Kept Safe Through Childbearing: Maternal Mortality, Justification By Faith, And The Social Setting Of 1 Timothy 2:15 -- By: Moyer Hubbard

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 55:4 (Dec 2012)
Article: Kept Safe Through Childbearing: Maternal Mortality, Justification By Faith, And The Social Setting Of 1 Timothy 2:15
Author: Moyer Hubbard


Kept Safe Through Childbearing: Maternal Mortality, Justification By Faith, And The Social Setting Of 1 Timothy 2:15

Moyer Hubbard

Moyer Hubbard is associate professor of NT language and literature at Talbot School of Theology, 13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA 90639.

First Timothy 2:15 has been called “enigmatic,” a “great exegetical puzzle,” and even “one of the strangest verses in the NT.”1 Less flattering epithets are also applied.2 The riddle of this verse is the phrase σωθήσεται δὲ διὰ τῆς τεκνογονίας. Most modern versions translate this clause in line with the ESV, “Yet she will be saved through childbearing.”3 The NASB is virtually alone in interpreting σῴζω in the non-salvific sense of being kept safe from harm: “But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children.” A third option is defended by, for example, Philip Payne: “But she shall be saved through the childbirth,” that is, the birth of the Messiah.4

As the title of this article indicates, I am going to argue that this puzzling phrase should be translated, “But she will be kept safe through the ordeal of childbearing.” In essence, I will be arguing that the most obvious sense of the words σωθήσεται δὲ διὰ τῆς τεκνογονίας is actually the intended sense of these words. By “most obvious,” however, I do not necessarily mean the most obvious sense to contemporary NT scholars, but the most obvious sense to first-century NT readers. I am going to make the daring claim that σῴζω in 1 Tim 2:15 means what it normally meant in this period, and that τεκνογονία, likewise, means what it normally meant in this period. I will not attempt a comprehensive presentation and critique of the various views I will be interacting with, nor will I address every exegetical issue in this passage. My goal here is to concisely present my view, answer common objections, and offer a fresh trajectory of research. In addition to presenting original lexical evidence relating to the use of σῴζω in Paul’s letters, I will also situate this text in the social context of the densely populated urban centers of the

ancient Mediter...

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