“Saved through Childbearing”

The Jewish Context of 1 Timothy 2:15

in Novum Testamentum
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In order to follow the argument of 1 Tim, one must be familiar not only with Greco-Roman culture but also with traditional Jewish interpretations of Torah. This study (a) discusses Jewish overtones in the context, (b) argues that 2:15 appropriates early rabbinic traditions about why women die in childbirth to underscore the importance of feminine virtues, and (c) responds to possible objections.1

“Saved through Childbearing”

The Jewish Context of 1 Timothy 2:15

in Novum Testamentum




Trans. Herbert DanbyThe Mishnah (Oxford: Oxford University Press1933) 102.


Ceslas SpicqLes Épîtres pastorales (4th ed.; Paris: Lecoffre1969) 1:382 399; Oberlinner Timotheusbrief 102-103.


E.g. C.K. BarrettThe Pastoral Epistles (Oxford: Clarendon1963) 56-57; Craig S. Keener Paul Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul (Peabody: Hendrickson 1992) 118-120.


Risto SaarinenThe Pastoral Epistles with Philemon & Jude (Grand Rapids: Brazos2008) 58; cf. L.T. Johnson The First and Second Letters to Timothy (ab 35A; New York: Doubleday 2001) 208.


Bruce W. WinterRoman Wives Roman Widows: The Appearance of the New Woman and the Pauline Communities (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans2003) 97-122; Jennifer A. Glancy “Protocols of Masculinity in the Pastoral Epistles” in New Testament Masculinities (Atlanta: sbl 2003) 238.


E.g. M. Goulder“The Pastor’s Wolves: Jewish Christian Visionaries behind the Pastoral Epistles,” NovT 38.3 (1996) 242-256; Jerry L. Sumney “Servants of Satan” “False Brothers” and Other Opponents of Paul (JSNTSup 188; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic 1999) 253-302.


Wiesenberg“Liturgical Term” 12-13.


E.g.1 Clem. 60.3-61.1; Tertullian Apol. 39.2; Origen Cels. 8.73.


Judith R. BaskinMidrashic Women: Formations of the Feminine in Rabbinic Literature (Hanover: Brandeis University Press2002) 44-64.


A.T. Hanson“Eve’s Transgression: 1 Timothy 2.13-15,” in Studies in the Pastoral Epistles (London: spck 1968) 65-77 quotation from p. 65; H.St.J. Thackeray The Relation of St. Paul to Contemporary Jewish Thought(London: Macmillan1900) 50-57; Weber Jüdische Theologie auf Grund des Talmud und verwandter Schriften (Leipzig 1897).


Pliny the YoungerEp. 4.21; and epitaphs collected in Mary R. Lefkowitz & Maureen B. Fant Women’s Life in Greece & Rome: A Sourcebook in Translation (2nd ed.; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press 1992) ##50 363 365 366.


See Tal IlanIntegrating Women into Second-Temple History (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck1999) 212; and idemJewish Women in Greco-Roman Palestine (Peabody: Hendrickson 1996) 117-119; who draws from N. Haas “Anthropological Observations on the Skeletal Remains from Giv’at ha-Mivtar” iej 20 (1970) 38-59; J. Naveh “An Aramaic Tomb Inscription Written in Paleo-Hebrew Script” iej 23 (1973) 82-91; and CII 874 (from Byblos); CII 1481 1515 1530 (from Egypt).


Rochelle L. Millen“Birkhat Ha-Gomel: A Study in Cultural Context and Halakhic Practice,” Judaism 43.3 (1994) 270-278.


Ross Shepard KraemerHer Share of the Blessings: Women’s Religions among Pagans Jews and Christians in the Greco-Roman World (New York: Oxford University Press1992) 99-105; cf. Baskin Midrashic Women 72.


SpicqLes Épîtres pastorales384.


Jacob NeusnerThe Talmud of the Land of Israel: A Preliminary Translation and Explanation Vol. 11: Shabbat (Chicago: University of Chicago Press1991) 113-114 modified.


Jacob NeusnerThe Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew with a New Introduction (2 vols.; Peabody: Hendrickson2002) 1:363 modified.


Jacob NeusnerThe Babylonian Talmud: Translation and Commentary (Peabody: Hendrickson2006) modified.


BaskinMidrashic Women73.


MillenWomen Birth and Death18.


HansonStudies72-73 76.


Bassler“Adam Eve and the Pastor” 51. Cf. Stanley E. Porter “What Does It Mean to be ‘Saved by Childbirth’ (1 Timothy 2.15)?” jsnt 49 (1993) 101-102.


Jerome D. Quinn & W.C. WackerThe First and Second Letters to Timothy (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans2000) 230.


J.M. HolmesTexts in a Whirlwind: A Critique of Four Exegetical Devices at 1 Timothy 2.9-15 (JSNTSup 196; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic2000) 241-299.




Porter“What Does It Mean?” 93-94; George M. Wieland The Significance of Salvation: A Study of Salvation Language in the Pastoral Epistles (Milton Keynes: Paternoster 2006) 79.


SaarinenPastoral Epistles60.


XenophonAnab. 5.5.8 trans. C.L. Brownson (lcl; Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1922) modified.


E.g. LockPastoral Epistles32-33; Knight Commentary 215; Witherington Socio-Rhetorical Commentary 229-230.


So also SaarinenPastoral Epistles57.

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