What If Parts Of The Bible Are Wrong?

Larry Hurtado
Larry Hurtado

I came across something interesting at Larry Hurtado’s blog the other day titled Paul and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. I had just finished reading 1 Corinthians as part of my annual “read the Bible cover-to-cover in one year” effort (through admittedly, this is the first year I’ve made the attempt in quite a long time).

Hurtado was discussing Philip B. Payne’s recent article Vaticanus Distigme-obelos Symbols Marking Added Text, Including 1 Corinthians 14.34–5. Referencing the paper, Hurtado states in part:

The…story focuses on the view espoused in Payne’s article that vv. 34-35 are an interpolation inserted into some copies of 1 Corinthians, probably originating as some reader’s marginal note, and then incorporated into the copy-stream at some early point. But, actually, for a number of years now an increasing number of scholars have reached this basic conclusion. Indeed, in his article Payne points to the numerous scholars who agree that vv. 34-35 are not an original part of Paul’s letter. For example, note Gordon D. Fee’s judgment in his commentary: “The First Epistle to the Corinthians,” New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 705-8.

Okay, so what does that mean? It means there are a number of scholars who have long believed verses 34-35 in 1 Corinthians 14 were not part of the original epistle and in fact were a reader’s note in the margin that was later erroneously incorporated into the formal text.

What are these verses?

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (NASB)

According to Hurtado, the general reason for scholarly agreement on this point is:

The verses seem to go against practically everything else in Paul’s uncontested letters pertaining to women’s involvement in the churches.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons.

The first is the general belief that the Bible in toto is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God and is not to be questioned in even the slightest degree. Of course, this depends on the level of sophistication and education of the reader, but there are a lot of Christians who basically say God said it, I believe it, that settles it.

I work with a fellow who is very nice and friendly and he is a Christian who basically approaches the Bible this way. Occasionally, he tries to engage me in a little theological discussion and I tend to put him off. I know from painful experience that if I tell him what I believe and what I believe about what he believes, it will not end well.

Coffee and BibleThe second, building on my first, is that if we know or have good reason to believe there are “questionable” verses and phrases in the Bible, shouldn’t we make it our business to find out what they are so we don’t use them to commit an injustice?

There probably are churches (probably conservative and many of them rural) that do preach women being silent within their walls and that expect women who may have questions about what they hear from the pulpit or in Sunday School to wait until they get home to ask their husbands (who may or may not have a good understanding of what was said) what it all means.

Now I’ve never had that sort of experience in any church or congregation I’ve attended. Women did seem to be active, questioning members of those religious communities, so there obviously are churches that simply set aside those verses or at least believe Paul meant to address a local matter rather than pronouncing some sort of universal truth.

Even if a Pastor, who hopefully was educated at a formal accredited seminary, keeps up on the latest Biblical research, it’s not likely you’ll hear the findings of that research being preached from the pulpit (or on Christian radio), so the average Christian in the pew will be totally unaware of this information.

After all, it doesn’t have anything to do with a Christian’s salvation or going to Heaven when they die.

I know that sounds cynical, but it can be really frustrating when I hear some Pastor on Christian radio say that you can’t be a believer unless you go to church and are in fellowship, realizing that what they’re advocating (whether they intend to or not) is, for the most part, corporate ignorance.

That said, most or at least a lot of believers don’t want to know anything that makes them feel uncomfortable about the Bible or their faith. It’s one of the reasons Evangelicals are believed to be superstitious, unsophisticated, anti-science, Luddites. They seem to have missed what Paul said about the Bereans.

I’m no teacher or scholar, and I’m no smarter than the average bear, but at least I try to learn a little bit more about the Bible and other things today than I knew yesterday or last year.

Christians have historically bent, twisted, and mutilated the Bible for their own purposes, at least those Christians in charge of Bible translations and laying out what is “sound doctrine,” so I don’t have a problem investigating said-doctrine to see if they’re wrong about something.

My wife calls me a Christian (her being a Jew) and she tries not to say it as a pejorative (most of the time), but while that’s true in the broadest possible sense, I’m certainly atypical relative to the vast majority of churches in my local community as well as in the nation (and the world).

Consider this blog article to be a small cautionary tale. Before you use the Bible to beat someone up or to establish and inflate your own superiority as “saved,” you might want to check and see if the Bible says what your Pastor or Sunday School teacher tells you it says.

