Saturday, January 9, 2016

Women, Based on God or Men?

After reading Daniel Botkin's review of Dr. Skip Moen's book, "Guardian Angel" initially several months ago as well as a few days ago I am still left with the same sense as before. To me, having studied the American slave trade it is quite easy for me to equate his review with the same argument against freeing the slaves. What is most humorous to me is how Skip's book expounds on so many layers beyond Botkins assertion. Daniel Botkin's focus is centered on what a women can and cannot do. This is precisely what Skip Moen dismantles via Guardian Angel.

Dr. Moen does so with deliberate Hebraic thought upholding the Biblical text as opposed to interpretative thought based on what has been taught for centuries, to the detriment, in my opinion of women. I would be curious of your thoughts based on the Daniel Botkin's review and Skip Moen's response via the links below. Keep in mind that both men are a part of the family of God as are those of you who would take the time to read both articles...Thanks.
I don't think it necessary for me to address this conversation further.

http://restoredcov.org/resources/articles/guardianangel/

http://skipmoen.com/…/a-response-to-daniel-botkins-critici…/


Daniel Botkin's Review: Source http://restoredcov.org/resources/articles/guardianangel/


BOOK REVIEW/RESPONSE
BY DANIEL BOTKIN

GUARDIAN ANGEL: 

WHAT YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT GOD’S DESIGN FOR WOMEN, BY SKIP MOEN, 

2010. 346 PAGES.

Reprinted with permission. Originally found in Gates of Eden Bi-monthly Vol. 20 No. 1. For more information on how to subscribe to Daniel’s Bi-monthly and to view past issues, visit http://gatesofeden.org


FOUR DISCLAIMERS

Before I give my response to this book, I want to state four disclaimers.

1. The previous article in this issue of GOE, “Theorizing Versus Inferring” was not written as a response to Moen’s book. That might appear to be the case, because Moen arrives at many of his conclusions by theorizing. But I wrote the article “Theorizing Versus Inferring” before I ever read Moen’s book, and I had already planned to print it in this issue of GOE.

2. I do not know Skip Moen and I have nothing against him personally. He is probably a very nice, likeable, sincere person. But nice, likeable, sincere people can be sincerely wrong. I am not suggesting that Moen is knowingly and deliberately teaching error and lies. I am only saying that Moen is seriously mistaken in his conclusions about God’s Design for Women. I am disagreeing with his conclusions, not attacking his character.

3. I am not suggesting that there is nothing good in Moen’s book. Like just about any book, it contains some truth. Moen writes about the importance of interpreting the New Testament in a way that does not contradict the Old Testament and in a way that takes the Hebraic/Jewish background into consideration. This is a fundamental truth which is familiar to most Messianic people. Even though Moen’s book contains some good things, it is riddled with theorizing, assumptions, faulty logic, speculation, eisegesis, exaggeration, and baseless statements that are simply untrue.

Just because a book contains some truth is not reason enough to swallow the message the author presents. If a man wants to poison a sheep, he doesn’t feed her straight poison; she won’t swallow it. You have to offer the sheep some good food laced with enough poison to destroy the sheep. Moen’s book contains some truth, but it is laced with enough serious error to destroy marriages and congregations if swallowed and assimilated.

4. Even though I sometimes write about controversial topics, I do not enjoy it. I feel no need to boost my ego by proving myself right and somebody else wrong. I only want to show from the Scriptures which view of the woman’s role is Scriptural and which is not.
MY POSITION ON THE WOMAN’S ROLE

My position on the woman’s role in the assembly and in the marriage is no secret to those who are familiar with my teachings on this topic. I have written about this in GOE 8-6 (“The Woman’s Role”), GOE 13-2 (“Men and Women, Husbands and Wives”), and GOE 18-1 (“Daughters of Sarah”). Readers can see the first two of these articles in the archives on the GOE web site, or request photocopies if you want to read how I arrive at my conclusions. But for now, very briefly summarized, here is my position.

Ministry-wise, I believe a woman, if qualified, is an eligible candidate to fill any position a qualified man is eligible to fill, with two important exceptions: 1) a woman should not be in a position of spiritual authority and leadership over a man, and 2) a woman should not minister in a teaching role that places her as a teacher of men.

I believe it is Biblically permissible for a woman to publicly share testimonies, prophesy, preach the gospel to the lost, and to teach men academic subjects such as math, English, history, or even Biblical languages like Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. But I believe it is contrary to Scripture for a woman to stand before an assembly in the role of a Bible teacher and give Bible instruction to men. I base this primarily, but not exclusively, on 1 Timothy 2:11f.

In the marriage, I see the wife’s role stated in simple, easy-to-understand terms in the Divinely-inspired Apostolic Scriptures. The wife is commanded to submit to her own husband and to be subject to her own husband (Eph. 5:22-24), to be a keeper at home and obedient to her own husband (Tit. 2:5), and to be in subjection to her own husband even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (1 Pet. 3:5f).

Of course there can be exceptions to the rule in cases of a mentally-ill husband who is endangering himself and others (like Abigail’s husband Nabal in 1 Samuel 25), or a wicked husband who tells his wife to disobey God. But under normal circumstances, these are the God-given commandments to wives.

This has been my view of the woman’s role ever since I was a new believer. I did not embrace this view as a result of books or teachings about the woman’s role. My view was based on the plain truths plainly stated in the Bible. I think my first exposure to books on this topic was not until about 20 years later, when I read Elizabeth Rice Handford’s Me? Obey Him? and Samuele Bacchiocchi’s Women in the Church. Both of these books affirmed my long-held view of the woman’s role in the marriage and in the assembly. Skip Moen’s book contradicts my long-held view, but it does not persuade me that Moen’s view is Biblical. On the contrary, it further convinces me that my view is Biblical. How so? Because I can see how flawed and flimsy and illogical are all the arguments against the traditional, conservative view that I and many others hold.
WHY WRITE A RESPONSE TO THIS PARTICULAR BOOK?

If Moen’s book does not make me doubt or question my view, then why should I write about the book? It was not really my idea. Here is how it came about. A year or so ago, I was asked (by a woman) if I would read the book and reconsider my long-held view of the woman’s role. Not long after that, I was asked (by a man) if I would read the book and write a response to alert people to the error and deception in the book. I had no desire to read the book nor to write about it. However, I heard reports that the book was causing problems in some Messianic/Hebrew roots circles. So I bought the book and prayed and asked the Lord to help me read it with an objective mind and to be open to any correction I might need. Here is my response.
MOEN’S VIEW OF THE WOMAN’S ROLE

According to Skip Moen, I and others who hold the traditional, conservative view of the woman’s role are misogynists – a fancy word that means people who hate women. Moen uses the words misogyny and misogynists at least eight times in his book.[1] (I say “at least” because I might have missed some.)

According to Moen, the wife’s God-ordained role in the marriage, both before and after the Fall, is to be the following things to her husband: his priest and spiritual guide, his spiritual director, his boundary-setter, his confronter and corrector, his chastiser, his protector and guardian, his rescuer, his owner and manager, his shield, his sustainer, his nourisher (even though Ephesians 5:29 teaches that it is the husband who is the nourisher of the wife), and his provider (even though 1 Timothy 5:8 says “if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith”). Moen uses these terms, either separately or together, at least 158 times throughout his book.[2] (I say “at least” because I might have missed some.)

All these terms sound more like a little boy’s mother than a wife. I don’t know about other men, but when I got married, I wanted a wife, not a woman who was going to be my new mother.

Moen suggests that the woman is “appoint[ed] as a leader” in the marriage[3] (even though Peter’s and Paul’s Divinely-inspired commandments to wives in 1 Peter 3, Ephesians 5, and Titus 2 clearly portray husbands as the leaders), and he suggests that the woman is “the stronger party in the male-female relationship”[4] (even though the Bible calls the woman “the weaker vessel” in 1 Peter 3:7).

According to Moen, the husband “becomes the property of the woman” and he “submits to her ownership.”[5]

Moen claims that Adam (Eve’s “property”) ate the forbidden fruit because he trusted Eve (his “owner”). “Was it a mistake to trust her?” Moen asks. “No,” he answers. “Adam was not wrong to trust her. A man is supposed to trust his wife in the same way that he trusts God.”[6]

How does Moen arrive at these conclusions? His view of woman as the gender who is “appoint[ed] as a leader” is based on the fact that there is an Arabic cognate of the Hebrewneqevah (“female”) which can sometimes mean to “single out” or to “appoint as a leader.”[7]

For readers who may not be familiar with linguistic terms, the word cognate refers to a word which is similar or identical to a word in another language. For example, Spanish and English have many cognates: numero/number, gloria/glory, sacrificio/sacrifice, etc. These cognates mean the same in both languages. However, many times cognates do not mean the same in both languages. Basing a conclusion on an Arabic cognate of a Hebrew word is very flimsy evidence at best.

