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"Silent in the Churches": On the Role of Women in 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36

(33b)As in all the congregations of the saints, (34)women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. (35)If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

I. Introduction1

The interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36 is by no means easy. The nub of the difficulty is that in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, Paul is quite prepared for women to pray and prophesy, albeit with certain restrictions; but here, a first reading of the text seems to make the silence he enjoins absolute. The solutions that have been advanced are, like devils in certain instances of demon possession, legion. I can do no more than list a few and mention one or two of my hesitations about them before turning to the interpretation I find most contextually and exegetically secure.

The demarcation of the passage to be studied deserves some comment, since the precise link between verse 33a and verse 33b, and therefore between verses 33b and verse 34, is disputed. Do we read, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the congregation of the saints”; or “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches”? The latter is stylistically inelegant, for in Greek the words rendered “congregations” and “churches” by the NIV are the same word: i.e., “As in all the churches of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.” But what some see as stylistic inelegance, others see as powerful emphasis achieved by repetition. Moreover, if verse 33b is linked with what precedes, it is uncertain just what the line of thought is. In the sentence, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the congregations of the saints,” what is being compared? God and the congregations of the saints? God’s peaceful order with what is in all the congregations of the saints? The sentence can be salvaged only by understanding an additional phrase, such as: “and this principle must be operative in your church, as in all the congregations of the saints.”

On the whole, it seems best to take verse 33b with what follows. But even if someone prefers the other option, little is changed in the interpretation of verses 34-36, since the phrase “in the churches” (in the plural) is found in verse 34.

II. The Text-Critical Question

A number of scholars have noted the complexities of the textual evidence supporting the authenticity of these verses and have dismissed verses 34-36, or some part of them, as a late gloss of no relevance in establishing Pauline theology.2 Not a few of these writers exercise a similar source—critical skill with all the other passages in the Pauline corpus that seem to restrict women in any way. The authentic Paul, they argue, is the Paul of passages like 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 and Galatians 3:27ff. I confess I am always surprised by the amount of energy and ingenuity expended to rescue Paul from himself and conform him to our image. In any case, the view that verses 34-36 contain a major gloss is so much a minority report, especially since all manuscripts include the passage, that until recently most discussions and refutations could afford to be cursory. In short, most were satisfied that, whatever the textual complexities, the evidence that these verses are original and in their original location (and not, as in some manuscripts, with verses 34-35 placed after 14:40), is substantial.3

With the publication of the recent and generally excellent commentary by Fee,4 however, the view that verses 34-35 constitute a non-Pauline interpolation has gained wider credence. Before turning to interpretations of the text as it stands, it has become important to think through the reasoning of those who omit it.

The relevant textual evidence is quickly stated. Verses 34-35 appear in all known manuscripts, either in their present location, or, in the case of all Western witnesses, after verse 40 (D F G 88* a b d f g Ambrosiaster Sedulius-Scotus). In addition, Codex Fuldensis (a Latin manuscript written between A.D. 541 and A.D. 546 by order of Bishop Victor of Capua) places the verses after verse 40, but also inserts them in the margin after verse 33. It appears that, despite the uniformity of the Western tradition, Victor, or those who worked at his bidding, became aware of the placement of the verses outside their own tradition and signaled their hesitation in this way.

Thus, although the overwhelming majority of manuscripts support the placing of verses 34-35 after verse 33, one must offer an explanation of the Western textual tradition. Fee’s solution is that when the epistle came from Paul’s hand the verses were not there, but were added later. His argument is essentially twofold. First, he appeals to transcriptional probability. In particular, he refers to Bengel’s first principle, perhaps the most important single text-critical principle: the form of the text that best explains the origin of all other forms is most likely the original. As a matter of mere logical possibility, one must opt, Fee says, for one of the following: (1) Paul wrote the words after verse 33 and someone later deliberately transposed them to a position after verse 40; (2) Paul wrote the words after verse 40 and someone deliberately transposed them to a position after verse 33; (3) Paul did not write the words at all; rather, they were an early marginal gloss (that is, a later editor’s addition written in the margin) subsequently inserted into the text at two different places.5 Fee judges that good historical reasons are available to support the third option, but none for either of the first two. The gloss itself, quite apart from the location of its insertion, may well have been created toward the end of the first century to achieve a reconciliation between 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 or to thwart a rising feminist movement (the existence of which some find attested in 1 Timothy 2). This means, of course, that verse 33b must be read with verse 33a (cf. discussion above) and that verse 36 follows immediately (as the letter came from Paul).

If Fee’s reconstruction of events is correct, the gloss must have been extraordinarily early to have managed to find its way into every manuscript. This becomes rather unlikely under the assumption that the gloss was inserted at the end of the first century, by which time this epistle had been circulating for four decades. It is hard to believe that none of the earliest copies had any influence on the second- and third-century textual traditions to which we have access. Most commentators are rightly reluctant, therefore, to postulate an original omission where no manuscript that has come down to us attests the omission. Moreover, most glosses of substantial size, like this one, seek to explain the text, or clarify the text, or elucidate the text (e.g. John 5:4; Acts 8:37; 1 John 5:7b-8); they do not introduce major problems of flow into the text. The difficulty is so great in this case that we are asked to believe in a glossator who is Biblically informed enough to worry about harmonization with 1 Timothy 2 but who is so thick he cannot see that he is introducing a clash between 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Corinthians 11. In short, unless there are overwhelming reasons for rejecting both of the other two options, this third choice should be dismissed as both weak and speculative. Bengel’s first principle is convincing; Fee’s application of it is not.

