Susanna Krizo wrote comments based on thinking that 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 addresses women in the church in Corinth who were cutting their hair off and men who were growing long hair, both of which Paul opposes. I explained that if Paul were trying to keep women from cutting their hair off, it does not make sense that he would give the command in 11:6 “If a woman will not cover herself, then she should cut off her hair.” I believe our correspondence may be helpful to others since it sheds light both on various [mis]readings of 1 Cor 11:2-16 and how my interpretation answers these questions.
The key insight of this discussion is that Paul gives the proper answer to the question of 1 Cor 11:13, “Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God uncovered?” in verses 14-15, “Does not the very nature of things teach you that it is degrading for a man to wear long hair, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory, for her hair is given to her as a covering.” By conjoining these questions, Paul associates “uncovered” with hair and explicitly states that “hair is given to her as a covering.” Consequently, Paul here defines hair as a woman’s covering and explains that if she wears it “as a wraparound,” it is her glory. Since verses 14-15 identify long hair as degrading to a man but the glory of a woman, they also answer the question raised by 11:4 regarding men’s head covering: “What ‘hanging down from a man’s head’ is disgraceful?” Long effeminate hair is disgraceful.
On Fri, Jul 23, 2010, Susanna Krizo wrote:
Hi, I have a question about 1 Cor 11. If “covered” means long hair tied up and “uncovered” means long hair hanging down loosely, does it not mean that men should not tie up their long hair but let it flow down loosely since v. 7 says a man should not cover his head? This of course contradicts with v. 14-15 which says it is a dishonor for a man to have long hair to begin with. Unless the words “covered” and “uncovered” mean different things when referring to men and women (which is how CBMW does theology) I cannot see how this contradiction can be avoided.
Thank you for your questions.
We must try to understand the text of 1 Cor 11:2-16 within the light of what it’s Greek text actually states and what we know of the culture it addresses.
In order for a man to display effeminate hair, he had to have long hair or a wig. Typically, however, men “in drag” would do up their hair in ways that women did up their hair. Based on examination of hundreds of sculptures of women’s heads with Professor E. A. Judge of Macquarie University while he was in Cambridge, I can say with complete confidence that Hellenistic women are almost invariably depicted with hair done up. The few exceptions I recall were depictions of the Maenads, the sexually wild women participating in Dionysiac frenzies.
Consequently, for a man to wear his hair like a woman, typically required long hair and entailed doing that hair up like a woman would. When Paul identifies long hair itself he uses expressions specifically referring to long hair (KOMA), as in verses 14 and 15. but when he has hair styles specifically in view he uses words indicating the use of hair as a “covering.” Verse 15 combines these two, “[Does note even nature teach you that] if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering.” This why verse 6 says, “Let her be covered.” She already had long hair, she just needed to put it up.
Juvenal’s Satire II (A.D. 116) 93-96 describes this same combination of long hair and doing it up regarding men. He depicts “secret torchlight orgies” for “none but males: One prolongs his eyebrows… another drinks out of an obscenely shaped glass, and ties up his long locks in a gilded net.” G. G. Ramsay, trans., Juvenal and Persius (LCL, 1979) 25.
You ask, “If “covered” means long hair tied up and “uncovered” means long hair hanging down loosely, does it not mean that men should not tie up their long hair but let it flow down loosely since v. 7 says a man should not cover his head?”
According to Paul’s instructions, men should not tie up their long hair [if they have long hair]. Paul does not, however, say that men should let [their long hair] flow down loosely, but rather that “long hair is degrading to a man” in 1 Cor 11:14. Indeed, he says, “every man who prays or prophesies ‘having down from the head’ [which most naturally refers to long hair] disgraces his head” in 11:4.
You are correct that encouraging men to wear long hair let down would contradict verse 14, for its teaches that “it is a disgrace for a man to have long hair.”
You state, “Unless the words ‘covered’ and ‘uncovered’ mean different things when referring to men and women (which is how CBMW does theology) I cannot see how this contradiction can be avoided.”
There is no contradiction to be avoided since Paul never never says that men should be “uncovered” meaning with long hair let down. He states only:
11:3 It is a disgrace for men to have “down from the head,” namely to have long hair. This expression probably means “hanging down from the head,” but it is theoretically possible that it means “having on the head.” Cf. Man and Woman, One in Christ, page 141, note 3.
11:7 “A man ought not to cover his head.” NB: this does not state that a man should let down long hair. The following reasons given for this emphasize the differentiation of the sexes, which points to Paul’s concern regarding men displaying effeminate hair, namely depicting themselves as women.
