New life from a pastoral text of terror? Gender perspectives on God and humanity in 1 Timothy 2

Mouton, Elna ; Van Wolde, Ellen (2012)

CITATION: Mouton, E. & Van Wolde, E. 2012. New life from a pastoral text of terror? Gender perspectives on God and humanity in 1 Timothy 2. Scriptura, 111(3):583-601, doi:10.7833/111-0-38.

The original publication is available at http://scriptura.journals.ac.za

Article

Amidst threatening pseudo-practices, 1 Timothy seems to be concerned mainly with the integrity of the Christian gospel within the larger Greco-Roman society. To account for its rich yet complex world view, the intertextual coherence of 1 Tim 1:15-3:1 is investigated – with special reference to gender images from Gen 2-3 in 1 Tim 2:13-15. In an attempt to make sense of the utterances regarding women in 2:8-15, and particularly the explanation in 2:13-15, the essay explores two main sets of arguments. A first view explores the implications of a literal interpretation of 1 Tim 2:13-15. It argues that the author contrasted the thinking of Gen 2-3 by importing a limited selection from it into his letter – a strategy bearing the risk of being incompatible with the theological thrust of both 1 Tim and Gen 1-3. A second view argues that 1 Tim 2:13-15 served as an allegory, and that Adam and Eve, as well as the image of childbearing, functioned metaphorically as motivation for moral behaviour. The essay concludes that 1 Tim 2:8-15 is a context-specific appro-priation of the creation story rather than a universal statement on the relationship between women and men. It pleads for a life-giving rhetoric that either uses 1 Timothy’s theological thrust as a lens for interpreting 2:8-15 or accepts (some aspects of) it as irretrievably patriarchal and violent, yet allowing it to function as a mirror for on-going discussions on human dignity and the integrity of creation

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