Don Carson, a well-known and respected New Testament scholar, and Tim Keller, a well-known and respected American pastor recently had a conversation where they briefly discussed 1 Timothy 2:12, the verse that says, “I do not permit a woman to teach, or to domineer a man, she is to be quiet.” Their conversation was posted on YouTube and I was asked about it.
In this post, I give short responses to some of Keller’s and Carson’s off-the-cuff comments, and I include links to more information on my website. I’ve tried to keep this post short because I’ve already written about most of the points brought up on the video.
If you’re interested in the following, it’s probably best to have the video playing in one “window” on your device, and read the comments in another “window.”
1–minute mark: Two Limitations and Authority
I agree with Dr Carson; I also read 1 Timothy 2:12 as syntactically containing two limitations, but I think they are distinct. I read 1 Timothy 2:12 as containing (1) a prohibition about teaching, and (2) a prohibition about domineering a man.
Also, authentein, which is a rare verb, does not refer to ordinary or healthy authority. For example, Chrysostom used this same verb in his sermon on Colossians 3 and warned husbands not to do this to their wives. (I have much more on authentein here.)
1.20–minute mark: Authority and the Word
The scriptures that were taught in New Testament churches were from the Old Testament. Is Dr Carson referring to the Old Testament when he refers to “the Word” and authority? Or does he mean the message of the gospel? This point is unclear.
I don’t see any evidence for a word-based authority in New Testament churches, but I do see evidence of (spiritual) gifts-based ministry. When writing to the church in Thessalonica, Paul stated, “our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full assurance. (1 Thess. 1:5 cf. 1 Cor. 2:4).
Paul invited participation in ministry, including the ministry of teaching, without any mention of authority (e.g., Col. 3:16; 1 Cor. 14:26).
Furthermore, I see no evidence of a magisterial authority attached to teachers. Most first-century churches were smallish house churches. Visiting apostles, prophets, teachers, and ministers (diakonoi), as well as local members, could bring a teaching. According to 2 John, individual churches had the authority to welcome or reject visiting teachers (and other ministers) and their message (2 John 1:10f).
What verses does Dr Carson allude to when he says there are New Testament verses that prohibit women from having a word-based magisterial authority in the church? I can’t think of any verse that mentions such an authority and also prohibits women.
2.40–minute mark: Not just “something”; more things
Paul is disallowing more than just “something.” If we pull back from 1 Timothy 2:12, we see that Paul is addressing problem behaviour from several people in the Ephesian church: angry quarrelling men (plural) in 1 Timothy 2:8; rich overdressed women (plural) in 1 Timothy 2:9–10, and then a woman (singular) in 1 Timothy 2:11–15. The whole passage, verses 8–15, is Paul addressing problem behaviour and offering corrections.
2.53–minute mark: Church offices?
Healthy, or normal, authority is not mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:8–15, and neither is any church office.
3.08–minute mark: Transcultural Principles
There are transcultural, lasting principles we can take from Paul’s words about the angry men, the overdressed women, and a woman who needed to learn and not teach, and not domineer a man/husband. There is something for us today in this passage including 1 Timothy 2:11–12. Perhaps, “uneducated or ill-informed (i.e. ill-equipped) people should not teach.” And, “no one should domineer another person.”
On the other hand, it is reasonable to acknowledge that we do not have a clear picture of the situation behind 1 Timothy 2:11–15, including the phrase “she will be saved through childbirth.” (My article on a possible backstory to this phrase is here.)
4.20-minute mark: Creation and the Fall
In 1 Timothy 2:13–14, Paul provides correct summary statements of Genesis 2 and 3. We do not know why Paul brings up Genesis 2 and 3, but it may have been to provide a rebuttal to the faulty teaching of a woman in Ephesus. In the NT, additional information from the OT is sometimes introduced with the Greek connective gar (“for”), as in 1 Tim 2:13. More on this use of gar here.
Paul is not saying here that women are more easily deceived than men. The Bible nowhere expresses the idea that women are gullible. So why does Eve being deceived and becoming a transgressor mean that all women for all time are prohibited from teaching? Adam also transgressed when he ate the forbidden fruit.
