Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's "Women in the Bible" - Part 5.

Further Topic Research:
Syntax help

What's new | A-Z | Discuss & Blog

Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's "Women in the Bible"

By
Abdullah Smith

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V] [Part VI] [Part VII] [Part VIII]

 

 

 

HE WROTE:

According to Paul, women could have a teaching position within the Church in that he permits them to teach other women:

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." Titus 2:3-5

Paul also assigns women the office of deaconess, that the Church can have female deacons:

"Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Women likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 3:8-13

 

RESPONSE:

The passage 1 Timothy 3:8-13 is a forgery:

Requirements and duties of the office of deacon are described in 1 Tim. 3:8-13, which was written some fifty to seventy years after Romans and by a disciple of Paul. (Bonnie Thurston, Women in the New Testament, p. 55)

The passage from Titus does not speak of woman’s role in the Church, but it teaches the modulation of her role at HOME, where she raises children, the context orders the older woman to teach the younger to “love their husbands”, etc.

Even if the verse indirectly refers to church, it still does not prove the equality of woman because she (the old) is allowed to teach only woman, and not men, whereas the men are allowed to teach both sexes. Many Christian women reject the appointment of women leaders/speakers:

There are women who believe that women should not serve as pastors and that the Bible places restrictions on the ministry of women. (http://www.gotquestions.org/women-pastors.html)

There is heated debate on “women priests”, these Christians are unaware that Titus is a doubted epistle, the apologist Justin Martyr (d. 150) fails to mention Titus, and he never quotes from the epistle. The early Church Fathers, Ignatius (d. 110), Papias (d. 140), and Polycarp (d.159) never mention Titus, they are silent.

Nevertheless, the epistles 1, 2 Timothy and Titus are called pastorals:

Titus is one of the three epistles known collectively as the pastorals (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus). They were not included in Marcion’s canon of ten epistles assembled c. 140 CE. Against Wallace, there is no certain quotation of these epistles before Irenaeus c. 170 CE.  (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/titus.html)

Amazingly, the epistles are forged, all three are sheer fabrications!

What about Paul's letters? Here at last we have someone who is universally agreed to have been a historical person. However, scholars believe his later letters, known as "the Pastorals," are forgeries, which contradict his earlier letters." Like the letters attributed to the other disciples, they were written in the second century CE to combat internal divisions in the Church. (Timothy Freke, The Jesus Mysteries: Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God? 1999, p. 151)

Of the 13 New Testament letters, only seven are now accepted as largely authentic." As already mentioned, the so-called "Pastoral" letters to Timothy and Titus are universally regarded as fakes. Computer studies have confirmed that the author of the Pastorals is definitely not the author of the letters to the Galatians, Romans, and Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, and Corinthians, which are accepted as genuinely by Paul. The earliest collection of letters attributed to Paul does not contain the Pastorals. In fact, we do not even hear of the Pastorals at all until Irenaeus (ibid, 160)

Vocabulary. While statistics are not always as meaningful as they may seem, of 848 words (excluding proper names) found in the Pastorals, 306 are not in the remainder of the Pauline corpus, even including the deutero-Pauline 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, and Ephesians. Of these 306 words, 175 do not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, while 211 are part of the general vocabulary of Christian writers of the second century. Indeed, the vocabulary of the Pastorals is closer to that of popular Hellenistic philosophy than it is to the vocabulary of Paul or the deutero-Pauline letters. Furthermore, the Pastorals use Pauline words ina non-Pauline sense: dikaios in Paul means "righteous" and here means "upright"; pistis, "faith," has become "the body of Christian faith"; and so on. (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/titus.html)

Regarding the passage 1 Timothy 3:8-13, a website states the following:

Scripture is not completely clear whether a woman can serve as a deacon or not. The statement that deacons are to be “men worthy of respect” (1 Timothy 3:8 NIV) and the qualification “the husband of but one wife” (1 Timothy 3:12) would seem to disqualify women from serving as deacons. Some interpret 1 Timothy 3:11 as referring to woman deacons, but it seems unlikely that Paul would be teaching on male deacons in verses 8-10, switch to female deacons in verse 11, and then switch back to male deacons in verses 12-13. Verse 12 is most likely referring to deacons’ wives, not female deacons. (http://www.gotquestions.org/women-deacons.html)

