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CORNELIUS A LAPIDE, <I>Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram</I>

Cornelius A Lapide

CORNELIUS A LAPIDE, Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram (Antwerp 1616), Paris 1868, vol. 18, pgs 353-354, 396.

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Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14,34-35

Verse 34. “Women should keep silent in church” - - even prophetesses, because it is against nature and the law that women should speak in the presence of men to whom they are subject (Gen 3,16). Thus says Ambrose and, following him, Anselm.

Secondly, because speaking is against their modesty and humility. Thus says Anselm.

Thirdly, because men have a better judgment, better intellect, better power of speech and discretion than women have.

Fourthly, “rightly women are ordered to keep silent”, says Anselm, “since, when they speak, they persuade their husbands to sin (Gen 3).”

Fifthly, in order to put a brake on their loquacity. For, as the saying goes: “as many pots and pans are together, so many little bells are being rung”, which happens when two women quarrel. This would easily happen in church if they were permitted to teach. About this silence of women I will say more when commenting on 1 Tim 2,9. Therefore, what justice and what propriety would remain if, contrary to the Apostle’s command and contrary to all custom, a woman was to be head of some particular Church?!

To put this in perspective, woman is passion and concupiscence, man is reason. She should therefore keep silent and submit herself to reason. See about this Chrysostom, homily 37 when he works out the moral. “A woman is more merciful and more inclined to weep than a man”, says Aristotle (The Nature of Animals, Book 9, Chapter 1). “She is also more jealous and quarrelsome, more evil-tongued and bitter. She is anxious and less confident than the male, also more imprudent and untrustworthy, though also easier to deceive”.

Verse 35. “If women want to learn something, they should ask their husbands at home” - - on this Primasius remarks: “Men should be so learned that they can teach their wives and instruct them in matters pertaining to faith, but if they have not studied as is often the case, by whom should women be instructed? Primasius responds: ”They have preachers, confessors and teachers who can instruct them". Secondly, it is better for women to ignore some things that are not necessary for them than to ask and learn about them in church, risking scandal and immodesty.

You may object: “Anna the prophetess spoke to all in the Temple about the Christ (Luke 2)”. I answer: Yes, she spoke to all, that is, privately to individual people, not in church, that is not in an ecclesiastical gathering, neither in the Temple properly speaking. For the Temple of the Jews could not be entered by either men or women but only by priests. Anna therefore spoke to single women in the enclosure reserved for women, for the women had an enclosure that was distinct from the enclosure for men, as Josephus tells us.

You may also object: “Nuns sing in their churches”. I answer: That is not a church, not a convention of the faithful people, but only a choir of nuns.

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11, 4 and 5

“Every man who prays or prophesies with his head veiled, dishonours his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies without having veiled her head, dishonours her head”. - - It is distasteful for a man to be veiled, since honesty, freedom and virility require that the man does not veil his head, but shows his head openly and freely. On the contrary, it is distasteful for a woman not to veil her head, for honesty and shame require that a woman veils her head. Therefore a woman is to be veiled, not however a man.

Notice the expression “a woman who prays or prophesies”. “ She prophesies” must not be taken here to mean properly “she speaks a prophecy”, or “explains a prophecy”, but only in an improper sense, that is in the sense of she praises God through sacred hymns and psalms, singing these out to God. For Paul is speaking here about the public gathering where he does not allow a woman to speak, nor to teach, but only to sing, since the whole congregation sings. This meaning of “singer” for “prophet” can be found in 1 Esr 25,1 and 1 Kings 10,10. In this way Saul is said to have been among the prophets, that is among singers, people singing God’s praises. In the same way the people who ministered to God’s praises and God’s worship are called the children of prophets in the Books of Kings.

Some commentators explain “prophesying” as meaning hearing a prophecy. However never do we find prophesying in a passive meaning. It is always active. Moreover the woman about whom the Apostle speaks here means any woman, namely as well virgins and unmarried women as married women are corrupt: for he orders all of them to be veiled as Tertullian teaches (On the Veiling of Virgins, chapter 4 and 5). Tertullian adds that the Corinthians have interpreted Paul in this way so that they until today, he says, because of Paul’s command they veil not only their wives, but also their virgins.

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