There are biblical examples of women speaking and teaching with no hint of censure, except when their words are unsound. The songs, prayers, praises, and teachings of some women are included in the Bible where their words continue to teach with the authority of scripture. (More here and here.)
5.58-minute mark: Is the created order and Eve’s deception transcultural?
How can Eve being momentarily deceived be regarded as “massively” transcultural, as stated by Dr Carson, and what does it have to do with whether capable women in the first century or today, who are not deceived, can teach? This question is worth pondering.
And did Paul really think that Adam being created first gives men permission to teach and at the same time disqualifies all women? The created order is mentioned in only two passages in the Bible after Genesis 2: in 1 Timothy 2:13 and in 1 Corinthians 11:12. Paul plays down its significance in 1 Corinthians 11:11–12 and highlights mutual interdependence between men and women instead.
I don’t have a “problem” with Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:8–15. I don’t think they should be as controversial as they are; Paul corrects and silences both men and women a few times in his letters.
Paul only silences disorderly and unsound speech. (See 1 Cor. 14:26–40). And his overall theology of ministry does not limit gifted women and might be summarised as, “You have a gift; use it to build up others.” (See Rom. 12:6–8; Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:1ff.)
Neither Paul or any other author of the New Testament books and letters indicate that they had an issue with good teaching and sound ministry from godly men or women.
 Unlike Dr Carson, I believe there are two distinct prohibitions in 1 Timothy 2:12, and that the Greek word for “man/husband” (andros, which is in the genitive case) is connected only to the verb authentein (“to domineer”) which takes a genitive noun. The verb didaskein (“to teach”) usually doesn’t take a genitive noun.
Accordingly, I believe the first two phrases in 1 Timothy 2:12 should be separated by a comma in English translations: “I do not allow a woman to teach, nor to domineer a man …” (More on this here.)
 In his tenth homily on Colossians, Chrysostom uses the verb authentein (the exact form is authentei) where he comments on Colossians 3:19. He writes that a husband must not act this way towards his wife. This verb is translated into English as “act the despot” in volume 13 of A Select Library of the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979), 304. I suggest the verb has a similar meaning in 1 Timothy 2:12.
 The books and letters of the New Testament were still being written, copied, and passed around in the first century, and it would take another century (very roughly!) before they were regarded as scripture, that is, Holy Writ.
 Scholar and complementarian Douglas Moo admits, “These verses offer assertions about both the creation and the fall, but it is not clear how they support the commands in verses 11–12.”
Moo, “1 Timothy 2:11-15: Meaning and Significance”, Trinity Journal NS (1980), 62–83, 68.
 The inspired songs, prayers, praises, and teachings of Miriam (Exod. 15:20-21), Deborah (Judges 5:1ff), Hannah (1 Sam. 2:1ff), Abigail (1 Sam. 25:28-31), King Lemuel’s Mother (Prov. 31:1-9), Mary (Luke 1:46ff), and Elizabeth (Luke 1:41ff) are considered prophetic and are included in scripture.
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Paul’s Theology of Ministry
All my articles on 1 Timothy 2:12 are here.
1 Timothy 2:12 in a Nutshell
6 Reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 is not as clear as it seems
1 Timothy 2:12, the created order, and Bible women who guided men
Women, Eve, and Deception
A List of the 29 People in Romans 16:1–16
Partnering Together: Paul’s Female Coworker
Did Priscilla Teach Apollos?
40 thoughts on “Don Carson and Tim Keller on 1 Timothy 2:12”
The verses regarding a woman teaching are NOT the high spot of I Tim, yet they are constantly highlighted as if they were. As you correctly say, they are just one example of how to help people teach correctly. In the verses about men, the goal is to restore the person to teaching after being sure that they are teaching properly once again, but somehow the section about one woman is thought to relate to stopping all women from teaching even if they are doing it well. We also pay little to no attention to what was going on in Ephesus as regards to Artemis of Ephesus and the problems that could cause the budding church.
Complementarians take the easy way out, depending on what looks like a super obvious, simplified translation.
English translations can hide the genuine exegetical challenges in 1 Timothy 2:12ff including the one-prohibition-or-two idea that was mentioned in video.
