Re: 1 Cor 14:34 -- LALEIN

From: Christopher Hutson (
Date: Thu Sep 09 1999 - 15:06:04 EDT

Carl wrote:
>I'm not much inclined to think this particular passage concerns
>glossolalia, but I have often wondered whether the classical Attic sense of
>LALEW--"chatter,prattle"--was still current in Hellenistic Greek; I don't
>find it in any of the NT dictionaries (L&N, Spicq, NAS Greek that I find
>ready-to-hand) at home, but I seem to remember this suggestion being made
>on B-Greek previously, and one Latin poem of Horace where he seems to coin
>a name "Lalage," which must surely mean "chatterbox," isn't an indication
>that this sense was indeed still alive, although LALEW is generally used in
>the GNT as an equivalent of LEGW or even KHRUSSW. It seems to me to make
>sense that Paul is here referring not to women's participation in the
>liturgy or sharing parts of the gathering but rather to idle chatter of a
>disruptive nature.


I have heard several NT interpreters appeal to this classical usage of LALEW
as a way of rescuing Paul from mysogyny. I appreciate the intention, but
I'm not sure that works for LALEW in 1 Cor 14:34. For one thing, this
interpretation seems itself to be somewhat mysogynistic, since it
stereotypes women as shallow and/or disruptive. But more important is the
fact that Paul uses LALEW in the nearby context in passages that cannot mean
"chatter" or "prattle." In the immediate context, 14:26-33, Paul uses LALEW
several times to refer to tongue speaking and to prophetic speech, both of
which occur under the influence of the Spirit and intended to edify. In
the larger context of the letter, Paul uses LALEW at 2:6, 7, 13 to describe
how "we speak the wisdom of God," again a message from the Spirit which
surely he does not mean to imply is mere prattle. So even if this classical
usage of LALEW was still alive in the early Empire, it doesn't seem to be
how Paul uses the word in 1 Cor. In 1 Cor, LALEW seems to be, as you say, a
general equivalent of LEGW or even KHRUSSW.



Christopher R. Hutson
          Hood Theological Seminary
          Salisbury, NC 28144

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