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Saturday, May 13, 2006

The pigtail hangs behind him

In Wayne's inaugural post on the BBB last spring he mentioned the International Standard Version. I have been considering it as a relatively neutral and traditional version of the Bible. It is not perfect but I think we have discovered that no translation is. I don't even think that one translation has emerged above the others as exemplary.

In this translation 1 Cor. 11:14 varies from most other translations. When I first saw this, I reacted against it. But the more I read the more I thought that this might indeed make sense. Maybe it is not a shame for a man to have long hair.

I think that this is a very relevant issue for people who translate the Bible into other languages for other cultures. Didn't the founding fathers favour a ponytail? And Chinese men were once not allowed to cut their braid. Hudson Taylor grew his hair in order to travel in China. On the other hand there are people and cultures that do not favour long hair on either men or women. So does nature teach us that it is a shame for men to wear their hair long?

    ἐν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς κρίνατε πρέπον ἐστὶν γυναῖκα ἀκατακάλυπτον τῷ θεῷ προσεύχεσθαι 14 οὐδὲ ἡ φύσις αὐτὴ διδάσκει ὑμᾶς ὅτι ἀνὴρ μὲν ἐὰν κομᾷ ἀτιμία αὐτῷ ἐστιν 15 γυνὴ δὲ ἐὰν κομᾷ δόξα αὐτῇ ἐστιν ὅτι ἡ κόμη ἀντὶ περιβολαίου δέδοται αὐτῇ
    It is proper for a woman to pray to God without head coverings. Nature in no way teaches on the one hand that if a man has long hair it puts him to shame nor does it teach on the other that a woman's hair is her glory. All of this is true because hair is given as a substitute for man-made coverings. (1 Corinthians 11:13-15 ISV)
If verse 14 is not a rhetorical question but a simple negative statement then it would not be shame for a man to have long hair. For a recent treatment of this read Ruud's post How long is your hair? 1 Corintians 11:13-15

This also brings up the question which Jeremy has alluded to in recent comments. To what extent should a translator add and manipulate punctuation?

This post is dedicated to those young men who seem to want a little more activity on the BBB this weekend. I leave you to contemplate whether a Christian man may wear long hair?

Note: Thackeray's poem, from which the title is taken, is found on this page.

31 Comments:

At Sun May 14, 07:35:00 AM, Blogger lingamish said...

Of course men may wear their hair long. Even Jesus had long hair. Haven't you seen the pictures? I tried to wear my hair long in college but it was so bushy that my friends nicknamed me "Big Bird." Now I see the bushy look is "in" and all the young guys are at some point submitting to curlers!

Proper practice for the Christian man:
1. Wear hair short.
2. Lift up holy hands in church.
3. Take a little wine for the sake of your stomach.
4. ... I've forgotten the rest.

 
At Sun May 14, 09:19:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

all the young guys are at some point submitting to curlers

No way!

 
At Sun May 14, 12:44:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Actually... being young myself and having a few young friends, I can say that YES, they do submit to curlers somewhere. I had long hair during highschool, but I got tired of it after about a year or two, and I never let anyone touch my hair with those curlers (which isn't ultra popular, but it is out there, I can think of a few guys right now).

Yikes...

 
At Sun May 14, 02:07:00 PM, Blogger Cynthia said...

Thanks for the link. So kind of you.

 
At Sun May 14, 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Ruud Vermeij said...

I am preparing another post on the hair subject, so keep an eye on Suzanne's weblog.

Anyway, my hair length shouldn't be a problem :-)

 
At Mon May 15, 11:07:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

"It is proper for a woman to pray to God without head coverings. Nature in no way teaches on the one hand that if a man has long hair it puts him to shame nor does it teach on the other that a woman's hair is her glory. All of this is true because hair is given as a substitute for man-made coverings. (1 Corinthians 11:13-15 ISV)"

Actually, this does not make any sense. How is the statement "Nature in no way teaches on the one hand that if a man has long hair it puts him to shame nor does it teach on the other that a woman's hair is her glory" supposed to be connected logically with the statement "hair is given as a substitute for man-made coverings"? There does not seem to be any logical connection between the statements. So I think the ISV editors wil have to look at it again. But the truth is, they are merely trying to get rid of the headcovering rule.

