The episode is now live.
This one kicks off a series of topical episodes now that we’ve finished Leviticus. It’s a topic I’ve been asked to do many times, since I’ve alluded to the fact that the meaning of this passage takes us back to Genesis 6 (1 Cor 11:10 – “because of the angels”). The focus of the episode is the work of Troy Martin, whose work in Greco-Roman medical texts has profound explanatory power for understanding the intellectual worldview for the head covering language of 1 Cor 11.
NOTE: The content of this episode is overtly sexual in nature. In a nutshell, what Paul says about the head covering is framed by the “non-scientific science” of the first century AD (and earlier) with respect to procreation and fertility. You’ll be amazed at what Hippocrates (460 BC – 370 BC) really believed! You’ll be even more amazed at how much sense all that makes for understanding what Paul says in this passage.
Bravo!! As a physician, I was fascinated by the topic. The argument from Hippocrates makes perfect sense. I must admit, I was worried because I can be sensitive to non-scientific discussion in the Bible, as there is always that fleshly doubter inside. But the take home message is that one should be modest. Duh! It is such a clear and concise explantation of the facts, I can see myself easily sharing this with others in order to finally put to rest the bizarre Christian perceptions of the passage…and also to have a cogent explanation for non-believers who love to pick on this passage. Bottom line: keep your privates private! Shalom!
P.S. I think this also explains extreme reactions in Roman culture when their later emperors “went native” as it were, and why we see ever male cultured bust with EXTREME short hair! For the Roman, truly, bald must have been beautiful!
Dr. Steve – great seeing your post. It’s been a while since our Berean Online Fellowship. Looking forward to hearing from you as the Society for Participatory Medicine http://www.participatorymedicine.org intersects Mike Heiser’s fantastic research in The Unseen Realm. Have you read Mike’s latest books?
Hey Mike, very interesting episode.
Two words came to my mind.
Selectively , Supernatural.
I think these two words sum up the prevailing culture we all see in most modern “churches”.
A good example would be; Ignoring (or glossing over) the parts of scripture that do not fit ones supernatural world view. The problem is,, many of the people who are guilty of the above, actually teach in the “church”.
is there any way to also post a copy of
Fallen Angels, Bastard Spirits, and the Birth of God’s Son: An Enochic Etiology of Evil in Galatians 3:19–4:11
mentioned on the program?
This was great information, very informative.
As a physician, I love getting a better understanding of how the ancients thought about science and medicine and how that influences the logic found in the Bible.
It just stresses the fact that the Bible is not meant to address the truths of science directly. God rather chose to allow the pre-scientific understanding of the culture of the days in which the Bible was written inform that original audience of the higher theological truths that were meant for us all.
The Bible was not meant to make commentary upon modern scientific understandings – which has implications all the way down to the reality of a nearly 14 billion-year old Universe and the indisputable facts of Evolution.
Whoa! Watch that evolution stuff!!
cue the spooky music.
Evolution does not conflict with the Scripture, when you interpret Scripture within it’s original culture and pre-scientific worldview. If this is true for 1 Cor 11, it is true for Genesis 1-2…
I agree. But there is a big anti-christian scene within many of the hard sciences.
I do not agree with the proposition of evolution, not because of any religious belief, but for the lack of solid evidence I have found in my research.
Wow. Not sure what you’ve been researching. The evidence is overwhelming. Recommend biologos.org. It all comes down to the nuts and bolts of the genetics that prove it. Keep in mind, if you are reading things more than 10-15 years old, you are not current enough. The newer genetic evidence is really indisputable. IMHO.
Natural selection is demonstrable. The relatedness of genes is demonstrable. What is not demonstrable is how an extravagantly complex set of interrelated systems can appear randomly with such precision. Each biological system, from homeostasis, locomotion, digestion, cognition, patterned responses, immunity, etc., are so freakingly complex and fine-tuned that it just staggers the imagination to contemplate how this might happen randomly, and spontaneously, using compounds of the correct stereoisomeric form (when wet chemistry creates racemic mixtures). The probability of random correct assembly of one hemoglobin molecule is about 10^156, and that is not counting the feedback loop to DNA. This same experiment applies to every complex interrelated protein system. For every single organism. In every ecological niche, from Protista to Animalia. In psych, my field, the GABA receptor complex is a macromolecular super-protein with 5 subunits to the channel, with something like 3,000 variations possible in a person depending on which of the subunits is coded and expressed. (explains addiction and other tendencies). I must reject spontaneous biogenesis as practically, chemically and mathematically untenable.
