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Wolters on Authentein

January 27, 2012

Al Wolters has published a new article on authentein in 1 Tim. 2:12 in the ETS December 2011 issue. It is not available yet but Al has sent me a copy and I am citing the relevant new data from this article. Wolters always produces exciting new detective work on ancient documents and this does not disappoint. He brings to our attention a previously overlooked ocurrence of authentein in the literature contemporary with the NT.

In this case he derives a new meaning for authentein, concluding,

The verb essentially means “to be master,” to be superior to another in prestige, authority, or skill.

I have some hesitancy in acepting this new meaning, but I do appreciate the detail and care with which this citation is presented, including a lot of surrounding context.

I don’t feel that this is a challenge to my understanding of the word authentein, that contemporary with the NT writings, it was not used in a non-pejorative sense for the rule of one person over another. This meaning is not presented here.

In a comment thread on Denny Burk’s blog I have been asked if it is not an anachronism to translate authentein with “usurp authority” since all rule by women would have been considered usurpation. This may have been true for Calvin, but Elizabeth was the supreme governor of the Church of England. I also feel that the meaning of “to have/exercise authority”  was adopted in the 20th century to provide a bulwark against women’s expanding roles. This does not seem like an appropriate reason to emend a translation.

Many thanks to Dr. Wolters for providing me with a copy of his paper.



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