11:14 “Does not even the nature of things teach you that it is degrading for a man to have long hair?”
The bottom line is that Paul does use “cover” consistently to refer to doing up hair over one’s head, whether by men or women. In the case of men, Paul prohibits effeminate hair in 11:7 because it symbolized rejection of the sexual differentiation God created and undermines marriage. In the case of women, Paul prohibits the opposite, letting hair down, since it symbolized sexual freedom and the repudiation of marital vows and sexual fidelity within marriage.
1 Cor 11:3 states, “Any man who prays or prophesies ‘having down from his head’ disgraces his head.” What head covering would have been disgraceful for men in Corinth, a Greek city and a Roman colony? The pulling of a toga over ones head in Roman religious contexts was a sign of piety, not disgrace. Jewish priests wore turbans in obedience to the Law with no disgrace. There is, however, abundant evidence in the Greek, Roman and Jewish literature of Paul’s day that it was disgraceful for men to wear long effeminate hair, whether hanging down or done up like a woman’s hair. Long hair fits Paul’s expression in v. 4, literally “hanging down from the head,” and Paul confirms in v. 10, “if a man has long hair, it is degrading to him.”
The extent of moral indignation over effeminate hairstyles by men is abundantly documented with over 100 references to effeminate hair in classical antiquity cited by Herter, the greatest number of these coming from around Paul’s time. These are listed in H. Herter, “Effeminatus,” RAC 2, 620-650.
The following citations give a good feel for the shame associated with men wearing long hair: Pseudo-Phocylides (30 B.C. – A.D. 40) 210-14 advised, “Long hair is not fit for men.” P. W. van der Horst, The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides with Introduction and Commentary, SVTP 4 (Leiden: Brill, 1978) 81-83.
Philo’s The Special Laws (A.D. 39) III.37-42 states, “A much graver… evil… has ramped its way into the cities, … the disease of effemination. … Mark how conspicuously they braid and adorn the hair of their heads. … [The Law] ordains that the man-woman who debases the sterling coin of nature should perish. … [These are] grievous vices of unmanliness and effeminacy… licentiousness and effeminacy.” F. H. Colson, trans., Philo, 10 vols. (LCL, 1988) 7:498-501. See, similarly, Philo’s The Special Laws I.325, The Contemplative Life, 59-62 and On Abraham 133-136.
The Stoic Musonius Rufus (A.D. 66) called hair “a covering by nature” and objected to men “cutting the hair… to appear as women and to be seen as womanish, something that should be avoided at all cost.” Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, “Sex and Logic in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16,” CBQ 42 (1980) 487.
Josephus’s The Jewish War (A.D. 70) 4, 561-63 states, “[They] unscrupulously indulged in effeminate practices, plaiting their hair.” H. St. J. Thackeray, trans., Josephus, 9 vols. (LCL, 1979) 3:166-167.
Plutarch’s Moralia (A.D. 80) 785E calls a man having “his hair curled” disgraceful. Harold North Fowler, trans., Plutarch’s Moralia Volume X (LCL, 1969) 10:90-91.
The whole first chapter of Book III of Arrian’s Discourses of Epictetus describes Epictetus (A.D. 90) rebuking a young student from Corinth with effeminately-dressed hair as “a dreadful spectacle… against your nature… half-man and half-woman… Dress your locks… God forbid!” W. A. Oldfather, trans., Epictetus: The Discourses as Reported by Arrian, The Manual, and Fragments, 2 vols. (LCL, 1966) 2:15-21.
Dio Chrysostom (A.D.100) 33, 52 states, “in violation of nature’s laws… the wretched culprits commit their heinous deeds all unobserved; yet… style of haircut… reveal[s] their true character….” 35, 11 states, “long hair must not by any means be taken as a mark of virtue.” Cohoon and Crosby, Dio Chrysostom, 3:401.
These and many other such references near the time of Paul show that long effeminate hair on men was considered degrading, disgraceful, and contrary to the norms of Greek, Roman and Jewish culture. E.g. Arrian’s Discourses of Epictetus 3.22.10-11; Josephus, Antiquities 19,30; Cicero, In Catilinam 2,22-23; Dionysius of Halicarnassus 7,9,4; Strabo, Geography 10.3.8; Horace, Epodes 11:28; Seneca, Epistles 95,24; Seneca, Oedipus 416-421; Plutarch, Moralia 261F; Lucian, Affairs of the Heart 3; Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.19.1; Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae xii.524f-525a; Diogenes Laertius 8,47.