 

HE WROTE:

Some commentators and translators do not believe that Paul is mentioning an office of deaconess, and therefore render the text in the following manner:

"Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things." 1 Timothy 3:11

The above rendering gives the impression that Paul was exhorting the wives of the deacons. There are several reasons why we do not accept this rendering and understanding of the text. First, Paul earlier referred to the qualifications of bishops without ever mentioning their wives personally and telling them how they should conduct themselves (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-7). This is a rather strange omission if in fact 1 Timothy 3:11 is referring to the deacons’ wives since one would naturally assume that the Apostle would address the wives of both groups. That he didn’t provide instructions on how the wives of the bishops should conduct themselves seems to make a strong case that the reference to women in 3:11 isn’t in connection to the deacons’ wives, but to deaconesses.

 

RESPONSE:

 

Paul is indeed referring to the “wives of the deacons” because the word “deaconess” was never used in the original manuscripts, or the copies that we have today. The oldest MSS of the Pauline epistles date from the 3rd century, over two hundred years after the originals were written (55-64 CE).

 

The most accurate reading of 1 Timothy 3:11 is the King James Version, which is based on the Majority Greek text, the KJV renders the verse:

 

Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

 

Yet, almost all versions use the words “their wives” because the reading is Majority, preserved in the Byzantine text (KJV) pre-dating the 4th century Alexandrian text (NIV, RSV) Astonishingly, the reading “their wives” also occurs in the Alexandrian text.

 

(1) English Standard Version

(2) New King James Version

(3) New Living Translation

(4) New International Version

 

HE WROTE:

 

First, Paul earlier referred to the qualifications of bishops without ever mentioning their wives personally and telling them how they should conduct themselves (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-7). This is a rather strange omission if in fact 1 Timothy 3:11 is referring to the deacons’ wives since one would naturally assume that the Apostle would address the wives of both groups. That he didn’t provide instructions on how the wives of the bishops should conduct themselves seems to make a strong case that the reference to women in 3:11 isn’t in connection to the deacons’ wives, but to deaconesses

 

 

RESPONSE:

 

The reason why Paul  avoided mentioning the bishops wives because it would make him less repetitive, since he’s sub sequentially going to mention the deacons’ wives in the next verses and assign moral teachings, which are applicable to both.

 

Paul did not want to repeat himself; he simply lays down teachings for the bishops, and then introduces the deacons and their wives (or women). And why should Paul mention the bishops wives just because he mentioned the deacons’ wives? The role of deaconship was apparently more popular than bishop, because hardly any “bishops” are mentioned in the Bible. Another explanation is that Paul was giving superiority to deacons because he assigns moral teachings to the deacons’ wives, excluding bishops’ wives, or once again, Paul simply did not want to repeat himself. Why would Paul repeat himself using the same moral teachings for both wives? Obviously it would be very similar and hence repetitive, therefore he mentioned only the deacons’ wives to avoid repetition. The teachings are applicable to both woman, the wives of bishops AND the wives of deacons, so there is no need for repetition. 

 

 

HE WROTE:

 

That he didn’t provide instructions on how the wives of the bishops should conduct themselves seems to make a strong case that the reference to women in 3:11 isn’t in connection to the deacons’ wives, but to deaconesses

 

 

RESPONSE:

 

He is not aware the original reading did not mention “deacon”!

 

1 Tim 3:11: This text does not even mention the word DIAKONOS.1 Rather, it used the word ‘women’ (or ‘wives’). (http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1164#P17_3873)

 

The reading was recorded in the original Greek manuscript, and then transmitted to later scribes, so if the original word is “wives” (or women) and not deacon, this means Paul never addressed women as “deacons” in the first place! 

 

He apparently assumes the Bible editors deliberately placed the words “their wives” in 3:11, yet we have seen that “their wives” is the original!

 

Paul’s context becomes clear: (1) He did not use repetition (2) He originally wrote “wives” and not “deacon” (1 Tim. 3:11) and the idea of woman deacons is based on false interpretation and misunderstanding.

