Corinthians 11: 2-24: The World in Front of the Text

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8th Feb 2020 Theology Reference this

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Introduction

 Tate argues that the reader must realize a potential meaning only in the text in the world in front of the text.  Most reader-oriented theories claim that the text has no meaning until someone has pointed it out.  More radical supports of reader response criticism like Edgar V. McKnight say that readers are creating meaning in the text.  The author emphasizes the fact that in front of the text, the hermeneutics of the world enter more than the dialogue between the reader and the text.  Over the past two decades, scholars have introduced many issues that must be the center of hermeneutics, such as the social location of authors and readers, the ideology of authors and interpreters, the nature of language, and the author’s economics and textual history.

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 The world in front of the text is also known as the world of the reader.  No works of any type of literature can exist without an author.  It follows that that which has been written must have a reader.  The search for meaning involves the interaction between the text written by an author and that read by the reader, who makes decisions about the value of that which is read.  Author and reader each bring a worldview, and communication results when an understanding is accomplished.  It is essential that each participant’s worldview, assumptions, language, culture, values, and self-knowledge interact in the text to produce meaning.  This can lead to what author Japp calls either a hermeneutic of reduction, where there is only one meaning to be gleaned from the texts, or a hermeneutic of unfolding, which can allow the text/reader dialogue to potentially have many possible meanings.  The question of how much real history is used in conjunction with “other realities” – perhaps the subjective experiences of the world of author and reader, perhaps the active imaginations of each participant – leads to the conclusion that the work must be viewed as having at least two levels, the original meaning and an ever-evolving contemporary importance.  The work’s artistic (written) and aesthetic (read) realities make obvious the active, creative role of a dynamic rather than passive reader.  Translation itself may yield an additional meaning perhaps unintended originally.  One’s familiarity with grammatical, lexical, and syntactic constructions within both literary and natural language also can lead to further understanding – or misunderstanding – of an author’s purpose.  Three “dialectics” involving speaking, meaning and reference, and reader’s conceptualization may arise regarding any literary work.

A reader unfamiliar with literary definitions explored earlier may fail to recognize the “literary” and use only “natural language” concepts when trying to understand a work.  The text was more than just a repository of historical information; they were living organism that could be interpreted beyond their historical and cultural environment. Depending on the needs of the readers, the text included overflows with meaningful significance.  Tate explains that the early Church did not only speak and wrote the story of Jesus but rewritten it and wrote it again. The presence of the four Gospels is evidence that Jesus and His message can be applied in various ways with varying emphasis.  The “meaning” of the text for these readers was significant in their lives.  A positive reading never allows room for active patriation of readers in the creation of meaning.  

The preferred reading of the text is for the interpreter to establish the most likely historical and cultural context.  The best way to read all the texts is for the interpreter to know about the literal historical concerns about readers and the text authors.  Tate emphasizes communication is impossible without the influence of culture. This means that biblical authors communicated through their cultural filters by speaking to people who could understand within the same cultural pattern with people from the same culture.  Obviously, the biblical authors could not communicate with readers in contemporary culture.  Tate asks if it is not logical that modern scholars should, using any and all means at their disposal, return to the biblical world as much as possible, since authors of the bible stand in a particular culture that conveys culturally conditioned messages to a culturally identified audiences.

Before the new criticism developed in the 1940’s, the author and the author’s world was   the highest hermeneutical concern.  Like the layers of onion skin, only by peeling away the outer shell could the locos of core meaning be revealed using source, form, and redaction to determine author motivation, sources used, and the entire geographical history of the text.  This led to the question as to another there may be too much attention paid to the world behind the text than to the actual text itself.

During the 1950’s more emphasis was placed on the text itself, with the political historical events described within yielding an extra bonus.  Tate feels that although the time and place when

the author wrote may not deliver the meaning, understanding history cannot but help improve a scholar’s knowledge and understanding of the text.  What followed was a reader-centered approach to meaning which naturally could only lead to a more through, integrated approach to meaning which includes the author’s, text’s, and reader’s interpretations which ideally do not emphasize any one of the approaches at the expense of the other two. 

