mean either is inferior it means they together reflect the Biblical mandate to be vice-regents of God's creations, through role cooperation.

RMG response: Your opening remark that Paul appealed to “creation norms” in 1 Tim 2:11-15 prejudices the issue from the start. Paul’s reference to Genesis 2-3 is mere narrative and a bare-bones narrative at that. His comments regarding creation (and the fall) state nothing normative. Thus there is no pitting of culture against creation norms here.

Next, you seem to be making a point of the fact that only women are able to bear children, and drawing the conclusion that, therefore, men also have a gender-specific role that only they are intended to fulfill. But note that this is not a case of equally dividing different opportunities and roles between the sexes. Only women CAN bear children. Only men ARE PERMITTED to exercise authority. No one is stopping men from bearing children; they simply cannot do it (nor can all women, for that matter). Yet women COULD take leadership together with men, but they are not permitted to do so. The one is the “can’t” of personal inability; the other is the “can’t” of permission denied.

You wrote: Besides if Paul thought the best route to dealing with foolish women in this context was to ban all women from teaching then this is reckless and foolish leadership that does not match up with the rest of the Biblical narrative.

RMG: I agree with you that this does not make sense. If you will read my interpretation of 1 Tim 2:11-15 in my post “Adam and Eve in Genesis and First Timothy,” you will see that I do not believe that Paul was saying that all women should be banned from teaching. Surely not ALL the women, or only the women, were deceived. I make this case in more detail in Leading Him Up the Garden Path.

Gem said...

RMG: Although various interpretations of the woman’s “desire” have been advanced, I am inclined to agree with Richard Hess, who explains in Discovering Biblical Equality (DBE), p. 92, that this is not a sexual desire but rather a desire to dominate. Sin created a struggle of willpower between women and men.

Personally, I cannot identify with the "control and dominate" option whatsoever. In fact, that interpretation was the first bone that stuck in my throat in the days when I was an uncritical reader of CBMW's "wisdom". I read the following and I thought- "yeah right! you do NOT get it because you do NOT live in a woman's skin!"

from "Love and Respect in Marriage" by Ken Sande
QUOTE:
From the context of Genesis 3:1-13, where God is pronouncing curses rather than blessings, we can see that the desire mentioned here is not benevolent and healthy; rather it is a compelling urge to control, to dominate, and to master. That is the effect the Fall has had on wives -- the joy and blessing they would have derived from submission within the authority structure of marriage (established by God before the Fall; Gen. 2:18) has been replaced by an innate desire to control and dominate their husbands. This is why wives so easily chafe under authority, even when husbands exercise it in a legitimate way -- as a result of the Fall, submission has become distasteful, not just in marriage, but in all authority structures (just ask your children!). This is why Scripture repeatedly reminds and exhorts those under authority (citizens, members of churches, wives, and children) to overcome their tendency to rebel against it. ENDQUOTE


That was not at all what went on in my marriage. The DESIRE was to please and to satisfy, to be "enough". It was a "people pleasing" kind of desire, a desire for my husband's "approval" (which was extremely unhealthy and destructive for him, me, and our marriage). It was a form of idolatry- like putting my husband in the place of God.

I printed out your "Leading Him Up the Garden Path" to think about. I have done a great deal of thinking about 1 Tim 2:11-15. What I really appreciate about your approach is that it preserves the timelessness of this Word, but does so in a way which is not demeaning to women. I perceive God's Word as diminished when the teaching of 1 Tim 2:11-15 is treated as "merely" historical and God's character as diminished when it is treated as a "putdown" of women. Congratulations on interpreting the passage and avoiding both pitfalls! I want to come back and post again after giving the subject some more thought. Your blog holiday is good thinking time :)

Gem said...

"Leading Him Up the Garden Path" I love that title! In the paper you observe:

QUOTE RMG:“Eve ‘took the initiative’ or ‘exerted influence’ in causing Adam also to sin,” she acted as “an instigator or perpetrator in the fall.”[9] (pg 7)ENDQUOTE

I hope you can bear with me as I attempt to explain how I think this passage in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 gives the promise and the keys to how she (every woman) can "exert influence" and "act as an instigator" in leading him (every man) on the path back to the garden.

