Friday, November 24, 2006

Kloha on the silence of the women

One rather interesting paper at SBL was by Jeffrey Kloha of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. I can't remember whether Kloha has recently finished his PhD with Keith Elliott (Leeds), or whether he is nearing the end of it. Anyway, he presented an intriguing study entitled 'The Displacement of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in D F G and the Latin Tradition'.

The background to the discussion is, of course, the view, strongly articulated inter alios by Gordon Fee (The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 699-708) that these verses are inauthentic. Though they appear in all known Greek or versional manuscripts, the Greek-Latin bilingual manuscripts (D F G) and a number of Latin manuscripts place them after v. 40. They are rejected by Fee on 'transcriptional' and 'intrinsic' probability. One of the points in Fee's argument was that it is unlikely that the verses were 'displaced' from after v. 33 to after v. 40 since 'displacements of this kind do not occur elsewhere in the NT' (First Epistle, p. 700).

Enter Kloha.

Kloha claims to have been able to identify a series of displacements of exactly this sort in basically the same witnesses that have the verses after 1 Cor. 14:40.

The relevant examples are:

'and the church in their house' (Rom. 16:5 --> 16:3)
'and all the churches of Christ' (Rom. 16:16 --> 16:21)
'The grace of our Lord [Jesus Christ] be with you [all. Amen]' (Rom. 16:20 --> 16:24)
'With whom I am staying' (1 Cor. 16:19 from Acts 18:3)
'Be zealous for the better gifts' (Galatians 4:17 from 1 Cor. 12:31)
1 Cor. 14:34-35 --> after 1 Cor. 14:40

He observes certain features in common between some of these texts:
1) all the transpositions are triggered by 'key words'
2) church/churches (Rom. 16:3, 16; 1 Cor. 14:34)
3) interest in the role of Priscilla and her activity within the church (Rom. 16:3; 1 Cor. 16:19)

The possibility of a series of related transpositions is indeed intriguing and we will await eagerly the publication of Kloha's work. Two areas where clarification is needed are: 1) The overall explanation of how these are related. This is a point on which Larry Hurtado pressed Kloha; 2) The degree to which there are other transpositions that do not fit the pattern or explanation that Kloha has advanced.


  1. One of the points in Fee's argument was that it is unlikely that the verses were 'displaced' from after v. 33 to after v. 40 since 'displacements of this kind do not occur elsewhere in the NT'.

    Romans 16:25-27 <<->> end of Romans 14?

    I'd be interested in Kloha's work on 1 Corinthians 14, even though I don't think Fee's arguments on this passage require strenuous efforts at refutation.

  2. James M. Leonard11/24/2006 11:25 pm

    Kloha began his presentation by saying that yes, there are large wholesale displacements elsewhere in the NT akin to the Western displacement of the Silenced Women passage, and that, interestingly, they are found in the same mss which reflect the displacement of 1 Cor 14:34-35.

    This claim raised eyebrows, especially since Dr. Fee has cited the uniqueness of the passage's displacement as a reason for its inauthenticity.

    As it turns out, Kloha's examples of displaced texts were not of lengthy texts but of rather short phrases--perhaps too short to be truly comparable.

    Moreover, the issue as to whether these displacements were truly redactional was hardly discussed. I was left wondering whether displacement occured not so much as deliberate redactional activity, but as more mundane scribal accidence.

    As it turns out, when prompted by Dr. Parker, Kloha revealed that this sort of displacement (of minor texts) occurs all the time in these relevant witnesses. This struck me as negating the thesis that the five examples were redactional.

    Ultimately, Dr. Fee seemed to me too defferential, as he thanked Kloha for correcting his "obvious" overlooking of these examples.

  3. I liked Kloha's paper, but I would like see the issue that Larry Hurtado brought up developed further when it is published.

  4. Kloha argues that behind DFG is an early (second century) recension of the Pauline corpus. I think that it would be helpful to see all the evidence for this so that these editorial displacements could be placed in their broader context. Kloha has all the evidence in his PhD so that shouldn't be much of a problem.

    It will also be interesting to see how this compares with Trobisch's work on F and G working backwards.

    I thought it was a well presented paper - very clear and definitely worth publishing; contributing new information to a topical debate.

  5. Jim, I don't think that Fee was too deferential. He was simply in the embarrassing situation of chairing a paper that was arguing against his own published work. The fact that he didn't abuse his position as chair to mount a counter-attack is just one of a number of things that made me think that he was a rather good chair.

