You're doing important work, Beth. I'm so grateful for your scholarship and courage. Thanks for pointing out the previous scholarship on i Timothy 2: 11-15 too.

I agree with Nijay Gupta and you that these verses are not "comprehensive instructions for clergy or a universal guide for all churches" and all time.

Yes, back in 1974 we were working hard on the translation of "authenteo"--and trying to spread the word that "usurp authority" was a better translation than "exercise authority" for crying out loud.

Yes, "complementarianism is about patriarchy, and patriarchy is about power."

Since 1974, I'm no longer convinced that Paul wrote 1 and 2 Timothy. Many literary pieces use the name of a more important voice (whom the author supposes would support the views he is writing).

I also like the thesis that these letters are part of an ongoing debate among Jesus followers. Some believed (with this author) that a certain group of women should stop teaching and called their teaching "old wives' tales." Others believed with Paul in Gal. 3:28 that gender rules are now transcended in Jesus the Messiah, along with ethnic and economic dividing lines. That's the argument on 1 Timothy 2 that makes the most sense to me these days.

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Hi Anne! Thank you so much for reading! Mostly I am not sure that authorship really matters for my arguments--the texts have been accepted as Pauline (and canonical) throughout most of history so I generally reference them the same. Have you read Susan Hylen? She is fantastic. I'd like to hear her reflect more on Fiorenza's thesis (is that what you are referencing above?). She briefly touches on it in Women in the New Testament World (along with Pagels). What distinguishes Hylen is that she argues that conflicting views existed within a community (rather than reflecting communities with opposing viewpoints). I think the overall point is that there are so many better ways to read 1 Timothy that are not considered. It is mind boggling to me how long folk have known 1 Timothy 2 & 3 cannot be used to bar women from leadership, yet how little that scholarship is known among white evangelical congregations. I am so grateful for folk like you who have been fighting Christian patriarchy for such a long time! Thank you!

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Hi, Beth. I agree with Anne's comment that Paul likely didn't write 1 Timothy. Following are some rough notes I've compiled as this is a post I've been working on and hope to publish soon...

Scientific analysis has shown that the language in 1 Timothy is not consistent with Paul's other writings. The words are inconsistent with Paul’s regular vocabulary, but rather are reflective of Second Century Christian writing. The writer also appears to be concerned with an early form of Gnosticism, which as you know came after Paul’s life. 1 Timothy also speaks of a church structure or hierarchy that wasn’t in place during Paul’s life. Paul’s original churches likely had no one single leader or pastor. Paul never expected his churches to last bc he believed strongly the return of Christ was imminent. The hierarchy of churches is a later development as it eventually became clear Christ wasn’t returning soon.

So women are not allowed to speak in church in the Pastoral letters. Yet Paul’s authentic letters speak otherwise. (The one exception is 1 Cor 14 and the authenticity of this verse debated, as it appears to be a later scribal insertion, and upon close inspection it seems as if it’s inserted in the midst of a passage about prophecy. My understanding is that in another early manuscript this same verse is also found in another place inserted after verse 40, so it appears to not be original and to have been added later.)

And in 1 Cor 11 Paul says women can speak in church. So Paul was actually pro-women. In Romans 16 Paul mentions women missionaries, Prisca and Perseus, and a woman deacon, Phoebe, and a woman Junia, a foremost apostle.

So how do we explain this? The influence of women within the church waned as time passed in the mid to late First Century and early Second Century. Women would’ve originally had a strong presence in house churches, but lost their authority as the church became more public. Thus this is the reason someone forged the pastoral epistles to undermine Paul’s earlier writings which demonstrated the equality and importance of women in the churches.

I realize some Christians don't consider the question of authorship, and say that perhaps it was "Paul's camp" that wrote the Pastorals. The problem remains that they're still considered canon and authoritative, and are used to undermine women. Women have been (and continue to be) disempowered because of these faulty texts.

We must break the spell.

There is tremendous freedom in moving beyond a need for a perfect Bible that so many Christians cling to. I used to do those mental gymnastics too. I understand it as well as anyone. Losing the idea of a perfect Bible sent me into a tailspin and I thought I would lose my faith completely at first, and those were challenging times.

But God is so much simpler than that. God loves all of us equally and we all have an equal part to play in spreading God's love.

Hope you have a great week. Blessings.

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How can we get people to stop using the Bible like a weapon? I see everyday in the work I do as a hospice chaplain. It's depressing and upsetting to me how often people use one verse like a weapon. KEEP UP THE GOOD FIGHT!!!! I am so grateful for you. (and my wife is too)

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