This clip by TGC angers me and disappoints me. How can you publish a 6min video that results in “Paul is forbidding something” without following up with what that translates to? If any of them were women or had a true desire to have women surrounding them, that would be a pressing matter on their minds. But as they are already allowed to do all the preaching and teaching, they can take the lazy way out by mysteriously saying “It’s something”. Don’t they know about the need and suffering of women everywhere that desire to be “biblically” and follow the New Testament to know what that would be? Instead, they are content with the cultural diagnosis of young people being “imperial ignorant”.
It’s just so unempathetic and spoken from a perspective of privilege, where they can just muse about the meaning without any consequences for their existence or experience of faith. They don’t realize there is real hurt and a real need for answers involved for so many women who love the word and feel a calling.
That being said, thank you for your exegetical work and response. It’s very valuable! Just needed to get this of my chest. I was taught in my tradition of faith that our goal in hermeneutics should be to get rid of our own experience as that is sinful and distorts our ability to understand the bible. The longer I’m in the faith the more I realize that that comes from a position of privilege: It’s a privilege if you don’t have an experience of racism, of wrestling with the question of divorce or abortion, coming out or what your value as a woman is. People who ask you to set that aside are doing Hermeneutics a disservice.
I see it more as the result of willful ignorance. The thing about culture and our mind set is that we don’t easily see it. Most Christians are content with the easy way, read what you want in the clearest language you can get and don’t think a bit differently. Thinking is not acceptable in most churches, especially if you are a woman!!
Have a great day, Nele!
Hi Nele, I was just saying today that some Christians are so sure of their own interpretations of a few scriptures without being perturbed, let alone regretful, of the enormous hurt their restrictive views on women are causing.
I think you’re right about the position of privilege. More kindness and commonsense is needed in our hermeneutic.
Pick a letter you have written to one of your children years ago addressing a specific issue he/she needed guidance on at a specific moment in time.
Could we rely on everything you said in that letter to be a life application for others across the world and 2000 years later? No.
So when we read the letters we need to remember the context of the situation at the time; as well as our far removed position.
Given the context it is most difficult to sift out what would be universally applicable to all people at all times. American scholars of ancient Hebrew and American pastors have failed in their teachings in most cases- to stress how these letters cannot be simply overlaid onto modern American/western denominations.
Context is so important. And we have enough context in 1 Timothy 2:8-15 to know that these words do not represent Paul’s general thoughts on behaviour or ministry. They are specific instructions regarding specific people in a specific church.
As a Christian Therapist, the power of “Confirmation Bias” is a constant challenge. Our perceptions almost always see through the “dark glass” in ways that confirm our mindset. When a person I admire speaks I tend to agree, and vice versa. I like RC Sproul. He was a friend but I often disagreed with him even when it was difficult and got me into trouble with his followers. Can we ever truly see clearly? Nope.
This is an important consideration. Thanks, Gary.
Marg, I love your work! Your diligent study and full exegesis are excellent resources and examples for serious readers of the Bible.
What do you think of Paul’s illustrative use of Hebrew scriptures, oral traditions, and cultural conventions? Paul and other NT writers often invoke, allude to, or creatively quote (change) OT texts to illustrate, not prove, their points. Paul invokes things he knows are not eternal principles or not even true to illustrate various points. I see this rhetoric in 1 Corinthians 10:4 (rock was Christ); 1 Corinthians 11:14 (nature…hair); and 1 Corinthians 15:29 (baptized on behalf of the dead). The interpretation of other texts, where the thing cited is inconsistent with what we know, such as 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (as the law says) and1 Timothy 2:13-14 (Adam not deceived), should account for rhetorical style, which may not correspond to modern logic.
It seems to me that a passage that doesn’t make logical sense in modern terms should not be squeezed into the mold of law for modern Christians. The wide diversity of interpretations, along with the diversity of qualifications of those interpretations, notably among patriarchists-complementarians, demonstrates “clearly” that these passages don’t make logical sense for modern Christians.
Thanks Rod. Yes, Paul uses certain concepts in the Old Testament in new ways to make his own points. I often say that Genesis, etc, helps us to understand Paul, but it doesn’t necessarily work the other way around. It can be unwise to interpret Genesis 2 and 3 using Paul.
