Friday, August 1, 2008

N. T. Wright and a thorny passage

I have been teaching through 1 Timothy and next up for me is a lesson on the very thorny passage in chapter 2 verses 11 through 15.

NIV – a woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

My translation – A woman must learn with a quiet demeanor and all submission. But I do not allow a woman to teach nor to dominate a man, but to live in a quiet demeanor. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived and fell into sin. But she will be saved through child bearing, if she should remain in faith and love and holiness with propriety.

Not too much of a difference. But I checked out N. T. Wright’s translation and I just don’t see it. I am a big fan of Wright. I would lean more toward his views on "Paul and the New Perspective" than toward Piper. But I think he reads this passage with an end in view instead of merely presenting true understanding of the text. (Granted, he knows more Greek than I will ever know, but his translation of this passage is far off of everyone I’ve consulted – Fee, Guthrie, Mounce for example).

Wright – 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. Adam was created first, you see, and then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived, and fell into trespass. She will, however, be kept safe through the process of childbirth, if she continues in faith, love and holiness with prudence.

I do like what he is trying to say, that the force of Paul’s statement is not I do not permit a woman to teach (which may have been the source or spread of the false teaching at Ephesus, more to come on that), but Wright is saying the force of the passage is that women are commanded to learn and do so undisturbed (Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters, 24).

There is a lot to commend about Wright’s interpretation. It takes in to account the issues at Ephesus that Timothy was dealing with, such as, because the woman was deceived in Genesis 3, then women need to learn just as much as men do. I like that he interprets the submission that the women were to fall under was the submission to God and not to men in general. I don’t doubt this, but in view of what Paul had just written in 1 Timothy, he is dealing with the distraction, first that men were causing and then women. Wright puts things in the text that just aren't there. I think Paul is issuing an injunction against the women at Ephesus. Later I will deal with why this rule was laid down and the issue of whether this was a universal injunction or a temporal one, intended for the issues that Timothy was dealing with at Ephesus.

1 comment:

north church said...

bill, email me at I would like to talk to you more about the worship stuff that you just did.