May 4, 2009 § 23 Comments
This post is a canned response to Cheryl Schatz’s contention that γυναικὶ, “a woman,” in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 refers to one specific woman1. Schatz’s view has cropped up in various discussion groups like CARM and Worthy Boards, and, you might see it in various blogs as well. If you’re thinking about engaging her in a debate or discussion, you might first want to listen to this debate between her and Matt Slick:
The two views under consideration here on the meaning of the anarthrous noun γυναικὶ, “a woman,” are the patriarchalist view that γυναικὶ is an indefinite noun referring to any woman, and Cheryl Schatz’s view that γυναικὶ refers to one specific woman. From the start, the patriarchalist view makes better sense in the context. John Calvin, commenting on verse 11, helps us understand how verses 11-15 cohere with the preceding verses:
Let a woman learn in quietness. After having spoken of dress, he now adds with what modesty women ought to conduct themselves in the holy assembly. And first he bids them learn quietly; for quietness means silence, that they may not take upon them to speak in public. This he immediately explains more clearly, by forbidding them to teach. 2
As Calvin explains, Paul continues on the topic of modest conduct by forbidding women to teach or exercise authority over men. From verses 9-10 we know that Paul is addressing the conduct of women (plural). Since context determines the meaning of a word, we have evidence for understanding “a woman” to refer to any of the women (plural) whom Paul is addressing. Rev. Lane Keister explains the reason for the shift from “women” to “a woman”:
I believe that Paul has in mind already the reasons in verses 13-14, which require a singular to connect with Eve as a representative. Therefore, Paul is using a generic singular to make his point. Mounce argues that a general principle is being stated here, and that the singular is most apropos. I think this is borne out further by Paul’s argument in verses 13-14, which speak of Adam and Eve as representative of male and female.3
But Schatz interprets in a way that disrupts the flow and coherence verses 11-15 have with the preceding verses. Indeed, she claims there is a “sharp” shift to the singular4, and thereby isolates verses 11-15 from the immediately preceding verses. First, we normally read a pericope from start to finish so that contextual resources are provided to us as we move from one verse to the next. With Schatz’s approach, the reader must wait until he reaches verse 15 to decrypt what Paul meant by “a woman” in verses 11 and 12 because Schatz has made verse 15 the interpretive key for 11 and 12. Second, rather than identify one situation which makes sense for the whole pericope, Schatz fabricates a new situation where just one specific woman is being proscribed from teaching or exercising authority over one specific man in the church at Ephesus. Thus, for Schatz, the situation does not involve the women (plural) whom Paul has been addressing, but rather one specific woman. Again, this fabrication is borne out of her misunderstanding of verse 15.
Moving on to verse 13, note that the conjunction γὰρ, “for,” could be understood in the causal or illustrative sense. The causal sense would mean that Paul is giving us reasons for his proscription. The illustrative sense would mean that Paul is simply giving us an example. Dr. David K. Huttar argues convincingly for a causal γὰρ in his article “Causal Gar in 1 Timothy 2:13” .5 But if γὰρ is used in the illustrative sense, then Paul did not ground his proscription in the order of creation. Instead, he appealed to Genesis 2-3 as an example of what happens when a woman teaches a man false doctrine. This could still be taken as justification for proscribing any woman from teaching any man false doctrine. After all, why would this example apply to only one woman? Also, how does the fact Adam was created first illustrate the claim that only one specific woman is not to teach false doctrine? The illustrative sense fails to explain verses 13-14 as well as the causal sense. Therefore, we should understand verses 13-14 as reasons for Paul’s proscription in verse 12. Since the evidence favors our initial conclusion that any man and any woman are meant in verse 12 and verses 13-14 function as reasons in Paul’s argument, the most natural reading takes Adam and Eve as representatives of any man and any woman.
At this point it may be asked how verses 13-14 function in Paul’s argument. In verses 13-14, Paul employs a common rabbinic method of referring to the Old Testament called a summary citation. The reference serves as a summary of the subject. In this citation, Paul gives two reasons for his proscription. The first is from the order of creation. The second is from the fall.
