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"APPARENT BREAKTHROUGH IN UNDERSTANDING THE WOMEN'S "SILENCE" PASSAGES, 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.
Search the Scriptures to see what is really so."
Originally posted by whitewave
"Those who use 1 Cor.14:34-35 as a basis for requiring the sisters to be silent in the meetings...."
Originally posted by Night Star
I don't care who said it or why. No woman is inferior to a man. A woman should enjoy her femininity without being seen as a sex object or slave to any man.
[edit on 8-5-2010 by Night Star]
Originally posted by Truth1000
You are missing the real point of Paul's message.
You see, from the earliest of time, the "Sons of God" came down and saw how beautiful women were, and desired them for mating. The giants of old were the results of these unions.
The Midrash has many stories of how women were such a temptation to the angels. This was why women were supposed to wear coverings over their heads, because their lovely hair and faces would tempt the angels who arrived in the gathering to support the believer's prayers.
From the standpoint of today, this would closely correlate to "aliens" showing interest in human reproduction, and that they are possibly beings from another star system, with advanced technology, but the same inferior will-power that we ourselves have.
"A woman's voice is prohibited because it is sexually provocative" (Talmud, Berachot 24a).
Originally posted by Stormdancer777
But Paul had already gifted the women with the right to prophecy and pray. 11:5
Originally posted by Xeven
Being a slave to a man, should of course only happen if your in the mood
Yes, sex sells but it sells mainly to males. On the rare occasions when I get stuck watching an advertisement I wonder what demographic those car commercials are targeting. I gotta tell ya that seeing a svelt, exotic brunette seductively hiking her skirt up as she's pivoting out of her vehicle does not inspire me to run out and trade in the SUV.
Since it was understood that the Christians themselves were the "church" (called out ones) then forbidding them from speaking "in the church" would be to forbid them to speak anywhere they went. I suspect the verse in Corinthians has been interpreted according to the prejudices of the time.