Category: Women and the Pastorals

Waters, Women, Salvation, and Childbearing

Kenneth L. Waters, Sr., is Professor of New Testament and Associate Dean of Personnel, Contracts, and Undergraduate Studies in the School of Theology of Azusa Pacific University. Those who have sought to probe the depths of the extensive literature on 1 Timothy 2:15 have encountered the two related essays that Waters has produced on this crux interpretum:

“Saved Through Childbearing: Virtues as Children in 1 Timothy 2:11–15.” Journal of Biblical Literature 123.4 (2004): 703–35.
“Revisiting Virtues as Children: 1 Timothy 2:15 as Centerpiece for an Egalitarian Soteriology.” Lexington Theological Quarterly 42 (2007): 37–49.

Waters has now incorporated these two essays into a new, book-length treatment of the debated 1 Timothy 2:11–15:

Women, Salvation, and Childbearing: The Mystery of 1 Timothy 2:11–15. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2022.

The book also includes a four-page appendix: “Exploring Further: Teknogonía in Classical Literature” (111–14).

Stevens, “Paul as the Originator of Women Teachers within Religious Circles”

An essay focusing on Titus 2:3–5 has recently been published:

Chris S. Stevens, “Paul as the Originator of Women Teachers within Religious Circles.” Pages 149–64 in Gods, Spirits, and Worship in the Greco-Roman World and Early Christianity. Edited by Craig A. Evans and Adam Z. Wright. Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity 23. London: T&T Clark, 2022.

A preview is available on Academia. The first paragraph of the essay provides an overview: “Contemporary debates concerning the roles of males and females within the local church have diverted from the positive elements concerning corporate roles for all members within the Christian community. Taking a step back and addressing this important issue is important for contemporary theological debates, especially concerning the position of women within the local church. The focus of this chapter is to help situate female involvement within the Christian community with principal attention given to the largely ignored text of Tit. 2:3–5.”

The preface to the volume also summarizes the essay: “Chris Stevens explores in what ways Paul promoted (or held back?) women in teaching roles. He examines Tit. 2:3–5, which he regards as understudied, and reviews some of the cults centered on female deities or cults, whose memberships were mostly female, such as that associated with Dionysus, as well as interesting figures such as Hypatia. He also reviews the limited roles of women in Second Temple Judaism. In light of this backdrop, Stevens concludes that far from holding women back, which was all too common in late antique societies, Paul was a ‘radical originator of women teaching within the religious community.’”

Maier, “The Entrepreneurial Widows of 1 Timothy”

A new essay on the widows of 1 Timothy has recently appeared:

Harry O. Maier, “The Entrepreneurial Widows of 1 Timothy.” Pages 59–73 in Patterns of Women’s Leadership in Early Christianity. Edited by Ilaria Ramelli and Joan Taylor. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198867067.003.0004

An earlier version of this essay is available on Academia, and includes this abstract: “This essay argues that the exhortations and admonitions voiced in 1 Timothy, a highly rhetorical pseudonymous letter written in Paul’s name, that widows (i.e. unmarried) women attests to a concern with single women’s patronage of Christ assemblies, which the writing seeks to address by having them marry. The argument seeks to move beyond a common explanation that the epistle was occasioned by ascetical teachings in which women discovered in sexual continence freedom from traditional gender roles. It seeks to furnish a broader economic concern with widows through an historical exploration of the socio-economic status of women who were artisans in the imperial urban economy. It identifies the means by which women gained skill in trades, the roles they played in the ‘adaptive family’ in which tradespeople plied their trade often at economic levels of subsistence. New Testament texts point to artisan women, some of them probably widows, who played important roles of patronage and leadership in assemblies of Christ believers. By attending to levels of poverty in the urban empire, traditional views of the widows of 1 Timothy as wealthier women assigned to gender roles are seen in a new light through consideration of spouses accustomed to working alongside their husbands taking on businesses after they died. While the lives of these women are largely invisible, attention to benefactions of wealthy women to synagogues and associations gives insight into the lives of women acting independently in various kinds of social gatherings.”

