Book Review: The Earth Mother Heresy -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 07:3 (Summer 1993)
Article: Book Review: The Earth Mother Heresy
Author: Anonymous


Book Review: The Earth Mother Heresy

I SUFFER NOT A WOMAN — Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence, by Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, IL, 1992. Reviewer: W. Harold Fuller, Litt. D.., a missiologist and author based in Toronto, Canada, and chairman of the Board of Deacons of a Baptist church.

Until now, this reviewer had to acknowledge he simply did not understand Paul’s statement: “I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man” (1 Tim 2:12).

No explanation rang scripturally true: e.g. “rabbinical male bias” or “a local cultural problem.” Exceptions for women teaching or preaching (“only occasionally” or “under male authority” or “if there aren’t male missionaries”) sounded like semantics.

Now Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger have opened a window of understanding. Their thesis posits that Paul’s injunction in our versions is a mistranslation of an obscure verb, used only in this one scripture.

The authors carefully document that the original Greek, authentein, had several uses: “to have authority” was one; another was “to originate” (p. 101).

Building on ancient evidence, the Kroegers establish that Ephesus (Timothy’s parish) was the seat of a grossly immoral Earth Mother religion which influenced Christo-pagan heresies. The cult taught that a goddess was the initiator not only of mankind, but of the Creator God himself (120). Men could receive mystic knowledge only through the goddess, consummated through sexual intercourse with the temple priestesses (97).

If authentein is translated as “originator,” the passage could read: “I do not permit woman to teach nor to represent herself as originator of man.” [“Teach nor represent” both referring grammatically to the heresy; 103.]

Paul, then, was not addressing culture, but dangerous theological error. It did not have to do with women teaching men, but with a pagan religion perverting the Church at Ephesus (57). He was appealing to women to learn the truth and refrain from teaching error (181).

This makes sense out of Paul’s further statements about Adam’s being created first and not being deceived (1 Tim 2:13,14). As one who defends the inerrancy of Scripture, I nevertheless always wondered why Paul, writer of the powerful apologetics of Romans, here seemed to resort to pettiness.

The Kroegers show that Paul was not being petty but was attacking this major here...

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