Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Scripture as Anchor; N.T. Wright on I Timothy 2:8-15

I have two items for this post:

1.  I like the following passage in today's Daily Bread:

"What are the benefits of delighting in the rich food of Scripture?  A daily meal of God's Word helps to keep anxiety, pride, fear, and temptation from plaguing our undernourished hearts, and strengthens us for a victorious journey."

I hold fast to reading the Bible when I am beset by anxiety, pride, fear, temptation, or anger.  I can't say that I find every passage of Scripture to be edifying, but Scripture is still an anchor for me.  At the very least, trying to understand what is going on in a biblical passage can distract me from my unhealthy thoughts, and sometimes replace my unhealthy thoughts with better thoughts.

2.  Rachel Held Evans has N.T. Wright's responses to six of her readers' questions on her blog.  See here.  What I most appreciated was a link that N.T. Wright provided to an article that he wrote on women in the church.  See here.  Wright was addressing the controversial I Timothy 2:8-15.  This passage states the following in the King James Version:

"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.  In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.  Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."

While there are many who believe that I Timothy 2:8-15 is sexist and patriarchal, N.T. Wright offers another interpretation.  According to Wright, women are being told to learn.  Why does the passage say that women should not teach or usurp authority over a man?  According to Wright, it's because Paul was trying to make clear that he wasn't proposing that the church become like the Temple of Artemis, where the women were dominant over men and served as priests.  Why does the passage say that Adam was not deceived, but Eve was?  Because, according to Wright, Paul was highlighting why women needed to learn: so they wouldn't be deceived.

Sometimes, Wright's interpretation here makes sense to me.  Other times, it doesn't seem to clear the passage of the charge that it is sexist and patriarchal.  Wright's interpretation was still worth reading, though.

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