QUOTE RMG:Typically, both traditionalists and egalitarians approach this text with the understanding that in verse 12 Paul is prohibiting women from holding some sort of teaching or leadership position in the church. Each camp then interprets verses 13 and 14 according to what each believes to be the scope of the prohibition in verse 12. Traditionalists say the scope is transcultural, and so interpret verses 13 and 14 as providing the timeless, creationally-ordained rationale for the prohibition. Egalitarians say the scope is temporally and culturally limited, and so interpret verses 13 and 14 as illustrating why the prohibition was relevant for the church at Ephesus. (pg 6)ENDQUOTE

Thank you for putting into words the way I have felt about the approaches. I find the the traditionalist approach demeaning toward women and the egalitarian approach diminishing the power and authority of God's Word to speak to us in every age.

QUOTE RMG: As I have pondered this, it has seemed to me that the story of the first woman and man in verses 13 and 14 serves to delineate the meaning and purpose of the instructions regarding woman and man in verses 11 and 12. The thing that happened between Adam and Eve in the Garden is the very thing that Paul wants to keep from happening with respect to the men and women in the church at Ephesus.... (pg 4)

"In the preceding verses (1 Timothy 2:8-10), Paul had been discussing behavior appropriate for “men” and “women;” then in verse 11 he begins talking about “a woman” and “a man.” This continues until the middle of verse 15, when he switches from the singular “she” (i.e., Eve) back to the plural “they” (i.e., women in the church at Ephesus). It seems that Paul speaks of “a woman” and “a man” in verses 11 and 12 because he is thinking in terms of the story of the first woman and man, which he proceeds to recount in verses 13 and 14.[6] (pg 5)
ENDQUOTE

Why do you assume "they" refers to "women"?
Could "they" refer to the man and the woman?

QUOTE RMG: Paul’s reference to “the childbearing” in verse 15 seems to evoke the promise of redemption God gave to Eve in Genesis 3:15. While the woman Eve was deceived by Satan when she failed to submit to God’s true word, the woman Mary heard and believed the word of the Lord to her, and so through her the Christ child was brought into the world.ENDQUOTE

I resonate with the connection you make between what Paul says in 1 Timothy 11-15 and the transaction which happened in the garden. However, I wonder if the meaning of "redemption" and "childbearing" can be taken as follows:

"she shall be saved through the childbearing if they continue in..."

How could the "salvation/redemption" spoken of here be speaking of eternal salvation since it is dependent upon the actions of "they" and conditional upon "they continue in..."? I am not a Greek scholar but I looked up the Greek word translated "saved" sozo some of the alternative meanings of sozo(saved) are - made well, healed, restored.

"will be saved/restored” is in the future.
Restored HOW?
I think it refers to the preceding verse "the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. She will be restored through the childbearing if they...".

Perhaps the promise applies to everywoman. She is offered the opportunity of restoration to the garden state of intimacy with the LORD (as Eve enjoyed before the transgression) if she allows Jesus to be formed in her and “continues in…”? (where "the childbirth" signifies her personal sanctification. Paul uses childbirth as a metaphor for sanctification in Gal 4:19)

And/Or perhaps the promise applies to christian marriage which has been laboring under the consequences of the Fall? A married couple is offered the opportunity of restoration to the garden state of intimacy with each other and the LORD, and the passage gives the woman the opportunity to initiate this restoration by following the instructions of

1 Tim 2:11-12 "Let the woman (gune) learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman (gune) to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man (aner), but to be in silence."