  6. A perusal of Fee's works will, I think, dsicover a general doctrinal position on the role of women in in the church that would make 1 Cor. 14.34-35 distasteful to him regardless of the MS evidence. I do not mean to question Dr. Fee's motives behind his interpretation of the textual data, but wonder if his views do not incline him strongly against the authenticity of the verses.

  7. Josiah,
    Of course we all have commitments that influence our interpretation of the data. However, it is usually unhelpful to discuss personal motivation since to identify bias does not in anyway establish whether an argument is correct or not.

    However, it seems that Fee's view that 1 Cor. 14:34-35 is an interpolation is entirely consistent with his view of the transmission of the NT, which is less optimistic than mine about the state of the text within our extant witnesses.

  8. James M. Leonard11/27/2006 3:38 pm

    (Yes, I think that presiding as chair of the session was an obvious factor in Dr. Fee's slight response to the paper.)

    I find it interesting, as a novice, to hear that Dr. Fee is reputed to lack a certain optimism about the text's transmission.

    I would have rather thought that Dr. Fee's conclusion that 1 Cor 14:34-35 was an interpolation is quite the exception for him, arising from the uniqueness of the textual data. For example, despite his long time association with Dr. Epp, I haven't seen any indication that he shares the kinds of reservations about the text reflected in Dr. Epp's more recent writings. Dr. Fee's tc comments in his God's Empowering Presence seem to betray some textual optimism. Am I missing something?

    By the way, Fee's argument against the authenticity of the silenced women passage has been buttressed by Dr. Epp in his book Junia.

    A further word about Kloha's paper.... Again, it was my understanding that he was arguing that DFG's displacement was redactionally motivated. Dr. Hurtado's question (cited above by Stephen Carlson), if my memory serves, was whether there was a discernible consistency in the redaction. That is to say, if DFG displaced these various texts for redactional purposes, they were done in such a way as to betray no obvious theological bent. In fact, if the purpose was to show that Priscilla was compliant with the silenced women passage, then some of the other displacements served to prove otherwise.

    Jim Leonard
    Southwest Pennsylvania USA

  9. I'm not calling Fee a pessimist. Obviously the terms 'optimist' and 'pessimist' are relative, and I was only comparing his view with my own (of course he knows massively more than I do about the subject). However, this is based on an impression, not a quantitative analysis of discussion of variants in his 1 Cor. commentary. Epp is much more pessimistic and has spoken of his own increase in textual pessimism through his career.

  10. Mr. Williams,

    I agree fully that "to identify bias does not in anyway establish whether an argument is correct or not," and that "we all have commitments that influence our interpretation of the data." But I think it is reasonable to be slightly suspicious of a somewhat unusual textual choice that supports or removes obstacles from a critic's personal views.

    I think that, since we do all have biases, we ought to help check the reasonableness of each others' choices. Not that I, a completely ignorant novice compared to Fee, have the right to judge whether Fee's choice is reasonable. I just wonder if it is really the choice which is best supported by the data.

  11. Just to clarify a bit about whether Fee has any motives behind his interpolation argument: I've heard Fee say in a lecture on 1 Cor 14:34-35, that it was truly the textual evidence that he saw that lead him to argue that those verses were an interpolation. In fact he said he used to argue the opposite for a long time, until, when he was writing his 1 Corinthians commentary, he was 'forced to change his mind do to the overwhelming textual evidence'. I truly don't think his views on women in ministry have anything to do with him arguing those verses are an interpolation because as he puts it, those who say that it's original(those on both sides of the gender debate), then spend all their time trying to explain how Paul couldn't be saying what he seems to. There are plenty of explanations out there that have been given to deal with this verse and soften it or explain it away, that he could subscribe to to help him deal with those verses besides calling it an interpolation. That's one of the reasons why I don't really see him using the argument of interpolation to get around it, because there's so many other arguments he could have used instead. Anyway that's just my opinion.

    BTW I was wondering if PJ Williams or Peter Head or any of the other text critics on this blog could estimate how well received is Fee's argument for interpolation among text critics. I've seen how many NT scholars feel about his views but I'm more curious about how text critics, those who are actually familiar with and specialize in the issues of textual criticism, feel about his argument. Thanks

  12. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, p. 184 n. 4, approves of Fee's argument. I think Epp also approves in his Junia of which I do not have a copy to hand.