The most common word to describe long effeminate hair is the very word Paul used in v. 14, “degrading” (ATIMIA). The major reason long hair was degrading for men was its association with effeminate homosexuality. There are many examples of young men with long hair engaged in homosexual acts depicted on Grecian pottery. Since the evidence is overwhelming that Greek and Roman men in Paul’s day typically wore short hair, long hair stood out in its association with effeminate homosexuality.
Paul introduces men’s shameful covering in verse 4: “Every man who prays or prophesies [literally:] ‘having down from his head’ disgraces his head.” The preposition KATA with a genitive of place means “down from” (LSJ 882 A.I, Bauer Danker Arndt Gingrich [BDAG] 511 A.1.a, lit. “hanging down fr. the head”). It was not shameful in Greek, Roman, or Jewish culture for a man to drape a garment over his head. This capite velato custom symbolized religious devotion and piety. The Hebrew Scriptures and later Jewish custom approved head-covering garments for men in worship. Consequently, to prohibit them would have complicated Paul’s relationships with synagogues. It also would have contradicted Paul’s principle of becoming all things to all people, his principle of freedom in Christ, and his principle of the oneness of male and female in Christ. “Having down from his head” more naturally refers to long effeminate hair. Accordingly, Chrysostom (c. 344–407), In Ep. 1 ad Cor. hom. 6.4, states, “But with regard to the man, it is no longer about covering but about wearing long hair, that he so forms his discourse.”33 In verses 5–6, Paul mentions hair four times using the words “shaved” and “shorn,” and verse 14 explains that long hair is degrading to men.
In the Dionysiac cult, men wore long hair to symbolize homosexuality or to present themselves as women, and women let their hair down or even shaved it.34 The Roman historian Livy (59 b.c. –a.d. 17) writes that in Dionysiac initiation rites “there were more lustful practices among men with one another than among women.”35 Paul opposed such homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 6:11, stating, “such were some of you.” First Corinthians 10:7–8 warns against “pagan revelry” and “sexual immorality” that, like the practices in seventeen passages in 1 Corinthians (5:1–2, 9–10; 6:9; 8:10; 9:1, 19; 10:7–8, 2 21, 2 25–28; 11:4–9, 13–14, 2 21–22 ; 12:2; 14:2–4, 5–17, 2 23, 2 26–33), reflect the Dionysiac cult. Unlike a garment covering, effeminate hair was shameful to “every man,” Greek, Jewish, and Roman.
Why did Paul use the vague expression “down from the head”? Paul probably wanted to avoid speaking directly of such disgraceful things, as Ephesians 5:12 explains. The Corinthians were aware of the homosexual associations of men wearing long effeminate hair and would understand this euphemism, like those in 1 Corinthians 5:1 and 7:1.
Susanna Krizo wrote back, and I have interspersed comments introduced with “COM:” in her message below:
That the Corinthians were influenced by the Dionysus cult and that 1 Cor 11 reflects it is only natural considering that the god was worshipped in Corinth. However, I don’t think the issue was about women letting their hair down and homosexuality for the following reasons:
1. Paul had already stated that they had amended their way of life in 6:9-11:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
It would be strange for him to rebuke the Corinthians for a behavior they had already rejected.
COM: 1 Cor 5:1 states, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans: for a man is living with his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?” RSV. If they did this, why should it be unthinkable that some men there might wear effeminate hair? Or that some of the women there might let their hair down as a sign of their freedom?
2. He is praising the Corinthians for having kept the traditions he gave them but he wants them to know something additional, (that a woman should be covered etc)
COM: Yes, this does clearly imply that what follows addresses something new. If, as the common interpretation has it, Paul is merely telling them to wear a garment over their heads as was customary in all the churches, this would not be something new. Effeminate hair and hair let down would be something new, something that it is unlikely that Paul would have addresses before because it is such strange behavior, at least in that culture.
which leads us to believe that their behavior was exhibiting a correct teaching, but they went about it in a wrong way.
COM: Nothing in Paul’s wording implies that their behavior was exhibiting a correct teaching. 1 Cor 11:4-16 tries to change their behavior because it exhibits incorrect teaching.
