"In all the congregations let the women keep silent."

by senoj53 40 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Leolaia

    We've tread similar ground in earlier threads on the subject. I'm of two minds on this problem. Interestingly, I recently read an interesting proposal by Robert Allison (JSNT, 1988) that tries to strike a middle road between these two main proposals. It's very speculative but seems to have the advantages of both ideas without their respective flaws. It contends that the Taceat (1 Corinthians 14:33b-36) is BOTH an interpolation and a genuine Pauline text where Paul responds negatively in v. 36 to the material in v. 33b-35. The usual interpolation theory treats v. 33b-36 as a conceptual unity attributing the misogynist view in v. 33b-35 to Paul but this does not acknowledge the rhetorical effect of the disjunct in v. 36 which Allison argues establishes a sarcastic stance toward an implicit view presented in the previous sentence, e.g.:

    Romans 9:19-21: "You will ask me, 'In that case, how can God ever blame anyone, since no one can oppose his will?' O man, what right do you have to cross-examine God? Shall the pot say to the potter, 'Why did you make me this way?' [which implies that men have the right to question God's will]. Or does not the potter have authority over the clay to make what he wishes from it?"
    1 Corinthians 6:2: "When one of you has a disagreement with his neighbor, does he dare to bring the matter before a heathen court? [which implies that he recognizes the legal subordination to the authority of the wordly court to judge over Christian affairs]. Or don't you realize that the saints will judge the world?".
    1 Corinthians 6:8-9: "But you are wronging and robbing others, and even your brothers [which implies that you suppose that such behavior is acceptable in the brotherhood]. Or don't you know that wrongdoers will not have any share in God's kingdom".

    There are other cases in which this disjunct, while displaying sarcasm, does not introduce a rebuttal of an implication in the prior sentence (e.g. 1 Corinthians 6:18-19, 10:21-22), but the Taceat cannot be seen in this light considering the adversarial tone in v. 36 (cf. especially the shift to the second person) which concerns the matter of authority, an authority that implicitly excludes Paul (humas monous "you alone"). Verse 36 does not make much sense either as a direct comment on what directly preceded it. The disjunct rather seems to highlight the authoritative tone of v. 34-35, especially the passive epitrepetai "it is permitted" which is well-recognized as un-Pauline. The tone in v. 36 would thus make sense if the "you" pertains to the individuals behind the authoritative statement in v. 34-35. But the primary weakness of this argument is the lack of any indication that v. 33b-35 or 34-35 (v. 33b could go with either) is a quotation of any sort. Verse 36 is also an insufficient comment and the topic prior to the Taceat does not concern the subject of authority so the rhetorical ploy here would still be highly unusual.

    Allison's suggestion is that the Taceat originally belonged to an earlier letter where in its original context it was clear that the material in v. 34-35 was not Paul's viewpoint. It was then added to a copy of 1 Corinthians as a marginal gloss, which could have been incorporated into the text in different ways (perhaps cf. the variable textual tradition). We know that Paul was here responding to an earlier letter by the church at Corinth (7:1), whose points are responded to in turn via the peri de introductory formula (7:1, 7:25, 8:1, 12:1, 16:1), and that letter evidently was preceded by an earlier letter by Paul (5:9). There was also another communication from "Chloe's people" as indicated in 1:11, which concerned the disunity in the church and the slogans used to indicate alignment with apostolic leaders. Allison hypothesizes that the Taceat originated in Paul's response to the letter sent by Chloe's people, as the latter would have naturally been concerned about the role of women in the ecclesia. The authoritative command in 14:34-35 would effectly disenfranchise Chloe's status in the church and may have been one of the erides alluded to in 1:11. One possibility is that Paul gave private counsel in addition to the public epistle that constitutes 1 Corinthians (cf. Ignatius writing both to the church at Smyrna as well as privately to Polycarp). In such a letter it would have been clear what Paul's position on the matter was as opposed to the more ambiguous setting in the current text of 1 Corinthians. The statements in ch. 11 about women would have further addressed in the public epistle the situation of women like Chloe. Another possibility is that the Taceat belonged to the letter mentioned in 5:9 (or some other early Pauline letter to Corinth) and the material in 14:34-35 represents the view taken by some in the church. In either case, the main point is that the original context could have been one in which the rhetorical formulation made good sense. To illustrate this, I construct below a plausible (but completely and utterly conjectural!) context:

    "Has anyone given you some special right to decide who may teach and prophesy when the Spirit gives these gifts to whomever he chooses? Has the Spirit instructed you to say 'Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 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.' Or did the Word of God instead originate with you? Or are you the only people it is reached? I have no such command from the Lord, etc.