 
At Mon May 15, 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I think it's worth pointing out that the traditional translation allows for several interpretations. One is that it's not a theology of hair but an application of a general principle that in Paul's setting manifested itself in terms of hair. You don't need to translate it differently to get that result.

Another is that the principle about long hair is absolute in the sense that it applies to every culture but relative in the sense that how long is too long would vary from culture to culture. It might then mean that it's unnatural for a man to have hair longer than what his culture considers normal for a man. In the ancient world, young men often had shoulder-length hair, but it was seen as improper to have hair halfway down their backs. Long hair for them, then, would be halfway down their backs but not shoulder-length. In our culture it's acceptable for men to have hair halfway down their backs, though it's less acceptable in certain settings if it's hanging loose and not tied back, particularly if it's not really washed well (or recently).

One thing I think we must consider that people who look at this text never consider is that people of mostly African descent have a very hard time growing hair in a way that looks anything like what long hair for other ethnic groups looks like. It grows out but not up. I find it very hard to believe that the image of long hair for people who are white, Asian, or Native American is normative for blacks, who simply cannot grow hair in that manner. I really doubt there's supposed to be a command here for black women to grow their hair in the way that white women do when they grow long hair. That's one reason I have to think that at least something in this text is going to have to apply differently in different cultures.

 
At Mon May 15, 02:34:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Son of Abraham commented concerning the ISV translation of vv.13-15 that "Actually, this does not make any sense." But nor do other translations, for it is not just nonsense but manifestly untrue that "the very nature of things teach[es] you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him..." (NIV). The real problem is that much of this passage (e.g. v.10 as well as vv.13-15) does not make sense to us today in any translation, because it doesn't make sense in the original.

So, Michael, if you want reject the ISV rendering as not making any sense, please can you present to us an alternative exegesis and translation of this passage which does make sense, as well as being true to the Greek text and the general context of Paul's theology. Such an explanation would of course have to include a convincing interpretation of "because of the angels" (v.10). After all, how can you expect the ISV editors to look at the passage again if you cannot even suggest to them a meaningful alternative?

 
At Mon May 15, 02:42:00 PM, Anonymous wpwelty said...

Please direct Mr. Marlowe to my essay regarding this question at the following URL:

Rethinking the Veil

where his question was anticipated more than 25 years ago and answered thoroughly. The lack of "any logical connection" (his words, not mine) are found, not in the text of the ISV rendering of 1 Corinthians, but rather in the man's personal bias, specifically:

So I think the ISV editors wil have to look at it again. But the truth is, they are merely trying to get rid of the headcovering rule.

The ISV COT didn't try to get rid of anything, except the bias of previous translations. And, as my essay demonstrated more than 25 years ago, there is no head covering rule in 1 Corinthians 11 that needs to be gotten rid of, to use his words again. Well now, as Jesus said, "Wisdom is justified of her children." I'll leave Mr. Marlowe to look up how the ISV renders that particular KJV-ism....

Regards,
Dr. William P. Welty
Manager
The ISV Foundation
215 East Orangethorpe Avenue, Suite 300
Fullerton, CA 92832-3017 USA

 
At Mon May 15, 04:06:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: it doesn't make sense in the original ... So, Michael, if you want reject the ISV rendering as not making any sense, please can you present to us an alternative exegesis and translation of this passage which does make sense, as well as being true to the Greek text and the general context of Paul's theology. Such an explanation would of course have to include a convincing interpretation of "because of the angels" ...

Peter, I think you are quite wrong when you say that "it doesn't make sense in the original."

My exegesis of the passage, with related articles, can be found here. I provide an excursus on the phrase "because of the angels."

Michael

 
At Mon May 15, 04:33:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

William Welty wrote: Please direct Mr. Marlowe to my essay regarding this question ...

Well, speak of the devil. Mr. Welty, can you tell me if you are the author of this particular rendering, and if any of your collaborators agreed with it? I would be quite surprised if David Black approved of this.