What I find odd is that many Christians think Paul’s use of Adam and his transgression (παράβασις) in Romans 5:14 “proves” that men are leaders. But they also think Paul’s use of Eve and her transgression (παράβασις) in 1 Timothy 2:14 “proves” women are not to be leaders or teachers. Adam and Eve both sinned. They both ate the forbidden fruit. The only difference is that we know Eve’s excuse, we can only guess at Adam’s.
I’ve written about Paul’s use of Adam as a type in Romans 5 here: https://margmowczko.com/is-adam-solely-responsible-for-the-first-sin/
If the Woman chose sin because she was deceived, but the Man was not deceived, why did he sin? Because he could. He made the decision to eat. We don’t know why, but I know we can all think of several reasons.
What I have never understood is why choosing to sin reaps the reward of being a leader, and being fooled is a punishment forever. God didn’t even tell the Man and the Woman that. It makes no sense.
Neither of us deserve to teach. We teach because of the gifts given to us and not our gender. I think that people have taken what they see around them and read it into the text as proof of why things are the way they are.
Yes, it makes no sense at all. And I don’t think we’re meant to dispense with using commonsense when reading the Bible. We need the Holy Spirit and our wits.
I discuss what Adam’s excuse might have been here:
“Paul plays down its significance in 1 Corinthians. 11:11-12 and highlights mutual interdependence between men and women instead.”
I don’t think Paul downplays the order of creation – he forthrightly states why the order of creation is the basis for equality. The man had to be created first for there to be equality. If the woman was created first she would have been both the source of the first man as well as the source of all men thereafter. So man is created first to be the source for the woman and the woman then becomes the source for all men.
When Adam names her Eve (mother of the living) he is not exercising his ‘authority’ he is recognizing her equality, power and position and honoring her as now being the source of all of mankind. What was sourced in man now becomes the source of mankind. Men and women are powerful in partnership when each recognizes the full equality, power and ability of the other.
Interesting perspective, Robert. 🙂
You know, I never thought about it like that Robert. That makes perfect sense actually.
I am so happy that you wont leave this verse alone. The more its dug at, by yourself and our selves individually, the more we will understand what God is trying to tell us individually. Many words are ambiguous for a purpose. Each individuals behaviour is different towards their spouse, and a way for God to communicate with us is by using words which have so many layers and branches and each layer /branch will take you to a different area and make you have a good hard look at yourself.
Thanks, Balledina. 🙂
I don’t think 1 Timothy 2:8-15 would have been ambiguous to Timothy or to the church at Ephesus. I think they knew exactly who Paul was referring to in these verses.
Since this is a video by TGC et al, have you considered doing your own video with your response?
Just a thought…
I’ve been asked before about video-blogs but making videos doesn’t appeal to me. I prefer doing what I do on my blog. If I had someone to help me I’d consider it.
Thank you Marg for your ongoing work and diligence in your responsiveness. I agree with your response and others on this topic. What has become more and more apparent as I watch various men (and women) dismiss women as church leaders and teachers are the abuse tactics they use to maintain power and control. In this video, Keller says he’s open to hearing debate but the onus is on those who disagree with his stance, and he says it is a high bar.
While I’ve grown tired of seeing men gather and casually discuss the equality and spiritual gifts of women, it’s important to continue to push back. Thank you for your part in highlighting the gifts women bring to the table, & Scriptural support for women to be all God has purposed us for.
And if you ever need any assistance with anything, count me in!
Thanks, Stacey. 🙂
There are few things Tim Keller has said where he seems to assume people with a different understanding of 1 Timothy 2:12 have a “low bar” or a “loose approach to scripture.” But many of my fellow Christian egalitarians have a high bar and a high view of scripture. I wrote this post in response to something else Tim Keller has said: https://margmowczko.com/prominent-biblical-scholars-on-women-in-ministry/
Considering the context of 1 Timothy 2:8-15, and that Paul is addressing problem behaviour of people in the Ephesian church, I’d think the onus is on others to demonstrate that Paul was making general statements in any of these verses, rather than ad hoc comments relevant to members of the Ephesian church.