As I am sure you know husband and wife are equally valid translations of aner and gune. In this case "the childbirth" is her travail in the context of a painful broken fallen marriage (Rev 12 "childbirthing": more on that further down). I think 1 Pet 3:1-6 (though written by Peter) could be a parallel instruction on how to handle a (difficult) marriage. A husband will simply not listen nor hear a wife who is finger wagging didactic nor attempting to forcefully exercise authority over him. It is counterproductive for a wife to deal with a husband in a manner which comes across as “parental”. It won’t “fix him”. To the contrary; he will- at least- dig in his heels if he doesn’t get downright abusive. God knows that! I think HIS instructions are given to protect and restore us.

I have pondered whether 1 Timothy 2:11-15 speaks prophetically?

QUOTE RMG:In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul warns both men and women in the church not to be led astray by the sort of deception into which Eve had fallen. In 1 Timothy 2:12 the prohibition is directed specifically against a woman leading a man into false doctrine because it arises out of Paul’s concern that the church at Ephesus might be replaying the tragic roles of the first woman and man. Although the sin of Eve is not characteristic of women in general, it seems it was a particular problem for a number of the women at Ephesus. (pg 7)ENDQUOTE

I'm not sure about "the sin of Eve" being common to women, but the consequences of the Fall are visited upon every woman (and man). Are all women doomed to fulfill the pain of Genesis 3:16 without mercy, redemption, or restoration? I don’t think so, and I think Paul is preaching HOPE and RESTORATION in 1 Tim 2:11-15.

To me, this passage in 1 Timothy seems to connect to the prophecy about woman in Revelation 12. Katharine Bushnell also saw this connection:

QUOTE Bushnell:
from "God's Word to Women"

823. We are driven to the conclusion that, just as the covenant promise of Genesis 3:15 was fulfilled to a literal woman, up to a certain extent, in the birth of Jesus Christ of a virgin (no human male having any part in its realization), so will it be to the end. As Christ was born of a literal woman, so will this man child be born of that sex. The beginning of the fulfillment was to one woman; but it seems more likely that the filling out to the full of the terms of that great covenant will be to many of that sex,¾a body of women.

824. Since the only actual interpretation of prophecy must come after, not before its fulfillment, we can only form a conjecture as to the meaning of these things. Since the sign John saw was “in heaven,” the events seem to refer to the spiritual world. The agony and travail of the Woman seem to signify some great spiritual travail of soul into which women will be plunged just before the Lord’s second coming; and as a result a large body of men (the man child), of exceptional holiness and devotion will rise; this will be that bringing forth of a man child. The entire sign relates to spiritual transaction; and the man child will be the spiritual, not the physical, seed of the woman.

827. The “childbearing” of Revelation 12 is that same “childbearing” of 1 Timothy 2:15, of which the Apostle Paul speaks prophetically, in connection with those words about the formation of woman after man, in the spiritual sense. He says of woman: “She shall be saved through the childbearing [R. V.], if they continue in charity and holiness with sobriety.”

ENDQUOTE

WHY did I cry when I read that passage in "God's Word to Women"? Because long before I read this lesson I thought I could see the same thing in 1 Timothy 2:15. And when I read Revelation 12 (which was a God thing- long story) I found it very VERY personal and I wondered if it was related to the prophecy of 1 Tim 2:15. I want to believe that this promise (from 1 Timothy 2:15) is for my own marriage, for my own husband that he will be among those of whom Bushnell speaks here:
QUOTE “The agony and travail of the Woman seem to signify some great spiritual travail of soul into which women will be plunged just before the Lord’s second coming; and as a result a large body of men (the man child), of exceptional holiness and devotion will rise; this will be that bringing forth of a man child. ”ENDQUOTE


Further, I have to wonder if we are in that time of which the prophecy speaks and Bushnell foresaw when she wrote some 100 years ago. Is the agony and travail of soul related to 2 Timothy 3 as well?

2 Timothy 3:1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Travailing over these men and the wounds they have caused and do cause (the porn generation?) is very VERY painful, moreso than childbirth and I have given birth to eight natural children. AGONIZING is accurate!

