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5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.

6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

13  Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
NASBu  1 Corinthians 11:5, 6, 13
 

A practical contradiction

Are women instructed to cover their head, a clothing prescription? Some texts of 1 Corinthians 11 seem to say so. It is difficult for exegetes to escape these harsh texts as they confront them with a serious dilemma. Was this divine teaching for the past (a) or is it also for today (b)?

a. One supposes that the apostle Paul was confronted in Corinth with loose conduct of women and he had to instruct the Christian women not to behave as bad women (who’s hair had been cut off to show that they were harlots). Paul wanted the Christian women to be shown to be separate from this conduct by covering their heads.

b. However Paul is speaking in general terms, so this seems also a guideline for women for today. Isn’t it? So women would then seem to be very sinful by not wearing hats, caps and all sorts of head coverings in the Church.

Nowadays one takes these verses as time-bound instruction in spite of the general sound of Paul’s words here. In fact we have a contradiction in Christian praxis and Christian prescript.
 

Thou shalt not add

This contradiction is easy to refute. One has always interpreted the context of this passage as follows: the head of the man should be uncovered and the head of the woman should be covered. However this is a completely false presupposition. There is no antithesis between the heads of men and women here. This is quickly seen as the word ‘head’ has been inserted three times in the translation while it is definitely lacking in the Greek text (verse 6 and 13). In all these instances it is actually said that the woman has to cover HERSELF, that is HER BODY, properly in the Church. Jesus never died for covered heads of women. He rose again for his Church, and dressing properly is a condition for proper relationships between men and women while fulfilling their spiritual tasks. That’s all.
 

The texts without mistranslations

We present here the texts with corrections in red, translation remarks in green and explanatory notes in blue. The rejected mistranslations are in brackets (…).

(5) But every woman who is bald-headed (not: has her head uncovered) while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.
Long hair is honorable for a woman. Verse 5 expresses a rather hypothetical point of view necessary for the complete argumentation. In the Septuagint the same word 'akatakaluptos' (his head bare KJV) is used in the prescript for lepers (Leviticus 13:45) to have no hear on their head (probably to not infect others through hair loss).

(6) For if a woman does not cover herself (not: head), let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover herself (not: head).
The Greek for ‘head’ is lacking in two instances in this verse.
Paul reminds women that there are limits. They are proud of their hair, a natural covering. This is a natural sign to also be proud of their body and cover it properly.

(13)  Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God (not: with her head) uncovered?
The Greek for ‘head’ is lacking in this verse.
The judgement of any insider or outsider would be negative concerning a woman praying in public, who is (half-)naked.
 

Conclusions

Both men and women are called to speak in the Church. There are two rules for their presentation. Men should act with an uncovered head and women with a covered body (properly dressed).

It is painful to have to say: the apostle Paul didn’t make problems about this subject, but a 2000 year tradition of theological Bible interpretation does. Commentators should remember: Thou shalt not add unto the Word of God.
 

No Bible Contradiction