Sunday, January 27, 2008

turning back

Regarding 1 Cornthians 14 and the silence of women, in an article on gender blog Carl Laney writes,
    Chrysostom notes that Paul is "not simply exhorting here or giving counsel, but even laying his commands on them vehemently, by the recitation of an ancient law on that subject." Paul, taking the law along with him, thus "sews up their mouths."[11] Raising the obvious question, Chrysostom queries, "

    And where does the law say this?" Chrysostom is the first of the church leaders whose comments on this subject are preserved for us. The text he directs us to is Genesis 3:16, "Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (NASB). According to Chrysostom this text "not only enjoins on them silence, but silence too with fear."

    He argues that if they should so respect their husbands, how much more should this apply in the context of teachers, and fathers, and the general assembly of the church."
So, my question is how on earth did Chrysostom have access to the NASB? That is so amazing! The only Bible Chrysostom had at that time said that "her turning back would be to her husband and he would rule over her." και προς τον ανδρα σου η αποστροφη σου και αυτος σου κυριευσει. The curse of desire did not make its appearance until the 16th century. Until then desire on the part of a woman was considered a blessing. ;-)

In any case, Chrysostom wasn't one of those "subordination in the garden" types. Whew. It all happened with the fall according to him, which is why we know that he did not compare the subordination of women to the trinity.


Matthew Celestine said...

Just a question on the silence of women- Suzanne, why do you think so many Complementarians (my church included) insist that women do not need to be silent in church, but should not preach?

Why are they so keen to allow women to give testimonies, read the Bible and pray yet are unwilling to insist on silence as the Brethren do?

I am interested in why you think they take this approach.

God Bless


scott gray said...

'the council on biblical manhood and womanhood?' now there's a room so full of unmentioned elephants, there's no room for us common folk...and the decor will never change. a museum, best visited for short periods of time on rainy sunday afternoons...



Suzanne McCarthy said...


Here is the standard explanation,

"The context of 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 is talking about interpreting and understanding the gifts of tongues and prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:26-32). Therefore, 1 Corinthians 14:34 is not commanding women to be absolutely silent in the church all the time. It is only saying that women should not participate when tongues and/or prophecy is being interpreted and tested (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 1 John 4:1). This is in agreement with 1 Timothy 2:11-12 which says that women should not teach or have authority over men. If women were involved in deciding whether a prophecy was truly from God, they would be disobeying what the Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Therefore, Paul tells women to be silent when tongues and prophecy are being interpreted so that they will not be disobeying God’s Word."

They want to appear to be open and kind to women. In my experience they are not. Here is what I think.

"Under silence," women did not have to be "under authority." That is, when women are under silence, no one has to worry about what they say because they only speak in private. There is not so much talk about how women behave in the home, because women are not really an issue, they are silent n the church. But when women can speak they have to be under authority and this gives men more power and it encourages them to use power in the home, to make all the decisions etc. and generally to think of themselves as entitled to power over women in all contexts.

In the 19th century, it was more a domain issue, men speak in church and women speak in the home, at the dinner table, and in the informal evening get-togethers. Like Susanna Wesley.

Anyway, some churches want to appear to be open and welcoming to women and modern and they promote women singing or giving testimony. But they put women under authority so that no matter how much Greek a woman knows she can never judge the teaching of a man.

I think Gordon Fee is right. If these verse on silence were originally n the margins of the earliest manuscripts then that is where they should stay.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


They are influential. They certainly have a lot of influence over my former pastor who is Anglican. If I don't make myself competent in every piece of their platform, I cannot competently discuss these issues with pastors.

For reasons that are too tedious to explain, I have ongoing contact with my former church.

scott gray said...


at least, the wrestling keeps you sharp, does it not?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

There is the added benefit that I have discovered Clement and Chrysostom!

Matthew Celestine said...

Thanks for your answer.

Anonymous said...

You have shared some wonderful discoveries in Clement and Chrysostom. It is no wonder the Bayly brothers want to keep you silent on their blog. Your keen insight and studious research puts their red necking shoulder slapping to shame.