Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Authentic? No.

Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Authentic? No. September 18, 2017

Six Ground-breaking Discoveries

A Summary of “Vaticanus Distigme-obelos Symbols Marking Added Text, Including 1 Corinthians 14.34–5” New Testament Studies 63 (2017) 604–625 (c) 2017 Payne Loving Trust

Philip B. Payne

Philip Barton Payne, author of Man and Woman, One in Christ, (PhD, Cambridge) has served with his wife Nancy with the Evangelical Free Church Mission in Japan for seven years. He has taught New Testament studies in Cambridge colleges, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Gordon-Conwell, Bethel, and Fuller, and is known for his studies on textual criticism, the parables of Jesus, and Paul’s teachings on women. He blogs at

This summary of six groundbreaking discoveries from my New Testament Studies 63 (October, 2017) article about the oldest Bible in Greek, Codex Vaticanus, henceforth “Vaticanus,” dated AD 325–350, highlights their implications for the reliability of the transmission of the Greek New Testament and for the equal standing of man and woman:

  1. Scribe B, who penned Vaticanus’s entire New Testament and Old Testament Prophets, was extraordinarily faithful in preserving the text of its exemplars, namely the manuscripts from which Vaticanus was copied.
  2. The entire text of all four Gospels in Vaticanus is even earlier than the text of Bodmer Papyrus 75, henceforth P75, written AD 175–225 and containing most of Luke 3 through John 15.
  3. The entire text of the epistles in the second oldest Bible, Codex Sinaiticus, dated AD 350–360, is arguably at least as old as the text of P32, dated ca. AD 200.
  4. The two-dot symbol (the technical term is “distigme”) marking the location of textual variants throughout Vaticanus also occurs in the fourth to fifth century LXX G.
  5. Scribe B left a gap following seven two-dot+bar symbols at the exact point of a multi-word later addition.
  6. Scribe B marked 1 Corinthians 14:34–35, the only Bible passage commanding women to be silent in the churches, as a later addition.

Scribe B Preserved the Text of Vaticanus’s Exemplars with Remarkable Fidelity

Scribe B (name unknown) is the only scribe of Vaticanus who preserved the bars (the technical term is “obeloi”) Origen (ca. 185–ca. 254, the most famous expert on the text of the Bible from the early church) used to show where the Septuagint Greek translation (henceforth “LXX”) of the Hebrew Scriptures added words not in the Hebrew text. Scribe B reproduced Vaticanus’s Prophets so faithfully that he or she did not add bars to the exemplar’s text even by passages explicitly identified as “not in the Hebrew.” “Or she” reflects Eusebius’s statement in Church History 6.23.2 that Origen employed “girls skilled in penmanship.”

The sharp contrast between the virtually complete absence of periods at the end of sentences in Vaticanus’s Gospels and the presence of periods throughout all its epistles shows that Scribe B copied both exemplars faithfully. This is the only explanation for this sharp contrast congruent with a copyist’s primary task, to reproduce the exemplar’s text.

Vaticanus symbols marking differences between manuscripts show that Scribe B was aware of variants, copied exemplars faithfully, and preferred the earliest possible text. Scribe B was extraordinarily careful not to add to or take away text from Vaticanus’s exemplars, not even adding periods after sentences or bars where original ink marginal notes identify LXX additions. All this supports Birdsall’s judgment in The Bible as Book, 35, “Behind the quality of the New Testament text in this codex, there appears to be critical ‘know-how’.”

