Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Doug Moo on 1 Timothy 2:11-15

Doug Moo is one of our most outstanding New Testament scholars. He makes a convincing case for complementarianism from 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Read it HERE.


Ryan H. said...

I very much respect Doug Moo's scholarly work, and I concede that the passage of 1 Timothy 2 is severely complicated. However, I do not believe that this article does justice to the whole of the Biblical witness in this matter, or to the issues in interpreting the text the way they have.

For starters, the conclusion that "it was Paul’s position in every church that women should not teach or have authority over men" seems contradictory with some of the other passages in the epistles, where Paul speaks about women and their active and vocal participation in the meetings of the church.

Furthermore, to interpret Paul's "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man" as a binding, absolute statement for all places and all times has sincere problems for the role of the female as a parent.

It furthermore seems a very odd theological principle for Paul to lay down as a new idea, since there is no similar prohibition in the Old Testament.

It is there we see a figure like Deborah judging Israel; I find it hard to believe that Paul would begrudge Deborah her leadership (I'm aware of the argument that that God raised up Deborah because there wasn't a decent male around, but such an idea is preposterous and not at all suggested by the text itself).

Furthermore, I find it hard to imagine Paul forbidding Anna, the prophetess, from speaking of Christ to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem, as she is said to do in Luke 2.

Ryan H. said...

I just realized I said "furthermore" far too many times. Oh well.

Mark W. said...

Yes, and besides being an eminent NT scholar, he has a fun name. Reminds me of David Letterman talking about former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers. Letterman: "I don't have a joke here, I just like to say 'Ruud Lubbers.'" Funny stuff.

Todd Pruitt said...


Good to hear from you as always.

Have you had a chance to read "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" (Piper & Grudem ed.)?

I believe the biblical support for complementarianism is substantial.

Agreed. "Doug Moo" is a fun name to say. Another fun name is "Fred Beans" - car dealership in West Chester. Also, "Francisco" is fun to say.

Mainline Mom said...

That was kind of tough to get through. While I do support some degree of complementarianism (that word itself is a mouthful) I'm not sure I draw the same specific conclusion he does about that particular passage. Not that I'm in favor of ordinating women, but his specific logic and exegesis on that passage doesn't quite ring true to me. There are quite a few assumptions and educated guesses made, based on other places in Paul's writings (which I agree should be examined, but still I'm not sure can be applied uniformly).

Ryan H. said...

I have not read the entirety of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, although I've read through sections of it. So I'm at least acquainted with it and the ideas it presents.

Yes, one can construct a fairly strong Biblical argument for a complimentarian stance. This should not be in disagreement. Though I am egalitarian, I will concede that egalitarians have more of an uphill battle to fight in that regard (though that should not be grounds, in my opinion, for dismissing the case outright).

However, there are particularly strict forms of complimentarianism that I don't believe do justice to the fullness of the Biblical text, and I'm not sure Moo's perspective here grapples with all the difficulties and repercussions of such an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2.

Harley A. said...

A few random thoughts.

"Active and vocal participation" in meetings does not equate to teaching and holding authority over men.

Complementarianism poses no conflict with a woman parenting her child. The male child is not a man - he is a little boy.

As for Deborah - one of the main points of the story is Barak's shame in having a woman lead him into battle when he said he wouldn't go without her. This text supports Moo's thesis rather than causing it problems.

1 Tim 2 is "severely complicated" ? To read the text and come to the conclusion that Paul was not teaching that a woman shouldn't hold authority over a man in the church, to me, infers that Paul was having a very bad day and really not expressing himself very clearly. In other words, this text is about as clear as it gets.

Ryan H. said...

I would argue that prophesying - which Paul suggests women are doing in the Corinthian church and then offers advice on how they should do so - does constitute teaching/instruction in some degree. Particularly when one looks at how numerous New Testament scholars have defined Paul's use of the term "prophesy."

You could try to distinguish the tasks of "teaching" and "prophecy" (since Paul does), but the difference between the two is somewhat hard to find. At any rate, both teaching and prophesying seeming contained some sort of public instruction.

Now, complementarianism does not provide conflict with a mother parenting, per se, but certain constructions of the idea might. Such a universal rule that suggests a woman cannot teach a man does raise some questions. When do we suggest that a son has become old enough that he should no longer be taught by his mother? Obviously this debate can be contested by the suggestion Moo makes in deciding exactly what teaching, as Paul uses it, is, but I believe the question is still worth posing. Should a mother avoid teaching her son doctrine past a certain age?

Re: Deborah. That there is shame for Barak in Sisera being handed over to a woman does nothing to indicate that Deborah's judgeship was due to a lack of decent men, as some interpretations would have it. Her judgeship is not presented as conditional at any point during the text, since the shame for Sisera is not ever presented as being connected to the fact that he has under the authority of a woman.

And yes, 1 Timothy 2 isjk complicated. It's complicated for a few reasons. One, the Greek verb authentein is situated in an interesting way and is worthy of some discussion (suffice to say there are complicating grammatical features of Paul's words here that Moo does not pay attention to in this article).

But the passage is also something of a struggle because the theology Paul expresses here about the garden of Eden and childbearing doesn't seem to make too much sense, and both sides of the debate on this passage have had to seriously grapple with it over the course of the scholarly discussion.

Todd Pruitt said...


Never once have I heard any complementarian suggest that there may be complications with a mother in her role of authority over her son. Father's have the same issue about exercising authority over an adult son. So I think your argument here is baseless.

Also, I challenge your suggestion that Paul's thesis does not make much sense. It seems your apriori assumption is that the problem is with Scripture rather than with us - our understanding of or perhaps submission to it.

Ryan H. said...

I've never heard a complimentarian suggest it, but I have heard some egalitarians suggest that some strict complementarian constructions raise the question. Not that it would be a cornerstone argument of the egalitarian camp, mind you, but it's something worth exploring.

And no, my problem is not at all with Paul's thesis. Paul's thesis is by all means authoritative, and we must submit to it. The problem lies on our side of things - it's a difficult passage to understand, both on its own and in the context of the rest of Scripture, and thus we have to struggle with it as we do with a number of passages elsewhere in the Pauline epistles.

Todd Pruitt said...

Ryan,Feminists believe that opposition to abortion equates with violence toward women.  However this is an accusation not even worthy of a response.  So just because some egalitarians believe that complimentarianism can lead to mothers submitting to their sons does not mean that it is worthy of consideration.

Thanks for clarifying your thoughts on the later issue. I agree with Harley however that Paul's argument is not veiled are difficult to understand.