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.