Stacey, I have just listened to the video clip and I found Tim Keller pretty dismissive of alternate arguments, he ‘just thinks they are pretty unconvincing’ which says to me he hasn’t fully engaged with them or taken them seriously. Personally, I find the explanation that Paul is correcting Creation mythology by referencing the Creation story far more credible than the explanation that the Creation story sets out a hierarchy for all time everywhere.
Well said Robert Holmes.This makes me think of another aspect of this discussion. I often wonder about the ability of people( especially men in ” authority ” ) ,to interpret things in such an oversimplified and rigid way, in order to ultimately protect or justify an established world view. In this case, a merrygoround through the centuries, that ends up being nothing but a ridiculous , non-biblical perpetuation of male-chauvinism. Which is incidentally, not really open for debate in polite , mainstream Christianity.
I think we need to consider more seriously, the ways in which Satan can, and does, distort scripture through the lense of the distorted human ego. And the lengths he will go to, in order to prevent anyone, either man or woman, from fulfilling their God-given potential.
The church I belong to, subscribes to the “women can’t teach or preach “credo, but I’ve never believed it or agreed with it , even from a young age. Nor have I ever heard a convincing explanation, or would I expect a fair hearing or an open and frank discussion on the topic. Because naturally, any robust conversation on the subject, might put me, a woman , in very grave danger, of actually preaching or teaching to someone,by passionately expressing my views on the matter!
So it’s really a very clever tactical manoeuvre, which silences objection on the grounds that you would be committing the very sin you are admonished to abstain from, if you were to use the brains God gave you, in order to express your belief that you should be able to express your beliefs!!
U.S. pastor John MacArthur, recently put his foot in it by saying of a woman with a ministry, that she should just”go home”. And that the Bible is clear, women cannot preach or teach, there is no convincing alternative, end of discussion. – Hmmm, well really. Spoken like a true despot, sad to say!
Another thing which I find interesting about this issue, and which is I believe a common tactic of Satan, is to corrupt the initial baseline interpretation of a subject, so that any future discussion, argument, conclusion, etc, is tainted by this original”error”. The purpose I believe can only be to cause chaos, confusion, clouded judgment, and to block access to the truth. I say this because for a long time it has bothered me ,that the word “head” in scripture, used in reference to this vexed male/female scenario, can either mean “authority”, or “source”,(as in the head of a river). Robert has raised some interesting points around ‘source’. It should be clear that the path of understanding is entirely different depending on which interpretation you choose. However, they can’t both be correct.
Perhaps Marg , with your knowledge and skill with language, you could bring some clarity to this situation. By the way, if God never meant for women to preach or teach, how is it that you are doing such a good job with the gifts He has given you?*******
Hi Kate, Are you asking about clarity regarding how Paul uses the Greek word kephalē (“head”)? If so, I have several articles on this on my website. (I also have a couple of articles on my Patreon page where I look at how Jewish writers, Philo and Josephus, used the word. I need to do a little more research before I post something about this on my website.)
My articles about kephalē are here:
My articles about 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 are here:
My articles about Ephesians 5:22-33 are here:
I think there is more to kephalē than “source” versus “person in authority.” I might post an article in a couple of days that mentions all the verses where Paul uses kephalē metaphorically. There is a sense, or nuance, in kephalē that is seen in each of these verses.
I couldn’t stand watching the video more than half way. Two smug men just confirming to each other how perfectly right they are. They both talk about a commentary they read that gives them the “masterful” interpretation of this passage that they agree with. My question is whether they have humbly put their egos and sense of rightness aside and read any commentaries or books by any other equally masterful theologians that give a different view.
I’m fairly certain they would have read many books written by Christians with various views. I don’t know anything more.
