Understanding contradictions: 1 Cor 14:34 (Part 1)

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Perhaps no Bible text illustrates the dangers of a simplistic reading of Scripture than 1 Cor 14:34.

If we tear this verse from its cotext, (( Or for a podcast. )) and then read it as if the Bible were “God’s instruction manual for life” and even worse read it also literally then we are in trouble! The verse (in the fairly literal NET) (( Even the NRSV is less literal here omiting the “the” before women, one of the oddities of this verse is that Paul seems to be talking about some particular women. )) reads:

the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says.

The verse is full of oddities. (( Another is the way most English translations make the first sentence a run-on from the verse before, though many MSS mark vv.34-5 off from the surrounding texts. )) Not the least of which is that in 1 Cor 11:4-6 Paul assumes that both women and men will pray and prophesy, and in this same chapter 1 Cor 14:4-5 suggests the same thing, and that this is indeed in the public meeting (cf. v.4). Paul seems to be contradicting himself!

What is going on, and how should we interpret such passages?


3 Responses to Understanding contradictions: 1 Cor 14:34 (Part 1)

  1. Mike Poteet says:

    Hi! I just discovered your podcast and wanted to thank you for your latest episode. I am a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and I can easily imagine your show being a great, engaging, and informative resource for Christian education of adults and older youth. I’m looking forward to hearing more. Thanks again, and keep up the good work!

    Mike Poteet, Havertown, PA

    • tim says:

      Thanks Mike 🙂

      I’m delighted that you think people will be interested, if you can suggest ways to organise the material to make it easier to find what you want I’d be keen to hear. I don;t thing the blog/podcast format is the best for someone looking for a particular topic, but it has been very convenient when I was starting.

  2. That was a good one. I particularly liked your understatement concerning Jerome’s feminist tendencies. 😉