on 1-corinthians 11 :10
For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels - There are few portions in the sacred writings that have given rise to such a variety of conjectures and explanations, and are less understood, than this verse, and 1 Corinthians 15:29. Our translators were puzzled with it; and have inserted here one of the largest marginal readings found any where in their work; but this is only on the words power on her head, which they interpret thus: that is, a covering, in sign that she is under the power of her husband. But, admitting this marginal reading to be a satisfactory solution so far as it goes, it by no means removes all the difficulty. Mr. Locke ingenuously acknowledged that he did not understand the meaning of the words; and almost every critic and learned man has a different explanation. Some have endeavored to force out a meaning by altering the text. The emendation of Mr. Toup, of Cornwall, is the most remarkable: he reads εξιουσα, going out, instead of εξουσιαν, power; wherefore the woman, when she goes out, should have a veil on her head. Whatever ingenuity there may appear in this emendation, the consideration that it is not acknowledged by any MS., or version, or primitive writer, is sufficient proof against it. Dr. Lightfoot, Schoettgen, and Bishop Pearce, have written best on the subject, in which they allow that there are many difficulties. The latter contends,
1. That the original should be read, Wherefore the woman ought to have A power upon her head, that is, the power of the husband over the wife; the word power standing for the sign or token of that power which was a covering or veil. Theophylact explains the word, το του εξουσιαζεσθαι συμβολον, τουτεστι, το καλυμμα, "the symbol of being under power, that is, a veil, or covering." And Photius explains it thus: της υποταγης συμβολον το επι της κεφαλης καλυμμα φερειν; to wear a veil on the head is a symbol of subjection. It is no unusual thing, in the Old and New Testament, for the signs and tokens of things to be called by the names of the things themselves, for thus circumcision is called the covenant, in Genesis 17:10, Genesis 17:13, though it was only the sign of it.
2. The word angels presents another difficulty. Some suppose that by these the apostle means the fallen angels, or devils; others, the governors of the Church; and others, those who were deputed among the Jews to espouse a virgin in the name of a lover. All these senses the learned bishop rejects, and believes that the apostle uses the word angels, in its most obvious sense, for the heavenly angels; and that he speaks according to the notion which then prevailed among Jews, that the holy angels interested themselves in the affairs of men, and particularly were present in their religious assemblies, as the cherubim, their representation, were present in their temple. Thus we read in Ecclesiastes 5:6 : Neither say thou before the Angel, it was an error; and in 1 Timothy 5:21 : I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect Angels, etc. Parallel to these is what Agrippa says in his oration to the Jews, Josephus, War, b. ii. chap. 16: I protest before God, your holy temple, and all the Angels of heaven, etc. All which passages suppose, or were spoken to those who supposed, that the angels know what passes here upon earth. The notion, whether just or not, prevailed among the Jews; and if so, St. Paul might speak according to the common opinion.
3. Another difficulty lies in the phrase δια τουτο, wherefore, which shows that this verse is a conclusion from what the apostle was arguing before; which we may understand thus: that his conclusion, from the foregoing argument, ought to have the more weight, upon account of the presence, real or supposed, of the holy angels, at their religious meetings. See Bishop Pearce, in loc.
The learned bishop is not very willing to allow that the doctrine of the presence of angelic beings in religious assemblies is legitimate; but what difficulty can there be in this, if we take the words of the apostle in another place: Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews 1:14. And perhaps there is no time in which they can render more essential services to the followers of God than when they are engaged in Divine ordinances. On the whole, the bishop's sense of the passage and paraphrase stands thus: "And because of this superiority in the man, I conclude that the woman should have on her head a veil, the mark of her husband's power over her, especially in the religious assemblies, where the angels are supposed to be invisibly present."
The ancient versions make little alteration in the common reading, and the MSS. leave the verse nearly as it stands in the common printed editions. The Armenian has a word that answers to umbram, a shade or covering. The Ethiopic, her head should be veiled. The common editions of the Vulgate have potestatem, power; but in an ancient edition of the Vulgate, perhaps one of the first, if not the first, ever printed, 2 vols. fol., sine ulla nota anni, etc.: the verse stands thus: Ideo debet mulier velamen habere super caput suum: et propter angelos. My old MS. translation seems to have been taken from a MS. which had the same reading: Wherefore the woman schal haue a veyl on her heuyd; and for aungels. Some copies of the Itala have also velamen, a veil.
In his view of this text, Kypke differs from all others; and nothing that so judicious a critic advances should be lightly regarded.
1. He contends that εξουσιαν occurs nowhere in the sense of veil, and yet he supposes that the word καλυμμα, veil is understood, and must in the translation of the passage be supplied.
2. He directs that a comma be placed after εξουσιαν, and that it be construed with οφειλει, ought; after which he translates the verse thus: Propterea mulier potestati obnoxia est, ita ut velamen in capite habeat propter angelos; On this account the woman is subject to power, so that she should have a veil on her head, because of the angels.