From what I learned it was King James Bible that the word authentein got translated to just authority in the English language. Many mistook it to mean that women are prohibited to teach the gospel to men or be pastors. As for Eve being deceived, Paul may have been addressing the cult of Artemis, who were teaching that when Eve ate the forbidden fruit, it gave her wisdom and knowledge and he was correcting them plus, they might have also taught that Eve was created first as the Greek goddess Artemis was born before her twin brother Apollo and he was corrected that as well reminding them that Adam was created first. These scriptures have been used in the past to imply inferiority of women painting them as more easily led astray, the blame for the sin of the world and leadership in the church or home and even society is made for men. I’m glad such teachings are being challenged in in some complementarian groups. God Bless
Hi CT, the King James Bible renders authentein as “to usurp authority.” I don’t think this is an accurate translation, but at least the translators understood authentein as being a negative thing. Authentein does not refer to a good or healthy kind of authority (when exercised by humans). Paul was not prohibiting a good or beneficial exercise of authority.
I have not come across any ancient source that says or hints that the mythology of Artemis of Ephesus included a story about the biblical Eve. If such a story exists, it would be a huge game-changer in the discussion on 1 Timothy 2:11-15! I think you’ve mentioned this idea before. Please tells us where the idea comes from.
Sorry, I”m a bit late, but anyway over the years I had read from numerous sources by scholars, authors and bloggers stating that the women of the Artemis cult were falsely teaching that Eve was created first and that when she ate the forbidden fruit, she actually gained knowledge and wisdom that God didn’t want her to have and that Paul was correcting them. I don’t remember all the sources but I can mention a few articles. At the CBE(Christians for Biblical Equality) International website, there are articles by scholars Jenna Daniels on 1Timothy 2, “What To Say When Someone Says Women Are Not Permitted to Teach” by Chesna Hinkley and another article on the subject is by professor and author Linda L. Bellevelle. Co-founder of the Junia Project also has an article about the subject “Defusing the 1Timothy 2:12 Bomb on that website. You can free to check them out. God Bless
Hi CT, Are you sure you’ve understood these articles correctly?
I have read widely about ancient Ephesus and the cult of Artemis from scholars who have studied these things for themselves. I have also read the articles you mention, but I have seen no evidence that the cult of Artemis used the story of Eve in any way.
Jenna Daniels does not connect Eve with Artemis but with Gnosticism. Unfortunately, she makes several unfounded or incorrect statements in her article. Unlike what Jenna and others say, there is no evidence that the Ephesian Artemis was a fertility goddess in the first century. The cult was not run entirely by females. And people did not come to the temple and pay a high priestess for sex. Many priests of Artemis of Ephesus, including high priests, were men.
Chesna Hinkley also does not connect Eve with Artemis but with Gnosticism, and she cites me for more information on this. Her information on Artemis is accurate but she misunderstands what Irenaeus said about Paul’s phrase “falsely-called knowledge.”
I am a friend of Gail Wallace who wrote Defusing the 1 Timothy 2:12 Bomb. It is an excellent article. Gail doesn’t mention Artemis, and she links to a couple of my articles for more information.
And I am an acquaintance of Linda Belleville who I cite several times on my website, especially regarding the word authentein. Dr Belleville is an experienced and respected New Testament scholar and I have not seen her mention that Eve’s story was used in the cult or mythology of Artemis.
None of these four people say that the women of the Artemis cult were teaching about Eve.
From what I gather, Chesna Hinkley does mention in Ephesus, women worshipped the goddess Artemis to keep them safe during childbirth. She also mentions that early church fathers believed that Gnosticism was taught in Ephesus and that some of Gnostic myths that was taught was that Eve was created first and gained knowledge from eating the forbidden fruit. Gail Wallace does mention women in Ephesus engaging in false teachings and that 1 Timothy could be referring to the false ideals that Eve was created before Adam and thus superior to him, I assumed it was related to the artemis cult since others had stated that was where the ideas came from. As for Linda Belleville, there is an old article where she talks about the Artemis cult in Ephesus in the CBE website, where she mentions that women were influenced by the Artemis cult that believed in female superiority and goes on to mention that Artemis was the daughter of the Greek god Zeus and she had male consorts making her and her female adherents superior to men and Paul was correcting this in 1Timothy 2:13-14 by pointing out Eve was created first and was the one that was deceived to contradict female superiority. As, I mentioned before, I read from many scholars that over the years that made these claims I don’;t remember all their names but even Wade Burleson has stated on his blog that Artemis cult believed in female superiority due to Artemis being born before her twin brother Apollo and was superior to him. Also that some women from that cult were giving false teachings of women being superior to men and Paul was correcting them. I don’t know if these versions are accurate or not now but in the past I’ve believed them to be true as the explanations were logical and reasonable and seemed credible enough. I suppose their isn’t 100% evidence what the Artemis cult’s teachings were and what Paul was really referring to but I’m open to many more ideas. God Bless.
