A Woman Shouldn’t Read Scripture?

Saint Timothy (ortodox icon)

Image via Wikipedia

Tim Challies is currently in a firestorm over comments which he made about women in ministry, even to the point of reading Scripture in public. For him, and others in the Reformed Tradition, it is simply not allowed.

Over the years there has been near-endless discussion and disagreement about 1 Timothy 2:11-12. There Paul writes to Timothy and says, “Let a woman learn quietly and with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” …. What we can all agree on is that these words, whatever they mean, are in the Bible and are, therefore, given by God for our instruction. These are not sexist words; they are God’s words.

No, that’s not God’s words. Those are actually, and ironically so, man’s words. What Scripture actually records is this:

Γυνὴ ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ μανθανέτω ἐν πάσῃ ὑποταγῇ· διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ᾽ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ. (1Ti 2:11-12 BGT)

Many times, we confuse the English, or other language, translation with what Scripture actually says. Let’s change Challies’ translation and see what might happen?

Over the years there has been near-endless discussion and disagreement about 1 Timothy 2:11-12. There Paul writes to Timothy and says, “They [women] must be allowed to study undisturbed, in full submission to God.  I’m not saying that women should teach men, or try to dictate to them; rather, that they should be left undisturbed.” …. What we can all agree on is that these words, whatever they mean, are in the Bible and are, therefore, given by God for our instruction. These are not sexist words; they are God’s words.

That is from N.T. Wright‘s personal translation.

Over the years there has been near-endless discussion and disagreement about 1 Timothy 2:11-12. There Paul writes to Timothy and says, “But to teach I permit not unto a woman, nor to have dominion over the man, but to be in silence.”…. What we can all agree on is that these words, whatever they mean, are in the Bible and are, therefore, given by God for our instruction. These are not sexist words; they are God’s words.

That is from the Latin Vulgate-into-17th-century-English.

The translation one uses makes a difference, no doubt, but the big difference is that when one appends the phrase “God’s words” to the translation – it enlivens the translation and adds weight to that particular translation, weight which is thrown around to drive home one agenda or another. As for me, I do believe that women can read Scripture in worship and be pastors….

I know, I’m going to a dark place, but….

BTW, click those links for a fuller discussion on the text and translation issues in question.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post By Joel Watts (10,113 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

Connect

17 thoughts on “A Woman Shouldn’t Read Scripture?

  1. Yeah, and while you’re at it, all those Midianite women need to be exterminated too. How dare they tempt our poor Israelite youth with their pagan religions. I assume we still have Israelite youths, and maybe some Midianite women roaming around someplace. We’ll show them. We’ll do a DNA test on them, and anyone with positive Medianite DNA, that are non-“our religion”, we’ll eliminate. And these are God’s words???

  2. Interesting to note that Timothy himself appears to have learned much from the instruction of women – both his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois (2Tim1:5).

    And doesn’t the phrase ‘given by God for our instruction’ Hearken to 2Tim3:15, which clearly refers not to the letters of Paul or even the Gospels but to the Hebrew prophets, Psalms, etc?

    This whole fuss about women speaking in church may refer to settings in which the wife of the congregation’s elder was interpreting for the women during the readings of the OT, and possibly being overheard in the men’s section (I’m assuming very few early churches followed Jesus in the acceptance of women).

    One thing is almost certain – the need for Paul to say anything at all signifies that the gospel had ‘got the women talking’ in church, and that I think opens an historical window onto the power the gospel was having for the liberation of all.

  3. In this case, it seems to me that there was a (known) problem with certain women, documented by Paul in other epistles (for example, Corinthians), where some women (possibly rich benefactors) were abusing their position, in this case it seems that they were probably interrupting the lessons or preaching or what ever, and causing division. We know about the proto-gnostics and what they did, so its likely to be a similar issue.

    What Paul is saying is “you know those women who keep interrupting, and trying to force their view on everyone? Don’t let them, they should be quiet and listen respectfully like everyone else, and then discuss it later, at a more appropriate time” – something like that anyway,

  4. But I think Timothy was in Corinth at the time, or at least in Asia Minor. I have to check. But he may have been reminding Timothy about the things which Timothy had witnessed with Paul.

  5. Hi Joel – This is my first visit to your website. I came from a link to a link to a link when reading about the Challies post. Thank you for what you wrote. I’ve been following and writing about the post as well.

    I did want to offer one small word of clarification. There are many churches in the Reformed Tradition that DO allow women to participate fully in church services. I’m currently a member of a Christian Reformed Church congregation (CRC) and women actively participate in the service – reading Scripture, bringing the children’s sermon, offering the congregational prayer, etc. The only thing they don’t do at this point is serve as elder (although some CRC churches have opened that up as well to women).

    It’s really unfortunate that a small group of vocal bloggers have given those who are Reformed a bad name. Not everyone who would consider themselves Reformed is obnoxious, arrogant and rude as is too often seen in the blogosphere. I know you probably know that, but it always distresses me when I see people speak negatively of the Reformed tradition when there are many kind and meek people who love the Lord and serve Him faithfully in Reformed churches.

    Thanks! :-)

Leave a Reply, Please!