Hate to beat a dead horse, but this is a good simplified video showing just a fraction of the building genetic evidence that supports the theory of evolution:
Pay special attention to the 23rd chromosome pair when compared to chimps. I am still looking for a better explanation than that which evolutionary theory provides (don’t get tripped up by the word “theory” there…it’s used the same way as in “gravitational theory” and we all know gravity is a reality, well…maybe I assume too much…)
Who’s clock are you using?
Where’s the clock located?
How fast is the clock moving?
I would not be so quick to assume the “facts” of “evolution” are indisputable, because the “facts” are disputed regularly.
My view is that “time” as we perceive it, has nothing to do with creation.
Genetics, is my field of interest and we know that species can adapt very quickly to their surroundings (within one generation) so in reality we only need the extra time to account for changes in a species common physiology.
If you really want to get into the hard science of biology,
Look up scholar articles about the link between, ‘Anaphylaxis and ‘Epigenetics.
NOTE, My comment “extra time” does not refer to the argument of 6000 literal years or so vs billions of years. Just so people know my stance I think the human race has been around for around 200,000 years maximum.
I could go on for light years(provided the photons were passed through a “BEC”(bose einstein condensate).
Physics joke LOL.
Thanks, feel free to ask any questions.
Chris of the Delany clan.
The “facts” of a spherical earth are disputed quite regularly (see the other thread going on here, my goodness gracious, what the heck is going on…), but that doesn’t make the flat earth point of view a legitimate alternative to the spherical earth point of view. Same holds true with evolution vs special creation.
I can think of thousands of genetic examples of evolution. Let’s take one:
Why are humans born with extra nipples sometimes? Obvious explanation: because we are descendent from mammals and have an internal mammary line coded within our genome that sometimes does not completely regress during embryonic development. The mammary line genetic was inherited from our mammalian ancestors. We have tons of genes from animals of other species like this within our very genetic code that have been modified such that they are not fully expressed anymore. Most of “junk DNA” is old DNA from our ancestors, genes that have been turned off for good.
If God made our genome a separate entity from that of a cat, without any evolutionary mammalian relationship there with the intent that the norm for human beings would be that of only 2 nipples, there would be no need to keep the code for the mammary line like that. That is inefficient. An abbreviated code for just two nipples would be sufficient. You see inefficiencies all over the genetic code like this that can be best explained by evolution. Evolution then accounts for the inefficiencies well and shows that they are not inefficiencies after all, rather, they are necessities for the process that God chose to set in motion that allowed for the creation of all species. The writer of Genesis had no way of knowing all of this and God was not in the business of trying to explain it all.
So, God let the guy write out his understanding of creation per his own culture’s cosmology, with the intent that those who read the text get the message that God made it all (hardened metal dome of a firmament in which the stars, moon and sun all reside on the same plane, and all) not some other entity or entities. You are not required by God to believe that waters are present above the firmament making the sky blue (which is clearly what the writer of Genesis thought, and what he is trying to express)any more than you are required to believe that the sun literally appeared out in space on day 4. The writer isn’t expressing any idea of a Sun floating out there in the vacuum of space. He is expressing the idea that the Sun is fixed within the hardened firmament. The whole thing is completely “off” from the known facts of how things work. That then goes all the way to…yes…evolution. So what, I say. That isn’t a problem. God wasn’t trying to teach science. Move on.
Dude , I do not want to make Mike’s blog a place for arguing.
But your assertion about why humans are sometimes born with an extra nipple is just plain false!
Also your assertion about “junk DNA” is again plainly false!
No, it’s actually right on target, based upon scientific data, I can refer you to legitimate genetic research if you would like.
I would recommend that you read “The Language of God” by Francis Collins, it explains all of this well from a Christian perspective for the layman. Francis Collins lead the human genome project by the way, so if anyone knows what he is talking about, it is him. It is the human genome project that has shed so much light on this kind of thing, it is quite amazing in fact. Very interesting stuff to me.
I wish Christians would appreciate the value of this relatively new information that sheds so much light on origins, and engage with it better than they are at present. I’ll keep doing my part, for sure.