The Extraordinarily Early Text of the Gospels in Vaticanus

The text of P75 is remarkably similar to the corresponding text in Vaticanus. Carlo Martini’s Il problema della recensionalità del codice B alla luce del papiro Bodmer xiv argued this in detail, and scholars have confirmed his findings. The virtually complete absence of periods at the end of sentences in the Vaticanus Gospels but their presence throughout the Vaticanus epistles and P75 indicates that, as usual then, all four Vaticanus Gospels were copied from the same manuscript, but one so primitive it had virtually no periods. The Vaticanus Gospels’ lack of periods indicates that their text is earlier than the Vaticanus epistles’ text and even earlier than P75’s text. Paul Canart, world-renowned expert on Vaticanus, agrees with this explanation and knows of no publication of this apparently original observation. None of the New Testament papyri that the standard Nestle-Aland critical text identifies as second-century (P32, 90, 98, 104) contains a period. Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 287, state, “the original texts … naturally also lacked punctuation.” The Vaticanus Gospels’ text is so old it was not contaminated by any of the five blocks of added text their two-dot+bar symbols mark. These discoveries corroborate both halves of Bruce Metzger’s judgment in ‘Recent Developments in the Textual Criticism of the New Testament’, Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian (NTTS 8; Leiden/Grand Rapids: Brill/Eerdmans, 1968) 145–62, at 157–58, “Since B [=Vaticanus] is not a lineal descendent of P75, the common ancestor of both carries the … text to a period prior to AD 175–225, the date assigned to P75.” It also supports Stephen Pisano’s affirmation in Le manuscrit B de la Bible, 96, “of the text of B as an extremely reliable witness …, especially of the Gospels and Acts.”

The Second Century Text of the Epistles in Codex Sinaiticus

Chris Stevens’ November 18, 2015 Evangelical Theological Society paper, “Titus in P32 and Sinaiticus: Textual Reliability and Scribal Design,” showed that there is only one letter in the text of Titus in P32, dated ca. AD 200, that differs from the text of Sinaiticus, so the Sinaiticus text of Titus goes back at least to ca. AD 200. Since fourth century scribes copied entire collections of the epistles, not separate epistles from different manuscripts, the rest of the Sinaiticus epistles’ text is probably also this old. This supports a second century date not only of the entire text of the Vaticanus Gospels, but also of the entire text of the Sinaiticus epistles.

The Antiquity of Two-Dot Symbols in Vaticanus

Approximately 780 two-dot symbols in the margins of Vaticanus mark the location of Greek textual variants. Fifty-one of them match the original Vaticanus ink. Two more with original ink protruding behind reinking suggest that most two-dot symbols were re-inked with the rest of Vaticanus ca. AD 1000. The same symbol occurs in the fourth- or fifth-century LXX G, the earliest extensive copy of Origen’s annotated LXX. LXX G’s and Vaticanus’s many parallels suggest they came from the same scriptorium. The following example from LXX G 228 demonstrates ancient use of this two-dot symbol to mark textual variants between Greek manuscripts.

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 6.25.15 PM

These two dot symbols give us insights regarding textual variants in a corpus of very early manuscript text far wider than has survived from before the time of Vaticanus. Because manuscripts have survived showing textual variants at most of their locations, they show that we probably know through surviving manuscripts most of the textual variants that were available to the producers of Vaticanus. This greatly reduces the plausibility that the original manuscripts were significantly different from what we know from surviving manuscripts.

Scribe B Left a Gap Following Seven Two-dot+bar Symbols at the Exact Point of a Multi-word Later Addition

Seven key facts support the conclusion that all eight bars with characteristic features adjacent to a two-dot symbol mark the location of a multi-word textual addition:

