I beleive the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated, copied, and interpreted correctly. In the course of my studies of the Bible, I've discovered that it has a long and convoluted history. So, these are my discoveries and my musings of Christian history and doctrines.

Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Women Speaking In the Ancient Church, Part 2

Perhaps the answer to that last question can be answered by understanding what a prophet is or how does one prophesy? According to Sir William Smith's Bible Dictionary, the term prophet signifies this:

"The ordinary Hebrew word for prophet is nabi, derived from a verb signifying 'to bubble forth' like a fountain; hence the word means one who announces or pours forth the declarations of God. The English word comes from the Greek prophetes, which signifies in classical Greek one who speaks for another, specially one who speaks for a god, and so interprets his will to man; hence it's essential meaning is 'an interpreter'. The use of the word in the modern sense as 'one who predicts' is post classical… 'Prophesy comprehends three things: singing by the dictates of the Spirit; and understanding and explaining the mysterious, hidden sense of Scripture by an immediate illumination and motion of the Spirit.'…" (1)
So, by definition, to prophesy in church is to speak in church - or anywhere for that matter. There are numerous accounts in the Bible where women prophets actually spoke out loud. Consider Miriam, the sister of Aaron (Exodus), Deborah in Judges 4, Huldah in 2 Kgs. 22 and 2 Chr. 34, Noadiah in Nehemiah 6:14, Anna in Luke 2, the four daughters of Phillip in Acts 21. Moreover, Peter quotes Joel's prophesies (with some minor variations) regarding the last days:
"…I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:" (2)
I also noticed that in 1 Corinthians 14:5 it says:
"I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying."
Note that Paul says "ye all". Was he writing to an audience of all males or to mixed company? The New Revised Standard Bible replaces the pronoun "he" in verse 5 (King James version) with the genderless term "one". The New Jerusalem Bible uses the terms "those", "you", and "they" (3). I don't speak Greek, but I strongly suspect that the pronoun used in the Greek manuscript and translated into the King James Bible as "he" is actually a pronoun that implies both male and female.

Regarding 14:34, Bart writes:

"It has often been noted that the passage in chapter 14 also appears intrusive in it's own literary context: Both before and after his instructions for women to keep silent, Paul is speaking not about women in church, but about prophets in church. When the verses on women are removed, the passage flows neatly without a break. This too suggests that these verses were inserted into the passage later. Moreover, it is striking that the verses in question appear in different locations in some of our surviving manuscripts of Paul's letters as if they had originally appeared as a marginal note (drawn from the teaching of the forged letter of 1 Timothy?) and inserted as judged appropriate in different parts of the chapter. On these grounds, a number of scholars have concluded that Paul's instructions for women to be silent in 1 Corinthians may not be from Paul, just as the letter to Timothy is not from Paul." (4)
And so, once again we see that someone has inserted their own ideas, opinions, philosophies, etc., into the scriptures, and that it was propagated through time by scribe after scribe until it has been accepted as Gospel truth by many who are ignorant and uneducated regarding the origins of the scriptures and the errors of those copying the scriptures.

1. Smith, Sir William, L.L.D.. Smith's Bible Dictionary, revised and edited by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet (Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, Tennessee, 1986), p534-535.

2. Acts 2:17-18, KJV.

3. The Complete Parallel Bible (Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 1993).

4. Ehrman, Bart D.. The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 2003), p38.


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