Refer me please!
This is why humans sometimes grow “supernumerary” body parts, there are many factors involved. It is not because of ancient mammalian DNA!
Now on to “junk DNA’.
“junk DNA” IS NOT “old DNA from our ancestors that has been turned off, that assertion is FALSE!!!
Loved this topic. Will paste a link on my Facebook page. I tried to explain to my adult children the other night, and was an epic fail.
One suggestion: Paul’s missionary companion was Luke, a physician. While I agree this point of view was probably common for the reasons described in the Podcast and papers, Paul’s companion would have been a great source of exactly this type of information if any were needed. Keep up the good work.
How many of you guys respect C.S. Lewis? He had no problem with Evolution. From the Problem of Pain:
“For long centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself. He gave it hands whose thumb could be applied to each of the fingers, and jaws and teeth and throat capable of articulation, and a brain sufficiently complex to execute all the material motions whereby rational thought is incarnated. The creature may have existed for ages in this state before it became man: it may even have been clever enough to make things which a modern archaeologist would accept as proof of its humanity. But it was only an animal because all its physical and psychical processes were directed to purely material and natural ends. Then, in the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say ‘I’ and ‘me,’ which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments of truth, beauty, and goodness, and which was so far above time that it could perceive time flowing past.”
From Mere Christianity: “Century by century God has guided nature up to the point of producing creatures [humans] which can (if they will) be taken right out of nature, turned into ‘gods.'”
From a letter to Joseph Cranfield he wrote ““I don’t mind whether God made man out of earth or whether ‘earth’ merely means ‘previous millennia of ancestral organisms.’ If the fossils make it probable that man’s physical ancestor’s ‘evolved,’ no matter.”
My point – legitimate Christians can look at the evidence for evolution and have no problem with it. So, the question here is not whether you believe in evolution or not – I should stop trying to convince you. The point is, does the fact that the Bible is not a science book and usually gets modern science “wrong” (though I am not saying it is in error by doing so, b/c for it’s day it’s science was absolutely right) as a proper understanding of 1 Cor 11 shows, allow for Christians to adopt evolution if they honestly believe that all of the evidence points and leads in that direction? Is evolution then compatible with taking the Bible as God’s Word?
Seems to me you are one of those people who like to do the avoid dance.
Why not actually reply to my questions?
Yes Christians can believe in evolution, but many Christians choose not to. The Christians that choose not to believe in evolution are usually called ignorant or stupid.
Evolution is not infallible fact.
I asked you with a “please” to refer me to “legitimate” genetic research, yet your reply just does the avoid dance once again.
Are you a physician?
If so answer me this,,, What is the main difference between profalaxis and anaphylaxis ? Surely you would know the difference being a physician.
Sorry need to correct my spelling. Prophylaxis.
Be nice if there was an edit after post button.
That Wikipedia page doesn’t really provide anything useful here – you just looked up “congenital disorder”, what is that supposed to prove? You didn’t deal with the congenital disorder that is the supernumerary nipple.
See the emedicine discussion of this here: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1117825-overview#a5
Note from the emedicine article, even the location of bizarre supernumerary nipples on the vulva and shoulder correspond to the normal location of nipples in our mammalian ancestors, further supporting our genetic link to them: “Supernumerarynipples on the vulva are consistent with the location of breasts in dolphins and whales; whereas, ectopic supernumerary nipples on the back, scapula, and shoulder are reminiscent of breast tissue in nutria and hutia (rodents).”
Most of Junk DNA is, in fact, left over turned-off/damaged genes. Some of it has been modified in other ways, usually leading to disease, obviously not the original intent either (as the article that you quote mentions).
From “The Language of God” by Francis Collins (an authority on this subject matter, having headed the Human Genome Project) emphatically states on page 136 “some small fraction of (junk DNA) may play important regulatory roles. But certain examples severely strain the credulity of that explanation. The process of transposition often damages the jumping gene. There are ancient repetitive elements (this means, identifiable gene sequences that come from our ancestors) throughout the human and mouse genomes that were truncated when they landed, removing any possibility of their functioning” – and this is certainly the norm for junk DNA.
