Αυθεντειν In The Aeschylus Scholium -- By: David K. Huttar
JETS 44:4 (December 2001) p. 615
Αυθεντειν In The Aeschylus Scholium
[* David Huttar is professor of Bible and Greek at Nyack College, 1 South Boulevard, Nyack, NY 10960.]
In the current debate between the egalitarian and the complementarian 1 interpretations of Scripture’s teaching regarding the role of women in church and family both sides in the debate agree that 1 Tim 2:12 looms large. The complementarian view draws on Paul’s injunction in that verse that a woman not “teach or hold authority over a man,” while the egalitarian view is concerned to show that the verse teaches no such thing. The egalitarian position argues for this conclusion either through emphasizing aspects of the context that might be used to relativize the effect of the verse, or by defining some of its key terms in such a way as to favor an egalitarian interpretation.
One of the key points of disagreement in the debate is Paul’s use of the word αὐθεντεῖν. Numerous articles have been written on this word, trying to establish whether it may have a general sense of holding authority over or whether its predominating sense is that of a certain kind of authority (illegitimate, violent, abusive, etc.). Unfortunately, many of these studies, particularly ones written by egalitarian interpreters, have drawn too heavily on the meanings of the related noun αὐθέντης rather than centering on the verb αὐθεντεῖν itself.
Much of this situation has been remedied as more careful and rigorous methodology has been applied. Particularly significant has been the publication by H. Scott Baldwin of a study of all known occurrences in ancient and Byzantine Greek literature of the verb in question. 2
Nevertheless, in most of the studies, including that of Baldwin, there is cited one passage where αὐθεντεῖν is used, in which it is claimed that the meaning is unambiguously “to commit murder.” That passage is the scholium on Aeschylus’s Eumenides 42. 3 What is not often realized, however, is
JETS 44:4 (December 2001) p. 616
that the edited text, upon which all these discussions are based, is a reading arrived at through conjectural emendation. Thus the critical edition reads: στάζοντα] ἐμφαντικῶς <διὰ> ...
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