1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in Context

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

in Context


We have deliberately looked first at the overall evidence from Paul’s letters before examining these verses. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is often quoted with no awareness that the normal picture presented in the New Testament is very different. Do these three verses show that Paul’s teaching is the opposite from that otherwise observable in his writings?


As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached?

If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. If any one does not recognise this, he is not recognised. So, my brethren [= brothers and sisters], earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; but all things should be done decently and in order.                                                                       (1 Corinthians 14:33-40)


Let all things be done for edification

Paul wrote 1 Corinthians about AD 54 from Ephesus. Chapter 12 begins “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren...”. “Now concerning” indicates that Paul is taking up an issue reported to him. As we explain in Chapter 6 of this book (pages 40-47), he addresses both brothers and sisters. He makes this clear by expressions like “every one” (verse 6), “each” (verse 7), “we were all baptized into one body ... all were made to drink of one Spirit” (verse 13).

Chapter 12 stresses that although the brothers and sisters have different gifts, apportioned by the Spirit “to each one individually as he wills” (verse 11), these gifts are all to contribute to the upbuilding of the one body, the one community, “that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (verse 25).

1 Corinthians 13 emphasises the importance of Christian caring and concern. Love is much more important than the exercise of any of the gifts of prophecy or understanding, knowledge or faith. “Love ... is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way” (verse 5).

Chapter 14 starts: “Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (verse 1). These words are addressed to everybody in the ecclesia. All should desire to prophesy, but in the interests of love, some restriction is necessary. Speaking in tongues is valuable to the individual with this gift, but not helpful to others unless someone is present to explain the meaning. By contrast, prophecy is valuable to all for “he who prophesies edifies the church” (verse 4). We need to remember that “he” is the normal way of referring to both male and female in general statements. Paul has said he wishes all to do this (verse 5), and there can be no doubt that both sisters and brothers spoke in prophecy, as shown by 1 Corinthians 11 and as foretold in Acts 2:17.

There can be no doubt either that the context is a whole meeting of the ecclesia – not some private occasion. “If, therefore, the whole church assembles and all speak in tongues ... if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outside enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed; ... he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1 Corinthians 14:23-25).

When the believers gather, each one contributes “a hymn, a lesson [teaching], a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation” (verse 26).[1] Everyone is involved, but there is a restriction: “Let all things be done for edification” (verse 26). The purpose is to build people up. This cannot be achieved if those who speak use an unknown language (verse 16), nor if they all speak at once, so that no one can understand what is said. The numbers permitted to speak are to be restricted: “If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret” (verse 27). If this is not possible, “... let each of them keep silence (sigan = “to be silent”) in church and speak to himself and to God” (verse 28). Likewise, a restriction is placed on the prophets: “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said” (verse 29).[2]

Just as the speakers in tongues are told to be silent in certain circumstances, so too are the prophets: “If a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent” (sigan) (verse 30). The silence is not permanent; it refers to the particular situation in which confusion, lack of learning, lack of encouragement are taking place: “You can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn, and all be encouraged; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (verse 33). To resolve the confusion, uproar and unedifying speaking of numerous people at the same time, Paul has enjoined silence on two occasions (verses 28 and 30), and this on those who are taking a prime part in the meeting. Thirdly he enjoins silence (sigan, the same verb) on “the women” – not on those who are speaking acceptably as outlined above (one at a time) but on the women whose speaking is adding to the confused uproar which Paul is trying to stop. There are three clues to the fact that it is disorderly speaking to which Paul refers: “... they... should be subordinate, as even the law says” (verse 34); “If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home”; “... it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”

Believers are to be submissive to one another, and wives are to be submissive to husbands (Ephesians 5:21-22). Speaking while others were speaking, would be lacking in submission to the other brothers and sisters. “If there is anything they desire to know” suggests the women were asking questions. Perhaps they were taking part in weighing up what the prophets said (verse 29) but in a disruptive and arrogant manner. Asking questions is not something likely to be done by the prophets (brothers or sisters) who spoke to the ecclesia to edify the church (verses 4, 24 & 25) and to convict the unbelievers. The context is of women who lack knowledge and who need to be instructed. Hence Paul’s command: “If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home.” “... it is shameful for a woman to speak in church” is an appropriate comment on disruptive behaviour. It is not relevant to orderly speech by a woman who speaks to the whole church in prophecy, or to one of those who edifies the church with “a hymn, a lesson, a tongue, or an interpretation” (verse 26).