"she shall be saved through the childbearing if they continue in..." 1 Tim 2:15

Paul uses the metaphor of childbirth elsewhere as a metaphor referring to travail on his behalf for those of his beloved flock who were stuck. Gal 4:19 This leads me to two possible prophetic understandings of Paul's words in 1 Tim 2:11-15

1. Think about church history-
The passage can be taken as a prophetic proclamation about the church… that some day woman will be saved/restored/made whole in a reversal of the fall’s consequences (”he shall rule over you”). She will be restored to her status as a co-heir with Christ, restored to her queenly, ruling position BESIDE Adam rather than being the mistress/subordinate/underling to Adam’s “master-hood”. The church has been "stuck" and there are those who travail over that.

2. Think about marriage-
I personally was guilty of “husband idolatry”. I put him on the throne and I was an obedient servant, while he micromanaged and controlled down to trivial detail. My desire was for my husband (to please him, to satisfy him) and he ruled over me. The passage can be taken as a PROMISE for the marriage of ANY CHRISTIAN WOMAN- that she will be saved/restored/made whole in a reversal of the fall’s consequences She can be restored through “the child-bearing”

believer333 said...

“RMG: Although various interpretations of the woman’s “desire” have been advanced, I am inclined to agree with Richard Hess, who explains in Discovering Biblical Equality (DBE), p. 92, that this is not a sexual desire but rather a desire to dominate. Sin created a struggle of willpower between women and men.”

While I agree that sin created a struggle of willpower between not just men and women, but all people, I do not agree that is what happened between Eve and Adam. Eve was deceived by the serpent and in the deception sinned, and acknowledged it. Adam falsely accused the woman to being at fault when he was not deceived (not by the serpent and not by Eve). Thus his sin was deliberate and his fault alone. The woman had no reason at that point to exert her will over Adam. She did have reason to turn to him for answers. This turning to Adam is IMO a result of the experience of death. They had before only experienced life in the presence of God. When death fell upon them, there was a necessary draying away by God.

Adam on the other hand, sinned deliberately and revealed his next sin of falsely accusing the woman and also God. Thus the man’s taking advantage of the woman’s ‘turning toward” him led to his next sin of seeking to control and dominate her. IMO the man’s responses sounded both scared and angry. It was natural to seek to dominate the one who one feels is at fault for your sin.

Do not confuse this as a suggestion that the woman’s sin was any less at fault than the man’s. Their sin was identical, they ate the forbidden fruit. Their judgement was also identical, death. They both left the garden to live out their life in an atmosphere absent of the closeness of God as they experienced in the Garden.

Honestly speaking, none of us knows for sure. But having thought about, read and researched this for some time, and read the various theories, I’m inclined to the above. Men today still strive to dominate women. Women today still strive to look to men for approval instead of God.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

Gem:

On 1 Tim 2:11-15

Your interpretation of this text is intriguing and, I should think, original. I resorted to questioning a NT scholar on some of this. My sense is that some of your suggestions are possible and interesting, but others do not quite fly. It seems the one thing that evidently won’t work is the idea that in Galatians 4:19 Paul is using “childbirth” as a metaphor for sanctification. Actually, Paul is using “childbirth” here as a metaphor for anguish, and what he is anguished over is the fact that the Galatians are not nearly as sanctified as he thinks they should be. Also, try as I might, I cannot see a connection between Revelation 12 and 1 Timothy 2:15. However, it is feasible that “childbearing” could speak of a specific childbearing (“the childbirth”) rather than woman’s general bearing of children. “Saved” could definitely mean “restored.” And there doesn’t seem to be any reason why “they” couldn’t speak of both man and woman, although I would imagine it would be pretty hard to establish that as the meaning. 1 Timothy 2:15 is such a very obscure text; it seems just about any interpretation of it must be rather speculative.