In his first reason, I submit that Paul is alluding to the steward-helper relationship between Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2:7, God created Adam and gave him the garden mandate not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (2:16-17). Adam was hereby entrusted with stewardship of God’s word and consequently of moral life in the garden. God then said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (see Grudem for the meaning of ‘ēzer kenegdô, EFBT).6 By himself, Adam was not sufficient to accomplish the work God had set before him. He needed a helper. There was no suitable helper found among the animals (2:20). So, God created Eve. Eve was not around when God gave Adam the garden mandate, but apparently he taught it to her because she repeated it, albeit not exactly, to the serpent (3:2-3). Eve, being created after Adam, was supposed to help him in his stewardship responsibilities. Consider an illustration of this idea: A father tells his first son to remove a boulder from the yard, but, seeing that his first son is unable to do it by himself, he sends his second son out to help. It is understood that the first son is still in charge of the boulder removing project and that the second son receives instruction from and is subordinate to the first. The second son does not take over the project. What this means for Paul’s proscription is that women are not to take over the teaching and leadership duties that belong specifically to the office of the steward of God’s word. Only other men are to be in the position of teaching and exercising authority over men.
In his second reason, we see the consequences of reversing the steward-helper relationship. The first part of verse 14 says, “Adam was not deceived.” He was not deceived by the serpent. Instead, he listened to wife, and God faulted him for it (Genesis 3:17). The implication is that Adam should not have listened to his wife. Why? I think the best explanation is because she was not the proper steward of the garden mandate. She did not have the authority to instruct him. The second part of verse 14 says, “[T]he woman was deceived and has become a transgressor.” Andreas Köstenberger explains the meaning of this:
Eve, Paul implies, was not kept safe at the Fall; she was deceived. Why? Because she left her proper domain under her husband’s care. What happened as a result? She became an easy prey for Satan. How can women under Timothy’s charge (and in churches everywhere) avoid repeating the same mistake? By “childbearing,” that is, by adhering to their God-ordained calling, including a focus on marriage, family, and the home. 1 Timothy 2:15 thus turns out to be Paul’s prescription for women as a lesson learned from the scenario of the Fall described in the preceding verse.7
Eve was tricked by the serpent. The consequence was that she became a transgressor. The identity of womankind with Eve is expressed by Paul’s switch to “the woman” and the perfect tense ἐν παραβάσει γέγονεν, “has come into transgression.” So what is predicated of Eve is predicated of womankind, through the typology. That is, any woman who is typologically represented by Eve has become a transgressor through deception and continues in the state of transgression.
In verse 15, Paul shifts to speaking of any Christian woman who is typologically represented by ‘the woman’. John F. MacArthur says (regarding the future tense):
In verse 14 we read of woman being in sin. In contrast verse 15 speaks of woman being saved through childbearing. The salvation spoken of here is not salvation from sin. It cannot refer to Eve since the future tense is used (“she shall be saved”). Furthermore the use of the plural pronoun “they” indicates that more than one woman is in view. Some think this verse refers to Mary’s being saved by bearing Christ, but that is foreign to the context. The use of the plural pronoun clearly indicates that all women are in view here.8
Now we come to the crux of Schatz’s argument. Essentially, I believe her argument is this: In verse 15, either “she” refers to the specific woman and “they” refers to the woman and her husband, or “she” and “they” have the same antecedent. But “she” and “they” cannot have the same antecedent because the antecedent cannot be both singular and plural. Pronouns must agree with their antecedents in number. Therefore, “she” must refer to the specific woman Paul is correcting, and “they” refers to the woman and her husband. She may further claim “she” refers to “the woman” in verse 14 because it is the nearest candidate for an antecedent.
There are a few of problems here.
First, it should be recognized that the nature of Schatz’s argument as a disjunctive syllogism requires her to eliminate disjuncts to establish her own view. While she may have eliminated the disjunct she tries to pin on the patriarchalist, she presents us with a false dilemma. “[S]he” and “they” in verse 15 do not need to have the same antecedent in the patriarchalists’ view. Instead, the chiastic structure of verses 8-15 reveals the correct pronoun-antecedent relationships:
A (9-10) Christian “women” (plural)
B (11-12) “a woman” (singular indefinite noun) –it means any Christian woman.
C (13) “Eve” (generic / representative woman)
C’ (14) “the woman” (generic / representative woman)
B’ (15a) “she” has the antecedent “a woman”
A’ (15b) “they” has the antecedent “women,” Christian women in context
Women are the topic of both “she” and “they,” but, grammatically, they have different antecedents. The pronoun “she” refers to “a woman”, and the pronoun “they” refers back to “women.” In other words, “she” refers to any woman, and “they” refers to every woman. Hence, “she” is not a specific woman, but any woman who is represented by the woman Eve. Schatz’s argument fails at least as long as this is a live alternative.
