Women Speaking In the Ancient Church, Part 1
Women in the ancient Christian church. Were they allow to speak or not?
Lately, I have been reading in the book The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew by Bart D. Ehrman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In one chapter he discusses the forgery entitled The Acts of Paul and Thecla. We know it is a forgery because according to Tertullian, a North African Christian writer who lived about the late 2nd and early 3rd century A.D., the forger was caught and confessed to having wrote it. (1)
In that chapter, Bart delves into a discussion regarding the rights and privileges of women in the early Christian church and made some points that I thought were rather interesting. He points out that the apostle Paul writes:
"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." (2)With regards to Timothy, Bart writes that many scholars are of the opinion that Paul did not write it because "it's vocabulary, writing style, theological modes of expression, and presupposed historical situation all differ significantly from what can be found in Paul's authentic letters." (4)
"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (3)
But what about 1 Corinthians 14? In chapter 11, Paul writes:
"But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven." (5)So, as Bart sees it, and I agree, according to this verse it is okay for women to pray and prophesy, as long as their heads are covered. But how do you do that in silence? Did the apostle Paul contradict himself, or is there another explanation?
1. Tertullian, On Baptism, Chapter 17.
2. 1 Corinthians 14:34, King James Version (KJV).
3. 1 Timothy 2:12-14, KJV.
4. Ehrman, Bart D.. The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 2003), p38.
5. 1 Corinthians 11:5, KJV.