What did the deutero-Paulinist mean by “a woman being saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty” (I Tim 2:15)? Lynn Cohick, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians, pp 138-140, lists four possibilities without taking sides.
(1) A woman will successfully endure the birthing process if she meets the stated conditions.
(2) A pregnant/childbearing woman is delivered, not from death, but from the restriction against teaching and the use of abusive authority (I Tim 2:12). Alternatively, the woman is Mary, who as the counterpart to Eve, reversed the damage of the Fall by giving birth to the messiah; thus a pregnant/childbearing woman is delivered from the effects of Eve’s sin. In either case, the woman is delivered or released from certain constraints.
(3) A childbearing woman has an assurance of spiritual salvation – a polemic against abstinence salvation which denigrated having children and other things related to the “material world”.
(4) A childbearing woman has an assurance of spiritual salvation – an endorsement of Roman modesty codes, which demanded repercussions for adultery and promoted higher birthrates, in effect discouraging abortions.
The pastoral letters are a bit outside my comfort zone. Anyone care to weigh in on the options?