It is not widely argued that Paul originally wrote the disputed words after verse 40. That leaves us with the first option, namely, that Paul wrote verses 34-35 after verse 33, but that someone later deliberately transposed them to follow verse 40. This is the majority view. Fee rejects it on the ground that no historical reason has been advanced to justify such transposition. In particular, he says, “(a) displacements of this kind do not occur elsewhere in the New Testament; and (b) no adequate [emphasis his] reason can be found for such a displacement were these words originally in the text after verse 33.”6

Neither objection is weighty. On the first point, Fee himself concedes, in a footnote,7 that the adulterous woman pericope (John 7:53-8:11 in English Bibles) is a remarkable exception: it found its way into no fewer than five locations in our manuscripts. As for his argument that “no adequate reason can be found for such a transposition,” I am doubtful that Fee will find the reason I shall advance “adequate,” but adequacy is in part in the eye of the beholder. Customarily it is suggested that some scribe transposed it to a position after verse 40 because that produces less strain in the flow of the passage than its location after verse 33. Fee does not find this suggestion “adequate” because (1) the position after verse 40 is scarcely an improvement, and if there is no improvement there is no motive for transposition; and (2) judging by the stability of the textual tradition in the Eastern church, it was not common for copyists to mess around with the order of Paul’s epistles. Again, however, a different reading of the evidence is possible. (i) Although a location for verses 34-35 after verse 40 is not without difficulties, it does have, on a superficial reading, one marked advantage over that attested by the majority of the manuscript evidence. The position after verse 33 (again, on a superficial reading) breaks up the flow of the argument. Verses 37-40 are still demonstrably talking about tongues, prophecy, spiritual gifts, authority in the church—the very topics that have dominated chapter 14. True, to put verses 34-35 after verse 40 is still to leave some awkwardness, but at least the awkwardness of breaking up what appears to be a cohesive unit of thought is alleviated. Thus, when verse 40 ends up by insisting that everything be done “in a fitting and orderly way,” it is easy to imagine some copyist thinking that what appear to be regulations governing the conduct of women in the assembly could be subsumed fairly easily under that principle. The role of women is then nicely tucked in between two major topics: spiritual gifts (chapters 12-14) and the resurrection (chapter 15). (ii) As for the stability of the textual tradition in the Eastern church, most textual critics acknowledge that the majority of the most “creative” glosses and emendations occurred early in the transmission of the text. Certainly in the West, by the time of Jerome there were protests about the sloppy quality of many copies and translations (as witness the well-known protest of “Pope” Damasus). All it would take to introduce the transposition was one copyist, presumably early enough to capture the Western tradition, making what he felt was an improvement. That the history of the Eastern textual tradition is remarkably stable is scarcely relevant, since most of that “history” is much later.

If we set aside Fee’s view of the transcriptional probabilities, we must still evaluate his second text-critical appeal, namely, intrinsic probability. Fee makes three points:

(1) He strongly argues that one can make the best sense of the structure of Paul’s argument “without these intruding sentences,”8 i.e., by omitting these two verses. Of course, appeals to “intrinsic probability” are amongst the weakest, against the principle of lectio difficilior potior (“the more difficult reading is preferable,” a principle that, strangely, Fee does not mention): all things being equal, the most difficult reading has the greatest claim to authenticity, since it can be demonstrated that scribes tended to smooth out perceived rough spots, not invent difficulties. Clearly, on intrinsic grounds inclusion of verses 34-35 after verse 33 is the lectio difficilior, the “harder reading.” Methodologically, the only time the lectio difficilior should be overthrown by appealing to “intrinsic probability” occurs when the external evidence is strongly against the lectio difficilior. Despite Fee’s treatment of the transcriptional probabilities, this is simply not the case.

But what Fee unwittingly accomplishes is to set out one important criterion for an acceptable interpretation of the passage: it must make sense of the flow of the passage, or it should be dismissed as unlikely. In other words, while it may be freely admitted that the passage makes sense if verses 34-35 are excised, both the transcriptional probabilities and the principle of lectio difficilior argue that these two verses are original; and if so, then the most credible interpretation is the one that shows how a thoughtful reading of the last half of the chapter makes ample sense of the flow of Paul’s thought, with verses 34-35 included after verse 33.

(2) Fee sees “even greater difficulty” in “the fact that these verses stand in obvious contradiction to 11:2-16, where it is assumed without reproof that women pray and prophesy in the assembly.”9 All sides in the debate understand that this is the nub of the problem. Even so, it may be doubted whether this makes the shorter text “intrinsically” more “probable.” It may instead be further fodder for the lectio difficilior. And again, Fee’s concern points the way to another criterion of an adequate interpretation: it must explain how the two passages, 11:2-16 and 14:33b-36, can stand consistently in the same letter, each within its own context.

Fee forcefully rejects this approach, because he insists on taking “They are not allowed to speak” as an absolute statement that cannot be reconciled with 11:2-16. At the merely formal level, of course, he is right: the statement is absolute. But qualifications to a statement can be present even when they are not part of the syntactical unit in question. The qualifications may be part of the larger context or the flow of the argument: in other words, there may be discourse considerations. Consider, for example, 1 John 3:9: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” We may agree that the meaning of “God’s seed” could be taken a couple of different ways, and that the NIV rendering, just cited, exaggerates the force of the present tense verbs, but after all our caveats are in, this is an extraordinarily strong statement. Even so, responsible exegesis must not only fit it into the flow of 1 John 3 but also take note of 1 John 1:6, 8, 10, where all pretensions to sinless perfection are specifically denied.

So also here: the prohibition in 1 Corinthians 14:34 is strong, but, as we shall see, the context argues it is not as strong as Fee thinks. Moreover the sanction granted to women to pray and prophesy (in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16) has one or two more curbs on it than Fee thinks. In the last analysis, Fee’s judgments based on intrinsic probability are in part the result of his insistence on an absolute disjunction between two texts where more sympathetic exegesis sees a way forward. The disjunction he draws is not demanded by the text; it is self-generated.

(3) Finally, Fee joins other scholars who have noted that there are some usages in these two verses that are not typically Pauline— though it must be said that he prejudges this issue by saying, rather more strongly, that they “seem quite foreign to Paul.”10 Of course, many passages that all concede are Pauline contain one or more hapax legomena (expressions that occur only once, whether once in the Pauline corpus, or once in the New Testament). In light of this, we ought to be very careful about relegating any passage to the level of redactional addition where part of the argument turns on odd usage. This is not to say that such arguments are never valid: I myself have argued against the authenticity of John 7:53-8:11, in part by appealing to usage. But even there, where the usage arguments are considerably stronger than here (in part because the text is much longer), the usage arguments would not be judged very powerful were it not for the very strong manuscript evidence favoring omission—evidence entirely lacking in this instance.

