December 11, 2009

Gender and Number in 1 Tim 2 - Part 4

The ancient world was more than a little biased towards men, so it only makes sense that Paul and the churches were still growing through those attitudes as they grew more deeply into Christ. In 1 Tim 2:13-14, there's no question that Paul seems to give Adam pride of place and appears to blame Eve for their fall. But the mere words of these verses should not convince us that Paul thinks Adam was blameless. Quite to the contrary. We already know better.

There can be no question that Paul knew the whole Genesis story and his brevity on it suggests he expected Timothy (and the Jewish Christians of Ephesus) to know the story as well. What Paul left out doesn't change what everyone knew. Adam fell also. Therefore, we've got to read between the lines a little bit. What did Paul assume to be understood, about Adam's fall?

To build on my suggestion from the previous post: I suspect that, in Paul's mind, whatever he was trying to say about Adam & Eve must have had something to do with how the intimacy between the first man and woman caused HIM to join HER in disobedience. In other words, I suspect Paul's implied subtext runs something like this: In such a situation, once the woman happens to wind up in transgression, the man will be sure to join her in it.

Isn't that still a double-standard? Absolutely, but consider both sides. Paul leaves the cause of Adam's failure unstated, except that by couching that implicit detail within the more culturally acceptable phrasing - ostensibly putting the emphasis on Eve's failure - Paul's phrasing allowed the ancient male egos of his audience to fill in the blanks for themselves.

We may now ask more specifically - why did Timothy (and the men of Ephesus) think Adam fell? Specifically, I suggest - the most likely understanding of Adam's behavior would have been his intense biological drive to maintain their level of intimacy, which must have caused him to eat. In this case, Adam's eating pleased her. And no man ever hated his own flesh. All this, I suspect, was implicit for the men of Ephesus - perhaps even more so for the women.

If the danger of Adam & Eve was his need for her, and if Paul told this story to illustrate his point that "a woman" should not teach "a man", this may add some weight to my central argument. Yes, the grammar is odd, but at least one language expert has refrained from ruling it out absolutely. The context, therefore, could be even more vital. This (hypo)thesis must be considered at length.

Having said what I needed to say about vv.13-14, please consider afresh my suggestion. Once again, it is this. Paul's prohibition in v.12 may be aimed merely against one-on-one female/male mentoring.

In part 5, which I will hereby delay until Monday, I'll respond at length to some very valid objections.


A. Amos Love said...


Whew, lots of ideas and work on this one.

Gotta question. You write...

"to blame Eve for their fall."

"Adam fell also."

"about Adam's fall?"

Fall - In the Bible
Where and/or who said it was a fall. Or, they fell.

Fell from what?


Bill Heroman said...

Good catch, Amos. I would probably be more correct to talk about their "transgression" or "disobedience".

The "fall" is a theological tradition, of course, and I suppose it was mainly lazy of me to use the shorter word.

I do like shorter words, and I'd expect all my readers will understand what I mean, but I could have been more careful.

The question is whether the Jews of Paul's day would have talked about "the fall" or something of that nature. I honestly don't know.

Thanks again for that good catch!

A. Amos Love said...

I’m enjoying your reasoning
and how your working thru this all
and sharing the process of looking from different angles.
This kinda goes a long with your post...

Inerrancy and Tradition

Or am I reaching?

And those pesky “Traditions of men.” Fall or...?

They just keep making the word of God of none effect.

Here’s a thought.

If God knows,
the natual mind is not subject to the law of God.
Romans 8:7

And, The strength of sin is the law.
1 Cor 15:56

And God told Adam “don’t eat.”

The first law?

What was God expecting.

Was this command a set up. Hmmm?

Notice the word up - instead of fall.

Bill Heroman said...

I don't suppose God intended for us to disobey, but I do think he might have expected it. On those notes, Amos, you might enjoy checking out
this conversation

We don't need to go farther off on that tangent in this thread, I don't think.

A. Amos Love said...

Shucks - You're a step ahead of me again.

And I thought I knew it all.

I guess it's what you learn after you know it all
that really counts.

Thanks. I'm going to go play on this new link. ;-)

Bill Heroman said...

Be good, or I'll have to apologize to Ken later.


Cheryl Schatz said...


You said:

If the danger of Adam & Eve was his need for her, and if Paul told this story to illustrate his point that "a woman" should not teach "a man", this may add some weight to my central argument.

How would you say this "danger" showed itself when he stood by silently when she was being deceived? I do agree that he needed her, but I am trying to get my head around your thought that the danger was his need for her. Do you mean to say that he couldn't act without her? So that if he knew the truth and wasn't deceived, he couldn't act on that knowledge unless she too was "in the know"? This gives me an image of a very wimpy Adam. Maybe he was or maybe he wasn't. Certainly a watchman with no backbone was a danger but more so a danger to her rather than a danger to himself. The problem we come up with time again is Adam's motives. Don't you wish we actually knew his heart and why he did what he did?

Cheryl Schatz said...

BTW how many posts will you be having in this series?

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