Authentein: Paul & Timothy reading the LXX
It’s becoming clearer that Paul and Timothy didn’t read the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.
Below is what one writes in Greek to the other followed by the ESV translators’ reading:
διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ’ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ.
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
Our BLT co-blogger Suzanne has elsewhere dealt with authentein, and has already helped us see a plausible reading of the Greek verb in question, not from the ESV lens but from the “the literature contemporary with the NT” where it “essentially means ‘to be master,’ to be superior to another in prestige, authority, or skill.”
Here’s a passage from the LXX that another suggests Paul (and Timothy too) surely had in view:
τέκνων τε φονέας ἀνελεήμονας καὶ σπλαγχνοφάγων ἀνθρωπίνων σαρκῶν θοῖναν καὶ αἵματος, ἐκ μέσου μύστας θιάσου 6 καὶ αὐθέντας γονεῖς ψυχῶν ἀβοηθήτων, ἐβουλήθης ἀπολέσαι διὰ χειρῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν.
Here’s a fair English translation of that:
“Do you remember the ancient inhabitants of your holy land? You scorned them for their unholy ways, for their sorcery and profane rituals, their callous killing of children, their cannibal feasts on human flesh and blood. They practiced secret rituals in which parents slaughtered their own defenseless children” (Wisdom of Solomon, 12:3-6, TIB). [my boldfont emphasis to match the Greek above]
This blog post writer goes on to tie this interpretation, which Paul and Timothy would have and could have found in the LXX, to this interpretation of the Greek verb among Paul’s and Timothy’s contemporaries:
Similar uses of this word can be found throughout the Greek literature of the New Testament era. Writing in the same time period as the apostle Paul, Diodorus Siculus used the word on three separate occasions to mean: “perpetrators of sacrilege,” “author of crimes,” or “supporters of violent actions.” Also writing in the 1st century A.D., Flavius Josephus used the term twice to mean: “perpetrator of a crime” and “perpetrators of a slaughter.” In the same period, Philo Judaeus used the term once to mean “being one’s own murderer” (Wilshire, p. 28). [boldfont emphasis in the original blogpost]
That’s just different from the ESV, isn’t it? And what a difference it makes.
HT to Eric Weiss on fb, who leads into this insight with the following comment from that blog:
Bob Edwards, I just read your article, then explained it to my husband…and then I sat down and read 1 Timothy, for the first time in 22 years as a Christian, without fear, cringing, or despair. I’m weepy right now. There is no value or price tag I can put on this moment. I’ve spent the entirety of my Christian life (first in the Baptist church, then in other complementarian denominations) *justifying my existence* as a strong, vocal, outspoken woman, and will do it no longer. I honestly could not reconcile some egalitarian positions of 1 Tim 2 before now–they all felt like they were reading into the text, whereas this gives a detailed historical basis for it. I can’t thank you enough.
We were already going to look for an egalitarian church with our new move, but now I’m *excited* about it. Thank you.