But here is my construction of what might be gleaned from your thoughts: There is, tucked into this text, not only the story of Adam and Eve’s fall into error and away from God’s will, and not only Paul’s exhortation to the church not to repeat this pattern, but also a promise: namely, the way to the restoration of both the man and the woman, especially in marriage. Your suggestion as to the means of this restoration is particularly intriguing:

“And/Or perhaps the promise applies to christian marriage which has been laboring under the consequences of the Fall? A married couple is offered the opportunity of restoration to the garden state of intimacy with each other and the LORD, and the passage gives the woman the opportunity to initiate this restoration by following the instructions of

1 Tim 2:11-12 "Let the woman (gune) learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman (gune) to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man (aner), but to be in silence."

As I am sure you know husband and wife are equally valid translations of aner and gune. In this case "the childbirth" is her travail in the context of a painful broken fallen marriage (Rev 12 "childbirthing": more on that further down). I think 1 Pet 3:1-6 (though written by Peter) could be a parallel instruction on how to handle a (difficult) marriage. A husband will simply not listen nor hear a wife who is finger wagging didactic nor attempting to forcefully exercise authority over him. It is counterproductive for a wife to deal with a husband in a manner which comes across as “parental”. It won’t “fix him”. To the contrary; he will- at least- dig in his heels if he doesn’t get downright abusive. God knows that! I think HIS instructions are given to protect and restore us.

On Genesis 3:16

I fully agree with your response to the Ken Sande perspective. This perspective on woman’s desire to dominate assumes the PC agenda. But the assumption is unwarranted. Woman’s desire to dominate does not in itself entail that she is then morally obligated to regard her husband as holding over her the very authority of God. Nor does it by any means give man the right or the divine sanction to rule the woman. Both the man’s rule of the woman and the woman’s desire to dominate the man are behaviors rooted in sin and are consequences of sin. PCs want to see woman’s desire to dominate as sinful, but man’s desire to rule as godly and righteous. But no. Neither response is godly. Both are the fruit of disobedience. To give in to the woman’s sinful desire to dominate and the man’s rule of the woman is to cave in to the consequences of the Fall. In the end, the woman becomes like one of the children in a household ruled by the husband. (Note Sande’s parenthetical remark, “Just ask your children”!) The untruth in the Sande quote is that he smuggles into the text his preconceived PC agenda instead of seeing the biblical text as it stands.

As I note in my post “Adam and Eve in Genesis and 1 Timothy”, and as Rick Hess states in his DBE chapter on Genesis 1-3, when God said in Genesis 3:16 that the woman would desire to dominate and the man would rule, God was not issuing directives to be obeyed. No, God was simply stating how things were going to be between man and woman in the wake of their disobedience and sin.

In my book “Good News for Women,” I did lean toward the view that woman’s “desire” was a kind of yearning for her husband’s approval and acceptance, and I still would not rule that out. Or, the woman’s “desire” could be a combination of desire for approval and desire for dominance. The two can often work in tandem. Sinful human nature is funny that way.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

Believer333 said...

“RMG: Although various interpretations of the woman’s “desire” have been advanced, I am inclined to agree with Richard Hess, who explains in Discovering Biblical Equality (DBE), p. 92, that this is not a sexual desire but rather a desire to dominate. Sin created a struggle of willpower between women and men.”

While I agree that sin created a struggle of willpower between not just men and women, but all people, I do not agree that is what happened between Eve and Adam. Eve was deceived by the serpent and in the deception sinned, and acknowledged it. Adam falsely accused the woman to being at fault when he was not deceived (not by the serpent and not by Eve). Thus his sin was deliberate and his fault alone. The woman had no reason at that point to exert her will over Adam. She did have reason to turn to him for answers. This turning to Adam is IMO a result of the experience of death. They had before only experienced life in the presence of God. When death fell upon them, there was a necessary draying away by God.

Adam on the other hand, sinned deliberately and revealed his next sin of falsely accusing the woman and also God. Thus the man’s taking advantage of the woman’s ‘turning toward” him led to his next sin of seeking to control and dominate her. IMO the man’s responses sounded both scared and angry. It was natural to seek to dominate the one who one feels is at fault for your sin.

