This is the part 3 of answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” and his “Six Questions That Have Never Been Satisfactorily Answered”. Today I am posting his third question and my own answer.
Wayne Grudem’s question #3:
3. “or’’ (Greek e): In 1 Corinthians 14:36, some of you argue that the Greek word e (“or’’) shows that the preceding verses are a quotation from the Corinthian church which Paul denies. Therefore you say that Paul is not really telling the Corinthian church,
“the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church” (1 Cor. 14:34–35),
but the Corinthians are saying those things, and Paul is just quoting them. You tell us that Paul’s response might be paraphrased as “Are you crazy?’’ This, you tell us, is the force of the tiny Greek word e, which is usually translated “or.’’ You tell us that e, “or,’’ is used in Greek to deny what went before it.
Our problem is that when we look at other examples of e used in constructions like 1 Corinthians 14:36, where the following material is clearly false (that is, Paul and the Corinthians know that the word of God did not come from them), then “or’’ functions to show that the preceding material has to be true. This would mean that verses 34–35 are affirmed by Paul.
To put it another way, Paul is arguing:
You must do A.
Or: Is B true?
Then you must do A.
This is just the opposite of what you claim. You claim that Paul uses “or’’ to deny A (verses 34–35). In fact, we can find no parallel examples where it is used to deny both what precedes and what follows. This is also what all the Greek lexicons tell us. So our question is this:
Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where this word for “or’’ (e) is used to introduce what the readers know to be false, so the author can deny both what goes before and what follows?
If you can show us one example, we would be happy to consider your interpretation further. But if you cannot, then we suggest that you have no factual basis for your interpretation of this key verse, and we respectfully ask that you stop writing and speaking as if you did, and that you also reconsider your understanding of these verses.
Wayne Grudem is asking us to “prove” that the Greek word “e” can be used to deny both the statements before and after. However this is not what Paul has done. Paul has used this little Greek word to both introduce a negation of something preceding and to support the negation he also asks two rehetorical questions. Paul is not denying his own words. Let’s look at the evidence:
Zodhiates Complete Word Study Dictionary shows that the “or” can introduce a negation of something preceding:
(B) Generally, and in a direct question where the interrogation implies a negation of something precedingZodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament
a) either-or,coordinate two or more mutually exclusive terms or statements…
c) (Greek “e”) is used frequently to introduce rhetorical questions to which a negative answer is expected (Matt 7:9: “Or is there one among you … ?”; 12:5: “Or have you not read … ?”; cf. 20:15; 26:53; Luke 13:4; Rom 3:29; 6:5; 7:1; 9:21; 11:2; 1 Cor 6:9, 16,19; 9:8; 10:22; 2 Cor 11:7; 13:5; Jas 4:5; a double question in 1 Cor 14:36)
Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament. Balz, H. R., & Schneider, G.
1. marker of an alternative,or, disjunctive particle(a). separatinga. opposites, which are mutually exclusiveArndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature.
1 Cor 14:37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.1 Cor 14:38 But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
1 Cor 14:39 Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues.
Psalms 68:11 The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host