Answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” 5

Answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” 5

Wayne Grudem on Women in Ministry

Answering Wayne Grudem 5

This is the part 5 of answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” and his “Six Questions That Have Never Been Satisfactorily Answered”.  Today I am posting his fifth question, Suzanne McCarthy’s answer from the Greek and my own questions below that.  My blog does not yet have the ability for me to use the Greek fonts, so I have included a link to Suzanne’s article that has the Greek.

Question #5 from Wayne Grudem:

5. “neither X nor Y’’: In 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man,’’ the grammatical structure in Greek takes the form, “neither + [verb 1] + nor + [verb 2].’’

Regarding this verse, many of you tell us that the phrase “to teach or to have authority’’ means “to teach in a domineering way,’’ or “to teach in a way that usurps authority.’’ You base your understanding on the idea (already mentioned above) that the verb authenteo has a negative sense such as “domineer’’ or “usurp authority.’’

But we have a second problem with this: when we look at other examples of this Greek construction, in the form “neither + [verb 1] + nor + [verb 2],’’ only two patterns occur: (a) verb 1 and verb 2 are activities or concepts that are both viewed positively, such as “neither sow nor reap,’’ or “neither eat nor drink,’’ or (b) verb 1 and verb 2 are activities or concepts that are both viewed negatively, such as “neither break in nor steal’’ or “neither leave nor forsake.’’ (In fact, Andreas Köstenberger’s research found 52 examples of this structure in the New Testament, and 48 more examples in Greek literature outside the New Testament, from 3rd century B.C. to 1st century A.D., and the pattern was the same in all 100 examples). So we wonder how your interpretation can claim that verb 1 (“teach’’) is a concept that is viewed positively but verb 2 (“have authority’’) is a negative concept (“domineer, usurp authority, or instigate violence’’). So our question is this: Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where the pattern “neither + [verb 1] + nor + [verb 2]’’ is used to refer to one action that is viewed positively and one action that is viewed negatively?

If you can show us one example, we would be happy to consider your interpretation further. But if you cannot, then we suggest that you have no factual basis for your interpretation of this key verse, and we respectfully ask that you stop writing and speaking as if you did, and that you also reconsider your understanding of these verses.

Suzanne McCarthy responds to Wayne Grudem:

Dr.Grudem writes,

5. “neither X nor Y’’: In 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man,’’ the grammatical structure in Greek takes the form, “neither + [verb 1] + nor + [verb 2].’’

Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where the pattern “neither + [verb 1] + nor + [verb 2]’’ is used to refer to one action that is viewed positively and one action that is viewed negatively?

In my previous response I explained that there is no evidence for a positive connotation for authenteo in 1 Tim. 2:12. BDAG cites its meaning as “to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to.” In fact, Dr. Kostenberger comments,

owing to the scarcity of the term in ancient literature (the only NT occurence is 1 Tim. 2:12; found only twice preceding the NT in extrabiblical literature) no firm conclusions could be reached on the basis of lixical study alone.

In fact, no one has provided an occurrence of authenteo at the time of the NT which has a positive connotation. However, there is an example of a negative occurrence for didasko (to teach) here in Titus 1:11,

They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

In conclusion, there is no positive occurrence for authenteo (to dominate see BDAG) and there is a negative occurrence for didasko (to teach). It is therefore probable that both verbs were meant to be taken negatively.


Cheryl’s comments and questions to Wayne Grudem:

In the book of Revelation, John uses the same form “neither + [verb 1] + nor + [verb 2]’’ where teaching (didasko) is also viewed negatively.

Rev 2:20  ‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

Rev 2:21  ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.

While the term “teaches” is normally a positive term, it is clear that what was being taught by this woman was in regards to immorality so the two verbs are negative in this passage.  So we can clearly see from Suzanne’s example that the Greek term for teach (didasko) is a negative in at least two New Testament passages.

Our position is that the two verbs in 1 Timothy 2:12 are both negative (didasko and authenteo) and that Paul stopped false teaching; he did not stop correct teaching.

1.  If Paul was stopping a woman (or women) from teaching the truth to men, then we ask complementarians to prove that authenteo was historically used in a positive way.

2.  We also ask if women are forbidden to teach men, then why was Priscilla not chastized for teaching Apollos>

3.  If women are forbidden to teach men, then why was Jezebel in Revelation 2:20 rebuked only for her immorality and not rebuked for being a woman and teaching men?  Did Jesus give Jezebel time to repent of teaching the truth?  If teaching men is such a serious sin, then why did Jesus not mention that it was her gender mixed with her teaching that was wrong?  Why did he clearly only call her to repent of teaching immorality and not teaching period?

4.  Can you give me a second witness where any woman was reprimanded for teaching the truth to men?  Can you give me a Bible verse that lists women teaching men as one of the sins that God commands us to repent of?

5.  If women teaching men is a sin that must be turned away from, what kind of sin would it be for men listening to women teach?  Where in the bible was a man ever called to repent of listening to a woman teach?  Was Apollos chastized by Paul or any other apostle for allowing Priscilla to teach him the truth?  Did Apollos, who knew the OT scriptures ever object to Priscilla teaching him?  Did Apollos appeal to Aquilla to teach him the truth and for Priscilla to shut her mouth?  If God calls a woman to repent from the “sin” of teaching a man, but there is no equal “sin” of a man listening to a woman, wouldn’t this make God a respecter or persons?