  1. The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 28th edition identifies a multi-word textual variant somewhere in the line following each characteristic bar. If all eight were simply paragraph marks, this conjunction would have to be mere coincidence. The probability that multi-word variants identified by Nestle-Aland would occur somewhere in each of eight randomly-selected Vaticanus lines is less than one in a trillion.
  2. Even more astounding, Scribe B left a gap at the exact letter where a widely acknowledged, multi-word textual addition begins following every characteristic bar except one that was evidently added by a different hand.
  3. None of the other twenty bars adjacent to a two-dot symbol combines as much extension into the margin and total length as any of the eight characteristic bars. All eight extend, on average, almost twice as far into the margin as the other twenty and are, on average, almost one third longer than the other twenty. This distinguishes them graphically from paragraph bars randomly occurring after dots. Their extension into the margin associates them with their adjacent two-dot symbols, whose purpose was to mark the location of textual variants. Characteristic bars specify which    category of variant—multi-word additions.
  4. Scribe B undoubtedly used horizontal-bars in the Vaticanus Prophets to mark the locations of blocks of added text since one is in the middle of text and since explanations that these bars mark added text display original Vaticanus
  5. All eight characteristic bars adjacent to a two-dot symbol resemble the shape and length of each bar marking added text in the Vaticanus
  6. A horizontal bar was the standard Greek symbol for marking added text.
  7. Bars also mark blocks of added text in other manuscripts at John 7:53–8:11 and Mark’s longer ending. Apparently every manuscript with a bar introducing Mark’s longer ending notes that this ending is not “in some of the copies.”

All this supports the conclusion that two-dot+bar symbols mark the location of multi-word blocks of added text.

Vaticanus Scribe B Marked “Let women keep silent in the churches … for it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in church” as a Later Addition

1 Corinthians 14:34–35 silences women in church three times with no qualification. Chapter 11, however, guides how women should prophesy, and chapter 14:5, 24 (3x), 26 and 31 affirm “all” speaking in church. Popular resolutions of this contradiction limit 14:34–35’s demand for silence only to disruptive chatter or, recently contrived, only to judging prophecies. These resolutions should be rejected since they permit speech verse 35 prohibits, namely asking questions from a desire to learn.

As this photograph shows, Scribe B identified 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 as added text

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 6.23.16 PM

but faithfully preserved those verses from Vaticanus’s epistles’ exemplar, just as Scribe B faithfully preserved text in the Vaticanus Prophets marked with a bar as later additions. It is precisely because of honest preservation of textual data that Scribe B’s textual judgments should be respected, not dismissed.

In the 121 cases of a bar in the Vaticanus Prophets, a comparison with the Hebrew Scriptures shows that Scribe B’s judgments were correct, that the Greek translation being copied did indeed add words that were not in the Hebrew text.

Furthermore, manuscripts confirm a block of text was added at the gap Scribe B left following every other two-dot+bar symbol. Therefore, this symbol implies that Scribe B had manuscript evidence 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 was non-original, added text. We should trust Scribe B’s textual judgments because the wide scope of textual variants Scribe B marked implies access to far more pre-Vaticanus NT manuscript text than survives today.

1 Corinthians 14:34–35 is the only multi-word textual variant ever identified at the gap following this two-dot+bar symbol. At least sixty-two textual studies argue that 14:34–35 is a later addition. Joseph Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 530, notes that “the majority of commentators today” regard verses 34–35 as a later addition. Kim Haines-Eitzen, The Gendered Palimpsest, 62, affirms this of “[n]early all scholars now.”

This is important theologically because the two-dot+bar symbol at the interface of 1 Corinthians 14:33 and 34 provides a resolution to the notorious difficulty of reconciling verses 34–35 with 1 Corinthians 11’s inclusion of women prophesying and chapter 14’s affirmations of  “all” prophesying—verses 34–35 were not in Paul’s original letter, but are a later addition. Therefore, Paul’s unqualified affirmations of the equal standing of man and woman in Christ (Galatians 3:28; Romans 16; 1 Corinthians 7; 11:11–12) need not be qualified by verses  34–35’s huge caveat. Nor must one resort to implausible interpretations of 14:34–35. The twenty-two page article, “Vaticanus Distigme-obelos Symbols Marking Added Text, Including 1 Corinthians 14.34–5” with twelve color photographs, will be downloadable free in September from

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  • Jim West

    Very interesting. I wonder what the reason to add it would have been? Especially given the fact that we know women were serving as priests in the early Church. (See ‘When Women were Priests” by Torjesen). On the other hand, leaving it out precisely because women were priests makes a certain amount of sense. In short, it’s easier to understand, for me, why someone would drop it rather than someone adding it at that particular time. Looking forward to your thoughts.

