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Bible Gem 415 - A final word on "angels" (1 Cor 11:10)

April 14, 2019


This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels. (1 Cor 11:10)


Many of you send me all sorts of things in response to the Gemz I write. This one is thanks to Peter Ackland. Thanks Peter. I share it with you as Peter sent it and then I will add my comments as to what I think this verse means. 


I (Peter) may have stumbled on a helpful angle on this issue. Dr Bruce Winter, a Queensland theological lecturer has written a book Roman Wives, Roman Widows (which I have not read or even flicked the pages of! (Yes ditto for me too - Ian) that may speak into this question of "because of the angels", among other things Corinthian.


Here is the blurb about the book from the Koorong webpage which offers interesting background: 


In Roman law you were what you wore. This legal principle became highly significant because, beginning in the first century A.D., a "new" kind of woman emerged across the Roman empire - a woman whose provocative dress and sometimes promiscuous lifestyle contrasted starkly with the decorum of the traditional married woman. What a woman chose to wear came to identify her as either "new" or "modest." 


Augustus legislated against the "new" woman. Philosophical schools encouraged their followers to avoid embracing her way of life. And, as this fascinating book demonstrates for the first time, the presence of the "new" woman was also felt in the early church, where Christian wives and widows were exhorted to emulate neither her dress code nor her conduct. 

Using his extensive knowledge both of the Graeco-Roman world and of the New Testament writings, Bruce Winter shows how changing social mores among women impacted the Pauline communities. This helps to explain the controversial texts on marriage veils in 1 Corinthians, instructions in 1 Timothy regarding dress code and the activities of young widows, and exhortations in Titus for older women to call new wives "back to their senses" regarding their marriage and family responsibilities. 


Based on a close investigation of neglected literary and archaeological evidence, Roman Wives, Roman Widows makes groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of first-century women, including their participation in public life as lawyers, magistrates, and political figures, which in turn affected women's ministry in the Pauline communities. 


Earlier in the year, Peter heard Winter speak on Corinthians and remembers his take on "angels" was as messengers in the official employ of the imperial government whose task were to report to the authorities on women dressed inappropriately. 



My take on it? I am tangential to anyone else but I am comfortable with that. I suspect it is because of the issue of covering against the work of evil angels. A woman needs to be under the spiritual covering of her husband, so too do the children in a family. The husband too ought to be under the covering of Christ. Therefore the need to be covered spiritually given the work of evil angels or demons. It makes sense  for Paul to encouraging the women (family) to be under the covering given the work of evil forces around them. For me it is about the only explanation that really makes sense. That is it is because of the evil angels that we really need to be under a spiritual covering. A simple and yet effective explanation for why Paul would say what he did. 


But this I say, not the Lord. I hold it loosely. I figure my input is of the same standing as anyone else. We don’t really know. The veiled reference of Paul is too veiled to bring clarity so my Vailed interpretation (pun intended) is just as good as anyone else’s. I will be in line in heaven to ask Paul about this matter and a number of other things. Actually while I am on earth here I will get a copy of Bruce Winter’s book. It sounds like a good buy. Thanks Peter. 


And this is the final word for the moment. 


Remember this quote from Bible Gem 4? It seems appropriate again now:

[But it will be new for most of you. I think when I sent out Bible Gem 4 I might have had a following of 4 or 40 but not much more.]  


People laugh because I am different. I laugh because they all are the same.


The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions. Oliver Wendell Holmes


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