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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

1 Cor. 14:30-40

There has been some discussion recently about the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Without discussing motives or agenda, let me show how this passage, 1 Cor. 14: 30-40 has a unique treatment in the HCSB and the NET Bible.

I hope this can be understood in context, as a response to comments elsewhere in the blogosphere and as a transfer of the material Gordon Fee is covering in class this week. Here is the HCSB.
    But if something has been revealed to another person sitting there, the first prophet should be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that everyone may learn and everyone may be encouraged. (A) 32 And the prophets' spirits are under the control of the prophets, 33 since God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

    As in all the churches of the saints, (B) 34 the women [a] should be silent in the churches, (C) for they are not permitted to speak, but should be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, they should ask their own husbands (D) at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church meeting. 36 Did the word of God originate from you, or did it come to you only?

    37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, he should recognize that what I write to you is the Lord's command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, he will be ignored. [b] 39 Therefore, my brothers, be eager (E) to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in [other] languages. 40 But everything must be done decently (F) and in order.

I am now going to post the ESV for this passage because it demonstrates a somewhat more traditional reading of this passage.
    30If a revelation is made to another sitting there,(AF) let the first be silent. 31For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33For God is not a God of(AG) confusion but of peace.

    As in(AH) all the churches of the saints, 34(AI) the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but(AJ) should be in submission, as(AK) the Law also says. 35If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

    36Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37(AL) If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39So, my brothers,(AM) earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40(AN) But all things should be done decently and(AO) in order.

Since it is well known that all early Latin versions, and church fathers, those who wrote prior to the earliest Greek manuscript now extant, had verse 34 and 35 together at the end of the chapter, it is very odd that both HCSB and ESV break for a paragraph in the middle of verse 34. What is even odder is that the HCSB has broken for a paragraph after verse 36, when the logical structure seems to place verse 36 and 37 together. The HCSB also omits to translate η at the beginning of verse 36.

The NET Bible has paragraph breaks that are identical to the HCSB. In the light of the fact that the NET annotator writes,
    Following a suggestion made by E. E. Ellis (“The Silenced Wives of Corinth (I Cor. 14:34-5),” New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis, 213-20 [the suggestion comes at the end of the article, almost as an afterthought]), it is likely that Paul himself added the words in the margin.
I cannot understand why the NET Bible provides paragraph breaks in such odd places. If it is a marginal note, albeit by Paul, why give the impression that it ties into the preceding and following sentences?

My question is this - if the best explanation for these verses being authentic to Paul is that he added them himself to the margin, how does one explain the paragraph formatting in the ESV, NET and HCSB. I believe this is another of those cases where paragraph breaks are significant.


At Tue Jul 24, 02:45:00 PM, Blogger Bryan L said...

I don't think it is authentic. I find Fee's arguments pretty convincing and still have yet to see a real critique of his treatment of the subject in God's Empowering Presence.

Bryan L

At Tue Jul 24, 03:08:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

These paragraph breaks are not new to HCSB, ESV and NET. RSV and the Nestle-Aland 27th edition and UBS 4th edition Greek texts have paragraph breaks in the middle of verse 33 and after verse 36. Oddly enough, Moffatt transposes vv.33b-36 as a unit to the end of the chapter, citing in a footnote that some early texts do this with vv.34-35. I suspect that other translators have ignored this manuscript evidence and translated according to their best understanding of the Greek text in front of them.

I note from the UBS 4th edition that the evidence for these verses at the end of the chapter is not quite as you have given it. They are found there in three fairly early Greek MSS (D,F,G) and five old Latin MSS (ar,b,d,f,g), and in a Vulgate MS, also in the Latin writers Ambrosiaster (4th century) and Sedulius Scottus (9th century!), but old Latin MS o (15th century!) and the Greek writers Origen (3rd century), Chrysostom (4th century), Theodoret (5th century), also in Latin Pelagius (4th-5th century) bear witness to the verses in their modern position - which is also that of Fee's favourite p46 which is older than any of the evidence for the alternative position. So, while I see the attractiveness of Fee's position, I am not totally convinced.

At Tue Jul 24, 03:31:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


Thanks for pointing this out. I took this from class notes and Zhubert without checking my Greek NT.

Fee did not go into detail on the manuscripts. However, on reading the NET Bible notes on text critical matters, which I find to be fairly detailed, the annotator conjectures,

The very location of the verses in the Western tradition argues strongly that Paul both authored vv. 34-35 and that they were originally part of the margin of the text.