  • ZZ

    Thanks for posting this. It is so encouraging to hear/see/know this. It makes me feel “free” from the burden so often placed on women to be what man says they should be…to know that this portion of “scripture” was added at a later date….priceless to me!

  • This assumes there weren’t any continuing pressures in a variety of cultures, within and beyond the Church, to do exactly what this added line attempts to do: which is silence women, even or especially as a backlash to women serving as priests or prophesying, etc. I’ve seen very few cultures who have failed to live up to the curse in the garden in which men rule over women. Lots of wonderful things happen in the early Church and in the Church today that forces of darkness work to shut down even after God acts. I see no reason why this would be different. Further, if we take just our more modern example of liberation of slaves in the US, were there not substantial and lasting efforts of backlash, for decades and decades, continuing even today? Having a few stellar public examples of intellect in black men who were able to get an education by whatever means (Frederick Douglass, for example) didn’t stop the agenda, at all, to insist on white supremacy, both in and beyond the Church. It may have only inflamed it. I don’t see how a few female priests or prophetesses would be any different.

  • Ben

    Thanks for sharing this. How would you think through the theological concerns of such a significant interpolation remaining in our text for so long? (Just trying to think through how to translate textual criticism into pastoral contexts!)Why would God “permit” such an interpolation to remain in our textual transmission? Or is that the right way to think about how God relates to the transmission of biblical texts? Would appreciate hearing how you, or anyone else, thinks through this question. Thanks again!

  • I’ve had these questions as well, but I have to end up thinking that it was no different than what was taught widely in the many years leading up to the Reformation. “Do penance” is a far cry from “repent,” as Luther rightly pointed out after many years of spiritual abuse, error and corruption in the Church through the misrepresentation. The lesson of the Reformation to be “reformed and always reforming” is too often ended after the first word.

  • MKulnir

    All that tedious writing proves what?

  • Larry S

    I have a 20 year old commentary of 1 Corinthians by Gordon Fee which makes the same point. I also bought a Regent Audio lecture of Dr. Fee dealing with the woman in church issue where he says the same thing.

  • DonaldByronJohnson

    I still prefer the idea that 1 Cor 14:36ff repudiates 1 Cor 14:34-35 as a quote from Corinth, as I find the chiastic structure in the teaching unit 1 Cor 14:26-40 compelling. But I agree that the important thing is to allow women freedom, so I would also teach Payne’s ideas as an alternative way to get there.

  • Walker

    It proves that troublesome passages of Scripture have to be razor bladed out lest they cause someone discomfort.

  • Eric Weiss

    Can anyone with textual criticism expertise comment on whether these 2003 objections to Philip Payne’s methodology are still valid?“some-observations-text-critical-function-umlauts-vaticanus-special-attention-1-corin

    If the link doesn’t work, you may have to cut and paste the link into your browser or go to the main page of and look for it by its title because the link has “ in it:

    A Review of “Some Observations on the Text-Critical Function of the Umlauts in Vaticanus, with Special Attention to 1 Corinthians 14.34-35,” by Daniel Wallace

  • Brad

    Certainly an appealing option (for my position on women in ministry – openness). But it needs to be weighed against the MSS that include 14:34-35 (i.e. all MSS). We must be careful we don’t let what we want to be true get in the way of what is true.

  • Tucker

    A shout-out for Philip Payne. If this doesn’t convince the hold-outs nothing will. As previously remarked, I too remember Gordon Fee making the same argument decades ago, but with somewhat less evidence than we have here.

  • scotmcknight

    I agree, but that’s the point: weighing Vaticanus means we weigh heavily the absence in what is being copied.