See this scientific article, asserting that 2/3rds of the human genome is characterized by these ancient repetitive sequences that are inherited from our ancestors – http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1002384
It is certainly possible that some of that inherited DNA has been modified in advantageous ways to serve regulatory functions within our genome, but the fact remains that this “Junk DNA” is inherited from other species and repeated over and over via the process of transposition.
So, the sad thing about Christians who fight the idea of evolution tooth and nail is that they cherry pick the articles that they like and ignore the bulk of evidence that they do not, thinking that all of this is a “this or that” proposition. In this case, yes some junk DNA will turn out to have some sort of active/current function in our genome while still the vast majority will not because they are obviously truncated and damaged genes inherited from our ancestors. This is well establish scientific fact.
This article summarizes and explains it all as well: http://www.genetics.org/content/186/4/1085.full
This of course occurs in all organisms, not just humans. Here is an article discussing this in plants: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369526616300036
Do you think this is a hard question? What are you trying to accomplish here?
I do see a specific type of anaphylactic reaction about 2-3x a year in my office. It is known as angioedema, is quite impressive, the entire lip swells up like a balloon, often as an allergic reaction to ACE-inhibitors (a type of blood pressure medication) – so if you happen to be taking an ACE-inhibitor (if you want me to explain the renin-angiotensin pathway that ACE-inhibitors modify, sometimes causing a cough via a very interesting mechanism involving bradykinin, I can do that as well, and that is a bit of a higher level question that would better help you decide if I was a doctor or not, but I digress…) and your lip swells up, take 50mg of Benadryl immediately and let your doctor know ASAP. There is, of course, a GENETIC MUTATION that leads to a hereditary angioedema as well – C1 complement deficiency. Take an ACE-inhibitor AND have this C1 complement deficiency hiding in the background and, watch out, see what happens to the lips then!
Prophylaxis – ah yes, check out this example of a bioethical dilemma (for the Christian) involving this issues: I had a homosexual male talk me into giving him Truvada (an HIV antiviral) to help him prevent contraction of HIV (this is a new indication). He is a high risk individual, very sexually promiscuous, and taking this on a daily basis does help reduce the transmission of HIV from an infected partner to the one who isn’t infected (i.e., the one who is prophylactically taking the Truvada). I went ahead and did it so as to protect him from contracting HIV (I would rather him live a long full life, given every chance to repent, wouldn’t you?). But, then he comes in not 2 weeks later after having had sex with two males in that interim, both with known HIV, unprotected no less. He thinks the Truvada now gives him a license to act his way. He thinks there is now virtually no chance of contracting HIV, regardless of the risks he takes. Which is not entirely true, of course, and I made this crystal clear to him. He is going to end up fulfilling the last few verses of Romans chapter 1 despite my best efforts! Now, there is a case of prophylaxis sending entirely the wrong message to this guy, wouldn’t you say? I mean, is it making him even more prone to engage in high risk sexual behavior, or, was he going to engage in that inappropriate high risk behavior anyway and the Truvada is still helping him in the long run? I don’t have a good answer, still praying about that one…
Have I answered your questions? Do you believe I am a physician now? Probably not. Oh well…
First of all, a supernumerary nipple is a congenital disorder, that is why I posted the link to what a congenital disorder is and the many causes involved.
Your link regarding supernumerary nipples, actually does not say that the cause of the congenital disorder is a falling back to mammalian ancestor genes. The excerpt in the link you provided just mentions that, Darwin and Saint-Hilaire supported the notion that a supernumerary nipple is an atavistic structure. But the problem with this assertion is,, Humans have always had nipples,, “In biology, an atavism is an evolutionary throwback, such as traits reappearing which had disappeared generations before”
A better example is human embryos having a tail in which the growing fetus does not absorb. The key point to understand here is that when “Atavism” occurs in the case of vestigial human tails, the tail is never spinal, it is always soft. Just because a human embryo looks almost identical to a monkey embryo only shows that many mammalian embryos start in the same way.
A dog embryo looks almost identical to a human embryo, yet we do not conclude we have a common ancestor with dogs.
As to the “junk DNA” subject.,,,,
Transposons, have been shown to be inter-special, and Though no one knows how the parasitic DNA’s can transfer between species. It was once thought that, because Chimps have almost identical transposons that were found on similar looking chromosomes in Humans, that some virus or insect managed to invade both hosts at a time when the “common ancestor” was alive.