Anticipating that some in Corinth would not be pleased at his attempt to ensure good order, Paul then challenges them all: “What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached? If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord” (verses 36-37). Those who were enjoying prophesying and making no effort to control how they spoke (verse 32) and those who felt that unrestrained speaking with unintelligible tongues was a credit to them, would pit their experience against Paul’s. Hence Paul’s strong response. But the conclusion is clear: “So, my brethren [brothers and sisters], earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; but all things should be done decently and in order” (verse 39).

When seen in the context of the whole chapter, the verses commanding silence on speakers in tongues (verse 28), on prophets (verse 30), and on women (34 & 35) have an immediate and understandable relevance: “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (verse 33). But Paul’s words cannot be used to argue that orderly speaking by women, then or now, should be forbidden.


Three Other Possible Explanations

We have suggested how the verses commanding silence can be properly understood within the whole chapter. There have been various other attempts to unravel the difficulty of why Paul approves of women speaking in chapter 11 and most of chapter 14, but appears to forbid their speaking at the end of chapter 14. The three main suggestions (which also permit a consistent interpretation of the apostle’s teaching) are that Paul quotes his opponents and refutes them; or that the passage refers to women calling out questions or chattering; or that the words are interpolated here from a different context.[3]


(1) Paul quotes his opponents and then refutes them

A notable feature of 1 Corinthians is that Paul repeatedly appears to quote from people in Corinth or to paraphrase things they are reported to have said. He then gives his reply. Some translations put quotation marks round comments such as “All things are lawful for me” (1 Corinthians 6:12-13). Likewise, 1 Corinthians 7:1 can read:

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.”                                       (1 Corinthians 7:1)

It is therefore argued that this passage should be punctuated:

... God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the assemblies of the saints.

“The women should keep silence in the assemblies for they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the assembly.”

What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks he is a prophet, or spiritual he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.... So, my brethren [brothers and sisters], earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; but all things should be done decently and in order.                                                    (1 Corinthians 14:33-40)

In written discussion today (and often in emails) people quote what has been said and then answer it. There were no quotation marks in the ancient texts, but the recipients would obviously recognise their own wording. Verse 36 starts with an expression (the word “e” in Greek, translated as “What!” in KJV and RSV) which, some commentators suggest, can show strong disagreement with what has just been said.[4]

The verse consists of two rhetorical questions. Rhetorical questions are not asked to obtain an answer, but to put the listeners on the spot; to challenge them mentally to agree or disagree.

Versions vary as to how they translate these questions. KJV and RSV present them as surprised, pained, questions:

What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks he is a prophet, or spiritual he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord....

NIV translates as two straightforward questions:

Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If any think they are prophets or are spiritually gifted, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.

Either way, Paul sounds frustrated and exasperated. Why? Not because women were speaking, because he has frequently just instructed both brothers and sisters to do so, in an orderly manner, when the ecclesia meets (verses 26-33).

These rhetorical questions make clear sense, however, if we conclude that Paul quotes his opponents in verses 34-35, opponents who claim that their understanding of the word of God (“as also saith the Law”, KJV) forbids women to speak at all. Paul’s two rhetorical questions therefore object to the teaching on women’s silence in verses 34-35.

Paul wants his readers to answer mentally: “No, the word of God did not originate with us. We are not the only people it has reached. Therefore we accept that what you, Paul, say is the Lord’s command.”