While I don't agree that they are necessarily part of the original, I find the argument that they were at least a marginal note compelling.

If this is the case, then how does one explain the paragraph divisions in the N-A critical text.

At Tue Jul 24, 04:45:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I can see a good, although ultimately speculative, argument for these verses having been originally written in the margin of the text, of an original or very early copy of the letter from which all surviving later MSS are derived.

If these verses were written in the margin, they are not an original part of the letter, which would imply that they are not part of the canonical and inspired biblical text. Also there is no reason to hold that they were written by Paul, and not by someone else writing notes in the margin. Since they appear to reflect the theology of Paul's opponents in Corinth, I might suggest that they were added in Corinth by whoever was charged with reading the letter to the congregation there, who felt the need to clarify at this point that verses 29-31 or 39 should not be taken as allowing women to speak.

There was an extended discussion of verses 34-35 on this blog last November, where we were exploring how these verses can be understood if they are taken as genuine. I still think that in general I prefer this approach.

At Tue Jul 24, 07:02:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I was not originally persuaded by Fee's argument when I first read it, but after listening to his reasons today and reading the NET notes, I am more or less convinced.

This is the only case where a chunk of text has been moved in this manner. And it all makes more sense if one reads from verse 33 to verse 36, those two go together.

However, my main question remains this. Considering how much paragraph formatting influences meaning, shouldn't there be much more critical awareness of how speculative paragraph breaks are.

At Tue Jul 24, 07:06:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I have not read God's Empowering Presence. Thanks for the tip.

I have heard Fee speak on the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible. He was excellent.

At Tue Jul 24, 10:55:00 PM, Blogger Bryan L said...

You said, "While I don't agree that they are necessarily part of the original, I find the argument that they were at least a marginal note compelling."

I think it’s interesting that 2 sides both argue that it was a marginal note, but Fee doesn't see it as a marginal note from Paul but one that got into an early manuscript. One side sees it as from Paul the other side doesn’t. It'd be interesting to see which way the influence went on this view. Fee made a point though that I thought was really telling of those that argue for Pauline authorship. He said even among those who try to defend it as original to Paul they spend the rest of their time trying to argue that it doesn’t actually say what it seems to be saying (clearly saying, according to Fee).

Peter, regarding the manuscripts that these verses are found in, Fee says of the Western tradition “We are dealing with the entire surviving evidence for the shape of the text in the West before 385 CE” (GEP p.274). Fee’s point is that up until around 385 these 2 traditions of verse placement were completely separate from each other showing no knowledge of the other. In the Western tradition the verses were placed after 40, and in the Eastern tradition they were placed at 34-35.
Fee makes the point that it’s only because of Jerome that the 2 traditions meet. He says in an extended quote, “…the point, of course, is that the Western text is equally as early as the standard text. In fact, one can be sure of it: had Jerome not translated his Vulgate in Jerusalem, the Western reading would have been the only one known in the entire Latin tradition and would therefore have been taken far more serious by scholarship. To put this another way, the two known readings were not vying with one another as original at any given point of geography in the first four Christian centuries. To the contrary, had one been a Christian anywhere in the West up to 400 CE, the Western text is the only way would have known Paul’s argument; and so likewise in the East, the text we know best through an accident of history is the only one known on the Greek side of the Empire.” (GEP pp. 274-275)

I really recommend his treatment in God’s empowering Presence. It’s an excursus that’s 10 pages long and he deals with other evidence as well that he sees supporting his view. The cumulative weight of all the evidence is very convincing to me (but hey, what do I know? I’m no text critic). He also deals with the issue in his lecture from Regent on Women in Ministry – The Pauline Texts (I highly recommend this lecture to anyone).

Bryan L

At Tue Jul 24, 11:07:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thank you Bryan. He does not go into as much detail in class.

What I find so convincing is that both sides agree that it is probably a marginal note. From there one has to ask, by whom, and more to the point, if it is a marginal note, why is this not footnoted, and why does the paragraph formatting not indicate this.

At Wed Jul 25, 07:04:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Thanks, Bryan. I have Fee's treatment of these verses in his 1987 commentary, which says essentially the same as your summary of what he says in GEP.

I can see a reason why the early western copyist might have displaced the two verses to the end of the chapter, because they seem to be a digression from the subject of spiritual gifts. Fee's argument is not completely convincing here.