    Although there is no evidence per se that the Taceat came from another Pauline letter, it is not implausible that passages from other Pauline letters (such as private letters that have not otherwise survived) were copied into the margins or incorporated into the text directly; 2 Corinthians seems to be composed of fragments of several letters and marginal comments accidentally copied into text are well known elsewhere. What makes this explanation attractive is that it accounts for both the evidence for interpolation, the adversative reading of v. 36, and the lack of indication that the material in v. 34-35 is not Paul's opinion. It would also motivate the secondary textual tradition which dislocates v. 34-35 to after v. 40 which would represent a different way of integrating the marginal note in the text (but cf. the position of v. 36).

    It's an interesting idea, but a hard sell....plus it would not explain the similar language in the Pastorals unless the latter were influenced by it. But it is worth noting that there is another possibility that has been raised.

  • JosephMalik


    I know there is a lot of opposition to the views I expressed. Men prefer that it teaches that they can dominate women. But I did not make this up. Looking at 1 Cor 8:1 and checking some notes written by others I found:

    Peoples New Testament: As touching things offered unto idols. Corinth, like all Greek cities, was full of temples to heathen idols. At their altars victims were constantly sacrificed, the flesh of which was afterwards eaten. The question arose whether a Christian could eat of such flesh without the sin of showing deference to an idol. Perhaps the letter to Paul (#1Co 7:1) had asked about this matter.

    Poole: Ver. 1. The apostle proceedeth to a new argument, about which the Corinthians had wrote to him, viz. about the eating of meat offered to idols.

    So others recognize that Paul was following their letter and responding to it as he read along. To get them ready for this attack on their biblical positions Paul spent a lot of time from Chapter 1 to chapter 6 setting the stage for what would follow. This introduction to them some of which you have shown was very powerful and in it Paul established his position and views of the faith while revealing their flaws. 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. They had flaws building on other foundations and He had to be tough to refute teachings like this one they offered which we still find churches supporting: 1 Cor 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. This was a Corinthian doctrine and not truth. Paul had to take it out in this chapter by saying: 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. That doctrine is now GONE. Paul taught equality between men and women so their doctrine of headship was shot down. And he took them to the cleaners on how they handled the Lord’s evening meal. Since you have shown other possibilities then the consideration of another view should not come as a shock to anyone. In some cases it is like reading between the lines since Paul also comments on the letter in places but does not quote it. They know what they wrote and all he had to do was put the material in perspective. It is a great letter, almost as if he was on his own 1st century internet or bulletin board responding to their letter the way we do here.


  • yknot

    Here is another thought.

    Not nearly as well researched or dared said scholarly. If we take this and 1Tim 2 literally then on one hand it is very chauvinistic, since women have shown themselves to be quite effective at "preaching" the good news. On the other hand this is all about MEN! We woman are just strapped in for the ride as our punishment. Beyond the PUWMS all we have to do is raise God fearing children (ie good mothers) and try to be good wives.


  • JCanon

    I haven't given this in depth thought, but I don't think we can excuse the cultural and symbolic reference here at 1 Timothy as to WHY a woman would be silent in the congregation before men nor not be allowed to exercise authority over a man:

    1 Tim 2: 11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach, or to exercise authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 Also, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was thoroughly deceived and came to be in transgression. 15 However, she will be kept safe through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and sanctification along with soundness of mind.

    Verse 13 addresses a formality; Adam was created first, thus he deserves the first place, just as we respect our parents. Then verse 14 reminds of us how sin entered into the world with the help of a woman, who as thoroughly deceived. So women, out of her role is paying for that via these rules. But these rules might have deeper significance in a practical way, just because of the uneven nature of men and women.