We now know that these “parasitic DNA’s” can be passed between species.
Inactivity in the areas of the human Genome, or the the repetitive elements, are a result of the symbiotic relationship between host and the transposon, because neither the host or the transposon benefits from deleterious enviroments. This can and has been shown to happen within one generation through the process of epigenetics.
In summary, these repetitive sequences, and the length or percent of them in any host, can be controlled by the symbiotic relationship between host and transposon, therefore making the “so called” inactive regions of the genome vital to survival of the host and the transposons,proving the point that these repetitive sequences can change in length and popularity within a relatively short period of time and are in no way redundant.
Lastly. You did not explain the difference between Anaphylaxis and Prophylaxis.
Angioedema is not always part of an anaphylactic reaction and many people can manifest angioedema without an anaphylactic reaction.
So angioedema is not an anaphylactic reaction because it is not always due to immunoglobulin (IgE) mechanisms.
Great quotes, Christopher.
Thank you for sharing.
Did you say you were a physician?
I highly doubt it with quotes like, “If God made our genome a separate entity”
Do you even understand genetics? Or do you just pretend to, while following the recent movement of “God set evolution in motion”
I have heard that quote by so many people, sounds like apologetic nonsense to me.
Yes I am a physician. I practice internal medicine in Dallas. You can attack my credentials all that you want, I don’t really care. I could provide you with proof easily but that would mean risking some crazy guy on the internet trying to hunt me down, for all I know.
I am just actually intellectually honest with myself, which is why I cannot help but adopt evolution as truth.
You didn’t provide my whole quote there by the way, but you can clearly see what I am saying. If our genome was unrelated to that of other organisms, we wouldn’t find genes within our genome that are present in other organisms but have no place in ours. There are thousands of examples of this. This article goes into some of that – and more – as well, showing that without a doubt human beings are descended from an ancestor common to that of apes:
Of course, I am intentionally trying to write in a way that isn’t too technical on purpose. Forgive me for insulting your intelligence.
And, you may question my credentials but I can with much greater ease question your Christianity, simply by evaluating the way you are behaving toward me.
So I have always heard the explanation that prostitutes at this time shaved their heads… and that explains why Paul said this in this passage… and when I heard this (hair makes one more fertile) explanation a couple of years ago from Naked Bible blog… I thought that it explained that practice well… i.e. because cutting the hair would be sort of a contraceptive measure which I assume a prostitute would want to take advantage of.. problem is, I did a bit more research on the subject and it turns out there is not even one reference anywhere of the practice of prostitutes shaving their heads, that I can find… in fact all of the drawings etc we have from this time, show prostitutes with full heads of hair.. it would be interesting, none the less, if any ancient writer suggested the cutting of one’s hair as a contraceptive measure..
Is there a transcript available of this podcast?
Mr. Tudor sent it along yesterday, so it’s probably posted now.
Wow, Mike…gotta tell you, reading through both papers, and listening to this one…rocked my [theological] world! Some intense stuff. SO much to learn about the world of the ancients!
it’s pretty cool stuff.
These podcasts keep blowing my mind. Thank you Dr. Heiser. Reading through all of the comments on this and the other blog posts, it is interesting to see so many opposing truth claims from fellow believers. Old vs young earth. Flat vs globe. Evolution vs its opposite(s). Literalist Bible reading vs allegory vs fable vs contextual vs whatever. While you explain so many of these concepts so well, a new doubt has clawed its way into my mind out of your material. Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit sort this stuff out for us? Is not the Spirit of Truth dwelling in us all, His Temples. Why couldn’t the Father deliver to us a perfect translation that lacks the inaccuracies of mistranslated texts? It can be difficult to believe in an invisible God, even more so when I can’t even trust parts of His book without learning ancient foreign languages. The word for “covering” might mean “scrotum”!!! Come on! I’m sure I’m just taking a short view on this, and God gives us what we need, even if it’s annoying from our point of view.
If a woman’s hair was her genitalia, what does that say about the woman who wiped Jesus feet with her hair?!
The social setting for the wiping the feet episode was public, with no sexual suggestion, nor was she [Mary] engaged in any sort of religious service (Paul’s initial context). I don’t see any specific overlap. That said, it’s possible that the act signified submission to Jesus’ authority (note that part of head covering discussion is about the “covered head” being a symbol of authority).
