Do people here entertain the possibility that Paul's egalitarianism which is demonstrated in other parts of his writings and actions may possibly have been somewhat altered during a redaction by well meaning later followers. The changes or additions would have been made by those who felt their understanding better reflected a woman's position within the emerging church and a developing hierarchical structure not known to Paul.
At one point in Corinthians he argues that a woman should have her head covered when prophesying, later he seems to suggest they should keep their mouths shut. Thus, at one section they can speak with head covered, and at another surprisingly in the same letter, they must remain silent.
I'm new here too, but I've heard people (not here) claim that Paul was too egalitarian for their tastes so they made his writings more sexist.
Textual criticism I've seen seems to lean against redaction for the most part. I think the real issue is concerning context and interpretation. Your examples are good ones to highlight this.
The section about head coverings is, IMHO, really saying Paul gives women the authority to decide whether to cover their heads or not. In 1 Cor. 11:11 he says "However...", so we're going to hear a contrast to what he just said, which has to do with the old distinctions between men and women regarding the symbolism of head coverings. After stressing interdependence between men and women in Christ, he says "Decide for yourselves". Then he talks about hair and nature, but I believe most translations have it backwards (see the ISV here). He isn't making up some illustration from nature that doesn't exist; after all, men and women both grow long hair naturally. In other words, nature says nothing about head coverings. Then he ends with saying "we have no such custom". What custom? A distinction in head coverings. Putting it all together then, Paul is saying "Head coverings are not a matter of nature, and in Christ there is no issue with this. You decide." This makes even more sense when we know that culturally it could be a big problem for Christian wives of pagan husbands. If the wives were free as believers to uncover their heads, but their pagan husbands considered it a sign of loose morals, such a woman would not be advised to use her freedom and bring needless strife in the marriage. But Paul certainly did not make it mandatory, instead leaving it up to the women.
As for keeping their mouths shut, there are two equally plausible views. One is that Paul was only telling women to be silent if they were teaching falsehood, or possibly trying to take up authority as teachers without first having sat down to learn. The other is that Paul had a particular woman in mind who was teaching Gnosticism.
Remember that Paul wrote specifically to Timothy in Ephesus, who had been sent there for a purpose: to stop false teachers and endless discussions of genealogies. In 1:6 he says "they want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about". Now in ch. 2 we come to the part about "a woman", so with that context in mind let's look at the "silence" issue.
In 1 Tim. 2:11 he tells "a woman" to learn-- a very radical concept at the time. But she must do so "quietly" (not in absolute silence), like any good student. Women had been forbidden to sit at a teacher's feet and did not know proper behavior, so they had to be told this. It's also possible that these women had formerly been synagogue leaders (something little known, but there is evidence for it), and had presumed that this gave them the right to teach in the church, but Paul is saying "no, you have to start over and learn new teachings first". From what I've read, the word Paul uses for "quietness" never means absolute silence.
Verse 12 is where we see an unusual phrase never used elsewhere in the NT, and rarely in classical literature: authenteo tinos
. Debate rages over what that means, being presumed to mean "usurp authority" in the vast majority of translations. But what is this presumption based upon, given the rarity of the term and that Paul used other words for authority elsewhere (like the part about women having authority over their own heads)? The nearest guess at the meaning is that of "murderer, one who takes unlawful control", and that it possibly includes sexual overtones. This likely refers to the pagan (Gnostic, I'm pretty sure) practice of women priestesses giving spiritual revelation to men via intercourse in pagan temples. But though this meaning is possible, it does not fit the immediate context at all. Paul is discussing proper behavior and I seriously doubt any of the churches at that time would have even thought about continuing such a practice from pagan religion. So most who take the meaning of "usurp authority" view it as referring to taking authority improperly
, but then it raises the question, why is Paul only concerned with this when men are involved? From there, the presumed answer is that what is unlawful is women having any kind of authority
over men, but why call it unlawful then? Why not just say "I do not permit any woman to have authority over a man"? Too many problems with these views.
I think there is a better meaning for authenteo tinos
: to teach that woman is the source or originator of man, as the Gnostics taught. They believed Eve was first and Adam created from her, and Paul is addressing a particular woman who has begun to teach this. This interpretation makes perfect sense out of vs. 13-14, where Paul refers to the fact that Adam was formed first and then Eve. It is chronology
Paul is talking about, not authority. But then, why did he follow that with Eve being the one who was deceived?
Again, the topic of the letter is false teaching. Paul is saying that this false teacher is deceived herself, just like Eve, and must therefore stop, sit down, and learn the truth. But what does chronology have to do with deception?
Adam knew that God created Eve, but Eve never actually witnessed God's creative power in any way. Because of that, only Eve could conceivably be fooled into thinking she could be like God; Adam knew better through firsthand experience.
This scenario makes much better sense of the passage. If we view it in the context of false teaching, particularly that of Gnosticism's belief that Eve came first, it flows along smoothly and does not make Paul contradict his other writings. But if we presume the topic switched to authority here, we run into all sorts of problems.
Now what about that pesky vs. 15? "She will be saved through the childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." This is very strange syntax: "she will... if they". I've heard all sorts of contortions to try and make sense of this, and most translations simply ignore it and mistranslate it completely. But if this is a particular woman, and "they" are she and her husband, it clears right up. In fact, if we pay attention to the actual grammar as "she will... if they", it's the clue that interprets the whole passage. "She" is the false teacher, "a woman", who is to stop teaching Gnostic falsehood to her husband. This dissolves all the conjecture about whether the passage has Paul either silencing all women for all time or even just women at that church. It's all moot if we know who "she" and "they" are.
"She" cannot be Eve, because then Paul would be saying Eve could be saved if women far in the future would be faithful! Impossible. But what is "the childbearing? Notice that the Greek has it in the form of a noun, not a verbal form. So what does Paul mean? Knowing that Paul makes frequent use of plays on words (like what he said just before addressing "head" coverings), we can say that this expression does two things: to dismiss the pagan fears about safety in physical childbirth, and at the same time refer to a much more important Childbirth.
So that whole chapter, IMHO, says something like this:
"Timothy, stop false teachings. Tell them to pray from a pure heart, and make sure they know the gospel. Stop that woman who is teaching Gnosticism and tell her to sit down and learn quietly. After all, we know that it was Adam who was formed first, and Eve was fooled because of her lack of experience. Tell the couple that she can still be saved in spite of what she's been doing, but they have to be faithful now."
(I owe much gratitude for some of this understanding to Cheryl Schatz of Women In Ministry, and Dr. Ann Nyland, a classical Greek scholar.)