Monday, August 4, 2008

An Examination of I Timothy 2:12

By John Jefferson Davis, PhD
Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics

I have recently written an article titled “I Timothy 2:12, the Ordination of Women, and Pauline Use of Creation Narratives,” which is currently being considered for publication by the Priscilla Papers. Since many students have expressed interest in this article, and have copied it from the hard copy posted on my bulletin board, I have decided to make it available to a wider seminary audience through White Papers.

Here are the first two introductory paragraphs of the article, which will give you a sense of what the article is about, and whether you might want to read it for your own study on White Papers this month:

"I Timothy 2:11-15, and especially v.12, has long been a focal point in modern discussions of the ordination of women. Traditional reservations about the ordination of women as pastors and elders have generally made two assumptions in the interpretation of this passage: 1) that the meaning of authentein in v.12 is clearly known and should be translated simply as “have authority”, and 2) that the appeal to the creation narrative naming Adam and Eve in vv.13 and 14 implies a universal, “transcultural” principle that prohibits the exercise of ecclesiastical authority by women over men in all (or some) circumstances.

The purpose of this article is to argue that both of these assumptions are faulty, and that I Timothy 2:11-15, rightly understood lexically and contextually, does not teach any universal prohibition of the ordination of women as pastors or elders. The primary focus of this discussion will be the second assumption, regarding the appeal to the Genesis creation account of Adam and Eve.1 It will be argued that Paul’s contextual and church-specific appeal to creation texts makes it not only possible but preferable to see the limitation on women’s teaching roles in I Tim.2 as a circumstantial and not universal prohibition. Before proceeding with this analysis, however, a few observations will be made regarding the meaning of authentein in v.12."

To read the remainder of the first installment of the paper, visit White Papers. [This link no longer works]

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