In any case, the atypical usages in this passage are not all of a piece. Several of the ones commonly listed (but not, thankfully, by Fee) occur in Ephesians, Colossians, or the Pastorals, but so convinced are some scholars that these epistles are deutero-Pauline that they conclude 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 must be deutero-Pauline as well. I refer to such items as the verbs to permit (epitrepo), which occurs in 1 Timothy 2:12, also dealing with women, and to subordinate [oneself] (hypotasso), which is found in Ephesians and Colossians. Although “churches [NIV ‘congregations’] of the saints” is not found elsewhere in Paul, neither is it part of the disputed text: it occurs at the end of verse 33—which of course does not bother Conzelmann, since he, without any text-critical warrant, assigns all of verses 33b-36 to a later redactor.11 Fee carefully distances himself from this kind of speculation and suggests that 1:2 offers adequate reason for this form of expression.12 This rather goes to show that reasons can usually be found to explain unique usages. But when it comes to verses 34-35, Fee magnifies several alleged peculiarities. In particular, he thinks that the use of “the Law” in verse 34 is un-Pauline.13 I shall comment on that expression below.

In brief, neither Fee’s appeal to transcriptional probability nor his appeal to intrinsic probability is very convincing. With all respect to a brother whose text-critical prowess is far greater than my own, his arguments in this case sound a bit like the application of a first-class mind to the defense of a remarkably weak position.

III. Unsatisfying Interpretations

If we grant that verses 34-35 are authentic and were included after verse 33 when the epistle left Paul’s hand, it is all the more important to weigh the various interpretations that have been offered. The following list is not exhaustive. It is broadly comprehensive, and not in any particular order.

(1) Some continue to see the demand for silence as an absolute rule. This is done in one of two ways. First, several seek to escape the tension between 11:2-16 and 14:33b-36 by arguing that only the latter passage has reference to the public assembly; the former deals only with the home or with small group gatherings.14 In that case, nothing in 1 Corinthians prevents the interpreter’s taking the prohibition of chapter 14 absolutely, so far as the church assembly is concerned.

This interpretation does not seem very likely, for: (a) Paul thinks of prophecy primarily as revelation from God delivered through believers in the context of the church, where the prophecy may be evaluated (14:23-29). (b) Distinctions between “smaller house groups” and “church” may not have been all that intelligible to the first Christians, who commonly met in private homes. When the “church” in a city was large enough (as certainly in Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, and possibly Corinth) to overflow the largest private accommodation, it must have been rather difficult, once opposition was established, to find a public venue large enough to accommodate all the believers of that city; i.e., the house groups in such instances constituted the assembly of the church. (c) The language of 11:16 (“If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.”) seems to suggest a church concern, not merely the concern of private or small-group piety. The “we”/”church of God” parallel either means that Paul has never allowed the practice, and the churches have followed his lead; or that Paul and the church in Ephesus (from which he is writing) constitute the “we” that have not followed the practice, and again the other churches have adopted the same stance. Either way, when Paul adopts the same tone elsewhere (see especially 14:33b, 36), he is talking about conduct in an assembly. (d) The immediately succeeding verses (11:17-34) are certainly devoted to an ordinance designed for the assembly. (e) If someone points out that 11:2-16, unlike 14:33b-36, does not include the phrase “in the church,” it must also be observed that 11:2-16 does not restrict the venue to the private home or small group. (f) Whether the restriction in 11:2-16 requires some kind of hat or a distinctive coiffure, it becomes faintly ridiculous in proportion to the degree of privateness envisaged. If the restriction pertains to every venue except the church assembly, does this mean the Christian wife must postpone her private prayer until she has hurried to her chambers and donned her headpiece? The restriction is coherent only in a public setting. (g) Above all, the universality of the promise of Joel, cited at Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on men and women such that both would prophesy as constituent members of the community of the new covenant, seems somehow less than transparent if the women may display their inheritance only outside the gathered messianic community.

The second way in which some understand the prohibition in 14:33b-36 as an absolute rule, thereby requiring creative measures in the exegesis of 11:2-16, is by taking the permission granted in the latter passage to be mere concession: women may indeed pray and prophesy (under the restriction of the head covering, whatever that is); but this is conceded with extreme reluctance to those who cannot manage to submit to the rule of chapter 14.15 But the praying and prophesying exercised by women in chapter 11 is not cast as a concession. Moreover, the church enjoyed the heritage of Pentecost and the fulfillment of the Joel prophecy, as we have seen, which promised that both men and women would have the Spirit poured out on them and that in consequence they would prophesy (Acts 2:16).

(2) Some are willing to leave a contradiction, and say no more.16 But apart from any bearing this might have on the doctrine of Scripture, it is hard to believe that Paul could contradict himself as boldly as some think he has within the space of a few pages.

(3) Equally unlikely is the view of Khler, to the effect that the subordination Paul had in mind is not of women to men, but of women to the order of worship he is establishing.17 But we must ponder why women are singled out. Do not men also have to submit to the ecclesiastical structures Paul is setting forth? Moreover, the verb for “submit” or “subordinate” normally involves subordination of a person or persons to a person or persons, not to an order, procedure, or institution.

(4) To her credit, Fiorenza suggests18 that the reasoning behind many such judgments is based on theological bias; so she is prepared to let Paul be Paul. Whatever the restriction, she thinks it is placed on wives only. After all, 1 Corinthians 7 displays Paul’s “ascetic preference for the unmarried state”;19 thus it is apparent that Paul here is ‘taking over bourgeois moral concepts which denote not absolute but conventional values.’20 Fiorenza finds Paul’s attitude surprising since we know of missionary couples in the New Testament. Paul derives his stance from “the Jewish Hellenistic propaganda tradition” that “places the demand for subordination of wives in the context of the Law.”21 Verse 36 betrays the fact that Paul expects strong response from the church against these restrictions; for indeed, Paul himself recognizes that his argument “sounds preposterous” and “goes against the accepted practice of the missionary churches in the Hellenistic urban centers. He therefore claims for his regulations the authority of the Lord (verse 37).”22

Here we have Paul not only strapped into a bourgeois mentality but also guilty of the worst sort of religious jingoism: knowing what he says is preposterous and preparing for the backlash by appealing to the Lord’s authority! I confess I cannot help entertaining the suspicion that Fiorenza’s exegesis tells us more of her than it does of Paul.

