Re: 1 Cor 14:34 -- LALEIN

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Sep 13 1999 - 16:05:48 EDT

I'm assuming that you did intend this to be an OFFLINE message (I would in
fact be rather distressed if you had wanted to deal with this sort of a
question on B-Greek).

I stand tried, convicted, and condemned (in the eyes of those who are
confident that Paul is absolutely consistent in all that he ever wrote or
said) of supposing, NOT that Paul contradicts himself within the corpus of
unquestionably authentic letters, BUT that he occasionally addresses issues
from different perspectives in such a way as to APPEAR to be talking or
writing inconsistently. On the other hand, I don't think it will come as a
shock to you to learn that I don't share some of the major assumptions of
your hermeneutic.

So far as 1 Cor 14:34 is concerned, I feel quite sufficiently chastened by
both Carlton Winbery and Edward Hobbs as to the unlikelihood of LALEIN
there meaning "chatter." I never did mean to affirm it positively so much
as to suggest that it might be worth considering whether LALEIN didn't
still hold some of that sense in Hellenistic Greek, whereas I am now
perfectly satisfied that, even if it DID still hold some of that sense,
that sense doesn't really come to play in this passage.

But some more heretical perspective: I don't really believe that the
pastoral epistles are Pauline, but I admit that 2 Timothy sets forth the
strongest statements in the entire NT against women assuming any
authoritative status within the church. I'm not saying either that the
pastoral epistles are not canonical, but I have assumed, ever since I found
it imperative to come to terms with a consistent stance toward scriptural
authority, that Biblical texts do not all weigh equally in the balance
where there is a question to be resolved by Biblical authority; that is to
say, it is necessary to settle upon a "canon of the canon"--to decide the
relative weight of scriptural teaching on any matter where there is not a
clear preponderance or uniform teaching on a matter, such as, in
particular, the place of women in the congregation and the authority
structure of the church. I think that every institution, denomination and
sect within Christendom operates by such a "canon of the canon" whether or
not they are fully aware of it--which is why I think one OUGHT to be
honestly aware of the criterion one is employing to weigh the relative
weight of scriptural authorities--anyone who asserts that all Biblical
documents and texts are equi-valent is, in my judgment, under a delusion; I
think there are different traditions that weight bodies of Biblical texts
differently. I think some traditions give far MORE weight to the OT than
they ought when there is clear evidence of a distinct NT teaching; I also
think that some interpreters weight the Pauline letters as holding more
authority than the evidence in the gospels for the teaching and behavioral
stances toward other human beings, whereas I personally feel that the
evidence about Jesus deserves far more authoritative status. That is
precisely why I am not much impressed by some of the argumentation in 2
Timothy about women in the church--I just don't think it's consistent with
what Jesus said and did (I also don't think it's consistent with such items
as the brief mention of the Elder Junia in Rom 16:7). What I DO find in the
Pauline corpus to be consistent with what I understand to be the teaching
and practice of Jesus and to be about as authoritative a stance as any in
all the Pauline corpus is Gal 3:28 in its context. I frankly don't believe
that there is any justification whatsoever, in the light of that text, for
relegation of women in the church to a subordinate status of any sort.

Is Paul really consistent on this matter? I'm not altogether sure that he
is; he may have been, as Edward Hobbs says, a misogynist. I wouldn't go so
far as that; what I think more likely is that Paul occasionally was guided
more by his traditional ethnic biases than by his theological principles
and that there are passages within the Pauline corpus that are clearly to
be weighted more authoritatively than others (e.g., where he offers an
opinion about what to do that he states clearly is his own and admits that
he has no dominical saying to back up his view--in such instances I don't
think he is claiming overriding authority).

I think that's quite enough. I don't doubt that what I'm saying here is far
removed from where you stand on these same issues; I just wanted,
relatively briefly, to answer you enough to show that, wrongheadedly or
not, I do not have to accuse Paul of deliberate inconsistency and I also do
not have to accept your view that Paul's teaching on the issue of women in
the congregation or in positions of authority in the church is
crystal-clear and unmistakably consistent. We're just going to have to
disagree on this one as well as whatever else we may disagree on.

Cordially, Carl

At 1:21 PM -0400 9/13/99, wrote:
> I am appalled! Paul, when he is trying his best to make an important
>point many, many times, uses the simple technique of rephrasing that point in
>the following verse. Here, for example, he plainly states in I Corinthians
>14:34 "...women keep silent..." and "...they are not to speak..." and
>"...they are to be submissive...". Then, to make sure you get his meaning on
>the role of women in the Church, he further simplifies by saying in verse 35,
>"...let them ask their husbands at home at home..." and finally adds "...for
>it is shameful for women to speak in church."
> Now, as is also the manner of the Apostle Paul, if by some chance you
>might possibly not read one of his books you will get his point when you read
>another of his books. Paul was a great believer in the old fashion
>educational ploy of REPITITION!!! So...while you are reading his first book
>to young Timothy, suddenly you come to chapter 2 and he is
>again...plainly...explaining the women's role in the Lord's Church. In verse
>8, he instructs the men in what they are to do. In verses 9,10, he further
>instructs the women in what they ARE to do. Now, in verse 11, Paul begins
>AGAIN to instruct the women in what they ARE NOT permitted to do in the
>Lord's Church. He first says, "Let a woman learn in silence with all
>submission." You gotta give Paul an A+ for consistency. Sounds very
>familiar! Sounds exactly like what he to the Church at Corinth in his first
>letter. Now, as is the manner of Paul, it just might be that Timothy didn't
>understand his admonition about women so, he repeats it in verse 12, " And I
>do not permit a women to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in
> You gotta really dig deep back into Greek, philosophy, history, and many
>other of man's inventions to misunderstand Paul's intent here to relay to the
>Corinthians, young Timothy, as well as us today. What part of "silent,"
>"submission," "authority," "speak," and "permit" do we not understand?
> To clarify, Paul continues, in verses 12-15, to explain the WHY God does
>not permit the women to have a leading role in the services of the Church.
>God knows how he created man, he knows how he made woman, and he knows who is
>best equipped to lead the Lord's Church. He inspired the Apostle Paul to
>instruct us in just the manner of leadership in the Church that would please
>him if we would be obedient to his commands.
> Now, if we can figure out a way that a woman can take part in the
>services of the Lord's Church:
> 1. Without saying anything.
> 2. Without making any sound.
> 3. When no Christian men are present in the Church.
>then...and only then...according to God's Word...could a woman take part...a
>leading the services of the Lord's Church!
> Re...deemed;
> D. R. Woolery,

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

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