Last night in Family Home Evening, after my wife had given a great lesson on the spiritual power of our church’s hymns, my 13 and 11 year old daughters spontaneously let loose with a virtual barrage about the role of women in the Church. They were not argumentative. Perhaps the prayers of women in General Conference had planted a seed.
The moment seemed then right to report to them, (even though I could of course only do so personally), of a research “finding” in both the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as, the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:10. “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.”
He speaks there of the “angels of the Meeting” (in Greek).
What Paul says in regards to “the subjection of women”–is “dia touto opheilei he gune exousian echein epi tes kephales dia tous angelous“.
The angels referenced in Corinthians seem to be meeting attenders and even supervisors from the spirit world. This verse quickly became equated to the role of eternal marriage in the Temple. To jump around here to protect the sacred, the Greek New Testament text uses the word “exousia.”
The significance, as I struggled to explain to my daughters, is that “exousia” means ‘power, authority, right to do something; ability; dominion.’
And so therefore the translation in First Corinthians should indicate the opposite essentially of how it reads in the King James Version. Namely that what covered the heads “in Church” of the Corinthian women refers is a power that a woman possesses or exercises.
It does not mean “subjection.”
The “better” (because more primitively Christian reading) essentially flips around the conventional meaning of the verse in question.
As some revisionist scholars have drawn what seems to be the logical conclusion- if Paul meant ‘subjection’ then he would have used that word. Verily.
But he did not. Paul chose to use the Greek word for ‘power.’
Which made a difference last night for the concerns being expressed in Family Home Evening.
A scribal extrapolation apparently mistranslated 1 Corinthians to undo incorrectly the role of women in the Church. “An unknown scribe in the times of King James,” I found myself trying to explain, “subtracted from the Scripture the word “power” and substituted “subjection” in a way neither our Scriptures nor Temple Marriage ever intended.”
For especially my two young women, the point, was somewhat past their understanding. But it had merit, both for their self-esteem as princesses of the Kingdom (forgive me for assuming to call these two “princesses,” but then after all, I am their Father).
That is, for about two minutes. Then occurred a different package of questions from my daughters.
Round Two is perhaps best left for another article, but somehow my explanation about First Corinthians had opened-up a query of why Heavenly Father would respect human agency so much as to let a scribe tamper with Scripture. “Read I Nephi, then ask me,” I said.
I then caught a break, without having to say more.
Heidi, my wife, fortunately appeared with dessert; my daughters’ appetites turned from things spiritual to things equally sweet but literally so. There then was a Closing Song and Prayer, and another eventful and spiritual Family Home Evening had quietly concluded.