The salvation of women

RublevRublev Shipmate
edited March 17 in Kerygmania
'For Adam was created first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty' (1 Tim 2: 14-15).

This strange text sounds like something out of The Handmaid's Tale (a nightmare vision of how the scriptures could be abused by a Christian version of the Taliban).

What does childbearing have to do with salvation?

How should this passage be interpreted?

Comments

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited March 17
    As away with the fairies Christian fundamentalism. Christian women won't die in child bearing if they're faithful, loving, holy and modest enough. Maybe they didn't then. What with Peter's shadow and all. What's strange about it?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    That might explain why Peter fades out of the Book of Acts. He was kept too busy attending the early Christian childbirths of holy and modest women.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    It was of its time and should be left there imo.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited March 17
    I agree with @Boogie that Paul's argument is of its time and should be left there.

    That said, the best explanation I have heard of this precise part of the passage is that the (singular) "she" in "she will be saved" is a reference to Eve and the protoevangelium i.e. the promise of salvation through her descendance, i.e. Jesus, after which Paul reverts to talking about the believing women ('they', plural) who he is saying should be allowed to learn ("let the women learn...").

    On my reading Paul is notorious for stream-of-consciousness writing/dictating during which his original chain of thought gets interrupted by a related but tangential train of thought; the resulting not-quite-fully-worked-out thinking of either train of thought has keept theological book publishers in business ever since.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    This is the kind of text that can create unnecessary pastoral anxiety if left unaddressed - such as 'Have I committed the unforgiveable sin?' or 'outside the gates of the city (of heaven) are the dogs.'

    Very often people don't articulate their fears so they just fester away and undermine their faith. So it is better to get the difficult texts and knotty problems out on the table so they can be unpicked and openly discussed.

    Even Peter thought that Paul was difficult to understand (2 Pet 3: 16). And he should know because he knew him in person.

    Interpreting the text as a reference to Eve is a good explanation because it harks back to God's admonition at the Fall that she would suffer in childbearing (Gen 3: 16). Although it doesn't mention anything about salvation.

    Paul does have an interest in describing Jesus as the second Adam (1 Cor 15: 45) but he has very little to say about Mary and doesn't refer to her as the second Eve, although the medieval theologians took that up with enthusiasm. However John in his resurrection narrative does seem to reference this idea in the encounter of Mary Magdalene with the Risen Christ at the garden tomb when she mistakes Him for the gardener (John 20: 15).
  • MamacitaMamacita Kerygmania Host
    edited 1:57AM
    Rublev wrote: »
    'For Adam was created first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty' (1 Tim 2: 14-15)
    [snip]

    What does childbearing have to do with salvation?

    It has nothing to do with salvation, even in Paul's own theology. Paul is the one who writes of salvation by God's grace, through faith.

    Authorship of the two Timothies is debated. I'm inclined to go with those who say it's pseudepigraphical.
    How should this passage be interpreted?
    (As others have already said:) As a product of a particular time and place.
  • BroJamesBroJames Shipmate
    N.T. Wright suggests a different way of reading this text (at the end of this piece). It’s rather long to summarise effectively here. He argues for reading it with an Ephesian context in mind, and as breaking down gender stereotypes.

    He suggests that Paul is arguing first that women (and not men only) should be allowed to learn undisturbed - but that should not then lead to a stereotypically male pattern of ‘lording it’ over others. (‘Full submission’ is not full submission to men, but to God.) And secondly that the obvious dangers of childbirth are not a sign that women are under a special curse, nor is childbearing to be regarded as an evil part of an inferior material creation and therefore to be avoided by those who seek salvation.

    The whole piece is worth a read, I think.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    He suggests that Paul is arguing first that women (and not men only) should be allowed to learn undisturbed

    This was also part of the explanation I heard (see above). There are a series of imperatives in the text: "let all men everywhere lift up holy hands..." "let the women learn".
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    @BroJames

    Thank you for posting this very interesting article. It suggests that childbirth should not be seen as God's curse upon women because of Eve's disobedience - but as a sign of salvation for contributing to God's creation in fulfilling the command to go forth and multiply (Gen 9: 7).

    It also explains the scandalised angels text as avoiding the appearance of any unholiness during worship when they would be present with the believers.

    And it makes reference to the radical equality of baptism which was offered inclusively to all believers - and to my mind is the main justification for the ordination of women.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    (‘Full submission’ is not full submission to men, but to God.)

    That point is particularly helpful. I have so often heard that passage read as 'in full submission to me...' Whatever one might think of the passage and Paul's writing generally, that is simply not there in the text.

    AFZ

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