Regarding your article, in several ways it is very faulty. And it does not address the problem I pointed out in my first comment -- the apparent lack of any logical relationship between the two statements joined by your phrase "all of this is true because."

How does the statement "Nature in no way teaches on the one hand that if a man has long hair it puts him to shame nor does it teach on the other that a woman's hair is her glory" follow logically from the statement "hair is given as a substitute for man-made coverings"?

 
At Mon May 15, 04:43:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

I have also thought of the Sikh tradition where men specifically do not either cut their hair or trim their beards, but the women do trim their hair. So the men probably have longer hair than the women, although I have never in real life seen a Sikh man with his hair uncovered. The beard also is parted and twisted back into the turban very neatly.

You seem to be suggesting that for Africans they may have shorter hair as long as the women have longer hair than the men, which may not be too difficult, but for the Sikhs, that the men must cut their hair to be shorter than the women's hair.

I wonder if you mean that the men must have shorter hair on average than women of the same culture, race, or community. Or should all men have hair shorter than all women i their community, or should a man simply have hair that is shorter than his wife.

And once this is decided how do we deduce this from nature? It makes more sense to say that given the cultural and racial differences, nature teaches us nothing of the kind.

 
At Tue May 16, 03:22:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Thank you, William and Michael, for your interesting articles.

William, it is unfortunate that the PDF version of your article was prepared without embedding the Greek fonts. I note also that you argue that in κεφαλὴ δὲ γυναικὸς ὁ ἀνήρ kefalē de gunaikos ho anēr, κεφαλή kefalē is indefinite, but surely this is uncertain because of Colwell's Rule which (if valid, which is debatable) implies that this word may well be definite. But, apart from this and from an admittedly rather quick read, this seems to be a good and clear explanation of what this passage very likely in fact means.

I shall now read Michael's article and comment separately.

 
At Tue May 16, 04:08:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, I am now looking at your article The Woman's Headcovering. Thank you for presenting us with an alternative exegesis and translation as I requested. As for whether it makes sense, I don't have time to go into all of it, but will look at a couple of points.

The first and most serious problem I have here concerns your understanding of verse 10. You admit that Paul is speaking obscurely here, and (in footnote 8) quote with some approval Ramsey saying "[the idea] that the 'authority' which the woman wears on her head is the authority to which she is subject [is] a preposterous idea which a Greek scholar would laugh at anywhere except in the New Testament, where (as they seem to think) Greek words may mean anything that commentators choose." But then you seem to assume that the meaning of this passage is so strongly controlled by its preceding context, as you have interpreted it, that it must in fact mean not what the Greek text plainly states, that the woman ought to have her own authority over her head, but the "preposterous idea which a Greek scholar would laugh at". It seems to me that you should rather consider one of these alternatives: either that you have misunderstood the preceding context; or that Paul did in fact write two things which do not hold together logically in the way that you think that they should. I know you have elsewhere criticised others for taking Bible passages not in their plain sense but forcing them into unnatural meanings to fit their own human interpretation of how they fit the context. This is a case where you need to take this lesson yourself, and take the passage in its plain sense even if that does not seem to you to make sense in the context.

I accept that your explanation of "because of the angels" makes reasonable sense, although it does not explain why unveiled women are a problem but unveiled men are not. But your explanation of φύσις fusis "nature" in v.14 does not make sense, for (despite your concern for this very point in the footnote) it confuses "nature" and "custom" i.e. what is purely culture-bound. You don't even seem to have considered how to justify translating v.13b as a question rather than a statement.

Your explanation of why you prefer to understand ἀντί anti in v.15 as "for" rather than "instead of" is unconvincing. I note that Barclay Newman's Greek-English dictionary gives the meaning "for, as" as used in the NT only in this verse. This should be a warning sign that this sense should be considered unsafe if there is a meaningful alternative, as there certainly is in this case. Louw and Nida do not seem to allow any such sense. You quote Harris on the meaning of the preposition, but Harris seems to be arguing his own interpretation of the verse back into the lexicon. Again, you should follow the clear and simple meaning of the Greek text, that hair is a substitute for a covering, rather than insisting on an unnatural and otherwise unattested sense of the preposition to fit your own human understanding of the context.