  • Marshall Janzen

    I think there’s compelling evidence pointing to Paul quoting the Corinthians here, but the alternative that the verses were added seems like the next-most-likely option. (As far as I’m aware, Payne sees the odds of these two options the other way around, but still sees them both as more probable than all the ways of reading the verses as Paul’s but not meaning what they seem to say.)

    Since we have old texts that position the two verses at the end of the chapter, it’s possible Scribe B is noting that at least one of their sources lacked the verses at this particular point. Payne does deal with this on pages 615-16 of his article, arguing that a marginal gloss is more likely to result in a text present in different locations than transposition. But if Paul wrote the letter with a quote from the Corinthians beside his own words (or in a box with an arrow or countless other ways that would become confusing when reduced to uniform, plain text by copyists) one could easily end up with manuscripts that place the verses differently. So, I think Payne’s findings are compatible with both the quotation view and emendation view, but further rule out most other views.

  • Marshall Janzen

    The same conclusion, yes. But the analysis and evidence that supports Payne’s conclusion has grown since he published articles about this in 1995 and 1998, and since when Fee and others first advocated it.

  • pam

    i sort of see it the same way i see the appendix and wisdom teeth.

  • Dennis Venema

    All of the evidence that Fee mustered in support of a non-Pauline interpolation still stands – this just adds even more, and very substantial, evidence to the argument.

    What amazes (and saddens) me is that this interpolation is so early, and so widespread. Paul would weep.

  • James

    Here is what Dr William Varner from Masters University and admin over at the Nerdy Language Majors facebook page has to say:

    A medieval scribe strengthened the letters of Vaticanus (re-inking). Payne’s argument is that the distigma is the same ink as the letters. So this only proves that the distigma date from the re-inking. If you examine Vaticanus, as I have with the exact facsimile which we purchased from the Vatican (through Dr Payne!), you will see that the scribe did not re-ink letters and words that he thought were not original to Paul. These include the ε in itacisms like γεινομαι and even whole words like the μου in 14:39! The scribe even does this with the itacism in σειγατωσαν in the disputed passage (14:34). If the scribe thought that the distigma indicates that the passage was an interpolation, he left no indication of it.

    A much better approach is that a later scribe (the re-inker?) indicated that some copies have the passage in a different location as D,F, G and a few Old Latin mss do.

    At the end of the day, whether my explanation is right or wrong, we are left with the fact that NO surviving ms omits the two verses.

    Text critics should deal with the surviving evidence, and not conjecture about a theory of later glosses.

  • Jay

    That’s a great question. It relates to the question of how to understand the human element of Scripture. The 10 commandments may have been written by the finger of God, but the rest is notably delivered in a different fashion.

  • Interesting to note the brief observations Peter Gurry posted after Payne presented his argument at ETS in 2015. I’m no expert in text criticism, nor have I delved deep enough into this issue to say much about it, nor have I looked properly at good images that show these dots and bars together (and, importantly, when they do not appear together). All the same, it seems that Gurry’s reasons for skepticism are reasonable enough that I’d be wary of holding Payne’s reconstruction too firmly.

  • <>

    How can you expect to be taken seriously when you spread reckless claims like this one? The *entire* text of the Gospels in Vaticanus? Even the copying-blunders that the scribe made?!

  • Jeff Miller

    I would say that Payne here makes a statement that could be worded better, not a “reckless claim.” Having looked at the October 2017 NTS article, which is his most recent extensive statement of his argument, it seems to me that “entire text” here means “all the extant text, as opposed to only certain parts of the extant text.” In other words, we’re not dealing with a case of textual mixture in which some blocks of text in one book or corpus are from a different century or different text type than other blocks of text of the same book or corpus in the same manuscript. I certainly don’t think that Payne’s use of the phrase “entire text” in a summary designed for mass consumption rather than for textual critics renders his scholarship as not worthy of being taken seriously, especially since that scholarship has been peer reviewed and published in more than one place.

  • Tim

    Scot – is this your take as well? Is the interpolation of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 a consensus position amongst New Testament Biblical Scholars?

