Thursday, January 14, 2010


Traditional interpretation of Artemis of Ephesus
in a 16th Century fountain, Villa d'Este

Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2

By Jon Zens (editor, Searching Together; author of A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile: What Makes American Christianity Tick?)

It's time to set the record straight. 1 Tim:11-12 has long been used as "clear" justification to silence Christian women in various ways. However, when the cultural setting of 1 Timothy 2 is unfolded, many elements of the traditional interpretation are called into question -- and a new level of clarity emerges regarding several difficult passages. In What's With Paul and Women? Unlocking the Cultural Background to1 Timothy 2, Jon Zens tackles Paul's flow of thought, focusing particularly on verses 11-12. Timothy was left in Ephesus by Paul to deal with false teaching (1:3). The author shows how significant light is shed upon the issues mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:9-15 when the Artemis-saturated culture in Ephesus is factored in.

Advance praise for What's With Paul & Women?

In an enlightening expose, Jon Zens takes the reader beneath the flourishing of cultural misnomers regarding the role of women in the church and zeros in on the historical roots of the often misogynist treatment of one half of the Body of Christ. This passionate, well-researched work is not only a fair treatment of the subject, but one that is biblically sound, drawing from the entirety of the Word of God. Intelligent, captivating, covering new ground -- a must read!
-- Stephanie Bennett, Ph.D., Palm Beach Atlantic University, W. Palm Beach, FL

I really liked this study. I thought it was needful for those who cling to the notion of male superiority and dominant authority structures. When all is said and done, the spirit-filled submission mentioned in Ephesians 5 is the antidote for top-down authority and dominance. I’m still learning what it means to submit to one another in the power of the Spirit.
--Bruce E. Newkirk, Retired Federal Prison Chaplain

This piece on women is really outstanding, the best I have seen. This sentence particularly caught my eye for comment: "... Just as Adam fell into a deep sleep when his wife came forth from his side, so Christ descended into the sleep of death and when his side was pierced the bride was birthed." Jesus had said, "Truly, truly, I say unto you, Unless a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit." I had not seen this aspect of the piercing of His side before you put it the way you did. Once again, you have been instrumental in giving me a treasure from the Lord!
--Jay Ferris, Bostic, NC; Author with Lisa Weger of Not Left Behind: Going Back for the Offended.

I read the entire article very carefully. As we say in Oklahoma --- A number one outstanding! (That means it's excellent!). The best I've read on the subject so far. I have taken the liberty to forward this to my father.
We are both fans of your writing and appreciate your ministry.
--Wade Burleson, Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, OK

Your study on 1 Timothy 2 is the most thorough exposition I have ever seen. My thinking has been along similar lines.
--Alan Crandall, former Edwin Lindsay Chaplain to Students
University of Dubuque, Iowa

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