I look forward to anyone trying to answer my questions.

Links to more posts on Answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” part 1part 2part 3part 4, part 5part 6

4 thoughts on “Answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” 5

  1. Cheryl, the replies you and Sue make to this point of Grudem’s “Open Letter” regarding Greek correlatives is well made. But, to add to your arsenal against Grudem’s erroneous teaching, I thought you might like the following quote from Linda Belleville’s chapter in DISCOVERING BIBLICAL EQUALITY, “Teaching and Usurping Authority,” pp. 217-219:

    So how did “to exercise authority over” find its way into a majority of modern translations of 1 Timothy 2:12?Andreas Kostenberger claims that it is the correlative that forces translators in this direction. He argues that the Greek correlative pairs synonyms or parallel words and not antonyms. Since “to teach” is positive authentein must also be positive. To demonstrate his point, Kostenberger analyzes “neither + verb 1 + “nor” + verb 2 constructions in biblical and extrabiblical literature.
    Yet there is a grammatical flaw intrinsic to this approach. It is limited to FORMALLY equivalent constructions, excluding FUNCTIONALLY equivalent ones, and so the investigation includes only correlated verbs. Thus it overlooks the fact that the infinitives (didaskein, authentein) are functioning grammatically not as verbs but as nouns in the sentence structure (as one would expect a verbal noun to do). The Greek infinitive may have tense and voice like a verb, but it functions predominantly as a noun or adjective. The verb in 1 Timothy 2:12 is actually “I permit.” “Neither to teach nor authentein” modifies the noun “a woman,” which makes the authentein clause the second of two direct objects. Use of the infinitive as a direct object after a verb that already has a direct object has been amply demonstrated by biblical and estrabiblical grammarians. In such cases the infinitive restricts the already present object. Following this paradigm, the 1 Timothy 2:12 correlative “neither to teach nor authentein” functions as a noun that restricts the direct object “a woman” (gynaiki).
    It behooves us, therefore, to correlate nouns and noun substitutes in addition to verbs. This greatly expands the possibilities. “Neither-nor” constructions in the New Testament are then found to pair synonyms (e.g., “neither despised nor scorned.” Gal. 4:14), closely related ideas (e.g., “neither of the night nor of the dark,” 1 Thess 5:5), and antonyms (e.g., neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free,” Gal. 3:28). They also function to move from the general to the particular (e.g., “wisdom neither of this age nor of the rulers of this age,” 1 Cor 2:6), to define a natural progression of related ideas (e.g., “they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns,” Mt 6:26), and to define a related purpose or a goal (e.g., “where thieves neither break in nor steal” [i.e., break in to steal], Mt 6:20).
    Of the options listed above, it is clear that “teach” and “dominate” are not synonyms, closely related ideas or antonyms. If authentein did mean “to exercise authority,” we might have a movement from general to particular. But we would expect the word order to be the reverse of what we have in 1 Timothy 2:12, that is, “neither to exercise authority [general] nor to teach [particular].” They do not form a natural progression of related ideas either (“first teach, then dominate”). On the other hand, to define a purpose or goal actually provides a good fit: “I do not permit a woman to teach so as to gain mastery over a man,” or “I do permit a woman to teach with a view to dominating a man.” It also fits the contrast with the second part of the verse: “I do not permit a woman to teach a man in a dominating way but to have a quiet demeanor [literally, ‘to be in calmness’].”

    A long quote, I grant you. But once again, I believe, it is evidence that clearly shows that Grudem’s low estimation of egalitarian scholars capabilities and the adequacy of their answers to his questions is unwarranted, revealing it as biased and misrepresentational in nature.

  2. So, Grudem’s Q5 is really more of Q4, which was weak to begin with. “Someone throw that man a life saver!”

    The weakness of the challenge is reflected in the overwhelming volume of corrective response.

    It’s a shame that Grudem apparently posed the questions then arrogantly walked away intending to never actually consider any answers.

  3. LOL! OK, so I was putting in my last comment and the sidebar of the blog was positioned at “Recent Posts” and as I hit I glanced at the sidebar and read the title of this entry but thought I was reading “Recent Comments” and I just about had a heart attack thinking Grudem had actually come on here and responded. I’m awake now!

  4. Oops! I noticed an typographical error in my last comment (1). When I am quoting Belleview’s translations for when the Greek correlative of verbal nouns in 1 Tim. 2:12 is used in defining a purpose or goal, I copied the second translation as “I permit a woman to teach with a view to dominating a man,” I forgot the adversative particle “not.” So the correct translation is “I do not permit a woman to teach with a view to denominating a man.” Sorry about that.

    gengwall, I think it would be very enlightening for us all if Wayne Grudem ever chose to actually engage with Cheryl about the main points of his “Open Letter.” Personally, I think Cheryl could do far more than hold her own with him; in fact, I think he would find both her questions and those of others who contribute to this blog very difficult to answer. However, I sincerely doubt he would do so unless he thought it would definitely advance the cause of CBMW, and I don’t think the quality of refutation he would receive here would be conducive to that goal. So, in my opinion, I doubt it is likely to happen.

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