There is no mention in Fee's commentary of the suggestion that these verses were written in the margin by Paul. This sounds to me like the speculation of someone who was convinced by Fee's argument that these verses are a marginal addition but was also reluctant to deny them apostolic authority and a place in the Bible. Of course this would go against two parts of Fee's argument for the inauthenticity of these verses, that they contradict 11:2-16 and that "some usages in these two verses seem quite foreign to Paul".

As for the more general acceptance of the Western text, that would have some interesting consequences for the shape of the Bible, not least that the book of Acts would be quite considerably longer.

Suzanne, concerning the paragraphing, I thought I had answered this one. If you start with the Greek text including these verses at their traditional (eastern) position, discounting the variants as corrupt, and then divide the text into paragraphs, breaks in the middle of verse 33 and after verse 36 make a lot of sense. It is only if you accept Fee's argument, or prefer the western text, that there is any good evidence for putting the breaks before verse 34 and after verse 35. Apparently verse 33b can go with what precedes or what follows; if verse 34 is indeed what originally followed, it may go better with that.

At Wed Jul 25, 01:49:00 PM, Blogger Cheryl Schatz said...

The only way that verse 36 makes sense is if it follows verses 34 & 35 and is Paul's reaction to a quote from the Corinthians. Pastor Jon Zens has written a summary of my position from the DVD "Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?" Pastor Jon is a Baptist Pastor at Word of Life Church in Wisconsin. He writes:


1 COR.14:34-35

A Summary By Jon Zens, July 2007

In “The Elusive Law”, Cheryl Schatz presents evidence to demonstrate that verses 34-35 are not Paul’s words, but the remarks of some in Corinth based on the Talmud’s restrictions on women (DVD #4, Women in Ministry: Silenced or Set Free?, MM Outreach, Nelson, B.C., Canada, 2006).

I’ve been wrestling with the issues raised regarding women in 1 Cor.11-14 for twenty-six years. My first article, “Aspects of Female Priesthood,” appeared in 1981. For the first time I feel like significant light has broken through the lingering problems and questions. Without doubt every conceivable explanation of what is entailed in 1 Cor.14:34-35 can be challenged from some angle. It is admittedly a difficult passage. However, the position convincingly set forth by Cheryl does the best job I’ve ever seen of doing justice to what the verses actually say and the immediate context, beginning in 1 Cor.11.

For a long time I’ve wondered what “law” was in view in v.34. There is strong reason to believe that it is not the Old Testament, but the Talmud that is being cited. According to Wikipedia, “The Talmud is a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs and history.” In Jesus’ day the first part of the Talmud, the Mishnah, was in oral form, but in 200AD and 500AD it and the Gemara were put into writing. In brief, two key issues point to why the Jewish oral law (Talmud) was behind what was stated in vv.34-35.

1. Only the Talmud silences women.

2. Only the Talmud designates the speech of women as “shameful.”

The Talmud Silenced Women

Cheryl observes that “The silencing of women was a Jewish ordinance. Women were not permitted to speak in the assembly or even to ask questions. The rabbis taught that a woman should know nothing but the use of her distaff.”

Josephus, a Jewish historian, asserted that “the woman, says the law, is in all things inferior to a man. Let her accordingly be submissive.”

The Talmud clearly affirms the silence of females:

“A woman’s voice is prohibited because it is sexually provocative” (Talmud, Berachot 24a).

“Women are sexually seductive, mentally inferior, socially embarrassing, and spiritually separated from the law of Moses; therefore, let them be silent” (summary of Talmudic sayings).

The Talmud Called the Voice of a Woman “Shameful”

“It is a shame for a woman to let her voice be heard among men” (Talmud, Tractate Kiddushin)

“The voice of a woman is filthy nakedness” (Talmud, Berachot Kiddushin)

The English translation of the Greek word, aiskron, as “shameful” or “improper” hardly convey the strength of what the word encompasses. The affirmation in v.35, Cheryl notes, is that a woman’s speaking is “lewd, vile, filthy, indecent, foul, dirty and morally degraded.”

Male and female prophesying was inaugurated on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17-18). Paul approved the prophesying of women in 1 Cor.11:5. In 1 Cor.14 he saw the whole body involved in prophesying – “everybody is prophesying” (v.24), “each one of you has a teaching” (v.26), “you may all prophesy one by one” (v.31). How could the same apostle Paul a few pen strokes later turn around and unequivocally designate women’s speech in the body as “filthy, lewd and vile”? It makes no sense at all. I have always felt like verses 34-35 didn’t sound like Paul. Something was awry.

The matter is cleared up by realizing that Paul did not write the negative words about women in vv.34-35. Instead, those basing their view of women on the oral law did. Paul never required women to be silent and never called female speaking “lewd and filthy.” The Talmud was guilty of advocating both.

