“Because of the Angels” (via The Christian Godde Project)

Some interesting thoughts on an obscure verse.

One of Paul’s most puzzling comments comes in 1 Corinthians 11:10, where he writes that “Because of this a woman should have authority over her head, because of the angels” (CEB). Contemporary Bible versions tend to portray this as a plea for women to cover their heads as a symbol, as in the NASB: “Therefore a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” Some interpreters then go on to argue that a woman’s covere … Read More

via The Christian Godde Project

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2 thoughts on ““Because of the Angels” (via The Christian Godde Project)

  1. Very interesting article. I’m always intrigued by what people have to say about this, though I so far have always found the commentary too speculative to be of real use. I have nothing to add in terms of recommendation as to how we might understand the verse, but I’d like to make 2 comments.
    1) The letters to the Corinthians do stitch together rather oddly, and are thought to be a compilation of the fragments of what was originally 4 letters. Given what the writer of the article you link us to here says, I wonder if in it’s original form Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthians (including any possible letters from them to him) had more to say about ‘the angels’.
    2) We tend to have a narrow understanding of what ‘angel’ means, and think of an angel as a heavenly (or demonic) being. But ‘angel’ can mean ‘spirit’ – so it could properly and reasonably extend to mean something like ‘zeitgeist’ for example. In the Old Testament we come across the concept of the angel of God’s presence (wrestling Jacob, for example), where the presence of the Lord is so concentrated as to take on visible and tangible form. Rudolf Steiner wrote about the phenomenon of corporate personality, where a community/school/family develops what one might call a group soul, that is to say there is a special vibe belonging to that group of people in that place – and his descriptive term for this phenomenon was ‘arising angel’.
    So I have thought it is just possible that we need to start again with this oddity in 1 Corinthians, asking ourselves what the possible understanding of ‘angels’ might encompass, as well as the understanding of ‘authority’.
    Further, I don’t know the Greek well enough to know if we can be certain Paul is saying ‘On her head, a woman should wear a symbol of authority’ or ‘A woman should wear a symbol of the authority proper to her “head” (ie husband?)’, or ‘Women should have their heads/hair under control (maybe like not being headstrong, or not having seductive and disorderly hairstyles??)’ or ‘A woman should be under the sheltering of some kind of headship authority’. The nuances of possibility in this passage are extraordinarily numerous, and we are not always aware of how profoundly our cultural assumptions from our own church tradition may be colouring our thinking.

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