August 22, 2013 by mattwilcoxen
Jon Coutts over at the blog Theology out of Bounds just posted his interpretive homework on 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 (Paul’s injunction for women to be silent in the church), one of the thorniest passages in the New Testament. His interpretation is, wisely, constrained by the fact that just a couple chapters earlier Paul has endorsed women speaking in the church, so long as it is done properly. He also interprets the passage in light of other “shut up” injunctions within the epistle–ones that are not gender specific.
Here’s the money shot:
I think it is more sensible to take the clause about making inquiries as a further specification ofwhich women Paul means to keep quiet, and when. The scene is not hard to imagine, given what we know of the context, and the ramifications are not out of step with the full biblical witness. It seems the Corinth women are enjoying a relatively new-found liberty not only to speak in the corporate worship but also to pursue education, and are exhibiting a disruptive over-eagerness to ask questions during the corporate worship gathering Paul is addressing. In Paul’s view the time and the place for that education is the home.
Thus the implication is that the culturally more educated men will begin to empower the women at home, keeping the uninformed questions (along with uninterpreted tongues and uninterrupted prophesying) to a minimum in the corporate worship.
I think this exegesis is on the right track. I am still curious as to the reference in 14:34 to what “the law” says. What is the law referred to? Is Jon right in his suggestion that this is a reference back to 14:21 and the citation of Isaiah 28:11-12?
Go over to the post and give your two cents.