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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Fat Lady or WLBA 4

A few years ago our family spent a week in Malta staying above the Bay of St. Paul and wandering from the fossil beds of the pygmy rhinoceros to the prehistoric temples of Malta's famous fat ladies. But squeamish young teens were more interested in the Knights Hospitaller and the movie site for the Count of Monte Cristo.

The fat ladies of Malta are not grotesque but rather surreal and seductive. One does not recoil in revulsion from a foreign image of a woman equipped to feed a litter. They are mother and priestess - the goddess.

I am not advocating this view of women but suggest that it is the view prohibited by Paul. How much rather woman as sister and fellow, woman as coworker and benefactor, as a member of the family of believers.

I have to ask myself if it would not be too much for Bible translators to use a lexicon when they translate. They don't have to stick to it slavishly, but at least, for a mediating translation, they could try the lexicon entry and see if room could be made for it.

What on earth would be wrong with this?
    A woman must learn quietly with all submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or to assume a stance of independent authority over a man. She must remain quiet.
Here is how the chapter begins.

    First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
Even kings and 'those in authority' are to lead a quiet and godly life. Even the king cannot set himself up as an authority independent of God. Does this chapter teach that women cannot be one of those in authority? Not really, there is nothing to say that a woman cannot be ruler. (The word for king has a cognate word "queen". I believe queens are included in this generic.)

In fact, there is no connection between the words "those in authority" in verse 2 and the words similarly translated in verse 12. In verse 2 it says all those "in prominence". In verse 12 it says "assume a stance of independent authority." Different words - ὑπεροχη and αὐθεντεω.

A woman can be prominent - obviously Junia and Phoebe were. But they didn't set themselves up as fat lady goddesses. A woman should not set herself up as an independent authority nor assume an authority which belongs to God.

The rest of the chapter points out that woman was tempted and sinned. So, as I see it, men are human, and guess what - women are human too. Now we know.

A better Bible would try to reflect a wide spectrum of Greek vocabulary. It is wearisome to me to see the English phrase "have authority" or "those in authority" used to translate about 10 different Greek words.

The word authentein has been translated as dictate, dominate, exercize lordship over, rule, tell what to do, and usurp, assume, exercize and have authority. What are some suggestions for a literal and mediating translation for this word?

To be completely pedantic about the phrase in 1 Tim. 2:12, there is no contemporary example of authentein followed by a genitive to compare it with. The only other contemporary example of αυθεντεω is followed by προς and means "compel", according to Grudem, 2004, page 680.

Back to the King James soon.

PS Can someone tell me why the spirits are so diminutive. I have to use a magnifying glass to discriminate them.

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At Wed Jun 06, 07:46:00 PM, Blogger David Lang said...

Suzanne, after quoting verse 1, you wrote:

"Even kings and 'those in authority' are to lead a quiet and godly life. Even the king cannot set himself up as an authority independent of God."

While both of those statements may be true, I'm not sure either of those points is what Paul was trying to communicate in verse 1. His point is that prayer should be made for everyone, including kings and other political authorities. Why should we pray for those in authority over us? So that we can "live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (TNIV).

In other words, Paul is not talking about how the political leaders should live; but about how believers should pray for leaders so that those leaders will not interfere with their ability to live in peace and holiness.

Such peaceful submission to political authority, and prayer for their salvation and well-being, is good and pleases God the Savior because God wants even ungodly kings and emperors to come to a knowledge of the truth. In other words, the political leaders are not to be seen by Christians as the "enemy" who should be thrown down, but as those who can receive salvation in Christ.

At Wed Jun 06, 08:23:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I have to agree with you, David. I think I made a mistake on that.

No doubt I have been reading too much background material for the King James Bible recently and the arguments about why one should not murder the king got stuck in my head - that is that the king derives his authority from God. All a little convoluted but it was the main context for the KJV and I transferred some of that thinking into this post. I don't carry two thoughts in my head at the same time very well.


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