I like Sandra Glahn’s book, Nobody’s Mother. The subtitle is a dead giveaway: Artemis of the Ephesians in Antiquity and the New Testament. She patiently examines the Artemis cult of Ephesus and the ancient world in order to explain the difficult passage in first Timothy chapter 2 verse 15. What does “saved through childbearing" mean? Or, more explicitly, what did it mean in Ephesus where the typical woman convert to faith in Jesus would have come from the Artemis religion? To whom would she pray for protection?
Thank you for your insights.
As Christians I think it is profoundly important that we develop some kind of rubric that distinguishes classics work and historical theory from what is exegetically responsible. As Evangelicals it is necessary, since we do not hold tradition to on equal tier of authority as scripture, that our hermeneutical tools will develop and even change our doctrines.
I am personally very interested in Sandra's work. We need better answers to 1T 2. I'm thankful for so many female scholars who are showing up to answer that call.
Historically this argument is clearly relevant. It also has real issues to be worked out. Classics scholars have shown that the matriarchal components of Artemis worship aren't as grand or nourishing as they may seem on the surface. Priestesses were also trans men and her many breasts may not have been for feeding the world but were in fact magical purses meant to help hedge your bets.
The historical questions are exciting and I'm on the edge of my seat. Exegetically however, I'm concerned we shouldn't jump the gun on applying them to texts without evidence of causation not just correlation. I'm willing to admit there could well be evidence of causation in 1 T.
One of the halmarks of Evangelicalism, shown as far back as Harnack and as recent as Bebbington, is its rejection of tradition. There is an old maxim, any text without a context is just a pretext for a subtext(prooftext). I'm heartened to witness many Evangelicals taking this seriously in recent scholarship. History is important and the church's history is seriously important. I'm glad to say, I think we are becoming less Evangelical in that regards. One worry I have is that some seem to be grabbing onto the context of history and wielding it a bit fast and lose. Admittedly, something we all have to be aware of.
Context is not something to control but is a guide to be followed. History criticizes us, the other way around is anachronism. I believe, we need high standards for how and when we apply context to scripture in order to interpret and apply it.
Dr. Glahn is clearly doing a great job on the road to discovery in that process. My worry is less with honest academics in this regard and more with the pastors. I believe that many who are reading works like Dr. Glahn's are honestly trying to serve their community faithfully. I'm increasingly worried that some may be getting a little too excited, too early in the process.
In a similar debate, the subjectivity of Systematics beat out the deposit of Dogmatics in the 20th C. Maybe the 21st. C. will see history finally put the last nail in the coffin of tradition as the primary rule of faith. Ironically, I'm increasingly convinced that is the lesser of the historically honest positions.