Contradictions and Women in the Bible

15 October 2015
Glyn Carpenter

Contradictions and Women in the Bible

by | Oct 15, 2015

One of the biggest obstacles to the biblical call to unity is the shallow or superficial reading of scripture. There’s still plenty of scope for disagreement even among specialists who are adept at plumbing the depths of a text in the original languages.

But many disagreements are not at that level. They occur because verses are plucked out of context and used to mean something they were not intended to.

Tim Bulkeley is not only a member of NZ Christian Network’s discussion group on marriage. He is also an Old Testament scholar, and one of the small number of bloggers I follow.  I particularly like his 5 minute Bible series

I recently used two of his podcasts to shed some light in a group where discussion had got quite prickly over the topic of women in the church.

Quoting from Tim’s text introducing Part 1 ….

Perhaps no Bible text illustrates the dangers of a simplistic reading of Scripture than 1 Cor 14:34.

If we tear this verse from its cotext,1 and then read it as if the Bible were “God’s instruction manual for life” and even worse read it also literally then we are in trouble! The verse (in the fairly literal NET)2 reads:

the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says.

The verse is full of oddities.3 Not the least of which is that in 1 Cor 11:4-6 Paul assumes that both women and men will pray and prophesy, and in this same chapter 1 Cor 14:4-5 suggests the same thing, and that this is indeed in the public meeting (cf. v.4). Paul seems to be contradicting himself!

What is going on, and how should we interpret such passages?

Click on the links following to hear Tim’s two 5 minute messages

Understanding Contradictions 1 Cor 14:34 Part 1

Understanding Contradictions 1 Cor 14:34 Part 2

Glyn Carpenter
Author: Glyn Carpenter

Glyn Carpenter was National Director of New Zealand Christian Network from March 2003 to 2017. He attends Northcote Baptist Church in Auckland, is married to Christine (married in 1981), and they have three sons – two working as doctors and one in computer science.

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