The Lord’s command is summed up in verse 39: “Therefore, my brothers and sisters (adelphoi), be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (NIV, inclusive language).

The comment “as even the law says” would fit well with the possibility that former members of the synagogue wish to return to the type of meeting where only the men speak, where women sit apart from the men, and where any learning by the women would be at home. The reference to the law could either be to a Jewish understanding of the Old Testament, or to the Jewish oral law where women were forbidden to address the congregation in the synagogue:

Our Rabbis taught: All are qualified to be among the seven [who read], even a minor and a woman, only the Sages said that a woman should not read in the Torah out of respect for the congregation.            

            (Babylonian Talmud, Megilla “The Scroll of Esther” 23a)

It is interesting that The Bible Translator (January 1995) suggests the following as an alternative which should be offered in translations.

Some of you say, “Women should be silent in the churches, because they are not permitted to speak. As the Jewish law says, they should be subordinate to men. If there is anything they want to know, they should wait until they get home and then ask their husbands. It is shameful for women to speak in church.” What kind of thinking is that? You are acting as if the word of God came from you! And you men, don’t ever think that you are the only ones who receive this word![5]

If, therefore, verses 34-35 are the words of Paul’s opponents, objecting to the new freedom in Christ now given to the women, this would match consistently with our previous descriptions of Paul’s teaching and practice.

Several observations have been made to support the idea of this being a quote from those who opposed Paul’s approval of sisters speaking in the ecclesia.

(1) It is a strange change to suddenly say: “... your women” (KJV)[6]. Paul has hitherto been addressing both brothers and sisters, repeatedly using inclusive language, “... all of you”, “everyone”.

(2) These verses seem to disrupt the flow of Paul’s writing. If, however, they are a quotation from those who oppose Paul’s teaching, the whole of 1 Corinthians 14 fits together smoothly.

(3) When Paul cites the Law (as in Romans 3:19; 1 Corinthians 9:8), he usually gives the actual quote and explains it. This does not happen here.

(4) Paul elsewhere cites the Law by way of illustration. As far as we can see, he never says that Christians have to keep the Law, and never quotes the Law as a restrictive command for believers in Christ. He goes beyond the Law to the spirit of it, to its fulfilment, e.g. Galatians 5:16-18 “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

(5) It was typical of the Judaisers to try to apply the Law as a restrictive rule: “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5). Or like the Pharisees to Jesus: “Why are you doing what it is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” (Luke 6:2).

(6) Paul said: “… I myself am not under the law” (1 Corinthians 9:20) and much of his writing was to make exactly this point: “Now that faith has come we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” It is unusual, then, if Paul suddenly cites the Law in 1 Corinthians 14:34 in a manner which is so untypical of his teaching everywhere else.

(7) The phrase “it is not permitted” sounds like reference to a pre-assumed legal position rather than a new statement by the apostle. It is uncharacteristically impersonal if this is an instruction from Paul himself.

(8) “... let them ask their husbands at home” The assumption is that all women are married, and that any husband is able to answer any wife’s religious questions. This is very traditionally patriarchal (Jewish or pagan[7]), but not like Paul who asks that people make up their own minds and take responsibility for their own decisions (Romans 14:5).

(9) “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home” (KJV). “...if...” The Jews were ambivalent about education for women, but Jesus and Paul advocated and practised it.

(10) The tone of 1 Corinthians 14:36-38 sounds like an outright dismissal of the previous section, with a contrast between “the law says” and “what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord”, hinging on the challenging question “What! Did the word of God originate with you…?” Compared to assertions based on appeal to “the law”, Paul claims authority from the Lord.


(2) The women are not to call out questions or to chatter to one another during the meeting.

The suggestion here is that some women were disrupting the meeting by calling out to their husbands with questions or by talking to each other. Hence “If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home.”

