What the Apostle Paul Didn’t Write

twisting of scriptureThroughout Christianity, across all denominations, teaching and preaching of truth is filled with innuendos and implications that give an underlying message to people regarding women and their place in the church and society.  Many of these underlying messages are the result of a mindset regarding women that developed due to scribal changes in translation of religious texts. During the early centuries, men, not willing to allow women the freedom, autonomy and respect that Christ gave them, made sure that through translation they would be silenced and controlled.  Because of these additions and changes in the texts, women have been forced into very abusive roles by men, while at the same time, men are not being held accountable for the abuses.

The off shoots of religion are many; the majority of which, go even further in their corruption of the truth and place on women shackles of bondage to abusive men that God never intended nor commanded. Modern scholars have come to realize that disputes over the role of women in the church occurred precisely because women HAD a role; often a very significant and publicly high profile role ( Bart Erhman, Misquoting Jesus).  Many of Jesus’s closest followers were women and they accompanied him on his travels. Some of these women provided for him and his disciples financially, serving as patrons for his preaching ministry. The scriptures show remarkably well that Jesus did not treat women like the men of his day did. He actually went against the teachings of his day in his treatment of women! According to Erhman, “Most scholars remain convinced that Jesus proclaimed the coming Kingdom of God in which there would be no more injustice, suffering,  or evil; where all people would be equal.” This included the women.

“The Pauline letters of the New Testament provide ample evidence that women held a prominent place in the emerging Christian communities from the earliest of times. . . Women, in short, appear to have played a significant role in the churches of Paul’s day. . . This appears to have been Paul’s message as well, as can be seen, for example, in his famous declaration in Galations:

For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free; there is not male and female; for all of you are one in Jesus Christ. (Gal. 3:27-28)

— Bart Erhman, Misquoting Jesus, page 180

The equality that developed as a result of the teachings of Jesus and his disciples laid the very foundations for women that changed their subservient and oppressive positions and gave them new found freedoms. Women were now equal through Christ and were allowed, once again to participate in every aspect of the early church. However, after Paul’s death, men began once again to force women back into the abusive bondage that Jesus came to set them free from. This is evidenced in the following passages that were written in Paul’s name. Scholars agree that these passages were NOT written by Paul, but have been attributed to Paul. These very passages have been used to beat women over the head and force them into silence and subjection to men in the church and keep them from positions of leadership. (For more on other translational changes, read some of my other articles on this blog.)

Let a women learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. (1Tim. 2:11-15)

33For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, 34let the women keep silent. For it is not permitted for them to speak, but to be in subjection, just as the law says. 35But if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36What! did the word go forth only from you, or has it reached you alone? (1Cor. 14:33-36)

According to Erhman, this seems a long way from Paul’s view that “in Christ there is . . . not male and female.” By the time the second century had rolled around, there were some very clear battle lines drawn regarding women and the church. Scholars understand that scribes were very involved in these early debates regarding women and translated scripture to reflect their personal views regarding women. Erhman states in his book, Misquoting Jesus, that . . . “In almost every instance in which a change of this sort occurs, the text is changed in order to limit the role of women and to minimize their importance. . .”

These passages teach a straight forward injunction for women not to teach and to keep quiet. However, according to Erhman, scholars are convinced that Paul did not write the 1 Timothy passage because it occurs in a letter that appears to have been written instead by a second-generation follower of Paul in his name. No one doubts that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, but there are doubts about that passage because verses 34 and 35 are shuffled around in some of the most important textual witnesses. In three Greek manuscripts and a couple of Latin witnesses, they are found after verse 40. This has led scholars to surmise that the verses were not written by Paul but originally were a marginal note by a scribe that was later inserted in different places of the text– some placing the note after verse 33 and some after verse 40.

Another reason that scholars give in determining that Paul did not write these passages is that they do not fit well into their immediate context.

“In this part of 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is addressing the issue of prophecy in the church, and is giving instructions to Christian prophets concerning how they are to behave during the Christian services of worship. This is the theme of verses 26-33, and it is the theme again of verses 36-40. If one removes verses 34-35 from their context, the passage seems to flow seamlessly as a discussion of the role of Christian prophets. The discussion of women appears, then, as intrusive in its immediate context, breaking into instructions that Paul is giving about a different matter.

Not only do the verses seem intrusive in the context of chapter 14, they also appear anomalous with what Paul explicitly says elsewhere in 1 Corinthians. For earlier in the book, as we have already noticed, Paul gives instructions to women speaking in the church: according to chapter 11, when they pray and prophesy–activities that were always done aloud in Christian services of worship–they are to be sure to wear veils on their heads (11:2-16). In THIS passage, which no one doubts Paul wrote, it is clear that Paul understands that women both can and do speak in church. In the disputed passage of chapter 14, however, it is equally clear the “Paul” forbids women from speaking at all. It is difficult to reconcile these two views–either Paul allowed women to speak (with covered heads, chapter 11) or not (chapter 14). As it seems unreasonable to think that Paul would flat out contradict himself within the short space of three chapters, it appears that the verses in question do not derive from Paul.

And so on the basis of a combination of evidence–several manuscripts that shuffle the verses around, the immediate literary context, and the context within 1 Corinthians as a whole–it appears that Paul did not write 1 Cor. 14:34-35. One would have to assume then, that these verses are a scribal alteration of the text, originally made, perhaps, as a marginal note and then eventually, at an early stage of the copying of 1 Corinthians, placed in the text itself. The alteration was no doubt made by a scribe who was concerned to emphasize that women should have no public role in the church, that they should be silent and subservient to their husbands. This view came to be incorporated into the text itself, by means of textual alteration.”

— Bart Erhman, Misquoting Jesus, pages 183-184.

Clearly, what is being taught in these passages regarding women is a corruption. As a result of these two changes, women have borne the brunt of abuses throughout history. They have been robbed of equality in every aspect of life and relegated to subservient positions. As a result, today, women are still not paid the same salaries as men and, degrading “mindsets” and “attitudes” toward women are prevalent across all cultures. These mindsets and attitudes are a result of SCRIPTURE placing women on an unequal level to men. SCRIPTURE has become the weapon of choice for power and control hungry men.

So, if scholars agree that these passages were not written by Paul and, the evidence points to this fact, then why are those, who are not scholars, condemning those that bring these types of corruptions to light? Why does one think that Bible theologians want to teach and preach an “inerrant” and “infallible” Bible? Answer: Because all the changes made by scribes point women into subservience, allowing for sexual exploitation and abuse AND, the changes give men power, prestige, control and money to boot! Scripture translations have only been done by MEN. Corruption in translation of scripture has only been done by MEN.  Interpretations of scripture have only been done by MEN. Rules have been fabricated for women only by MEN. It’s time for the corruptions to be made known and corrected. Women need to be given back their equality, autonomy, dignity and honor. Laws need to change to protect women from the abuses within every area of society and religion and, Bible translations need to be purged of the corruptions placed in them by MEN. Scholars know all the corruptions. It’s time to set things right and give women back what men robbed them of – equality, honor, dignity and protection from abuse.

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