The world in front of the text of the interpretation will be used to in an explanation of 1 Corinthians 11:2-24.[1]  There are many Bible verses that conflict with the value of feminism.  The point of view of the Apostle, Paul, is very controversial in the Bible.[2] He emphasizes that women should wear on their heads when praying or prophesying.  Paul’s interpretation of bound verses influences “theological church, ecclesial, and postural concerns.”[3] This phrase creates serious questions to reader today.  The author, Tate, says that Genesis (1:2-3) can be interpreted in such a way that women and men are considered equal, and mutual obedience can be claimed by the import of Ephesians.[4]  He analysis that within feminist criticism, various interpretation methodologies arise, and Bible texts were written in the context in patriarchal culture, and  patriarchal system regards  women as second-class inferior beings.[5] 

1 Corinthians 11, the apostle Paul teaches the principle and guidelines of the two faith practices performed in the church.  The chapter 11 tells two things about the custom of wearing a towel on a woman’s head when worshiping, and about participating in the Lord’s Supper. The Apostle, Paul praised the people of Corinthians, because they remember him in all things, and keep his “teaching”, as Paul told them (Cor. 11:2).  The “teaching” is a preaching sentence to early Christians, including customs, doctrine, and lesson.  Paul confessed that he had preserved his ancestral tradition far above anyone else of his own kind (Gal. 1:14).  It reveals the intent of Paul’s blessings for Corinthians.  He warned Colossians not be tempted by philosophy and vain tricks.  Because it is to follow an elementary world study, not to follow Jesus Christ (Colo. 2: 8).  A woman was made from man, and a woman was created for man, and because the man is the head of a woman (Cor. 11: 6-8) says, the reason why women claim to put on their heads is that they are caused by differences in the order in which they create men and women.  Paul emphasizes, the way covering woman’s head, it is a profession of faith that acknowledges that women are a creature under the authority of man (11:3).  Paul simply interprets the argument by conveying his idea.[6]  “If the woman does not cover her head, she will bind it” (11:6).  In their culture background, it was a shame that a woman’s head was short, it can be used only when they have to show mourning or sorrow after their family died (Deut. 21:12). This reason why Paul recognized the existing customs at this time is not to be unable to the creation order of God.  Paul is seeking the reason for a woman to follow tradition in the creation order and says the reason in Corinthians the Verse 7-9.  He says, because Men are the image and glory of God, they do not allow to cover their head, which based from Genesis 1: 26-28; God created man in the image of God, giving man the sovereignty over the land.  A man who possesses a sovereign status for all creatures and who honors the Creator by revealing it to the world is writing a shawl that is a sign of obedience. 

When focus to read the verse 2 and 16, the Apostle Paul used the words differently as a “teaching” and “practice.” It meant the tradition and customs are not rule because it is designed to convey will.  However, what should women not to cover on their heads during prayer or prophecy, rather than on whether they should do so today?  We should pay more attention to the fact that men and women are equal or discriminative.  Because customs can change, but the principle that gave rise to customs does not change.  Today’s text teaches the custom of wearing a towel on the head and the Bible principles that gave birth to that custom. What is more open about the traditions and customs is the image o Jesus, our Lord and Head of the Church.  He emphasized that even in the law clearly written in the Old Testament, the sprit and content are more important than the form.  The application and tradition of the law, which is the obstacle to content and spirit, has even been abandoned.  The representative example is related to Sabbath observance.  He did not think of the meaning of the Sabbath as the expression of the heart that loves God, but he remained him that it was hypocrisy to judge a person by his ordinance of the Sabbath rule, He also deliberately sabotage the Sabbath to break the shell.  Jesus normalized the shape of the outer form so that the inner heart of love was not raised.  People change from the heart, behavior changes, habits are formed, and personality is set up.  Depending on what this value is, the position and role of women in he church are determined.  As a representative example, it is a matter of biblical or not to give ordination to a woman who has become the subject of today’s Christianity.

This ‘Wives submit to your husband as to the Lord’, is written in New Testament (Eph. 5:22).  Paul’s disciple Timothy sought to dispel any idea that women in his community had of active ministry by proclaiming: ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man: she must be silent’ (1 Tim. 2: 11-15. NIV).  Partly Christian women continued to demand passive ministry, some chosen the ordained women as deacons to serve local churches.[7] After being issued early of the Twenty-century, women clergies became the same percentage of ordinances but, there are still conservative for women.[8]   It is to be applied according to the biblical principles of male and female positions if it is reasonable for a woman to be a leader of he church community.  It is very encouraging that feminism has guaranteed the rights of women who have been oppressed by male supremacy and that women have broadened their assurance of happiness as san equal human and participation.

Verse 9 states the purpose for which God created a woman.  Through this statement, Paul suggests that a woman, by writing a veil on her head, expresses her innocence and submission of love, and should not escape from God’s creation order.  Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him”, and verse 2: 20 says, ‘no suitable helper was found.’  These words do not suggest a woman’s subordination to a man or the male dominance of a woman.  A man can not exercise the sovereignty granted by God alone (Genesis 1:28). That sovereignty can be fully exercised when men and women are in love and obedience.  Even though men and women were created in different processes in the creation order, the obvious fact is that man, woman, and all creation were created by God.  Genesis 1 and 2 chapters indicate the origin of both men and women is ultimately God.  So, they are one, equal, independent, but subordinate to God.  A partnership implies that on one side there is no value.  A man can not be perfect without a woman, and a woman cannot be perfect without a man.  God did not see Adam happy alone.  When Adam was alone, he would have been ignorantly lonely.  Human beings are perfect and beautiful with men and women together.