Actress Alexis Bledel in the television show “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

In this one specific case, it is highly unlikely that the Apostle Paul was advocating for muzzling women in “church.”

I put the word “church” in quotes because every time it’s mentioned in the New Testament, the word isn’t really “church,” nor is it likely Paul meant the Greek word Ekklesia to mean “church” in the modern sense (for more on this rant, see Notes on the Church from an Insomniac and When is Church not Church?).


37 thoughts on “What If Parts Of The Bible Are Wrong?”

  1. I don’t find that this statement disagrees with Paul’s opinion on women in the church. You constantly see him saying women are to submit to their husbands, which this statement certainly fits into. The scary thing about this is that he says “as the Law says”. Obviously, the Torah says no such thing. But, whether this was or wasn’t written by his hand, it certainly is a practice that was built off of his instruction by the “church”.

    Another example that troubles me about Paul is found in Romans 10:8 and his use of Deut. 30:14 to substantiate that you cannot be righteous by keeping Torah. That text explicitly says you can! Some people may try to justify this using the “he was a Pharisee….”, but I can’t see a Rabbinical interpretation or Midrashic statement ever saying such a thing.

    1. My general understanding of Paul relative to the Torah and righteousness, if just “keeping the rules” does not establish righteousness, but observing the Torah mitzvot through faith in Hashem (for the Jew) does. That’s why he strongly discourages Gentiles from converting to Judaism under that mistaken belief that they *must* be Jewish and observe the full scope of the Law in order to be reconciled with Hashem.

  2. It seems to me that questions about verses of this sort fit into a larger category of how reliable are these texts and how should they be interpreted and applied. One must ask: if these verses were inserted into some texts from marginal notes, why were those notes written in the first place? Did some early copyist (the advent of printing still being some 14 centuries hence) neglect to include something present in the actual original manuscript of Rav Shaul’s letter, so that it was appropriate to note it by hand and later restore it in subsequent copies? Or could it have been something taught by Rav Shaul in a particular place, even if it was not included in the original letter, so that a later scribe would have wished to include it in an appropriate place as if it had been part of the letter sent by Rav Shaul? Presumably, it was not just something made up by later copyists. Since these copyists and their readers valued the teachings and their author so highly, it seems unlikely that anyone could just slip something new into the text without it being noticed and protested.

    However, even a completely reliable text still presents challenges of interpretation, particularly if its content is to be harmonized with other teachings from the same author who must be presumed not to contradict himself. Doing so may require recognizing that a policy or doctrine emphasized in one locale may not have been applied equally to another locale. In Judaism we recognize limited applications of this sort as a “hora-at sha’ah” (temporary injunction) or as a “minhag ha-makom” (local custom). Not every instruction in every letter is necessarily to be understood as chiseled in stone, as if it were another tablet of Torah to be applied in all places and in every era with equal force. Even the original Torah is not to be treated in such a manner, which is why rabbis have been diligently studying and interpreting Torah for millennia in order to develop its applications to fit each generation of Jews in a variety of locations and circumstances.

    Moreover there remains the overriding challenge of recognizing the cultural contexts and applying this to the interpretive process. If translators and their readers fail to appreciate this, they will misread the meaning of the text, and misapply its presumed instructions.

    1. Thank you for all the detailed information and your eloquence, PL. You seem to be supporting my main point that not everything in the Bible should be taken as a universal law applied to all people and places across time.

  3. And, as I submitted my last post, I was able to see the exchange between James and “willandtonya” about the “faith versus works” misunderstanding. Just as Judaism emphasizes the necessity of “kavanah” in prayer, in recognition of HaShem’s complaint against Israel, cited in Is.29:13-14 as: “Then Adonai said, ‘Because this people draws near with their words, And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.’ “, so also it understands that the keeping of mitzvot is more than just going through the motions. There is an attitude of trust in HaShem that must energize a mitzvah if it is to have any meaning or benefit to the individual or to a community in becoming more morally upright. Thus, no one becomes righteous by merely going through the motions, but, on the other hand, we see Yacov’s comments (in Jam.2) emphasizing that both actions and faith are required: one energizing the other and one demonstrating the other. But all of this forms the background that explicates what Rav Shaul wrote to the Roman assembly. Without the background, it doesn’t make sense or it seems contradictory. But a proper understanding of the context proves the necessary perspective.

