A passage in the Bible that was used to prevent women from being ordained is not original and was added in later, it is claimed.
The section in Corinthians, which says that women should remain silent in church, has been used to restrict the priesthood to men only.
But academic has claimed that the passage was not written by the Apostle Paul but was actually added in later.
New addition: The passage which is believed to have been added later on - section 1 Corinthians 14:34 - which decrees women should not speak in church
It reads: 'Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.'
But Dr Philip Barton Payne, a US academic writing in the journal New Testament Studies has now cast doubt on section 1 Corinthians 14:34.
He claimed that a symbol next to the passage shows that the writer believed it was not original - but was added in later.
Dr Payne analysed the Codex Vaticanus, one of the oldest versions of the Greek Bible, and identified the symbol called a 'distigmeobelos'.
It is made up of two smalls dots and a dash and appears in the left margin of the text at the beginning of verse 34.
The academic also argued that the passage is inconsistent with other sections pf Paul's letter to the Corinthians, including Corinthians 11:5.
It says: 'Every woman who prays prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head.' - which suggests that women are allowed to preach.
In his paper Dr Payne says: 'This study demonstrates that scribe