Paul’s arguments in 1 Corinthians 11-14 – from the role of women in public worship, to the value of speaking in tongues and prophecy for the unbeliever – have long posed challenges to the lay reader and scholar. Despite numerous explanations offered over the years, these passages remain marked by inconsistencies, contradictions, and puzzles. Lucy Peppiatt offers an interpretation in which she proposes that Paul was in conversation with the Corinthian male leadership concerning their domineering, superior and selfish practices, which included coercing women to wear head coverings, lording it over the ‘have-nots’ at the Lord’s Supper, and ordering married women to keep quiet in church.
Peppiatt’s bold arguments not only bring internal coherence to the text, but also paint a picture of the apostle gripped by a vision for a new humanity ‘in the Lord’, resulting in his refusal to compromise with the traditional views of his own society. Instead, Paul tells the Corinthians to become more like Christ, to make ‘love’ their aim, and to restore dignity and honour to women, outsiders, and the poor.
Foreword by Douglas Campbell
1. 1 Corinthians 11:2-16: The Problems with the Women
2. Men and Women before God
3. A Rhetorical Reading Revisited
4. The Teaching of Paul
5. The Value of Tongues and Prophecy
Appendix: The Texts
Endorsements and Reviews
Peppiatt sheds new light on texts in 1 Corinthians that concern the thorny issue of Paul and women. She brings together exegetical skill, theological insight, and a vital concern for the historically contingent nature of Paul’s argumentation, to offer a genuinely original and constructive analysis. So often the language of 1 Cor 11:2-16 and 14:33-35 proves to be a stumbling block for readers of Paul. Peppiatt, in ways which will inevitably be contentious, paves a plausible way out of the interpretive difficulties.
Chris Tilling, St. Mellitus College, London
Peppiatt offers a reading of Paul’s advice on head coverings, women, and authority in the church. Her persuasive account of 1 Cor 11:2-16 rescues Paul from those who appeal to him in support of misogynistic theologies and confirms Paul’s radical critique, rather than endorsement, of patriarchal culture. I commend it highly.
Murray Rae, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand