I recently received this important question from a reader that is closely related to the current thread about whether we have the “original” text of the books of the New Testament.


The question was specifically about about women’s roles in the church based on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.

“Women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is something they want to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”

The questioner said:  I was raised in a strict fundamentalist sect where this was actually practiced. The women were allowed to sing but that was it.

According to the Harper-Collins Study Bible some think that this was a later, non-Pauline addition to the letter, more in keeping with the Pastoral letters. Is this the common view among scholars?


I’ve dealt with this issue before on the blog, and think it’s good to deal with it again.

Two preliminary points I need to make: one about different views about Paul’s views of women in early Christianity and the other about a technical distinction that scholars make between (ready for this?) textual variants and textual interpolations.  (Hold on: I’ll explain.  It ends up mattering)

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