The use of ἢ in 1Cor14:36

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The use of ἢ in 1Cor14:36

Postby azclark » May 15th, 2013, 4:21 am

14:35 εἰ δέ τι μαθεῖν θέλουσιν, ἐν οἴκῳ τοὺς ἰδίους ἄνδρας ἐπερωτάτωσαν, αἰσχρὸν γάρ ἐστιν γυναικὶ λαλεῖν ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ.
14:36 ἀφ' ὑμῶν ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐξῆλθεν, ἢ εἰς ὑμᾶς μόνους κατήντησεν

I've read in a couple of places the ἢ at the beginning of 1Cor14:36 can be taken to imply that the preceeding verse(s) are Paul quoting something that the Corinthians have previously said, and it shows his intent to "intensify the distinction between what [he] is saying and what he is opposing" (http://www.efccm.ca/pdfs/DoesPaulSilenceWomen.pdf pp31). I've even read that it could be taken to have the strength of "Nonesense!" or something like that.

Is that the case, or is it stretching the possible uses of ἢ in that context? I've looked it up in BDAG, and as far as I can tell, it doesn't seem to particularly support this view.

Thanks very much
Ade


Many thanks
Ade
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Re: The use of ἢ in 1Cor14:36

Postby Alan Patterson » May 16th, 2013, 10:57 am

Ade,

I really don't think the ἢ is used to indicate that Paul is quoting the Corinthians. If anything, the syntactical/grammatical issue would clue the reader that the topic under consideration -- the evaluation of a revelation or prophecy -- is the context. Paul is simply saying that during the evaluation procedure of a prophecy, the men only are to accept or reject it. If women want to get involved, put in their 2 cents, they are to do so at home.

Within this context, the ἢ simply continues another point. So, yes, I think it is a stretch. In fact, a stretch seems to imply that the ἢ may be used to indicate a quotation, but it does not. The ἢ may be used in some relation to a quote, but the ἢ is not a marker that a quote just took place.
χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη,
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Re: The use of ἢ in 1Cor14:36

Postby George F Somsel » May 17th, 2013, 4:03 am

It is important to keep in mind the context in which a passage is located. Here Paul begins this discussion by noting that this is something which is a custom in the churches (Ὡς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν ἁγίων). He then refers to the question of women speaking in church (what's the custom?) and calls it αἰσχρός. This can refer to something being morally questionable, but it can also simply mean that it is not generally accepted. Here I would understand his meaning to be the latter since he puts it in the context of what is the custom in the churches. It would seem that what he is intending to convey is that it is bad form—something like going to a formal dinner and picking up the wrong fork. He then concludes the discussion by reminding them that they are not the beginning or the end of the proclamation of the word of God thereby once again returning to the question of what is customary. It reminds me of the passage in 6.12

Πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν ἀλλʼ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει·

In other words, something may be allowed but not be appropriate.

It isn't a question of what is lawful, but rather of what is gracious. The particle ἤ simply presents the alternatives which he rhetorically proposes (and rejects) that they are the beginning and end of the proclamation. We are speaking of what is appropriate in society—the society of the Pauline churches—rather than a moral question. Does this apply directly today? This is a question that each must answer for himself. Certainly society is not the same today as it was then.
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Re: The use of ἢ in 1Cor14:36

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » May 18th, 2013, 3:44 pm

It looks like someone has confused the meaning of a word and possible contexts where it can be used. ἢ gives a rhetorical option: either Paul and those who agree with him are correct, or else the opponents are the only ones etc. It looks quite far fetched to claim that ἢ here would support interpreting the previous sentence as a quote. But far-fetching isn't rare when hot topics are discussed...
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Re: The use of ἢ in 1Cor14:36

Postby Stephen Carlson » May 18th, 2013, 5:35 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:It looks like someone has confused the meaning of a word and possible contexts where it can be used. ἢ gives a rhetorical option: either Paul and those who agree with him are correct, or else the opponents are the only ones etc. It looks quite far fetched to claim that ἢ here would support interpreting the previous sentence as a quote. But far-fetching isn't rare when hot topics are discussed...


Looking at the cited paper, I feel the interpreter holds the previous sentence was a quote on independent grounds.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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Re: The use of ἢ in 1Cor14:36

Postby Andrew Chapman » June 21st, 2013, 6:26 am

Putting it simply, I think Paul is referring to two possibilities: A - women should not speak in the church, which is what he is teaching; and B - women may speak in the church, which some at least of the Corinthians are claiming. The primary meaning of ἤ is 'or'. Verses 34-35 are a statement of A, Paul's teaching. In verse 36 he is referring to their teaching, B. He is saying 'are you the ones who receive the word of the Lord, so that you can claim authority for your teaching B'.

Then the ἤ means 'or', as one would expect: is it A or B?

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