(5) Another cluster of interpretations argues that the problems behind Paul’s demand for silence are local, probably doctrinal or cultural.23 These positions are defended with varying degrees of sophistication. The argument that some of the women were too noisy24 cannot be taken very seriously, for we must ask why Paul then bans all women from talking. And were there no noisy men? Nor is it plausible that the women are silenced because they were uneducated; for again, we must ask why Paul doesn’t silence uneducated people, not just women. And since Paul’s rule operates in all the churches (verses 33b-34), it would be necessary to hold that all first-century Christian women were uneducated—which is palpable nonsense.25

A more sophisticated version of this approach argues that women were exploiting their emancipation, refusing the ruling of verse 29, and falling into various heresies. The “Law” to which Paul appeals in verse 34 is his own prior ruling, alluded to again in verse 37. Moreover, verse 36 makes it clear that the crucial issue at stake was the Word of God: “The Corinthians were claiming to have originated the divine message, with their women giving the lead.”26 The doctrinal error may have been related to 15:12—a claim to have already been raised; and this claim “may well have carried with it—on the part of the women—a tacit denial of their married state on the ground that as ‘risen ones’ they no longer owed marital allegiance.”27

But none of this is convincing, and some of it is misleading. There is no evidence that Paul ever uses the word law to refer to his own ruling. There is, as we shall see, a much more natural interpretation of that word. Surely the thrust of verse 36 is the charge that the Corinthians were trying to stand apart from the other churches (cf. 14:33b). In other words, verse 36 does not define the problem but describes the attitude that supports it. And what evidence is there here that the women “gave the lead”? Moreover, the attempt to link this situation with a similar one in 1 Timothy arouses all the same kinds of objections about the exegesis of 1 Timothy.

There is a more foundational objection: These approaches are unbearably sexist. They presuppose that there was a major heresy in which one of the following was true: (a) only women were duped, yet Paul arbitrarily silences all the women, regardless of whether they were heretics or not; (b) both some men and some women were duped, but Paul silences only the latter, thus proving to be a chauvinist; or (c) Paul was entirely right in his ruling, because all the women and only women in all of the Pauline churches were duped—which perhaps I may be excused for finding hard to believe. Has that ever happened in the history of the church? The truth of the matter is that this passage raises no question of heresy, but if it did, some explanation would still have to be given for the fact that Paul’s response silences women, not heretics.

(6) Yet another cluster of interpretations attempts to resolve the difficulty by ascribing verses 34-35, or some parts of them, to the position of the Corinthians, perhaps even to a quote from their letter.28 There are many variations to this cluster, but the central purpose of these approaches is to assign the parts that do not seem to cohere with Paul’s thought as enunciated elsewhere to the Corinthian position Paul is setting out to refute. If the law (verse 34) means the Old Testament, one must find some place where women are told to be silent, and (we are told) there isn’t one. Therefore law must refer to something else. One common view is that it represents Torah, which in the first instance means “teaching,” but was commonly used to cover both Scripture and associated Jewish traditions. So the law, here, refers to Jewish tradition that the Corinthians have unwisely adopted. Verses 34-35 summarize that position. Paul’s horrified response is given in verse 36, and the fact that the word “only” (monous) is masculine may suggest that Paul is saying, in effect, “Did the word of God originate with you men only?” Moreover, it has been argued that the first word of verse 36 must not be taken here as a comparative particle (“Or”) but as a disjunctive particle, expressing shock and overturning what immediately precedes (“What! Did the word of God originate with you men only?”).29

Again, however, the arguments are not as convincing as they first seem. We may conveniently divide a response into four parts:

(a) That the word for “only” is masculine is irrelevant: people considered generically are regularly found in the masculine gender in Greek.30 It is more natural to read verse 36 as addressed to the church, not just to the men in the church.

(b) It is very doubtful that verses 34-35 constitute a quotation, perhaps from the Corinthians’ letter. During the last decade and a half, one notable trend in Corinthian studies has been to postulate that Paul is quoting the Corinthians in more and more places—usually in places where the commentator does not like what Paul is saying! That Paul does quote from the Corinthians’ letter no one disputes. But the instances that are almost universally recognized as quotations (e.g., 6:12; 7:1b; 8:1b) enjoy certain common characteristics: (i) they are short (e.g., “Everything is permissible for me,” 6:12); (ii) they are usually followed by sustained qualification (e.g., in 6:12 Paul goes on to add “but not everything is beneficial … but I will not be mastered by anything”—and then, following one more brief quotation from their letter, he devotes several verses to the principle he is expounding); (iii) Paul’s response is unambiguous, even sharp. The first two criteria utterly fail if we assume verses 34-35 are a quotation from the letter sent by the Corinthians.31

(c) Moreover, although Paul uses the word law in several ways, he never uses it to refer to Jewish tradition, and the full expression found here, “the law says,” occurs only twice elsewhere in Paul (Romans 3:19; 1 Corinthians 9:8), both with reference to the Mosaic law, and the former, judging by the wealth of quotations that immediately precede it, to the Scriptures, to what we would refer to as the Old Testament (cf. verse 21). Fee argues that the usage of “the law” here is probably not Pauline, since no passage is explicitly cited, and it is Paul’s practice to provide a text.32 But the number of passages where this thesis can be tested is small. More importantly, I shall argue below that the reason Paul does not cite a text is that he has already referred to the text he has in mind, specifically when he was earlier dealing with the roles of women. When Fee adds, “Nowhere else does he appeal to the Law in this absolute way as binding on Christian behavior,”33 he seems to be confusing two issues. It is true that Paul does not make simple appeals to the Mosaic covenant, “the law” in that sense, as a basis for Christian conduct. When he appears to do so, there are usually mitigating factors: e.g., in Romans 13:8-10, Christian love is the fulfillment of the law, where “fulfillment” must be understood in a salvation-historical sense. But Paul can appeal to Scripture,” the law” in that sense, as a basis for Christian conduct, and where he does so, the appeal, as here, is usually correlative (as in 1 Corinthians 9:8 and 14:21). In short, neither the suggestion that “the law says” here refers to extra-biblical oral tradition, nor the view that it is here used in an un-Pauline way, can be reasonably substantiated.

