Members have voted to refer the legislation for further discussion on Monday, when a vote is planned.
Women now constitute a third of priests and there is a widespread feeling among Anglicans that the new role should be open to them.
But plans to exempt traditionalists from serving under women bishops have caused division within the Church.
Not since the Church voted to create women priests in 1992 has it faced such a momentous decision, says BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott.
There has been a wish not to alienate traditionalists who oppose women bishops and the ending of centuries of tradition, our correspondent added.
This has resulted in a proposal that would give traditionalist parishes the right of access to an alternative, male, bishop, who shared their beliefs about women clergy.
But some liberal Anglicans claim this would render women "second class" bishops and they may vote to reject the draft legislation, along with conservatives opposed to it.
With the numbers so finely balanced, the stage is set for a dramatic debate on Monday, and a cliff-hanging moment as the vote is cast”
Q&A: Women bishops vote
Earlier, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams urged clergy and bishops from the Canterbury Diocese to approve the legislation in order for it to be debated further on Monday.
"We are looking into the abyss now," he warned.
"Like the majority of members of the synod, and the majority of the members of the Church of England, I am very firmly of the view that we need to proceed as speedily as we can to resolve this question because I, like most of you, long to see women bishops in the Church of England," he said.
"I also long for there to be the kind of provision for those who continue to have theological reservations on this subject, for their position to be secured in such a way that they can feel grateful for the outcome as others do."
The Synod could also opt to adjourn the debate further to allow amendments made to the proposal in May to be reconsidered.
Any adjournment would delay a final vote until November at the earliest. But a defeat would mean the appointment of women bishops would be at least another five years away.
The Synod needs a two-thirds majority in all three houses of the General Synod, of bishops, clergy and laity.
If approved there, it would be sent to Parliament for approval and Royal Assent. The earliest likely date for a woman bishop to be appointed would be 2014.
So far more than 1,000 lay Anglo-Catholics and 80 priests dissatisfied with the direction the Church of England is taking over women bishops have left to join the Ordinariate set up by the Vatican in 2011 for former Anglicans.
Headlines Newsview all
Amanda Holden at the centre of Twitter backlash as she sends daughter to school dressed as Pretty Woman prostitute for fancy dress day
A parenting group has slammed TV star Amanda Holden for posting a picture of her nine-year-old daughter 'dressed as a prostitute' online.The Britain's Got Talent ... Full story
Grandmother filmed confronting militants and branding them 'devils' before quoting verses in the Koran that forbid slaughter
An incredible video has emerged showing the moment an elderly woman bravely confronted two Islamic State militants, telling them their terror group is cursed and ... Full story
Jobseeker shocked to be sent rudest rejection email ever calling him an 'old, aesthetically challenged professional pr*** with no teeth'
A jobseeker was shocked after he was branded as 'irritating', 'rude' and 'obnoxious' in a cutting email accidentally sent to him by a prospective employer.James ... Full story
Rate this article
MOST POPULAR ON CAPITALBAY
- Paperback reviews: From The Haunted Life: The Lost Novella, by Jack Kerouac to The Drone Eats With Me, by Atef Abu Saif
- Anthony Martial scout report: £36m man set for Manchester United is reminiscent of Arsenal icon Thierry Henry but can be idle
- X Factor contestant in Bindi bust: Contestant is trolled after triggering response from viewers who say she should not be wearing the symbol because she is not Indian
X Factor contestant in Bindi bust: Contestant is trolled after triggering response from viewers who say she should not be wearing the symbol because she is not Indian
Chloe Paige wore the traditional Hindu symbol during her X Factor auditionThe 21-year-old wowed the judges but sparked a furious race row onlineMany tweeted the ...
Tori Shipman, 20, charged by NSW Police after she crashed her car in Willow Tree, killing her two-year-old daughter and critically injuring her 11-month-old son
Mother who crashed her car, killing young daughter, charged by policeTori Shipman, 20, rolled her car while driving in NSW last monthShipman's two-year-old daughter died ...
'We are the workers' party now': Cameron unveils crackdown on rogue bosses who fail to pay new £7.20 living wage
Government to double the fines on companies caught underpaying staffBosses face £20,000 charge for paying below the new national living wageFrom April, firms will have ...
A course co-ordinator lost his job for sending 'insulting' emails to IT staffAn international college in Melbourne claims the emails were 'disrepectful'The course co-ordinator took the matter ...
David Cameron had wanted to opt out of most the EU employment rules But it is understood he will abandon this in his renegotiation with EuropeNow ...
Robin Bailey read out heartfelt message live on air thanking everyone for the support over past year since her husband took his own lifeSmartmen men's ...
Mother, 30, of three-year-old boy who tragically burned to death in a unit fire in Beenleigh succumbs to her injuries and dies two days later
Crystal Cartledge, 30, died in hospital on Tuesday with injuries from fireHer son, three, died at the scene on Sunday nightThe unit fire broke out ...
Officers received reports of a burglary in process in 'a grey brick house' Police in Atlanta responded to the wrong house and a gunfight took placeOne ...
1. Chinese manufacturing activity fell into contraction, the figure slumping to three-year low in the latest sign of slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy. ...
Joel Rosenthal spotted the mammal looking for food at kitchen counterHe approached the bear named rose and began ushering it from his houseBear walked towards ...