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Note: This question focuses on authorship, not the meaning of the verses.

  • 1 Timothy 2:12 "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent."

  • 1 Corinthians 14:34 "the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak..."

Both of these rules have been challenged on the grounds they were not really written by Paul. The first quote is dismissed on the basis that the entire letter of 1 Timothy is not truly Pauline. The second is challenged as a later interpolation based on textual criticism and the fact that Paul allows women to prophesy in Ch. 11 of the same letter.

See The Apostle Paul never said 'women should remain silent for fuller summary of the issue.

What are the arguments for and against these quotes being authentic words of Paul?


See question about the Johannine Comma for model answers to a somewhat similar question.

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  • Text criticism questions are on-topic, but they should be asked about individually. I think I've seen a text criticism question for at least one of these verses before already, but didn't see it with only a quick look.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 6, 2022 at 5:17
  • I don't understand why this question was closed. The rationale says it needs to be more narrowly focused. Do we really want one question dealing with arguments for and another with arguments against? I can do that if those who closed it will confirm that is what they are suggesting. Oct 8, 2022 at 1:47
  • What I meant was that each verse gets its own text criticism question. And I found the existing question for 1 Corinthians 14:34: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1156/… So you could just edit this to only ask about 1 Timothy and then it can be reopened.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 8, 2022 at 2:17
  • However a text criticism question on 1 Timothy 2:12 should also be asked separately from an authorship question on 1 Timothy. We already have some questions on the authorship of the pastoral epistles, so you'd have to check that it's not a duplicate.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 8, 2022 at 2:23

1 Answer 1

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1 Corinthians

Paul's authorship of 1 Corinthians is one of the most solidly attested pieces of Christian literary history--it really is not in any serious dispute. (we have attestation as early as 1 Clement 47, written in the first century).

However, there are textual reasons for believing that the specific prohibition in 1 Corinthians 14 is a gloss (an addition by a later hand):

  • It is marked as such in Codex Vaticanus
  • The discussion of women preaching rather abruptly interrupts the discussion of prophets, which resumes after this passage.

Although we do not have the autographical text of 1 Corinthians, on balance, I believe the scribe of Codex Vaticanus is correct, the prohibition against women preaching does not fit well with the surrounding message and is probably a gloss.

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1 Timothy

There is not, to my knowledge, a text-critical argument against the originality of 1 Tim. 2:12--unlike in the case of 1 Cor. 14:34, this passage really does appear to have been part of the letter when it was written. The question for 1 Timothy, then, is whether Paul is the author of the letter at all.

I do not find arguments against Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy to be convincing:

  • Differences in vocabulary are to be expected when writing in a different time & place and with a different amanuensis
  • Differences in content are to be expected when writing a public statement to a congregation vs. a private letter to an individual church leader
  • The Patristic writers had no difficulty believing the Paul wrote the letters to Timothy, and they quote the letters regularly. Early quotations of both letters are found in Polycarp, Irenaues, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and others (source)
  • The letters to Timothy are included in early collections of Paul's letters (see a much more detailed discussion of the collection of Paul's letters in my post here)
  • The letters claim to be written by Paul, and go out of their way to provide personal details regarding Paul and his associates. While a student of Paul may have collected Paul's teachings at a later date, the author of these letters is very much claiming to be Paul--the biographical details are either true contemporary statements by Paul, or deliberate falsifications designed to deceive. Such deliberate deception is not only inconsistent with the message of the letters, but it is unlikely that someone like Polycarp would have considered the letters worth quoting if they were known forgeries written in Polycarp's own lifetime. Polycarp's testimony provides evidence that 2nd generation Christians accepted these letters as authentic; if 2nd generation Christians believed they were authentic...they probably were.

A more extensive treatment of and argument for Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy by Robinson can be found on pp. 74-78 here.

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Conclusion

While I do not claim certainty, my view of the evidence is that:

  • 1 Corinthians 14:34 was not written by Paul
  • 1 Timothy 2:12 was written by Paul. My thoughts on the meaning of this passage are shared on this site here.
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  • + 1 ...a truly balanced answer in that you give one yes and one no! Would have liked to seen a fuller treatment of the arguments against 1 Tim... not that you need to agree with them. Oct 2, 2022 at 12:48

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