(d) Although it is true that the first word in verse 36 is probably a disjunctive particle, nevertheless the proffered explanation does not follow. Odell-Scott and Manus understand verses 33b-35 as the proposition against which the disjunctive “What!” responds. In other words, Paul allegedly cites the Corinthian view that women must be silent, and then replies with some exasperation, “What! Did the word of God originate with you?” He thereby dismisses the content of verses 34-35. Bilezikian wants to render the word by “Nonsense!”34 Kaiser specifically appeals to Thayer’s Lexicon, which lists 1 Corinthians 14:36 as an instance of the principle that this disjunctive particle may appear (in Kaiser’s citation of Thayer) “before a sentence contrary to the one preceding [it]… .”35 However, Kaiser has not quoted enough of Thayer’s context to convey his meaning accurately. To quote in full, Thayer says that the disjunctive may appear “before a sentence contrary to the one just preceding, to indicate that if one be denied or refuted the other must stand: Mt. xx.15 (i.e., or, if thou wilt not grant this, is thine eye etc.).” In other words, Thayer does not say that the disjunctive particle in question is here used to contradict the preceding clause, and thus dismiss it, but that it is used to introduce a “sentence contrary to the one just preceding,” not in order to dismiss the preceding, but in order “to indicate that if one be denied or refuted the other must stand.” To put the matter another way, he is saying that the construction is a form of logical argument that is used to reinforce the preceding clause, as Thayer’s example from Matthew 20:15 shows. There, the first part finds the landowner saying to the grumbling workers, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?” As Jesus proceeds, He certainly does not want to overturn the principle articulated by this rhetorical question; of course the landowner has that right. But since the workers have not accepted this principle, Jesus introduces a “sentence contrary to [this one]” to force the workers to see the preposterous nature of their criticism. To use the language of Thayer (who is quoting the King James Version in italics and inserting ordinary lettering to show the true force of the disjunctive particle), and filling in the words hidden behind his “etc.”: “or, if thou wilt not grant this, is thine eye evil, because I am good?” In the NIV, using the same change of typefaces to make the point, we obtain “Or, if you are not willing to admit the truth I am affirming, are you envious because I am generous?” In other words, if the workers “deny or refute” the first clause (which both the landowner and Jesus affirm), then at least they had better face up to the second (to use Thayer’s expression, “to indicate that if [the first] one be denied or refuted the other must stand”).

Thayer then goes on to list several other exemplary passages: Romans 3:29; 1 Corinthians 9:6; 10:22; 11:14 (he points out that there is a textual variant there); 14:36 (the passage at hand). Consider Romans 3:29. In the preceding verse, Paul insists, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” The next word, at the beginning of verse 29, is the disjunctive particle in question: “Or [is] God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God… .” Certainly neither Paul nor Thayer (and presumably not Kaiser) wants to overturn what Paul wrote in verse 28. Rather, using a rhetorical device, Paul goes on to say, in effect, “If you want to deny or refute this truth, then at least face up to this: monotheism itself demands that God is not the God of Jews only, but of all.”

Exactly the same sort of reasoning occurs in the other passages Thayer quotes. He then adds, as part of the same article in his lexicon, two extrapolations of this usage of the disjunctive particle : (a) e agnoiete, “or don’t you know,” citing Romans 6:3; 7:1 [cf. 6:14]; (b) e ouk oidate, “or don’t you know,” citing Romans 11:2; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 16, 19. In each case the flow of the argument demands that the words that succeed the expression are used to enforce, rather emphatically, what some among the readers are in danger of trying to deny or refute: the clause that precedes it. In short, Kaiser has not understood Thayer’s point.

Worse yet is Bilezikian’s discussion of some of the relevant passages in Paul. For example, he writes: “In [1 Corinthians] 6:1-2, Paul challenges the Corinthians for their propensity to go into litigations against each other before pagan courts, rather than to submit their contentions to fellow believers. He counters this situation with ‘(nonsense!) do you not know that the saints will judge the world?’”36 Again, however, it is important to listen to the text itself. In verse 1, Paul writes, “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?” The verb dare in this rhetorical question proves beyond contradiction that in this context the assumed answer is “No!” In other words, the question itself is a rhetorical device for forbidding such litigation. Verse 2 then begins with the disjunctive particle: “Or [do] you not know that the saints will judge the world?” Thus, using exactly the same reasoning that Thayer employs, we conclude that verse 2 reinforces the truth of verse 1, the truth that Christians should not enter into the litigation in question. Bilezikian has simply not understood what is being affirmed under the force of the rhetorical question.

There is even less excuse for this failure in understanding when he turns to 1 Corinthians 6:15-16, for Paul himself inserts, after the rhetorical question but before the disjunctive particle, the words me genoito: “Never” (NIV), “God forbid” (KJV). Once again, verse 16 emphatically reinforces the truth of verse 15, if the rhetorical question is read in any sort of responsible way.

Bilezikian does not even have a rhetorical question to fall back on when he treats 1 Corinthians 6:8-9. To quote him again: “In 6:9, having exposed the misbehavior of brethren who wrong and defraud each other, [Paul] counters with ‘(nonsense!) do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?’”37 Again, let Paul speak. In verses 7-8, as part of his denunciation of the same Corinthian practices, he writes: “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.” Paul does not now want to turn around and say that they have not been acting this way: clearly, they have been, and the burden of his remark is that they should not be. Equally clearly, however, some Corinthians are slow to accept his denunciation. They would prefer to “deny or refute” (Thayer’s terms) Paul’s contention. So Paul goes on: “Or [do] you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?” In other words, if you want to buck at what I am writing in verses 7-8, at least you had better swallow what I say now in verse 9—and of course the effect is to reinforce, emphatically so, the burden of verses 7-8.