Why does Moen view woman as “the stronger party” and the “owner” of the husband, and why does he think the wife is supposed to be her husband’s priest and spiritual guide, his spiritual director, his boundary-setter, his confronter and corrector, his chastiser, his protector and guardian, his rescuer, his owner and manager, his shield, his sustainer, his nourisher, and his provider? When Moen applies all these terms to the wife, this obviously reverses the traditional, conservative view. What is the basis of Moen’s claims? The ‘ezer kenegdo.
‘EZER KENEGDO

Virtually everything Moen teaches about God’s Design for Women (something that “You Must Know,” Moen states in the subtitle of his book) is based on one thing: Moen’s erroneous understanding of ‘ezer kenegdo, the Hebrew term usually translated “help meet” or “a suitable help” or “a help corresponding to [the male],” etc. All of Moen’s descriptions of the woman’s role as the husband’s priest and spiritual guide, provider, protector, etc., etc. are derived from his misunderstanding of the ‘ezer kenegdo. Throughout his book, Moen uses the term ‘ezer and ‘ezer kenegdo at least 225 times.[8] (I say “at least” because I might have missed some.)

I realize that when writing about a phrase and its meaning, some repetition is necessary. But 225+ appearances of ‘ezer (kenegdo) and 158+ appearances of the terms which Moen thinks should describe the wife’s role (not to mention 8+ appearances of the wordsmisogyny and misogynist) is overdoing it. And I’m not talking about writing style and essay composition here. I’m talking about the old adage that says if you repeat something enough times, eventually people will believe it, whether it’s true or not. Rather than automatically believing Moen’s oft-repeated claims, readers should carefully look at the evidence Moen presents to make his claims about the ‘ezer kenegdo.

Moen’s claims about the ‘ezer kenegdo are based on the fact that in the Bible, God is called the ‘ezer (helper) of His people. In God’s relationship with His people, God is obviously the stronger party and He is the provider and protector and spiritual guide of His people. Therefore, Moen concludes, “wives are to act toward their husbands as God acted toward His people”[9]; “she is to play the same role with her man as God plays with His people”[10]; “she plays the role of God in the physical interaction on the human plane.”[11] This totally reverses the imagery of Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5, but no matter.

Moen makes a few sub-claims to try to support these claims about the ‘ezer. The word ‘ezeris masculine, not feminine. Moen concludes that since the word is in the masculine form, the woman “plays the role of God” in the marriage. But a more sensible explanation for the use of the masculine form ‘ezer would be the fact that there was not yet a female human in existence when God stated His intention to build a helper for Adam. The only human in existence was a male. The concept of a female helper would have been meaningless untilafter the female was built, so why use a meaningless term?

But Moen insists that the use of ‘ezer to refer to both God and the woman means that both function as the stronger of the two parties – God in His relationship with Israel, and the woman in the marriage relationship. “When the Genesis account tells us that God chose the word ‘ezer to describe His purposeful construction of the woman, the connections to His own actions are deliberate,” Moen claims.[12]

“Did God intend Havvah [Eve] to be the protector and provider, the stronger party, in the male-female relationship? There can be little doubt that these thoughts are implied in the choice of [the word] ‘ezer,” Moen says.[13]

Moen insists that when someone is an ‘ezer to someone else, the ‘ezer is the stronger of the two. “This word carries the idea of help from one who is more capable. In fact, the etymology of this word suggests someone who has superior military strength.”[14](Emphasis Moen’s.)

When we use the word “helper” in English, the helper is usually (though not always) weaker and/or subordinate to the helpee. A child might be called “daddy’s little helper” or an employee might be called “the boss’s helper.” But according to Moen, the Hebrew word for helper, ‘ezer, “absolutely does not mean assistant.”[15] (Emphasis Moen’s.) Moen believes that an ‘ezer is always stronger than the one being helped. But is this true? Not at all.

Moen’s claim that ‘ezer always refers to the stronger of the two is absolutely false, and can be shown to be false by looking at how the word is used in some Bible passages. There are at least seven Bible passages where the helper/’ezer was weaker and/or subordinate to the one(s) being helped. In Joshua 1:14, the two and a half tribes east of the Jordan were commanded to “help” the other nine and a half tribes. In Judges 5:23, a curse was pronounced on the inhabitants of Meroz because they “came not to the help of Yahweh.” Several verses in 1 Chronicles 12 tell about individuals who were David’s “helpers.” In 2 Chronicles 22:17, David commanded the princes of Israel to “help” Solomon. In 2 Chronicles 32:3, the princes and mighty men “helped” King Hezekiah stop the waters. In 1 Kings 1:7, Joab and Abiathar “helped” Adonijah in his failed attempt to be king. In Ezra 5:2, the leaders Zerubbabel and Jeshua had “the prophets of God helping them.”

In all the above examples, the ‘ezer/helper was the weaker and/or the subordinate. The helpees – Joshua, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Adonijah, Zerubbabel and Jeshua – were the stronger ones in charge of these situations. The ones helping them were their subordinate assistants, not their equals nor their superiors. And anyone who could “come to the help of Yahweh” (Jdg. 5:23) would certainly not be coming as an equal or as a superior. They would be coming as the weaker, subordinate assistants. These seven passages prove that Moen’s claims about the word ‘ezer are absolutely false.

If Moen’s claims that ‘ezer suggests someone who has “superior military strength” were true, then why didn’t the Israelite women fight the wars and let the men stay home with the children? Why were the Torah laws that regulate warfare given to men instead of to women? And why does Peter call the woman “the weaker vessel”?

Virtually everything Moen teaches about God’s Design for Women is based on his ideas about the ‘ezer kenegdo and his utterly false claim that ‘ezer “absolutely does not mean assistant.” Remove this faulty foundation from Moen’s book and his arguments all collapse, because all his arguments against male headship are built on this foundation. This becomes evident when Moen tries to re-interpret the many verses that speak about male headship.
“HE SHALL RULE OVER THEE”

After Adam and Eve sinned, God told Eve “he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16). Moen points out that “Christian interpretation of the divinely ordered hierarchy of male over female or husband over wife is often derived from this passage in Genesis 3.”[16] To refute this traditional, conservative view of male headship, Moen appeals to his distorted view of ‘ezer kenegdo: “In my opinion, none of these positions [i.e., positions that affirm male headship] gives full weight to the fundamental concept of woman as ‘ezer kenegdo.”[17]

Moen claims that the statement “he shall rule over thee” is descriptive, not prescriptive. In other words, God is not prescribing or instituting male headship here, He is merelydescribing what is going to happen, and “warning” Eve: Watch out, Eve. Adam is going to rise up against you and take charge.

“God distinguishes between a curse and an announcement,” Moen says.[18] But who says male leadership is a curse? I see it as a blessing for the woman, something that gives her a provider, a protector, a spiritual guide, etc. – all those things Moen thinks the wife is supposed to be to the man.

Moen claims that Adam decided for himself, without God’s instruction or approval, to assume leadership in the family. “We can well imagine Adam’s emotional reaction [after the Fall], deciding he will never again allow himself to simply follow this supposed ‘ezer kenegdo. From now on, he will make the decisions… Instead of forgiving, Adam assumes control, suggesting that the woman is unfit for the job. From this point forward, Adam takes the initiative. He no longer trusts his wife. Furthermore, Havvah [Eve] must now fightto act as the ‘ezer kenegdo for her man… Adam fulfills God’s descriptive warning in Genesis 3:16 regarding the woman by putting himself above her in an artificial hierarchy of his own making.”[19] (Emphasis Moen’s.)

Moen goes further with his wild speculating and claims that when Adam names the woman Eve, “he demotes her to the status of an animal” because he “seeks revenge.”[20] (Emphasis Moen’s.) Moen bases this outrageous claim on the fact that Adam also gave names to the animals. But the Bible says Adam called her name Eve “because she was the mother of all living,” not because he wanted to demote her to the status of an animal as an act of revenge. If naming someone demotes them to the status of an animal, as Moen claims, then parents who give their children names are demoting them to the status of an animal.