 

Some churches have instituted the office of deaconess, but most differentiate it from the office of deacon. If a church does institute the position of deaconess, the church leadership needs to be careful that the deaconess is in submission to restrictions Paul places on the ministry of women in other passages (such as 1 Timothy 2:11-12). (http://www.gotquestions.org/women-deacons.html)

 

During the New Testament period, the meaning of the term in relation to an office is not self-evidently clear; the role was in the process of being defined and fixed.  (Bonnie Thurston, Women in the New Testament, p. 54)

 

Let us quote the entire context to show that Paul did not use repetition, it was not his intention to omit the bishops’ wives from receiving the moral teachings of conduct:

 

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer (bishop), he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:1-13)

The website www.gotquestions.org/  states:

Scripture is not completely clear whether a woman can serve as a deacon or not. The statement that deacons are to be “men worthy of respect” (1 Timothy 3:8 NIV) and the qualification “the husband of but one wife” (1 Timothy 3:12) would seem to disqualify women from serving as deacons. Some interpret 1 Timothy 3:11 as referring to woman deacons, but it seems unlikely that Paul would be teaching on male deacons in verses 8-10, switch to female deacons in verse 11, and then switch back to male deacons in verses 12-13. Verse 12 is most likely referring to deacons’ wives, not female deacons.

(http://www.gotquestions.org/women-deacons.html)

 

1 Tim 3:11: This text does not even mention the word DIAKONOS.1 Rather, it used the word ‘women’ (or ‘wives’). It is wedged in the middle of a discussion of the qualifications for deacons (vv. 8-13). The argument that it refers to women deacons is precisely this: it is in the context of deacons. Further, a second argument is that if wives were intended, why does Paul mention nothing about wives in his section on elder qualifications (1 Tim 3:1-7)?

In response are five arguments: (1) If women deacons are in view in v. 11, it seems rather strange that they should be discussed right in the middle of the qualifications for male deacons, rather than by themselves; (2) Paul indeed seems to go out of his way to indicate that women are NOT deacons in the very next verse, for he says “Deacons must be husbands of one wife”; (3) as to why he didn’t mention wives in the section on elders, there are one of two possibilities that come to mind: (a) since Paul was addressing some real problems in Ephesus, it may well be that the deacons’ wives had been a major concern; (b) concomitantly, since deacons’ duties involved taking care of physical needs, they would have been in control of the mercy funds in the church—and, if so, it would be imperative for their wives to be ‘dignified, not scandalmongers, but sober, and trustworthy in everything’ (REB). One can readily see the psychological realities of such instructions to deacons’ wives: they must be tight-lipped when it came to discussing the very personal needs of the body. (4) Again, if v. 11 is addressed to women deacons, why are most of the qualifications not listed—that is, the only qualifications that pertain to the women would be the four items listed in this verse. But would they be allowed to be addicted to strong drink? Wouldn’t they have to prove themselves blameless before serving as deacons? Wouldn’t they have to hold fast to the mystery of the faith in a good conscience? The very fact that all these requirements seem so universal and yet are given specifically only to the men seems to argue against women deacons being in view in v. 11. (5) Finally, the original manuscripts of the New Testament were not divided by chapters and verses. And sometimes our divisions get in the way of seeing the overall context. There seems to be an unnatural break between chapters 2 and 3—or, at least, one that is too abrupt. I take it that 2:8 through 3:16 are all addressing conduct in the church. The issues revolve around men and women throughout these two chapters. And the very fact that Paul says in 2:12 that women were not to teach or exercise authority over men seems to govern what he says in chapter 3 as well. Thus, if deacons are in a role of exercising authority, then I would argue that Paul implicitly restricts such a role to men. As I read the NT, I do see deacons functioning in an authoritative capacity. If my understanding is correct, then the only way for one to see women deacons in 1 Tim 3:11 is either to (a) divorce this verse from the overarching principle stated in 1 Tim 2:12 or (b) reinterpret 2:12 to mean something other than an abiding principle for church life. On the other hand, if deacons were not in roles of leadership, then what is to prevent women from filling such a role? To be sure, there are some who believe that women can be deacons, but who also believe that a female deacon functioned on a different level than a male deacon2 If such a qualification is made, then I have no problem with the category.

(Source: http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1164#P17_3873)

 

The quotation above will answer Shamoun’s explanation for Paul’s omission of the bishops’ wives (1 Tim. 3:1-7)

Let us continue:

The only other passage in the New Testament that could possibly be used to support woman as deaconess is found in 1 Tim. 3:11.