Still a bit strange, don’t you think? I don’t care if its public or private, those I allow to rub their genitals on me belong to a *really* exclusive club (i.e. my wife)! If those gathered around Jesus when a prostitute did this for him (Lk 7:37-50) had this understanding then they would certainly be shocked but, interestingly, as in the parallel situation with Mary (Jn. 12:1-8), they don’t seem to be as concerned with the fact that Jesus allowed a woman to dry his feet with her “genitalia” as the fact that he allowed *this* woman to do so – a known prostitute. Perhaps this medical theory was not widely known or taken seriously in Judea?
I can think of at least one reason why the Jews would reject any suggestion that men having long hair was “contrary to nature”: The Nazarite Vow (Num. 6). This is why I have trouble thinking Paul would seriously present this kind of argument as his own view. As a Pharisee, surely he would’ve known the story of Samson!
Is it possible Paul might’ve presented this argument because he knew it would be persuasive to his audience given *their* mistaken physiological views? Perhaps throwing out an ad hoc argument due to his real concern of avoiding another Genesis 6 scenario? Also, if the issue is angelic lust then why wouldn’t the women cover their heads all the time?
Forgive me if my questions are answered in the article (I haven’t got around to reading it yet) but I thought I’d go ahead and comment just in case they’re not addressed.
It may not have been well known in Judea, as the views come from Greco-Roman medical texts. Paul was very familiar with such literature, and he was writing to gentile Corinthians, so that context is quite consistent.
Mike, if this act was just “submission” to authority, then why did she use her hair? Why not a towel or rag or just her clothing?
I wouldn’t hazard any other guess. As I noted in other comments, I’m thinking that, while Paul was conversant with such ideas (given his exposure to secular Greek literature), the wider Jewish community likely wasn’t (though it could have been). At any rate, Paul is writing to Gentiles (Corinthians) who would have been very familiar with such thinking. Consequently, I think it would be difficult to prove a direct relationship to the episode in the gospels.
Good point Rachel. And if female long hair was considered “provocative” (to men or angels) then why wasn’t it covered in ALL public arenas?
I think there are some loose ends with this explanation…
You’re mistaking fecundity with provocativeness (if that’s a word).
What would this episode imply for Elizabath who was barren? Wouldn’t the method for her to labeled as such, be in question for her state?
There is no text that says that she was tested to see if this was her case. Just curious.
I’m not sure I follow the question. I don’t see a connection. They/she would have concluded she was barren because she wasn’t able to have children (i.e., the experience of that failure would have led to that conclusion).
While this explanation for the head coverings of Corinthians does give some understanding into the “birds and the bees” “science” of Hippocrates and Paul, and the 1st Century Roman world, this explanation still has some loose ends.
Why, if hair (long hair in particular on a female) is considered a sexual organ which has power to entice angels, is it only to be covered during prayer? Shouldn’t it be covered ALL the time if this is considered an immodestly? I don’t see Paul mentioning the need for a female head covering outside of congregational prayer time. It would seem for the sake of humans and angels that if long hair on women is “provocative” in some way, then it should be covered in ANY public arena.
It is interesting however to note that handsome (but long haired) Absolom had no sons. Perhaps Paul thought back on 2 Sam 18:18 as an example of 1st Century “science” at work.
There are several related — but distinct — issues in the passage. The prayer item is about modesty. It isn’t to be conflated with the angels issue or the authority issue. But they all concern “head covering.”
I think the simplest reading is that women needed to cover their hair in church because of the sexual associations. Martin’s parallel here about priests needed to cover their genitals during priestly service at the altar is relevant. Such directions weren’t given to priests when they were at home — only when doing religious service. At home, though, a wife was supposed to have some sort of “symbol of authority” on her head (this is not the same term as “covering” — peribolaion — later. The simplest reading is that Paul was giving advice to women that they have such a symbol (which was perhaps also a covering) “because of the angels” — he apparently thought that such a symbol would be a deterrent to the sort of thing that happened in Gen 6.
Just a theory I thought of recently.,, Could it be that the woman wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair, had something to do with the woman thinking of her hair as , not necessarily a sexual organ,, but more of a fertility symbol and quite precious to her (whether or not she was a prostitute) therefore showing humility by cleaning the feet (generally thought of as a lowly part of the body) with the part of her body she considered most precious? I think this would not imply any sexuality, but more of a humble devotional theme.
