Ehrman states that disputes arose regarding the role of women in the early church "precisely because women had a role - often a significant and publicly high profile role." This was one of the main criticisms the pagan early opponents of Christianity leveled against it. But since Paul didn't urge a complete social revolution (equality of the sexes) just as he didn't urge for the abolition of slavery (although he said there is neither slave or free), future generation continued to debate the worth and place of women. This led to the suppression of the role of women in the church altogether.
To Ehrman part of this suppression involved the creation of letters written in Paul's name, but by others with different agendas. Many scholars believe that the book of 1 Timothy with its extreme views of women was one such book. It contradicts Paul's earlier ideas because it is not by Paul and was written later. Similarly as the debates continued scribes made changes to scripture in order to limit the role of women and alter texts that seemed too permissive. Examples include restrictive passages missing in some early manuscripts, the changing of the apostle's female name Junia (a common name) to the unheard of male name Junias (because women couldn't be apostles), and changing texts like "prominent women" to "wives of prominent men."
This approach assumes that yes, those passages as we read them in the scripture are oppressive and restrictive of women. But that textual criticism implies that those passages were not originally written as such but were altered by scribes trying to align scriptures with their own sense of the limited role of women. This is a very different approach from those who assume that the scriptures as we have them are what God intended, but that our sexist prejudices have led to restrictive interpretations. How do you react to these different approaches to the troublesome passages regarding women? Does one approach make more sense to you? What are the problems with either approach and which may be the most helpful to the cause of women?