Moen goes even further. Because Eve’s Hebrew name, Havvah, sounds similar to hivya, an Aramaic word for “serpent,” Moen claims that Adam “gives her a name that will forever remind her of her failure and permanently associate her with the animal kingdom… naming her Havvah reminds her every day of her failure and her connection to the serpent.”[21]

As I said earlier, basing a conclusion like this on nothing more than a cognate word from a sister language is very flimsy evidence at best. But even more importantly, it contradicts what the Bible plainly says. Adam’s reason for calling her Eve was “because she was the mother of all living,” not because Adam wanted to “shove her face in her sin.”[22]
PETER AND PAUL

How does Moen explain the God-given commandments to wives in Ephesians 5, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3? Before he attempts to explain these passages in the latter part of his book, he makes several comments about them in the earlier part of his book. He calls Paul’s Divinely-inspired commandments “those bothersome comments about women in church and wives at home” and “those difficult passages in Sha’ul’s [Paul’s] letters” and “the controversial verses of Paul’s letters.”[23] Moen does not mention this, but I will. These passages are “bothersome” and “difficult” and “controversial” only to people like Moen, who do not want to believe the plain truth that is plainly stated in these verses, and want instead to castrate them from the canon of Scripture by interpreting them in a way that neuters the plain meaning.

“Don’t turn to Sha’ul’s [Paul’s] letters,” Moen warns. “Don’t try to use Kefa’s [Peter’s] epistles.”[24] Of course Moen eventually has to turn to Peter’s and Paul’s epistles so he can try to re-interpret them to fit his feminist theology.

“We are ready to discuss the controversial verses of Paul’s letters,” he says on page 250. But not before filling 249 pages with teaching that undermines and contradicts the plain meaning of Peter’s and Paul’s God-given commandments to women.

Everything Moen says to deny the plain meaning of Peter’s and Paul’s commandments to women is, as with just about everything else he says, based on his distorted view of the‘ezer kenegdo. “If our views of his [Paul’s] comments about women do not square with what we have learned from the Hebraic mosaic, then we are wrong,” Moen says.[25] (Emphasis Moen’s.)

Notice that phrase “what we have learned,” i.e., what Moen has told us in the previous pages of his book. Everything Moen says to deny the plain meaning of Peter’s and Paul’s words requires the assumption that everything Moen has said about ‘ezer kenegdo is absolutely true. Furthermore, it requires the assumption that both Peter and Paul understood ‘ezer kenegdo exactly as Moen understands it, that Peter and Paul believed that the woman’s role is to be her husband’s priest and spiritual guide, his spiritual director, his boundary-setter, his confronter and corrector, his chastiser, his protector and guardian, his rescuer, his owner and manager, his shield, his sustainer, his nourisher, and his provider. Moen states, “Paul’s appreciation for the design of the ‘ezer kenegdo shapes all his discussion of these issues.”[26]
EPHESIANS 5

So how does Moen explain the commandment to women in Ephesians 5: 22, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord”? First he refers to these God-given commandments as “Paul’s infamous statements about marriage,” then he says this must be analyzed “from the perspective of Torah compatibility and rabbinic interpretation.”[27]

Of course what this really means is compatibility with Moen’s feminist views. “Ask yourself what we have learned from the Genesis account,” he says.[28] I agree. Ask yourself what we have learned from a sincere but misinformed and misguided teacher who wants us to believe that an ‘ezer who helps someone else is always the stronger one (something that is absolutely false) and based on this error, wants us to believe that the wife is supposed to be her husband’s priest and spiritual guide, his provider and nourisher, etc., etc.

Because Ephesians 5:22 says “Submitting yourselves one to another,” Moen says that the commandment for wives to submit to their own husbands as unto the Lord is really about “mutual submission,” and speaks about “the biblical view of mutual submission as opposed to the cultural view of submission of the wife.”[29] If the text really means that wives are actually supposed to submit to their husbands, then “How do we understand the admonition to mutual submission?” Moen asks.[30] (Emphasis Moen’s.)

I will answer that question. “Submitting yourselves one to another” is not telling husbands and wives to submit to each other. It is the general introductory statement to the instruction Paul is about to write regarding submission and authority. We can understand “Submitting yourselves one to another” to mean “Submit to whoever is in authority over you.”

The proof of this is in the following verses and the following chapter. First, as an introduction, Paul says to submit yourselves one to another. Then in the very next verse, he starts giving the specifics and tells who is supposed to submit to whom: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord… Children, obey your parents in the Lord… Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh…” (See Ephesians 5:21-6:9.)

In the midst of these instructions, Paul gives commandments to husbands about loving their wives, to fathers about not provoking their children to wrath, and to masters about the treatment of their servants. These commandments to people in these positions of authority are not to be ignored nor minimized, but neither are the commandments to those who are in positions under authority.

Moen eventually does half-heartedly acknowledge the husband’s “authority” and the wife’s “submission.” But according to Moen, it is not God nor the Apostles who bestow this authority on the husband, it is the wife: “It is her voluntary submission that bestows authority upon him,” Moen says. “He has it because she grants it to him.”[31] (Emphasis Moen’s.) If this were true, the wife who bestowed authority on her husband could just as easily revoke that authority and refuse to submit to her husband, thereby castrating from the Bible the commandment for wives to submit to husbands.
1 PETER 3

What about “being in subjection unto their own husbands, even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord”? Moen mentions this chapter, but he does not quote these verses that use the words “subjection” and “obeyed.” He simply dismisses these verses by claiming that all of 1 Peter 3:1-6 “targets wives with unbelieving husbands.”[32] Yes, wives with unbelieving husbands are commanded to be in subjection to their husbands, but so are wives with believing husbands. If Peter had in mind only unbelieving husbands, he would not have used the example of Sarah obeying Abraham, who was a believer, not an unbeliever. And of course Paul writes about wives submitting to husbands.

Moen makes much ado about the next verse, which says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge.” What “knowledge” does the husband need to have? The knowledge that Peter discusses in this verse? No, the husband needs Skip Moen’s knowledge about the ‘ezer kenegdo and God’s Design for Women. “Peter was a Hebrew writing in Greek,” Moen says. “In order to understand his thoughts, we need to look at the Old Testament, not the Greek culture.”[33] This is true, but Moen assumes that Peter and his readers understood ‘ezer kenegdo and God’s Design for Women the same exact way Moen does. “No Hebrew husband could have missed this allusion,” Moen says.[34]

As with Moen’s other arguments, this conclusion requires absolute belief in Moen’s view of the ‘ezer. Moen says that to see “a divine hierarchy” in 1 Peter 3 “is to ignore everything we have learned about the Torah’s description of Woman,” and a hierarchy can only be seen “if we wrench it free from the ‘ezer kenegdo of Genesis, something Peter would most certainly never do.”[35]

How does Moen’s idea of the husband’s and wife’s mutual submission to one another work in the real world when husband and wife disagree about a decision that has to be made? “What would happen if we decided together that we would do nothing unless both agreed?” Moen says.[36] (Emphasis Moen’s.)

This might sound like a good idea, and for some decisions this can work. But it is unrealistic and naive, because a lot of decisions in life have deadlines. School starts in two weeks. Public school, private school, or home school? A wedding invitation has R.S.V.P. by a certain date. Do we tell them we’ll be there or not be there? The husband has been offered a better job that will require relocating to a different state, and the company needs an answer in three weeks. We have to tell them something. What should we do?

In effect, Moen’s idea of mutual submission makes a two-headed monster of marriage and results in spiritual anarchy.
1 TIMOTHY 2:10-14

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

How does Moen explain this? First he says, “This is a personal letter of advice and counsel” and “is not like the general letters Paul wrote to congregations” but was written “to help Timothy deal with disruptions in his ministry.”[37] (Emphasis Moen’s.)

Yes, this epistle was addressed to Timothy. But it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Even though it was addressed to Timothy, the main theme of the epistle is church government and order in the local church – not just Timothy’s church, but all churches.

Virtually all Bible believers agree that the words of encouragement, instruction, and warning in 1 Timothy chapter 1 apply to believers in all churches, and that the qualifications for elders in chapter 3 apply to all churches, and that the warnings against doctrines of devils in chapter 4 apply to all churches, and that the instructions regarding elders and widows in chapter 5 apply to all churches, and that the instructions and warnings in chapter 6 apply to all churches. But Moen wants us to believe that the instructions about women in the assembly in chapter 2 do not apply to all churches, but only to Timothy’s church.

