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Kerith Farm


The Bible is  inspired and inerrant. Hermeneutics rooted in grammatical-historical method.  Promise Theology.  Expository preaching-Exegetical Theology with the meaning and message of the Biblical text. "Keep your finger on the TEXT!"

Correcting Caricatures:

The Biblical Teaching on Women


page FOUR(last page)

6.Corinthians 14:34-38.  The Talmud, not the Old Testament law, taught that women must be silent and only talk at home.

      The NIV, along with other translations, errs badly by interpretively giving a capital letter to the word “Law” in verse 34.  The problem simply put is this: nowhere in the whole Old Testament does it teach or even imply what is claimed here!  No law in the entire Old Testament, much less the Torah, can be cited to teach that woman “must be in submission” and “remain silent” and, if she wants to know or ask about anything, she “should ask [her own] husband at home.”  Women spoke freely in public in both testaments.

     It was in the Jewish synagogues where women were not allowed to speak.  Thus, the “law” referred to here may be the Jewish Oral Law, the same one Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount, when he too corrected, “You have heard it said,” which he contrasted with the written word of Scripture.  Yes, the Talmud taught that “out of respect to the congregation, a woman should not herself read the law publicly” (b. Meg. 23a), implying that a woman shamed herself if she spoke formally in a gathering of men.[x] 

     One scholar has singled out our interpretation of this passage as an example of hermeneutical “fallacy” in interpretation.  But let this scholar just point to the place in God’s law where any of these concepts are taught or even alluded to and he can retain this labeling of this view as a “fallacy”.  But failing that, he should recognize the text calls for a repudiation of all alternative views that in some way or another demand that these three teachings are ordained and prescribed by God.

      Thus, if Paul is not quoting from Scripture, but rather from a letter of inquiry that was sent to him by the Corinthians, asking if they too should observe such rules of quietude for women in a church which uses rabbinic teaching as its norm,[xi] can we show any other places where the same type of quoting from external sources is used by Paul as a basis for following rebuttal?  Yes, in 1 Corinthians 6:12, 8:8, and 10:23 Paul quotes an outside aphorism, “All things are lawful to me.” But Paul immediately refutes such a statement as he does in 1 Corinthians 14:36.  Paul shouts, “What?” “Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones [masculine plural] it has reaches?” I would put this popularly: You can’t really be serious, can you?  Sneers Paul.. That you guys are the only ones able to get the word of God?

     It that is so, what was Pentecost all about? Did we not see the “now”, even if it was not all of the “not yet” of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-29, where the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all regardless of their age, gender, or ethnicity?  Brothers and sisters, the Holy spirit came upon women as well as men: the text says so! And what shall we say about Psalm 68:11?  There it proclaims: The Lord gave the word: Great was the company of the [women] preachers!” for the word for “preachers” is a feminine plural form [note NASB rendering of this text]. Oh my, as one of my teachers once said, the easiest way to detect that you are dealing with a dead horse is if you prop it up on one end, the other end will fall down! That is what so many are doing with their interpretations of these texts.

7.      1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Women are to exercise authority and veils are not required.

      We have already noted the Old Testament background for the women to have strength, power, or authority invested upon themselves in Genesis 2:18.  That is, no doubt, what Paul was alluding to in 1 Corinthians 11:10.  We also noted how false and thoroughly intrusive was the thought that a “veil as a sign of authority” was forced into the translations of this verse from the days of the Gnostic religions both in Paul’s day and in subsequent  times. Paul did not, nor should we, allow for any parts of such  substitutions for the Word of God that stands written! Away with all impositions of a “veil” or veiled references!

   Now, at the heart of this passage in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 is Paul’s desire to stop the practice that had come over from the Synagogue, where men veiled their heads in the worship service.  The head covering that was used was called a tallit, worn by all men during the morning prayers and on Sabbath days and Holy Days.  This tallit was also worn by the hazzan whenever he prayed in front of the ark, and by the one who was called up to read the scroll of the law at the “reading desk”, known as the almemar. The hazzan was the chief leader of the Synagogue.  Remarkable, as well, is the fact that the Romans also veiled when they worshipped, so both the Jewish and Roman converts would have been accustomed to such veiling practices as part of the liturgy of the worship service. 

