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Was the Apostle Paul a Misogynist?

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One thing that helps us understand the Bible is that especially for the New Testament, these are primarily letters written to specific audiences addressing specific issues. Basically we are reading letters addressed to other people that we are privy to read 2,000 years later. How does the NT relate to its 1st century audience and how does it relate to us as 21st century people?

The early Christians had numerous disputes about everything from circumcision, preparation of food, certain customs and rituals, etc… And you thought the modern arguments over what music to play or which presidential candidate to vote for is something.

Paul was emphasizing a great deal on unity in the church, being of one body in Christ with Jesus as the head. If we fail to understand the issues Paul is addressing and the context in which he writes his letters, we are bound to take it out of context and turn the NT into something it wasn’t meant to be.

For example, in his first letter to the Christians at Corinth (1 Corinthians) which is a port city known for prostitution, night life, etc… Paul addresses a church that is in conflict with the culture and they are wondering how to respond to it.

The letter mentions the role of women in churches, that for instance they must remain silent in 1 Cor. 11:2-16, 14:34-35.

Now for our audience, this rubs us the wrong way because it seems to suggest that women are inferior or that Paul was fearful of strong women. In fact, the church was constantly having arguments over worship services and he was making the suggestion that perhaps people should be quiet instead of constantly arguing just to be arguing.

In the ancient world, the harlot had a great deal of power. They still do to a big extent. They would usually go about making themselves attractive with ornaments, perfume, etc… They were generally strong women and would be forceful in their words.

Another reason it was suggested for women (specifically the women in the Corinth church) to be silent and to not go out of their way with makeup, perfume, speaking too much or too loudly was that so they would not be confused with a harlot. Even as recently as 100 years ago, it was a scandal for women to cut their hair and wear makeup. Usually only prostitutes and actresses did that. Then the Gibson Girl and Flapper came along 🙂

Modern women take for granted that they can just go to the mall and buy things. Not so in the ancient world and it in fact wasn’t the norm until the 19th-20th century.

Written by chrisforliberty

August 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Posted in General

One Response

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  1. […] as I previously pointed out some errors of interpretation with the New Testament, we tend to do the same thing when interpreting the day to day realities of people who lived […]


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