Do not confuse this as a suggestion that the woman’s sin was any less at fault than the man’s. Their sin was identical, they ate the forbidden fruit. Their judgement was also identical, death. They both left the garden to live out their life in an atmosphere absent of the closeness of God as they experienced in the Garden.

Honestly speaking, none of us knows for sure. But having thought about, read and researched this for some time, and read the various theories, I’m inclined to the above. Men today still strive to dominate women. Women today still strive to look to men for approval instead of God.
September 15, 2008 1:11 PM

RMG response:

It is obvious that you have thought this through, and you make some good points. However, even if Adam was not deceived by the serpent or the woman, he did sin, and deception always plays a part in sin. Deception is the devil’s game. This is how Satan lures hapless humans into iniquity, and he has been at it rather successfully ever since the Garden. Adam believed that taking the fruit was somehow preferable to refusing the fruit, and in believing this, he was deceived.

Also, you say, “The woman had no reason at that point to exert her will over Adam. She did have reason to turn to him for answers.”

After the fall, Adam began to rule Eve. Thus she would naturally respond (in her sinful nature) by wanting to gain control by seeking to dominate the man.

I do not see why she would have reason to turn to him for answers. However, as I mentioned in my comment above, seeking to control someone can easily happen alongside seeking to receive the approval of that person. The two responses are not incompatible.

Gem said...

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. It was worth the wait :) Personally, I like the slow and thoughtful pace. Keep on blogging, pleeeeaaaase? :D

Frankly I was relieved to get those thoughts about 1 Tim to someone who can follow what I am trying to say and give me just such feedback. I felt like I passed the torch to someone who actually knows what to do with it! As far as being "original", I thought I saw connections, but I also thought "what do I know?" and then I read Bushnell making the same connections. (see 827)

cokhavim said...

Since people are still writing comments about the woman's "desire," I hope it's not too late to reply to RMG's:

In Good News for Women, I offered up several options for the meaning of the woman’s “desire,” including “turning,” which I got from Walter Kaiser’s book, “Hard Sayings in the Old Testament” (1988), where he vigorously affirmed Bushnell’s research on the “turning” interpretation. But Rick Hess reports to me that he “can find no lexicon that accepts the meaning of ‘turning’ or even mentions it.” Moreover, he “can find no root that the noun may be derived from that would support this. However, ‘desire’ does occur in the roots and is unanimously witnessed as the only meaning in the lexicons” that he checked. Thus, the “turning” view, whatever its history may have been, seems at this point to have fallen quite out of favor.

I certainly have to look up Kaiser's book! I must say that I'm not terribly convinced by Hess' argument that the root of "tshuqa" has "desire" implied. What root was he referring to? The roots that I could come up with are: "shaqah"=to water, give a drink, "shuq"=street, "shoq"=thigh, and "shaqaq"=rush forth. If you want to construct the root with dropped "nun", you get "nesheq"=weapons or myrrh and "nashaq"=kiss; but a dropped "nun" is unlikely because there is no "dagesh" in the "shin". So I don't really see anything that means "desire."

The other problem I have with arguments that appeal to the "root" of the word, is that many words in Hebrew have the same root, but totally different meanings. For example, "zera" (seed) and "zroa" (arm) are totally different, and yet have the same root. This is because there are several letters that appear in Hebrew that used to have more than one phoneme for the same letter. "Shin" (the "sh" in "tshuqa") is one of those letters. So even if someone could come up with a root in tshuqa that is related to "desire", that doesn't necessarily mean that "tshuqa" means "desire."

And since "tshuqa" only appears 3 times in the bible, context doesn't help either because both "desire" and "turning" would work well in all 3 cases.

So it seems that only a fluent speaker of ancient Hebrew would be able to tell us what "tshuqa" means. And since the translators of the Septuagint and the Syriac Peshita were fluent in Hebrew (evidence from Josephus and the Bar Kochba letters indicate that Hebrew was spoken fluently at least until the early 2nd century AD), I am inclined to trust their translation of "tshuqa" as "turning".