  4. The Talmud agrees with the need for a faithfulness inside to properly uphold Torah outside 🙂

    “From within and from without you shall cover it” (Exodus 25:11). Rava said: This alludes to the idea that any Torah scholar whose inside is not like his outside, i.e., whose outward expression of righteousness is insincere, is not to be considered a Torah scholar.
    -Talmud, Yoma 72b

  5. I forgot also to address the issue of the Torah clearly demonstrating the propriety of women submitting to their husbands and to other honored authorities, even if there is no explicit superficial textual command to do so. One may, however, derive some force from HaShem’s observation to Havah in Gen.3:16 that her husband would rule over her, as a consequence of her believing the serpent’s lie and acting on it by also corrupting her husband’s behavior. Rav Shaul was not wrong to say that the Torah teaches the hierarchical submission of women to male authority, as well as the submission of men to authorities above them, including the Messiah (the anointed king) and HaShem.

  6. It does seem strange that Paul would allow women to prophesy and pray in 1 Cor. 11, only to forbid women from speaking in 1 Cor. 14 after a lengthy defense of the gift of prophesy itself. Yet today, the rule that women must wear head coverings is seen as cultural, whereas being silent is sometimes regarded as trans-cultural. It’s just looks like picking and choosing verses that can be used to treat women differently to me.

    1. @Jamie — I don’t suppose you might be neglecting the significant differences between praying, prophesying, and preaching/teaching? The first is self-expression; though in a Jewish or a pseudo-Jewish gentile discipleship context it would be constrained by liturgical structures that represent higher authority. The second ought to be a reflection of HaShem’s Spirit that requires authoritative confirmation of its authenticity. In the case of a woman, there is to be a visible reminder of such authority in the symbol of a head covering. The third case is one which raises the question of appropriate authority, since one who exercises it is standing in the position of authority over those who must learn (which is a form of submission). Even with a head covering, this presents a conflict with the formal public hierarchical authority structure if a woman teaches men, which explains why Rav Shaul did not permit it.

      One may note, however, that there is a difference between the public structure of authority and that in the home, where one must expect much less formality, and more give-and-take sharing; though children still are expected to learn from (submit to) parents, and a wife is still expected to respect and honor her husband. Nonetheless, the home especially is where she is to be honored, including its extensions into the business world as seen in the example of Prov.31. One must thus infer different categories of learning, wherein she may be expert in matters unknown to her husband, just as he is deemed to be more responsible for expertise in matters of Torah and public praxis.

      Of course, 1Cor.14 also implies the circumstance of a woman lacking knowledge of Torah, as taught in the public venue, who wishes to learn, who should begin by learning from her supposedly more knowledgeable husband. In the public venue, she should not be wasting everyone’s time with elementary questions which could better be answered in a freer forum. It implies a cultural circumstance in which men were given (or exposed to) training that was generally not available to women. It also implies a responsibility for husbands to become apt to teach, beginning in their own home. I picture Barbara Streisand in the film “Yentl” pretending to be a man and trying to encourage “his” wife to learn Talmud, which learning otherwise would be denied her. Clearly, that cultural situation is far removed from our own nowadays. What, then, do we learn from Rav Shaul’s instructions that were directed at a different situation? Must we dig deeper to understand the psycho-sexual dynamics pertaining to the authority structures established by HaShem before the development of any such cultural circumstances, in order to continue to apply them to our own very different current cultural structures? We must identify the commonalities among them to represent them properly, even as we identify the differences that may alter prior generations’ culturally-influenced instructions. This is precisely a reflection of the dynamic between the unchanging Torah and the development of halachah to apply it and enact it in any given generation.

      We ought also to recognize the difference between general rules and exceptions to them. It is the exceptions which illustrate the reasoning behind the generalities. For example, can we envision how Rav Shaul would have responded to a woman such as Rabbi Akiva’s wife Beruriah who was recognized as an outstanding scholar at a level even beyond his own? Now, she lived about a century later than Rav Shaul, and at the moment I can’t think of any example of a similar woman scholar in his own century; but such a one could have existed. How might he have justified an exception to allow her to teach in a public forum? Would he have denied a group of male scholars the benefit of learning from her considerable contribution of expertise? I think he was much more pragmatic than that. He would not overturn the general rule he expressed in 1Cor.14, but instead would emphasize the exceptional nature of a special circumstance, possibly even invoking the formal declaration of a “hora-at sha’ah” such as I mentioned in a previous post.

