Re: Women in the Church

From: Bill Ross (
Date: Thu Aug 13 1998 - 12:37:08 EDT

*** warning *** Translation, textual and interpretation intermingled below!

>* we've silenced our women in Church and now they are protesting


Now I cannot find any way in which you can attribute saying this (or
anything like it) to the Corinthians. Bill, am I overlooking something?

I am referring to the fact that Paul says "*your* women/wives in the
churches be silent, for it is not being entrusted for them [your women] to

>So Paul clarifies that:

>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.

I must politely dissent. The verb is durative aspect, negated, which means
as an ongoing situation they are not permitted to do (whatever it is which
is being forbidden). There is no suggestion in such an expression that it in
any way indicates "a local, contemporary prohibition" and certainly not that
it indicates a prohibition restricted to one church or one time.

Why does Paul say they are to be silent? Because it is being forbidden. The
choice of present tense suggests to me that this is not something that has
always been or always will be. An aorist would have made time irrelevant and
an perfect would have made it something done in the past effecting them now.

>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.

I cannot at all agree that this follows.

>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.

I cannot understand this point at all. My UBS GNT at 1 Cor 14:34 has
hUPOTASSESQWSAN, which is present passive imperative, 3rd plural, "let them
(or, they must) be in subjection/be subordinate". No alternate reading of
an infinitive is given in the apparatus. You may care to clarify your point

Textus Receptus has hUPOTASSESQAI.

>Now, in Verse 35, Paul charges husbands to allow their wives to
EPERWTATWSAN ("interrogate") them at home,

This comment involves a reworking of the verse. What Paul says is not
addressed to husbands, to tell them to allow their wives to do anything:
EPERWTATWSAN is a present active imperative, 3rd plural, addressed to wives,
instructing them what they must do. And I am not sure what you have in mind
in your choice of "interrogate" as your translation for this verb:
BAGD gives its first and usual meaning as "ask (a question)", and does not
even list "interrogate" as a translation for it.

Vine's says this about EPERWTATWSAN:

"a strengthened form of EROTAO [which more frequently than AITEO suggests
that the petitioner is on a footing of equality or familiarity with the
person whom he requests] (epi, "in addition"), <snip> The more intensive
character of the "asking" may be observed in Luke 2:46; 3:14; 6:9, 17:20;
20:21, 27, 40; 22:64; 23:3, 6, 9. In Matt. 16:1, it virtually signifies to
demand (its meaning in later Greek). See DEMAND, DESIRE, QUESTION.

>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).

I have consulted BAGD, who give the meaning as "ugly, shameful, base,
disgraceful", and do not refer to any concept of censure.

AISCHUNO relates to a feeling of fear or shame which prevents a peson from
doing something, whereas AIDOS relates to moral repugnance. This has more to
do with embarassment then guilt, as in:

Luke 16:3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my
lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

>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]".

I can see nothing in 14:36 to suggest that this was addressed to husbands as
distinct from the whole of the Corinthians (men and women together).

Not even that the wives are to "strongly ask" their own husbands in their
homes [about the Word]?

>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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