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Entries in Kostenberger (1)

Friday
Jan102014

Women in the Church: know your pre-suppositions

I've been reading a book called Women in the Church: An Analysis of I Timothy 2:9-15. It is edited by Andreas Köstenberger and Thomas Schreiner. It is a collection of essays evaluating the teaching of that passage.

The first chapter deals with the context of ancient Ephesus, and the question of whether or not it was a "feminist" culture. The second chapter examines the Greek word authentein, authority, and its use in other places in the New Testament and extra-biblical literature. 

The third chapter, written by Köstenberger, deals with the syntactical issues of the verse, specifically the pairing of the infinitives "to have authority" and "to teach." This is a very detailed chapter. Köstenberger spends a great deal of time showing how the construction is used in numerous places in the bible and outside the bible. He also interacts with some of the evaluation of the first edition of this book. He examines the reactions of both complementarians and egalitarians. If you're interested in language and its use, you'll find this chapter fascinating.

Köstenberger comments about the evaluation of Judith Hartenstein, an egalitarian, who agreed with his exegesis of the passage, but not his theology (she doesn't believe Paul wrote I Timothy). He comments that often, presuppositions colour the exegesis:

... Hartenstein's candor makes explicit what may often be an unacknowledged factor in feminist or egalitarian interpretations of I Timothy 2:12, namely, presuppositions that in fact override the actual exegesis of the passage. Whether or not this is acknowledged by egalitarian or feminist interpreters, their choice of which exegetical arguments to embrace may be (and often seems to be) motivated by their prior commitment to egalitarianism. How refreshing it is when this is openly acknowledged, as in the case of Hartenstein's review.

I'm wondering if egalitarians would level the same allegation toward complementarians in their exegesis. We all have presuppositions; better to be up front about that. I think significant amounts of disagreement arise because of our differing presuppsotions.