In every passage he treats on this matter, Bilezikian demonstrates, quite remarkably, that he does not understand what he has cited. In one instance (1 Corinthians 11:13), he refers to the particle e even though no Greek edition known to me includes that particle.38

All scholars make mistakes, I no less than others. But the sheer vehemence that has surrounded the treatment of this particle in recent years attests that we are facing more than an occasional lapse of exegetical judgment. We are facing an ideology that is so certain of itself that in the hands of some, at least, the text is not allowed to speak for itself.39 The brute fact is this: in every instance in the New Testament where the disjunctive particle in question is used in a construction analogous to the passage at hand, its effect is to reinforce the truth of the clause or verse that precedes it. Paul’s point in 14:36 is that some Corinthians want to “deny or refute” what Paul has been saying in verses 34-35. So he continues, “Or [if you find it so hard to grant this, then consider:] did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?” This is part and parcel of Paul’s frequent insistence in this letter that the Corinthian church return to the common practice and perspective of the other churches (1:2; 4:17; 7:17; 11:16; 14:33) and to wholehearted submission to apostolic authority (14:37-38).40

(7) There is in addition a variety of interpretations that cut more or less independent swathes. For instance, Ellis41 sees the restriction applied to wives only, in the light of the distinctions in roles he thinks Paul does expect to be maintained in the Christian home. Perhaps these women were even questioning their own husbands’ prophecies, provoking some very embarrassing situations. But in much of the ancient world, marriage meant an improvement to women in freedom and social status. Even if these verses deal primarily with the married woman, I suspect both Paul and his readers would assume the a fortiori argument: if married women are enjoined to be silent, then how much more the single ones? Besides, does Ellis really think that Christian women enjoyed full freedom and perfect egalitarianism in function in the church as long as they were single, and then from the day of their marriage onward became silent for fear of offending the husbands to whom they were to submit? These considerations effectively dismiss those interpretations that admit that Paul insists on certain role distinctions between the sexes but limit such distinctions to the home, denying that they have any bearing on the church.

All of these interpretations share another quite decisive weakness. They do not adequately explain why these words should be found here, in this context, dealing with prophecy and tongues. After all, Paul has not yet abandoned the subject (as is clear from verses 37-40). If we accept the text as it stands, we must ask why Paul seems to interrupt the flow of his thought to add this little unrelated section into his chapter.

IV. An Interpretation Constrained by the Context

Another interpretation has been set out by various writers and meets the objections put to it. The view has been ably defended elsewhere;42 I can merely sketch it here. Paul has just been requiring that the church in Corinth carefully weigh the prophecies presented to it. Women, of course, may participate in such prophesying; that was established in chapter 11. Paul’s point here, however, is that they may not participate in the oral weighing of such prophecies. That is not permitted in any of the churches. In that connection, they are not allowed to speak—“as the law says.” Apparently in sympathy with the view that makes this appeal to “law” a feature of the Corinthian position, Evans suggests that to take this as Paul’s appeal to law sounds “strangely unlike” him.43 That is a rather strange assessment, since Paul in this chapter has already appealed once to “the law” (cf. 14:28), by which he means the Old Testament Scriptures. By this clause, Paul is probably not referring to Genesis 3:16, as many suggest,44 but to the creation order in Genesis 2:20b-24,45 for it is to that Scripture that Paul explicitly turns on two other occasions when he discusses female roles (1 Corinthians 11:8, 9; 1 Timothy 2:13). The passage from Genesis 2 does not enjoin silence, of course, but it does suggest that because man was made first and woman was made for man, some kind of pattern has been laid down regarding the roles the two play. Paul understands from this creation order that woman is to be subject to man—or at least that wife is to be subject to husband. In the context of the Corinthian weighing of prophecies, such submission could not be preserved if the wives participated: the first husband who uttered a prophecy would precipitate the problem.

More broadly, a strong case can be made for the view that Paul refused to permit any woman to enjoy a church-recognized teaching authority over men (1 Timothy 2:11ff.),46 and the careful weighing of prophecies falls under that magisterial function. This does not mean that women should not learn: let them ask their husbands about various aspects of these prophecies, once they return home. Why should the Corinthians buck not only the practice of all the churches (verse 33b) but also the Scriptures themselves (verse 36)? Are they so enamored with the revelations that they have received that they dare to pit them against the authentic deposit found in Scripture and in the apostolic tradition? And if they feel they are merely interpreting that tradition under the promptings of the Spirit, are they not troubled to see that all the churches have translated the same texts, and the same Gospel, into quite different ecclesiastical practices? Are you the only people the word of God has reached (cf. verse 36b)?47

Several final observations on this interpretation may prove helpful. First, this interpretation fits the flow of chapter 14. Although the focus in the second part of the chapter is still on tongues and prophecy, it is still more closely related to the order the church must maintain in the enjoyment of those grace gifts. Verses 33b-36 fall happily under the description. The immediately preceding verses deal with the evaluation of prophets; these verses (verses 33b-36) further refine that discussion. The general topic of 1 Corinthians 12-14 has not been abandoned, as the closing verses of chapter 14 demonstrate. There is no other interpretation of these disputed verses that so neatly fits the flow of the argument.

