Author Topic: Headcoverings: Men vs. Women, OT vs. NT  (Read 547 times)

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Offline iohanne

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Headcoverings: Men vs. Women, OT vs. NT
« on: November 06, 2015, 09:56:46 AM »
In the Old Testament, the high priest was commanded to wear a turban bearing God's name (Exodus 28: 36-39) whenever they entered into the tabernacle and ministered to the LORD in the holy place. Jewish males, even today, cover their head during prayer. I know that the kippah is of Talmudic provenance and probably became a practice much later but the prayer shawl whose fringes are a commandment (Numbers 15:38, Deuteronomy 22:12) and probably of very ancient origins is used to cover the head also.

For women, it seems that the Old Testament takes for granted the prevalent cultural practice of veiling women, both their head and even their face (Daniel 13:31-33). However, there seems to be one interesting detail in the Pentateuch concerning when a woman is accused of infidelity and the test that she be required to undergo. During this test, the priest places a ""minchah zekaron" - a grain offering of remembrance or memorial) into her hands after uncovering her head.

Now, we all know the NT prescriptions that men uncover their heads during prayer and that women cover their heads. This brings me to several questions:

1) Do any of you know or can any of you point out resources that can explain why St. Paul and the earliest Christians departed from the Jewish tradition of males wearing headcoverings during prayer?

2) Does anyone know why or can any of you point out resources that explains why an Israelite woman, undergoing infidelity tests, should uncover her head? A friend had suggested that it was penitential in nature but the text seems to be ambiguous about the sinfulness of the Israelite woman undergoing the test so why assume beforehand that she had committed adultery and require her to take on this penitential state before she was proven guilty by the cursed water?

3) If women in the ancient Near East of the period, particularly Jewish women, regularly covered their heads all the time or at least in public or at least among people who weren't family, why does our teacher St. Paul even bother commanding them to wear a veil when praying or in a liturgical assembly? Wouldn't they have worn a headcovering already?

Thanks in advance. I'm trying to wrap my head around early Christian practices of headcovering or head-uncovering and what, if any, are the symbolisms attached to these practices.

Offline SherryTX

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Re: Headcoverings: Men vs. Women, OT vs. NT
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2015, 04:10:47 PM »
Maybe Paul was thinking of Gentiles when he wrote that piece? I don't know if Gentile women work head coverings/veils on a regular basis or not, so just shooting from the hip here. So maybe he needed to be specific about them having their heads covered.

Offline DeniseDenise

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Re: Headcoverings: Men vs. Women, OT vs. NT
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2015, 04:31:23 PM »
in regards to #2 I have found the following:

I cant past it all.....but scroll down to the section on Hair Covering in Classical Rabbinical Sources

"And he shall parah the head of the woman.' The priest turns to stand behind her and performs the act of parah in order to fulfill the biblical commandment of parah, the words of R. Ishmael. It teaches concerning the daughters of Israel that they should cover their heads (M.Sota 1:5).

Summary of Views on Parah -- To "Uncover" or "Loosen?"

The evidence presented indicates that there was considerable difference of opinion concerning the translation of the pivotal word parah. Did it mean to uncover or to loosen? We have seen that while the majority of texts support the interpretation of 'uncover,' there is a significant minority view that accepts the meaning of 'loosen.' Mishna Sota, Sifrei and a minority of Tosephta manuscripts all include the idea of 'loosening.' The Talmud on Sota also lends itself to the interpretation of 'to loosen;' whereas the Talmud on Ketubot embraces the opposing view, 'to uncover.'

So there is some debate
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