All of this is a precursor then to my posting here an article to which I was alerted by Tim Goodbody on the historical context of 1 Timothy. It reads very well and I am sure it would be interesting to many Christians:
1 Timothy 2:11-13 is usually mistranslated into English, "Let the woman learn in silence in all subjection. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man but to be silent. For Adam was formed first then Eve." The correct translation of the passage is, "A woman must learn and she is to learn without causing a fuss and be supportive in everything. I most certainly do not grant authority to a woman to teach that she is the originator of a man - rather, she is not to cause a fuss - for Adam was formed first, then Eve.
Authenteo, originator, is a rare Greek word that occurs once in the New Testament. The verb and noun occurred a mere twenty times in the classical Greek authors. Apart from the one instance in Euripides' Suppliants, the word occurred nineteen times with the meaning "murderer/killer." However, it should be noted that in the fifth speech of Antiphon, the word is used in the sense of originator, perpetrator of the murder.
The remaining classical example is from Euripides' Suppliants. It is usually rendered, "Again, where people are absolute masters over the land..." but a correct translation is, "Where democracy springs from the earth..."
Let us turn to the papyri. The word occurs over twenty times in the papyri in the meaning "original," "originator of." It eventually does take on the meaning "master," "mastery (over)" but not until many centuries after New Testament times. This is however disputed in two papyrus examples. The first is P.Leid.W. 6.46, in the vocative case where the sun is addressed, "...the archangel of those under the world, O authenta sun!" It has been assumed that the meaning is "O ruling sun!" as those in Western European culture assumed that ancients saw the sun as a ruler. However, the papyrus was Mithraic. Mithras was connected with the sun's life-giving powers, and Mithras was believed to cause plants to spring from the earth. There was no hint of the sun being ruler; rather, the sun was considered to be the source, the originator, of life.
The other papyrus example is BGU 4.1208, which lexicons have cited for the meaning "authority, mastery over." However, the real meaning is apparent from a reading of the Greek text, which states that the sea captain should have adhered to the original agreement. The whole context supports the meaning "original" as do specific parallel words in the text.
The adjective occurs on one inscription, Aus Lydien, no. 46, an inscription recording parts of two rescripts from the proconsul Maximilianus to the Asiarch Dominus Rufus. The text reads, "I deposited a copy of the commands...the original (authentike) command which was written...."
The vocabulary of 1 Timothy alludes to various magical practices of Ephesus and to the problem of Gnosticism. The focus of the pastoral epistles is the problem of teachings contrary to those of Christianity.
1 Timothy 2:12-13 is to be translated as follows: "I most certainly do not grant authority to a woman to teach that she is the originator of a man: rather, she is not to cause a fuss. For Adam was formed first, then Eve."
Why would a woman teach that she is the originator of a man? At the time 1 Timothy was written, Gnosticism was in its early stages. The Gnostic literature states that Eve was formed first, then she enlisted the help of a goddess to help her form Adam. Thus at the time 1 Timothy was written, early Gnostics were stating that women were the originators of men.. In 1945 the Nag Hammadi Library discovered a collection of thirteen ancient codices containing over fifty Gnostic texts in upper Egypt. On the Origin of the World was among the Nag Hammadi texts. The creation account in On the Origin of the World is as follows: "After the day of rest Sophia sent her daughter Zoe, being called Eve, as an instructor in order that she might make Adam, who had no soul, arise so that those whom he should engender might become containers of light. When Eve saw her male counterpart prostrate she had pity upon him, and she said, 'Adam! Become alive! Arise upon the earth!' Immediately her word became accomplished fact. For Adam, having arisen, suddenly opened his eyes. When he saw her he said, 'You shall be called "Mother of the Living." For it is you who have given me life."
This is why the author of 1 Timothy continues, "for Adam was formed first, then Eve." 1 Timothy 2:13-15 makes sense in light of the threat to Christianity of the teachings of Gnosticism.
I should also point out that the word usually mistranslated "silence " here is hesukhia. This word does not in fact mean "silence". It means to cause less fuss, to become quiet in behavior. The same word occurs in Acts 22:2 in the meaning that the crowd caused less fuss, not in a meaning that they became more verbally silent (which, of course, would be an absurd expression).