1 Timothy 2 is often taken for granted as “the” text that clearly bars women from holding positions of leadership in the church. The debate at large is too frequently reduced to the meaning of terms such as “authority” and “teaching,” as well as the grammatical relationship between them. Although these are an important part of the larger discussion, in this workshop Allison Quient proposes another angle. Using a theological interpretative approach, she provides evidence of a typological relationship between Eve and Christ and discusses some of the implications for our understanding of human power and identity.
We Lutherans all want to argue on the basis of God's revealed truth in the authoritative Scripture. Yet all of us come to this debate with our own personal history and agenda. My own history includes aversion to women in the public ministry as a result of experiences, first as a teenager, then as a student in Germany. More recently, I have developed a growing understanding of the just claims of Christian women who have been disempowered and marginalized in the church and a horror for what has been perpetrated in the name of male headship. A re-examination of the texts and another (this time happy) experience of having a woman as my pastor in the United States about a decade ago led me to abandon my previously held view that the ordination of women is not the Lord's will for his church today. I am now convinced to the contrary, although I do not like using the broad term feminist. My own personal pain is not only that close friends and relatives hold an opposing view, but that I fully understand that view as one who once held it (this is not said in any spirit of superiority).
In every corner of the world, religious teachings on gender and power have an enormous impact on human lives, especially those of girls and women. For this reason, Christians have a responsibility to accurately critique biblical teachings on gender.
One of the most hotly contested passages in the New Testament these days is 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The cultural reason for this is clear: The ordination of women in the Church is a major issue of debate among traditional and evangelical denominations. Biblically-minded Christians are rightly concerned about the meaning of this passage for ministry today. And, in response to that concern, a large number of scholars have written articles, commentaries and now even entire books on these few verses.
A common criticism is that gender-accurate Bible translation tactics, such as using "brothers and sisters" instead of "brothers," moves English Bibles away from the teaching, intent, and tone of the biblical authors. This workshop demonstrates that the opposite is true.
Some biblical passages are difficult enough that even seasoned interpreters do not insist that their interpretation is correct. 1 Timothy 2:15, with its comment about women being saved through childbearing, is among these notoriously difficult passages. Nevertheless, this lecture surveys a few good theories about the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:15. More importantly, however, this verse serves as a humbling reminder of the vast cultural and chronological gap between the first and twenty-first centuries. Finally, it will be argued that the prior verse (1 Timothy 2:14) is just as difficult, and interpreters therefore should not demand that 2:14 be the guiding light to chapter two.