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Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide on 1 Timothy <I>Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram

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Cornelius A Lapide

CORNELIUS A LAPIDE, Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram (Antwerp 1616), Paris 1868, vol. 18, pgs 353-354, 396.

Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide on 1 Timothy 2,12-14

Translation: John Wijngaards

Verse 12

However I do not permit a woman to teach- in Church or in a public assembly, where common prayer goes on, about which is the question here. That is why we read in I Corinthians 14,34: “Women should remain silent in churches; for it is not permitted to them to speak, but they should be subject, as also the Law states; if however they want to learn something, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is scandalous for a woman to talk in church”.

For as Theophylactus comments, some women in Paul’s time had received the gift of prophecy. The apostle therefore imposes this prohibition lest they would think that they would be allowed to speak and prophesy in church, and this both because of decency, modesty, and the infirmity and loquacity of women, as Chrysostom said, and also to practice reverence and submission towards their husbands, a submission which requires that the woman remains silent when he is present, especially in church and regarding sacred things.

For privately at home Priscilla taught the eloquent man Apollo the faith of Christ (Acts 18, 26). And in Titus 2, 4 the Apostle expresses the wish that mothers privately teach their daughters and handmaids prudence and modesty; and a faithful woman is ordered to convert and instruct her non -believing husband (1Corinthians 7, 16). In this way St Caecilia taught Valerianus, her husband, the faith of Christ; St Natalia Hadrian; St Monica Patricius; St Martha Marius; Theodelinda Agilulphus, the King of the Lombards; Clotildis Clovis; Flavia Domitilla Flavius Clement. For as Chrysostom says in Homily 60 on John: “Nothing is more powerful than a good woman to instruct and train a man in whatever she wants. Neither does a man put up so easily with friends or teachers or superiors as with his wife who admonishes and advises him. For the admonition of the wife has some sensual power since she loves more, or, as others see it, is loved more than that she advises”.

Remember also that the Apostle does not only forbid here that a woman teaches in public, let us say in church, but also that he does not permit her to teach privately if she would like to do this as it were on the strength of her office or authority. That is why this follows:

Neither to dominate -- in Greek authentein, that is ‘usurp authority over’ -- her husband [do I permit a woman], but she must remain in silence - which in Greek is hesuchiai, that is ‘in quietness’.

Chrysostom says that this silence, this shame, this modesty bestows more beauty on a woman than a precious garment does. And, as Euripides says in Heraclid: “The most beautiful gift of a woman is silence and modesty, and to remain calm inside”. That is why (Gregory of) Nazianze praises his sister Goronia in this way: “What is more prudent than silence? Who knew sacred things better than she did, both from divine oracles and from here own intelligence and insight? And again, who has spoken less than she did, restricting herself within the confines of womanly piety?”

Basing himself on this text of the Apostle, Epiphanius (Haeres 49) confutes the heresy of the Quintilians who had promoted women to the episcopacy and the presbyterate in praise and honour of Eve. For if the Apostle does not permit a woman to teach, or even to speak in church, what would he have said if he had seen what we have known in our world, namely that a woman could be the head of some church, its manager and teacher? Would he not have exclaimed: “What a monstrous horror!” Surely those who choose themselves such a monstrous head and who refuse to acknowledge the head constituted by Christ, namely St Peter and the successors of St Peter, rightly lay themselves open to God’s just judgment!

Verse 13

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not seduced, but the woman was seduced in sin. This means: woman must remain silent and learn, that is not teach, and be subject to her husband, because the man excels her, first because of the dignity of being the first creation: for Adam was created first, then Eve from Adam; secondly because of the strength of his intelligence. For Eve allowed herself to be seduced so easily and imprudently, but not Adam. Chrysostom said the same thing, noting that, following the example of the first woman Eve, all women are here implicitly accused of imprudence and levity.

Therefore Primasius teaches beautifully: “The Apostle teaches that women must be subject to their husbands because they are second in hierarchical order, but first in guilt”.

Verse 14.

Adam was not seduced, but the woman was seduced in sin.

‘Seduced’ -- in Greek apatetheisa, that is ‘deceived’. This means that the woman was deceived, then sinned and began to transgress the command of the Lord.

The question is: Why is Adam said not to have been seduced, while he was deceived by Eve and accepted the forbidden apple and ate it? There are five explanations:

First. The Master [Peter of Lombard] responds to this question (in II, dist.22) that only Eve is said to be seduced, because only Eve believed the three things which the serpent had promised if she would eat from the forbidden apple, namely first, that they would not die; secondly, that they would be similiar to God; thirdly, that they would have knowledge of good and evil. But quite a few Fathers disagree, who point out that also Adam believed these things as we find also in Genesis 3,22, where God mocks Adam’s credulity and appetite for omniscience and divinity: “see Adam he has become as it were one of us, knowing good and evil.”

Second. More appropriately Ambrose says “woman was seduced and made to sin”, that is: she was the author of sin for her husband, and not the other way about.

Third. Others repeat the phrase “first” from the preceding verse , that is: Adam was not seduced first, but Eve. Thus Theodoret, Oecumenius, Haymo.

Fourth. Others explain it in this manner: Eve fell to the persuasion that God had not prohibited them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not Adam. Adam therefore was not seduced, but knowingly and willingly violated God’s command.

Fifth and more convincingly: ‘Eve was seduced’ because she was seduced by the serpent who wanted to deceive her. That is why she also professed that she had been deceived by this Deceiver, when she said: “The Serpent deceived me”. Adam however was not “seduced”, that is deceived by the Serpent: for the Serpent did not dare to approach a man, but rather a woman whom he knew it would be easier to deceive.

That is why Adam also did not excuse himself as having been deceived by the Serpent or by anyone else, but only that he had been enticed by his wife - for Eve did not want to deceive Adam but only entice him to the eating of the apple, and that he had only eaten since - as it were - she only played her customary role as a partner: “The women”, he said, “whom you gave me as a partner, gave me from the tree and I have eaten”.

But note, as soon as Adam had agreed to the woman and committed inobedience, he wanted to eat from the tree of life, puffed up as he was with pride, fallen in blindness. And he believed the promises of the Serpent and wanted to be similar to God, and hoped to acquire omniscience from the eating of the apple, as I have already stated. For this is what God said in mockery: “See Adam he has become as one of us, knowing good and evil”. Thus also Theophylactus, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Anselm, Augustine (De Civitate, Book 14, chap 17), Jerome (Contra Jovianus, Book 1).

This means that Paul is saying the following:

One. Woman, as having been seduced by the Serpent, is inferior to man in reason and prudence, and should be subject to him.

Two. Therefore God also rightly subjected her to her husband as a punishment for her sin through which she had enticed the man to sin. And, as Chrysostom and Oecumenius point out, on this one occasion a woman taught badly and corrupted the man and everything else, therefore she should not teach any more, but be silent, and learn from man to speak well and act well. Listen to Tertullian (De habitu Mulierum) who says to the woman: “You are the gate of the Devil, are the are the unsealer of that [forbidden] tree, you are the first deserter of divine law. You are the person who has attacked him whom the Devil could not approach. You have so easily deceived man who is the image of God. Because of what you deserve, that is death, even the Son of God had to die.”

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