    This doesn't challenge women being saints or even a prophetess, but these are formal rules of custom just so that there is increased order.

    If we extrapolate this further, God did make women the so-called "weaker vessel." And what does that mean? That she's less intelligent? Certainly not. Often women are the smarter ones. Less strong? Perhaps, but most things men can do women can also do, right? But there are some thiings that are given to men that are not given to women.

    For instance, the honor of childbearing is that of a woman. But by nature she can only give birth to one or two babies at a time and that child is dependent upon her for nursing and nurturing. Thus a woman with say five husbands makes little sense. What can she do with five hustands or fifteen? She's still only going to be able to have one gestation every nine months, presumably only the child of one of her husbands. On the other hand, a man can marry 500 women and get them all pregnant. Thus to exaggerate, you only need one man who could inseminate 80 million women if necessary. But 80 million million and one woman will not provide the same result. Given 500,000 and 1 individuals, you could theoretically double the population in just one year if you had just one man and 500,000 women, but you could never double the population with 500,000 men and just one woman.

    Look at the practical aspects as well. Women consider themselves equal to men in many things and they are, indeed. But what happens when she gets pregnant? She's going to have to take a leave of absence, that's what. Men don't have to. They can have 50 women at home pregnant and raising children and he can be free to get 50 more women pregnant.

    So for all the equality issues vs the misogynist slant (ignoring the Eden situation even for a moment), this should send a message to women about their "role"; not respect to the universe, not respective to God, or even prophesying, but in her relationship with men. That is, the nature of things with respect to the role of procreation, requires the man to be respected, which is an absolute respect.

    On the other side of the coin though, since women do take this "lesser" role, men are told to love them and respect them and appreciate this. He's not supposed to abuse her.

    Finally, this apparently is only temporary, an arrangement of sexuality to enable procreation. It's a wonderful arrangement, who can replace the love of a mother? BUT, once you reach population zero growth, which we will if everyone left on the earth has everylasting life, then there will be no more need for children, or marriage, or "sexism." One passage in the Bible says that those resurrected will neither marry nor be given into marriage but will be like the angels in heaven. The angels in heaven are androgynous and are in an open marriage; they can have sex with another other angel they want. If something similar will transpire for humankind, then everyone will be unisexual, or duosexual, with sexual characteristics of both sexes, perhaps sans the reproductive parts (i.e. gonads, ovaries and uterus). The sexual organs will just be for lovemaking. But the point being, the inequality between men and women is only temporary, just to get the population produced. After that, women will be equal to everyone else. Everyone will be more angelic (gay, androgynous).

    But in the meantime, just for the sake of order and respect for this arrangement, apparently women were requested not to speak out in the congregation.

    Now there's another aspect of this to consider. Some women might be offended that they are not considered as good as leaders as men. Problem is, there are sort of two types of women. Clearly some women would make great leaders, but they are very similar to men when they do so. They would make great leaders. But, there's the other type of woman. The one that likes having her nails done. THAT woman. I think the two types are sort of addressed in the wonderful movie by Barbra Streisand called "Yentl", where Streisands plays the role of a woman who loves the law and study and in order to do so pretends to be a man. Sure she falls for the cute guy like any other woman, but she draws a beautiful contrast to that type of woman with the role of Hadass (played beautifully by the beautiful Amy Irving) who was in every way the other type of woman. This is also a good lesson reference because it is in the context of the woman in Jewish culture. This woman was not expected to think, have conversatiosn with men, but had the role of fussing and tampering her man. But Streisand didn't make her the so-called misogynistic "dumb blond" kind of woman, but a woman so beautiful and special in her own way, completely fulfilled in her own role. So one might question would that type of woman be an effective leader over men?

    My feeling is that because you can't separate the two, that the cutomary rule assigns women to a non-leadership role when men in groups are concerned, like in the congregation.

    In conclusion, it is clear women are quite capable as leaders. Lots of women in modern times have proven that, such as every great Queen of England or Prime Minister Thatcher, right? So there's no question they can do the job. But that's politics. The spiritual congregation is a little more delicate, and a little closer to the historical and spiritual history of Eden, I think, and very much part of the marriage and family, and I think that rule is there so that women would not take over the authority of men. That that they couldn't, but so that they wouldn't.

