Understanding contradictions: 1 Cor 14:34 (Part 2)

Contradiction: Photo by topastrodfogna



In part one I drew attention to the problem that this verse seems to contradict what Paul himself approves and to some funny things going on in and around the verse. Here I’ll focus on my reason for mentioning this, how we should respond when a Bible passage seems to contradict what the same author says or does elsewhere…


4 Responses to Understanding contradictions: 1 Cor 14:34 (Part 2)

  1. Hi Tim – one suggestion you did not mention is that Paul is quoting one of their questions from their letter that he is responding to. Then one has to figure out how one should read vv 36-37. Eventually (30 or so years ago) I came to your conclusion – we can’t use this to justify the exclusion of women. I then did not want to be distracted by such arguments. How critical it is that the church actually read the Bible – all of it – and understand how many decisions are being made for them by translators!

  2. tim says:

    Yes, I agree that is quite a strong possibility. As I said though, I’m not an NT scholar, so solving 1 Cor 14:34 is not high on my list of priorities, while both helping people read Scripture better and reducing Christian oppression of women are high on my list πŸ˜‰ Maybe though when I have time I should research 1 Cor 14:34-5 more and see if i can convince myself which of the several possibilities is “best”. For these two podcasts what I was aiming for was to show how the “whole” (Paul’s writings and life) should trump the “part” (a couple of verses in one of his letters).

  3. Therer are a number of key translation decisions that change the way the verse can be legitimately read, e.g. translating “women” or “wives”, “silent” or “quiet” etc. It may just be semantics but they make all the difference in a final reading, that said it is a very strange disruption to the flow of Paul’s surrounding text, but then it is not impossible he just had a momentary involuntary digression – some of us are more prone to them than others.

  4. tim says:

    Hmm, lots of significantly different ways to read the passage, yes! But “just… semantics”, no. Working out what was being meant is most important, and never “just” πŸ˜‰

    On Paul’s “momentary involuntary digression” he was certainly more prone to them than many (most?) others, often though they were not “momentary” and I am not sure about “involuntary” either!

    OTOH I am seldom content with the scissors and paste school of “solving” difficult Bible passages. (If that is what you were gently and tactfully hinting at πŸ˜‰