From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun May 28 2000 - 09:41:51 EDT

At 7:38 AM -0400 5/28/00, Jim West wrote:
>At 07:15 AM 5/28/00 +0000, you wrote:
>>The feminine form of PRESBUTEROS appears at 1 Tim 5:2; could this be a
>>reference to female ministry or merely an "elder woman"; the context does
>>not make this clear (to me but it's early in the morning here). There have
>>been catacomb inscriptions found with the feminine form. More importantly
>>does it appear eleswehere in the NT in feminine form?
>it does indeed refer to women elders. cf rom 16:1ff. that women did in
>fact occupy positions of leadership in the early church has been amply
>demonstrated in the little book titled "When Women Were Priests".

While I may be inclined to read Rom 16:1ff. more as Jim does, I think that
we ought to understand 1-2 Timothy and Titus, the so-called "Pastoral
Letters," in a different category from those unquestionably Pauline
letters. I rather doubt that the author of 1 Tim 5:2 is referring to women
elders. The context, as Jay Adkins notes is how one is to treat men and
women in different phases of life within a congregation. Thus in 5:1
PRESBUTEROI doesn't mean elders but simply older men, as NEWTEROI in the
next clause refers younger men. I would read this chapter as offering a
young pastor advice on relationships between members of his congregation
conceived as a family: older men as "fathers," younger men as "brothers,"
older women as "mothers," younger women as "sisters," etc. Then he moves on
to widows. I think this is what's often referred to as a "Haustafel."
Certainly it's possible to read all these terms as "offices" but I rather
think that the chapter is concerned less with defining functions of
"officers" than with defining the "offices" in the older Latin Ciceronian
sense of what was once called "Tully's Offices" (Cicero, De Officiis), i.e.
OFFICIA are the ordinary roles that people in different categories may be
expected to play in the congregational community.

I might add that I personally think it would be pretty difficult to
reconcile an understanding of PRESBUTERAS in 1 Tim 5:2 with what is said of
GUNAIKES in 1 Tim 2:8-15.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243 OR

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