Dialog on Women
Correspondence on 7/13/05
You write: I myself find
Ben Witherington’s (a supporter of women in ministry
and a professor at Asbury seminary) position more
credible. These I Corinthians verses are not
interpolations and Witherington holds that
certain married Corinthian women were
asking inappropriate questions and that worship was being
disrupted. Furthermore, "these [Corinthian] women assumed that
Christian prophets or prophetesses functioned much like the oracle at
Me: I am not dogmatic about 1 Cor.
14:34-35 being an interpolation. I just think this is the most likely
conclusion given the evidence. While there is slim external textual
evidence for this, there is some (the displacement of the verses in the so
called Western tradition). All evangelical churches and even most
fundamentalist churches accept the methods of textual science, including the
If the verses are original--and I certainly accept this as a possibility--then I would agree with Witherington that the problem is worship disruption by women asking questions in the middle of prophecy. On the other hand, I personally believe that Witherington has a tendency to put forward specific reconstructions that go way beyond anything we could substantiate given the evidence we have. They are possible, but often go way beyond anything we could really conclude with certainty. He seems very idiosyncratic on so many of his ideas.
You: The 1 Tim 2:12-15 passage seems to be better explained by Black and McClung in their 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon commentary as pages 56-66. They see that this passage is not a universal principle but one that is particular for a particular circumstance (or even today if one looks for orderly worship by both male and female followers of Christ). I myself have had both male and female clergy in the churches where we have been members.
Me: Do I disagree with this somewhere? I of course believe the passage would apply to a situation or society with the identical circumstances as 1 Timothy. I just don't think such a place exists any more.