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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Childbearing and male headship

I was surprised last week by the discussion about section heading in Ephesians 5 . I didn't realize to what extent the decision as to where to put the section heading was determined by the interpretive tradition of the translators. So I got to wondering exactly how thoroughly the belief in the unilateral submission of women has influenced the translation and interpretation of other passages - passages where submission does not appear on the surface. Maybe it is worth exploring the "submission of women" as an interpretive tradition.

So here is my question for today. Which Bible translation is closely associated with the teaching that childbearing is a figure of speech for the submission of women to male leadership? That should take about three point five seconds. And can you supply the quote?

6 Comments:

At Tue May 22, 06:00:00 PM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

I found this quote by Kostenberger:
"I have looked at the history of interpretation; the seven (!) major views on the phrase “saved by childbearing” in 1 Tim. 2:15; the meaning of the words “saved” (sozo) and “childbearing” in 1 Tim. 2:15; and so on. My conclusion: In 1 Tim. 2:15, Paul says that women will be spiritually preserved (from Satan) by adhering to their God-ordained role related to family and the home. This is contrasted with Eve, who transgressed those boundaries and fell into temptation (v. 14)."
(http://www.biblicalfoundations.org/?p=24)

But he doesn't mention submission here (it might be implied), and I can't find a translation that reflects this through anything noteworthy in its rendering of 1 Tim 2:15. The closest thing I could find to an English version that might reflect this is the NAB, which says "motherhood" where every other translation I checked says either "childbearing" or "the bearing of children."

Or do you mean "closely associated with the teaching" in such a way that you're not actually talking about the translation being noticeably impacted by this teaching?

 
At Tue May 22, 06:15:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Eric,

Kostenberger comes to mind immediately. And I was expecting him get honourable mention here.

But there is a much closer reference which does impact on a translation directly. It mentions "women's submission" to male leadership as the meaning of childbearing. I have rephrased this very slightly so it wouldn't be so easy to google. But I think you will see ultimately that I have given a very close and accurate rephrasing.

 
At Tue May 22, 06:44:00 PM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

Aha!
The NET has a lengthy note, giving 6 possible interpretations of this verse, the last of which is:
"The verse may point to some sort of proverbial expression now lost, in which “saved” means “delivered” and in which this deliverance was from some of the devastating effects of the role reversal that took place in Eden. The idea of childbearing, then, is a metonymy of part for the whole that encompasses the woman’s submission again to the leadership of the man, though it has no specific soteriological import (but it certainly would have to do with the outworking of redemption)."

As I read the whole note, it does not appear to me that this particular interpretation is given any special weight over the others, unless its position as last in the list is read as a favored position. Several of the other interpretations given include arguments against them, but several of the others are also given without any comment for or against, same as this one. And the translation itself does not appear impacted by this point.

 
At Tue May 22, 07:12:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Yes, I didn't think it would take too long. After my reading of many of the NET notes I am slowly forming the conclusion that the last note is meant to carry special weight.

This directly impacts on the translation since the notes are part of the translation. This cuts both ways. I can look at it and say, - well, no wonder Junia cannot be an apostle nor Phoebe a patron, women can only be recognized for their submission.

This illuminates the other decisions throughout the translation. However, a naive reader might actual think that a women experiences redemption through submission to a man.

 
At Tue May 22, 07:40:00 PM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

Suzanne said, "However, a naive reader might actual think that a women experiences redemption through submission to a man."

The only way a naive reader could conclude this is by disregarding the care taken in the NET note to warn against that very conclusion.

The truth is, this is a genuinely problematic passage. Its straightforward reading does make it sound like a woman's salvation is attained through her giving birth to children. One way to mitigate against the problem of saying that is to see a distinction between becoming saved and working out one's salvation, which is something the particular NET note in question does rather carefully.

You may be right in critiquing the view that childbearing has anything to do with male headship. But the problem you point to about a naive reader coming to such a conclusion about how to be saved is based as much on the difficulty of the verse as it is based on that note. A naive reader who concludes that having babies is a way to be saved is just as wrong as one who thinks that submission to a husband is a way to be saved.

 
At Tue May 22, 08:31:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

The truth is, this is a genuinely problematic passage. Its straightforward reading does make it sound like a woman's salvation is attained through her giving birth to children.

I agree completely. This is probematic and I have blogged on it before and read many articles. I don't have the answer - only one or two thoughts.

You may be right in critiquing the view that childbearing has anything to do with male headship

This is the problem - why drag male headship into something unrelated. It is a predisposition of the NET Bible. IMO

 

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