 
At Tue May 16, 06:53:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter, I appreciate your intelligent feedback, though I disagree with your specific criticisms.

I don't see why you will not admit the meaning "corresponding with" or "equivalent to" for the preposition "anti." This is an attested meaning for the preposition (In addition to Harris, see the article in Bauer's lexicon), and obviously the preposition must be understood according to the immediate context. It makes no difference that it has another meaning in other contexts. I'm rather surprised that you think Louw and Nida "do not seem to allow any such sense." If that's true, it is simply a fault in their lexicon.

The main point I want to make now is that in general the passage is intelligible, and I think my exegesis of it (which largely agrees with most other commentators) adequately handles the minor problems of exegesis. The meaning of the whole passage is not made obscure by little difficulties like the interpretation of "because of the angels." You should not say that the passage is so difficult in the original language that I can't complain about the illogic of Welty's peculiar interpretation.

 
At Tue May 16, 09:54:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, I don't say that the passage is especially difficult in the original language. The actual Greek text is not too difficult at all. The problem is that it doesn't make a lot of sense to us today, because we don't know enough of the specific and cultural background. The result of this is that certain traditional interpretations have grown up, yours among them, which seem to be internally coherent but which do not correspond well with the natural understanding of the Greek text. Scholars like Ramsey and Welty have realised this and have looked again at what the text might mean, in the light of improved modern understandings of the original cultural situation. Their alternative interpretations may have their difficulties, but you should realise that yours also does.

As for ἀντί anti, I don't have Bauer's lexicon, and I don't consider it worth the cost because it rarely offers more than a distillation of the glosses offered by a series of literal translations. Of course it lists the meaning "for, as" (with an inanimate object) because it finds this gloss offered in this one verse. Does it offer any more evidence for this sense, inside or outside the NT?

But I can look at the entry for ἀντί anti in LSJ, at Perseus. And this is what I find, most citations and use in compounds omitted:

ἀντί , Prep. governing gen.:--orig. sense,

A. over against. (Cf. Skt. a/nti 'opposite', 'facing', Lat. ante, etc.)

A. USAGE:

I. of Place, opposite, over against, ...

II. of Time, ...

III. instead, in the place of, ...

2. in Hom. often to denote equivalence, ...

3. to denote exchange, at the price of, in return for, ...

4. for the sake of, ...

5. to mark comparison, ἓν ἀνθ' ἑνός one set against the other, compared with it, Pl.R.331b, Lg.705b; χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτος, i.e. ever-increasing grace, Ev.Jo.1.16; in preference to, ἀφνεὸν βούλεται ἀντ' ἀγαθοῦ Thgn.188 ; ἀντὶ αὐλοῦ καὶ ἀντὶ κιθάρας ὁ ἦχος ἀκούεται Demetr.Eloc. 71 ; αἱρεῖσθαί τι ἀντί τινος Isoc.9.3 , D.1.1, cf. X.Lac.9.1: even after Comparatives, πλέον ἀντὶ σοῦ S.Tr.577 ; μείζον' ὅστις ἀντὶ τῆς αὑτοῦ πάτρας φίλον νομίζει Id.Ant.182 ; so (esp. after a neg.) ἄλλος ἀντ' ἐμοῦ A.Pr.467 , S.Aj.444, Ar.Nu.653; δόξαν ἀντὶ τοῦ ζῆν ἠγαπηκώς Plu.Alex.42 .

I don't see how any of these senses can possibly be understood as "for, as". The closest is the last one, and so I have given the citations. I accept that Paul may be comparing hair with a covering, but the comparison always seems to imply also a substitution.

 
At Tue May 16, 11:52:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter, You really are exaggerating the minor problems associated with the usual and traditional interpretation if you think Welty's nonsensical interpretation is less problematic.