However, the final point I wanted to make is that whether or not you take "turning" or "desire" to be the correct translation, the lack of any explanation in the verse makes the rest of the interpretation necessarily highly speculative. For example, "turning" could mean a) turning away from God to the man, b) turning in confusion to the man for answers, c) turning to the man in dependence on him, etc. Also, "desire" could mean a) sexual desire (either good or bad), b) desire to dominate, c) desire for the man's good, d) a healthy and godly love, e) desire for intimacy, etc. And there's no way to either prove or disprove any of these hypotheses because there's so little information in the text. And any appeal to the experiences of women in general also seem to be of no help because none of these explanations accurately describe all/most of women in all/most eras in all/most cultures. This is an important caveat to interpreting Gen. 3:16.

That said, I still favour the "turning" explanations because there are fewer of them, they're more closely related to each other than the "desire" explanations, and they seem to me (subjectively) to be more universally accurate.

Kathy said...

http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2007/09/30/the-rest-of-the-story-1-timothy-211-15-and-matt-slick/

I was wondering if you had read the view of 1 Tim 2 above given by Cheryl Schatz?

Though it is not mentioned in the above, I just want to give notice that Paul says in 2:14 'a woman' (the same one of v.11 who is not to teach) is deceived, not Eve.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

I am not sure what you mean by saying that “Paul says in 2:14 'a woman' (the same one of v.11 who is not to teach) is deceived, not Eve.” The NRSV and the (T)NIV say “the woman” in 2:14. Do you have a translation that says “a woman”? The “woman” in 2:14 is Eve.

I am not persuaded that 1 Timothy 2:11-15 speaks only to one specific woman. Although I suppose it could be possible, the Greek text does not clearly state this to be the case. As NT scholar Craig Blomberg explains it, although the nouns (“a woman,” “a man”) are singular, they “are indefinite; hence ‘I do not permit a woman to. . .over a man.’ The nouns thus become generic. If they were definite--'I don't permit the woman to. . .over the man,' one could argue that one specific man and one specific woman were in view. But if I write, ‘I don't permit a child to sleep on a concrete floor,’ I am making a more general statement about not allowing any child to sleep on any concrete floor. ‘I don't permit children to sleep on concrete floors’ is the semantic equivalent, meaning exactly the same thing.”

Making an argument for a particular interpretation solely or even primarily on the basis of Greek word meanings is an extremely tricky proposition. There are so many different ways in which a given Greek word can be translated, since—just as in the English language—words can be used in different ways with different meanings. Context and custom are key; one must know the language and customs and cultures; one must know the whole sweep and substance of Scripture; even then, there will be ambiguities.

However, Cheryl does not argue solely on the basis of the Greek. She begins with a crucially important point, namely, that the meaning of this text is far from clear. It must be interpreted in light of the whole of Scripture. Taken literally, apart from the rest of Scripture, it contradicts the rest of Scripture. So many of the PC persuasion insist that this text is so clear on the face of it. But any legitimate and responsible biblical scholar will acknowledge its many exegetical conundra. It says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man.” Well, a woman DID “teach and have authority over a man” in Scripture, and moreover, women did so with God’s blessing. Does this mean the Bible contradicts itself? No, of course not. It simply means that the meaning of this text is not apparent at face value; it must be exegeted in context, with a view to what the whole of Scripture teaches.

One should consider not only what the whole of Scripture says, but also what is logically entailed by what the whole of Scripture says. Not everything in the Bible is explicitly spelled out. But God has given us the capacity for logical deduction. Sadly, this critical element of discerning the truth of God’s Word is often given short shrift.

But to return to the text at hand: I do agree that Paul’s abrupt switch in 1 Tim 2:11-15 from plural nouns to singular nouns is intentional and meaningful. In the essay referenced above, “Leading Him Up the Garden Path,” I argue that Paul spoke in the singular because he had in mind the first man and the first woman and the events in the Garden that led to the Fall; and these events are what drive his intended meaning in this passage. He does not want “a woman” (i.e., any woman) to repeat the behavior of “the woman” (i.e., Eve).