      Perhaps we must ask some variations of the title question for the essay above. What if parts of the bible are wrong? What if parts of the bible are wrongly understood? What if parts of the bible are just plain missing? What if parts of the bible have been edited for clarity, with the help of added interpolations? Does that render the whole as invalid or “wrong”? Seeking the answers to such questions is where other Jewish literature (and even some ancient non-Jewish literature) contributes much enlightenment.

  7. Proclaimliberty I’m sorry I didn’t clarify better, but I was referring to the prohibition about women speaking in the assembly rather than women submitting to husbands etc.

  8. Also, pertaining to faith and works, I don’t question Paul’s stance on that, though he does seem to exalt faith (belief, his emphasis on believing Jesus is Messiah for salvation) rather than faithfulness (action based on belief) as the priority. My problem was, as I stated, his unacceptable and perverted use of Deut. 30 as an example of one of the problems, as in the passage discussed, I have with his writings.

    1. I imagine that Rav Shaul might find some perplexity in the notion that faith and faithfulness are somehow different. In both Hebrew and Greek, one word means both and demands both, which is why Yacov cites in his letter the need for both the works of faithfulness and the trusting faith that impels them. Rav Shaul’s use of Deut.30 is not perverted, but merely misunderstood by those reading a translation that fails to represent the fullness and the inclination of his thinking. I hope you find my reply to “Jamie” sufficiently to address the 1Cor.14 issue.

  9. This is one of those passages in the Bible that, if contextually misread, has fueled untold pain for women over two millennia.

    It unsettled me that the sibylline oracle girl in Acts 16:16 was a prophetess, seer, and temple steward in the Delphic world, yet upon conversion she would have to descend to the station of yet another muzzled woman amid believers. What a tumble! I surely hope that there is more to that Corinthians passage than first blush.

    I hope in epochs yet to be that there are female priests.

  10. Acts 16:16-40New International Version (NIV)

    Paul and Silas in Prison
    16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

    19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said,These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.

    22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

    25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

    29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

    31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

    35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”

    37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”

    38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.

    [I added the italics — in verse twenty-one.]

    It’s possible that throwing out the spirit
    freed the female slave from slavery —
    or, at least, from being called upon.

    At least we know the owners could no
    longer parasitically profit off the gospel.
    [No longer through her; other ways would,
    inevitably, come up, including through men…
    not to mention, her owners likely included men.]

  11. PL, “Rav Shaul’s use of Deut.30 is not perverted, but merely misunderstood by those reading a translation that fails to represent the fullness and the inclination of his thinking.” I think the context disagrees with this opinion you have given. He equates the Deuteronomy 30 to “his gospel” (“the word of faith we preach”, as he calls it) stating “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

    I’m at a loss to understand how I misunderstand?

    1. @willandtonya — If you need a more precise description of Rav Shaul’s use of Deut.30:14 in Rom.10:8, call it midrashic. It is not at all unlike the biblical references in various midrashim. His connection between Torah and the approach to Rav Yeshua is more complex and nuanced than I can present here right now, as I’m just returning home from Yom Kippur services and typing this on my phone.

  12. I participated in a conversation (which it barely is when there is an absolutist approach to doctrine) — elsewhere — where it was being emphasised that women fall for things, and therefore shouldn’t be leaders (or really in any way independent). One verse that was “proof” was the one about “silly” women led astray. Yet, who were they led astray by? Oops, some men. But the plain logic was supposed to be that they (and not only they, but, the “true” [ostensible] point of the word of God to church people, all women) continue to be followers… of men. [It’s fine for women, or men, to follow in appropriate situations, as a function of productive cooperation… but not to demand that women must, definitionally, follow men.]

    I’m glad you wrote this opening meditation, James. Whatever the exact reason, people need to understand that taking marching orders from the bible isn’t simple. And sometimes, “interpretation” can be pretty dang blind. I will add another thought (not a perfect analogy, but decent): The “law” of gravity doesn’t make it “wrong” to get a plane off the ground. The man “will rule you” is a statement over a fallen narrative in time. I will not denigrate the work of the Spirit.

    I agree with your sensibility in stating: * … if we know or have good reason to believe there are “questionable” verses and phrases in the Bible, shouldn’t we make it our business to find out what they are so we don’t use them to commit an injustice? *

    I believe God will help us to understand intuitively (the best word I can come up with at the moment, just to try and get a concept across) some of these matters. Additionally, I am thankful for trustworthy scholars who can assist in some ways. Mark Nanos is one who has conveyed that (for instance) some of the “books”/letters attributed to Paul are not Paul. [And, of course, Paul isn’t all that matters, but that is who Mark Nanos focuses on studying.]