I just think the average Jew wouldn’t have assigned sexual overtones to the incident. At any rate, the people in the story who are offended never make that part of the offense.
I listened to this a couple of weeks ago. When you read out the passage, 1 Corinthians 11, I noticed you read out “wife” where my usual Bible (NASB) has “woman”. It has “woman” throughout, whilst in your reading it sometimes has “wife” and sometimes “woman”. So I looked up the word used in the Greek, on the Biblehub website, and discovered that the word means both woman and wife, depending on the context I guess.
So I’m wondering two things, which translation did you read from, and also, would single women have been okay to uncover their head/be uncovered in congregational praying and prophesying?
Apparently, for 1st century women wearing a veil was a sign of being married. So, according to this teaching about the view of hair and its “power”, wouldn’t an unmarried woman be flaunting her sexuality if she were uncovered?
On a language side note, although in German there IS a specific word for wife – Ehefrau – “Frau” is sufficient in context, for instance when a man refers to “meine Frau” (my woman) he means his wife, though “Frau” on its own simply means woman, and it is also a title, like on an address envelope. So I would be “Frau Frauke Schmidt” (which I think is awful in a humorous way).
It’s the ESV. In Greek, the same Greek word can be translated either “woman” or “wife”. I’m not sure one could of necessity rightly conclude that the absence of a veil *generally* (as opposed to the church context of Paul) would speak to immodesty, though it could, and likely often did (right or wrong) in the culture.
The prescientific argument for modesty is all well and good (and facinating!) But what about Paul’s beliefs concerning the threat from angels? How do belivers parse that?
Seems like these are the options:
A. Paul was right, therefore modern Christians should still be concerned about another Gen 6 event happening.
B. Paul was wrong. Gen 6 is a Jewish myth that modern Christians should not take literally, but the rest of Paul’s spiritual beliefs should be taken seriously. (and there’s a can of worms!)
C. Paul was right but for some reason the Gen 6 stuff no longer applies. Meaning, the angels could get away with this in ancient times but not anymore.
What are your thoughts Dr Heiser?
“Paul was concerned that such a transgression could happen again.” (I don’t see Paul’s concern as any sort of prophecy or guarantee).
There seem to be a couple of problems with this interpretation of Paul here.
Firstly, and most problematically, from what I can tell Martin is simply wrong about the meaning of peribolaion. Mark Goodacre, who is a professor of NT studies at Duke, surveys the evidence and concludes:
I’ve made a copy of the full paper here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1SNBwRLz9kAcFBhOHVXQmZQRUU/view?usp=sharing
The second problem is that if a woman having her hair uncovered is relevantly analagous to a man having his testicles uncovered, as this interpretation requires, then we should expect at the very least to find the Jews quite concerned about women’s head coverings during prayer as well (not to mention the other kinds of social taboos that other commenters have mentioned as lacking in the ancient world). Yet to the best of my knowledge, the Jews required the man’s head to be covered, and the women’s to be uncovered. So unless I am mistaken about this, that seems to count as obvious prima facie evidence against this interpretation, since it doesn’t take an especially astute rabbi to wonder if praying with your genitals uncovered is a bit not the thing—especially given the injunctions in the OT for priests.
Moreover, even if this wasn’t held by all rabbis, you’d expect there to be at least discussion about it. It seems wildly implausible to imagine that Paul is both innovating an idea that is unheard of in Judaism, and at the same time saying that this is the universal practice of the church and requires so little explanation that most of us today don’t even get it. Both cannot be true. But is there any discussion of this in the rabbinical literature? It’s not like we lack information about that. Yet I’m assuming from the fact that this interpretation hasn’t been forwarded before, that the Jews had absolutely no discussion of women’s hair as genitalia, or how that impinges on worship.
All in all, this strikes me as a fascinating interpretation, but one that has very obvious problems that make it highly implausible without further evidence to corroborate it. One ought to be very cautious about forwarding highly implausible explanations, even if they are convenient for illustrating your theory of inspiration. No?
You actually can’t “tell” anything by Goodacre’s response — as Martin’s response to Goodacre’s response indicates. Did you read that one? It doesn’t seem you are aware of Martin’s published response to Goodacre. It’s pretty thorough.