Talking can happen today in orthodox Jewish synagogues. Here is a letter of complaint which appeared in 1989 in the Jewish Chronicle:

Before the service began, the congregants made us welcome but, unfortunately, the handful of women present talked incessantly throughout the service.... As if that were not bad enough, two young mothers arrived, in close succession, carrying tiny babies, one of whom proceeded to scream, the other to gurgle as babies obviously tend to do. The noise reached deafening proportions (the service continuing throughout) and, in desperation, my friend leaned across and demanded that the screaming child be removed.... [A quarrel ensued.] The service disintegrated and there was total uproar.

This was in England. Synagogue means “meeting place”, and ordinary conversation can take place among the women while the men run the activity we would describes as a “service”. Where women had by custom been excluded from participation, they would be inclined to continue in the Christian meeting as they had done previously when in the synagogue (Acts 18:7-8). To instruct the women not to speak but to be in silence would seem thoroughly appropriate to such a context, as it is today when talking during a meeting can be disruptive.

The Bible Translator also suggests the following alternative:

When you come together to worship, the wives should refrain from talking. In fact, they should not talk at all, since as the law says, they are subordinate to their husbands. If they want to find out about anything, they should wait until they get home and then ask their husbands. It is shameful for wives to be talking during the church meeting.

This is not relevant to women who are prophesying or praying or teaching, doing these things “decently and in order”.


(3) This passage is an interpolation added later

Although all manuscripts contain verses 34-35, some place them after verse 40. Various reasons can be suggested for this. Did a scribe accidentally miss the words out, and then put the omitted verses below? Or did one of Paul’s critics write these remarks in the margin, and a subsequent copyist put them into the text?

After New Testament times there was a move away from the freedom in Christ experienced in the New Testament ecclesias towards a new legalism, with a male priesthood separated from the ordinary believers and a growing antipathy towards women. At such a time these verses could have been added. That additions are possible is shown in a passage like 1 John 5:7-8 which is included in the King James Version but is generally regarded as an interpolation because it is not found in the earlier manuscripts.

However, although interpolation of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is a possibility, the fact that these verses appear in every manuscript, and the Western manuscripts which place them in a different position are considered less reliable, has made it impossible so far to demonstrate interpolation on manuscript evidence.[8]

It can be observed that the repetition of en tais ecclesiais (“in the assemblies/churches” at the end of 33 and in the beginning of 34) has a clumsy feel to it, but would be just the kind of effect produced where an editor or collector of Paul’s writings might have thought “Here is a suitable point to put in that comment against women speaking”.

Another possibility is that Paul himself wrote these verses in a different context, perhaps addressing the problem elsewhere of women chattering as in the synagogue, and they were then added at this point in his letter when the material was collected.


Other Suggestions

(a) Paul forbids the women to take part in judging the prophets as in 1 Corinthians 14:29,

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.

In that case, why does he not simply say: “Do not let your women judge...”?

(b) Paul forbids sisters to speak in formal meetings. But were the earlier references to women praying and prophesying not to formal meetings of the ecclesia? Here Paul says en tais ecclesiais, and en ecclesia = “in the churches/assemblies/meetings”, or “in the meeting”. The same expression is used in verse 28 en ecclesia “in the meeting”. Verse 23 says “if the whole church [ecclesia] assembles”, verse 26 says “when you come together” – and this is the section where Paul says (verse 5) “I want you all ... to prophesy”, and (verse 31) “You can all prophesy ... one by one”. 1 Corinthians 11 where sisters and brothers pray and prophesy is also generally considered a meeting of the ecclesia, hence the discussion about veils. To suggest therefore that Paul is restricting sisters from speaking in formal meetings, but not at others, seems to be reading modern ideas of formal and informal back into the first century and making a distinction not observable in 1 Corinthians.

(c) Praying and prophesying were inspired by the Spirit, so it was correct for women and men to pray and prophesy, but without the spirit, women should not speak. This is certainly not what the apostle Paul says. If women are excluded on this basis, why not the men? All the activities described in 1 Corinthians 14, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4 are regarded as the work of God through His Spirit. If God found it acceptable to work in a speaking manner through both brothers and sisters in Christ in the first century, why not now?