    Fact is, there are some women much stronger and capable than men. But the battlefield is no place for a pregnant woman.

    Women have a very, very beautiful role and deserve love and respect for that role. But the fact is, men were put in charge for good cause, and that cause needs to be respected. At least for now.

    Just my two cents and I apologize if I offended anyone.

    Now, before so many accuse me of being misogynistic, I'd just like to add this. I'm transgendered. I lived as a woman for three three years in my early 20's. I know what it is like to be stopped by a police officer as a man or as a woman by a male officer. There is a huge difference. Women complain about not having "power" but they have an enormous amount of power through their sexuality and how that sexuality addresses the weaknesses in men. I was on my way to Vegas once to see Diana Ross, dressed as a woman at the time, and I guess I was speeding a little. I got stopped by an officer who was the sweetest guy. He was concerned I was a woman traveling alone; asked if I needed help. Charming. No ticket. He probably would have volunteered to escort me to Vegas! Wonderful! That's a lot of power just being a young woman, perhaps an attractive woman. That's a lot of cultural influence and power. Had I been just a black man speeding in his Thunderbird, that white officer probably would have just given me a ticket.

    So I think probably, what someone said about Paul being "afraid of women" has to be considered too. The tenuous and love-hate relationship between the sexes brings so much of it's own baggage that maybe it was just best not to introduce those complications into the congregation. But at the same time, that RULE acknowledges that women certainly are not inferior to men in any way with respect to the invitation into the kingdom. On that basis, they were equal with the men. So if you wanna go that route, that "men" can't really handle everything women have to dish out, then that's fine and quite valid. They probably can't. But I guess the Christian congregation was not quite up for "Eden revisited." We have to admit that women are discriminated against, many times, because of men's fears and insecurities. It's unfortunate, but...


  • JosephMalik


    1 Tim 2:11-15 is a good example of a false saying. He did this to teach Timothy what to look for so he would not appoint such men as overseers. Notice this big lie it contained: 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. Women know this is not true even if no one else can. Such Jews held this carrot out to them to keep women in line. This is why Paul then said: 1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. This and other comments made afterward were the truth and not a lie like the ones he was to look out for. Like a poker player, Paul had tells, transitional phrases that we could pick out to see where he was placing his bets. Timothy knew them and could understand what Paul was teaching him.


  • LoverOfTruth

    I never much cared for the Apostle Paul. He didn't have a high opinion of Women.

  • JCanon

    Hi Joseph. I appreciate your point of view, but:

    1 Tim 2:11-15 is a good example of a false saying. He did this to teach Timothy what to look for so he would not appoint such men as overseers. Notice this big lie it contained: 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. Women know this is not true even if no one else can. Such Jews held this carrot out to them to keep women in line.

    But I think we have to add the context of 1 Tim 5:'' 11 On the other hand, turn down younger widows, for when their sexual impulses have come between them and the Christ, they want to marry, 12 having a judgment because they have disregarded their first [expression of] faith. 13 At the same time they also learn to be unoccupied, gadding about to the houses; yes, not only unoccupied, but also gossipers and meddlers in other people’s affairs, talking of things they ought not. 14 Therefore I desire the younger widows to marry, to bear children, to manage a household, to give no inducement to the opposer to revile."

    Thus whether a woman is kept safeguarded by "childbearing/marriage" is not a lie depending upon Paul's reference. It seems to me that he was merely suggesting that women who were still young and with sexual/romantic passions should marry. In that way, these desires are satisfied and the focus on being good mothers gave them something honorable to do rather than having all kinds of time on their hands which apparently led for many to be gadding about and gossping and meddling in other people's afairs. (Now that's not to say they didn't have Nintendo back then, it's just that some homes had no electricity I supposed, anyway....)

    My position was that there were lots of complex issues involved here and that's the basis of the rule, much like the "rule" about abstaining from blood was obviously to keep peace and establish harmony but had little to do with breaking any spiritual laws since Paul clearly shows anything offered in a meat market was to be eaten without question, IF you happened to be in the home of a pagan. THAT's the difference! While in the congregational setting around Jews or in the home of Jews it was just simpler to go along with the customary "kosher" rules, which included excluding blood out of respect for the "weaknesses" of the consciences, overall of the Jews. Which is understandable.