Hi CT, Many of the points you mention here are correct. But it wasn’t really what I was asking for.
~ The Ephesian Artemis was thought to be a midwife, and women did pray and give gifts to her in the hope they, or their friend or family member, would have a safe delivery. We have surviving evidence of these ideas in ancient sources (e.g., Plutarch’s Life of Alexander 3.6 and the apocryphal Acts of Andrew 25). More on this here.
~ People such as Irenaeus in Against Heresies, Tertullian in Against the Valentinians 3, and Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History 3.32.8 connect some of Pauls words in 1 Timothy with Gnosticism and heretical teachings that arose after the apostles died. Again, we have ancient evidence. We can still read their works today. More on this here.
~ Paul himself states in 1 Timothy that people in the Ephesian church were teaching “other doctrines” (e.g., 1 Tim. 1:3ff). Much of this letter is devoted to addressing these “other” teachings.
~ Some of the mythology of the Ephesian Artemis borrowed ideas from the mythology of the Greek Artemis. One of these ideas is that the goddess was born before her twin brother Apollo and she then helped deliver him. Again we have ancient sources that say these things.
On the other hand, I don’t know of any ancient evidence that the Ephesian Artemis had a male consort. Rather, she was known to be single and a virgin. Dr Belleville seems to use the word “consort” to refer to Apollo as well as to an unnamed human consort in this article. I have no idea who she means as the male human consort, unless she is referring to the relationship between the Greek Artemis and Orion. One of the sources Dr Belleville cites for her information, here, does not mention any consort, and it includes information about the Greek and other Artemises. I’ve been unable to access the other source.
Also, there were many female goddesses in the ancient world. For example, there were just as many female gods as male gods in the Greek Olympian pantheon, the Greek Artemis and Apollo were two of the twelve Olympian deities. But the Greek view of women in classical times was low. In the first century, the cult of Isis was very popular, and many cities had a female goddess as their patron. But this did not mean that women had a superior status to men.
In a 2013 article, Wade Burleson says that “The Artemis cult taught that Artemis was superior to Apollo because she came (was born) first.” And about the woman in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 he writes, “She must move away from her belief in female superiority, a belief reinforced by the Artemis cult.” But is this true? What is Wade basing this on? It is perhaps reasonable to assume that the cult of Artemis believed Artemis was superior to Apollo, but did they believe this because Artemis was born before her brother? Is there an ancient source supporting this idea? (In mythology, Apollo is often described as Zeus’s favourite child.) And why does Artemis’s supposed superiority mean that women in Ephesus are superior to men? (By the way, Wade and I exchange a few comments in response to his article, and we’ve exchanged more comments over the years on my site and on Facebook, etc.)
Linda Belleville makes the statement, “One explanation [about the behaviour of Ephesian woman] is that they were influenced by the cult of Artemis, where the female was exalted and considered superior to the male.” Dr Belleville does seem to think that Ephesian women were superior to men, but I see evidence to the contrary in ancient sources. I write about this here.
Women in certain parts of the Roman world (e.g., Macedonia) did have more power than women in other parts, especially if they had wealth, and we know there were wealthy women in the Ephesian church. Only rich women could afford elaborately braided hairstyles, gold, pearls and costly clothes (1 Tim 2:9-10). I believe the woman spoken about in 1 Timothy 1:11-15 is one of these rich, relatively powerful women.
But a woman of a certain social status, or with a certain amount of wealth, did not have more power than a man with a similar social status or similar amount of wealth; the opposite is true. I write about wealthy women in the Roman world here.
I think it is unlikely that Ephesian women, in general, were superior to the men. But even if they were, this wasn’t my question. I’m already aware of a number of people who make the claim that women in Ephesus were superior to the men, but, unfortunately, they don’t provide credible evidence or give examples of female superiority.