This is further confirmed in v.36 when Paul exclaims “What! Did the Word of God originate with you?” The “What!” Indicates that Paul is not in harmony with what was stated by others from the Talmud in vv.34-35. Thayer’s Lexicon notes that the “What” is a disjunctive conjunction “before a sentence contrary to the one just preceding, to indicate that if one be denied or refuted the other must stand.”

Sir William Ramsey commented, “We should be ready to suspect that Paul is making a quotation from the letter addressed to him by the Corinthians whenever he alludes to their knowledge, or when any statement stands in marked contrast either with the immediate context or with Paul’s known views.”

Paul contrasts his commands which promote edification by the varied contributions of all with the restrictive prohibitions upon women demanded by the anti-gospel Talmud. Paul saw the voices of the sisters as a vital part of the building up of the Body of Christ. The Talmud, on the other hand, viewed female voices as “shameful” and as “filthy nakedness.”

We know that various concerns and questions came to Paul from the Corinthians in a letter. He refers to this communication several times in 1 Corinthians. If quotation marks are placed at the beginning and end of verses 34-35, thus seeing them as the words of some Corinthians to Paul, then the apparent contradiction between Paul’s encouragement of female participation and then his seeming silencing of them is resolved satisfactorily.

Those who use 1 Cor.14:34-35 as a basis for requiring the sisters to be silent in the meetings would do well to consider the strong possibility that the words they cite as proof-texts are non-Pauline, and reflect the non-gospel viewpoint of the Talmud. Are they prepared to maintain, as the anti-feminine Talmud did, that a woman’s voice is “dirty” and “like filthy nakedness”? I submit that it is unthinkable that Paul would assign such awful sentiments to the sisters’ words.

At Wed Jul 25, 02:25:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I appreciate your giving us the full text of this article. Certainly I agree with you, I don't think that Paul said that

"It is shameful for a woman to speak in the assembly."

We had a long discussion about this last fall, as I remember and Peter has linked to it.

Yours is an interesting alternative approach to this passage.

At the moment, I am inclined to agree with Gordon Fee, and the NET Bible annotator that this was a marginal note.

I hesitate to attribute this particular line to a uniquely Jewish worldview, as the Greeks said lots of negative things about women too and some of the church fathers are notorious for leaving us quotes which can testify to their antagonism to women. Sometimes, one can even quote the same church father on both sides of the divide.

I don't think we can say "Only the Talmud silences women." After all, a Greek poet said that "Silence is the ornament of woman." and Aristotle quoted this to support his view that the virtue of woman was subordination. I am always tempted to find the subordination of women among the Greeks, but maybe that too is unjust.

In this post, I really wanted to draw attention to the paragraph organization in certain versions, and explore whether it was warranted.

I especially thought that this part of Zen's article is significant.

This is further confirmed in v.36 when Paul exclaims “What! Did the Word of God originate with you?” The “What!” Indicates that Paul is not in harmony with what was stated by others from the Talmud in vv.34-35. Thayer’s Lexicon notes that the “What” is a disjunctive conjunction “before a sentence contrary to the one just preceding, to indicate that if one be denied or refuted the other must stand.”

Sir William Ramsey commented, “We should be ready to suspect that Paul is making a quotation from the letter addressed to him by the Corinthians whenever he alludes to their knowledge, or when any statement stands in marked contrast either with the immediate context or with Paul’s known views.”

There is lots to think about here.

At Wed Jul 25, 03:08:00 PM, Blogger Cheryl Schatz said...

Thanks for your comments, Suzanne. With the comment "Only the Talmud silences women", this would be in respect to the Jews (Judaizers actually) who held two sources of spiritual authority. The first was God's written law and the second was their own interpretation of that law. In this view, only the Talmud then silences women as the OT scriptures does not. Looking outside the Jewish context, we can certainly see many cultures that silence women.

I think the key verse here is verse 36 and I am unaware of how Gordon Fee explains Paul's using grammar that contradicts the verses preceding verse 36. To me it just seems so natural to leave the verses in place and understand the opposition coming from verse 36 as directly relating to verses 34 & 35. Pastor Jon has said that viewing the verses this way makes this passage make sense for him for the very first time because it deals with the apparent contradictions in the passage. Another Pastor has put the interpretation out to his list of friends to see if they can see any holes in the argument as he couldn't find flaws himself. If there are holes, I would like to see them too. In the meantime my leaning has always been to accept the verses as inspired and this would connect verses 34-36 as a statement from the Corinthians and Paul's amazed response.