    ” Joseph Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 530, notes that “the majority of commentators today” regard verses 34–35 as a later addition. Kim Haines-Eitzen, The Gendered Palimpsest, 62, affirms this of “[n]early all scholars now.”

  • Jeff Miller

    I can’t answer for Scot, of course. But concerning a consensus: I recently read through the arguments of nearly 30 scholars who conclude that these verses are a non-Pauline interpolation. I do not consider this number a consensus, but it is evidence of a significant minority. Some of those are textual scholars (such as Epp and Fee), and others are highly-regarded NT scholars but not necessarily textual specialists (e.g., Richard Hays). When narrowing the search to evangelical scholars or when narrowing the search to textual critics, the percentage of pro-interpolation scholars surely goes down.

  • Jeff Miller,
    Of course if one were to redefine the word “entire” to mean something more like “every large component,” then it would make sense.

  • <>

    Except the ones that do.


    That’s an awful big rabbit to pull from such a small hat.

  • Sean

    Well that’s no surprise- they come in reading the Bible with an agenda in mind, and will happily reject new findings if they conflict with their “evangelical” beliefs.

  • Thank you for writing this Scot. A really good article and one I enjoyed reading. As a non-theistic person here with no pre-commitment to any positions, how do you square this argument with the texts of 1 Timothy 2?

    Do you agree with Borg’s assessment that these too are textual additions? If so, what is the objective evidence for that? How does Scribe B from Vaticanus annotate these?

    And also, how do you believe this matches up with the language of “subject to your husbands” (e.g. Titus 2) and the treatment of women in the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible?

    Since this is so interesting, I intend to signpost / link to it on my own blog.

    Thanks in advance, H

  • Jeff Miller

    Yes indeed, that would make sense. And that’s my point: He chose his words loosely. And in light of that word choice, I’m not ready to disregard his scholarship as unworthy of being taken seriously.

  • Scot, do you actually believe that the exemplar of Vaticanus omitted these verses based on the measurements of paragraphoi? I did not find this remotely convincing when I heard it two years ago (see here) and it is not any more so now. Peter Head says “this particular contribution is complete nonsense.”

  • Richard

    So we’ve been duped for 2,000 years? If it was proven conclusively that this verse was in the original, how would that affect your theology of gender roles?

  • Walker

    First cut out the troublesome passages, then turn teensy, unclear points into foundational material for sweeping doctrinal and ecclesiological change. A sound plan.

  • Marshall Janzen

    Even those who claim these verses came from Paul don’t seem to let them influence their theology. After all, they say with the emphasis of threefold repetition that women should be silent – not speak – in church. Even asking questions is ruled out, and though Paul had just said the services are a place for all to learn (verse 31), we now find out that means all men; any women who desire to learn must do so at home. These verses say nothing about women not being pastors or not preaching or not leading; they tell the women to shut up in church.

    These verses used to be clear. But today, I don’t know of any Christians, complementarian or otherwise, who take these verses as written and adopt this view. Thank God!

  • Marshall Janzen

    The passage in 1 Timothy 2 is a different ball of wax. There’s no textual issue, and more importantly, the two passages say very different things. The verses here tell women to be silent in church, and if they desire to learn, do it at home. 1 Timothy 2 instructs women to learn in quietness (not silently; Paul tells everyone to work in quietness in 2 Thess. 3:12 using the same word). What is prohibited to women there is teaching (before having learned?) and authority over men (domination?), and what that means and how Adam and Eve exemplify it and how childbirth connects are all highly debated.

    In 1 Timothy 2, the question is what the verses mean (and also, perhaps, whether Paul wrote the whole letter). In 1 Corinthians 14, the question is whether those two verses are Paul’s.

  • Richard

    Obviously complementarians would disagree. They seek to harmonise scripture with scripture, particularly a text like 1 Cor 11:5. You seem to be blaming them for not stripping this passage from it’s context, disreagarding qualifying verses and adopting a straight literal reading. I doubt you would promote that method with the rest of the bible.

