Women In Church Office: Hermeneutics Or Exegesis? A Survey Of Approaches To 1 Tim 2:8-15 -- By: Gordon P. Hugenberger

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 35:3 (Sep 1992)
Article: Women In Church Office: Hermeneutics Or Exegesis? A Survey Of Approaches To 1 Tim 2:8-15
Author: Gordon P. Hugenberger


Women In Church Office:
Hermeneutics Or Exegesis?
A Survey Of Approaches To 1 Tim 2:8-15

Gordon P. Hugenberger*

It has become commonplace in recent scholarship to acknowledge the determinative role of hermeneutics in the discussion of the Scriptural right of women to hold church office.1 Even if I was competent to do so, in the present study it is not my concern to address the larger issues raised by women’s ordination or feminism. My concern, rather, is to demonstrate that while the crucial role of hermeneutics is not to be denied, the current discussion still appears to be vexed all too frequently by an assumed but perhaps faulty exegesis of the relevant Biblical texts.

As an illustration of this point the present essay will consider 1 Tim 2:8–15, generally conceded to be the most forceful of the handful of NT passages that appear to oppose the right of women to hold church office.2 For convenience I will begin with a summary of what may be called the “traditional” exegesis of 1 Tim 2:8–15. Following this I will analyze four alternative hermeneutical approaches to this widely held exegesis, which, it turns out, reflect alternative assessments of Paul’s use of the example of Adam and Eve. Finally I will offer my own exegesis of the passage and seek to demonstrate that all four alternative approaches err by failing to note that Paul cites Adam and Eve precisely because his concern in this text is not with male-female relationships in general but with the husband-wife marital relationship in particular.

*Gordon Hugenberger is adjunct professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA 01982.

I. The “Traditional” Exegesis

1 Timothy 2:8–15 does not explicitly forbid women from the eldership. Nevertheless it is argued by proponents of what we may call the “traditional” exegesis that such a prohibition is the inescapable implication of vv. 11–12: “Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent.”

The “traditional” exegesis of 1 Tim 2:8 begins with the conviction that wherever this text utilizes anēr or gynē it means by these terms respectively “man” and not “husband” or “wo...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()