Hair

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Dec 1, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    With all the arguing back and forth, I did what I have done before – went back to Bible. But not just the English – also the Greek. Using, first, two translations (KJV and NIV) and then two concordances (Strongs and the NIV), I started looking up every time ‘hair’ was used in the New Testament. Then I looked up a few other words. Next I talked to my husband in Australia and he checked his interlinears and I checked mine. Then I called Dr. Bernard Northrup a retired professor of Old Testament Hebrew and ancient Greek and checked out some material with him.

    Before I get started, let me mention something Dr. Northrup told me: that many of the more modern translations simply copied from the KJV on matters that did not seem to be of much importance. For this reason, evidently, the passages concerning women’s hair have been badly misunderstood for a very long time now. However the meaning is still there in the Greek and still available for the price of a little time and digging.

    Here is what we found.

    First of all, the generic word for hair is thrix. This is the word used in Matthew 3:4 talking about John’s clothes being made of camel hair as well as in Matthew 5:36 when Jesus is referring to man’s inability to make even one hair of his head white or black. So both animal and human hair were identified by this word, ‘thrix.’

    This same word is used throughout the Gospels, including when Jesus’ feet were wiped by the woman’s hair.

    In Acts 18:18, we have a different word. Here the NIV says Paul cut his hair, but the word is kephale which refers to being shorn. So evidently in fulfillment of a vow, Paul shaved his head completely, which is what the KJV indicates more clearly than the NIV.

    The next time we find a reference to hair is in 1 Corinthians 11:6, where we have reference to a woman having a shorn head. This may also mean simply ‘cut hair’ as the NIV also uses, in addition to shorn, but the clearest meaning is a shorn head. This could be done either in reference to mourning, a vow, or an illness. The Greek word here is keiro. Here, though, the interesting word is not so much keiro as the Greek word used for ‘covering’, which is katakalupto, which means to cover completely, to veil, or to hide.

    So here is the verse with the Greek words in both versions:

    NIV: If a woman does not katakalupto her head, she should have her hair keiro; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair keiro, she should katakalupto her head.

    KJV: For if the woman be not katakalupto, let her also be keiro: but if it be a shame for a woman to be keiro, let her be katakalupto.

    What woman is this who is supposed to be either shaved or completely covered? The woman who is prophesying or praying publicly. The shaved head would indicate a specific condition (mourning, a vow, or an illness usually). The totally veiled covering, which is what is being referred to, would be to hide her identity completely, indicating she was not speaking publicly as ‘herself’ or under her own authority. This is why the veil – which was a complete covering – was considered a sign of being under authority. The exception to the veil would be a shaved head. Either condition of the head would mark any woman praying or prophesying publicly as NOT being a seer or occult prophet of an idol or idolatrous system. Thus, the distinction was to be very clear between Christianity and the pagan religions where the public participation of women was concerned.

    The next time we see women’s hair mentioned is in 1 Corinthians 11:14-15. Here we have an entirely new word for hair cropping up – a word used only these two times in the entire Bible. The word is komao. Despite the fact that not only the King James but just about every other version translates this as ‘long hair,’ that is NOT the meaning in the Greek! The meaning is ‘ornamented tresses,’ especially when used as a contrast to thrix, the generic word for hair which is what is used throughout the Gospels. Thus Paul is actually talking about nice hairdos! These may or may not include pretty clips as long as they stayed fairly simple, which is something both he and Peter mention later, as shown below.

    Understanding the word translated ‘long hair’ actually means ‘ornamental tresses’, let’s read the verses again:

    NIV: Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has komao, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has komao, it is her glory? For kome [the root word, definitely indicated ornamented hair tresses] is given to her as a covering.

    KJV: Doth not even nature itself teach you, that if a man have komao, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have komao, it is a glory to her: for [her] kome is given to her as a covering.

