Many scholars have asserted that Artemis of the Ephesians was a fertility goddess—but the evidence for that view is several centuries after the apostle Paul. So who was Artemis Ephesia at the time of the earliest Christians, and what, if any, ramifications are there for how we understand 1 Timothy?
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.
1 Timothy 2:8-15 is the primary verse that has been used to exclude women from teaching and leadership in the church. However, a careful examination of the passage in its context shows that it is most likely addressing false teaching and myths about marriage and childbirth that were spreading from house to house. As in 1 Corinthians 11:34, Paul wants women to be taught at home, as he corrects behavior and content, and answers a central concern of all women historically: How do we deal with maternal mortality?
Paul’s instructions in 1 Timothy that women are to dress modestly, learn silently, and find salvation in childbearing shape Christian identities and activities, but are routinely misread and misapplied. To make sense and good use of the instructions, a reader must consider the design and provenance of Paul’s letter.
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.