Does Anyone not Try to Interpret Their Way Out?

“Let your women be silent in the churches.” As far as we are aware, no Christadelphian actually accepts this command as it stands. In all ecclesias, sisters do not remain silent: they sing, as do the brothers. The only people to have taken this literally was the Roman Catholic church of the middle ages, where women (and girls) had to remain silent. To get the high-pitched tones for the singing, choir boys were castrated – castrati. The last surviving one died as recently as 1861.[9]

We would say, of course, that this is to misuse the passage. Surely 1 Corinthians 14 says, “They are not permitted to speak”? “Ah, yes”, a medieval Catholic could have replied, “but the word translated speak is lalein, which means ‘speak’, ‘sing’, ‘make a noise’. The same word is used in Ephesians 5:19 ‘addressing [lalein] one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.’ The Apostle Paul forbids women to do that. ‘They are not permitted to make a noise.’ ”

So, we Christadelphians all decide by context that Paul didn’t mean women shouldn’t sing.

We suggest in this book that similarly we should all decide by context that it should only be taken as a ban on disorderly speaking.


General Conclusions on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Without more specific information on actual events in Corinth, it is not possible to distinguish between some of the alternative possibilities. But we don’t need to. We can be confident that Paul’s words were directly relevant to the problems in Corinth. It is clear that Paul is condemning disorderly speaking earlier in the chapter, not properly organised praying or exhortation. This passage would not have seemed problematic to those to whom it was first written. Being accustomed to sisters addressing meetings in an orderly fashion, and in an ecclesia where Paul had himself already established this as the procedure, it would not have occurred to the early believers to take these words as a general ban on participation by sisters. Once the male priesthood had taken over, however, this became a convenient passage on which to build the male dominance of later centuries. Regrettably, that legacy is with us still.


[1] Paul started the ecclesia at Corinth (Acts 18:1-18) and this participatory way of organising meetings presumably goes back to his original instructions. Paul is not critical of this method; he encourages it also in Colossians 3:16. But he wishes participation to be done in an orderly manner. There is no evidence when we look at the New Testament ecclesias for our method of doing things with a president and a speaker.

[2] The “others” may mean the rest of the meeting, or the rest of the prophets. Although the message of the prophets comes from God, they cannot be sure it is not mixed up sometimes with their own thoughts. In Romans 12:6 those who have the gift are encouraged to use it: “... if prophecy, in proportion to our faith”. The meaning is not entirely clear, but there was a need to examine what was said, to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1).

[3] The following are among many books which debate the varying possibilities:

Man as male and female, by Paul K. Jewett (Eerdmans, 1975); Man & Woman in Biblical Perspective, by James B. Hurley (IVP 1981); Women in the Earliest Churches, by Ben Witherington III, (CUP, 1988); The Corinthian Women Prophets, by Antoinette Clark Wire (Fortress Press, 1990); Beyond Sex Roles, by Gilbert Bilezikian, (Baker Books, 1985); Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, eds. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Crossway Books, 1991). Each author writes from a different theological perspective, but the discussion takes place on the merits or demerits of their analysis of Scripture, and it is on this alone that we have sought to study their work. The appendices in The Corinthian Women Prophets usefully summarise the various positions adopted by different scholars, supply extensive background quotations from ancient texts, and give detailed bibliographies for further analysis.

[4] The single-lettered word “e” often means simply “or”, but it is used to introduce rhetorical questions, some of which by their very nature imply a degree of surprise or exasperation. The King James Version three times translates this usage of “e” as “What!”, in 1 Corinthians 6:16 & 19, and in 1 Corinthians 14:36, whereas other versions translate simply as questions.

