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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Helen Barrett Montgomery

This is a bit of a diversion but it allows me to put to rest something that I had been thinking about since I first read Köstenberger's post "Saved by Childbearing."last March. Recently I came across a translation of the NT from the Greek by Helen Montgomery, 1924. Here is 1 Tim. 2:15 in her version.
    Notwithstanding she will be saved by the Child-bearing; (so will they all), if they live in faith and love and holiness, with self- restraint. (From the Montgomery NT found in the The Bible Tool .)
(It is well worth looking at The Bible Tool site as it offers many Bible versions which I have not been able to find elsewhere.)

I also received an email from a commenter to this effect.
    Do you think this verse might be placed over against God's pronouncement to Eve about bearing children in pain (or "sorrow")? That through Christ, faithful women will experience victory even in the painful processes of birthing and raising children?
In general, it seems to me that women do look at this passage differently. They read into it the actual act of child-bearing and interpret "saved by child-bearing" in several ways. This could be either preservation from mortality, victory over pain, or the positive consequences of a sacrificial act in order to give life. Child-bearing is still interpreted in diverse ways by women, either as the act of the individual, of the female sex as a whole, or of Mary in bearing Christ. However, it is still child-bearing.

What women do not think this means is being preserved from temptation by Satan through remaining within the domestic sphere. What could be more soul-destroying for a single woman than feeling she must, that is, be obliged to, remain within the child-rearing sphere even though she has no children of her own. What a delight it may be to choose to do this, but to regard it as an obligation could only cause grief, not preservation from Satan.

However, Köstenberger does apply this to the single woman,
    Passages such as the present one appear to indicate that it is precisely by participating in her role pertaining to the family that women fulfill their central calling. Moreover, if the reference to “childbearing” should indeed be understood as synecdoche, even unmarried women are to retain a focus on the domestic sphere and all that it entails.
In summary, I would personally not be concerned about whether this verse was actually translated "saved by childbearing", but I do not find that the other translations offered by women, as well as Darby and Luther are out of the way. They do not represent to me any kind of exegetical gymnastics. They are, if anything far more literal than Köstenberger's hermeneutic, which is dependent on the synecdoche. He quotes some support for this, however, but all of it male as far as I can see.

In summary, I most certainly agree with Köstenberger that women should not seek liberation from all encumbrances of family responsibilities. The absence of any mention of my own family, husband and children, from this blog only indicates how carefully I guard their identity from public. However, they are my 'central calling'.

Regarding the single woman, she should not be bound by synecdoche.

Thank goodness, I don't have correspondingly strong opinions about some of the other 'woman passages' in the Bible. It has been instructive, however, to look at an example like this, where woman is not only the object, the pawn of the text, but also agent, the translator. Thanks to Helen Montgomery.


At Sun Jun 18, 08:05:00 PM, Blogger codepoke said...


I kept waiting for you to refer to "the" childbearing of the Christ, and when you did it was only in passing. Why? It seems to be a direct step from talking about Eve's deception to reminding the reader of the promise God gave her.

(I agree the thought that Paul might be promising successful child-birthing experiences or an earthly reward for domestic legalism can be rejected out of hand.)

At Sun Jun 18, 08:40:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Well, Codepoke, I think I am moving in that direction. I just wanted to dispose of Köstenberger's theory first, since it seems to hold so much acclaim.

At Mon Jun 19, 07:12:00 AM, Blogger Dan Sindlinger said...