This becomes clear since he immediately afterwards writes that he was not praising them for their behavior when it came to the Lord’s Supper, during which some got drunk and other were hungry, and here we can clearly see the effect of the cult of Dionysus, the god of wine. Their behavior during the communion exhibited selfishness and disregard for the poor, which was against the spirit of the Gospel. The issue with the head covering, however, did not earn such a rebuke from Paul.
COM: It is not addressed as a breach of what Paul had taught them before, but it is repeatedly called “disgraceful” and the men’s display is said to be “against nature or the natural order of things.” Surely this is a rebuke.
3. It is true that the text never say the man should be uncovered (akatakalypto), instead the man should not have “something down his head.” But because verse 7 uses the word katakalypto when speaking about the man, the concept becomes problematic, for why would Paul say a man should not tie up his hair, if he wasn’t able to do in the first place (because his hair was short).
COM: How is this problematic? Of course they would have to have long hair or a wig in order to do hair up over their heads. We know from Greek literature and art that men did this (see the passages quoted in our previous correspondence). It was, apparently, an advertisement for homosexual relations, just as it is today.
I.e. the men he was talking about had to have long hair, but if they were not to tie up their hair, they had to let it hang down loosely. There really is no way around it.
COM: Yes, there is. It makes sense given the cultural attitudes toward long effeminate hair worn by men, that Paul would prohibit both long hair done up, as he does in 11:7, and long hair no matter how it is worn, up or down, as he does in 11:14. Furthermore, if a man wore a wig, the option was either to wear it or not to wear it. It was not either to wear it up or to wear it down.
The meaning of the word katakalypto is defined in verse 6:
“For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”
Being uncovered was as if the woman was shaved,
COM: The text does not require this. It most naturally refers to the bitter water custom that an accused adulteress had her hair let down as the sign of an accused adulteress. If she was convicted her hair was cut off. Therefore the woman who lets her hair down is “one and the same with a shorn woman” for she puts on herself the sign of an accused adulteress. Both were shameful. But this is not defining hair let down as being shaved. I am confident the women in Corinth who let their hair down had no intention of cutting it off. Paul is trying to show them how disgraceful what they were doing was and to shame them out of doing it.
which you link to the Jewish law and the adulterous woman. I think it is quite improbable that the Corinthians, who were not able to discern between the rituals of Dionysus and Christianity, knew the Hebrew Bible well enough to catch the significance of the comparison.
COM: Man and Woman, One in Christ cites several Hellenistic parallel customs. Furthermore, remember that the Christian Bible at that time was the OT. Paul probably makes allusions to things he had taught them. It is unwarranted to assume that the Corinthians “were not able to discern between the rituals of Dionysus and Christianity.”
In addition, that all Roman women wore their hair tied up when portrayed in public does not mean that all Greek women did,
COM: Based on the graphic portrayals we have of Greek women, this was the overwhelmingly common, virtually universal way Hellenistic women wore their hair, namely done up.
or that all Jewish women, or Syrian women, or Egyptian women did etc. especially in a home, where the church was located in the first century. Since Paul was appealing to creation, and he said that none of the other churches had such a custom, we would have to say also that all women, in all the other churches tied their hair up in the Roman fashion, regardless of where they were found.
COM: Paul says that “we, the churches of God have no such custom,” meaning that they have no custom of women letting their hair down loose in public or men wearing effeminate hair. This does not in any way contradict the possibility that some women (e.g. in Tarsus or Jerusalem) covered their hair with a garment. Can you cite any literary or graphic evidence that any Christian churches had the custom that women should let their hair down loose in public or men should wear effeminate hair? If they exist, they have eluded me.
4. If akatakalypto refers to hair hanging down loosely, the following makes absolutely no sense:
“Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her hair hanging down loosely? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”
COM: You will have to explain to me why this does not make perfect sense for the “effeminate hair/hair let down” interpretation. Paul asks them to judge for themselves, “Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her hair hanging down loosely?” the answer is, “Of course not, since that symbolized sexual freedom and availability, as it did in the Dionysiac Cult.” This would be to symbolize in public something contrary to marriage and Christian morality. Similarly, effeminate hair breaks the natural order of things. Males should depict themselves as males, not as females. This entire passage fits the “effeminate hair/hair let down” interpretation perfectly, even to “her hair is given to her for a covering,” so wear your hair as a covering, ladies! is Paul’s message.
It is improper for a woman to pray with her hair hanging down loosely, because it is a dishonor for a man to have long hair?
COM: No. Paul never states this as his logic. Where is the “because” between his two statements of what the natural order teaches? There is none.
