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Saturday, June 16, 2007

WLBA 11: Authentein

I wish to wind up this discussion shortly so I will briefly look at why so many Bibles translate 1 Tim. 2:12 with "have/exercise authority".

The following Bibles contain "have/exercise/use authority." Tyndale, Coverdale, Darby, Rotherham, RSV, NRSV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, NIV, HSCB, NLT, NET, ISV and D-R.

Variants are as follows:

Vulgate - dominare
Gothic - fraujinon (herrschen uber)
Wycliffe - have lordship over
Luther - herr sein
Rheims 1582 - have dominion over
Daniel Mace - dictate
Young's Literal - rule

The lexicons have traditionally contained the following entries, "usurp authority," "domineer" "have power over". The BDAG 1979 entry is "have authority, domineer." However, there have been a number of recent studies done on this word which appears only once in the Greek scriptures, and at most twice in literature contemporary to the epistles. BDAG, 3rd ed., 2000, has "to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, to dictate to."

The NET Bible note quotes the BDAG 3rd ed. and then translates this word as "exercise authority." Bibles which were translated before 2000 were consistent with the lexicon at that time. However, evidence does not support the meaning "have authority" and this meaning has been dropped from the lexicon. It seems that this meaning should not be used in a Bible translation today without evidence to support it. It is difficult to know to what extent a translation should include translations not supported by evidence or lexicons, even though they have a fair amount of tradition behind them.

I would suggest, however, that the balance of tradition is with "domineer" and the lexicons have come down on that side. There is very little contemporary evidence for this word but what little there is also supports the sense of "domineer". See Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, 2004.

I particularly regret the translation of αυθεντεω with any phrase containing the word "authority". The Greek word is in no way related to "having authority" but rather relates to "using independent power."

For an interesting exercise I looked up the English word "authority" in Woodhouse's English-Greek Dictionary. Click on this image to enlarge it and read the results. αυθεντεω ia notable by its absence.

Although 1 Tim. 2:12, translated with "nor domineer over man" may well be compatible with a wide range of beliefs concerning women, one cannot derive from it the position of woman as being permanently "under male authority" or "not permitted by God to have any rightful authority or leadership role." One can imagine here the influence of Aristotle, who wrote unambiguously that woman is ακυρος - without authority.
As an aside I wonder if those who say that woman must be "under male authority" would not permit a woman to be the best in her field. Is she obliged to be second best to a man? May she never be the "authority"?

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