• Authentein (1 Timothy 2:12) in a Nutshell.


    Authentein (1 Timothy 2:12) in a Nutshell.

    Authentein, from the Greek verb authenteō, is a word found only once in the New Testament. It occurs in 1 Timothy 2:12 where it is translated in the King James Bible as “to usurp authority.” I’ve previously written a long and somewhat technical article on authentein. But in this short post, I present information that is easier to follow.

    This information comprises three definitions copied from respected lexicons of Ancient Greek and three quotations from respected New Testament scholars who have an excellent knowledge of Greek. The order of the definitions and quotations follows a progression of thought, the aim of which is to show that “to have/use/exercise authority” is an inadequate translation of authentein. (Note the word “full” in the first two definitions.)

    Liddell and Scott’s An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon.

    αθεντ-έω “to have full power”, τινός, New Testament (online source: Perseus).

    Chartraine’s Dictionnaire Etymologique de la Langue Grecque.

    αθεντέω “avoir pleine autorité sur” (NT Pap).
    Translation: “have full authority over” (New Testament, Papyri).
    Philip Payne.

    "In the overwhelming majority of [instances of authenteō], the authority that is assumed is an authority that has not been properly granted, so it usually carries a negative connotation.”
    Philip Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 391.

    Andrew Perriman.

    “In fact, to introduce the idea of ‘authority’ into the definition at all may be misleading if it is taken to mean a derived or ordained authority: it is ‘authorship’, not ‘authority’, that is at the heart of the meaning of authenteō. This distinction is crucial. The idea of authority comes into play only when the object of the verb is not an action or state of affairs but a person: one cannot ‘author’ a person, but one can exercise an ad hoc authority over a person in such a way that he or she becomes instrumental in bringing about an action or state of affairs.”
    Andrew C. Perriman, “What Eve Did, What Women Shouldn’t Do: The Meaning of A
    θεντω in 1 Timothy 2:12,” Tyndale Bulletin 44.1 (1993): 129-142, 37. (A copy of this paper can be downloaded here: TynBull_1993_44_1_08_Perriman_EveITim2.)

    Cynthia Westfall.

    “. . . the people who are targets of these actions are harmed, forced against their will (compelled), or at least their self-interest is being overridden because the actions involve an imposition of the subject’s will, ranging from dishonour to lethal force.”
    Cynthia Long Westfall, Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016), 292.

    Louw-Nida Lexicon.

    αθεντω “control”

    Authentein in 1 Timothy 2:12 may well give the meaning that Paul is not allowing a woman to control, or to bully, or to domineer a man, possibly her husband. 1 Timothy 2:12 is not addressing the exercise of a healthy kind of authority but is addressing the exercise of an overbearing and controlling use of power. I discuss what this control may have involved in related articles below.



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