  13. PL, “His connection between Torah and the approach to Rav Yeshua is more complex and nuanced than I can present here right now” I hope you will consider this statement you made in light of the fact that the letter of Romans was written to “Gentiles” and not Jews who would be acquainted with such a style of interpretation (though I am pretty confident you will have a very difficult time finding a Midrash changing the meaning of a text in this manner, if at all).

    Whether one be a Rabbi, Pastor, or whatever, you cannot change the meaning of a text to fit your teaching. You cannot change the focus on the text to something it has nothing even remotely to do with it. Further, the Rabbinic styles of interpretation do not allow this kind of liberty at all.

    Anyhow, I see we aren’t going to agree on this, but thank you for a civil dialogue. Yah bless

    1. @willandtonya — I hope you will find my posts of 1Oct enlightening, because the very nature of the midrashic literature counters your assertion about “rabbinic interpretation” and its approach to the meaning of various texts. I have, in fact, read midrashim that play with various texts in exactly the same manner as I’ve described above in my analysis of Rav Shaul’s citations in Romans 9-10. As for the gentile Roman disciples, it does not matter whether they were yet familiar with rabbinic interpretive techniques. With this letter, Rav Shaul was introducing himself to them, because he had not yet been to Rome to meet them in person. He was, nonetheless, exercising his authorized calling as the apostle sent to the gentiles. As such, his theological assertions and methods of scriptural interpretation were not subject to their criticism or scrutiny — they would no doubt become familiar with his teaching style in due course and they were in no position to feel superior or dismissive (though Rav Shaul did caution them in chapter 11 about any such boastful attitudes). We who live twenty centuries later have an advantage if we choose to avail ourselves of knowledge about Jewish literature, because it can show us other examples of methodologies such as employed by Rav Shaul; and it can caution us not to judge Rav Shaul out of ignorance.

  14. @Marleen — I appreciated reading your response to “Sleepwalker”, who suggested that the slave-girl of Acts 16:16 would suffer a “tumble” of reduction in status if she were to become part of the community of Rav Yeshua’s gentile disciples. You rightly emphasized that she was a slave and that it would be disingenuous to view her as some sort of exalted seer or oracle. Her gifts, whatever they were, were harnessed to the plow of financial gain, at least. At worst, she was also a slave to a form of demonic oppression that impinged on her sanity, her mental acuity, and any sense of personal proprietorship. She was not even owner of her own mind. Most of us today, at least in the western world, take that privilege for granted — so much so, that many become lazy about exercising that sense of independence and relinquish their ability to think critically, allowing others to do their thinking for them and being led astray by all manner of foolishness and worse.

    As regarding the status she might have had once restored to her own mind, in various cultural settings of the era — Setting her free from her slavery would have depended on whether her owners (note the plural) could be convinced to do so. The power of HaShem through Rav Yeshua, as demonstrated by Rav Shaul and Silas, might have had some impact on them if they also were impressed by its effect on the jailor and his family, perhaps sometime later as the Philippian assembly may have grown in size and influence. Nonetheless, even as a free woman she would have been subject to societal constraints. The pagan world had no lack of them, and they affected various categories of men as well as women. Consequently, the constraints exercised in a public assembly of Rav Yeshua’s gentile disciples, to encourage orderly proceedings, were certainly no worse and arguably freer and more respectful in a community of those who recognized themselves as having repented of sins and having become dedicated to seeking righteousness. Would this gentile girl ever have benefitted from the Jewish outlook which included the influence of Prov.31? Possibly so, even in the community of gentile disciples, were she to have joined it. But societal status is complex in any society, influenced by numerous factors, that may include age, education, prosperity, talents, marital and familial conditions, and behavioral history, as well as gender.

    Consequently, imagining this poor girl as a potential victim of the future community of disciples in Philippi, on the basis of misreading 1Cor.14 as citing a rule as a form of general oppression against women, is unjustifiably contentious, and just begging to find trouble where none existed. In a previous post, I tried to elaborate the background of the passage — but more to the point is the matter of what modern readers of the passage may misuse it for, if they fail to delve into its depths or to learn from it in order to apply it for good purposes.

