Better Bibles Blog has moved. Read our last post, below, and then
click here if you are not redirected to our new location within 60 seconds.
Please Bookmark our new location and update blogrolls.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Birth of the Child

1 Timothy 2 is a difficult chapter and a great deal of commentary has been written on it. I thought I would compare several translations to see how they have handled it.

KJV Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

D-R Yet she shall be saved through childbearing; if she continue in faith, and love, and sanctification, with sobriety.

ESV Yet she will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

RSV Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty

NRSV Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

NIV But women [Greek she] will be saved [restored] through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

The Message
On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation, reversing Eve. But this salvation only comes to those who continue in faith, love, and holiness, gathering it all into maturity. You can depend on this.

CEV But women will be saved by having children, if they stay faithful, loving, holy, and modest.
Or "brought safely through childbirth" or "saved by the birth of a child" (that is, by the birth of Jesus) or "saved by being good mothers."

But she shall be preserved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with discretion.

TNIV But women [ Greek she] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

The Source And she will be saved by means of the Birth of the Child, if they continue to be trustworthy, loving and holy and have good sense.

Footnote: she Eve (see link for full notes)

The major grammatical difficulty with this verse is that the first half has a singular subject 'she' and the second half has a plural 'they'. I have marked in red the translations that modify the subject away from what is written in the Greek in order to reconcile the two halves of the verse and give them the same subject, women.

It is interesting to note that the NRSV is closer to the original than the RSV. The D-R, RSV, NASB, NIV, TNIV, and CEV have all made the subjects agree by changing the subject in either the first or second half.

The Darby translation is literal, choosing to go with the plain language meaning 'preserved' instead of the theological meaning of 'saved'.

The very real problem is that the verse cries out for interpretation. Are women to be 'saved' by childbearing? Darby and others could not agree to justification by childbearing, so they read it as 'preserved.' Many women today, especially advocates of natural childbirth, prefer this reading. Some do not. However, it does not resolve the problem of deciding who is the subject of the verse, woman or women?

The KJV, NRSV and the ESV have let the verse stand as is without interpretation.

The Message and the Source provide the only translations that both give meaning to the verse and show how the first and second half of the verse have a different subject - in the first half, 'Eve', and in the second half 'women' or 'Adam and Eve'. The footnotes of the CEV also provide excellent information.

If the translation of the Message and the Source are used, then this verse parallels 1 Cor. 15:35.

"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." (KJV)

"But the woman made a mistake as she was beguiled and she will be saved by means of the Birth of the Child" (The Source)

And it reflects Gen 3:15.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman,
and between thy seed and her seed;
it shall bruise thy head,
and thou shalt bruise his heel. (KJV)

I have written about this in the the Seed of the Woman here. This is a difficult verse and I appreciate the intent of the KJV, ESV and NRSV. It is also good to see the footnotes of the CEV.

However, ideally a meaningful plain English translation should be found. The Source is worth considering as a straightforward word for word translation. The 'birth of the child' might well be one way to translate τεκνογονια. However, this word, τεκνογονια, does not mean 'childrearing' or 'motherhood' per se.

I wonder if there is a related Hebrew expression that might shed further light on this. Ann Nyland's notes on 1 Timothy are online here.

Let us celebrate together the Birth of the Child.


At Wed Dec 21, 04:20:00 PM, Blogger exegete77 said...

Howdy, Suzanne. I found Terri Moore's approach thorough and thought-provking.

At Wed Dec 21, 04:35:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks very much.

I haven't seen such detail before. I have myself often assumed that Darby's translation was most accurate since I think we forget how frequently women died in childbirth. However, I couldn't agree that if women are faithful, loving, holy and modest, etc. they will not die in childbirth. Nontheless, the expectation of a future existance in heaven and reunion with children after death might have been intended as a comforting thought by Paul.

At Thu Dec 22, 11:38:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Rich,

Having read Moore's thesis, I did not find that she used her critiques of the different interpretations to form her opinion but instead used secondhand experiential anecdotes from other women of a restricted social background, ie The task of nurturing and caring for the life God has graciously given is a sanctifying process that deepens both the desire to live a godly life and the necessary dependence upon God for the power to lead such a life. As someone who on occasion works with social services, I think I could find evidence to the contrary. It is also relevant to add that Moore doesn't have children and only supposes, assumes that this must be true. I have many close friends who are without children and although I have children, I would never give this the central spritual importance that Moore does.

There are too many comments of this sort. Her academic research does not inform her conclusions. Her thesis is nontheless an interesting resource.

If Paul says, For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Romans 13:3 he can also say, women will be kept safe through childbirth. However, Moore writes this off as counter to experience. I would argue that Romans 13 is also counter to experience.

She presents the arguments against teknogonia meaning childrearing, which I am familiar with, and then she settles on this as the best translation in her conclusion. Hmm.

Really, she is only chosing which interpretation would be best experientially but her experience is limited, as is mine.

However, I don't want to be dogmatic since I have not really settled in my mind what the best translation would be. Thanks for the link. I enjoyed reading Moore's thesis. And especially I want to remember that this blog is not for arguing my own theological positions but I feel free to express an opinion here in the comment section in response to the material you have recommended.

At Sat Dec 24, 07:10:00 AM, Blogger Dan Sindlinger said...

Thanks for highlighting this debatable text. I'll offer my translation of I Timothy 2:13-15 in the Better Life Bible:

"Although God created Adam before Eve, she disregarded God’s advice before he did. But mothers like her will enjoy a better life when they care about others and diligently follow God’s advice."

I welcome your thoughts and suggestions for improvement.

At Sat Dec 24, 05:11:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Dan,

I did check your translation for that verse but not until after I had already posted, so I didn't include it. Sorry. How about this?

First attempt,

"Adam was created first, then Eve, but it was not Adam who was tricked, it was woman who was tricked into overstepping. However, her salvation resides in the fact that she gives birth. Women are to diligently follow God's advice and care about others."

I realize this is still ambiguous, but possibly indicates that Eve, the metaphorical first woman, is saved because she gives birth, ie, she saves the human race from dying out with the death of Adam and Eve, by giving birth to the next generation; and Mary, the metaphorical second woman, gives birth to Christ.


"Adam was created first, then Eve, but Adam was not tricked, it was woman who was tricked into going against the rules, but she will be kept safe through childbirth, if they trust in God and care about others."

Not great - but thanks for asking.

At Sun Dec 25, 11:26:00 AM, Blogger Dan Sindlinger said...

Thanks for stimulating my thinking, Suzanne.

Your comments and suggestions will be very helpful when I revise my translation.

At Sun Dec 25, 12:52:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

They are only that - coments. Although I read widely on this passage a few years ago, I am rethinking it again now and still in the process.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home