    When I thought about this, I found myself smiling – every little girl loves to dress up. Every woman likes to look nice, whatever ‘nice’ means to her. It is definitely in the nature of women to decorate themselves and not in the nature of men to get that involved. Even in ages when the men did get fancy, the women got fancier! It seems to be in the nature of women, and if we read the Greek right, God is saying yes, this is true, and this is her covering – her proof she is a girl! On the other hand, if a guy starts doing this to his hair, he has a real problem – it is a disgrace to him. There is the possibility that Paul might here be indicating a sign of homosexuality, but I may be jumping too far on that one…

    At any rate, the reference has nothing at all to do with long hair, but rather with nicely done hair that very possibly has some ornamentation in it.

    In 1 Timothy 2:9, we read ‘hair’ again. However that is not the full meaning in the Greek. If it were, the word would be thrix. This word that Paul uses with Timothy is only used this once in the entire Bible. It is plegma. It is translated ‘braided hair’, but that is not sufficient, either, for the word refers to the Roman custom of braiding all kinds of gold and pearls and jewels into the hair, not of simply braiding the hair itself. The hair was entwined with riches, and that ‘entwined’ is the key to the meaning of what Paul is saying.

    There is something else the translators have done here which is rather funny, and really does indicate they did not understand what Paul was talking about – this is the one error that has come down even when the correct version was known. It is a very little thing, but it makes the meaning ever so much clearer. In all of the English versions I think you will find, there is the word ‘or’ between ‘braided hair’ and ‘gold’. However in the most reliable of the Greek versions, and in the oldest, the word is not ‘or’ but ‘and.’

    Here are the two versions as they stand today:

    NIV: I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

    KJV: In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array…

    But the reality is that what is being referred to is hair braided with gold and pearls. The actual transliteration reads: Similarly women in clothing orderly, with modesty and sobriety to adorn themselves, not with plaiting and gold or pearls or raiment costly,…

    Paul was referring to what was done with the gold and pearls in the above. They were not separate from the plaited, or braided hair.

    The last time we see women’s hair referred to is by Peter, in 1 Peter 3:3. Here the generic thrix is used, but it is modified by another word used only once in the Bible: emploke., from the root meaning to entwine or entangle, which again refers to other things being involved. Emploke itself means ‘elaborately braided’. In the NIV, the verse reads then as : Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as thrix emploke and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.

    Thus, Peter and Paul are both making reference to the braiding of hair with elaborate jewels, or gold strands, or ropes of pearls woven into the braids. And about these things they simply say that a woman’s beauty should not come from such things, but from the inward character.

    I would therefore suggest that not only has there been mistaken emphasis put on the length of a woman’s hair, but on the use of a head covering as well.
     
  2. Ben W

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    That makes for one interesting bible study!
     
  3. Abiyah

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    Helen --

    This is one of too many subjects I have not
    studied. Thank you for your insights. I think I
    would like my eternity to include a large library
    and uninterrupted time for study. 8o)
     
  4. Miss Maggie

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    Very impressive work Helen. Thank you for sharing all of this research with us.

    :)Maggie
     
  5. Sherrie

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    Well done Helen! You have been very busy! You have done some good research.

    This veil thing goes even to Moses. Also, when Jesus died on the cross the veil was torn down.

    Well done!

    Sherrie [​IMG]
     
  6. rlvaughn

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    Helen, one thing you did not note, or else I missed it, is that the word for covering in verse 15 is peribolaion, rather than katakalupto. It appears that you did not factor that into your interpretation of that section of I Corinthians 11.
     
  7. donnA

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    Wow, Helen, what a lot of study you've done on this subject, thanks you for all the work involved in this. It really pays off to do an extensive bible study, helps to put scripture in context, and when scripture is in context we can know how to live scripture the way God intended.
     
  8. Lorelei

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    Helen,

    Thanks so much for sharing that! You did a wonderful job researching and presenting your findings!

    I am so glad that you took the time to do this. I remember asking a question about head coverings when I first arrived on this board. It always bothered me that we were now "free" in Christ, yet this little rule seemed to be standing in the way. I knew Paul who was so big on reminding us that we are no longer under the law, that the law will not save us, would not start making new laws that we must obey, but this chapter always confused me. So many people have interpreted it differently, and that only confused me more.