If we change akatakalypto to “hair cut short” the text makes all the sense in the world
“Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her hair cut short? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”
COM: This would make sense, but there is no indication in the passage that women were cutting their hair short, nor does Paul ever forbid women from cutting their hair or shaving it. In fact he says, “let her be shorn”! which sits oddly with that interpretation. What he means by “let her be shorn” is that if a woman is willing to take on herself the sign of an adulteress, then also take its punishment, namely be shorn! He says this since he knows that women will not want to be shorn, and this may bring them back to their senses and keep them from letting their hair down and so shaming themselves.
I did a quick search on the internet to see what the grass root has found, and I found one entry in which a college student wrote that pottery images show female followers of Dionysus with their hair cut short, and men with long hair. I don’t know how reliable this information is,
COM: I have not seen evidence of this, but I have found evidence of sex reversal in Dionysiac literature and art, though I have seen it in depictions of Dionysus as both male and female, not of women with short hair. There is, however, an abundance of depictions of Maenads (wild women) with long hair let down loose.
but it would certainly make more sense, especially since the text in 1 Cor 11 speaks of equality. Greece was misogynistic to the core, and it was through mystery cults that women found outlet for their aspirations for equality. Throughout antiquity, women who desired equality cut their hair and wore men’s clothes in order to resemble men, and later Christian theologians would argue whether women would rise as men or remain women, for if they were all going to be equal, it had to mean they were all going to become men. For Greek men, wearing long hair was not problematic for long hair was associated with philosophy and piety,
COM: Read the citations in my earlier correspondence and the 100+ by Herter in RAC, and you will realize that long hair was problematic, and philosophers were ridiculed for it.
wherefore it did not carry such a stigma as it did in Rome.
Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that the woman originated from God, through the man, and therefore there was no need for women to make themselves look like men in order to pray and prophesy. Aristotle had said that a woman has reason but without authority, which was why she had to be ruled by the man. Paul said the woman has and should have authority over her own self (including her reasoning abilities) for she was created by God to be the man’s companion, not his slave or servant, wherefore she should pray and prophesy as a woman, not as a man.
COM: We are agreed here.
… Chrysostom agreed with Tertullian, “Being covered is a mark of subjection and authority, for it induces her to look down and be ashamed and preserve entire her proper virtue” [ Chrysostom, Homilies on First Corinthians, Homily XXVI]. But he thought also that Paul was referring to the custom of men covering their heads when praying and prophesying and letting their hair grow long, which were both Grecian customs [Chrysostom, Homilies on First Corinthians, Homily XXVI], and that the Corinthians themselves thought long hair was a sign of piety [Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew, Homily LXXXVI]. He wrote further that a man should not wear a veil when he prays but that long hair is discouraged at all times, while a woman ought to be covered with a veil at all times. Yet, he also equated the covering with long hair.
Wherefore, as touching the woman, he said, “But if she be not veiled, let her also be shorn;” so likewise touching the man, “If he have long hair, it is a dishonor unto him.” He said not, “if he be covered” but, “if he have long hair,” Wherefore also he said at the beginning, “Every man praying or prophesying, having any thing on his head, dishonors his head.” He said not, “covered,” but “having any thing on his head;” signifying that even though he pray with the head bare, yet if he have long hair, he is like to one covered. “For the hair,” says he, “is given for a covering.” [ Chrysostom, Homilies on First Corinthians, Homily XXVI].
COM: I believe this shows that Chrysostom understood Paul to be speaking of men wearing long hair (not a garment) as shameful.
And because Paul did not write “let her have long hair” but “let her be covered,” he “affirm[ed] the covering and the hair to be one.” Chrysostom had to naturally answer the question how the woman could be considered shaved if she discarded the veil considering her long hair was a covering, and he reconciled the problem by writing that the woman’s long hair was a lesson given by nature so she might learn to veil herself.
It was common for both men and women, including the Emperor, to wear veils in worship in the Greco-Roman world, but the assumption that Paul forbade men from wearing veils during Christian worship does not explain why women would have discarded the veil [http://gbgm-umc.org/UMW/corinthians/veils.stm; Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church].
Just as Chrysostom equated long hair with the covering, Tertullian recognized that the text spoke about the length of hair, “Hence let the world, the rival of God, see to it, if it asserts that close-cut hair is graceful to a virgin in like manner as that flowing hair is to be a boy.” Tertullian, On the Veiling of Virgins, VII.
