1 Corinthians 11

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In the eleventh chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul the Apostle writes on the conduct of Christians while worshiping together.

Vv 2-16 the Woman's Headcovering[edit]

Verses 2-16 have been the source of much confusion for interpreters. In particular, problems come from the rhetorical question that nature teaches it is a shame for a man to have long hair and telling women to cover their heads on account of the angels. Interpretations tend to fall into three informal categories.

Universal view[edit]

A minority of current Christians apply the passage universally. In this view, women should cover their heads and men should keep their hair short. As evidence they point to Paul's appeals to arguments that do not change with time, the creation of Adam and Eve, the angels, and Nature itself. Because Paul's arguments do not change, his conclusion should not change either. Therefore, these Christians cover their heads. Some cover only in church or while praying; others cover their heads all the time.

Contemporary view[edit]

The majority of Christians interpret the passage as a cultural mandate that expires as the culture expired.[citation needed] Thus woman should no longer cover their heads. Some believe the universal principle of the passage is that women should show a sign of submission to their husbands while others[who?] disagree.

Several interpretations are taken on Nature teaching showing long hair is a covering for woman. The New International Version translates "the nature of things" instead of simply "nature," but other translations claim this is incorrect. Some interpret that Paul believed culture to be an extension of Nature and therefore he meant that culture taught this.[1]

Bushnell view[edit]

A minority translate the passage as commanding women to uncover their heads. This idea was pioneered by John Lightfoot and expanded by Katharine Bushnell. In their view, Paul commanded women to uncover because they were made in the image of God, Eve was created for Adam's incapacity to exist alone, all men are born from women, because of her angels, nature does not teach otherwise, and the churches have no such custom. The passage is not actually a repression of women but a herald for equality. So far no printed Bibles have accepted this translation.[citation needed]

Vv 17-34 the Lord's Supper[edit]

In verses 17 through 33, Paul chastises the Corinthian church for their behavior while eating the agape feast. His description of Jesus at the Last Supper is common in eucharistic liturgy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brauch, Manfred T. (1989). Hard Sayings of Paul. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 978-0-8308-1282-0. [page needed]

Texts at Wikisource[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome (1976). "The Non-Pauline Character of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16?". Journal of Biblical Literature 95 (4): 615–21. doi:10.2307/3265576. JSTOR 3265576. 
  • BeDuhn, Jason David (1999). "'Because of the Angels': Unveiling Paul's Anthropology in 1 Corinthians 11". Journal of Biblical Literature 118 (2): 295–320. doi:10.2307/3268008. JSTOR 3268008. 
  • Padgett, Alan G. (1994). "The Significance of 'Anti in 1 Corinthians 11:15". Tyndale Bulletin 45 (1): 181–7. 
  • Jervis, L. Ann (1993). ""But I Want You to Know . . .": Paul's Midrashic Intertextual Response to the Corinthian Worshipers (1 Cor 11:2-16)". Journal of Biblical Literature 112 (2): 231–46. doi:10.2307/3267225. JSTOR 3267225. 
  • Mount, Christopher (2005). "1 Corinthians 11:3-16: Spirit Possession and Authority in a Non-Pauline Interpolation". Journal of Biblical Literature 124 (2): 313–40. doi:10.2307/30041015. JSTOR 30041015. 

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