This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology.

Friday, May 10, 2024

The Interpolation of 1 Cor. 14.34–35 and the Reversal of the Name Order of Prisca and Aquila at 1 Cor. 16.19

 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 reads,

Women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

It has long been suspected that these verses are an interpolation that was not written by Paul. This is now confirmed by my JSNT article, which is open access here.

The article argues the following points:

1. These verses appear in a different location in western manuscripts and Gordon Fee was right that this shows that they were likely not original.

2. Prisca was originally named before her husband, Aquila, at 1 Cor 16:19, as elsewhere. The names were reversed, probably by the same hand that added 1 Cor 14:34–35. The original name order is witnessed by 2 Tim 4:19.

3. Romans 16:3–5 sends greetings to Prisca and Aquila and the church in their house, but this church was deleted from two manuscripts. It was then re-inserted in a manuscript, but in the wrong place, where it remains in the western manuscripts.

4. Romans 16:17–20a is very likely an interpolation too.

5. The western manuscripts of 1 Corinthians are likely derived from a copy that Fortunatus (1 Cor 16:17) sent to Rome after he and his household had been deposed from leadership of the church of Corinth. The Church of Rome responded by writing First Clement, which urges the Corinthians to reinstate their leaders, and mentions Fortunatus.

In summary, major corruptions to manuscripts of Paul's letters, while not common, tended to concern the question of who should have authority. In particular, they often reduced the authority of women.


  1. Note that row 1.10 in table 1 is an error. Also, in row 1.8 the minuscule 565 is incorrect. Thanks to Buck Daniel and James Dowden for pointing these out. The data on the Pericope Adulterae in my article is necessarily incomplete. The Wikipedia article lists many more manuscripts that omit or displace this passage.

  2. Hi Richard,

    You say, correctly, that 1 Clement "is usually dated to near the end of the first century". Do you know the dissertation of Thomas Herron? He says that 1 Clement was written before 70. Thomas J. Herron: Clement and the Early Church of Rome: On the Dating of Clement's First Epistle to the Corinthians