COM: this shows that Tertullian regarded that close-cut hair to be graceful to a virgin, just as 11:5-6 implies. It does not show that Tertullian regarded Paul’s topic as “close-cut hair” or that Paul was writing to prohibit women from wearing “close-cut hair.”
The same is also found Ambrose, Three Books on the duties of the Clergy, Book I, Ch XLVI, calls the woman’s long hair a natural veil. But the most explicit reference to long hair is found in a letter from Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis to John, Bishop of Jerusalem.
Paul, too, the “chosen vessel,” who in his preaching has fully maintained the doctrine of the gospel, instructs us that man is made in the image and after the likeness of God. “A man,” he says, “ought not to wear long hair, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God.” Letter LI. From Epihanius, Bishop of Salamis, in Cyprus, to John, Bishop of Jerusalem, 6.
COM: this shows that Epiphanius agrees with the thesis that Paul is talking about men wearing effeminate hair.
The letter was written originally in Greek in 394 CE, but it was translated by Jerome into Latin at the writer’s request, see The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series Vol. VI. Jerome: Letters and Select Works. (Logos Research Systems: Oak Harbor 1997, Schaff, Philip). Also Jerome understood katakalypto to refer to long hair, “Vos ipsi iudicate decet mulierem non velatem orare Deum. Nec ipsa natura docet vos quod vir quidem si comom nutriat ignominia est illi. Mulier vero comom nutriat Gloria est illi quoniam capilli pro velamine ei dati sunt.” The English translation of the Vulgate, Douay-Rheims, translates the above, “You yourselves judge. Doth it become a woman to pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach that a man indeed, of he nourish his hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman nourish her hair it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.” Jerome clearly equated being covered with the woman’s long hair which she should nourish and not cut off.
NB: COM: It is instructive that the word for “uncovered” in v. 13 is immediately followed by the rhetorical questions about long hair. This does support the view that Paul is concerned with women being “uncovered” in the sense of not using their long hair “as a covering” (v. 15).
I know very well that the fourth century church strayed from the original course in more than one aspect, but they all seemed to agree that the text spoke of long hair vs. short hair.
COM: I have not made an exhaustive study of fourth century church fathers regarding “long hair vs. short hair.” Most of your quotations specifically about short hair above, however, are not about 1 Cor 11 and so are not included in this abbreviated dialogue, but rather about ascetic trends. How much evidence do you have the writers regarded Paul to be portraying a prohibition of women wearing short hair as his central concern? Simply quoting verses 5-6 or 13-15 does not count since they support the “no hair let down” thesis better than the “no short hair” thesis.
That they used the text to prescribe a veil also enforces the concept that the text speaks of long hair for women, not that it must be tied up in a particular way.
COM: My point is not that hair “must be tied up in a particular way.” There were lots of ways Greek and Latin women did up their hair, rough linen or woolen strips, hair nets, cords, combs, gold thread, plaiting, and braiding. But that it be done up was a big deal and remarkably consistent, and letting it down had strong associations with sexual freedom that fits Paul’s language of shame and obligation well.
I hope you understand that the reason I am writing this is that I want to find the true meaning of the text and stop the hierarchical theologians from using it to justify female subjection. I very much appreciate your research for I never connected 1 Cor 11 to Dionysus, and now that I have looked at the evidence, it looks very compelling. But as a native European I know also that Rome did not have as much say in the local cultures as they wanted the rest of the world to think. Russia used to own Finland, but it made the Finns only more patriotic, and determined not to allow Russia to deprive them from their cultural heritage. We must also realize that Rome inherited the laws and philosophy of Greece, which they modified to suit their own particular temperament (Nero got in trouble with the Romans because of his fondness for Grecian luxury) for the Romans and Greeks were distinct in their thinking. I have also a hard time seeing Paul as an advocate for Roman customs, and as enforcer of Jewish law on the Gentiles, which the loose hair-shaved hair comparison demands. That said, I am sure that we are closer to the truth now than we were a year ago.
COM: Thank you for your thoughtful comments. It is not my contention that Paul was advocating Roman customs. The text of 1 Cor 11:2-16 indicates that Paul is objecting to practices by men and women in the Corinthian church that undermined Christian morality and marriage, namely that men wearing effeminate hair were depicting themselves as women contrary to God’s differentiation of man and woman in creation, and women were letting their hair down symbolizing sexual freedom and repudiation of their marriage vows (whether they intended to convey the latter or not). Paul prohibits leaders in Christian worship in either the horizontal (prophecy) or vertical (prayer) from such symbolism that was incompatible with the Christian message.