This is the part 4 of answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” and his “Six Questions That Have Never Been Satisfactorily Answered”. Today I am posting his fourth question, Suzanne McCarthy’s answer from the Greek and my own questions below that. My blog does not yet have the ability for me to use the Greek fonts so I have included a link to Suzanne’s article that has the Greek.
Wayne Grudem’s Question #4:
4. authenteo: In 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul writes, “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men.’’ Many of you claim that the word translated “have authority’’ (authenteo) means “misuse authority’’ or “domineer’’ (or even “instigate violence’’) in this sentence, so that Paul is not prohibiting women from having authority over men, but he is prohibiting women from misusing authority or domineering over men.
Our problem is this: we have never seen any clear example in ancient Greek literature where authenteo must mean “domineer’’ or “misuse authority.’’ Whenever we have seen this verb occur, it takes a neutral sense, “have authority’’ or “exercise authority,’’ with no negative connotation attaching to the word itself. We are aware that a related noun, authent¯es, has several different meanings, but that is not the word Paul used, and we are interested in the word that Paul actually used. So our question is this: Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where the verb authenteo means what you claim, namely, “misuse authority or domineer’’ (or even “instigate violence’’)?
If you can show us one example, we would be happy to consider your interpretation further. But if you cannot, then we suggest that you have no factual basis for your interpretation of this key verse, and we respectfully ask that you stop writing and speaking as if you did, and that you also reconsider your understanding of these verses.
Suzanne McCarthy’s answer to Wayne Grudem using Greek sources:
3. Authenteo – 1 Timothy 2:12 “to have authority” or “to dominate”
Dr. Grudem writes,
Our problem is this: we have never seen any clear example in ancient Greek literature where authente? must mean “domineer’’ or “misuse authority.” Whenever we have seen this verb occur, it takes a neutral sense, “have authority’’ or “exercise authority,’’ with no negative connotation attaching to the word itself.
It was originally thought that there were two occurrences of authenteo preceding the epistle to Timothy. Here is the first one,
Philodemus (1st cent. BCE): “Ought we not to consider that men who incur the enmity of those in authority are villains, and hated by both gods and men”;
In fact, this is from a reconstructed fragment. The text cited is from a short summary of the reconstructed text. It is not a translation and there is no connection between the reconstructed phraseand “those in authority.” [The reconstructed phrase]occurs near the beginning of the fragment, and “those in authority” is at the end of the summary.
The only other occurrence of authenteo during this period is provided by Grudem as,
BGU 1208 (27 BCE): “I exercised authority over him, and he consented to provide for Calatytis the Boatman on terms of full fare, within the hour.”
In fact, the translation “exercised authority over” is not the usual translation for authenteo in this citation. Other scholars suggest “prevail on” “compel” and “made him.” In the footnote of Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, page 680, Dr. Grudem mentions that this letter refers to a “hostile” relationship, and the meaning “compel” seems appropriate. If it is a hostile relationship, then one presumes it has a negative connotation.
Here is a clearly negative use of the word authenteo from the 2nd/3rd century,
Wherefore all shall walk after their own will. And the children will lay hands on their parents. The wife will give up her own husband to death, and the husband will bring his own wife to judgment like a criminal. Masters will lord it over their servants savagely, and servants will assume an unruly demeanour toward their masters.Hippolytus, On the End of the World 7.
Clearly authenteo has an negative connotation. It is the way a master rules a slave. Is this the proper exercise of authority in the church? In fact, these are the only occurrences of the word authenteo from the 1st century BCE to the 3rd century AD apart from its use in an astrology text.
We can rightly say that the word authenteo has a negative connotation attaching to the word itself.
Now my questions. Mr. Grudem is clearly interpreting 1 Timothy 2:12 as Paul forbidding something to women that is only allowed to be done by men. I would like to ask where in the New Testament scriptures or the Old Testament LXX, does God ever give men permission to autenteo any person? Since there is no permission given to men (and permission cannot be assumed) and since this Greek word clearly has a negative connotation, why do you believe in the man-made tradition that men have authority from God to use authenteo towards anyone in the church?