Second, although the nearest candidate for a pronoun antecedent is often correct, we must remember that context is king. As I’ve argued above, we ought to understand γυναικὶ as an indefinite noun referring to any woman. Hence, we choose the antecedent for the pronoun “she” that makes the best sense in the context.
Third, Schatz’s view leads her to the untenable conclusion that a husband and wife are in view. But this conclusion has been answered by Michael R. Riley in his paper “The Proper Translation of Aner and Gune in the New Testament.”9
In conclusion, Schatz’s view has several problems. Among them:
- 1. Schatz fails to take proper account of the context. Specifically, the verses that precede verses 11-12 where Paul is giving instructions for men and women (plural).
2. Schatz violates a basic principle of hermeneutics by making an interpretive key out of what many interpreters have recognized is an unclear verse (15). The clear verses should interpret the unclear.
3. Her conclusion that “she” refers to a specific woman and “they” refers to the woman and her husband follows from a false dilemma.
4. Her explanation of the summary citation lacks the explanatory power of the patriarchalist interpretation, especially with respect to verse 13.
5. Her position naturally leads to an untenable conclusion that a wife and her husband are meant. Riley demonstrates that the grammatical and contextual clues necessary to establish this conclusion are absent.
For more information on Schatz’s views see:
http://www.realapologetics.org/blog/2009/12/07/12-hours-later/comment-page-1/ (Especially the comments section where TurretinFan deftly exposes Schatz’s errors, and she then invites him over to her own blog where she knows the playing field is not level.)
1 See especially http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2007/09/30/the-rest-of-the-story-1-timothy-211-15-and-matt-slick/ (accessed May 4, 2009).
3 Keister, Lane. “Women in the Church – 1 Timothy 2:8-15, part 2.” Weblog entry. Greenbaggins. 20 November 2006. 29 April 2009. < http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2006/11/20/women-in-the-church-1-timothy-28-15-part-2/>
5 Huttar, David K. “Causal Gar in 1 Timothy 2:13.” Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. 11.1 (Spring 2006): 30-33. < http://www.cbmw.org/Journal/Vol-11-No-1/Causal-Gar-in-1-Timothy-2-13>.
6 Grudem, Wayne. Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than 100 Disputed Questions. Multnomah Publishers, Inc.. 2004. 117-121. (Available online at http://www.efbt100.com/).
7 Köstenberger, Andreas J. “Saved Through Childbearing? A Fresh Look at 1 Timothy 2:15 Points to Protection from Satan’s Deception.” Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. 2.4 (Fall 1997): 5 < http://www.cbmw.org/Journal/Vol-2-No-4/Saved-Through-Childbearing>
8 MacArthur, John. “God’s High Calling for Women–Part 4” Bible Bulletin Board. May 4, 2009. < http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/sg54-17.htm>
9 Riley, Michael R. “The Proper Translation of Aner and Gune in the New Testament.” Conference paper. April 19, 1993. (see especially 19-23). < http://www.bible-researcher.com/aner.pdf>
April 24, 2009 § Leave a comment
I’m thinking about starting a collection of quotations related to decision making. Here’s one:
Captain Elizabeth Lochley: Problems are solved in pieces. If you’re on the seventh floor of a burning building, you can die or jump out the window. Once you’re out the window, you’re alive for another two seconds . . . during which time you figure out the solution to the next problem. And so on.1
I like this next one because you sometimes run into people who will reject a good alternative based on the mere possibility of adverse consequences. Of course, this is from a sci fi program, so some of the adverse consequences actually obtained. It’s an example of a strong from of the precautionary principle (“Better safe than sorry”).
Kramer: Some of these worst-case scenarios are terrifying…
Tunney: Of course they’re terrifying—they’re worst-case scenarios. They are the worst possible thing that could happen, ever.2
1 “Strange Relations.” Babylon 5: The Complete Fifth Season. Writ. J. Michael Straczynski. Dir. John C. Flinn III. 25 Feb. 1998. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2004.
2 “Brain Storm.” Stargate Atlantis. Writ. Martin Gero. Dir. Martin Gero. Sci Fi. 21 Nov. 2008.
3 “b5013” photo of Tracy Scroggins as Elizabeth Lochley from http://www.fortalnet.com.br