Solevåg, “Birthing, Nursing and Mothering Salvation: Metapher und Realität in den Pastoralbriefen”

A new contribution to secondary literature on the Pastorals in ZNW:

Anna Rebecca Solevåg, “Birthing, Nursing and Mothering Salvation: Metapher und Realität in den Pastoralbriefen.” Zeitschrift für Neues Testament 24.48 (2021): 45–60.

The article is in German. No abstract is included, so I provide the section headings:

(1) Einleitung
(2) Die kognitive Metapherntheorie als theoretisches Instrument für die neutestamentliche Forschung
(3) Die Metapher des „Hauses Gottes” in den Pastoralbriefen
(4) „Gerettet durch das Gebären von Kindern” als soziale Realität
(5) Gebären und Nähren der Erlösung als Realität und Metapher
(6) Fazit: Spielt die Metapher eine Rolle?

Merz, “Gendered Power and the Power of Genre” and Van Houwelingen, “Power, Powerlessness, and Authorised Power in 1 Timothy 2:8–15”

A couple of decade-old Pastorals essays have recently been translated and revised for inclusion in a new volume.

Originally published in German in HTS Theological Studies in 2012, an English-language revision of Annette Merz’s “Gen(de)red power: Die Macht des Genres im Streit um die Frauenrolle in Pastoralbriefen und Paulusakten” is now available:

Annette B. Merz, “Gendered Power and the Power of Genre in the Debate about Women’s Roles in the Pastoral Letters and the Acts of Paul.” Pages 173–194 in Power in the New Testament. Edited by Annette B. Merz and Pieter G. R. de Villiers. Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology 107. Leuven: Peeters, 2021.

Abstract from the original article: “Two texts that contributed to the discussion on gender roles in formative Christianity, 1 Timothy and the Acts of Paul, are investigated. In both cases the emphasis is on the much-disputed role of women. Power plays a role on different levels. On the one hand power relations between the sexes are depicted or directly addressed by the text (‘gendered’ power), while on the other hand the power of persuasion is brought to bear on both male and female readers to legitimize the patriarchal, videlicet the encratitic model of gender. This is done by rhetorical means that are text-specific, but also make use of genre-specific persuasion strategies. This ‘genred power’ is still mostly unchartered territory in exegetical discussions and is therefore the focus of my investigation. Especially important in both genres are intertextual allusions to authoritative texts. Fictive self-references which enable the author (’Paul’) to correct himself are one focus of interest. Narrative strategies (i.e. character and plot development) which also have an intertextual dimension are a second focal point. The take-over of the role of Peter who denies Jesus and repents by Paul in the Acts of Thecla turns out to be of major rhetorical significance.”

Originally published in Dutch in HTS Theological Studies in 2012, a English-language revision of Rob van Houwelingen’s “Macht, onmacht en volmacht in 1 Timoteüs 2:8−15” is in the same volume as Merz’s:

P. H. Rob van Houwelingen, “Power, Powerlessness, and Authorised Power in 1 Timothy 2:8–15.” Pages 195–222 in Power in the New Testament. Edited by Annette B. Merz and Pieter G. R. de Villiers. Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology 107. Leuven: Peeters, 2021.

The essay is available on Academia, where a summary is given: “Exploring whether and in what respect the Pastoral Epistles demonstrate thinking in terms of ecclesiastical power, the present essay examines 1 Timothy 2:8–15. This passage is much debated when it comes to the role of women in the church. A close reading of the text within the corpus paulinum, including the self-attestation of 1 Timothy as a letter of the apostle Paul, shows three aspects. Under the heading Power, the underlying problem is discussed that Timothy faced: the male/female relationship within the congregation in Ephesus that threatened to degenerate into a power struggle. With Powerlessness, the creation account as referred to in verses 13–15 comes into view. Its focus is the woman God created, Eve. It tells the story of human weakness, which in 1 Timothy becomes a sort of triptych about Eve and creation, Eve and the fall, and Eve and redemption. From all this, Paul draws the conclusion that a woman is not allowed to teach in the church or to exercise authority over a man. Finally, Authorised power refers to speaking with another’s authority—in Paul’s case, as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Paul wanted to regulate a problematic situation involving male/female relationships in Timothy’s congregation by giving his apostolic instructions. He did so, in order to create space for the trustworthy Word. Paul’s instructions could easily be considered a kind of misogynistic power play. However, the apostle should be interpreted on his own terms. This applies both to his social context and to his missionary drive, as is explained in a brief reflection.”

