Last week (the 15th, on the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church) was also the 37th anniversary of Inter Insigniores in which the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith summed up the theological case for ordaining only men (and thereby restricting preaching from the ambo during Mass to men). I wondered precisely what that document had to say about women preaching, so I went back and read it.
The CDF makes it clear that they do not see St. Paul's prohibition of women teaching as culturally inflected, but as "bound up with the divine creation."
However, the Apostle's forbidding of women to speak in the assemblies (1 Cor 14:34-35; 1 Ti, 2:12) is of a different nature, and exegetes define its meaning in this way: Paul in no way opposes the right, which he elsewhere recognises as possessed by women, to prophesy in the assembly (1 Cor 11:15); the prohibition solely concerns the official function of teaching in the Christian assembly. For Saint Paul this prescription is bound up with the divine plan of creation (1 Cor 11:7; Gen 2:18-24): it would be difficult to see in it the expression of a cultural fact. Inter Insigniores (10/15/76)In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says,
A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 1 Cor 11:17The newly revised NAB notes, with respect to this verse that
"Paul is alluding basically to the text of Gn 1:27, in which mankind as a whole, the male-female couple, is created in God’s image and given the command to multiply and together dominate the lower creation. But Gn 1:24 is interpreted here in the light of the second creation narrative in Gn 2, in which each of the sexes is created separately (first the man and then the woman from man and for him, to be his helpmate, Gn 2:20–23), and under the influence of the story of the fall, as a result of which the husband rules over the woman (Gn 3:16). This interpretation splits the single image of God into two, at different degrees of closeness."Ah, so women are created in the image of God, but an image that isn't as close to God as that of men. I will admit that I hadn't quite appreciated that this was the root of the issue. Men can teach and preach because they directly reflect God's image for us, women reflect God at one remove. Women thus necessarily preach from a distance, and this (in Paul's view) makes them inherently unable to teach authoritatively.
How does this notion of "different degrees of closeness" in being image and likeness of God play with the notion that this likeness in image rests chiefly in the soul? Are women's souls different from men's souls? Less "like" to God? Equal in dignity, but lesser in image?
Image is Georges de la Tour's Magdalen with the Smoking Flame. Mary Magdalen was called by Augustine, an apostle to the apostles.