Anyway, my question was about evidence that the cult of Artemis had a teaching about Eve. And there is no evidence of this.
Hi Sarah, I’m glad you like my website.
Paul didn’t write in Hebrew. He wrote in Greek. And I was expecting you would cite the verses you think were not written by Paul in English. Here are my questions again: Which verses in 1 Timothy 2 do you think are a quotation? And which verses are Paul’s words in response to the quotation?
I strongly disagree with this statement for a couple of reasons: “Adam sold his soul to the devil before she came into his world.” Genesis 2-3 does not present Adam like this.
I found their discussion limited, unsatisfactory and, actually, biased. It was highly focused intellectually and totally unhelpful for those we (women) teach, encourage, and lead with the Spirit’s gifts (no hierarchy there) to receive Christ in their hearts and lives and to live as dearly beloved, equal and Spirit-empowered bearers of the Gospel!
It really wasn’t helpful one way or the other. I wonder why TGC chose to publish it.
I also wonder why they published this video, with the Orwellian title Boundaries are for our Freedom, where Jennie Allen expresses concerns about the complementarian ideology.
Thank you so much for this article. I was dwelling on this passage and seeing others interpretations of it which were similar to the video….and it really confused me and I also just felt hurt and worthless as a woman and kind of went into a bit of a spiral and it made me feel like a stick in the mud. I even cried over it and just felt so lost. (Personally I don’t feel as I have a call to ministry but I didn’t understand why other women couldn’t and in that I felt kind of hurt and lost.) But I still went and looked and tried to understand and I came upon this article! And while reading this it made sense and I felt love through it and so it felt good and I believe this was truly what God meant! Thank you!
Hi B. I understand your hurt and I understand your logic. I feel the same way.
Very few women (or men) are called to be pastors or reverends of churches, but when people say that all women are immediately disqualified and can’t serve in this way, just because of they are female, it says something about the intrinsic qualities and capabilities of women. 🙁
More than that, when people say women can’t teach or lead in church meetings, it implies that men have a special relationship with God that women are excluded from. And this hurts. But these people are wrong. God loves his daughters as much as loves his sons, and he calls and equips both sexes for Christian service.
In the majority of cases, gender is not a prerequisite for Christian ministry. I have more on this here.
As always, I really appreciate your writing and found this post helpful. I am unclear on your first statement about viewing the two instructions in verse 12 as distinct. Why is it important to view “teach” and “usurp authority” as two separate prohibitions in this passage? I would tend to agree with Carson, viewing these two as one singular prohibition, but I see the interpretation you commend as most clear: that the prohibition is against teaching without proper instruction (authoritative teaching that leads others astray). Thanks for your time and attention to comments. Blessings to you today.
Hi Marcus, It makes a big difference if we read didaskein (“to teach”) and authentein (“to domineer”) as combined or distinct.
If the first clause in 1 Timothy 2:12 is one overall prohibition it means that Paul was not allowing a woman to teach a man in a domineering manner. Though, Carson and others believe it means that a woman cannot teach in an authoritative manner.
(I strongly believe authentein does not refer to normal or healthy authority. And “usurp authority” may not be the sense Paul wanted to convey.)
I’m inclined to read two separate prohibitions. Didaskein (“to teach”) occurs at the very beginning of 1 Timothy 2:12, in the Greek, while authentein andros (“to domineer a man”) is at the end of the first clause and is separated from didaskein by five words:
διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός. (Excuse my Greek)
I suspect Paul is saying, “I am not allowing a woman (1) to teach [anyone], nor am allowing her (2) to domineer a man/husband.”
In this reading, the word andros (“man, husband”) is only connected to the word authentein, it is not connected to the word didaskein.
This makes sense grammatically, but it also makes sense contextually. In the previous verse, 1 Timothy 2:11, Paul says a woman must learn. I believe this woman (or, such a woman) who needed to learn was not ready to teach anyone: man, woman or child.
I propose that Paul was prohibiting 1. poor teaching and 2. bad behaviour towards a man.
Whether this is important or not, I’ll let others decide.