Re: Women in the Church

From: Bill Ross (
Date: Tue Aug 11 1998 - 12:06:24 EDT

I do not support a gender-neutral reading of the NT. The differences are
everywhere explicit.

Here, though, it seems as I meditated these I Corinthians I came up with an
interpretation that I'd never heard anywhere, but it seems to tie together
much of the book. Much of this discussion may be too interpretive for some,
so I identify that section so those inclined to may skip it.

*** caution: interpretation section here:

As I read it, the Corinthians were given to super-spirituality, especially
concerning women, and thus when Paul wrote to

* avoid fornication
* not have fellowship with the immoral
* not have women leaders

they wrote back:

* so, should we not touch a woman?
* should we separate from unbelievers, and divorce our wives [especially
* we've silenced our women in Church and now they are protesting

So Paul clarifies that:

* celibacy is his favorite, though not for everyone
* if you are married, even to an unbeliever, remain as you are
* the Scriptures are not only for men

********** End of interpretive section:

There is a textual issue with I Cor 14:34. It is either "epitetraptai" ("it
is allowed" in the perfect) or "epitepetai" ("is being allowed" in the
present) to speak. Both are indicative, but the latter suggests more
strongly that this is a local, contemporary prohibition. If so, this might
be an admonition to the women to submit to the ordinance, rather than an
affirmation of the correctness of the ordinance.

This is further compounded by the textual issue of "hupotassesthai" ("to be
in subjection" in the infinitive) vs. ("let them be subject" in the
imperative). The infinitive seems to contrast "speaking" with "subjection",
which doesn't seem proper to me, whereas the imperative seems to contrast
civil disobedience with subjection.

**** mostly interpretive below:

This also explains the phrase "to the degree as also the law says". In the
infinitive reading, the silence in Church is said to be taught in the Law,
but I sure can't find it. In the alternate, it is subjection that is said to
be said in the Law, which it is (ie: Sarah obeyed her husband, calling him

Now, in Verse 35, Paul charges husbands to allow their wives to EPERWTATWSAN
("interrogate") them at home, because AISXRON ("censured") it is for women
to speak in the assembly. AISXRON does not imply that it is actually
shameful, but rather that there is an external censuring (consult Vine's).

Speaking to the husbands, Paul, shaming the husbands who have been like the
shepherds in Exodus 2:17, keeping the women from the Word, says, "the Word
didn't come from you [it came through Mary?], or to you only it didn't
arrive. [but to women as well]".

So, the bottom line is: If you prevent women from talking in Church, they
must submit, but husbands, at least let them ask their questions at home.
The Word is for them as well.

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