     From the Jewish perspective, Paul was anxious to make clear that such a veiling of the tallit was not only a sign of reverence to God, but, unfortunately, it was also a sign of condemnation for the sin and of the guilt of its wearer before the Almighty.  But how could such signs be worn when “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus?”[xii]

     Paul will, thus forbid men to be veiled. He will permit a woman to be veiled, but it is only by permission, not by obligation that he does so, for his real preference here also is for women likewise to be unveiled before God in prayer.  On the contrary, women should not feel embarrassed about having their heads uncovered, for their hair is given to them as their “glory”.  In fact, the church has no prescribed rule or custom about needing a veil.

     Men and women are not independent of one another (1 Cor. 11:12), for God made woman “for [dia with the accusative] the man,” while God now brings all men “through [dia with the genitive] the woman”.  Anyway, “all things are of God,” so who gets bragging rights or one-up-manship here?


The Scriptures are far from being repressive, hostile, or demeaning to women; instead they constantly elevate women and give them places of honor and credit along with their male counterparts.  Even in the matter of both males and females being given a head of hair, they are equal.  In 1 Corinthians 11:15, the woman is given her hair anti (“in place of”; “instead of”) a chapeau, hat, or covering.  And, if anyone is unnerved over the whole matter of requiring women to wear some kind of covering, then Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:16, “we have no such practice” that requires women to wear a covering.  Note even here, how the translations reverse the whole meaning of the Greek text and say, as the NIV says, “we have no other practice” (emphasis ours), which infers this is the only one, and that is that women must wear a covering when they worship.  How difficult it is to reverse some habits and traditions, much less some translations!!

     From insights such as these gained in a lifetime devoted to study of the Bible, I have realized, indeed, that together men and women are “joint heirs of the grace of life” ( 1 Pet. 3:7, 11), submitting themselves to the Lord and to each other (Eph. 5:21). Each owes to the other love, respect, and an appreciation for the sphere of authority given to each one as part of the gifts of the Spirit.  These gifts are never gender-coded in Scripture, but they are meant for the blessing of the whole body of Christ.

     May Christ’s Church take the lead in setting forth a whole new standard for the place and ministry of women even against a confusing background and cacophony of radical women’s movement of our day that has other goals in mind than those posed for us in these Scriptures. 

     Sola Scriputura  must be the rallying point once again as it has been time after time in history.  May Christ’s Church find the rest, comfort, and admonition of Scripture on the teaching of women and their ministries to be God’s final word for our day as it has been in the past!

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[i] I am indebted for the argument that follows to a marvelous recent work by Thomas Howe, Objectivity in Biblical Interpretation (no city  listed: Advantage Bookעs, 2004).

[ii] Thomas Howe, Objectivity, 463.

[iii] Ibid., 465

[iv] For examples of my earlier contributions on this topic, see Walter C. Kaiser Jr., “Paul, Women and the Church,” Worldwide Challenge (Sept. 1976):9-12; idem “Shared Leadership,” Christianity Today 30 (Oct. 3, 1986):12,1.

[v] R. David Freedman, “Woman, a Power Equal to Man,” Biblical Archaeology Review 9 (1983): 56-58.

[vi] Theodotion’s rendering is “turning”, as Katharine C. Bushnell explains in her God’s Word to Women (often privately printed since the final edition came in 1923)••128-145. However, Summachus’s Greek rendering followed Aquila’s suggestion by rendering it by the Greek word, hormē, meaning “impulse.” Aquilla, noted Bushnell, was a proselyte to Judaism, who followed the Jewish scholars of the second century. The Talmud, which is technically not a translation of the Bible, but a listing of traditions, teaches that there were ten curses pronounced over Eve, and in the fifth, sixth, and ninth of these curses, the word, “lust”, is used to render the Hebrew word tĕshûqâ. Thus, in Origin’s Hexapla (a six column listing of all the variant readings of Scripture he knew about), Aquila’s column rendered the word there “coalition,” or “alliance”, which Bushnell says is not all that unnatural sense “since Eve is represented as turning from God to form an alliance with her husband.”

[vii] Bushnell, • 139.

[viii] Ibid., • 151.

[ix] Adoniram Judson Gordon, “The Ministry of Women,” Missionary review of the World 7,new series (Dec. 1894).

[x] See Bushnell, •• 201-02.

[xi] Ibid., •201: “The Apostle Paul is here quoting what the Judaizers in the Corinthian church are teaching-who themselves say women must ‘keep silence’ because Jewish law thus taught.” Her proof is detailed in 203ff.

[xii] Ibid., •241: “Where the practice has ceased of veiling in sign of guilt and condemnation before God and His law, this whole teaching, in its literal sense, has no application.”