Regarding your comments on anti -- I don't see how you can hold Bauer's lexicon in such contempt. For many years now it has been the standard lexicon, used by everyone in New Testament studies. And you think it's not even worth buying? This is rather eccentric. Granted, it is not inerrant, and its brief glosses and definitions are lacking in contextual nuance. But no lexicon will do all the semantic analyis for you. The LSJ (which you evidently consider to be worth looking at) is no better in that respect, and it does not focus on our literature, nor even on the Koine era of the language. Lexicons are only a starting-point for exegesis.

If you have the idea that anti must always mean "instead of," in which one thing is replaced and excluded by another thing, I invite you to get a Greek concordance, go through the New Testament, and try to put that meaning on every occurrence of anti. Never mind the lexicons -- see for yourself whether the word always denotes a substitution of one thing for another. It won't be long before you realize how erroneous your idea is. The sense of "matching," "corresponding to" or "in accordance with" is plain to see in Matthew 5:38, John 1:16, Romans 12:17, Ephesians 5:31, etc.

 
At Tue May 16, 03:10:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, you may think that the problems with your traditional interpretation are minor, but let me remind you what Ramsey had to say about one of them - quoted from your own web page!

"[the idea] that the 'authority' which the woman wears on her head is the authority to which she is subject [is] a preposterous idea which a Greek scholar would laugh at anywhere except in the New Testament, where (as they seem to think) Greek words may mean anything that commentators choose."

So it is not just me who finds serious problems with your interpretation.

Meanwhile we can agree that "Lexicons are only a starting-point for exegesis." So, how can we take our research into ἀντί anti beyond that starting point? If you wish to propose a sense for this word "for, as", you need to find and present some evidence for this sense, from any other Greek literature of any period. Well, I guess you can find some late evidence for this very passage being interpreted in your traditional way. But is there any evidence for it from before or contemporary with the New Testament?

As for the other examples you cite: Matthew 5:38 cites the lex talionis whose whole point was that an eye was gouged out in exchange for an eye being gouged out etc. Romans 12:17 is the prohibition of this. Ephesians 5:31 is an example of another usage usage which I recognise, according to Louw and Nida "a marker of result, with the implication of something being in return for something else - therefore, so then." And John 1:16 is difficult to understand; it might mean New Covenant grace replacing Old Covenant grace, or again something like grace given in response to grace received, but it can hardly mean "grace serving as grace" in parallel with your interpretation of the verse in question.

 
At Tue May 16, 08:58:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Michael, you write,

Though long hair on men is possible, and in some cultures it has been customary for men to have long hair, it is justly regarded as effeminate. It requires much grooming, it interferes with vigorous physical work, and a man with long hair is likely to be seized by it in a fight. It is therefore unmanly by nature.

Historically and globally speaking men with long hair cannot be 'justly' regarded as effeminate. They have not been less fit for work or war. We cannot allow our western prejudices to inform our reading of the scripture. A women would also find long hair left loose interferes with some of her vigourous physical work, child-rearing and the operation of a ringer washer, to start with. Do you intend to link the fact that you think that long hair would interfere with vigourous physical work, which may be true, with your claim that long hair is 'unmanly by nature.'

In which century and in which country do men engage in more vigourous physical work than women? There are a few women who might be interested in such a proposition, if it were available.

In the meantime men and women both have adopted a common response to long hair.

Can this man be justly regarded as effeminate to you?

It might be interesting for me to blog the hairstyles of the Mongolian and Sikh warriors sometime.

On another note, there was a 1000 word essay in the Vancouver Sun this morning explaining to Steve Nash why the women of his home town would like him to cut his hair. I kid you not.

 
At Tue May 16, 10:18:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: Michael, you may think that the problems with your traditional interpretation are minor, but let me remind you what Ramsey had to say about one of them - quoted from your own web page! ... So it is not just me who finds serious problems with your interpretation.

The funny thing is, you quote this comment of Ramsay's as if it were some embarrassment to my position, but you fail to notice that I actually agree with Ramsay's grammatical observation, and I use it as the basis for my exegesis of verse 10 -- in which I explain that Paul is using a bit of irony here, as he often does. That is why I quoted Ramsay's observation in my note. It supports my interpretation!

