Did Paul Require Veils or the Silence of Women? A Consideration of 1 Cor 11:2-16 and 1 Cor 14:33b-36 -- By: James B. Hurley

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 35:2 (Winter 1973)
Article: Did Paul Require Veils or the Silence of Women? A Consideration of 1 Cor 11:2-16 and 1 Cor 14:33b-36
Author: James B. Hurley


Did Paul Require Veils or the Silence of Women?
A Consideration of 1 Cor 11:2-16 and 1 Cor 14:33b-36

James B. Hurley

Paul’s treatment in 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 of the role of women in the worship service has long been a source of controversy. It is often alleged that in 11:7 Paul teaches the ontological inferiority of women by faulty exegesis of Genesis 1:26 and more or less blatantly contradicts himself by granting to women the right to speak in Chapter 11 and commanding that they be silent in chapter 14.1 Numerous efforts have been made to reconcile these texts. Historically the majority of scholars have accepted 14:34, 35 as the more explicit text and have sought to bring 11:2–16 into line, concluding that, although at first sight 11:5 appears to permit women to pray and prophesy in the assembly, it is intended to be coupled with 14:34 in order to curb other than charismatic outbursts.2 Recent scholars have tended to take 11:2–16 as normative and have subjected 14:34, 35 to the critical scalpel.3 It is not within the scope of the present

project to review the many conciliatory efforts which have been made. Our goal is rather to examine the two passages separately, each within its own context, and then to consider their relationship. It is our hope that this procedure will in some measure guard against premature harmonization of the texts at the expense of one or the other of them.

1 Corinthians 11:2-16: “Coverings” and “Authority”
Paul’s Praise: v. 2

Paul initiated his discussion of “coverings” with praise of his readers for their efforts to “remember him and to hold fast those traditions which he delivered to them” (v. 2). It would seem, however, that their efforts were not altogether successful, for Paul found it necessary to go on to inform them of things which they had evidently not taken into account: “But I would have...

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