Schieferstein, “Formation, Deception, and Childbearing: Reading 1 Timothy 2:13–3:1a in Light of Genesis 2–4”

Another essay has been added to the ocean of literature on 1 Timothy 2:8–15:

Mary Schieferstein. “Formation, Deception, and Childbearing: Reading 1 Timothy 2:13–3:1a in Light of Genesis 2–4.” Presbyterion 47.1 (2021): 112–20.

The paper has no abstract. Schieferstein notes lexical connections between the 1 Timothy and Genesis passages. She finds that “it seems that Paul understands teaching and exercising authority … to be a role for qualified man, rooted in this creational order” (114). She follows Schreiner’s explanation of the situation in Eden: Satan turned the ordered relationship between Adam and Eve on its head, targeting Eve while bypassing Adam, who was present but failed to intervene, abrogating his position of male leadership. In v. 15, it is Eve who will be [spiritually] saved by means of childbearing, and it is Adam and Eve who are in view as continuing “in the virtues which evidence saving faith” (118–19). Being saved by means of childbearing points to the fact that Eve’s giving birth eventuated in the birth of Christ many centuries later; “had Eve never undergone the process of giving birth, there would be no Christ and therefore no salvation” (119).

Schieferstein’s article in Presbyterion comes on the heels of a triad of articles on the larger passage in the same journal:
Marjorie J. Cooper and Jay G. Caballero. “Reasoning through Creation Order as a Basis for the Prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12.” Presbyterion 43.1 (2017): 30–38.
Marjorie J. Cooper. “The Prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 in Light of Eve’s Having Been Deceived (1 Tim. 2:14–15).” Presbyterion 44.1 (2018): 115–25.
Marjorie J. Cooper. “Analysis and Conclusions regarding 1 Timothy 2:9–3:1a.” Presbyterion 45.1 (2019): 96–107.

The Pastorals in Interpretation 75.4

Every so often, a scholarly journal will devote an entire issue to the Pastorals. The current issue of Interpretation does so (TOC), and contains the following articles:

MacDonald, Margaret Y. “Education and the Household in the Pastoral Epistles.” Interpretation 75.4 (2021): 283–93. (https://doi.org/10.1177/00209643211027768) Abstract: “The article examines the convergence of studies on the Pastoral Epistles, with greater attention to the theme of education as a key to the purpose of the documents. The close association between the household and education is considered in an effort to shed light on the presentations of Timothy and Titus, emerging leadership roles, intergenerational instruction, and constructions of gender.”

Huizenga, Annette. “Idealized Motherhood: Examples of the Gendered Worldview of the Pastoral Letters.” Interpretation 75.4 (2021): 294–304. (https://doi.org/10.1177%2F00209643211027765) Abstract: “In the Pastoral Letters, the roles and practices of mothering in a domestic household serve as benchmarks for the general instructions on how ‘one ought to behave in the household of God’ (1 Tim 3:15). This article examines several passages in 1–2 Timothy and Titus in which the author employs an idealized and stereotypical view of motherhood in order to persuade female believers to fulfill this socially-appropriate condition and to restrict them from leadership positions in the community.”