1 Timothy 3:11 (NASB)

"Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things."

This verse is found in the qualification list of elders and deacons. It is asserted by some that this is then the qualification list for deaconesses. The word translated "women" in this verse is also commonly translated "wives." This passage then could easily be referring to the qualifications of the elders and deacons wives.

(Source: http://www.scripturessay.com/q92.html)

Shamoun says that just because Paul omits the bishops’ (elders, overseers) wives, then Timothy 3:11 must refer to woman deacons, this assertion is completely false:

The question in verse 11 is this: Does Paul give four qualifications for the wives of deacons or four qualifications for female deacons? There are several good reasons that compel us to conclude that Paul is talking about wives, not female deacons.

First, if some women were deacons just like men are, there would be only one list of qualifications. No special qualifications for women-deacons would be necessary. For example, in the United States Congress we have both male senators and female senators, but there is only one list of qualifications for senators in the Constitution of the United States. Both men and women must meet that one set of qualifications in order to be elected to office. There are no separate qualifications for any category of senator, whether white, black, male, female, blond, red-haired, or otherwise. All senators must meet the same qualifications.

Second, the word “likewise” does not imply a separate class of office bearers, as some commentators argue. The word “likewise” simply indicates that these qualities required of wives are similar to the qualities required for deacons. The qualifications in verse 11 are similar to the qualifications for deacons in verses 8-9. In fact, some are identical. Further examination shows that the qualifications for both deacons (verses 8-9) and their wives (verse 11) are similar to the qualifications for overseer in verses 2-7. Again, some are identical.

This brings us to a third point. The word “their” is not in the Greek text. It is not unusual in the Greek language to omit an article or demonstrative pronoun. However, in verse 11 Paul may have had a good reason to leave out the word “their.” If Paul had used the word “their,” most readers would refer the qualifications in verse 11 to the wives of the deacons only because Paul is talking about deacons in the immediate context. By leaving out the word “their” Paul refers not only to the wives of deacons, but also to the wives of overseers (ministers and elders). In other words, in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 Paul gives the qualifications for both overseers and deacons. In the midst of that, specifically, in the midst of the qualifications for deacon, the apostle says that the wives of both overseers and deacons must have certain qualities which he lists in verse 11. This interpretation also fits with the fact that both verses 8-9 and verse 11 share the main verb in verse 2 and thus are grammatically dependent upon verse 2.

Fourth, 1 Timothy 2.12 forbids women to teach or exercise authority over a man. This means that women may not hold special office in the church because ministers, elders, and deacon all exercise authority over men. None of the apostles were women. None of the original deacons chosen in Acts 6 were women. Acts 6:3 specifically states that the deacons were to be men. There is no record in the New Testament of a woman being an elder. There is no record in the New Testament of a woman being a minister. In fact, 1 Timothy 3:2 requires an overseer (minister and elder) to be “the husband of one wife.” This disqualifies all women from the office of overseer. Similarly, 1 Timothy 3:12 requires a deacon to be the husband of one wife. No woman can meet that qualification.

(Source: http://www.opc.org/OS/html/V6/3a.html)

According to Acts, the apostles rejected “female deacons” (servants)

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven MEN from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:1-6)

None of the women were filled with the Spirit? It seems that only the MEN were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and the Bible rejects woman from the picture!

 

HE WROTE:

Second, Paul mentions a female deacon in one of his letters:

"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess (diakonon) of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me." Romans 16:1-2

There are some who believe that the word diakonon is being used in a broader sense to mean servant or slave{2}, thereby implying that Paul wasn’t calling Phoebe a deaconess. Our main objection to this view is that Paul could have used another word if he meant servant/slave, namely doulos, a word that he commonly uses:

"Paul, a servant (doulos) of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God," Romans 1:1

"Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves (doulous), you are slaves (douloi) of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves (douloi) of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves (edoulootheete) of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves (doula) to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves (doula) to righteousness leading to sanctification. When you were slaves (douloi) of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness." Romans 6:16-20

 

RESPONSE:

Just because the word diakonon” is applied to Phoebe, it doesn’t prove that she’s a deaconess. For example, the Greek word pais means servant:

Strong’s Number: 3816

Transliterated Word:

Pais

 

Phonetic

Paheece

 

Definition: Servant, slave

 

a.         an attendant, servant, spec. a king’s attendant, minister

 

(online Source)

 

 

Despite the Greek word pais being applied to David, it was foolishly translated as “son” for Jesus!