At Wed Jul 25, 05:03:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


Your anaysis and Fee's are significantly different, but let's see what they have in common.

First, both of them are based on the dissonance between 1 Cor. 11, where Paul writes,

but every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head

and then chap. 14,

For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

They are contradictory.

Second, those who hold that it is Pauline, still support the voice of a woman being heard. They simply subordinate the voice of a woman to the elders. But that is not what the verse says.

I was brought up in the Brethren and I know what it means to literally hold to these verses. No women leading songs, no solos, no music groups, no women praying, giving testimonies, no women speaking at all, ever. No women Sunday school teachers - it is shameful for a women to speak in church.

Now, I don't know anyone today who supports acting on this verse. Everyone explains it somehow.

The difference is in how it is done. Otherwise we need to return women to silence.

We all agree that it is not shameful for a woman to speak in church. We all believe that the Creator made women and their voices and He did not create woman as a shameful thing.

It is sadly men, some men, who, disturbed at the fact that they desire women, feel shame.

We should accept this as a good thing, given by God, and stop trying to suppress the voice of woman. We should enter into friendship as brothers and sisters. What man thinks the voice of his sister is a shameful thing? It is the sense of fraternité between men and women that is missing.

At Thu Jul 26, 02:23:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne, you are missing another point in common between Fee's view and Cheryl's. They both deny that these words are Paul's and attribute them to someone in the Corinthian church. The question is whether Paul chose to quote these verses, and answer them in verse 36, or whether they were added to the letter later. The textual evidence tends to suggest the latter, but by no means certainly. (Sorry if "letter later ... latter" causes problems when reading this comment out loud with some English accents!) Verse 36 is perhaps most easily taken as a response to verses 34-35 as a quotation, but could also be a reaction to verse 33. So I think the matter has to remain open.

In practice Cheryl's solution is more likely to be acceptable to evangelicals, who will be very reluctant to allow these verses to be removed from Bibles. So for a better printed Bible I would suggest, as Zens does, putting quotation marks round verses 34-35 in a Bible and starting verse 36 with "What!", with perhaps a footnote like the TNIV one, or a stronger one suggesting that these verses may be a later addition to the text.

At Sat Jul 28, 06:41:00 PM, Blogger Cheryl Schatz said...


You are right regarding the quotation marks as well as the need to consider the context as inspired by God yet they are not God's words.

There is a bible that does put the quote marks around verses 34 & 35. It is the Montgomery New Testament. You can see it at this link and you may need to enter the reference 1 Corinthians 14:34 in the "go to" box to the left.

If the entire link doesn't show up or take you to the Montgomery New Testament paste both lines together below with no spaces and this is the entire link.

At Sun Jul 29, 08:58:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Cheryl, thanks for this. Yes, this translation has done what I would suggest.

Of course these are "not God's words", but like everything else in the Bible, even the quoted words of sinners like "There is no God" (Psalm 14:1), they are for me part of the Word of God.

At Sun Jul 29, 10:01:00 PM, Blogger Cheryl Schatz said...

Peter, yes I agree! That is why I do not like disregarding any part of scripture unless it can be proven that the words are an addition that were never part of God's original words to begin with. If the words are part of God's inspired text, and have not been proven that they were missing from the original autographs, then we need to put an extra effort into finding out what the text means in context without contradiction with other clear passages. I for one believe that 1 Cor. 14:34, 35 is fully inspired and is inspired in the passage to show us what to do with man's tradition of silencing women.

Paul said in verse 37 that the things (plural) that HE writes are the commandments (plural) of the Lord. Compare this to the commandment (singular) of silence. Paul says that if any one considers themselves spiritual they are to understand that what he has written (the first part of 1 Cor. 14 is filled with commands about desiring spiritual gifts and using these gifts in the congregation for the benefit of all) are the commands of God and then he says (verse 38)that anyone who refuses these commands and wants to be ignorant, then that person is to be ignored.

I have used this advice many times in my ministry. If a "Christian" refuses to listen to the words of scripture and the context that the text is written in, and if they want to be argumentative regarding man's tradition, then I can walk away and ignore them and not carry on a fight over words. I will stick with teaching those who want to learn and leave those alone whose minds are already made up.

If I didn't see verses 34 & 35 as fully inspired, then I wouldn't see such a sharp contrast between the things (plural) that Paul writes and the commands (plural) that he says are from God compared to the singular command from the tradition of men.


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