‘Theology’ comesfrom the Greek – theos, meaning ‘God,and logos, meaning ‘words’ or’reasoning’. Simply, theology is ‘the talk of God’.
(Argent & Adams, 2007, p. 35). Wren continues that theology is anordered and reasoned account of the Christian Faith. (Wren, 2000, p. 349) For thisassignment 1 Timothy 2:9–14 has been chosen. This passage discusses women andtheir conduct and dress within the early church.
Timothy 1 & 2 form aletter written by Paul to his loyal friend Timothy who was overseeing thechurch in Colossae. (Page, 2008, p. 356) This passage is seenas Paul’s baring of women from church leadership and ministry.
Is this what hewas saying? ScripturePaul, before hisconversion, was a tough Pharisee who persecuted the early Christians. He washighly educated, well versed in the Hebrew Scriptures (Barton, et al., 2005, p.
1957) therefore he waswell placed to teach and advise the early church and so wrote letters tochurches right across the Bible Lands.Paul’s assertionsare grounded in the Hebrew Scripture’s recount of Man’s Creation: (Genesis 2,NRSV) Man being created before woman and tasked with naming woman – a privilegeusually reserved for those in power, Eve’s succumbing to temptation and leadingAdam astray, causing God’s punishment for woman – “Your desire will be for yourHusband, and he will rule over you”. (Genesis 3.
NRSV) This therefore distorted the utopian equalityand plays a part in Paul’s argument, and became the basis for the treatment ofwomen throughout the Old Testament. (Stott, 2006, pp. 329-330) Christians whotoday subscribe to Paul’s assertion do so strictly, also using 1 Corinthians14: 34-35 which repeats the call for silence. In subscribing to these verses,Christians observe that Scripture is not something that can be open tointerpretation to suit contemporary fashions or practices. (Woodward & Pattison, 2000, p.
121) Those who feelthat women should have an equal place within the church use this passage in adifferent way saying he was wrong or confused. Paul both affirms equality(Galatians 3:28, NRSV) while favouring women’s subjection (1 Corinthians 11:13,NRSV) whereas Jesus was clear in his value of women (Luke 8:1-3, NRSV). Showingthat Paul was so entrenched in his Rabbinic background, that he was prepared topush the actions of Jesus aside. (Pawson, 2007, p. 1102) ExperiencePaul was born anOrthodox Jew, was circumcised (as Hebrew Scripture demanded) well educated, anda Pharisee – plus he was a Roman Citizen. Following his conversion he travelledthe Gentile world covering Roman, Greek, Jewish and some say even Spanishcultures in his quest to bring Salvation to all.
(Page, 2008, pp. 306-307).This meant Paul became a ‘Melting Pot’ of experiences and cultures which wouldhave informed his opinions and teachings. His Rabbinicbackground brings the experience of women being denied education, but hisexposure to Greek Philosophy, and the freedom which that and Jesus’ ministrybrought, questioned this. From here comes his advice to women to “clothethemselves with inner glory rather than earthly garments” (Barton, et al., 2005, p.
2074) as well as emphasisingthe need for scriptural learning and maturity. (Sprowl, 2005) Conversely, women’senjoyment of their new found freedom, in education and worship opportunities aswell as their fashions, influenced by Jesus as well as the Greek and RomanCultures, is something that continues today. (Stott, 2006, pp. 345-359) Women can study,worship and dress in any way they wish, and in the secular world can and shouldaspire to the pinnacle of their chosen career as can any man.
Should thisequality and freedom not be extended to our church family? ReasonAs we all do,Paul would have drawn on all of his education, knowledge and experience inorder to formulate his teachings. All we can do is read what he would havelearned from and learn what he would have experienced in order to discern hismeaning. Some take hisScriptural, more Rabbinical stance which leans towards the emotive language ofhierarchy and subjection (Stott, 2006, p.
342). Some use the’Greek Influence’ to imply that Paul was referring to alleged hereticalpreaching by women ‘overtaken by the spirit’, (Carson, et al., 2005, pp.
1297-1298) and that was what helooked to quell, not the total silencing of women (Pawson, 2007, p. 1102)Some attempt tocompletely discount this passage, preferring instead to rely on Jesus’ highesteem for women and Paul’s subsequent commendation of women into ministry(Romans 16:1, 3, 6 & 12. NRSV). This in turn leads to the placement ofcontemporary culture and legislation above the sacred laws and teaching placedon the church by Scripture (Elwell & Yarbrough, 2005, p. 341).
Is this what Godintended for His people? Some argue Paulwas bound by culture saying that if Jesus were alive today he would haveequality in his disciples (6 men/6 women). But, when did Jesus ever do anythingto be diplomatic? If it was right then he would have done it then. (Pawson, 2007, p. 1102) Paul’s teachinghere is scripturally and exegetically sound, not inappropriately affected byculture and is not exclusively applicable to ancient situations.
So what doesit say to us today? This argument has raged for thousands of years and it isonly through prayerful consideration and theological study and discussion thatthe church can discern the will of the Lord in this or any other matter.