Moen admits that this prohibition of women teaching men “could mean a singular class noun, that is, a reference to all people in the class ‘woman.’”[38] But Moen refuses to understand it this way. Why? Because he thinks this understanding “stands in opposition to the instructions and narrative of the Tanakh [Old Testament],”[39] which really means in opposition to Moen’s view of the ‘ezer.

Moen claims, without any proof, that “Paul’s remarks are most likely directed at one particular woman.” “In other words,” Moen says, “Paul may be saying, ‘Let this woman,’ a particular woman whose name is withheld, not be allowed to teach… A woman in the congregation was teaching heretical views. She is to be forbidden to do so.”[40]

There are two reasons to reject this theory. First, because it is a mere theory without a single shred of evidence. It is eisegesis. But more importantly, because it ignores the very next verse, which tells us the two-fold reason for the prohibition. Paul does not say “because she is teaching heretical views.” Paul says “because [“For,” Greek gar, ‘for this reason, because’] Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

Regardless of how you want to understand (or not understand) the connection between the prohibition and this two-fold reason, this is the plainly-stated two-fold reason the Bible gives for this prohibition. And the two truths stated in this two-fold reason are just as true today as they were in Timothy’s day, because they are statements of unchangeable historical and Biblical facts. Adam’s primacy in creation and the woman’s deception and transgression are the stated reasons for not allowing a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over a man. You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to understand the connection, but this is what the Bible says. When the Bible gives a reason for a prohibition, it is presumptuous and dangerous to invent a different reason to justify transgressing that prohibition.
MOEN’S UNMENTIONABLES

There are three important passages about women that Moen does not explain nor even mention. One is Titus 2, which commands wives to be “keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands” (vs. 5). Another is Isaiah 3:12, “As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” This shows that when women rule over men, it is a reproach that can result in error.

Probably the most significant passage Moen does not explain nor even mention is Numbers chapter 30, which gives a husband authority to nullify a vow made by his wife. If a man makes a vow, no second party can nullify that vow, it says. But if a woman makes an unwise vow, she can be rescued from that vow by her husband. This is extremely important, because if Moen’s view of the ‘ezer as the man’s spiritual guide, boundary-setter, rescuer, protector, etc. were true, then the wife would be the one who could nullify her spouse’s unwise vows. Numbers chapter 30 contradicts everything Moen says about the woman’s role as the husband’s ‘ezer.
STRETCHING AND DISTORTING THE HEBREW TEXT

Moen seems to know more Hebrew than the “just enough Hebrew to be dangerous” crowd, but he really stretches and distorts the Hebrew text to try to make it support his ideas. Moen relies very heavily on “Hebrew Word Pictures,” a process that combines the pictographic meaning of each individual letter in a word to force it to make a statement. I discussed the flaws and fallacies of this approach, which is based more on folklore than on philology, in “Just Enough Hebrew To Be Dangerous” (GOE 19-3). Moen appeals to “Hebrew Word Pictures” and pictographs just about every time he introduces a Hebrew word, at least 33 times.[41] (I say “at least” because I might have missed some.)

When discussing the Hebrew word for “woman,” which Moen transliterates as ish-sha, he uses pictographs as a basis for a lengthy, detailed explanation about “the doubled [Hebrew letter] Shin” and how this “doubled Shin” allegedly “offers some explanation and some insight” into the role of the woman.[42]

The main problem I have with this is not just Moen’s use of pictograph-based definitions, but in the fact that I cannot find a doubled Shin in the Hebrew word for “woman.” I looked at the text in five Hebrew Bibles, three Hebrew lexicons, and two Hebrew dictionaries,[43]and I cannot find the word spelled with a doubled Shin anywhere. All ten of my sources spell the word with a single Shin. If it is spelled with a doubled Shin, it does not appear where it should appear in any of my dictionaries or lexicons, and it is not given as an alternative spelling with the single-Shin entries. Maybe Moen has a Hebrew source that spells it with a doubled Shin, but I’ve never seen it spelled that way and I can’t find it spelled that way.

I realize anyone can make a spelling error. But if this is indeed a spelling error on Moen’s part, it reveals very sloppy scholarship, because “woman” is a very common Hebrew word. That in itself would not be a big deal, but to go into a long, detailed claim about some hidden “insight” based on an apparent misspelling makes me question Moen’s credibility, especially when “woman” is what his book is all about.

Moen makes other non-credible claims based on the Hebrew text. He claims that when God clothed Adam and Eve with coats of skins, “He installed them both as the world’s first priests.”[44] This theory is based solely on the fact that when Aaron and his sons were clothed with their priestly garments, the same Hebrew words for “clothed” and “coats” are used. “In other words, this phrase is used exclusively for those whom God dresses aspriests,” Moen says.[45] (Emphasis Moen’s.)

That’s really stretching the text. The word “clothe” (lavash) is a very common word, and people in the Bible are clothed with all sorts of things: coats, armor, rags, scarlet, strange apparel, filthy garments, rough garments, even with shame, cursing, desolation, and more.[46] So the Hebrew word for “clothe” is certainly not used exclusively for clothing priests. And the Hebrew word for “coats” is certainly not used exclusively for priestly coats. The word “coat” (k’tonet) is used for Joseph’s coat, Tamar’s coat, Hushai’s coat, Job’s coat, and the Shulamite’s coat.[47]
OTHER MISCELLANEOUS CONCERNS

Moen’s book is riddled with illogical arguments and inconsistencies too numerous to list. He claims that the requirement that an elder must be “the husband of one wife” can only be understood correctly by inserting the words “if that person is a male.”[48] But you only need to add to the Word of God this way if your view contradicts the plain meaning of the inspired text.

Moen not only adds to the Word of God, he also suggests that it is permissible to take away from the Word of God. When discussing 1 Timothy 2:12 (“I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence”), Moen says, “This may be aninsertion into Paul’s letter, placed there by those who wished to assert predominance and foster hierarchy within the church.”[49] (Emphasis Moen’s.) Why does Moen say this? Because he thinks this verse “flies in the face of all that Paul says about equality under the Messiah.”[50]

So if you read something in the Bible that you can’t explain in a way that harmonizes with your personal views, Moen apparently thinks it’s okay to reject it as a later insertion by wicked scribes, and ignore what it says.

Of course Moen brings up the tired old arguments based on the Christian Feminist’s Favorite New Testament Trio: Phoebe, Junia, and Priscilla.

Phoebe is called a diakonon, a word that simply means “servant.” But Moen insists it means that “Phoebe held a position of some distinction.”[51] This is very likely true, but that does not make her a teacher of men nor a “pastor” as one writer says.[52] If being a diakonon(“servant”) makes someone a pastor, then every believer is a pastor, because we’re all supposed to be servants.

Moen claims that Junia was a woman apostle, even though the text says only that Junia, along with Andronicus, was “of note among the apostles,” i.e., that Junia had a good reputation in the eyes of the apostles, not that Junia herself (or himself) was an apostle. Yes, Junia might have been a man, not a woman. Even Moen admits that Junia’s gender is debatable: “this [the Greek name Junia] could be a contraction of the masculine Junianus.”[53] If Junia’s gender is uncertain, why insist that Junia was a woman apostle?

Moen, like other Christian feminists, thinks that the appearance of Priscilla’s name before her husband’s name has some special significance. Paul writes “Priscilla and Aquila,” “naming her before Aquila,”[54] as if this means that Priscilla was in some way the stronger of the two. But Acts 18:2 says “Aquila… with his wife Priscilla” and Acts 18:26 says “Aquila and Priscilla.” When two names are listed together, the order does not necessarily denote rank nor status nor strength. We usually see “Moses and Aaron,” but three times we see “Aaron and Moses.”[55] We often see “Paul and Barnabas,” but six times we see “Barnabas and Paul (or Saul).”[56]
THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH AND THE SPIRIT OF JEZEBEL

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahweh. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5f).

As every day brings us one day closer to that great and dreadful day, the spirit of Elijah works to turn our heart back to our fathers – not only to our biological fathers who begat us, but also to the forefathers of our faith, the Patriarchs. In the Messianic Movement we see many believers returning to a patriarchal world view, which is actually the Biblical view.

When the spirit of Elijah is working to turn us back to a patriarchal view, you can be sure that the spirit of Jezebel will be working equally hard to turn God’s people away from a patriarchal view to a feminist, matriarchal view.

