Re: SIGATW in 1 Cor 14:34

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Jul 08 1997 - 06:58:21 EDT

Speaking only for myself--NOT as a member of the B-Greek Staff--, I have to
say that I think this thread has become rather tedious. I've been reluctant
to comment about it because I know how important this issue is to Paul and
to Jonathan both. Nevertheless, it seems to me that Paul and Jonathan have
both made abundantly clear to anybody still reading the thread exactly what
the point of their disagreement is; I don't see any new arguments being
brought to bear upon the issue in the successive posts. On the one hand
Jonathan and some others as well find it incomprehensible that the apostle
would have interjected this comment about shaming the head IF he hadn't
assumed that women would naturally pray and prophesy in the congregation,
while Paul on the other hand insists that (a) one may not legitimately
assume any proposition that is not explicitly stated, and (b) the inner
consistency of scripture rules out any likelihood that the apostle DID
approve of women praying and prophesying in the congregation. Have I
misunderstood these two stances being taken in this discussion? I honestly
hope not, because I think I have read both of them repeatedly. I also think
it is evident that both parties to this discussion are approaching this
matter with assumptions about the nature of the Biblical text that are at
odds with each other--but while it is impossible for any of us to confront
any Biblical text without assumptions as well as deep convictions regarding
the nature of the Biblical text, those assumptions themselves are NOT the
proper focus of discussion here. I think it is quite appropriate that those
assumptions and convictions be frankly admitted "up front" when an exchange
such as this one continues, but I don't think that this is the appropriate
forum to carry on a discussion about the validity or non-validity of any
list-member's assumptions and convictions. It is the Greek text itself that
is our focus, and whatever we may think about the logic of the Greek
language's construction (Personally, I think it's one of the most rational
languages in the world, but I also think it has some strange anomalies), it
seems to me that the issue in this thread has become "How one should read
the Bible" rather than "How we should understand a particular Greek
text--whether in its narrow or in its broad context--in the Bible."

At 12:16 AM -0400 7/8/97, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
>Jonathan, Charles:
>It just occurred to me in my last response that I did not respond to some
>of the things you said particularly. So, I do so now. Please pardon.
>>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 Grice's "Logic and Conversation" gives good examples to
>> illustrate this. Consider this example from the essay, which is
>> included in the book "Studies in the 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,
>>that they do sell gasoline, etc., even though none of this could be
>>formally proven from the above statements. In fact, if we fail to
>>this, we miss the whole point of what speaker B said. Similarly, if Paul
>> tells women what to wear when they pray or prophesy so that they
>> do not shame their 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 their heads.
>The problem with doing this, however, is that it becomes conjecture. We
>have to assume things that may or may not be true. That's fine, as long
>as we understand that it is an assumption, and not an inference. In this
>case, then, we may want to introduce the discussion of probability. But,
>we err if we draw conclusions dogmatically. This can have dire
>consequences, especially if the conclusions drawn are used to determine
>the interpretation of other scripture.
>This is exactly what some have done with the 1 Cor 11:5 / 1 Cor 14:34-35
>scenario. I have seen many times where 1 Cor 14:34-35 is interpreted in
>line with the assumption that the negative inference of 11:5 is valid.
>So, if the negative inference is not true, then the interpretations of
>two passages have been flawed.
>We must be content with what scripture says, and what it logically
>>The relationship between formal propositional logic and natural
>>language discourse is quite difficult, and I doubt that we really
>> have the expertise or bandwidth to discuss it in this forum. But
>> I think that it is important to realize that (1) most of the
>> content of *any* natural language communication is not in
>> the form of logical propositions; (2) if we
>>don't grasp anything that isn't explicitly stated, we often miss the
>> whole point; (3) the reason most of us learned Greek is to grasp
>> the richness of the original in all its ambiguity, subtlety, and
>> implications.
>I disagree. Logical thought is essential to our language. WIthout it
>there would be no hope for effective communication and all would be
>chaos. Certainly with the inspired text we would be in serious trouble
>if we had to guess or figure out what the author was implying, apart from
>the rules of logic.
>Secondly (2), can you give me an example in scripture where something is
>not explicitly stated, but the "whole point" is found otherwise and apart
>from logic?
>Thirdly (3), the reason I learned Greek was so I could study scripture as
>it was written originally and so I could better exegete and interpret
>scripture "in all its ambiguity, subtletly, and implications." But, this
>does not mean that the Greek language violates the rules of logic (I
>challenge you to show me where it does), or that its meaning is somehow
>mystically communicated.
>Paul Dixon

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(704) 675-4243 OR

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