Re: 1 Timothy 2:12

From: Michael Haggett (
Date: Tue Oct 19 1999 - 16:49:48 EDT

Carl W. Conrad wrote
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 1:27 PM
Subject: Re: 1 Timothy 2:12

<<What disturbs me more than the passage itself, however, is what seems to
to be a temptation that I imagine we all feel when confronting such a
passage: "It can't mean what it seems to say, so it must mean something
different." If it's not this passage then it may be some other: after
looking for a simple solution such as an overlooked variant in the
manuscript solution, we consider more desperate alternatives such as the
possibility of interpolation of the passage into a context where it doesn't
belong, or we seek to reinterpret the grammar and vocabulary to mean
something other than what they pretty clearly seem to indicate.>>

Pretty clearly seem to indicate?

How about this parallel. Jesus talks about us eating his body and blood,
Paul confirms it. This did lead some people to think that Christians
practised cannibalism.

If we lived in a society which practised cannibalism, we wouldn't be at all
concerned about it. Such a cannibalistic interpretation of what Jesus and
Paul said would go unchallenged ... for 2,000 years.

But eventually it is challenged! So we go back to re-examine the text,
trying to cut through 2,000 years of assumption layered upon assumption!

Let's look at the way we're approaching this. We look hard at the words
"eat" and "drink" because we want them to prove that Jesus wasn't advocating
cannibalism. But what happens ... we find that EVERY other instance of the
use of the word "eat" means something plain and obvious. So where would
this exercise have got us? Nowhere!

Now findings such as, "we find that whenever the word eat is used, it speaks
of the enjoyment of the thing eaten" ... or "the beneficial nutritional
effects" ... or something like that. These are interesting, they are true,
but haven't they missed the point?

Although Jesus used these words he meant something quite specific by them.
That's why I initially said "even if" we look at the way others used a word
it wouldn't necessarily get us anywhere. The only way we resolve the
problem is by figuring out what Jesus did mean from the context of HIS use
of the words "eat my flesh and drink my blood". Isn't this an example of a
place where it's absolutely right to say,

<< "It can't mean what it seems to say, so it must mean something
different." >>

Fragile assumptions? Desperate alternatives? Aren't we crossing the line
by getting a little too personal here? What I find sad is that when a text
can be shown to be capable of being construed in another way the response
is: OK it could mean that, but it doesn't fit the context. And then, when
a plausible context is put forward ...

Don't simply shut the door on these things. Somebody, somewhere might be
able to take this further. I find it quite inexplicable that because I am
about my motives, that should be taken as meaning that I have come to
conclusions based on motive rather than fact. Remember that I started by
saying that I was putting a question mark against the conventional
interpretation, but that I couldn't yet prove it wrong. The question mark
was there long before I saw it. It is still there. But perhaps one more of
the "Twelve Angry Men" will now see it ... there weren't any women on that
jury at all!

||||||| Michael Haggett
||||||| 164 Holland Road
||||||| London W14 8BE

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