    So, do you think the non-Pauline authors of these verses have duped the church all this time? Does this mitigate the responsibility of those churches that have sought to apply this throughout history? Were they faithfully doing their best with what they had?

  • Marshall Janzen

    One reason the verses stand out as not by Paul (whether added later or Paul’s quote of the Corinthians’ own letter) is that they contradict so sharply with his own words, including in 1 Cor. 11, and even in chapter 14 (verses 1-5, 12, 24-26, 31 and 39 all contradict the idea of silencing women from using their gifts in church). Verses 34-35 don’t qualify these other verses; they flatly contradict! Attempts to harmonize them simply show that even “A” and “Not A” can be diluted until they both mean something in between.

    The church wasn’t duped all this time. Even though 1 Corinthians was the most-quoted epistle in the second century, these two verses were hardly quoted until the third century. For instance, Clement of Alexandria writes of how women are to “pray veiled” and men and women are to go to church “embracing silence,” yet he appears unaware that Paul commanded women specifically to be silent in church. This is hard to explain if 14:34-35 existed at the time and was thought to be Paul’s instruction.

    When the verses did start to be quoted, they fit into the dominant misogynist culture (something not at all limited to the church). For those looking to put down women, these verses became a potent weapon, and it was those other verses we mentioned that contradicted them that tended to get ignored or watered down. It’s noteworthy that most interpretations claiming 14:34-35 mean something far less than complete female silence in church (such as that it only restricts weighing prophecies) are even more recent than the rediscovery that they may be added or quoting the Corinthians.

  • Walker

    That’s a very strange thing to say about Romans 9, given that it brings together everything in 1-8. Those chapters gleefully cut the legs out from under anything humans attempt to bring to the table. That is also to ignore the whole Gospel of John, as well as good swathes of the Pentateuch, the prophets, Psalms, and the rest of the Scriptures.

  • Thanks for your thoughtful response Marshall. I certainly knew they were highly debated from my former days as an evangelical! I was wondering what Scot’s take would be since I am still debating Paul’s take on women from a non-theistic standpoint, often interested in making a sensible liberal Christian case on my own blog. As a liberal Christian, you basically have (at least?) two options: deny Paul’s authorship or deny Paul’s moral authority (by claiming context or that he was a little prejudiced).

    It is interesting how most other non-related use of ὑποταγ (i.e. submission), such as 2 Corinthians 9:13, appears for it to be a bad or unenviable state or unthinkable thing for Paul to claim. E.g. Luke 10:20; Romans 8:7, 10:3, 13:1-5,;1 Corinthians 15:27; Titus 2:9, 3:1, Hebrews 12:9. In 1 Peter 2:18, the author (probably not Peter) uses this word to describe slaves, then shortly after in the next chapter describes the ideal state of women with the same term. For me personally, you have to throw out the moral authority of these ancient writers and use some other guide like consciousness or conscience as your guide. Then again, that’s Jesus with his pesky “Golden Rule”!

  • Marshall Janzen

    Submission is complex in the NT. How can it be portrayed as bad or unenviable in 1 Cor. 15:27, for instance, when the next verse says the Son also will be subjected? The previous chapter says the “spirits of the prophets”, the sources of prophecy that elsewhere are identified with the Holy Spirit, are subjected to the prophets (14:32). And in the human realm, the NT has plenty to say about submission for men and women, slaves and free.

    There’s no uniqueness in the NT’s language of submission towards women and slaves. What is less common is using the same language for men and citizens, basically calling everyone to submission. Not a demeaning submission, but one that follows God’s example as seen most clearly in Jesus (e.g. foot washing and much else besides). That may not be the preferred way to argue for emancipation, but it can still result in a levelling, if the words are taken seriously (and, as you point out, fit together with the golden rule).