Two thoughts came to mind as I read your blog. I think our Christian definition of "saved" is much narrower than the Jewish definition was at that time (and is today). I also think our view of childbearing is much different from the Jewish view at that time:

“A childless person is accounted as dead ...”; “Intentional childlessness was denounced as a serious sin ...” (Everyman’s Talmud by A. Cohen, p.170)

At Mon Jun 19, 02:42:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Dan, that may have been the Jewish view of childbearing, at least a few hundred years later when the Talmud was complete, and at least for men - and perhaps for women in the sense that married women who failed to produce would have been discarded in a patriarchal society. But is this the right paradigm to apply to 1 Timothy? Paul of course had a Jewish background, but he certainly didn't seem to hold the Jewish view of this in 1 Corinthians 7. Timothy's father was Greek, although his mother was Jewish, and so his ideas might have been a mixture. And 1 Timothy was written to Ephesus (1:3) where the general opinion of childbearing was probably very different from the Jewish one. I note for example (to quote from Ann Nyland's notes on 1 Timothy 3:2 in "The Source") that

Augustus had made changes to family law in 18 and 17 B.C. and in A.D. 9. He as good as forced upper-class couples to reproduce by restricting inheritance rights if they failed to reproduce. The law prohibited unmarried men between the ages of 20 and 60, and unmarried, widowed and divorced women between 18 and 50 from receiving inheritances. Women were expected to have one child by the age of 20, men by the age of 25, while widows were expected to remarry within a year, and a divorced woman within 6 months.

Augustus presumably had to enact such laws only because there was a problem, upper class Romans were not considering childbearing obligatory as a cultural norm, so, to keep up the population, they had to be forced into it by law. Now it may be arguable if this situation is any more relevant to 1 Timothy than the Talmud is. But at least this makes clear that the ancient view of childbearing was by no means monolithic.

This reminds me of a problem which arose in the Soviet Union. The state decreed all kinds of privileges for "Hero Mothers" who had large numbers of children. But the Russian people did not take this up very much, for they didn't and still don't like large families, especially when living in small Soviet apartments. But some of the minority peoples of the Soviet Union, especially in the Caucasus, took to this scheme with great enthusiasm. They liked large families anyway and gladly accepted the special privileges which came with them. As a result the scheme was eventually abandoned - but the liking for large families did not go away. The result was a rapid increase in minority populations and the seeds of a demographic time-bomb, one which partially exploded in 1991 and blew away the Soviet Union, but which continues to tick in the northern Caucasus, e.g. Chechnya, and threaten Russia's southern flank.

At Mon Jun 19, 09:07:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


What I meant by "I am moving in that direction" is that I might end up interpreting it that way, but I don't actually have a plan. I am just thinking outloud. This is not like a term paper where the outline is drawn up first and then the details are developed. I really am just thinking about it.

Additional comments like tha above are always helpful. I like to think of Augustus as a sort of Roman "Focus on the Family".

At Mon Jun 19, 10:12:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Mon Jun 19, 11:03:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thank you for this discussion. I was thinking of Rachel too when I wrote this post.

הָבָה־לִּי בָנִים וְאִם־אַיִן מֵתָה אָנֹכִי

Here is a good source of Hebrew text.

Don't worry about a long comment. I am sure we are not about to run out of space.

My point here is that the Talmudic text is more complex than it seems -- that it indirectly criticizes early Christians who took vows of celibacy and poverty, and thus stands in counter-distinction to 1 Tim. 2:15.

But I think some people do suggest that this verse 1 Tim. 2:15 was just for this purpose.

At Mon Jun 19, 11:06:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


Don't be offended that I offer another source of text. Some people here know that this is my hobby, finding text and code.

At Tue Jun 20, 03:57:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I don't think James Dobson would have approved of Augustus' family relationships and how he was dominated by his wife, at least as portrayed in "I, Claudius" by Robert Graves.

At Tue Jun 20, 06:58:00 AM, Blogger Dan Sindlinger said...

Peter, Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous, Thanks for your comments.

> the Talmudic quote given by Mr. Sindlinger is actually an anti-Christian reaction and thus cannot be used to support Christian Scripture in the way he implies

As we interpret this text, I think it's important to recognize that the attitude toward childbearing is not the same in every culture, nor in every time period even within the same culture. I'm not sure we can say with certainty what Paul's own view was.