    When I tried to look up the greek, I always got confused over "katakalupto" and "keiro", and now you have clarified it for me. Not just in a way that makes it easy for me to believe, but in a way that lines up with the rest of scripture.

    No outward appearance should be needed for us to be submissive to Christ, people should be able to see our submissiveness without a physical covering. It should be our hearts that separate us from the world, not our looks. Thanks for explaing this passage of scripture!

    ~Lorelei
     
  9. Helen

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    You are right and I apologize. The word peribolaion is used twice in the New Testament, once there and once in Hebrews 1:12, where the heavens and the earth will be rolled up like a peribolaion, or a garment. This would also indicate not only something more than a simple cloth on the head, but also the fact that there will be no more veiling, or hiding, perhaps.

    Looking it up, the word peribolaion is a derivative of periballo, meaning to "throw all around", used in terms of clothing as putting clothing on, or casting it about one. The indication is of something fairly large.

    Thank you.

    Going to the Hebrews use of the word I can't help but think of the terms used in Isaiah and other places where the Lord says He stretched out the heavens and spread out the earth -- and then, in the future, He will 'roll them up' like a large garment. It makes an interesting mental image!
     
  10. Helen

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    Barry just called. He had read this, but not known yet that I had answered RL, so he looked it up there in Australia, too and came upon something really interesting in the 1 Corinthians 11:15 verse and the way it is stated in the Greek.

    As taken from the Interlinear Bible published by Sovereign Grace Publishers, Jay P. Green, editor,
    here is the exact transliteration of this verse:

    Does not herself nature teach you that a man indeed if adorns the hair a dishonor to him it is; a woman but if should adorn the hair a glory to her it is because the beautified hair instead of a veil has been given to her.

    The word 'veil' there is the word peribolaion, indicating a full covering thrown over the woman, or at least her head.

    Barry: "So in other words, the adornment in her hair takes the place of a veil."

    Helen: "And then Peter and Paul only say that we should not depend on what we do with our hair or clothes for our beauty, not that we are restricted from physical adornment! That makes it more fun to be a girl!"
     
  11. tyndale1946

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    Helen... Hair!... Where?... Brother Glen( Of the chrome dome brotherhood) :cool:
     
  12. Gina B

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    Great work Helen!
    But...I have a thought. (amazing, huh? ;) )
    God didn't give us our bible in Greek. We do not have to be scholars to understand the bible, or do we?
    If God wanted us to be able to understand his word and his commandments without being Greek scholars or having them available, wouldn't He have provided for our English translation to be able to say what it means in a way we could understand?
    In other words, if even the simple "long hair" or "covering" are not what they mean, how can we read and study the bible on our own if even the simplest English means something different?
    Maybe, just maybe, the word of God is living in a way that makes it so that God wanted those words to say just what they do today.
    The only other choice I see is that it's impossible for the average person to understand the bible, and we'd have to have translation upon new translation as new evidence of what the past and future phrases mean.
    Gina
     
  13. Helen

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    HI Gina,

    I think the Bible can be understood in English quite well as long as ALL of it is read and it is taken in context. For instance, the business about head covering, in any language, is clearly meant for those ladies who are prophesying and praying in public! Otherwise there is no need for any kind of 'sign' to others. That is right there in the text as clear as anything.

    The 'long hair' and 'braided' stuff is interesting, but obviously not a matter of righteousness or salvation, both of which are only in Christ. It would be nice if both had been translated a bit more accurately, but it does not matter in the essence of the Bible itself, actually.

    The Bible is God's Word about Himself, man, and the relationships between us and Him and among ourselves. The fall of man, the Promise of God, the condition of man, the Fulfillment of the Promise in Jesus Christ, the necessity of being born again, the two Great Commandments -- these are all there in every language.

    Digging deeper and studying more always results in more riches intellectually and can really bolster faith, too. But that can't invent faith, and it can't replace salvation or knowing God.