You write: If you wish to propose a sense for this word "for, as" ...

I don't propose anything new, Peter. I only recognize that the BAGD lexicon has good reasons for saying that anti is sometimes used "in order to indicate that one thing is equivalent to another," without the idea that the one thing is displacing or excluding the other, and where it is appropriately translated "for." And I don't think it's reasonable for you to insist that the preposition must indicate a replacement in 1 Cor. 11 when it clearly does not indicate a replacement in the verses I cited. In those places it indicates a correspondence between two things or two events without the idea of a substitution. Now, you say, "Matthew 5:38 cites the lex talionis whose whole point was that an eye was gouged out in exchange for an eye being gouged out etc. Romans 12:17 is the prohibition of this." This is true, but it is somewhat evasive, because you avoid the question of the sense of the preposition here. My point was, it expresses a relationship of equivalence or correspondence without the idea of one thing actually being put in the place of the other. As for Ephesians 5:31, here the preposition expresses a relationship where one thing is in accordance with another, but there is no notion of a substitution or exchange. I don't see how Louw and Nida can say that in such occurences as we see in Ephesians 5:31 there is an "implication of something being in return for something else." On what basis can they maintain that such an implication would have been intended or perceived here? This savors of an etymological fallacy.

You write: And John 1:16 is difficult to understand; it might mean New Covenant grace replacing Old Covenant grace, or again something like grace given in response to grace received, but it can hardly mean "grace serving as grace" in parallel with your interpretation of the verse in question.

Here I can see you have misunderstood me, because I certainly don't think that in John 1:16 anti means "serving as." I simply maintain the opinion commonly held by Greek scholars that anti may express an equivalence between things without necessarily implying a replacement of one thing by another. It may even be used to indicate an accumulation of similar things, one after another, as in paragraph 145 of Philo's treatise "On the Posterity of Cain and His Exile." I will give you the passage in Yonge's English translation:

"On this account it is, that God always judiciously limits and brings out with wise moderation his first benefits, stopping them before those who partake of them become wanton through satiety; and then he bestows others in their stead [anti ekeinon]; and again a third class of advantages instead of [anti] the second set, and so on, continually substituting new blessings for [anti] those of older date, at one time giving such as are different from those which went before, and at another time such as are almost identical with them; for the creature is never wholly destitute of the blessings bestowed by God, since if he were he would be utterly destroyed; but he is unable to endure an unlimited and measureless abundance of them. On which account, as he is desirous that we should derive advantage from the benefits which he bestows upon us, he weighs out what he gives so as to proportion it to the strength of those who receive it. "

If anti here carries the idea of "substitution," it is a kind of refreshing substitution in which the new thing does not drive out the old thing, but is added to it. And I think this passage from Philo shows pretty clearly what John meant by charin anti charitos -- he means a successive accumulation of grace.

 
At Tue May 16, 11:12:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Michael,

I also read your argument about the use of irony. I consider that such a thing cannot be defended or disputed absolutely since it cannot be demonstrated in the text. What you are saying is that Paul *must be* using the expression 'have power' to mean the opposite of what the words actually say.

This could possibly be true, but it cannot be logically proved, so I considered it futile to comment on this part of your article.

I am disturbed, however, by your lack of attention to logic in writing about men's hair length. That you do not admit perplexity, as I am willing to, is a weak point.

However, I suspect that you wish to avoid responding to me since I am a woman. Pax. You have this right.

 
At Wed May 17, 05:14:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I agree that "Philo shows pretty clearly what John meant by charin anti charitos". Thank you for this. But, at least from the barely understandable old English translation you posted (the Greek might have been easier), this does not seem to be a matter of "successive accumulation", but rather of something new being substituted for something old. In fact the translation of Philo specifically says "substituting new blessings for [anti] those of older date", and, to forestall any argument that I have misunderstood Philo, it also makes it clear that these blessings replace one another rather than accumulate, "for the creature ... is unable to endure an unlimited and measureless abundance of them". So, if Philo is to be a guide to John's meaning, the latter must be that one grace is taken away and replaced by another grace.