Second, this interpretation makes sense not only of the flow but also of the structure of the passage. Chapter 14 is dominated by a discussion of the relative places of tongues and prophecy. Most of the chapter does not here concern us. Verses 26 and following, however, clearly deal with practical guidelines for the ordering of these two gifts in the assembly. Verse 26 is fairly general. Verses 27-28 deal with practical constraints on tongues speakers. In verse 29, Paul turns to prophecy and writes, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.” The two parts of this verse are then separately expanded upon: the first part (“Two or three prophets should speak”) is treated in verses 30-33a, where constraints are imposed on the uttering of prophecies; the second part ( and the others should weigh carefully what is said ) is treated in verses 33b-36, where constraints are imposed on the evaluation of prophecies.48

Third, the major objection that has been set against it is that it seems inconsistent for Paul to permit women to prophesy and then to forbid them to weigh prophecies. But the objection carries little weight provided that such prophecy does not have the same authority status that the great writing prophets of the Old Testament enjoyed (whether or not such authority was immediately recognized). Elsewhere I have argued at length that “prophecy” in the New Testament is an extraordinarily broad category, extending all the way from the product of the pagan Muse (Titus 1:12) to Old Testament canonical prophecy. In common church life, it was recognized to be Spirit-prompted utterance, but with no guarantee of divine authority in every detail, and therefore not only in need of evaluation (1 Corinthians 14:29) but necessarily inferior in authority to the deposit of truth represented by the Apostle Paul (14:37-38).49 In certain respects, then, it is perfectly proper for Paul to elevate teaching above prophecy, especially if the teaching is considered part of the non-negotiable apostolic deposit that serves in part as one of the touchstones enabling the congregation to weigh the prophecies that are granted to the church, and especially if the prophecies themselves, unlike the apostolic deposit, are subject to ecclesiastical appraisal. It does not mean, of course, that the utterances of any particular teacher need not be verified; I am not saying that prophecy must be evaluated, but teaching need not be. The New Testament includes too many passages that encourage the church to take responsibility for evaluating teachers and teaching (1 Timothy 1:3; 6:3-5; Titus 1:9-14; Hebrews 13:9; 2 Peter 2:1, etc.). But it does mean that prophecy cannot escape such evaluation, and it presupposes that there is a deposit of apostolic teaching, a given content, that is non-negotiable and that can serve as the criterion both of further teaching and of prophecy.

Fourth, this is not all that the Bible has to say about relationships between men and women in Christ. I have said nothing, for instance, about the command for men to love their wives even as Christ loved the church—an exquisitely high standard characterized by unqualified self-giving. Nor have I listed the many things Paul expects Christian women to do. Above all, I have not devoted space to the fact that in a Greek ekklesia, i.e., a public meeting, women were not allowed to speak at all.50 By contrast, women in the Christian ekklesia, borne along by the Spirit, were encouraged to do so. In that sense, Paul was not trapped by the social customs of Corinth: the gospel, in his view, truly freed women from certain cultural restrictions. But that does not mean that all distinctions in roles are thereby abolished. I would be prepared to argue, on broader New Testament grounds, that the distinctive roles that remain are in Paul’s view part and parcel of living in this created order, in the tension between the “already” and the “not yet”—in the period between the bestowal of the eschatological Spirit and the consummation of all things, when there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage.

And fifth, if this interpretation is correct, and there are some role distinctions between men and women to be observed, it is essential to recognize that this teaching is for our good, not for our enslavement. That is a theme I would dearly love to enlarge upon; but I shall pass it by.

Copyright 1997 Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. All rights reserved.


1 This chapter is a considerable expansion and modest revision of D. A. Carson, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1987), pp. 121-131, which is used by permission.

2 E.g., F. X. Cleary, “Women in the New Testament: St. Paul and the Early Pauline Tradition,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 10 (1980): 78-82; D. J. Doughty, “Women and Liberation in the Churches of Paul and the Pauline Tradition,” Drew Gateway 50 (1979): 1-21; W. O. Walker, “The ‘Theology of Women’s Place’ and the ‘Paulinist’ Tradition,” Semia 28 (1983): 101-112; G. W. Trompf, “On Attitudes Towards Women in Paul and Paulinist Literature: 1 Corinthians 11:3-26 and Its Context,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 42 (1980): 196-215; hesitantly, G. Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles: A Disquisition upon the Corpus Paulinum (London: British Academy, 1953), p. 17; not a few German scholars, most recently and notably Hans Conzelmann, First Corinthians: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, ed. George W. MacRae, tr. James W. Leitch (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1974). [Page numbers are omitted when referring to commentaries, unless the reference is to some passage other than the one under discussion, or I have entered into extensive debate with a particular commentator.] Strangely, Conzelmann, quite without textual warrant, lumps verses 33b-36 together as one gloss, even though the displacement in the Western tradition affects only verses 34-35.

3 Cf. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: United Bible Societies, 1971), p. 565; and esp. E. Earle Ellis, “The Silenced Wives of Corinth” (1 Cor. 14:34-35), in New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis, Festschrift for Bruce M. Metzger, ed. J. Eldon Epp and Gordon D. Fee (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981), pp. 213-220-though I disagree with his interpretation of the passage, which is discussed below.

4 Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987).

5 There is of course another pair of logical possibilities that Fee does not discuss, namely, that verses 34-35 are original, whether in one location or another, and that they were accidentally transposed to the opposite location. But these seem unlikely, and no one, to my knowledge, argues for them.

6 Fee, First Corinthians, p. 700.

7 Ibid., p. 700, n. 9.

8 Ibid., p. 701.

9 Ibid., p. 702.

10 Ibid., p. 702.

11 Cf. n. 1 of this chapter.

12 Fee, First Corinthians, p. 697, n. 48.

13 Ibid., p. 707.

14 So Philipp Bachman, Der erste Brief des Paulus an die Korinther, 4th ed. (Leipzig: A. Deichertsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1936); Hermann Olshausen, A Commentary on Paul’s First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians (Minneapolis: Klock and Klock, rpt. 1984 [1855]); John W. Robbins, Scripture Twisting in the Seminaries. Part I: Feminism (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1985). Also to be noted is the argument of Noel Weeks, “On Silence and Head Covering,” Westminster Theological Journal 35 (1972): 21-27, who holds that in 11:5 the “uncovering” is symbolic of the act of praying, and correspondingly that its dative form (akatakalupto) has instrumental force: i.e., every woman praying or prophesying, by means of the uncovering of the head, dishonors her head. In this way the passage turns out to be an absolute prohibition, so far as public assembly is concerned. (It is worth pointing out in passing that Weeks, along with most commentators, assumes 11:2-16 deals with public meetings of the church—unlike the view we have just examined.) But this interpretation invokes a strained syntactical argument. If the “uncovering” is symbolic of praying and prophesying, then one cannot reasonably take such uncovering as an instrumental dative modifying praying or prophesying. Stripped of the symbolism, the verse would then read, in effect, Every woman praying or prophesying, by means of praying or prophesying, dishonors her head. And as in the previous interpretation, Weeks’s approach does not adequately reckon with the fulfilled Joel prophecy recorded in Acts 2, to the effect that both men and women will prophesy.