3. He contends that both the Latins and Greeks use debere and οφειλειν elegantly to express that to which one is obnoxious or liable. So Horace: -
- Tu, nisi ventis
Debes ludibrium, cave.
Carm. lib. i. Od. xiv. ver. 15.
Take heed lest thou owe a laughing stock to the winds; i.e. lest thou become the sport of the winds; for to these thou art now exposing thyself.
on 1-corinthians 11 :10
For this cause ... - There is scarcely any passage in the Scriptures which has more exercised the ingenuity of commentators than this verse. The various attempts which have been made to explain it may be seen in Pool, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, etc. After all the explanations which have been given of it, I confess, I do not understand it. It is not difficult to see what the connection requires us to suppose in the explanation. The obvious interpretation would be, that a woman should have a veil on her head because of the angels who were supposed to be present, observing them in their public worship; and it is generally agreed that the word "power" (ἐξουσίαν exousian) denotes a veil, or a covering for the head. But the word power does not occur in this sense in any classic writer. Bretschneider understands it of a veil, as being a defense or guard to the face, lest it should be seen by others. Some have supposed that it was the name of a female ornament that was worn on the head, formed of braids of hair set with jewels. Most commentators agree that it means a "veil," though some think (see Bloomfield) that it is called power to denote the veil which was worn by married women, which indicated the superiority of the married woman to the maiden. But it is sufficient to say in reply to this, that the apostle is not referring to married women in contradistinction from those who are unmarried, but is showing that all women who prophecy or pray in public should be veiled. There can, perhaps, be no doubt that the word "power" has reference to a veil, or to a covering for the head; but why it is called power I confess I do not understand; and most of the comments on the word are, in my view, egregious trifling.
Because of the angels - Some have explained this of good angels, who were supposed to be present in their assemblies (see Doddridge); others refer it to evil angels; and others to messengers or spies who, it has been supposed, were present in their public assemblies, and who would report greatly to the disadvantage of the Christian assemblies if the women were seen to be unveiled. I do not know what it means; and I regard it as one of the very few pass ages in the Bible whose meaning as yet is wholly inexplicable. The most natural interpretation seems to me to be this: "A woman in the public assemblies, and in speaking in the presence of people, should wear a veil - the usual symbol of modesty and subordination - because the angels of God are witnesses of your public worship Hebrews 1:13, and because they know and appreciate the propriety of subordination and order in public assemblies."
According to this, it would mean that the simple reason would be that the angels were witnesses of their worship; and that they were the friends of propriety, due subordination, and order; and that they ought to observe these in all assemblies convened for the worship of God - I do not know that this sense has been proposed by any commentator; but it is one which strikes me as the most obvious and natural, and consistent with the context. The following remarks respecting the ladies of Persia may throw some light on this subject - "The head-dress of the women is simple; their hair is drawn behind the head, and divided into several tresses; the beauty of this head-dress consists in the thickness and length of these tresses, which should fall even down to the heels, in default of which, they lengthen them with tresses of silk. The ends of these tresses they decorate with pearls and jewels, or ornaments of gold or silver. The head is covered, "under" the veil or kerchief "(course chef)," only by the end of a small "bandeau," shaped into a triangle; this "bandeau," which is of various colors, is thin and light.
The "bandalette" is embroidered by the needle, or covered with jewelry, according to the quality of the wearer. This is, in, my opinion, the ancient "tiara," or "diadem," of the queens of Persia. Only married women wear it; and it is the mark by which it is known that they are under subjection "(oc'est la la marque a laquelle on reconnoit qu' elles sont sous puissance o - power)." The girls have little "caps," instead of this kerchief or tiara; they wear no veil at home, but let two tresses of their hair fall under their cheeks. The caps of girls of superior rank are tied with a row of pearls. Girls are not shut up in Persia till they attain the age of six or seven years; before that age they go out of the seraglio, sometimes with their father, so that they may then be seen. I have seen some wonderfully pretty girls. They show the neck and bosom; and more beautiful cannot be seen" - Chardin. "The wearing of a veil by a married woman was a token of her being under power. The Hebrew name of the veil signifies dependence. Great importance was attached to this part of the dress in the East. All the women of Persia are pleasantly apparelled. When they are abroad in the streets, all, both rich and poor, are covered with a great veil, or sheet of very fine white cloth, of which one half, like a forehead cloth, comes down to the eyes, and, going over the head, reaches down to the heels; and the other half muffles up the face below the eyes, and being fastened with a pin to the left side of the head, falls down to their very shoes, even covering their hands, with which they hold that cloth by the two sides, so that, except the eyes, they are covered all over with it. Within doors they have their faces and breasts uncovered; but the Armenian women in their houses have always one half of their faces covered with a cloth, that goes athwart their noses, and hangs over their chin and breasts, except the maids of that nation, who, within doors, cover only the chin until they are married" - Thevenot.
on 1-corinthians 11 :10
11:10 For this cause also a woman ought to be veiled in the public assemblies, because of the angels - Who attend there, and before whom they should be careful not to do anything indecent or irregular.