  15. @willandtonya — I haven’t forgotten about my insufficient response in my last post to you just after the end of Yom HaKippurim here in Jerusalem. I’m trying to find the time today (bli neder) to write up a more detailed exposition of the use of midrashic technique by Rav Shaul in the Rom.10 passage. Let me merely note at the outset that midrash differs from exegesis. It is instead one of the few uses of eisegesis that can be justified by the subtle insights that it can extract from an associative consideration of multiple passages. It is not a direct derivation of implications from a text, but rather it is an assertion whose justification must come from multiple sources. In this case, one of those sources is an association between the Torah and Rav Yeshua, such as we see expressed also in Jn.14:6 where Rav Yeshua employs a known phrase summarizing the Torah to himself as an embodiment of it (which should be the goal of every ‘hasid), to speak as if on its behalf. Another association may be from Ps.86:11-13. And there is the Deut.30 association that we have noted. What we have in this Rom.10 passage is a classic example of midrash where multiple verses are cited to support a grander picture than implied by any of individual passages. It may be also an example of what Kefa described in 1Pet.3:16 as writings of Rav Shaul that are “hard to understand”, and which “the untaught and unstable distort”. Stay tuned to see if I can come up with a clearer exposition of how he pulled these together to offer his insightful assertion about Rav Yeshua, and what that assertion actually was.

  16. @willandtonya — We might begin our deliberations with Rom.9, in which we see Rav Shaul citing a distinction between the notion of “the flesh”, or physicality, as against a “promise”, which is an ephemeral category. In vs.4-5, he lists blessings that belong to Jews on a physical, covenantal level. Then he begins to develop the sense of this distinction that is stated explicitly in v.8. Now, he is not denying the physical reality of Jews as descendants of Abraham’s son Yitzhak. He is leaving the obvious facts and meaning of the Torah’s simple straightforward “pshat” in order to make a more subtle point about behavior and attitude, whereby his statements and analogies draw on “hints” or “remez” in order to “draw out” (lidrosh => “drash”) this subtle meaning. A bit later on, he draws the gentiles into the discussion by means of hidden meanings (“sod”) by which he applies verses regarding Jews analogously to a particular sub-category of gentiles.

    Similarly, in chapter 10, he begins with the straightforward reference to Lev.18:5 in Rom.10:5. Then he turns in vs.6-7 to Deut.30:12-13 to employ the analogy I cited above in my last post about Rav Yeshua as an embodiment of Torah. He likens the notion of climbing into the heavens, to find the Torah, to doing the same to find the messiah Rav Yeshua. This would be akin to ignoring the realization of the messianic ideal (at least the ben-Yosef part), already on earth in the physical existence of Rav Yeshua. Similarly, he employs a certain ambiguity about the Hebrew phrase in Deut.30:13 about the sea, which could refer to crossing the sea to a distant place beyond it, or it could refer to seeking under the depths of the sea (as a deep abyss) for something hidden there. He uses the latter rendering to present an analogy about seeking the messiah hidden among the dead in order to bring him forth from there (which would be ignoring his resurrection). This kind of ambiguity offers fair game to the midrashic associative thinker; and in both cases it suggests going to excessively great lengths to find something that is already right under one’s nose, so to speak. Then in Rom.10:11 he cites Is.28:16 to invoke the notion of a reliable foundation stone; and in Rom.10:13 he cites Joel 3:5 (2:32 in Christian bibles) to invoke the notion of an escaping remnant whose trust in HaShem will provide rescue (salvation) from their trouble. Is he mixing metaphors? Of course; but midrashim do that to assert their points from multiple perspectives. Rav Shaul continues in this chapter to cite verses that express some aspect of each assertion he is trying to make and illustrate, including the point that many of his Jewish kinsmen are stubborn about ignoring what should be obvious; but we have now gone beyond the original question about his use of Deut.30.

    Nonetheless, lest his prideful Roman gentile readers should think that such stubborn resistance would disqualify the Jews from continuing as Hashem’s chosen people, Rav Shaul begins chapter 11 with statements that he is still a Jew, and that HaShem has in no degree given up on the Jewish people. He has not rejected them, nor replaced them with somebody else, and will not do so despite anything they might have done. This is an important point to keep in mind, particularly when some Jews cite the notion of “Hester Panim”, of HaShem “hiding His Face” from the Jewish people, in the exile after the temple’s destruction in 70 CE or after the failure of the Bar-Kochva revolt in 135 CE. It raises interesting questions about how HaShem has continued to interact with Jews more subtly, we might even suggest in a clandestine manner, during the exile – and more questions about what may be happening now that this exile is ending. But that, as they say, is another story.