Moen, like Jezebel, despises male authority and the patriarchal view. He says that “the biblical model is clearly not patriarchal” and “male dominance and patriarchal thinking is not part of the biblical pattern.”[57] (Emphasis Moen’s.)

But let’s face it, folks. The Biblical view is patriarchal. Even Moen admits that the Semitic cultures of Biblical times were “patriarchal” and “unquestionably male dominated.”[58]

If we are going to base our views on the Bible, we are going to have a patriarchal view, and this view will lead to the inescapable conclusion that male leadership is the Biblical norm. Women are equally important, but male headship is the Biblical norm in the family and in the assembly. Like it or not, these are the facts.

Satan wants to destroy foundational truths, because “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps 11:3). One of the very first foundational truths about humanity is gender distinction, “male and female created He them” (Gen. 1:27). Satan has been trying to blur the distinction between male and female, waging war with a two-pronged weapon. The two prongs on that weapon are the modern-day feminist movement and the homosexual movement. These work side by side, hand in hand, for the common goal of blurring the foundational truth of male and female distinction. It is no coincidence that many of the Christian feminist arguments that Moen and others use are remarkably similar to the arguments that I have read to try to justify homosexuality. I’m not suggesting that Moen approves of homosexuality. He probably condemns it. But if his feminist views can be justified by the arguments he presents, then the homosexual views can be justified by the arguments they present, because the arguments are remarkably similar.

In closing, let me say that Moen makes one very good point about women generally having “a keener sense of spiritual awareness.”[59] I agree. Women often seem to be more spiritually alert and able to intuitively perceive things easier than men do. Then Moen adds an important statement: “For this same reason, she is more vulnerable to spiritual deception.”[60] I agree. And this is probably the most important true statement in Moen’s book. It should serve as a warning to women who read Moen’s book.






[1] Pages 1, 2, 14, 155, 157, 158, 288 (2 times).


[2] Numbers in parentheses indicate number of times one of these terms was used. Pages 1(6), 11(4), 12(4), 29(2), 55 (2), 56, 74(5), 75(2), 75(2), 82(3), 91(4), 103(8), 108(2), 111(4), 112(2), 114(5), 115(3), 124(4), 128(6), 137(3), 164(2), 165(2), 166, 167, 168, 169(3), 180(6), 181, 189(3), 190(3), 191, 211(2), 227(12), 229(4), 235, 239(4), 240(4), 263(3), 291(4), 294(2), 295, 302, 311(5), 323(7), 324, 342(4), 344(5), 346(4).


[3] Page 54.


[4] Page 103


[5] Page 226


[6] Page 181


[7] Page 54f


[8] Numbers in parentheses indicate number of times ‘ezer (kenegdo) is used on that page. Pages iii(3), iv, 3(2), 4(2), 11(2), 65, 74(3), 75(2), 78(2), 82(3), 83, 90, 94, 98(4), 99(6), 100(6), 101(3), 102(4), 103(4), 104, 105, 106, 107(2), 108(3), 109(4), 110(2), 111(4), 112(2), 113(2), 114(4), 115(5), 118(2), 123(4), 124(2), 125, 126(3), 127, 130, 131, 132, 133(3), 137,138(3), 139, 140, 141, 150, 156, 158, 160, 161, 162(2), 164, 166(2), 167(3), 168(3), 169(4), 170(2), 176, 180(4), 181(2), 182, 183, 187, 189(2), 190, 191(2), 193(2), 195(2), 198, 200(6), 201(2), 210(2), 212, 214(2), 218, 222(2), 227(3), 228(5), 229(2), 232(3), 235, 236, 239, 240, 243, 251, 256, 257, 258, 263, 265, 270, 277, 282, 288, 291, 294(2), 300(2), 302, 303(2), 306, 307, 311(2), 323, 325(3), 326(5), 328(3), 329, 336, 337(2), 344(2), 346.


[9] Page 227


[10] Page 101


[11] Page 344


[12] Page 102


[13] Page 103


[14] Page 100


[15] Page 108


[16] Page 139


[17] Page 139


[18] Page 141


[19] Page 169f, 193


[20] Page 193


[21] Page 194, 202f


[22] Page 202


[23] Page 21, 85, 250


[24] Page 237


[25] Page 239


[26] Page 282


[27] Page 293


[28] Page 294


[29] Page 295


[30] Page 162.


[31] Page 299


[32] Page 252


[33] Page 253


[34] Page 254


[35] Page 256


[36] Page 311


[37] Page 271


[38] Page 273f


[39] Page 274


[40] Page 274


[41] Numbers in parentheses indicate number of times pictographs are referred to on that page. Page 41, 46, 47, 48, 49, 62, 64, 66, 68, 88, 89(2), 90, 94, 95(2), 102, 117(2), 120, 144, 172, 173, 174(2), 175, 179(2), 187, 206, 259, 305(2).


[42] Page 90


[43] Stone Tanach, Hertz, Plaut, Zondervan, Society for Distributing Hebrew Scriptures; Strong’s, Young’s, Gesenius; Ben Yehudah, Bantam


[44] Page 211


[45] Page 211


[46] 1 Sam. 17:5, Prov. 23:21, Prov. 31:21, Zeph. 1:8, Zech. 3:3, Zech. 13:4, Job 8:22, Ps. 109:18, Ezk. 7:27


[47] Gen. 37:3, 2 Sam. 13:8, 2 Sam. 15:32, Job 30:18, Song 5:3


[48] Page 289


[49] Page 285


[50] Page 284f


[51] Page 286


[52] “I Suffer Not a Woman: Was Paul a Male Chauvinist?” by Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min., M.A., www.eddiehyatt.com/article20.html?bare


[53] Page 287


[54] Page 286


[55] Ex. 6:20, Ex. 6:26, 1 Chron. 23:13


[56] Acts 12:25, 13:2, 13:7, 14:14, 15:12, 15:25


[57] Page 126


[58] Page 218


[59] Page 115


[60] Page 115

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A Response to Daniel Botkin’s Criticism of Guardian Angel
source

http://skipmoen.com/2014/02/01/a-response-to-daniel-botkins-criticism-of-guardian-angel/
Posted on February 1, 2014, updated on February 25, 2015 by Skip Moen


Recently several readers informed me that Daniel Botkin (whom I have never had any conversation with) wrote a very critical, perhaps caustic, review of my book Guardian Angel. They asked if I would respond. At first I was quite hesitant to do so. After all, in the “Four Disclaimers” of his review he clearly states that he endorses the patriarchal, male hierarchy of husband and male authority over women.[1] In this regard, he represents precisely the position that I argue is not biblically sound and is gender degrading. Of course, he is not alone in this view. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Piper and the Catholic priests that I reference in my book follow the same point of view, marshalling texts in order to prove that men have been given the divine right to be in charge of women, especially in the Church. It goes without saying that there are a large number of scholars who have challenged this traditional view, so Botkin’s criticism of my work is essentially a criticism of a significant number of recognized scholars.

When I read his review, I was reminded of the opening conversation in the book of Job. It has always seemed a bit strange to me that God Himself initiates the suffering of Job by pointing out Job’s righteousness to ha-satan. I thought, “If I actually respond to this typical and expected rebuttal, it will only serve to highlight Botkin’s view. Why would I want to do that?” You can read the same arguments in any number of traditionalists. Why should I give Botkin any more publicity? But then several women wrote to me asking for my assistance because they have experienced new hope and freedom after reading Guardian Angel but they felt they lacked the ammunition to counter Botkin’s diatribe. So I will reluctantly spend some time countering Botkin’s points.

First I would note that while it is nice for Botkin to suggest he is not attacking me but rather the conclusions of my book, it’s really too bad that he doesn’t seem to stick with that claim. I suppose that just demonstrates how passionately he holds his position. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here and ignore the personal tone.