    Remember how Jesus said we must become as little children? That means a simple, complete faith in Him, and grabbing on to Him for all we are worth, following closely, the way a little child does. It does not mean intellectual understanding or the precise meaning of words. It means a Person. Salvation is not a matter of intellectual understanding.

    However, that being said, when someone is teaching what they claim the Bible really means and trying to influence others to believe that, we have GOT to be ready to check as closely as possible to prevent people from following people instead of Christ. Not everyone has to be 'a Berean', but if no one is, then we are in for some major trouble!

    Anyone, though, can read the Bible and know what God's clear word to man is. Any language. Any time. And we are told by James to ask for wisdom. Any language. Any time. God says 'yes'. He will always give us what we need from His Word and from Himself as our Lord and God.

    [ December 01, 2002, 05:47 PM: Message edited by: Helen ]
     
  14. donnA

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    I for one love learning what the greek words say and mean so I can get the fullest of what the bible is saying and means. We can tell this is necessary becasue some words in greek are translated into more then one word in english. It is very helpful to know what other ways a word was translated. And for me, I really want to know the difference, it helps me to know and to apply scripture to my life.
     
  15. Dr. Bob

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    Excellent effort. I have had to go through this and study this with college students who wanted to do the right thing about hair/coverings.

    Two thoughts:
    (1) How important it is to know the original language, nuances of words and grammar construction. ANY English translation will be at best "unclear" because of the limits of this receptor language.

    (2) How necessary it is for those who seek to follow such a tradition as "veiled" to follow the Word of God completely - that is completely cover the hair and not just where a baseball cap, snood, or zorro cape down the back. IF they interpret the Word as wearing a veil, let it be a biblical veil.

    Again, thanks for the good work. Another case of where an interlinear Greek/English NT is a must for any serious student of the Word.
     
  16. donnA

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    I've been wanting one of these for years, but need a CHEAP one. I can see how they would very valueable in bible study.
     
  17. Gina B

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    Katie, there are many resources available online.
    Check out blueletterbible.org
    crosswalk.com for a few
    Sword Searcher is an excellent program, see the ad at the top of the BB. :D
    Gina
     
  18. suzanne

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    Thank you, Helen for the excellent study! I love reading your posts and have gleaned a lot from you.

    I have a question in regards to what's written in I Cor. 11. Is the headcovering for that time and culture?

    The reason I ask is that in I Cor. 1:2 Paul is addressing not only the Christians in Corinth, but "with all who in every place call upon the name ..." making it sound like I Cor. was not just for that time or culture.

    And in the beginning of chapter 11, Paul talks about holding firm to traditions as he delivered them and then goes on to address headcovering and the Lord Supper. Of course we know that the Lord's Supper is not cultural or just for that time. Why does he address headcovering and Communion in the same chapter.

    Comments or insight?

    Thanks,
    suzanne
     
  19. Aaron

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    Thus, the distinction was to be very clear between Christianity and the pagan religions where the public participation of women was concerned.

    Paul is not concerned here with whether the mere distinction between pagans and Christians, but with the order of nature and nature's God. The concern in 1 Cor. 11 is not the article of dress, but the insignia of rank. Women cannot discard the sign of her headship while in worship. It dishonors her husband. And the man that takes the signs of being in subjection, i.e. a veil, dishonors Christ. Paul appeals then to nature, "doth not nature itself teach you?" to support his premise.

    Paul concludes that the women must maintain the signs of their rank for the cause of nature and for the angels, who themselves are under authority, and a third of whom were seduced by Satan into rebellion. In the Garden Satan went to the one under authority when he seduced Eve.

    But it should be noted that any public praying or prophesying is prohibited to women in 1 Corinthians 14:34.

    The next time we see women’s hair mentioned is in 1 Corinthians 11:14-15. Here we have an entirely new word for hair cropping up – a word used only these two times in the entire Bible. The word is komao. Despite the fact that not only the King James but just about every other version translates this as ‘long hair,’ that is NOT the meaning in the Greek! The meaning is ‘ornamented tresses,’ especially when used as a contrast to thrix, the generic word for hair which is what is used throughout the Gospels. Thus Paul is actually talking about nice hairdos! These may or may not include pretty clips as long as they stayed fairly simple, which is something both he and Peter mention later, as shown below.