Gilbert Bilezikian in Beyond Sex Roles (Second edition, tenth printing 1999, pages 286-288) suggests that “e” can frequently be translated as “Nonsense!”, but this is only partly supported by the examples he gives. D. A. Carson strongly disagrees with Bilezikian in “Silent in the Churches” (pages 149-151) in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (edited by Piper & Grudem, 1991). Carson’s view, however, that “in every instance in the New Testament where the disjunctive particle in question [“e”] is used in a construction analogous to the passage at hand, its effect is to reinforce the truth of the clause or verse that precedes it” (page 151) is also open to challenge. There are no passages precisely analogous to 1 Corinthians 14:36, and it is unreasonable to assert, as Carson does, that verse 36 must be taken to be endorsing verses 34-35. Rhetorical questions tend to be expressing challenge or surprise, and in the context it is reasonable to consider that verses 34-35 are a quotation of Corinthian views to which Paul takes exception in verse 36. A near parallel is 1 Corinthians 6:19 (a chapter in which most people agree there are quotations from Corinth). Verse 18 is a strange comment if made by Paul, but if it is a quotation from Corinth, to which Paul gives a rebuttal in verse 19, it is more understandable, and the use of language is similar to 1 Corinthians 14:36. Here it is in the KJV but with quotation marks around the suggested quotation:

Flee fornication. “Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.                                                                 (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

In other words, a writer from Corinth claimed that he could do what he liked as regards sex, since it affected only himself (a prostitute being dismissed as of no account). But Paul replies to this with a surprised, pained, rhetorical question, introduced by “e”: Don’t you know that your body is not your own to do what you like with now that you have been baptised into Christ? It belongs to God.

[7] Cato, for example, in denying women at Rome any right to have a say in public discussion or law making, said in 195 BC, “Could not each have made the same request to her husband at home?”, adding “… it did not become you, even at home, to concern yourselves about what laws might be passed or repealed….” (Livy, History of Rome, XXXIV,2)

[8] However, although every extant manuscript contains these verses, recent analysis of the Vaticanus MSS (earlier than Sinaiticus, and Eastern rather than Western text) has demonstrated that marks in the margin indicate variant readings. This was first noticed by Philip B. Payne (New Testament Studies 41, 1995, “Fuldensis, Sigla for Variants in Vaticanus and 1 Cor 14:34-5”, pages 240-262) who argued that the marks in Vaticanus show that some earlier manuscripts omit 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, not merely that they are positioned after verse 40 as in Western manuscripts. J. Edward Miller agreed that the mark (two dots, nicknamed “umlauts”) indicate textual variation, but argued that by their position they indicate only a one-word variation in 1 Corinthians 14:33, not variation in the following two verses. See “Some observations on the Text-Critical Function of the Umlaut in Vaticanus, with Special Attention to 1 Corinthians 14.34-35”, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 26.2 (2003) pages 217-236. Philip B. Payne defended his conclusions in 2004, maintaining that there is evidence that earlier Greek manuscripts omitted 1 Corinthians 14:34-35: “Thus, Vaticanus, Fuldensis and 88 provide manuscript evidence for a text without 1 Cor.14.34-35, and this evidence deserves to be taken with full seriousness.” He continues, “Even before this manuscript evidence came to light many textual critics such as G.D.Fee argued that 1 Cor.14.34-35 is an interpolation on the basis of Bengal’s first principle, namely that the text which best explains the rise of all the other texts is probably the original text.” See “The Text-Critical Function of the Umlauts in Vaticanus, with Special Attention to 1 Corinthians 14.34-35: A Response to J. Edward Miller” by Philip B. Payne, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 27.1 (2004) pages 105-112. There are various comments on the internet which analyse this debate, but whatever the outcome, it appears that new manuscript information may yet emerge.

[9] “During the 17th and 18th centuries in Italy, some 4,000-5,000 boys were castrated annually for the purpose of singing alto in the church choirs. ... the prohibition against women singing in the church choir had its origin in the Bible: ‘Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak…’ ”  http://www.usrf.org/news/010308-castrati.html

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