I think it's also important to recognize that the range of meaning in terms such as "saved" varies from one theological worlview to another. Can we be sure that Paul intended the narrower Christian meaning rather than the wider Jewish one? I think the meaning of "saved" is critical in how one interprets this text.

At Tue Jun 20, 04:04:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I just noticed that the Hebrew I posted has broken up in Firefox but not in IE so now I am puzzled. Back to the drawing board.

At Tue Jun 20, 05:49:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Tue Jun 20, 05:56:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I am going to post some images on my bookshelf blog of both of these texts, in the two browsers, and I will find the codepoints, etc. and see what happened. Peter may know the difference.

I did all this last year with Greek so I know how that works fairly well. I'll mention it when I get it done.

At Tue Jun 20, 07:44:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Tue Jun 20, 10:04:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I forgot that the windows core fonts don't cover the cantillation marks. But the Tanach that I refered to above has a text that is pointed without cantillation marks. Anyway it is all a great nuisance. Back to the topic at hand.

At Wed Jun 21, 03:41:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

A brief summary of the Hebrew and Greek font problem as I see it:

Blogger comments do not support any font selection. So comments are displayed with system default fonts. The Microsoft default fonts (for Windows XP, this will improve with the new version) support Hebrew consonants and vowel points, but not accents/cantillation marks, and Greek basic letters and vowels with acute accents (precomposed), but no breathing marks or grave or cicumflex accents. The Hebrew in the basic fonts is readable, but not beautiful, except for one problem, that holam haser, the long O vowel when not written over a vav, is displayed as a dot over a narrow space, not over the consonant to the right.

In Internet Explorer 6 (things may have changed in the new beta IE7), a character such as an accent which is not supported in the font is replaced by an empty box. Firefox instead uses font replacement, which means that if a character is not found in the system default font it is replaced by the same character from some other font, if one can be found. Unfortunately this gives bad results when used for Hebrew accents as these accents do not combine properly with base letters from another font.

My advice for commenters is to avoid Hebrew accents as they probably will not be readable, and to include a transliteration of all Greek or Hebrew for those who cannot read it for one reason or another.

The situation is a little better in postings as it is possible to select a font which offers full support. Here is an example of what I wrote in my posting Singular "they in Greek?:

<span style="font-family:gentium,galatia sil,palatino linotype,cardo;">αὐτῆς</span>

This selects the fonts Gentium, Galatia SIL, Palatino Linotype and Cardo, in that order. All of these fonts support full polytonic Greek. Palatino Linotype is available on all recent Windows systems, so almost no one should have been left with illegible Greek here (although the Greek word above may be illegible in this comment to IE6 users).

At Wed Jun 21, 05:01:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


Why not keyboard unaccented Greek and unpointed Hebrew in the comment section? It took me quite a long time to even realize that other people were using copy and paste where I was keyboarding.

The Hebrew keyboard is here and the Greek is here. They are in the sidebar of my bookshelf blog.

I have all the WIn XP keyboards installed but I like the online keyboards, just in case I am in an internet cafe.

הבה-לי בנימ ואמ-אין מתה אנ כי

At Wed Jun 21, 08:10:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne, the reason I don't like unaccented Greek and unpointed Hebrew is that they are harder to read and are missing information which is important for correct understanding of the text. There is no valid reason for using unpointed Hebrew for the biblical text, as any browser which can render unpointed Hebrew can do a reasonable job with vowel points, although I accept Anonymous' point that pointing may be inappropriate for Targums etc. I don't want to make a big deal of this, but that is my preference.

By the way, I usually keyboard my Greek and Hebrew for blog entries, although sometimes I paste longer passages.

At Wed Jun 21, 08:48:00 AM, Blogger Dan Sindlinger said...

Christians usually associate salvation with the afterlife. However, in Judaism, from which Christianity developed, the afterlife is only a small part of the concept of salvation.