  17. http://www.attalus.org/docs/other/inscr_24.html

    This might be interesting to someone. One thing to notice is repeated reference to law (in addition to some examples of specifics). So, when the word “law” is used in the letters of apostles or of disciples, I have concluded it doesn’t always mean Torah or bible or law from the Father of Yeshua or brought through Moses.

    1. Right you are, Marleen. There are a few places where Rav Shaul talks about law or legality in a generic sense rather than in direct relationship with the Torah. One of them is where he talks about the dividing wall separating gentiles from Jews, and the “law of ordinances” that has been cancelled and nailed to the cross. What he’s referring to is actually a declaration of a verdict of judgment from a court, and not Torah at all. He uses that image to describe to his gentile readers that the judgment against them has been cancelled by their trust in the Messiah, so that henceforth they are free to seek to live righteously.

  18. @Marleen @PL

    Marleen’s rebuttal about the sibylline oracle is baseless speculation.

    Paul instructed slaves to return to their masters and to dutifully obey them, to remain long-suffering for the Kingdom, etc. So making the passage about a mini-exodus is sort of tenuous. And even if in this one instance she were provably freed, it still leaves hanging a larger question.

    My question still stands due to history itself. It’s plain to see that in the non-monotheistic faiths, for instance, women tended to enjoy a priestess status that that they are completely bereft of in the Hebrew faith. There are no priestesses allowed in the Temple. Why not?

    This has somewhat troubled me in recent years. Women dedicate time and energy to G-d, and yet they remain less worthy to intercede by fault of naught but birth. I can see traces of this in the fact that Torah allows the male head to abrogate the vows of an adjunct female, interceding for the woman after a sort. Intercession seems very male.

    As to Greek religious customs, I’m not sure many people on this thread study this very often, but you can read Plutarch or The Golden Bough and notice clearly that seers were revered in Greek society. Herodotus described them as pivotal during the Battle of Salamis, if I recall. Some “bound” individuals served as functionaries, commanders, and viceroys. To wit, Hermotimus of Pedasa was a eunuch sold as a slave to King Xerxes, and he enjoyed more power and military command than nearly many a free man of his time. Seers of the Greek world were constantly in trance and prayer, and seemed to have to be maintained, transported even, much like any priestly caste. So I could imagine they would require handlers and keepers. Road managers, if you will.

    At any rate, if becoming a silent woman is the female’s price of admission into the Kingdom…something about that rubs me raw. Hellenistic culture built monuments of women elegant, beautiful, robust, and ardent with spiritual power. Yet attitudes toward women are difficult to pin down in the Hellenistic world. Each city state hosted a vastly different sexual ethic with women. Laconia allowed them to strip and compete in battle games and made them close to equals (The Republic, Plato), whereas democratic Athens wrapped them in chadors for its familial prudishness ( see any Attican urn). If Paul’s admonition to keep silent is true in the traditional sense, then one would have to say “better for a woman to serve in Heaven than rule in Greece.”

    I find myself really siding with the ladies on this one. I hope that the “keep silent” text is misunderstood and not what it sounds like. I really do.

    1. My dear Sleepwalker — may I recommend that you try to rouse yourself to sufficient wakefulness to read the explanations I’ve posted above, regarding the matter of when women are to keep silent, in what limited context, and for what reason? Rav Shaul gave instructions that served the needs of the cultural context he addressed. A modern analysis of those needs may suggest some alterations to fit other cultural contexts. Nonetheless, we are not observing here some general anti-female social suppression; and there do exist psycho-sexual dynamics that must be accommodated in any culture due to HaShem’s design of statistically distinctive characteristics in each of His two genders. His Torah offers guidance toward optimizing the strengths and weaknesses of each, as they work individually or in combinations for various tasks.

  19. I’ve often speculated that G-d wants women to be priests and regnant in positions of holiness, but that perhaps Torah and Paul offer concessions to work within the world that is.

