IT’S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
It comes from Jessica Pritt, whom I would guess has short hair…or wants to.
She starts her question by pointing to a Bible verse: 1 Corinthians 11:6. I’ll give it to you in a moment.
Here’s her question:
Many people base a huge part of their faith on the literal interpretation of the Bible verse that says a woman’s hair should not be cut. To me, it seems like a verse that better belongs in the Old Testament. If our faith and salvation is in Jesus Christ, why is the length of hair so important?
A literal read of the verse?
Let’s try a literal read of it from the revered King James Version:
“ For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.”
My literal read on that would be:
Let’s try the translation that many top Bible experts say they love. That’s the New American Standard Bible, a very literal translation, almost word for word instead of trying to capture the general meaning. Reading this version of the Bible is like being kissed by a stiff upper lip.
“For if a woman does not cover [a] her head, let her also [b] have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to [c] have her hair cut off or [d] her head shaved, let her cover [e] her head.”
a. 1 Corinthians 11:6 Lit herself
b. 1 Corinthians 11:6 Lit shear herself
c. 1 Corinthians 11:6 Lit shear herself
d. 1 Corinthians 11:6 Lit herself
e. 1 Corinthians 11:6 Lit herself
I think a literal read of that might involve a barber or a stylist, and possibly a bag over the head.
Let’s jump to a Bible translation that talks like someone not suffering from the grip, dropsy, or rickets.
How about the New Century Version?
“If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off. But since it is shameful for a woman to cut off her hair or to shave her head, she should cover her head.”
Okay, I normally like the way that Bible translates ancient words and meanings. But I’m still not seeing any logic worth taking literally, if at all. And I’m beginning to wonder if smoking reached the Middle East earlier than we previously thought: 1600s—about the time the King James Version was translated.
I’m going to resort to the kid’s Bible, the New International Reader’s Version.
“What if a woman does not cover her head? She should have her hair cut off. But it is shameful for her to cut her hair or shave it off. So she should cover her head.”
People, does that really make sense to you?
I know that’s from a kid’s edition of the Bible, targeted for about an eight-year-old. So the phrasing is going to sound like something you’d expect to hear on a playground. But shouldn’t the logic sound a bit more, I don’t know, less like it needs a bib?
Maybe something like a how-to article:
Here’s how a woman should take care of her head.
- Cover it.
- If you don’t, you deserve to have all your hair cut off, Baldy.
- And if you have your hair cut off, you should be ashamed, Bumpy Head.
- So cover your head.
Now, Jessica, let me answer your question by asking a couple of questions.
1. Why do you think someone would pick out that particular verse from a letter Paul wrote to a little group of Greeks probably meeting in somebody’s house and treat it like the Eleventh Commandment?
2. Why would a woman today want to take her fashion cue from a 2,000-year-old bachelor?
Here’s what many Bible experts say Paul was doing in this part of his letter: Giving advice on how people should dress for worship.
Men: “A man should not cover his head” (11:7).
Women: He was asking the ladies to wear veils, as though it was the custom for modest women at the time.
Perhaps in Corinth, women who didn’t cover their heads when they went out in public were less than modest. As in, hookers, temple prostitutes, or that aunt in your family nobody wants to talk about.
But those are just educated guesses about what was going on inside the head of bachelor Paul.
Maybe what he wanted most was for people to worship with as few distractions as possible.
If he were writing today, he might offer other advice.
- Turn off your cell phones.
- If your kids like to dance when there’s no music playing, don’t sit in the front row.
- Don’t wear slacks that show your butt crack.