Martin is also not saying that all (or even most) instanced of peribaloin must refer to testicles.
Why would rabbis hold a Greco-Roman view? Paul is writing to Gentiles.
I haven’t read Martin’s response, as I was unaware of it. You don’t happen to have a link?
My point about the rabbis was that in hellenized Judaism, you would expect someone to have at least raised the possibility that women praying with their heads uncovered was equivalent to coming before God au natural. So the silence of the rabbis on this point, where we would expect discussion, is a heavy point against this theory.
Another way of looking at it: where does Paul get this argument from, as a Jew himself? He is making a natural law style argument. He is saying there is no other practice in the church—including the Jewish churches. He takes for granted that this is a universally understood fact. Yet, clearly it was not a universally understood fact, given the silence of Mishna etc on the topic. So there is a serious tension here that makes the theory quite implausible.
I think I sent the response via email. If not, email me again. Can’t recall just now.
@Dominic Bnonn Tennant
Was it a Jewish belief or a Hellenistic belief.
Paul was not talking to Jews. The belief was widely held in many ancient cultures, so it needs to at least be considered as a partial reasoning for what Paul is trying to get across to the gentiles.
There are differing beliefs in the ancient world to do with length of a woman’s hair, but all that I have read about infer the longer the hair the more fertile the woman. This implies that a woman’s hair is somehow part of her reproductive anatomy.
email me about which items you want.
I love this podcast, but using an expression I heard once form a podcast from Dale Tuggy, isn’t this a big effort to get blood out of a stone? I mean, verse 16 read:
1 Corinthians 11:16English Standard Version (ESV)
16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
So, no argument was needed to be made since believers had no such practice. Am I missing something? Does the prior verses give a rationale, but if anyone pushes to much, tell them “we have no such practice” and that should be the end of the discussion?
It’s a question of whether reading 1 Cor 11 in light of Greco-Roman medical texts adds clarity. Trying to interpret something in context takes effort — and so Dale’s axiom is as untrue as its reverse — that less effort tends toward clarity.
Some questions to the anatomical approach:
If Paul thought of female hair as genitalia, then why would he discuss elaborate hairstyles (1 Timothy 2: 9) in the public worship, saying that a woman should not adorn herself the with broided hair, but with good works?? Why would a pastor discuss broided hair, if showing hair itself is the same as nakedeness? Would any pastor discuss the kind of waxing a woman does if she appears naked for worship?
The same applies for 1 Peter 3. Here the author does the same, telling women their adorning should not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart. Why would any inspired author mention hairstyles when showing hair was indecent?
And if Paul understood that female hair was part of her genitalia, why would the apostle say that her hair is a *glory* and a *covering* for the woman? If he thinks that hair is genitalia and if he thinks it is *improper* to show genitalia in public, how could he not think it to be improper for him to call the woman´s genitalia a *glory* and to call it a *covering* in a letter that would be read aloud publicly? Nakedkness in the Bible is always shameful.
In regard to Paul I’d say “for the same reason” – modesty. I wouldn’t expect a pastor to discuss any of this because I don’t expect a pastor to know any of it — unless they had read through the journal article exchanges on the topic that the episode mentions and links to.
Her hair is a glory — because children are a blessing — and a fulfillment of the Edenic mandate.
What I want to know, is how do you get around the idea that the mans hair is also part of the reproductive system? Implying that women should cover their hair because they shouldn’t show genitalia in worship, would also imply that men should show their genitalia in worship. Hair was part of the reproductive system for men too – that’s why it needed to be short, just like women needed to shave the hair off of their genitalia (unless you want to argue that female pubic hair is not part of the reproductive system, which we know they thought it was, it was simply a negative part of the reproductive system that needed to be curbed). So the end conclusion is that Paul thinks its okay for men to show their genitals in worship. This isn’t a very well though out argument. It also leaves Jesus basically having odd sexual relations with the woman who washed His feet with her hair, because after all, everyone believed and knew this in that time! This is an illogical argument that doesn’t actually follow what the people of that time believed (that male hair was also part of the reproductive system). That is clear from reading the sources that he cites in the article, and also flows from the fact that men needed to keep their hair short. This argument fails horribly in my opinion.