According to "What Jews Know about Salvation" by Rabbi Elliot Gertel, the Hebrew term salvation (YESHUA), which comes from a root which means to make a narrow strait wider, includes the following meanings: to get by all right; to enjoy prosperity; to triumph over human enemies, natural disasters, illness, or inner turmoil. It could refer to the farmer who triumphs over difficulties and uncertainties of soil, drought, and ice. It could also refer to the sick person who finds some relief, which may be partial or total healing, or just the capacity to endure the disease. It describes a person who has great financial success, or who is struggling financially but is not destitute. It could denote the soldier who is mortally wounded but finds strength and courage in God.

Rabbi Gertel explains that the term salvation is used in the Bible to refer to any kind of personal, moral, spiritual, or physical triumph – whether it changes people’s lives or the way they regard life and accept even the smallest benefit.

Since Paul was Jewish, he very likely intended the term salvation to refer to more than just the afterlife.

At Wed Jun 21, 09:46:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Wed Jun 21, 11:10:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


Of course, I only meant for the comment section. But your point is well taken.


At Wed Jun 21, 04:40:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I have been following the indepth discussion on salvation which has developed here. I had originally only focused more on what teknogonia must mean, not 'salvation.'

I also want to mention this paper by Terri Darby Moore which got me started on the topic last winter.

Here is her conclusion,

A woman will experience the full reality of her final and ultimate glorification by means of her present good works in the realm of motherhood. It is her continuance in the faith through which she was justified, however, which is the true basis of a woman's final salvation.

Well, I will agree that 'woman' metaphorically may be glorified in motherhood. But I protest that the individual must experience this. I know several 40 year old single mothers, who have simply not been willing to accept that they would not be mothers.

This teaching does not create protective 'boundaries' for women to keep them from Satan, but the exact opposite. (This comment was urged on me by someone in this position. I sometimes receive heartrending emails.)

At Thu Jun 22, 08:11:00 AM, Blogger Dan Sindlinger said...

Suzanne, This is my free translation of I Timothy 2:15 in context, which reflects my understanding of what Paul meant:

"Women should ask God to help them assist others in need instead of buying expensive clothes and jewelry, or spending a lot of time fixing their hair. They should respect their husbands and be willing to learn how to follow God’s advice. 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."

At Thu Jun 22, 05:28:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


Women should ask God to help them assist others in need instead of buying expensive clothes and jewelry, or spending a lot of time fixing their hair.

This seems quite straight forward, with the understanding that it takes much less time to fix short hair than long hair.

They should respect their husbands and be willing to learn how to follow God’s advice.

Here you vary from the traditional interpretation by translating ανδρος as husband and not man. It sounds reasonable, there is no absolute indication in the Greek that this is not the case. But I am sure that someone will think you are fudging if you do not add 'quietly' although this does not mean 'silently', but you could use whatever adjective you use above in verse 2, for 'leading a quiet life.'

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.

Here you have shifted from woman to mother. Well we should all care about others, that is an aphorism, a good one, of course!

I have not been much help. But I have two questions myself. I can guess why Luther translated this verse the way he did, but how exactly would that sound in English. "They will be blessed, or they will be bless-ed'. (the latter understaood as two syllables in Enlish.)

Sie wird aber selig werden durch Kinderzeugen, so sie bleiben im Glauben und in der Liebe und in der Heiligung samt der Zucht.

So really, if Luther was willing to sidestep this one, for his own reasons, why shouldn't we?

And my next question, which no one ever answers, is, was Paul familiar with Aristotle, and this phrase which he quotes from a 'poet'.

γυναικι κοσμον η σιγη φερει

Is Paul upgrading women from silent to quiet, or is this irrelevant?

At Fri Jun 23, 07:58:00 AM, Blogger Dan Sindlinger said...

Suzanne, My knowledge of German is too rusty to comment on Luther's translation.

I think the distinction between "silent" and "quiet" is too minimal to make much difference.


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