Meaning of Didaskein and Women Teaching


The highly controversial Bible verse 1 Timothy 2:12 uses the word “didaskein” as what women are prohibiting from doing. I’ve read many different interpretations of what this means, and some of them worry me.

I’m a woman, and I love art-making. Creative writing, painting, etc. I especially love how art can influence others’ ways of thinking, help them through their problems, or help make a difference in the world.

However, would this kind of lesson-focused art-making be included in “didaskein” and therefore be prohibited for me as a woman?


If you are Catholic, why bother asking? The Church has encouraged women in this work for centuries. There’s an advantage in being part of a Church that does not rely entirely on scripture. You get to do stuff instead of worrying about the meaning of Greek words 2000 years ago. Of course I’m not a believer and it’s even easier for me but I hate to see anyone beating themselves up unnecessarily.


I’ve been raised in a Protestant family, but I’ve decided I want to convert to Catholicism. So there’s some things I still have some confusion about. If the Bible says women can’t teach, why does the Church let us?



Thank you both. Does anyone else have an opinion on this subject?


The Catholic Church does not have prohibitions against women teaching. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be nuns teaching at Catholic schools.

I think the link provided by Thistle does give the answer and the interpretation of the Bible verse.


The tract about this verse being about ordination just doesn’t pass the smell test. Not that I am advocating for women’s ordination, I’m not, I just don’t buy that this is the intention of the verse.

The syntax and context is important and so is the Greek word that has been translated as “authority”. It’s not the same Greek word that is translated as “authority” in the rest of the NT. The Greek word in this verse only appears once, here, in the NT, and it’s meaning is disputed. That, along with the “not…nor” syntax make it more difficult to translate.

Also, the letter to Timothy is specific to Ephesus and it’s problems. Paul never mentions this prohibition elsewhere.

I would also say that the verses following verse 12 about Adam and Eve seem to have recieved an equally bad translation. I seriously doubt that Paul was throwing the whole gender under the bus as being gullible and stupid, while saying that men are not (of course), and women can redeem themselves by becoming pregnant.


This is very close to what most Protestants who don’t ordain women believe. The context for much of the first part of 1 Timothy is about the assembled church/worship service, which translates as women can’t give sermons to a congregation. Women can teach anytime outside of worship services.


The passage in Timothy refers to the homily (teaching) given by the priest or deacon to explain the readings at Mass. Be confident that there is no prohibition against your teaching of art. God bless your valuable contribution in this area. :pray::heart::innocent:


Uh-oh, what happened? Thought we resolved your concern back in the summer with the answers you were given on this thread.


That thread helped quite a bit at the time, actually! It’s just that I released my first project into the world recently, and I began having some doubts.


Please understand those doubts are not from God. The devil knows what your weakness and fears are and he will use those to keep you from sharing your God-given gifts with the world. That includes rehashing any confusion about women’s roles. Don’t listen to those voices of doubt. You focus on what God has set before you to do and you do it well!!


Hon, think about it. What does St. Paul say about Timothy’s mom and grandma? They had faith before he did. The tradition is that he got it from them, as many Christians are known to have learned the faith at their mother’s knee. (Pagans often complained about Christian women spreading this strange new religion among their friends, employers, and kids.)

St. Gregory of Nyssa, a bishop and theologian who was one of the siblings of the great St. Basil, was a cradle Christian from a whole family of saints, and was descended from martyrs. But he credited his big sister St. Macrina as his real teacher, and even wrote a recollection of their talks at her deathbed that he modeled after things written about Socrates and other famous philosophers. Look up “On the Soul and the Resurrection”; it is a pretty fun blend of religion and philosophy, including St. Macrina’s argument for God from the invention of automata (sort of like Greek animatronic robots or toys).

Look at the Gospels. Jesus, as a rabbi, was accustomed to ask questions of people he thought were clever students, able to become teachers, in order to make them think and argue. But unlike most rabbis, he asked women questions – even pagan women.

I could go on and on…

Not everyone is called to be a priest. But we are all called to spread the Gospel and defend the hope that is in us, in our own ways and according to our own gifts from God.


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