Some people mistakenly thought that the disciples called Jesus Son of God.  An inconsistency of translation actually helped to give this wrong impression.  In the King James Bible, the translators call Jesus ‘Son of God’ in Acts 3:13, 26, and ‘child of God’ in Acts 4:27.  They simply translated the Greek word paida as ‘son’ or ‘child’.  But the word paida also means ‘servant’, and the present context demands this translation since the author of Acts is trying in this passage to establish that Jesus is indeed the servant of God.

The translators knew that the Greek word paida means servant.  When the same word was used for David in chapter 4, verse 25, they translated it ‘servant’.  Why not call Jesus also by the same title?  Or, if they feel that ‘son’ is the correct translation, why not also call David ‘Son of God’?  Jesus and David are both called by the same title in Greek.  Why not call them by a same title in English also?

Other translators recognised this inconsistency and corrected it in the modern translations of the Bible.  Therefore the New International Version of the Bible and many others call Jesus Servant of God in the verses already quoted above.  Nevertheless, the fact that Jesus was God’s servant was so well known that even the King James Bible called him by this title in Matthew 12:18.  Referring back to Isaiah 42:1, Matthew identified Jesus as the servant of the one true God Yahweh. (Shabir Ally, Is Jesus God, The Bible Says No!)

 

Regarding the Greek word “diakonon” which means “one who serves”, the scholar Daniel Wallace answers efficiently:

 

Some would indeed argue that there are clear contextual indicators in Rom 16. Their argument is that Phoebe is associated with a particular church, Cenchrea, and as such, would therefore be a deacon of that church. To be sure, deacons were associated with particular churches. Phil 1:1 makes that very clear, and 1 Tim 3:8 and 12 also imply such (since Paul was writing to Timothy while he was stationed in Ephesus). But although this may be a necessary requirement, is it sufficient? (Further, if we want to bring in the analogy of Acts 6 as giving us the first glimpse of the new ecclesiological pattern, we should note that these very ‘deacons’ spread the gospel far away from Jerusalem!) When one compares the description of Phoebe in Rom 16:1 to other texts, it is discovered that a few people are both associated with a particular church and are called by the same term. Note, for example, Epaphras, a man associated with the church in Colossians. In Col 1:7 he is called a DIAKONOS, yet no translation (that I know of) regards him as a deacon; in 1 Tim 4:6 Paul calls Timothy a DIAKONOS—and Timothy was associated with the church in Ephesus. But he obviously was not a deacon. So, why then should we call Phoebe a ‘deacon’? The term is thus rather flexible and it seems gratuitous to call Phoebe a deacon in Rom 16:1. (http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=1164)

 

 

Phoebe is the only female in the entire New Testament to whom the term "diakonos" is applied. Throughout the history of the translation of the Bible into English, only one version (the RSV of 1946) transliterates the term as "deaconess." The NIV, which is not a "translation" in the truest sense of the word places "deaconess" in the marginal notes. (http://www.scripturessay.com/q92.html)

 

For Paul to speak about female deacons in verse 11 would contradict many other passages of Scripture. Female deacons also do not fit with the four points mentioned above. Some argue that in Romans 16:1 Paul calls Phoebe a deacon. It is true that the Greek word in Romans 16:1 is the same word used in the New Testament for the office of deacon in the church. However, in the New Testament that word (diakonos) does not usually refer to the office of deacon in the church. It is just the ordinary Greek word for “servant.” That is what it usually means in the New Testament. Phoebe was a servant, just as every member of the church should be. John Calvin comments on verse 11 that Paul “refers here to the wives of both bishops and deacons, for they must help their husbands in their office and they can do that only if their behaviour is better than other people’s.” (www.opc.org/OS/html/V6/3a.html)

 

The title deacon is becoming obsolete, as many churches are adopting other functional terms such as ministry leaders or team leaders. "Deacon" as a title, has become jargon that no longer communicates the roles that Paul intended. The terms for overseers and deacons both focus on function and responsibility. Deacons were people with technical skills who served in the church. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deacon)



HE WROTE:

Third, there is extra-biblical evidence corroborating the fact that there were female deacons in the Church. Pliny the Younger (c. A.D. 62-113), the Governor of Bithynia in northwestern Turkey, wrote a letter to the emperor Trajan about the Christian movement, dated A.D. 111:

"I have never been present at an examination of Christians. Consequently, I do not know the nature of the extent of the punishments usually meted out to them, nor the grounds of starting an investigation and how far it should be pressed … I have asked them if they are Christians, and if they admit it, I repeat the question a second and third time, with a warning of the punishment awaiting them. If they persist, I order them to be led away for execution; for, whatever the nature of their admission, I am convinced that their stubbornness and unshakable obstinacy ought not to go unpunished … They also declared that the sum total of their guilt or error to be no more than this: they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately amongst themselves in honor of Christ as if to a god, and also bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from theft, robbery, and adultery … This made me decide that it was all the more necessary to extract the truth by torture from two slave-women whom they call deaconesses. I found nothing but a degenerate sort of cult carried to extravagant lengths."

 

RESPONSE:

 

The letter of Pliny is a Christian forgery, because it was never quoted by any Church Father, and many scholars have cast doubt upon this letter, apparently written by a Christian forger:

 

Taylor remarks, "We have the name of Christ, and nothing else but the name, where the name of Apollo or Bacchus would have filled up the sense quite as well." Taylor then casts doubt on the authenticity of the letter as a whole, recounting the work of German critics, who "have maintained that this celebrated letter is another instance to be added to the long list of Christian forgeries" One of these German luminaries, Dr. Semler of Leipsic provided "nine arguments against its authenticity" He also notes that the Pliny epistle is quite similar to that allegedly written by "Tiberianus, Governor of Syria" to Trajan, which has been universally denounced as a forgery.

Also, like the TF, Pliny's letter is not quoted by any early Church father, including Justin Martyr. Tertullian briefly mentions its existence, noting that it refers to terrible persecutions of Christians. However, the actual text used today comes from a version by a Christian monk in the 15th century, Iucundus of Verona, whose composition apparently was based on Tertullian's assertions. Concurring that the Pliny letter is suspicious, Drews terms "doubtful" Tertullian's "supposed reference to it." Drews then names several authorities who likewise doubted its authenticity, "either as a whole or in material points," including Semler, Aub, Havet, Hochart, Bruno Bauer and Edwin Johnson. 

The worshippers of Serapis are Christians, and those are devoted to the God Serapis, whocall themselves the bishops of Christ. There is no ruler of a Jewish synagogue, no Samaritan, no Presbyter of the Christians, who is not either an astrologer, a soothsayer, or a minister to obscene pleasures. The very Patriarch himself, should he come into Egypt, would be required by some to worship Serapis, and by others to worship Christ. They have, however, but one God, and it is one and the self-same whom Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike adore, i.e., money. (http://www.truthbeknown.com/pliny.htm)

 

HE WROTE:

There are specific Church councils which even refer to the office of deaconess in their canons:

Concerning the former Paulinists who seek refuge in the catholic church, it is determined that they must be rebaptised unconditionally. Those who in the past have been enrolled among the clergy, if they appear to be blameless and irreproachable, are to be rebaptised and ordained by the bishop of the catholic church. But if on inquiry they are shown to be unsuitable, it is right that they should be deposed. Similarly with regard to deaconesses and all in general whose names have been included in the roll, the same form shall be observed. We refer to deaconesses who have been granted this status, for they do not receive any imposition of hands, so that they are in all respects to be numbered among the laity. (The Canons of the Council of Nicaea (AD. 325), Canon 19: http://www.piar.hu/councils/ecum01.htm)

Canon 15. A woman shall not receive the laying on of hands as a deaconess under forty years of age, and then only after searching examination. And if, after she has had hands laid on her and has continued for a time to minister, she shall despise the grace of God and give herself in marriage, she shall be anathematized and the man united to her. (The Canons of the Council of Chalcedon (AD. 451); online source)

In light of the foregoing, we feel that the data strongly favors the position that there is an office of female deacon in the Church.

 

RESPONSE:

 

These Church councils which “refer to the office of deaconess” did not exist until over 300 years after Jesus!