Secondly, it is critically important to realize that Botkin has already made up his mind on this topic before he examines the arguments. He declares himself a firm supporter of the usual restrictions on women supposedly supported by Paul’s statements in 1 Timothy and Ephesians. Despite all the conditions he suggests, the bottom line is that he sees women as limited in their roles in the Church and in marital relationships and functions by divine decree. But, of course, that is the reason I dealt with each and every one of these controversial verses in the book. That Botkin remains unconvinced does not imply that my exegesis is wrong. It merely demonstrates that his position is intractable. In spite of the careful examination of the controversial texts and citation of recognized Greek scholars on these issues, Botkin simply affirms his presupposed beliefs. Of course, Botkin claims that his view is “based on the plain truths plainly stated in the Bible.” But that is the whole issue, isn’t it? If I were the only person in the history of the faith to challenge these “plain truths” of the Bible, then perhaps my readers should have some concern, but I am not the only one to do so. The alternative of a fully egalitarian view of the Bible position on women has wide support (see the references in Guardian Angel). Botkin simply represents a traditional, and I would argue, culturally uninformed and self-serving view. If the truth were so plainly obvious, everyone with any biblical integrity would agree. But obviously they do not and have not done so for at least the last 100 years.

Now let’s deal with Botkin’s specific objections.

1. Botkin takes offense that I suggest that those who hold the traditional view of male authority are essentially misogynists. He doesn’t like that appellation. But I ask, “What other word can you use to describe a position that believes the God put men in charge of women, husbands are supposed to take authority over their wives and even in the Kingdom, women are divinely relegated to a position where they are never to usurp the divine right of the male? Botkin’s objection demands that he demonstrate how one can hold the traditional male-dominant position and avoid the implied diminishing of God’s design. Actually, Katherine Bushnell’s point seems relevant here. If there is no distinction between male and female in the Kingdom, why does Botkin continue to hold that God ordained such a distinction?

2. The core of the argument is found in the meaning of ‘ezer kenegdo. According to Botkin, “All of Moen’s descriptions of the woman’s role as the husband’s priest and spiritual guide, provider, protector, etc., etc. are derived from his misunderstanding of the ‘ezer kenegdo.” What does Botkin offer in place of my analysis? First he attempts to defeat my conclusions by noting that I use the words ‘ezer kenegdo at least 225 times and that this implies I simply repeat the words so often in order to convince the reader of my position by “overdoing it.” Let me see. If mere repetition of a word means that the author is employing manipulation tactics rather than argument content, then I suppose we would have to object that Moses uses torah too much, or that God uses hesed too much or that John was being manipulative when he used the verb pisteuo (to believe) 92 times in his gospel. Really? Is this any grounds for rejecting the argument?

Botkin misreads my suggestion that the ‘ezer kenegdo plays the role of God in analogy. That argument comes from the use of batach in Proverbs 31:11, not simply from the words‘ezer kenegdo. But let’s leave that aside. Botkin’s real objection is that I claim the ‘ezer kenegdo is the “stronger of the two parties” in the functional role God assigns. Botkin tries to overturn this analysis by noting that, “There are at least seven Bible passages where the helper/’ezer was weaker and/or subordinate to the one(s) being helped. In Joshua 1:14, the two and a half tribes east of the Jordan were commanded to ‘help’ the other nine and a half tribes. In Judges 5:23, a curse was pronounced on the inhabitants of Meroz because they ‘came not to the help of Yahweh.’ Several verses in 1 Chronicles 12 tell about individuals who were David’s ‘helpers.’ In 2 Chronicles 22:17, David commanded the princes of Israel to ‘help’ Solomon. In 2 Chronicles 32:3, the princes and mighty men ‘helped’ King Hezekiah stop the waters. In 1 Kings 1:7, Joab and Abiathar ‘helped’ Adonijah in his failed attempt to be king. In Ezra 5:2, the leaders Zerubbabel and Jeshua had ‘the prophets of God helping them.’

But Botkin confuses rank with function. Let me offer a rabbinic example. To what may the role of the ‘ezer kenegdo be compared? One day a king prepared to go into battle. He donned his armor, his helmet, his shield and sword. He went to the stable to mount his horse, but he discovered that all of this weight made it impossible for him to get into the saddle. There happened to be a stable boy in the horse’s stall. What did the king do? He asked the stable boy for help. Stepping on the boy’s back, he mounted the horse and rode to battle. At the moment that the king stood of the back of the boy, which one was in the superior position? The rank of king made no difference to the necessity of calling on someone of lesser rank but of superior functional ability. If you review all the counterexamples Botkin offers above, you will see that he thinks rank is the reason the ‘ezercannot be in a superior position, but each of the examples simply demonstrates that the lesser-ranked ‘ezer is functionally superior in that situation. I ask Botkin, “If we remove the consideration of rank, who is the stronger: the one needing help or the one helping?” Botkin’s objection is without merit unless he believes that God gave men rank over women. But that’s the point. To simply assert that God did so is to continue to ignore the framework of the ‘ezer kenegdo, the Hebraic culture and rabbinic background, and an alternative (and reasonable) exegesis of the text. A man does not win an argument by simply saying that he is right.

Botkin’s conclusion, “The ones helping them were their subordinate assistants, not their equals nor their superiors. And anyone who could ‘come to the help of Yahweh’ (Jdg. 5:23) would certainly not be coming as an equal or as a superior. They would be coming as the weaker, subordinate assistants. These seven passages prove that Moen’s claims about the word ‘ezer are absolutely false,” simply misses the point. My argument is not about rank. It is about function.

At least Botkin is right about the implications when he says, “Virtually everything Moen teaches about God’s Design for Women is based on his ideas about the ‘ezer kenegdo and his utterly false claim that ‘ezer ‘absolutely does not mean assistant.’ Remove this faulty foundation from Moen’s book and his arguments all collapse, because all his arguments against male headship are built on this foundation.” It is true that my view of the ‘ezer kenegdo is central to my view of the role of women, but that does not mean that what I claim about ‘ezer kenegdo is “utterly false.” It is “utterly false” to Botkin because his paradigm will not allow functional superiority. His paradigm is all about hierarchy (rank) and therefore he refuses to see any other explanation.

Botkin attempts to overturn my exegesis of the descriptive character of Genesis 3:16 (“and he shall rule over you”) by claiming that I think of male leadership as a curse (“But who says male leadership is a curse? I see it as a blessing for the woman, something that gives her a provider, a protector, a spiritual guide, etc. – all those things Moen thinks the wife is supposed to be to the man”). But apparently he didn’t read the text carefully. What I said is that neither Adam or Havvah are cursed. Only the land and the serpent are cursed. What I argued is that given this clear use of the Hebrew word for curse, we should understand Genesis 3:16 as descriptive – and I cited several recognized scholars who hold the same position. Furthermore, I noted that Bushnell argued some time ago that a change in thepointing of the verse significantly alters the meaning. I accept her argument because I believe it is closer to the character of a compassionate and forgiving God. Botkin rejects the argument because he believes God put him in charge of his wife. He can disagree with my analysis, but he cannot claim that my analysis is “wild speculating” unless he shows me that Bushnell, Hamilton and others mentioned have no grounds to stand on. Oh, and by the way, they are Christian Hebrew scholars.

Botkin ignores the Hebraic naming construction in Genesis 2 when he rejects my argument that Adam naming Havvah has enforced gender hierarchy implications. He also misses the point that havvah occurs in another Semitic language with the meaning “serpent.” He claims that I make this connection to the similar Aramaic word hivya, but I cite Nahum Sarna’s observation about the term in Syraic, not Aramaic. Perhaps he missed the footnote. Botkin claims that I have missed what the Bible “plainly says. Adam’s reason for calling her Eve was ‘because she was the mother of all living”. But apparently Botkin did not understand the point that if this is what the Hebrew word havvah meant, the narrator would not have to tell us what it means. Perhaps that argument was too subtle for Botkin to understand.

Let’s summarize here because at this point Botkin skips over all the rest of the material in the Tanakh and jumps right to the traditional readings of Peter and Paul. I will address his category “Stretching and Distorting the Hebrew Text” after we have reviewed his arguments concerning the New Testament verses.

It appears to me that Botkin’s real objection to the formation of another reading of the text of the Tanakh is based on his confusion of rank (hierarchy) with function. He constantly insists that the ‘ezer kenegdo cannot be seen as the stronger of the parties, and therefore cannot be assigned roles that come from that fact, because there are examples of the ‘ezer being hierarchically lower than the one being helped. But this is confused and irrelevant. At no point do I claim that women have an ontological superiority to men. In fact, I am decidedly egalitarian on this issue. Men and women and equally created as human beings, both assigned the prime directive and both equipped to fulfill God’s purposes. In fact, Botkin is the one who uses a form of ontological priority after the Fall to elevate men and lower women. What I believe is that the text teaches us functional difference and that functional difference recognizes the paramount role of the ‘ezer kenegdo, a role also acknowledged by the rabbis including Paul. Botkin simply ignores the rabbinic material, the differentiation between ancient pagan mythologies and the Hebrew account in Genesis, and the cultural and linguistic evidence. In fact, I might argue that Botkin reads the Tanakh through the eyes of the traditionalist’s view of the New Testament rather than the other way around.