I take your point that you get around Ramsey's criticism by asserting that Paul is being ironical in v.10. Well, possibly. But irony is usually signalled clearly. What is the signal here of irony? It is certainly not clearly signalled by the impossibility of the non-ironic interpretation, for there is nothing impossible about the very straightforward interpretation that the woman ought to be in control of her own hair.

 
At Wed May 17, 06:29:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Hi Suzanne.

Thanks for your input. I was not ignoring you at all, just pondering what I should say in reply.

Whatever difficulty our interpretation may involve at this point, we can't get around the fact that Paul here does imply that long (or coiffed) hair is by "nature" unsuitable for a man. Many interpreters assume here that by "nature" Paul really means "custom," as a sort of second nature, but I don't think the Greek word physis can bear that meaning. So that's why I interpreted physis along the lines of "instinctual feeling."

The idea here is that when he says that nature teaches that long hair is disgraceful on a man he means that we naturally think it unmanly for a man to care so much about his looks that he would take upon himself the inconveniences of long hair, for the sake of beauty, like a woman. This kind of foppishness is unmanly, i.e., unnatural for a man. Please notice my footnote there (no. 11), which discusses the matter thoroughly, and adds some other possible interpretations. And in addition to the long note, I will point out something else now.

Despite any difficulty you may have with the part about the man's long hair being unnatural, I doubt that you will have much trouble understanding how Paul could attribute to nature our feeling that "if a woman has long hair, it is her glory," or how he could see a shaved head as being a disgrace for a woman; and this is the important point, so far as Paul's argument for the woman's headcovering is concerned. We do commonly sense that in the case of the woman there is something necessary about her head being covered with hair. It doesn't really matter much when a man goes bald, and in fact it is only natural for men to go bald, but a bald woman is freakish. And this is not just a "Western" feeling. There is something unnatural about a woman without hair, and something naturally pleasing about long hair on a woman, and I think that is Paul's main point. So I think you are focusing on a minor problem of interpretation which does not really affect Paul's argument.

 
At Wed May 17, 07:29:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: to forestall any argument that I have misunderstood Philo ...

You have misunderstood Philo if you think that he means God's earlier blessings are done away with by the later ones. I think it's obvious that he does not mean that. Rather, he means that the blessings succeed one another in installments, according to the capacity of the recipients. And so in his commentary on John, Raymond Brown says that in the Philo passage anti "quite clearly" has the meaning of "accumulation" rather than "replacement," and he refers to other scholars who have established this point: "The translation of anti as accumulation is strongly supported by Spiq in Dieu et l'homme (Paris: Cerf, 1961), pp. 30-31, citing W. Hendricksen's specialized study of anti in the New Testament." (Brown, vol 1., p. 16.) He also discusses the meaning of correspondence, as distinct from "replacement," as a "recognized meaning of anti." I could mention many other scholars who have said this about the meaning of anti in various places. Among Greek scholars it is not controversial at all to say that anti may indicate a correspondence without a replacement. I think you are on very weak ground when you deny this.

You wrote: irony is usually signalled clearly. What is the signal here of irony?

I don't know what you have in mind when you say that irony "is usually signalled clearly." I don't think that's true. Irony is one of the most subtle arts of rhetoric, and it often goes unnoticed by people who are not expecting it. But Paul can be a very ironic fellow sometimes, and I'm sure the Corinthians knew that.

 
At Wed May 17, 07:40:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Michael,

Is this what you think it means?

"Does not nature itself teach you that if a man styles his hair it is a disgrace to him, but if a woman styles her hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her as an equivalent to a covering."


Or maybe this is what you think the verse intends.

"Does not nature itself teach you that if a man styles his hair like a woman of his culture, it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman styles her hair as a woman of her culture, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her as a 'covering."

That would be true, but hardly worth writing.

But what you have actually written is that the man's hair should be short so as not to intefere with vigourous physical work, and the woman's hair should be long as a reflection of her womanly virtue.

