If you are a person who enjoys debating Christian theology, there are few topics that can ruffle neck hairs like the place of women’s speech in the meeting. If you have ever questioned the application of spiritual gifts among the saints then you’ll also realize this discussion is only relevant if their are other contributors to the edification of the body.
It is important to note that in traditional (institutional) settings, the only person doing the talking is the designated pastor/teacher. In those settings a discussion of this caliber is usually moot, as there are not other participants in the main assembly of the church. With that in mind, and as a foundational dynamic I believe to be important to the assembling of the saints, the discussion of female speech must be had. The central scripture founding most prohibitions on female speech is often:
(1Co 14:34) Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
After reading and re-reading the verse in its context I became increasingly perplexed by the inconsistency of the entire chapter. At least, the inconsistency of community participation and the subsequent quashing of female speech by some reference to “the Law”. Meaning, it appears that Paul addresses the entire Christian Assembly throughout the duration of the letter 1 Corinthians.
The result of this frustration led to a brief survey of the phrase, it is written and the law in the letter of 1 Corinthians. The survey is also motivated by the bearing these phrases would have on the understanding of the verses in 1 Cor 14:34-35. The most prominent verse containing the it is written phrase furthers the inspiration behind my study here.
…that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. (1 Corinthians 4:6 c)
Please note the references in the 1st Corinthian letter that demonstrate appeals to as it is written or direct quotations to the law are OT references from the Septuagint. Masoretic references vary slightly. Paul generally quotes or alters Septuagint readings in his OT quotations.
Paul is known for reinforcing New Testament (NT) principles with Old Testament (OT) quotations. In Paul’s usage of these quotations he substantiates two things. First, they refer back to prophetic utterances that speak of future events yet fulfilled. In his references to these texts he illustrates the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and his commission to teach the churches he is writing to. Secondly, it can also be utilized as an emphatic appeal to the nature of the OT law that qualifies implementation in contemporary practice.
The nature of this study will remain confined to 1 Corinthians for the sake of brevity. Further analysis of the Pauline Corpus will reveal a similar trend (appendix forthcoming). All scriptural quotations derived from the King James Version of the Bible with exception to Septuagint references, derived from Brenton’s English Septuagint. All emphasis belongs to the author of this paper. First all verses containing it is written or the law will be cited from the KJV, then likewise from the Septuagint for comparison.
|(1Co 1:19) For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.||Isa 29:14 Therefore behold I will proceed to remove this people, and I will remove them: and I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will hide the understanding of the prudent.|
|(1Co 1:31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.||abridged of…Jer 9:23-24 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, and let not the strong man boast in his strength, and let not the rich man boast in his wealth; (24) but let him that boasts boast in this, the understanding and knowing that I am the Lord that exercise mercy, and judgment, and righteousness, upon the earth; for in these things is my pleasure, saith the Lord.|
|(1Co 2:9) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.||Isa 64:4 From of old we have not heard, neither have our eyes seen a God beside thee, and thy works which thou wilt perform to them that wait for mercy|
|(1Co 3:19) For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.||Job 5:13 who takes the wise in their wisdom, and subverts the counsel of the crafty|
|(1Co 9:9) For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?||Deu 25:4 Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn.|
|(1Co 10:7) Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.||Exo 32:6 And having risen early on the morrow, he offered whole burnt-offerings, and offered a peace-offering; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.|
|(1Co 14:21) In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.||Isa 28:11-12 by reason of the contemptuous words of the lips, by means of another language: for they shall speak to this people, saying to them, this is the rest to him that is hungry, and this is the calamity: but they would not hear.|
|(1Co 15:45) And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.||Gen 2:7 And God formed the man of dust of the earth, and breathed upon his face the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.|
THE INCONSISTENT PROBLEM:
If the above model of reference and citation can be replicated in the entire Pauline corpus, then verses containing language using law or as it is written illustrate at least partial citation of the law or OT text Paul uses in his instruction. The purpose of Paul’s OT text asserts principle for practice, or proof of a statements authority (see above scripture portions).
Of the texts referenced in 1 Corinthians containing law, or as it is written, only one of them lack definitive reference to the OT. With the trend focusing on direct quotation, partial quotation, or abridgment, it should be expected to find similarities in all other examples. Intriguingly, the former does not appear to be true for the portion of scripture, 1 Cor 14:34-35.
|(1Co 14:34) Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.||Gen 3:17 And to the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy pains and thy groanings; in pain thou shalt bring forth children, and thy submission shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.|
An honest, open, and diligent review of the scriptural evidence reveals the consistency of appeals to the law by Paul in 1 Corinthians. The end result is an obvious discrepancy in the language of 1 Cor 14:34-35 and it’s alleged counterpart of Genesis 3:17. If Paul is indeed forbidding the speech of women as a result of the Genesis curse, two disastrous results occur.
“The law saith,” He shall rule over thee.”
He rules, “Thou shalt keep silence.”
|Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.|
|Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.|
|Rom 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.|
|Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.|
|Gal 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.|
|Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:|
|Gal 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.|
|Gal 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Attempts to relieve the tension of the prohibition directed toward wives and thus answering the question, “What about single women?” through quotation of Numbers 30:3-13 further exacerbates the heresy that NT believers are bound by OT law and practice. To implicate submission, subjection, and rule over a female through the OT law of Numbers does far more than implicate principle, but advocates practice completely foreign to the commandments of Christ. Nowhere in the New Testament is it revealed unto man that all women in all places submit to men, especially when they are unmarried.
It is better served of the Berean minded student of the scriptures to approach the text with the panoramic view of the Pauline Corpus. In perspective, said student is further served by remaining within the context of the New Testament understanding of the priesthood of all believers. The conclusions drawn should in turn come not from tradition, but from scripture. If the antecedent is not proportional then the statement should be denied. If the information is more normative with non-biblical law and Talmudic teachings, then 1 Cor 14:36-40 becomes clearer, and Paul’s emphatic WHAT!? demonstrates a quotation or dismissal, not a command.
 “Covet to Prophesy” by Katherine Bushnell
 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); 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)