I'm learning Greek (just starting) and I came across (what I think to be) a squinting construction in 1st Corinthians 14:34 that could make all the difference in the world. I'd like to first give an example of a squinting construction in English.
The modifier is "often". Does the phrase mean, "you will believe things you hear often," or does it mean, "you will often believe things you hear"? It could mean either. Here's another one...What you hear often you will believe.
The modifier is "rarely". Does it mean, "instructors who cancel classes are reprimanded rarely," or does it mean, "instructors who rarely cancel classes are reprimanded"? It could mean either.Instructors who cancel classes rarely are reprimanded.
Of course, neither of these squinting constructions are very important and it's easy to know the meaning because of common sense. But what happens when it is not so obvious which phrase is to be modified? What's worse: what happens when such a squinting modifier is positioned to change the entire dynamics of how church will or will not work for a millenium or two?
Here is the dilemma, it seems to me that we have such a construction in 1st Corinthians 14:34. The verse is translated by the KJV as follows:
But have a closer look at the placement of οὐ in the Textus Receptus (TR):Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
Does οὐ modify ἐπιτέτραπται αὐταῖς λαλεῖν as it is currently translated, or does it modify the word σιγάτωσαν? How can anyone know for sure? It seems to me that pre-modification is the norm in Koine (where the οὐ comes before the phrase it modifies). BUT there is also definitely precedent for post-modification (where the οὐ comes after the phrase it modifies). Though the latter seems much less prevalent (at least from my observations), if there is a precedent where the negative modifier appears after the phrase it is intended to modify, then we certainly cannot be presumptuous with our translation of 1st Corinthians 14:34. If the modifier could belong to either the phrase occurring before or after itself, then we definitely have a squinting construction that has been poised to reap havoc on church government throughout the centuries.αἱ γυναῖκες ὑμῶν ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις σιγάτωσαν οὐ γὰρ ἐπιτέτραπται αὐταῖς λαλεῖν ἀλλ᾽ ὑποτάσσεσθαι, καθὼς καὶ ὁ νόμος λέγει
Here is a precedent of a negative modifier occurring after the phrase it was intended to modify: 1st Corinthians 11:16.
Here, οὐκ modifies the word before, συνήθειαν, what I'm calling "post-modification", until one of you teaches me the correct term for this, lol. But now that we see that negations can occur before or after the word(s) they modify, I'm sure we have a squinting construction in 1st Corinthians 14:34. It would seem that common sense could solve this, but apparently every translator of every English version to date has not questioned the decision of the translators of the KJV (and even their English speaking predecesors). But, looking at scripture, even at the remainder of Paul's writing, it seems much more fitting to translate this squinting verse (roughly) as follows:Εἰ δέ τις δοκεῖ φιλόνεικος εἶναι ἡμεῖς τοιαύτην συνήθειαν οὐκ ἔχομεν οὐδὲ αἱ ἐκκλησίαι τοῦ θεοῦ
The problem is that this almost means the exact opposite. And the verse ends with the point that women should be "subject according as the law says." Well... where does the old law say that women must not have liberty to speak in the assembly? That I am aware of, it does not! Isn't it common knowledge that Paul is only referring to Genesis 3:16 here:αἱ γυναῖκες ὑμῶν ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις σιγάτωσαν οὐ γὰρ ἐπιτέτραπται αὐταῖς λαλεῖν ἀλλ᾽ ὑποτάσσεσθαι, καθὼς καὶ ὁ νόμος λέγει
The women of you in the assembly, keep them silent not, for give liberty to them to speak, but subject, according as the law says.
If this is "the subjection" that Paul refers to, then the idea being presented is not that women ought to shutup, but that they ought to be permitted to speak unless it comes down to a dispute, in which case they are to honor the natural Genesis 3:16 submission of woman to man. For if Paul intended to keep women silent, why then does he mention that it makes sense for women to pray and prophesy with their heads covered? Doesn't this require speaking!? Of course it does. But if 1st Corinthians 14:34-35 has been translated properly, then their is no need for women to cover their head, because they will never be allowed to prophesy or pray in the assembly to begin with! The current translation silences all prophetesses, when it seems that Paul had the exact opposite intention....thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
We know that Paul acknowledged that there are no women or men in spirit (Galatians 3:28). So then if the entire purpose of 1st Corinthians 14 is to set apart the practices which do not edify from the practices that do edify the church (and it is), then why would he treat those who are equal in spirit (women) as though the flesh took precedence over the spirit in an assembly who esteems that which is spirit above that which is flesh? The only time such an assembly would default to the worldly order would be when the spiritual order is in question and not agreed upon by all. These two verses appear to accomplish just that, if we regard the entire gospel context in which the writer was so saturated.But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
So then, it seems obvious to me that the most common sense translation should have the οὐ modifying σιγάτωσαν: giving women liberty and equality in the assembly unless a dispute begins to arise. In the event of a dispute, the hierarchy of the flesh (woman subject to men) would be honored. Contextually, this chapter speaks about church edification and what to do if edification begins to be disrupted. With a sort of rhythm, between verse 28 and 35 Paul speaks of 3 subjections that the church must fall back on. Yet the rhythm of these points on subjection seem to have been lost in translation. Just as those speaking in tongues publicly were to willingly subject themselves to those who interpret tongues(v28), and just as the spirit of the prophets were to subject themselves willingly to the prophets (v32), so women were to willingly subject themselves to their husbands in the event of potential public discord in the assembly ––quite different from perpetual compulsory silence isn't it? Verse 34 would literally mean the opposite of what it currently says in every English version!
So it is my amateur assesment that the next verse (v35) should be translated (roughly) thusly: (using underscores to try to keep everything lined up right)
I hope this looks right in your browser(s), I had to line it all up vertically somehow (had to use underscores... and I can't use brackets in this message board). The numbers in parentheses annotate the English word ordering. So, combining these two verses, here's how I thought these verses should have roughly been translated:εἰ_δέ____τι________μαθεῖν________θέλουσιν____ἐν_οἴκῳ__τοὺς_ἰδίους_ἄνδρας_...
1st Corinthians 14:34-35
Am I missing something or am I right? Does anyone see any grammatical/syntactic reason why this could/should not be translated this way (or at least similarly)? Have I made any blunders in understanding the Greek (gramatically/syntactically)? Is this squinting construction really a squinting construction as I have postulated? Can 1st Corinthians 14:34 really be read either way?The women of you in the assembly, keep them silent not, for give liberty to them to speak, but subject, according as the law says.
If then, understanding something, they would accost their own husbands at home it is dishonor for women to speak (their mind) by means of the assembly.
Thank you all for your expertise and consideration!