 

“A fourth century basilica excavated in Philippi revealed inscriptions from the fourth to sixth centuries that list women as deacons and canonesses. (Bonnie Thurston, Women in the New Testament, p. 50)

 

Notice the dates Shamoun has given us, the first Canon is dated 325, and the second is 451, hundreds of years after the “first” deaconess Phoebe!

 

If Phoebe was a deaconess, why did the Church not select any deaconesses after her? It took the Church at least 325 years to establish “office of deaconess”.

Since there is not a single definitive passage in all of the New Testament which talks about "deaconesses" as an official office in the New Testament church, one might ask, is there any evidence that such an office existed in the New Testament church to be found in sources outside the Bible?

The answer is NO. For over 300 years there is a total lack of evidence for the office of deaconesses. After 300 A.D. as the church slipped deeper and deeper into apostasy with regard to church organization and structure, we do find the office of deaconess. We also find the official office of "bishop" being applied to one elder, who had rule over several congregations, which is in direct violation of the New Testament teaching with regard to congregational autonomy. (http://www.scripturessay.com/q92.html)

Historically, the office of deaconess took exceedingly long to develop and establish because woman were considered inferior by the Church, based on the Bible, and the Genesis story. The early Christians apparently hated woman to such extant that the office of deaconess was not fixed until 300 years after Jesus! During the first century, the MALE deacons are the ones who ruled, and the woman did not receive this position until exactly 325 and 451 (the dates Shamoun gives us)

 

Why couldn’t a woman become a deacon under 40?

 

HE WROTE:

Women also functioned as evangelists and missionaries. An example of a woman who evangelized people by leading them to Christ is the Samaritan woman with whom Jesus conversed:

"Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you seek?’ or, ‘Why are you talking with her?’ So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’ They went out of the town and were coming to him… Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’" John 4:27-30, 39-42

 

RESPONSE:

The story of the Samaritan woman is doubted:

The Samaritan woman is, in fact, one of the most theologically informed persons in the Fourth Gospel. She knows the regulation about ritual purity (v. 9), ancestral traditions of Israel (v. 12), the necessity to worship at a valid temple (vv. 19-20), and the expectation of a Messiah (v. 25). She is, in short, conversant in Samaritan theology (which is not surprising since, unlike Jews, Samaritans educated religiously both male and female children), and Jesus takes her as seriously as a discussion partner as he did Nicodemus in the preceding chapter. But is she really a woman of loose morals? If she were, when she returned to her village to share her new-found knowledge of Jesus, would she have received a hearing? Would Samaritans have taken seriously the witness of a strumpet?

One problem, of course, is that John does not tell us why the woman came to draw water at noon. Commentators have assumed on the basis of the exchange in vv. 16-19 that it was because she was deliberately avoiding the company of other women who shunned her. But we don’t know that. (Bonnie Thurston, Women in the New Testament, pp. 83-84)

When it comes to the teachings of Jesus as John recorded them, nothing is said which addresses or influences women directly. (ibid, p. 91)

John is the most doubtful Gospel:

The Gospel of John is the last of the canonical Gospels. Written about 90 A.D. and then edited by the community of its author about 100 A.D. or shortly thereafter, it is one of the latest of the New Testament writings and evinces a development of Christian thought quite unlike that of the earlier writings like Paul’s letters or Mark’s Gospel. John is a deceptive Gospel. (Bonnie Thurston, p. 78)

Scholars have concluded that this gospel was originally written in a simple form.  But this gospel was later on, as the New Jerusalem Bible says, amplified and developed in several stages during the second half of the first century.”  (The New Jerusalem Bible: Introduction to John, p. 1742)

Harnack further refers to the work of the famous Christian historian, David Strauss, whom he describes as having "almost destroyed the historic credibility not only of the fourth but also of the first three Gospels as well". (Muhammad Ataur-Raheem, Jesus Prophet of Islam, p. 7)

 

Let us review the facts before responding.

        Phoebe is the only woman called a “deaconess”, and this position is not given to any woman except her.

        Paul disapproved of women speaking in the Church (1 Timothy 2:12) and stated that Eve was the transgressor and not Adam, (1 Timothy 2:13-14)

        Paul rejected the idea of “women deacons” he never used the word “deacon” in 1 Timothy 3:11, he was only speaking of the deacons wives.