15 Robert L. Thomas, Understanding Spiritual Gifts: The Christian’s Special Gifts in the Light of 1 Corinthians 12-14 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), pp. 230-231.

16 E.g., John Loenig, Charismata: God’s Gifts for God’s People (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978), p. 174; Jack W. MacGorman, The Gifts of the Spirit: An Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1974), p. 113, who says Paul has already set a precedent for self-contradiction in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 versus 10:21!

17 E. Khler, Die Frau in den paulinischer Briefen (Zürich: Gotthelf-Verlag, 1960), p. 61; cf. also Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics 3/4, p. 172.

18 Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, “Women In the Pre-Pauline and Pauline Churches,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review 33 (1978): 153-166.

19 Ibid., p. 161.

20 Ibid., citing K. Niederwimmer, Askese und Mysterium (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1975), p. 115.

21 Ibid., p. 161.

22 Ibid.

23 E.g., Richard and Joyce Boldrey, Chauvinist or Feminist? Paul’s View of Women (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976); J. Keir Howard, “Neither Male nor Female: An Examination of the Status of Women in the New Testament,” Evangelical Quarterly 55 (1983): 31-42; Ralph P. Martin, The Spirit and the Congregation: Studies in 1 Corinthians 12-15 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984), pp. 86ff.; William F. Orr and James Arthur Walther, 1 Corinthians, vol. 32 of The Anchor Bible (Garden City: Doubleday, 1976).

24 Howard, “Neither Male Nor Female.”

25 Cf. esp. Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1980), pp. 185-186.

26 Martin, Spirit and the Congregation, p. 87.

27 Ibid., p. 88.

28 E.g., Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “Paul, Women, and the Church,” Worldwide Challenge 3 (1976): 9-12 (which I have discussed in D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984], pp. 38-40); Neil M. Flanagan, “Did Paul Put Down Women in 1 Cor. 14:34-36?” Biblical Theology Bulletin 11 (1981): 10-12; Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: A Guide for the Study of Female Roles in the Bible, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989), pp. 144-153; G. Fitzer, “Das Weib schweige in der Gemeinde” (Munich: C. Kaiser, 1963); Jerome Murphy-O’Conner, “Interpolations in 1 Corinthians,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 48 (1986): 90-92.

29 Chris Ukachukwu Manus, “The Subordination of Women in the Church. 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36 Reconsidered,” Nouvelle Revue Thologique 106 (1984): 23-58; D. W. Odell-Scott, “Let the Women Speak in Church: An Egalitarian Interpretation of 1 Cor 14:33b-36,” Biblical Thinking Bulletin 13 (1983): 90-93.

30 It is simply astonishing to be told that the masculine plural monous “requires [!] some such paraphrase as ‘you fellows only’” (so Charles H. Talbert, “Paul’s Understanding of the Holy Spirit: The Evidence of 1 Corinthians 12-14,” in Perspectives on the New Testament, Festschrift for Frank Stagg, ed. Charles H. Talbert [Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1985], p. 106.

31 For further application of these principles, cf. Carson, Showing the Spirit, pp. 53-55.

32 Fee, First Corinthians, p. 707.

33 Ibid.

34 Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles, pp. 286-288 n. 29 (1st ed., pp. 248-249).

35 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., in Christianity Today, October 3, 1986, p. 124, citing Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 4th ed. (Edinburgh: T T Clark, [1889] 1901), p. 275.

36 Bilezikian, p. 286.

37 Ibid.

38 Ibid.

39 Cf. also n. 30 in this chapter.

40 On which cf. Carson, Showing the Spirit, pp. 131-134.

41 Ellis, “Silenced Wives “; E. Earle Ellis, Pauline Theology: Ministry and Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989), pp. 67-71. For yet another interpretation, cf. Robert J. Karris, “Women in the Pauline Assembly: To prophesy (1 Cor 11:5) but not to speak (14:34)?” in Women Priests: A Catholic Commentary on the Vatican Declaration, ed. Leonard and Arlene Swidler (New York: Paulist Press, 1977), pp. 205-208.

42 M. E. Thrall, I and II Corinthians (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1965). She has been followed and expanded upon by James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981), pp. 185-194; Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in 1 Corinthians (Washington: University Press of America, 1982), pp. 245-255; cf. W. J. Dumbrell, “The Role of Women-A Reconsideration of the Biblical Evidence,” Interchange 21 (1977): 14-22.

43 Mary Evans, Woman in the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983), p. 95.

44 E.g., R. Banks, “Paul and Women’s Liberation,” Interchange 18 (1976): 100; and then he points out that this is not so much a command as a statement of the consequences of the first couple’s sin.

45 Cf. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective, p. 192.

46 Cf. Ibid., and Clark, Man and Woman in Christ; Douglas J. Moo, “1 Timothy 2:11-15: Meaning and Significance,” Trinity Journal 1 (1980): 62-83; Douglas J. Moo, “The Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15: A Rejoinder,” Trinity Journal 2 (1981): 198-222.

47 Verse 36 must not be understood to be addressed to women only: the masculine monous eliminates such a view. The entire Corinthian church is being held responsible for the deviations Paul disapproves, as is suggested already by the contrast between Corinthian church practice and that of other churches (verse 33b—assuming this clause is to be read with verses 34-36).

48 Cf. Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in 1 Corinthians, pp. 250-251. The response of Fee, First Corinthians, p. 704, n. 23, is unconvincing.

49 Cf. Carson, Showing the Spirit, esp. pp. 91-100; Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988).

50 N. G. L. Hammond and H. H. Scullard, eds., Oxford Classical Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 376.

Related Topics: Christian Home, Worship