  20. Peace be to all and a good health.
    Hello guys, we saw the many intelligent researcher and viewer in this blog but the problem was they just only criticized those mistakes they knew in the writings of A. Paul, which were only plundered by many psuedo gentile scholars, to the reason they will also use it as proof for them as also in the message writings of  A. Paul but the truth is they were only corrupted translation and twisted meaning that favoring them! And these mistake were many in all Paul’s letter. And this problem would be noted also in within the scriptures of A. Paul, for being called an apostles to the gentiles! But those scholars (Israelites and gentiles) did not know that the terminology have a certain period in the New Covenant Plan of God for its application to Paul’s authority to the gentiles! Its because at the time of A. Paul election, he is in within the Messianic Covenant Period! And this Messianic Covenant of Yeshua M. or Christianity was an Exclusive Covenant to the Covenantal Israelite people! And from this truth, those gentiles that corrupted and overcome the scriptures of A. Paul is for their own interest, and who were they now to be classify? And the truth of this fact, that the sacred Word of God regarding to the Concluding Revelation in the Plan of God for the Parousia Period or the 2nd Advent of Christ were all revealed entrusted and rewarded to a genuine Jew and it is A. Paul to wrote it. And we have already posted it in this blog. And to this fact, many preachers that make quotation on Paul’s letter without knowing these will be wrong.

    And here is also another revelation of A. Paul in Rom. 11:26-27 ” that all Israel shall be saved as it is written.” It is wrong notion to take it literally as many Israelites believed. Because in verse 27 – as also part of the statement context, which means they were still oblige to observe the Covenant Plan to Yeshua M.. And for not only knowing, that there was already a written accomplished report by A. John on the fulfill SEALING of all the 144, 000 Chosen Call Out Israelites that was worked out alone by Yeshua M. for 2000 years in literal and spiritual means at 12,000 representation of its tribes in Rev. 7:1-8 & 14:1-5.. And this is what A. Paul clarifying as it is written. But what the many Israelites do not know here, is about the great mortality of the Israeli people that were condemn for not complying to the First Call of God for their judgment and thier to be salvation, if they only listen. But don’t lost your hope, for thou still have a Last Chance! Because God have set the Grace Extension Period for all those Leftseeds, that were now already crossbreed with those literal gentiles of different nationalities. And this is if they will comply to the Will Plan of God, read 1Tes. 4:16-17, for the assurance of one’s salvation!
    May our living lord God Bless us all.

    LOVE : New Jerusalem – Holy City

  21. P. S. 
    Furrher elaboration on  A. Paul to the gentiles, which have two prophetical meaning that was assigned to him and to help and work out  the so called gentiles that were also heirs to the Kingdom to understand their salvation, which he refers to the 10 North Kingdom of Israel that was separated to the House of Judah at that time. And the second meaning of the so called gentiles is were those Leftseeds from the Messianic that were now Crossbreed with those literal gentile of different nationalities. Which A. Paul proclaim their possibilties to be GRAFTED AGAIN to the Original Vines or they can be also acquire to the Promise Salvation of God! Paul noted very well the gentile term he used, that he will work out and that have a very clear linkage to the Covenantal people for the assurance of acquiring one’s salvation! May we remind everyone that God still have many ways and means to all. So they may also acquire salvation, and thou will learn them by reading the whole Bible and the Eternal Gospel.
    May our living lord God Bless us all.

  22. sleepwalker said:

    Paul instructed slaves to return to their masters and to dutifully obey them, to remain long-suffering for the Kingdom, etc. So making the passage about a mini-exodus is sort of tenuous. And even if in this one instance she were provably freed, it still leaves hanging a larger question.


    This is true. And even if it can be “explained” as to why Paul told people/some people to remain as slaves (but not to become slaves, as if this was fully in an individual’s hands for him or her self), it still remains that “rules” are not easily (if at all) derived.
    [As for the “one instance” referenced, whether or not she wasn’t freed completely, there was indication in the attalus link that people could be slaves for particular skills or purposes (such as playing flute or, obviously, sex) and not for any and every thing. So, if what she was contracted for (such as fortune-telling) no longer “worked” for the owners, they might not be interested in calling for her or dragging her around every day to see if it works today (after it stopped yesterday), or today or today yet. Yes, this is speculation. She could have been contracted for more than one thing.]

    And sleepwalker said: … perhaps Torah and Paul offer concessions to work within the world that is.

    I do think that’s the case.

  23. Too bad this thread chose to focus on ‘women in the church’ rather than on the much less examined by exponentially more important issue of the reliability of the manuscripts behind the New Testament.

    1. I can’t argue the sentiment, but it barely scratches the surface. The Bible is a pool with limitless depth, but at the same time, it’s the only document in existence that is a direct collaboration of God and human beings (although there may be many Jews who would say that Talmud is Divinely inspired as well).

      1. Careful, James — You might get people wondering about how Divine inspiration actually works.

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