    Strong's says the root kome means ornamental tresses, however, Dr. Vine is careful to note that kome "is used only of 'human hair,' but not in the NT of the ornamental. The word is found in 1 Cor. 11:15 where the context shows that the 'covering' provided in the long 'hair' of the woman is as a veil, a sign of subjection to authority, as indicated in the headships spoken of in vv.1-10."

    In other words, the long hair is the ornament, for it is the sign of the true ornament, a meek and quiet spirit which in the sight of God of great price. The usage of komao, to let the hair grow long, or to wear long hair, in verses 14 and 15 supports Dr. Vine's definition and the consensus of the translators (who, by the way, were eminent Greek scholars. Rather rash of you to suggest they didn't know what they were doing, don't you think? ;) Takes a little more than a Strongs concordance and interlinear Bible to be a translator.).

    At any rate, the reference has nothing at all to do with long hair, but rather with nicely done hair that very possibly has some ornamentation in it.

    A conclusion based on incomplete research and heavily influenced by your own bias, I'm afraid.

    There is something else the translators have done here which is rather funny, and really does indicate they did not understand what Paul was talking about – this is the one error that has come down even when the correct version was known. It is a very little thing, but it makes the meaning ever so much clearer. In all of the English versions I think you will find, there is the word ‘or’ between ‘braided hair’ and ‘gold’. However in the most reliable of the Greek versions, and in the oldest, the word is not ‘or’ but ‘and.’

    Which makes no difference in the meaning whatever. If I say I have a runny nose and a cough, that does not mean that my nose is runny with my cough. And in the same way, saying plaited hair and gold does not mean plaiting the hair with gold. What? Is there no Greek word meaning "with?"

    Here are some statements by good and godly teachers who were at the same time eminent Greek scholars.

    See John Gill's Exposition on 1 Tim. 2:9:
    http://www.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=1ti&chapter=002&verse=009

    [ December 01, 2002, 08:10 PM: Message edited by: Aaron ]
     
  20. rlvaughn

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    While looking for some online resources to which I could link, I came across a really nice site. CLICK HERE and you will go to a page of transliterated Greek (I Cor. 11) from the Westcott & Hort text. You can click on the underlined words and get information on the Greek meaning. A window will pop up with information on the word, and will have other things you can click on for more information. You should note that the words will not always appear exactly the same (or as we have typed them here). Because of their use in the sentences, they may have different endings, prefixes, etc.. Look for words that are similar to the ones being mentioned (katakalupto, kome, peribolaion, etc.) and/or have the same roots. Another online resource is Crosswalk.com.

    Helen, thanks for the time and work that you put into getting this material together. It will be helpful to us in the continuing study of I Corinthians 11:1-15. I'm not going to make many comments, because people can study these words for themselves. But I do have a few.
    I would agree that the KJV has tended to set the standard and that newer translations do consult it, but I believe Dr. Northrup's statement as quoted here could tend to misrepresent and obscure the amount of scholarship that has gone into these translations - both the KJV and modern versions that have tried to update, correct, or supplant it.
    Could you give us the source of this definition? My initial reaction, based on what I have looked up, is that there is plenty of information for "long hair" as an accurate translation of "komao".

    Finally, I would like to know the implications and the interpretation if we follow your word meanings.

    If the ornamented tresses (komao) are given to women as "something thrown around (peribolaion)" - a type of covering - is that intended to substitute for the katakalupto (veil covering)?

    If the ornamented tresses are given as a covering instead of the veil, what means verses 5 & 6? If she doesn't have ornamented tresses let her be shorn (hair cut off)? But if it's a shame to have the hair cut off, she should have ornamented tresses (beautified hair)? If she doesn't have pretty spruced up hair, she should just get it cut off?
     

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