You insist that the nature of men and women teaches us that men should have short hair and women long. You imply this is because men are suited for vigourous work, and women somehow are not. Or that men's work is more vigourous than women's work so their hair should be shorter, relatively.

Which makes me wonder why childbirth is called labour. Is it not vigourous? And rearing the children, is that not vigourous?

 
At Wed May 17, 09:57:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Suzanne wrote: Is this what you think it means? ...

I don't want to choose between your alternatives, because neither of them represent my views adequately. In my article , with its footnotes, and in the remarks I have given in my previous comments here, I've already explained what I think it probably means, to the best of my ability.

Regarding my comments about men's work, I will give an illustration. Last year I read in the newspaper a sad story about a young woman in my area who was helping the men on her family's farm do the work of harvesting, with the usual farm machinery. Her long hair came loose, and became caught in the machinery. Her scalp was ripped away, and her face was disfigured by lacerations suffered when the machine pulled her head into the gears. I can feel only sympathy for her, but people should know that this sort of thing happens with long hair. It is not only inconvenient, it is unsafe in some kinds of work. I believe that is why soldiers in ancient times cut their hair off, and trimmed their beards. There is good reason to think that men began to cut their hair and beards short in ancient times because it was a military custom. This became the usual style for men, but women kept their hair long. I also think that the men who spent their days working under the sun would have had more reason to cut their hair short, and the women (who worked mostly under the roof of a house) would have had less reason. It is also probable that in the Northern countries men began to wear trousers because these gave both warmth and freedom of movement in the cold climate, while women continued to wear clothing that was less suited for outdoor work. And so the origin of the differences of dress and hair length are probably related to the different kinds of work typically done by men and by women. After these differences were established, why would a man adopt the dress or hairstyle of a woman? It would tend to indicate that he was not prepared or inclined to do the kind of work typically associated with men and their duties.

I hope that helps you to understand what I said in my article. I certainly didn't mean to suggest that women in ancient times never did any hard work.

 
At Wed May 17, 11:47:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

How I used to fear the old wringer washer. And now it is the ski-lift I hear. women are equally exposed to machinery.

I can only wonder why Mongolian men favoured the ponytail.

You write,

I also think that the men who spent their days working under the sun would have had more reason to cut their hair short, and the women (who worked mostly under the roof of a house) would have had less reason.

I can see that God intended you as a missionary to Africa, to share this piece of good news. Many women wouldn't mind such an idealized lifestyle, but did God intend us for that. Do women on a global scale contribute less vigourously, and should they?

Can we ever escape the idealized stereotypes, and think of real women and real men, not some pretty picture of a woman sewing a fine seam.

 
At Thu May 18, 04:21:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Your conversation has prompted me to have my hair cut. Seriously! Not that it was long enough to be in danger of falling into all the heavy machinery I use (well, into my printer!), or of looking at all effeminate. In fact it was still quite short, not much longer than in the photo which will appear with this comment. But I remembered that I had intended a cut, so I went out and had one.

 
At Thu May 18, 02:38:00 PM, Blogger Herobill said...

Interesting... I appreciate that post, and the punctuation question is extremely stimulating. Thank you.

Still, it seems like Paul's concluding statement pretty well clears things up, either way:

"But if anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no such custom, and nor do the churches of God."

 
At Mon Mar 26, 09:20:00 PM, Blogger BhagatS said...

I would just like to point out that, in Sikhism women dont cut their hair or shave, and same with men. And both men and women wear turbans to cover their hair. Generally, women wear smaller turbans. Some (especially nihangs) wear HUGE turbans. Some time the hair is tied in to the turban, this makes the turban more sterdy and immosible to take off without unwrapping. That type is called a dhumalla (thought hair is not always wrapped in the turban). Metal wires and chakars can be put on this turban. This is the type of turban Sikh warriors wore because it provided more defense.
thanks
Bhagat Singh

 
At Mon Mar 26, 09:23:00 PM, Blogger BhagatS said...

have a look at these two articles:
http://www.choisser.com/longhair/rajsingh.html

http://www.searchsikhism.com/hair.html

 

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