Re: SIGATW in 1 Cor 14:34

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Mon Jul 07 1997 - 18:30:12 EDT

Jonathan, Charles:

The place of logic is this. It merely shows what may and what may not
necessarily be inferred from propositional truths. This is absolutely
essential to any rational communication.

To use your analogy. Given: A) I am out of gas, and B) there is a gas
station around the corner. What can I infer from this for sure? Only A
and B. Can I necessarily infer that if I go around the corner then I can
get gas? No, it may not be open and if so, it may not have gas, or I may
not have any money, whatever.

Applied to 1 Cor 11:5, logic tells us that every woman who pray or
prophesies with her head uncovered, shames her head (A -> B). Now I can
legitimately infer from this that if a woman does not shame her head,
then she did not pray and prophesy with her head uncovered (~B -> ~A).

Furthermore, logic tells me I cannot necessarily infer the negation, nor
the converse. This is the value of logical analysis here. It tells us
what are invalid inferences, and so should keep us from drawing illogical
conclusions. It does not say the negation or converse are necessarily
untrue, just that their veracity cannot be inferred from the given

Scripture seems to adhere tenaciously to the rules of logic. Why, for
example, does it bother to sometimes state negations with conditions
(e.g., Jn 6: 53, 54; 1 Jn 5:12), and many times not? Only if the
negations are not necessarily implied by the conditionals. Besides,
there are many examples in scripture where logic was abused with dire
consequences. Consider, for example, the plight of Job. His friends
argued: we know that if a man sins, then he suffers. Converse: if you
are suffering Job, then it is because you sinned. Wrong. Or, consider
the negative inference fallacies committed by the Pharisees in Mt 5.
They knew that if a man committed murder, then he would be liable before
the courts. They inferred that if they did not commit murder, then they
would not be liable. Wrong. Likewise, they knew if they committed
adultery, then they would be guilty of adultery.

One more thought. Keep in mind that assuming things for the sake of
argument without passing approbation or condemnation is something Paul
does frequently. 1 Cor 15 is replete with such argumentation (15:29, 6
times in verses 13-19). When you or I assume things for the sake of
argument, we do the same thing. So, let us be wary of drawing unncessary
and incorrect inferences from 11:5.

If you want to prove that scripture approves of a woman praying or
prophesying in the worship service, then from my point of view you are
going to have to demonstrate it elsewhere. Not from here. But, if your
wife is going to pray publicly, and if this passage pertains to us today
(something heretofore unaddressed), then at least make sure she covers
her head.

Paul Dixon

On Sun, 06 Jul 1997 22:43:39 -0400 Jonathan Robie
<> writes:
>I think one of the big problems we're having here is that formal logic
>leaves no room for what is implied, but not formally stated. It
>ignores a
>significant portion of what the speaker or writer meant to say. Paul
>"Logic and Conversation" gives good examples to illustrate this.
>this example from the essay, which is included in the book "Studies in
>Way of Words":
>A. I am out of gas
>B. There is a gas station around the corner
>We can assume that speaker B believes that the gas station is open,
>they do sell gasoline, etc., even though none of this could be
>proven from the above statements. In fact, if we fail to conclude
>this, we
>miss the whole point of what speaker B said. Similarly, if Paul tells
>what to wear when they pray or prophesy so that they do not shame
>head, we can assume that Paul thinks that it makes a difference, and
>is not
>just giving fashion advice, telling women what to wear while shaming
>The relationship between formal propositional logic and natural
>discourse is quite difficult, and I doubt that we really have the
>or bandwidth to discuss it in this forum. But I think that it is
>to realize that (1) most of the content of *any* natural language
>communication is not in the form of logical propositions; (2) if we
>grasp anything that isn't explicitly stated, we often miss the whole
>(3) the reason most of us learned Greek is to grasp the richness of
>original in all its ambiguity, subtlety, and implications.
>Jonathan Robie
>POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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