    Likewise, the complicated history of male-female interaction, plus especially a long history of women being problematic for Jewish men, from Samson to Solomon, I think it was just more consistent to maintain this arrangement in the congregation. It didn't mean women were inferior, but it did eliminate potential "competition" and cultural issues. Besides, think about the sexual tension involved. Brothers had to deal with other men's wives if they were in a role of leadership, women they might not even have spoken to otherwise. Could you imagine having a heated Biblical discussion with the wife of one of the elders who also happened to be an elder and how complicated that might be? Or what if a woman had authority in the congregation over her husband who was only a ministerial servant. How is that going to work out at home in bed while they were having sex?

    IT'S TOO COMPLICATED, though little fault of women. This was just the better rule and decision. Period. IMHO.


  • JosephMalik


    1 Tim 5:11 does not change anything we have been discussing. But it does show how Paul was covering all the responsibilities of an overseer for Timothy at that time in history. It was something like welfare for those that were serving the faith. Who to pick and who to leave out of their welfare system. That is what Paul was talking about.


  • WTWizard

    This is blatant envy. Paul was single, and quite envious of those who had women in their lives. He had the power to do some serious damage, and hence wrote the scriptures that relegated women to second-class citizens. Not only that, he was errant in taking the whole Bible literally when it was not meant to be taken that way.

    Worse, the religious leaders (and notably the Watchtower Society) have taken this and used it to strengthen their own positions. In the Catholic church, notice how many bishops and cardinals are women. And when was the last time they had a lady Pope? The Watchtower Society points this out in mockery of that religion, but within its own structure women are not allowed to rise above the rank and file. Pioneer, marry a hounder, go to Beth Hell. Other than that, they have no way to get any prominence. Men, on the other hand, are the ones running the congregations. When is the last time a sister was running the mics when they had available men to do it?

  • JCanon
    This is blatant envy. Paul was single, and quite envious of those who had women in their lives. He had the power to do some serious damage, and hence wrote the scriptures that relegated women to second-class citizens. Not only that, he was errant in taking the whole Bible literally when it was not meant to be taken that way.

    Interesting, but I doubt Paul was "envious" since he was a eunuch (gay) and not having the usual attraction for women was considered a "gift."

    On the other hand, the family is like an organization with each having their role. Just because women weren't "in charge" over men doesn't mean their role was not important. Everybody can't do the same things. Men can't bear children, can they? Is not that honorable? Further, the ultimate prize for any of mankind is to become part of the kingdom and women were not excluded, were they? No. So this was just an "organizational" arrangement much like a marriage, where the man is considered the leader but his partner, his wife, is extremely important. "Second class citizen" I would think is rather prejudicial.

    But keep in mind, with more power comes more responsibility. Again, my position is that it's not that women couldn't be effective leaders, we know they can because there have been women ruling as queens and heads of state before. That's not the issue. It's just that in the congregation having equal authority with men would cause additional problems, and unfortunately, particularly in the Jewish culture, the women have a lot of baggage.

    Plus, I think we can learn from nature. Like bees. There's a queen and lots of workers and the men are just kept for mating, basically. In other situations, the storks mate for life. Pinguins share responsibility for keeping the eggs warm. I think it's important to separate the idea of abuse of women from a woman fulfilled in her role. A woman loved and cherished by her Christian husband and family. There are some great partnerships out there.

    Women were not meant to be in charge over men. Period. If so, the roles could be more easily exchanged. You know, let the wife marry 1000 husbands and 500 concuboys and see what happens. Men cannot give birth to a child either, though. So I think,under the present arrangement one should deal with their role and explore the grandeur of it, until after the end of Judgment Day, the human family will be more androgynous and we'll all have the same sexuality. That will be great because then you can have sex with anybody you want on the planet; in fact, it might be required over time! A completely open marriage like Christ has with his Bride Class, which numbers 1,440,000 (144K are from natural Jews).


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