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One of the ways in which critics differ between the authentically Pauline Epistles and those that are termed "Deutero-Pauline" is through their treatment of women and how they present women in relation to the early church and Christian ministry. Critics argue that the epistles that are authetically Pauline present a much more positive view of women and their role in the early church as as workers, and even leaders, such as Priscilla in Romans 15. Women's contribution to the early church is recognised and praised in these letters. However, in the Deutero-Paulie letters, such as Ephesians and Colossians, there is a distinctly negative approach taken towards women, and in fact, they clearly present husbands as being dominant over their wives. The Pastoral Epistles are rejected by some critics as being authentically Pauline because of the way they contradict the presentation of women in other Pauline Epistles by their view that women should not be able to hold any position of leadership and that they are more easily corrupted than men. Consider, for example, 1 Timothy 2:12-14:
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
Some critics therefore argue that the person who wrote these words could not possibly be the same person who recognised and valued the work of women in other epistles, and even was happy to work aside women and to identify some women as holding a position of power and authority in the church. This has led critics to argue that these Deutero-Pauline and Pastoral Epistles had a different author from the authentically Pauline Epistles, which are widely recognised as being written by the Apostle Paul. It is clear that these arguments do have some merit, but it remains inconclusive whether or not they are sufficient to argue that these epistles were not written by Paul, or whether they were co-authored in some way. It is important however when trying to devise a theology of the role of women to not look at one particular verse from one particular letter, but to look at the position of women across the books of the New Testament.
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