  • For those interested in another view, I wrote up some of my thoughts on Payne’s argument here: “More Payne, no gain on the distigmai

  • Lee Hughart
  • Lee Hughart

    Also true for “liberals” as well. We can’t pretend there is not an agenda on both sides.

    A numbers game of lining up scholars is not a productive way for coming to understanding. Studying the arguments/evidence for and against is how to come to sound positions.
    So here are some counter thoughts from textual critics. – This link has several further links and in the comments one link to a summary of the discussion with Payne and a scholar pointing out why the marks appear to be much later additions and Payne is not consistent in application of them.

  • Lee Hughart

    Check the counter arguments.

  • Lee Hughart

    Here is a link to Peter Gurry’s objections posted Sept 22, 2017. It has several links to the issue.

  • Natalia Kasa

    God “permits” because God left the Holy Spirit to work for us as a witness of the Scripture. If you listen to the Holy Spirit, He will lead you to the truth and this sort of things won’t make you stumble. But if you don’t, you are on your own… heading to your perdition.

  • Origen accepted these verses as scripture, has no particular difficulty in reconciling them with women’s prophetic ministry – the commandment in 1 Corinthians 14 concerns the assembly only – and in referring to the Montanists’ disregard of them, seems to imply that the rest of the church holds to them. Andrew

  • Marshall Janzen

    Yes, Tertulian (d. 240) and Origin (d. 253) are the earliest writers known to make use of these verses, though they are soon followed by more over the rest of the 3rd century. It’s worth noting that Origin’s words on this are preserved second-hand in collections of quotations (cantenae). This makes them much more difficult to date, and in some cases, even to verify as actually coming from him.

  • Suppose, for sake of argument, the verses are not original. Do you think it is plausible that they could be inserted later, without leaving any manuscripts with the original text, or any record of contention over the holy scripture being changed?

  • Marshall Janzen

    I think the verses’ different location in some Western manuscripts is record of some uncertainty over what to do with them.

    But my view is that they were originally Paul’s quotation of the Corinthians, perhaps somehow set off from his words in a way that became confusing to later scribes. I think this view best accounts for both the occasional displacement and uniform presence of the verses. It also better accounts for their standard placement after a conclusion (v. 33) and before a rebuke (v. 36), which is a good place for an opposing view but an odd place for a scribe to sneak in something extra.

  • How do you understand the two ētas in verse 36? They make perfect sense as ‘or’, after Paul’s implied rebuke of the Corinthians for allowing women to speak in their assemblies. Two alternatives are presented. 1) Their women keep quiet in the assemblies, as in the other assemblies (if para break after εἰρήνης). 2) The word of God came to them only, in which case they have authority to determine their own practice.

    What do you mean by ‘set off in some way’? With extra words to indicate a quotation? With marks of some sort?

    I appreciate your taking the time to explain your view,


  • Marshall Janzen

    Hi Andrew, I don’t want to take this too far afield, but thanks for your interest. Here’s a link if you want to read my take on it: Orderly Participation or Silenced Women? Clashing Views on Decent Worship in 1 Corinthians 14

  • Thanks, Marshall. I think Paul is speaking primarily to the men, as in the Torah, for example (the tenth commandment etc). So it’s not really so jarring to say that the women must be silent after speaking of participation by all – rather, it’s a clarification, at the same time as addressing their unruliness in this regard.


  • So when do you imagine that it was made?

  • Anthony Thiselton in his commentary on 1 Corinthians says that Niccum refutes Payne and J. M. Ross refutes Gordon Fee.

  • ‘I don’t know of any Christians, complementarian or otherwise, who take these verses as written and adopt this view.’

    Well, there are all the brethren assemblies in the UK for starters, Derek Prince ( 90 seconds), Steve Atkerson (House Church Theology), any others who are willing to submit to the word of God as it has been gracefully preserved for us for our good.


  • Tavis Bohlinger

    Peter Head normally doesn’t mince words, for which we should all be grateful.