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διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ’ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ.

From what I can tell, this is the only use of any form of this word (often translated "to exercise authority") in the NT. In contrast, ἐξουσιάζω (similarly translated) shows up 3 times as a verb (twice in Paul: 1 Cor 6:12 and 7:4) and 93 times in the related noun form (ἐξουσία - 25 times in Paul.) Is there a different shade of meaning in αὐθεντεω? I don't have a readily searchable LXX, but I'd also be interested to know if/how it is used there.

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I'm aware of an informative set of eight posts (there are two Part 6's) from a few years back. (You need to start from the bottom of that page.) Much of the relevant literature is cited there. Might be worth exploring while awaiting an answer here. –  Davïd Feb 26 at 7:45
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2 Answers 2

I liken the meaning of exousia to having a driver’s licence. When you have a driver’s licence you have the authority, right and freedom to drive a vehicle on public roads.

Here is a sample of most of the verses from 1 Corinthians (NABS) of exousia which demonstrates a range of usage. (I have italicised the English translation of exousia.)

The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife (1 Cor 7:4.) [Compare this translation with the very good NLT translation.]

But he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own heart, to keep his own virgin, does well (1 Cor 7:36).

But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak (1 Cor 8:9).

Have we no right to eat and to drink? (1 Cor 9:4.)

Have we no right to take along a wife who is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord,and Cephas? (1 Cor 9:5.)

Or have only Barnabas and I no right to not work? (1 Cor 9:6.)

If others partake of this right over you, don’t we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the Good News of Christ (1 Co 9:12.)

Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power (1 Cor 15:24).

As to what authentein means? That's a whole other ball game.

Most lexicons give the meaning of the verb authenteō as something like "domineer". But authentein is not a verb. Albert Wolters 1 notes that the cognate nouns authentēs and authentia are used in texts about Gnosticism that date from the 1st and 2nd centuries (as well as in other contexts.) But authentein is not a noun. It is in the infinitive.

In the TLG, a data base of all known ancient Greek literature, authentein occurs only 19 times, 15 of those times are references to 1 Timothy 2:12. So we don't have much to go on there. However, I suggest, based on what we do know, that exousia and authentein are very different as far as "shades of meaning" go.

Furthermore, cognates of authentein do occur in the LXX. In Wisdom 12:6 authenta is used describe parents who murder their children. A cognate also occurs in 3 Maccabees 2:29.

It is important to note that the English word "authority" is not etymologically related to "athentein".

I hope this helps.

  1. Albert Wolters, “A Semantic Study of authentēs and its Derivatives” in the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 1/11, Spring 2006, p44-65.
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Thank you, and welcome to BH.SE! There's some interesting information here. A couple questions: 1) Which lexicons? I'm looking at BDAG which doesn't say that; 2) I don't understand what you're getting at with "it's not a noun...it's not a veb." As far as I'm concerned, it a verbal noun, but I don't see where this is going; 3) You conclude that there are very different shades of meaning, but you don't say what the shade of authentein is other than "most lexicons say..." and the reference to the "murder" usage which I would need to be convinced is relevant... –  Susan yesterday
And finally, I would be interested to know more about how it's used in the 1st/2nd century texts about gnosticism. Sorry for the nitpicky questions - this is one I've been trying to get an answer to for a long time and I appreciate you taking it on! –  Susan yesterday
Hi Susan, the lexicons I used include LSJ, Louwe & Nida, Sophocles, as well as BDAG. BDAG, however, does not give the meaning "domineer". The type of authority given in the lexicons, including BDAG, is not the kind of authority that I believe Jesus would want in his church (e.g. Matt. 23:8-12). Cognate nouns and verbs don't always match in meaning. So knowing the meaning of a verb does not always mean we know the meaning of the noun, and vice versa. That was my point. I don't give the shades of meaning for authentein because I don't know what they are, except in Classical Greek useage. –  Marg Mowczko yesterday
Wolters cites his sources in his paper about the nouns authentia and athentes. Albert Wolters, “A Semantic Study of authentēs and its Derivatives” in the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 1/11, Spring 2006, p44-65. –  Marg Mowczko yesterday
I agree that the Wisdom 12:6 verse is not necessarily relevant, but the original question mentioned the LXX, so I included it. –  Marg Mowczko yesterday
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It is not that simple. It is not good to compare just the verbs by themselves without looking at the context. If there is any difference between the two words authentein means more "bossy" and eksousiazo means more "control over".

See the Concise Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament - Frederick Danker University of Chicago Press, 2009

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I believe the OP is asking for an analysis of the context. Could you expand your answer to address this, especially since you've pointed out that merely looking at the verbs by themselves is not good? Keep in mind that this is a Q&A site, not a forum. Answers should be detailed and fully address the question. –  Daи May 16 at 2:21
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