I knew Jesus was an egalitarian in the way he respected women in the first century's male-dominated society, but Paul? His infamous passages denigrating women made me shudder, along with every feminist on the planet. In my more moderate evangelical circles, we dealt with those passages as culturally conditioned anomalies of first century bias that were not applicable to our modern cultural context. But what if those passages were never in the original Greek text? That was something I never considered because the possibility was never allowed inside the narrow confines of the theologically-conservative churches I attended.
Well, you learn something new every day. In reading Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, I learned just how reasonable the case is that the I Cor. 14:34-35 passage ("It is shameful for a woman to speak in church..." That one.) is bogus. What a breath of fresh air. But the real shocker for me is that my old friend Gordon Fee (not literally--I'm a long time fan of one of his books on how to interpret the Bible), put forth this case way back in 1987 in his commentary on I Corinthians! Where the hell was I? I didn't get the memo. Ehrman cited Fee in his book. I feel slighted. All these years Fee taught part of the Bible was altered and the evangelical church never bought it. And the Bible hasn't been revised (or footnoted as far as I know) in any modern translations to reflect it.
The case is strong. Take verses 33b to 35 out and read the passage and see how much more it makes sense. And, how suddenly Paul isn't contradicting his great line "...there is no male or female in Christ... all are one," or what he says elsewhere, or contradicting Jesus and his welcoming of women. Ehrman reveals how additions to texts were not uncommon by scribes who had theologically biased reasons to alter things. Some of them never made it into our modern Bibles but some did! Ehrman (and Garry Wills) also makes the case that Paul didn't write I Timothy. Guess where the other anti-feminist verse is attributed to Paul? You got it. I Timothy.