1 Corinthians and Women in Paul
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Purpose of these notes:
To examine data that may indicate that the following are interpolations:
1 Cor 11.3-16 (on veiling of women prophesying in assembly) and
1 Cor 14.33b-35(36) (on women being silent in assembly)
Source of arguments on 1 Cor 11.3-16:
G. W. Tramp, 'On Attitudes toward Women in Paul and Paulinist Literature: 1 Cor
11:3-16 and its Context', Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 2 / April 1980,
1. Smoother transition from 11.2 to 11.17 if omit 11.3-16:
|a.||11.2|| 'I commend you' (ἐπαινῶ
|11.17:|| 'But in so ... I do not commend you' (οὐκ
|b.||Disapprobation of 11.17 is surprisingly late since 11.3-16 is disapproving.|
|c.||11.18:||The first point (πρῶτον
) to be made about assembled (worshipping) community is about factions.
|But 11.3-16 has already been about the worshipping assembly.|
2. 1 Cor 10.1-11.2, 11.17-34 as continuous argument:
Israel's wilderness experience:
a. not to be idolaters (10.7)
b. not to indulge in immorality (10.8)
c. not to put the Lord to the test (10.9)
d.? not to grumble (10.10)
Picked up with regard to the Corinthians:
a'. against idolatry (10.14-22)
b'. against form of careless license (10.23-11.1)
c'. against division and profanity at the eucharist (11.2, 17-24)
3. 1 Cor 11.2 speaks of 'tradition' (παράδοσις
on' (i.e., 'tradition') are in:
11.23 (on Eucharist) and
15.1-3 (on core of Gospel).
Thus 11.2 is less likely to refer to veiling as a primary issue.
4. 1 Cor 10.25-29, on conditions for dining with pagans, is conspicuously liberal by Jewish standards. Is it, therefore, likely that Paul will be so culture-bound about veiling?
(Gibbs: There is a possible difference, inasmuch as, while idol-meat issue concerns the attitude of Christians within the Church, the veiling-issue may well concern pagans' attitudes to Christians -- i.e. affecting attitude toward the Church of those outside the Church.)
5. Contrast jump of royal 'we' (ήμεῖς
6. 11.17a: 'But in giving (you) this charge' (τοῦτο
1 Cor 7.10-11 - charges not to separate and not to divorce.
1 Cor 11.17 is not likely to refer back to 11.3-16, since vv. 3-16 are not couched in terms of solemn entreaty or commands of prohibition. Therefore 11.17a is likely to refer back to the three (or 4) commands not to fall into temptation (i.e. 10.8-10; cf. vv. 12-13 which were then explicated in 10.14-11.1.
7. (Gibbs:) Also note the argument from the OT citation in 11.3-16 is prescriptive [in terms of does and don'ts], while Paul's general use is attestive (as witnessing to Gospel).
Source of arguments on 1 Cor 14.34-36:
Neal M. Flanagan, Edwina Hunt Snyder, "Did Paul Put Down Women in 1 Cor 14:34-36?", Biblical Theology Bulletin 11 (1, Jan. 1981), 10-12.
1. Appeal in 1 Cor 11, especially 11.5, is merely to impose
2. Textual difficulty with 14.24-35:
a. A few (Western text) MSS place them after 14.40.
b. This suggests they originated in a marginal note.
3. 14.34: "... they ... should be subordinate as the law says." versus 15.56: "the power of sin is the law". (Paul appeals to Law in 14.21, but there he is working from prophecy to fulfilment, while here in 14.34 the law is cited as the basis for action.)
4. 14.36 RSV: "What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones (masculine) it has reached?" (i.e., the gender of v. 36 does not follow logically after vv. 34-35.)
(5. Scholars who take the verses as an interpolation [as of 1981] include: C. K. Barrett, F. Cleary, H. Conzelmann, L. Cope, R. Fuller, D. Geordi, L. Keck, J. Murphy-O'Connor & C. Roetzel.)
Chiastic Structuring and its bearing on the issue:
Corinthians - Chiastic Structures)
1. Overall Chiasm of 1 Cor:
a. 14.34-36 does not figure in the data at all.
b. 11.3-16 only appears to figure in against the first half of 1 Cor if 11.3-16 is taken as concerning immorality.
2. 4th secondary chiasm:
a. 11.3-16 corresponds to 14.33-37a; thus if one section is an interpolation, then the other section should be.
b. Although both sections concern worship, they appear to fall to the outer limits of materials clearly concerned with the assembly for worship, and 11.3-16 is followed by 11.17, with its reference to coming together for worship, which might have been expected to precede 11.3-16 if the latter were not an interpolation.
c. Similarly, 14.33bff. reads like at best an afterthought, with the whole previous section having been concluded with 14.33a: "For God is not a God of confusion".
These materials are not by Paul. They are later interpolations by men who felt threatened by the freedom given to women, which is intensified in the Deutero-Pauline letters of Colossians and Ephesians, and even more so in the Pastoral Epistles.