 Tate offers two authors’, Farley and Fiorenza, idea: ‘Virtually all feminist critics place extreme importance upon the feminist consciousness’, ‘All women are fully human and are to be valued as such.  Any biblical passage or interpretation which devalues the humanity of women cannot be accepted as binding revelation’, and ‘Because women have found that traditional interpretations of their identity regularly contradict their own identity consciousness and self-experience, the basic criterion for judging truth is women’s experience.’ 

The beginning of the verse 17, it shows why Paul did not praise the Corinthians.  The gathering of the Corinthians was not profitable, because it made a deviation in verse 19, because the rich oppressed the poor in verse 22 and disregarded the Lord’s supper.  Paul wrote, ‘In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.’  He did not want to believe the rumors about the dispute can not be denied when he sees the truth of the rumors.  Paul’s words in verse 19, it positively indicates the purpose of he presence of the church in the church.  The differences and factions of opinions within the church sometimes lead to serious cries, but such crises serve to reveal truth in the providence of God, and through the progress of crisis, Christians grow into a mature believer.

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The sacrament meeting today is held in a symbolic sense, so it ends with a piece of bread and a glass of wine, but the sacrament meeting at the time was also a joint meal.  Just as Jesus’s first sacrament meeting with his disciples was a dinner spot.  The saints prepare their own food and come up with the prize, honoring the cross of the Lord on the spot, committing to becoming a community, and having a communion with the sacrament meeting.  By the way, there have been people in the Corinthian church who have been greatly hurt by this sacrament meeting or joint meal.  Many have what they have prepared for them to eat and share with them the food they have brought with them, whether they are poor people or not, whether they really need to eat or not. Those who did not get involved in the place were hungry without eating.  Some of the wealthy people have been gathering themselves sharing food behind hunger but also, they did not concern others.

The Apostle Paul rebuke them greatly.  The sacrament of the Church is a truly Holy and meaningful ceremony, which our Lord has instituted on the last night, and that men’s personal feelings, desires, and selfish thoughts will make the sacrament completely fade, it is caused. The sacrament, which comes from the motivation of such an innocent heat, strongly admonishes the act of defiling the Lord’s body.  It is nothing but our knowing, that we have something.  As the Apostle Paul confessed in Philippians 3:10, all such things are like faces in comparison to Christ Jesus.  If we believe in Jesus Christ, the most noble and honorable treasure in the world, and we have Him, we need a commitment to make everything else as a waste for Him.

Jesus rebuked the arrogant foolishness of those who did not look at people first as a standard of the law, but rather the standard of the law, and made them realize that there was no love in the hearts of men.  We have created the Revolution of Love in the history of mankind by having our own cross to pour out love.  If Jesus insisted that even the law was to be discarded, he must insist on the customs of Jewish culture since the days of Jesus, even to this day, he would be a Neo-pharisee who is worse than the old Pharisees.

It is not in the Old Testament that women should put on their heads.  Nothing in the Old Testament law teaches women to wear on their heads when they pray.  In addition, the apostle Paul stated in the verse 2 that this was a tradition he had delivered to the Corinthian church, but this tradition does not originate from Jesus.  In fact, Jesus did not mention any religious practices other than baptism and participation in the Lord’s Supper.  

  • Peppiatt, Lucy. Women and Worship at Corinth: Paul’s rhetorical arguments in 1 Corinthians. Accessed December 11, 2018. ProQuest eBook central. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2015, 1.
  • Tate, W. Randolph. Biblical Interpretation. 2011: Baker Academic a division of Baker Publishing Group, MI, 239.
  • Piper, John and Wayne A. Grudem. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical feminism. Crossway, Wheaton, Crossway, 2006, Chapter 5.  https://seu.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&.
  • Ruether, Rosemary Radford. “should women want women priests or women-church?” Feminist Theology 20, no. 1 (September 2011): 2. doi:10.1177/0966735011411814.

[1].  1 Corinthians. 11: 2-24 (NIV).

[2].  Lucy Peppiatt, Women and Worship at Corinth: Paul’s rhetorical arguments in 1 Corinthians, accessed December 11, 2018. ProQuest eBook central. (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2015), 1.

[3].  Ibid.

[4].  W. Randolph Tate, Biblical Interpretation (2011: Baker Academic a division of Baker Publishing Group, MI), 239.

[5].  Ibid, 237.

[6].  John Piper and Wayne, A Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical feminism. Crossway, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), Chapter 5. https://seu.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&.

[7].  Rosemary Radford Ruether, “should women want women priests or women-church?”  Feminist Theology 20, no. 1 (September 2011): 2, doi:10.1177/0966735011411814.

[8].  Ibid, 6.

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