Botkin argues that I claim the biblical model is not patriarchal. If he means (and I take it that he does) that I think the biblical model does not support the idea of a male hierarchy of authority, then he is absolutely correct. But then he counters by pointing out that the civilization of Israel was patriarchal. He concludes that I must be mistaken. Unfortunately, once again he does not distinguish between the biblical model (that is, the model of Genesis 2) and the history of Israel. The fact that Israel practiced patriarchal authority says nothingabout God’s design. Israel practiced idolatry. Are we to conclude that God designed Israel to be idolatrous? I would simply argue that no culture, including Israel, actually put into place the design that God intended in the Garden. That’s why we have the story of Genesis 3. Botkin’s claim is irrelevant to the biblical model because the biblical model is not the same as the practice of biblical characters.

The only significant counterpoint that Botkin raises about the text (not his presuppositions) is the discussion of the release of a vow in Numbers 30. Since I have written about this difficult passage in other places, I will not reiterate that argument here. Suffice it to say that the “plain meaning” of the text is not so plain at all until we account for the cultural sitz im lebenof Israel after Egypt. Botkin’s conclusion that this issue about vows clearly demonstrates men are superior is simplistic and culturally uninformed.

What has Botkin really demonstrated about my understanding of the Hebrew account and the implications for Hebraic worldview? He has shown that he doesn’t like what I have to say about the etymology, culture and implications of the Genesis account. But as far as I can tell, other than reiterating the conventional traditionalist’s view, he has offered no telling explanations that conclusively overturn my analysis. Frankly, I am not surprised.

Now, what about those New Testament passages? This material in Botkin’s review leaves me nonplussed. Nearly every verse he uses to justify his claim that the traditionalist’s view is the divinely-inspired, God-given commandmentfor women (his emphasis) is really a reiteration of the typical and historical claims. Since I treated these verses from the perspective of rabbinic, Hebraic thought, I find his criticisms vacuous. Repeating what the Church has taught for centuries does not make the claim true. The American church taught that Black people were under the curse of Ham for decades. Does that mean they were right? Botkin shows me no reason to change any of my exegesis based on the text. He simply asserts that his view is the correct one and goes about reading the texts according to that view. This is singularly unhelpful. If I really made a mistake in the exegesis, show me, but don’t simply tell me that you have the “plain biblical meaning” and therefore I am wrong. The whole point of 200 pages of trying to understand the role of women in the Tanakh is so that we can read the New Testament in the context of the Tanakh, not the other way around. Botkin’s diatribe claims that I call “Paul’s Divinely-inspired commandments ‘those bothersome comments about women in church and wives at home.’” Botkin concludes that I am one of the feminist-embracing proponents who ignores the divine commandments God gave Paul about women. Unfortunately, Botkin didn’t read the text. What I said is that these statements of Paul clearly cause cultural dissonance. That should be obvious. What I went on to say is that this dissonance is eradicated once we see what Paul (and others) are saying from a rabbinic, Hebraic point of view. I do not dismiss what Paul says. Quite the contrary. I work my way through these texts to try to show that what Paul says makes sense in his culture and time – and has application for us. The question is not about the “Divinely-inspired commandments” of Paul. The question is, “What did Paul mean?” And that question is not answered by simply asserting that Paul’s words must be understood in the same way as our words. Botkin just picks and chooses phrases from my arguments to criticize my approach, but I find nothing in his review that helps us explain Paul’s use of Greek terms, Paul’s reliance on the LXX and Paul’s rabbinic formulations. Botkin’s argument seems to reside in his view of “the plain meaning of Peter’s and Paul’s God-given commandments to women.” But the scholarly academic concern is that the text doesn’t have a “plain meaning.” Botkin’s approach simply dismisses any other view because it doesn’t line up with his view. But he offers nothing about the intricacies and difficulties of the actual Greek text. Apparently it is sufficient to rely on the translations which he claims provide us with the “plain meaning” of the text.

For example, when Botkin provides critique of my work on Ephesians 5, he reveals his true agenda. He claims that my analysis of the “commandment” for women is really driven by “Moen’s feminist views.” Strange. If my analysis of the text through the lens of rabbinic and ancient Hebraic thought suggests that women have a equal ontological but functionally different role means that I am a feminist, then so be it. But according to my textual analysis, that makes Paul a feminist too. Good company as far as I am concerned. Botkin makes no mention of the verbal ellipsis (that is, the absence of a verb in the Ephesians passage), no mention of the contextual circumstances in Ephesus, no mention of the allusion of the Garden story, etc. Botkin’s approach is simply to assert that the plain meaning of the text in translation is that women are to submit to men. But that ignores everything in my book about Paul’s rabbinic approach and the cultural/historical circumstances in Ephesus. His critique provides no new considerations. It simply restates the very position that I attempt to show is inadequate. Perhaps he thinks that if he says it over and over long enough people will come to believe it.

Botkin’s summary is this: “Everything Moen says to deny the plain meaning of Peter’s and Paul’s commandments to women is, as with just about everything else he says, based on his distorted view of the ‘ezer kenegdo.” The problem is that Botkin offers no analysis of ‘ezer kenegdo of his own. He doesn’t tell us why my view is wrong other than to assert that it doesn’t agree with “the plain meaning of the text.” He doesn’t account for the Jewish perspective, the rabbinic struggles to understand this phrase, the context or even the fact that Paul was a rabbi.

Botkin offers a proof that Paul’s opening statement about mutual submission does not control the ellipsis of Ephesians 5:22. But notice his framework. “Paul is about to write regarding submission and authority.” Botkin thinks this passage is about authority. That’s the real “plain meaning.” Wives must submit to a man’s authority. The proof he offers is the rest of Paul’s remarks to children and slaves. But instead of seeing these as exhortations of obedience, Botkin says, “These commandments to people in these positions of authority are not to be ignored nor minimized, but neither are the commandments to those who are in positions under authority.” Did you notice the assumption that Paul’s statements are to “people in authority”? For Botkin, authority is the real issue and in his view authority is a matter of designated rank. We are back to the same problem we had with his analysis of‘ezer kenegdo. Botkin is concerned with who is in control, not why one should voluntarily obey. At least he recognized my claim that biblical authority is granted by another, not resident in the title or office. It is absolutely true that I said, “It is her voluntary submissionthat bestows authority upon him [the husband].” But Botkin objects because, as he rightly notes, this means a wife could withdraw that authority. Botkin’s view is that the authority of the husband is not granted by the wife. It is divinely given to the husband. His rankdetermines his authority whether she likes it or not. He claims that this “castrates” the biblical commandment. Really? Are wives to obey their husbands no matter what they ask simply because they hold the title of “husband”? Think about the license for abuse that this view provides. Think about the degradation it endorses. Marriage is supposed to be a model of God’s relationship with Israel. Does God make Israel obey Him? Is that the essence of love—to be told what to do? I wonder if Botkin himself thinks of his relationship with the Father as one of compulsion rather than voluntary love? Does he want a wife who desires to bless him or a wife who serves him because she has to?

Botkin’s objection to my analysis of Peter’s statements about submission is that I don’t say anything about the passage where Sarah calls Abraham “lord.” Does that really matter? I discuss Peter’s view with the passages about wives and disobedient husbands. Sarah calling Abraham “lord” is Peter’s midrash. Taken out of Hebraic context, it can mean whatever the reader wants it to mean. But in Hebraic context, there is no reason to assume that Abraham has a view of authority like Botkin’s. In fact, in the story of Abraham and Sarah, Sarah’s actions often appear as though she is telling Abraham what to do—and he does it. As I point out in my book, the story of Abraham and Sarah has clear references to the story of Adam and Havvah. Once again we find that the heart of Botkin’s objection is “who is in charge.” Botkin says that mutual submission is good in theory but just doesn’t work in practice. Someone has to make the decision, and in Botkin’s view, God has given that power to the man. But Paul’s “commandment” for mutual submission is just as valid as Paul’s instruction to wives and Peter’s exhortation to wives. Mutual submission meansmutual, not “the husband is in charge.”

