When asked to explain Paul’s advice on the headcoverings of women  (1 Cor. 11),                   I remember my father – who usually had sound advice on all Bible subjects – would shake his head, shrug his shoulders, and say “It’s about as clear as mud”.

I wish I could share with him the solution to clearing the mud.

From chapter 7 onwards Paul is replying to  matters the church had written  about-

“Now for the matters you wrote about” 1 Cor. 7:1

Unfortunately, translators have not discerned  which parts of the text are the comments of Paul, and which are the comments of the Church  being quoted.

I raised this issue with a translator for the ESV Bible. This was his reply to me

“I appreciate your inquiry.  I agree that quotation marks could be of help in making modern readers aware that the Apostle Paul is responding to voices from Corinth.  In a major translation like the ESV, we can’t afford to do it, because there is a probabilistic element in any such judgments (easy to be mistaken), and because quotation marks to a modern reader usually imply an exact (verbatim) quotation, whereas Paul may have been responding to Corinthians sentiments that he represents in his own words. … If, however, someone like you wants to make the point in the context of a Bible study, and to add in quotation marks that people will understand to be probabilitistic, it can be a help.”

It’s very apparent throughout 1st Corinthians that Paul is responding to voices from Corinth.  The confusion  is removed by discerning the logic of the Church (which followed traditions of men) and the logic of Paul, who followed Christ. Paul’s advice  often contradicts that of the Church.

The classic example is in 1 Cor. 14:21-23 –  within 3 verses 2 opposite points of view are put forward –

1- That tongues are a sign for unbelievers (the Church view)

2- That tongues are in fact confusing for unbelievers and are only for the church (Paul’s view)


The same method of clearing the confusion applies to the headcoverings of women 

hats 1


It’s obvious that it was the church  who said that women are made for the glory of man. Paul would not have said that because it contradicts what we are told in the old Testament – that men and women were both made in the image of God and for His glory –

Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth— everyone called by My name and created for My glory, whom I have indeed formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7

There is so much more to untangling 1 Corinthians 11 than meets the eye. Messengers had gone from Corinth to Ephesus to visit Paul. We find out who they are in chapters 1 and 16. They were in fact the first fruits of the ecclesia and had been converted by Chloe the woman mentioned in Chapter 1 where Paul says ‘It has been told to me by those of Chloe’. Church logic said that whoever was first was the most important. Paul turns this around on them and says that using your own logic the woman who converted the firstfruits of the church should have authority on her own head.

For a fuller explanation see Context of Writings Silencing Women

Notes at this link Notes

Youtube at this link – Youtube



About alsowritten

Another voice in the wilderness
This entry was posted in Headcoverings for Women, Silencing of Women, Women -What are the rules ? and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “AS CLEAR AS MUD”

  1. Pingback: BAPTISING ON BEHALF OF THE DEAD | alsowritten – Robin's Blog

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