Birthdays and Anniversaries
None this week
Stacey Esner has a severely sprained ankle
Chaney Reames is undergoing extensive dental work.
Rachel Prater, Dena’s cousin, Rodney’s, recovering at home. Prayers please.
Chloe Birdwell, relative of the Weeks’s, great improvement, in a program in Houston. Keep praying, please!
Paul Tyler has a bad sort Parkinson’s. Got stem cell treatments. Pray for their success.
Bill Grubbs getting another look at his skin cancer on his face.
Shirley Weeks, Steve’s mom, continues to have trouble.
Teresa Weeks, Steve’s sister, having age related issues. She has Down’s Syndrome.
Sarah, Chris Girvin’s sister, on hospice care
Robert and Sue Waller, health issues
Darla Nitti, Wendi’s mom, good report
Leta, has a recurring cancer, prayer request from her granddaughter via our website.
Tammy Jones, Weeks’ neighbor, kidney failure/dialysis
Have you ever encountered different translations supporting different doctrines that promote conflicting practices? One such example can be found in 1 Timothy 2:12 where some translations have the phrase “assume authority” (NIV 2011) while others read “exercise authority” (NASB, ESV, NET) or “have authority over” (RSV, NIV).
What’s the difference? Within the church setting, the first rendering would prohibit a woman from taking it upon herself to step into a role of authority over men. Hence, these versions suggest that if she were to be granted a position of authority by others then this would be acceptable.
However, the latter two translations would prohibit a woman from occupying a role of authority over men within the church. So which is it?
Which do we want Paul to have taught? Our desire might influence how we handle the data.
A number of years ago, it was pointed out that the Greek word authenteō can be or should be translated as assume authority. Is this the end of the matter? Hardly. Let’s look at the evidence.
Authenteō is a rare word within Greek literature. Nevertheless, we can trace its extant usage through the passage of time./1 Our concern is what did this word mean in Paul’s day? This would provide the greatest probability of what he intended to communicate. Any additional meanings which might have appeared hundreds of years later would not be a good candidate for what Paul intended.
- 1st Century B.C. Philodemus, De Rhetorica 2.133 If Sudhaus’ reconstruction of a fragmentary papyrus that inserts the noun form of authenteō into the text is correct, then either the meaning is “with murderous masters” or “with dominating masters.” Just as race can refer to both competition as well as an ethnic designation, so too authenteō appears to be a homonym for two distinct lexemes.
- 27/26 B.C. Papyrus BGU 1208.38 “I exercised authority over him, and he consented to provide for Kalatytis the boatman on terms of the full fare, within the hour.” This Egyptian text deals with the Roman government leasing ferrying boats. In this case the Roman official affirms his authority over the tax farmer who dealt directly with the ferryman Kalatytis. The Roman official overturned the tax farmer’s decision.
- The Astrological Treatise Methodus Mystic “the one who is superior to the former …” Using the planet Mercury to describe a common laborer and Mercury’s position as identifying different laborers’ status, it describes the possibility of the laborer (a slave) being more professionally equipped than the tradesmen previously listed, but who receives no wages.
- Either slightly prior to or following 1 BC. Aristonicus Alexandrinus, On the Signs of the Illiad, I.694 (9.694) Aristonicus remarks on the critical sign Aristarchus had earlier made in his copy of the Illiad indicating that a line in the Iliad should be deleted. Aristonicus’ note comments that the expression marked by the critical sign is a formulaic one within the Illiad indicating when the originator (authentōn) of the speech had said something shocking. However, in this case nothing shocking has been said and hence Aristonicus’ note concurs the statement should be deleted.
——— What follows comes after Paul wrote 1 Timothy ———
- 2nd century A.D. Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos 3.14.10 Saturn “controls Mercury and the moon …” The term for having control over is placed in parallel with house control meaning ruler. Some have understood the aorist tense use of authenteō can communicate gaining control over.
- 2nd or 3rd century A.D. Morris Atticista, Lexicon Atticum s.v. autodiken. Morris encouraged using an Attic Greek word instead of the substandard “Hellenic” word authenteō. Since his preferred word meant to plead one’s own case in a judicial setting, we can assume authenteō for him could also carry this meaning.
- Late 2nd or 3rd century A.D. The Papyrus P. Text. 276.28 If this damaged text about astrological ideas contained authenteō, it seems it signified rule.
- Date uncertain. Somewhere between later 1st century to late Roman period. Scholoion on Aeschylus, Eumenides 42. This is a critical note made on a much earlier classical text. Since the note conveys the kin-murderer meaning of the homonym, it is irrelevant to this discussion.
- 3rd or 4th century A.D. Eusebius of Caesarea, Eccl. Theology. 22.214.171.124 “The Father being sovereign [authentountos] and bestowing grace.” In Christian writings subsequent to Eusebius, persons of the Godhead are described as having authority [authenteō]. Thus showing once again that this word carried a positive connotation of authority.
- 371 A.D Basil the Great, Epistle 69.1,3 “he might himself act on his own authority in the matter …” This usage of the verb accounts for almost half of all occurrences after 312 A.D., that is after Constantine legitimized the church.
- 387-397 A.D. John Chrysostom, Hom. Gen. Homilia 4 “she had control and authority over her son.” Following the time of Chrysostom several examples exist where authenteō conveys being the master of or having authority over.
- 449 A.D. Pope Leo I Epistula 30 in ACO 2.1.1, 46 “At the instigation of Eutyches …” Eight examples exist of authenteō signifying initiate or instigate with Pope Leo I being the earliest one.
So what does the evidence reveal? The idea that authenteō signified acting on one’s own authority or taking the initiative appears much later than the New Testament. Both before and after the 1st century authenteō signified exercising authority or having authority with such authority being positive. In 1 Timothy 2:12 authenteō is in the present tense not the aorist tense. It would appear Paul prohibited exercising authority, not assuming authority.
This conclusion is further strengthened by ancient translations which convey ideas associated with having authority as opposed to bestowing authority upon oneself. Furthermore, early Christian writings such as from Origen and John Chrysostom also support authenteō as having authority. Then from the fifth century, the voice of the Cyrillic Lexicon rings out in the lexicon of Hesychius where the meaning of authenteō is equated with another Greek work [exousiazō] signifying “to exercise authority.”
Tons of ink have been spilt on this subject. At this point where do you think the evidence points?
1/ Secondary resources mentioning one or more of the primary resources cited above include: George Knight, Authenteō In Reference to Women in 1 Timothy 2.12 in New Test. Studies 30, pp. 143-157. Köestenberger and Schreiner, Women in the Church, pp. 65-115. Carroll Osburn, Authenteō (1 Timothy 2:12) in Restoration Quarterly 25:1, pp. 1-12.