Botkin takes up my exegesis of Paul’s letters to Timothy. I point out that these are personal letters written to Timothy to resolve local issues. Botkin claims, “But it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Even though it was addressed to Timothy, the main theme of the epistle is church government and order in the local church – not just Timothy’s church, but all churches.” He further remarks, “Virtually all Bible believers agree that the words of encouragement, instruction, and warning in 1 Timothy chapter 1 apply to believers in all churches.” I suppose what he means is that all believers who think like he does agree, but certainly he cannot mean all believers since there are plenty of “believers” who would not agree that Paul’s letters apply to all churches. Perhaps he means to imply that if they do not think Paul was writing to churches today as well as Timothy’s ekklesia, then those people are not believers. My book gives multiple citations to scholars who believe Paul was writing toTimothy, not Botkin, but perhaps we are all deluded and really not believers because we do not agree with him. I have attempted to understand the text in its own context, not as a “Holy Spirit inspired” document for all time and places. I assume that the place to start with exegesis is with the people and place of the original audience. If Botkin’s view is correct, then women should not wear jewelry or braid their hair and must certainly wear a head covering while it is a sin for men to have long hair. I suppose that means that every representation we have of Moses or Yeshua shows them in sin. Clearly Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has a context. That’s what we must understand before we can determine what it means for us. If we don’t understand what the author meant, we don’t understand what the text means. It seems that Botkin has determined the meaning of the text based on his traditional paradigm. I have tried to examine these texts in light of Paul’s and Peter’s rabbinic education and first century Jewish thought, but I suppose Botkin must think this is irrelevant since he offers no further insight into the culture or the history in his criticism.

Let’s look at Botkin’s criticism of my analysis of the very difficult text of I Timothy 2:10-14. Botkin claims that treating the Greek word for “woman” in this passage as a singular (which it is in Greek) rather than a class noun (woman = all women) is “without any proof.” But that is the entire point of my exegesis, that is, to offer a reasonable reading of the text in the singular (one woman) not in the class (all women). Botkin may not find the argument convincing but he certainly cannot claim there is no evidence for it. My book clearly footnotes Cunningham’s book where the argument for the singular is carefully delineated. Perhaps Botkin didn’t bother with the footnotes.

Botkin claims that the biblical text proves that a woman (in his view the class of all women) should never be in authority over men because of Adam’s priority in creation and the fact that the woman was deceived. This suggests that whatever comes first must always be in authority over whatever comes second. So Esau has authority over Jacob, right? John the Baptist has authority over Yeshua. Right? God the Father has authority over the Son, right? Yeshua must have been wrong when he said, “The last will be first.” Or Ruben, the firstborn, should have been the leader of all the tribes, right? Authority in the Bible is a function of reflecting the glory of God, not of temporal order.

Botkin’s second “proof” is that Havvah was deceived. On this basis we should not trust any women. Because of Havvah, all women are untrustworthy, right? Apparently women pass this unreliability to their daughters but not their sons. It is hard to imagine how this squares with Paul’s further statement that Havvah was deceived but Adam sinned deliberately. Botkin simply ignores the difficulty of the passage, offering no further analysis, in his reiteration of the traditional male chauvinist view.

Finally, Botkin includes a sub category called “Stretching and Distorting the Hebrew Text.” In this section he makes the claim that I rely heavily on Hebrew word pictures. I’m not sure what “relies heavily” means and I do include Hebrew word pictures but these are used to supplement the exegetical and logical analysis of the text. The most important approach to the text is culture, history and etymology. Word pictures are an addition, not the core. Perhaps Botkin does not like what I find in them, but that is no reason to suggest they have no value.

Botkin has a criticism of my Hebrew as well. He says, “The main problem I have with this is not just Moen’s use of pictograph-based definitions, but in the fact that I cannot find a doubled Shin in the Hebrew word for ‘woman.’ I looked at the text in five Hebrew Bibles, three Hebrew lexicons, and two Hebrew dictionaries, and I cannot find the word spelled with a doubled Shin anywhere.” But this is ridiculous. The Hebrew word is spelled with one Shin as it is written in the text but it is pointed to indicate that the Shin is doubled when read or spoken. The Shin contains a dagesh, a small point that tells the reader to double the consonant. I guess Botkin read the text without pointing. No lexicon or dictionary will showthe Hebrew spelled with two Shins in Hebrew, but every dictionary and lexicon will show the Shin with a dagesh forte, telling the reader that the consonant should be doubled. Transliterated, the Hebrew word will always have the doubled Shin because that is what the Hebrew text reveals. What does this make of Botkin’s objection? Nonsense. My books attempt to display the Hebrew phonetically, not pictorially because most of my readers are not fluent in Hebrew. Therefore, I would spell ish-sha with the doubled consonant so that readers know how it is used in spite of the fact they do not know the purpose of the dagesh forte.

Botkin claims that when I point to the use of a Hebrew word meaning in my arguments, I ignore all the other possible meanings of the same Hebrew word. But my argument is not about the exhaustive meaning of any particular Hebrew word. It is about the connectionsbetween contexts with the same words. One connection is the fact that the same Hebrew words found for Aaron’s priestly robes are also used for Adam and Havvah’s God-given covering. I find that connection particularly interesting. Do I therefore claim that all the uses of the Hebrew word come to play in the story of Adam and Havvah? No. I just point to the ones that make connections we might not ordinarily see.

I will forego responses the Botkin’s objections to Junia, possible insertions into the text by redactors, the meaning of diakonon, and my view of Priscilla. Botkin’s responses add nothing to the debate. They simply reiterate the standard male-dominant view. If you are interested, you can read all the literature surrounding these passages. You will find that the standard male-dominant view has a great number of writers who find it untenable.

Now some comments on Botkin’s concluding remarks. First, he compares me to Jezebel because I “despise male authority.” Hopefully, a careful reader of my book will see how distorted Botkin’s view really is. I do not despise male authority. I just don’t believe that the Bible grants authority to anyone based solely on gender. Authority comes from fulfilling God’s purpose. God is the only one with inherent authority. The authority loaned to human beings is a function of fulfilling God’s purposes and when it comes to the ‘ezer kenegdo the same application stands. When a woman does what God designed her to do, she is empowered by God to fulfill that purpose. When she doesn’t, she isn’t empowered. The same is true for men. No man has inherent authority. If he is not doing what God wants him to do, he has no authority from God. My argument is that the woman was designed to provide certain functions in the relationship with the man that he cannot do on his own. It is not a matter of authority. It is a matter of becoming a unity for God.

Botkin argues that “male headship is the Biblical norm in the family and in the assembly.” I do not disagree. But simply because something is the “norm” does not make it the biblical model. For a thousand years idolatry was the norm in Israel. Would we suggest that idolatry is the biblical ideal? The Genesis 2 account tells us what God designed, not what men did. Botkin apparently thinks that if the culture decides abortion is the norm, then it must be the biblical directive. But of course he doesn’t think that! So why would he use the “norm” argument when he clearly doesn’t adhere to it in other areas? The answer is thatthis norm argument fits his pre-supposed paradigm.

Finally, I must object personally to Botkin’s accusation that my argument for the role of the woman means that I am marching down the path of endorsing homosexuality. Botkin sees feminism and homosexuality as “two prongs” of Satan’s attempt to blur the foundational truth of male and female distinction. If I am a feminist (by Botkin’s analysis) then I must also be in favor of homosexuality. Please!!! Can anything more ridiculous be written? I am not a feminist. I am an exegete struggling to understand a text written thousands of years ago according to its culture and history. I think the exegesis of the text demonstrates that the traditionalist’s view of women is grossly mistaken and heretical. For Botkin to say that my arguments about women lend credibility for arguments over homosexuality is fairly close to slander.

What is the bottom line? Botkin does not want to investigate any of the evidence that his view might be wrong. He wants male authority because it serves his purposes and he is willing to forego all the contextual, historical and cultural issues surrounding these texts. My view is wrong because he doesn’t agree.

I wonder how his wife feels about that.

[1] Botkin states, “…I believe it is contrary to Scripture for a woman to stand before an assembly in the role of a Bible teacher and give Bible instruction to men,” and “In the marriage, I see the wife’s role stated in simple, easy-to-understand terms in the Divinely-inspired Apostolic Scriptures. The wife is commanded to submit to her own husband and to be subject to her own husband (Eph. 5:22-24), to be a keeper at home and obedient to her own husband (Tit. 2:5), and to be in subjection to her own husband even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (1 Pet. 3:5f).”








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