Kartzow, Marianne Bjelland. “The ‘Believing Woman’ and Her ekklēsia: Rethinking Intersectional Households and Manuscript Variations in the Widows’ Tale (1 Tim 5:3–16).” Interpretation 75.4 (2021): 305–16. (https://doi.org/10.1177/00209643211027767) Abstract: “The widows of the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim 5:3–16) have been a puzzle for interpreters for generations. In the ‘Widows’ Tale’ different categories of women are given a whole set of instructions, including how they shall be organized and with whom to live. In this article, I will highlight the interpretative potential of the very last verse of the paragraph, where ‘a believing woman who has widows’ is mentioned. In some important manuscripts, scribes have added ‘believing man’ in v. 16, while others have left out the woman altogether. What can these disagreements and changes tell? I will argue that not enough scholarly attention has been directed to this verse. There is huge potential for a new understanding of the whole paragraph hidden here. Attention to alternative housing arrangements and manuscript variations will be employed as interpretative tools. I will use the disagreement among scribes to rethink variety and difference, and to reimagine ekklēsia within intersectional early Christian households.”

Fortune, Marie M. “Is Nothing Sacred? I Timothy and Clergy Sexual Abuse.” Interpretation 75.4 (2021): 317–27. (https://doi.org/10.1177/00209643211027764) Abstract: “1 Timothy and the Pastoral Letters appear to be efforts to codify structure and roles in the early church. These efforts largely reflected the patriarchal social structures of the time and as such are not relevant to the twenty-first-century church. But some of the concerns identified herein, for example expectations of church leaders, are useful for a current discussion. What is missing is any acknowledgement of the potential for identified church leaders to take advantage of vulnerable congregants, particularly women and children. How might the writer of 1 Timothy have addressed this serious problem in the churches?”

Merkle, “The Authority of Deacons in Pauline Churches”

Benjamin L. Merkle has made another contribution to the literature on the Pastorals:

Merkle, Benjamin L. “The Authority of Deacons in Pauline Churches.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 64.2 (2021): 309–25.

Abstract: The New Testament office of deacon is disputed primarily because of the paucity of information. Consequently, many look to the following in order to determine the role of deacons in the church: (1) the lexical meaning of διάκονος and its cognates (διακονέω and διακονία); (2) the function of the Seven in Acts 6:1–6; and (3) the qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8–13. Additionally, one’s view of the role of women in ministry can influence how one perceives the function and authority of deacons. This essay argues that deacons held an official and authoritative, yet nonessential and subordinate, position in the Pauline churches. I support this thesis by considering: (1) the official title of deacons; (2) the official function of deacons; (3) the official qualifications of deacons; and (4) the official period of testing and honorable standing of deacons.

I took a class on the Greek text of the Pastorals with Dr. Merkle and benefitted greatly from it. I’m thankful for his commitment to thinking through issues in these letters and publishing the results for the benefit of both church and academy, as well as his work behind the scenes in the ETS Pastorals study group. Other publications of his on the Pastorals include:

“Are the Qualifications for Elders or Overseers Negotiable?” Bibliotheca Sacra 171.682 (2014): 172–88.

“Ecclesiology in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 173–98 in Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles. Edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010.

The Elder and Overseer: One Office in the Early Church. Studies in Biblical Literature 57. New York: Lang, 2003.

“Hierarchy in the Church? Instruction from the Pastoral Epistles regarding Elders and Overseers.” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 7 (2003): 32–43. Reprinted as “Hierarchy in the Church? Instruction from the Pastoral Epistles concerning Elders and Overseers.” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry 2.1 (2004): 45–62.

“Paul’s Arguments from Creation in 1 Corinthians 11:8–9 and 1 Timothy 2:13–14: An Apparent Inconsistency Answered.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49 (2006): 527–48.

Archer, “Was the Spirit Poured out on Women to Remain Silent in the Church? Reading 1 Corinthians 14.34–35 and 1 Timothy 2.11–15 in the Light of Pentecost”

The voluminous literature addressing 1 Timothy 2:11-15 has been supplemented by a new essay:

Archer, Melissa. “Was the Spirit Poured out on Women to Remain Silent in the Church? Reading 1 Corinthians 14.34–35 and 1 Timothy 2.11–15 in the Light of Pentecost.” Pages 123–34 in Grieving, Brooding, and Transforming: The Spirit, The Bible, and Gender. Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series 46. Edited by Cheryl Bridges Johns and Lisa P. Stephenson. Leiden: Brill, 2021.

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