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Women with Uncovered Heads (11:5)
Many artifacts recovered from the Corinth of Paul’s day—including figurines, statues, and coins—present women without veils or head coverings. One may speculate on this basis that bareheadedness was not a sign of a socially disapproved lifestyle in Corinth. None of these artifacts, however, shows women engaged in religious activity.
In contrast to this, Dio Chrysostom (A.D. 40–about 120), writing to Paul’s hometown Tarsus shortly after Paul’s day, suggested that in public women veiled themselves completely, such that they could not see. It may be that Paul came from a culture (Tarsus) in which dishonor attached to women who did not veil themselves in public, but wrote to a church in a culture that did not share this view. While many women may have worn veils in public worship according to the custom of the church, some preferring Corinth’s practices may have stopped wearing veils.
Women with Shaved Heads (11:5)
Dio Chrysostom indicated that a woman’s shaved head might indicate adultery and prostitution prior to Paul’s time, while Lucian indicated that after Paul’s time it may have been a mark of lesbianism. Lucian also associated short hair with a potentially adulterous woman. Beyond this, the Bible seems to indicate that shaving a woman’s head was dishonorable or humbling (Deut. 21:12–14), though without reference to adultery or prostitution.
A Sign of Authority (11:10)
The Greek text literally says that a woman ought to have “authority (exousia) on/over (epi) her head.” The NIV inserts the words “a sign of” because it assumes Paul is speaking about a head covering that represents authority. While epi often means “on” or “upon,” the evidence from Greek usage elsewhere in the Bible suggests that epi when used after exousia refers to the realm in which authority is possessed (i.e., “authority on earth,” Luke 5:24), or to the thing over which authority is possessed (Rev. 2:26). The grammatical evidence suggests that Paul meant that women ought to exercise authority over their own heads.
Long Hair on Men (11:14)
Contrary to popular myth, the evidence from Greek philosophy of Paul’s day is that nature did not teach that long hair on men was disgraceful. Epictetus is often cited as proof that nature distinguished men from women by giving men beards (Epictetus 1.16.9–14). In fact, Epictetus himself probably wore long hair (Epictetus 4.8.5). Evidence from Dio Chyrsostom concurs that no stigmas attached to men with long hair, whether from culture, religion, philosophy, or the natural world.
By Richard L. Pratt Jr
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 Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 190–191.
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