It’s no secret that the debate over female ordination continues to forge on in various sectors of the Christian world, but an academic’s new claims about a Bible verse that is used to push back against female clergy could further invigorate discussion on the issue.
In an article written in the journal “New Testament Studies,” Philip Barton Payne, founder and president of Linguist’s Software, Inc., argued that 1 Corinthians 14:34 might not be original to the Apostle Paul’s text, the Telegraph reported.
If true, this would be significant, seeing as some look to this verse when it comes to precluding women from becoming pastors. Of course, a claim and substantiation of a claim are two very different things. The text of the verse reads, “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.”
Payne argues that the verse is not original to the text and that a symbol next to the text that was placed there by someone known as “scribe B” indicates that this individual scribe felt it had been added into the book later on.
In conducting his analysis, Payne relied on the Codex Vaticanus, one of the “oldest complete (or nearly complete) manuscripts,” according to Got Questions. He claims to have found a symbol known as the “distigme-obelos” next to the text. The symbol includes to small dots and a dash, the Telegraph reported.
Payne’s argument centers on the idea that the symbol was placed in the text by a scribe to indicate his belief that it wasn’t original; he also argues that the verse is inconsistent with 1 Corinthians 11:5, which discusses women prophesying. He argued that the verse appears in different places in various versions of the text as well — another clue that he believes could mean it was added later.
Others, though, are pushing back, including Pieter Lalleman, a biblical studies expert at Spurgeon’s College, who told Christian Today that the verse’s different placements doesn’t necessarily mean anything sinister.
“The fact that some manuscripts have the passage in a different location [at the end of chapter 14] can be explained by the fact that at one stage a copyist forgot the verses and added them at the end of the chapter,” he countered. “The fact is that no single surviving manuscript omits the two verses altogether.”
Read more about the debate here. One other important note: As Got Questions highlights, there are other theories surrounding 1 Corinthians 14:34, including the notion that the verse applied to a specific audience and church that Paul was addressing.
As Faithwire previously reported, the debate over female clergy forges on. A poll released earlier this year found that the vast majority of Americans — 79 percent — are comfortable with female priests or pastors. But among evangelicals, who tend to have what the Barna Group called “a more traditional interpretation of the scriptures,” just 39 percent expressed comfortability with this.
Another somewhat shocking result is that 80 percent of Catholics are comfortable with female priests and pastors, a proportion that is higher than the 74 percent of Protestants who said the same; the Catholic Church does not allow female priests.