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis said...

Cokhavim:

I asked Professor Rick Hess to comment on your comments, and he found some interesting information on teshuqah (“desire”) and teshubah (“turning”) in Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament (Hendrickson, 2007). Rick notes that this 844 page volume is the most comprehensive and up-to-date scholarly work on everything related to the subject ever written.

Here is Dr. Hess’s report:

The Septuagint (which was followed by the Syriac and other versions of the Bible) did not read teshuqah here. They read the much better known and attested teshubah which means “turning” (Greek apostrophe in Genesis and epistrophe in Song). This is where this understanding originated.

Walt Kaiser, with whom I studied and yet concerning whom I reserve judgment when it comes to matters of textual criticism such as this, may be alone in preferring the Septuagint and versions as more original. The canons of textual criticism require that, other matters being equal (as they are here), the easiest explanation for the development of any variant be followed. Now it is certainly easier to see how a scribe might have misread a rare word (teshuqah) as a more common word (teshubah). This happens frequently in the copying of texts, biblical and otherwise. It is doubtful that the common word (teshubah) would have been misread as a rare word (teshuqah) in the three places in the Bible where the meaning of the rare word happens to make sense.

Furthermore, later Hebrew is unanimous in its understanding of teshuqah as “desire” and the Rabbinic literature (in Genesis Rabbah and Yalqut as cited in Jastrow’s dictionary of Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic) agrees with the Hebrew Masoretic text in reading teshuqah at these three places in the Bible and in using teshuqah with the meaning of “desire.”

Rick also notes that on p. 73, Davidson affirms teshuqa as “desire” and discusses Bushnell’s theory in a footnote, noting the various versions that understand the translation as “turning,” and making the distinction between teshubah and teshuqah.

It all reads rather like a mystery novel—with an erring scribe the culprit!

cokhavim said...

Wow, thanks for looking into this. That's very interesting. Actually, when I was musing over tshuqa myself, I also entertained the idea that the Septuagint might have been reading tshuva. But I didn't like the idea for two reasons: 1. How could anyone mistake a "quf" for a "bet"? They look nothing like each other even in the chicken-scratch Hebrew that appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls (which I figured was close to the style of writing in the manuscripts the Septuagint translators were reading). 2. Maybe someone might make this unlikely reading mistake once, but 3 times? Perhaps the scribe intentionally changed it to tshuva because he didn't have a clue what tshuqa meant. But I don't think that's likely given the immense learning of the scribes of that period, and given their great care in retaining the original text as-is, mistakes and all.

It is definitely like a mystery novel.

luthien_alcalime said...

THIS IS HORRIBLY WRONG!
NO NO NO you have it all wrong! The original word is teshuqa, the Hebrew word taht means "turning" not desire! it was minstranlated later by some manuscripts, but it was not desire, that is what complementarians say to keep women silent when they want to lead in their homes that it was Eve usurping Adam`s authority by leadig and that ehr punsihemnt is that she will be trying to usurp power, BUT IT IS A LIE!
Here are to links that you MUST read!
http://www.godswordtowomen.org/desire.htm
http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2010/03/21/eve-usurped-adam-authority/
NO NO YOU HAVE IT ALL WRONG! I am not sure anymore if thsi is an Egal blog or a Compl one.
Such teaching si false, that is what compls use to subordinate women and keep them silent! HOW CAN YOU USE THSI ON AN EGAL BLOG!
I only hope that you read those links and DELETE this post before more people read and get themselves confused, again, WHO tends tod ominate more? whcih gender? I am sorry women can be domineering but it is always more the male, again Eve will turn away from God towards Adam, that is why he wil dominate her. Not a power struggle!
When had women been able to dominate men throughout HISTORY?
I feel very disapointe dby this post, it makes me really sad and nervous that you coudl make such a horrible mistake!
Please read and correctthsi post or delete it, please!