  • Jesus ignored a Gentile woman, twice (Mk. 7:25-28, Matt. 15:20-25)
  • Jesus heals a blind man (John 9:14-18) and a crippled man (Mark 3:2-4) but he refused a Gentile woman.

        According to Acts 6:1-6, the twelve apostles deliberately chose only men to become apostles.

        The Church Fathers hated and despised woman, they filled their hearts with contempt because she led Adam to the tree. [1]

        The Bible teaches that Miriam the “prophetess” was cursed by God!

        Jesus did not allow Mary to touch him (John 20:17) yet he allowed Thomas to touch him (John 20:27)

        There are not women depicted in Jesus’ parables.

How worthless it is for Shamoun to quote stories from the Bible that simply mention the word “woman”, which does not prove her equality according to the passages. If we take his tactic, we can derive thousands of stories of Great woman from Hadith that would fill up this page. The Samaritan woman is nameless, even the Gospels fail to mention the name of Pilate’s wife (Claudia). Just because she spread the messages of Jesus does not prove she is equal with men, the Bible negates this idea (Ex.21:7-11, 1 Tim. 2:14)

However, let’s compare this anonymous Samaritan woman with Aisha, the wife of Prophet Muhammad who narrated over 2,000 Hadith, whereas the Samaritan woman narrated nothing.

Here are some great facts about Aisha.

The life of Aishah is proof that a woman can be far more learned than men and that she can be the teacher of scholars and experts. Her life is also proof that a woman can exert influence over men and women and provide them with inspiration and leadership. Her life is also proof that the same woman can be totally feminine and be a source of pleasure, joy and comfort to her husband.

She did not graduate from any university there were no universities as such in her day. But still her utterances are studied in faculties of literature, her legal pronouncements are studied in colleges of law and her life and works are studied and researched by students and teachers of Muslim history as they have been for over a thousand years.

The bulk of her vast treasure of knowledge was obtained while she was still quite young. In her early childhood she was brought up by her father who was greatly liked and respected for he was a man of wide knowledge, gentle manners and an agreeable presence. Moreover he was the closest friend of the noble Prophet who was a frequent visitor to their home since the very early days of his mission. (http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/history/biographies/sahaabah/bio.AISHAH_BINT_ABI_BAKR.html)

 

The superiority of Khadijah over the “Samaritan woman”

Khadijah was a respectable lady. Her family had branched off from that of the Prophet five generations back; and thus she was genealogically a cousin of the Prophet. She had previously been married twice and now she was a widow. For her pure morals and noble nature she was known as “Tahira, of the Chaste”. Moreover, she was rich. In the Tabaqat, Ibn Sa’d says that in the trade caravans that used to set out, her merchandise equaled that of the rest of the Meccans taken together.

By now the Holy Prophet had completed his twenty-five years, and had worked in many a national cause. His trade dealings had brought him in contact with many people, and consequently he had been so well-known for his fairness, straight dealings, truthfulness, integrity and pure morals that popular voice had named him “AMIN” or the Trustworthy. All this commended him to Khadijah who sent a message asking him to proceed to Syria with her goods; and promised a remuneration twice as much as she allowed to others. The Prophet accepted the offer and went to Busra with her merchandise. Nearly three months after his return from this trade mission, Khadijah offered her hand. (Shibli Nu’mani, Biography of the Prophet, 1995, p. 165)

The Prophet Muhammad said, “I have had no merciful and better partner in life than she. She accepted my message categorically before every one. She bore witness to my faith and deposed for my prophethood when people, in general, falsified my claim with contempt and laughter. She helped me indeed when I was in deed and extended succour when necessary. When people were my enemies she was my trusted colleague and reliable assistant.” (Mohammed Anisur Rahman, The Historical Role of Woman, 1985, p. 4)

Khadijah, like the Samaritan woman, helped spread the Message of Islam:

The credit goes to the woman and the woman alone to embrace Islam the first and the foremost. She was a great personality, devoted and self-dedicated who lived and died for Islam.  (ibid, p. 1)

Jesus never got married, yet according to apocrypha, he was a lover of Mary Magdalene!

 

 

 

 

Rebuttals, and exposing the lies of the Answering Islam team section.

Rebuttals to Sam Shamoun's Articles section.

Women in Islam and the Bible.

Contradictions and Errors in the Bible.

Articles by Abdullah Smith.


Send your comments.

Back to Main Page.