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Author Topic: 1 Corinthians 11:16  (Read 353 times)

Enochscion

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1 Corinthians 11:16
« on: August 20, 2019, 07:54:38 pm »
I'm not sure if I'm completely missing something, because a web search isn't turning up anyone interpreting this verse the same way that I am.

I've always read this as the "custom" Paul was talking about being the one he is arguing for--ie, that women need to cover their heads and men shouldn't. So basically he's saying, "Look, if you want to argue with me about this, whatever. It's not official church policy that you have to do it this way." In other words, even though he's convinced he's right, he's acknowledging that it is his opinion.

But every single commentary I could find interpreted it as, "Look, if you want to argue with me about this, you're wrong. There isn't any other congregation in the whole church that let's women not have their head covered (etc)." So they are saying that the "custom" Paul was referring to is the custom of women not covering their head.

It actually took me a little while to even see how it was being read that other way.

So, am I just completely off here and the context and language makes it perfectly clear that the other interpretation is correct, or is that interpretation itself a "custom" or "tradition" without any particularly decisive weight to it?

I don't actually care that much whether my interpretation was right or wrong, I just want to know if there is something I'm missing. It's kind of like that situation where the Bible itself seemed to say that Sarai was Abram's half-sister, but the prevailing belief seemed to be that she was his niece. (What I finally discovered is that there is some evidence for the niece view--it isn't completely out of the blue, but the half-sister interpretation is just as likely.)

 
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Taalcon

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Re: 1 Corinthians 11:16
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2019, 10:35:38 pm »
From what I see, that 'popular' explanation seems to be based on a poor translation choice, probably based on some form of dogmatism.

Yours isn't exactly right, either.

There are two conflicting ways a phrase has been translated. One is in essence, "We have no such custom, nor do the churches of God", and the other is "we have no other practice - nor do the churches of God".

We can read it as, "This is what I say, but don't make it a source of contention and strife. THAT is what is unacceptable in our fellowship. It doesn't exist, don't make it exist on my account, you got me?"

( Here's one article I found which talked about that approach a bit )

[Edited to soften my thoughts on the other translation. See my next post below.]
« Last Edit: August 28, 2019, 04:51:47 pm by Taalcon »
 
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Panama Jones

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Re: 1 Corinthians 11:16
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2019, 03:44:12 pm »
I read it the same way--the "custom" is contentiousness. The ESV (my general favorite) reads "If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God."
 
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Taalcon

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Re: 1 Corinthians 11:16
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2019, 04:49:57 pm »
I read it the same way--the "custom" is contentiousness. The ESV (my general favorite) reads "If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God."

Yup. The NRSV (my go-to) reads: "But if anyone is disposed to be contentious - we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God."

However, I've looked into this more, and there are others (who I generally trust) who don't see a problem with the translation approach of, "If anyone wants to dispute this, we have no other custom, nor do the churches of God." - which basically says, "Look, this is how we're doing it, there's no other way that we do it."

Paul can be messy, and not always clear, and it looks like this is a case of it. Either way, Paul thought he was right on this issue, and he tried to express it within his paradigm. It doesn't change the balance of the rest of the beginning of Chapter 11. Not only is our current model of cosmology and soteriology a bit different than Paul's, but the practical cultural scenarios are different too. All played into his expressed views on this matter.

It's helpful to learn what was Paul teaching based on his understanding, culture, and context, and how in some cases it might have been a 'step up' for his audience then, even if an exact replication of his counsel would be a huge giant leap DOWN if we attempted to codify it and direct it to saints as-is today.

I've seen part of it suggested as having a meaning of, essentially:

"I've given you an understanding that makes sense from how I understand things from scripture. But practically, Listen, if others see women gathered together praying without a covering, you're going to look like the local temple prostitutes. And people will talk. And really, at this stage of the game, we can't afford to have that reputation. You might be right, I might be right, but it's simply not worth standing out and fighting against it right now, so please just don't."

Or, shorter: "This might be right, it might not be. But it's the policy, and it's what we're doing. Let's just move on from this issue."
« Last Edit: August 28, 2019, 04:55:04 pm by Taalcon »
 
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cook

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Re: 1 Corinthians 11:16
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2019, 11:42:57 pm »
In the Finnish version, translated from the original, it is clear that he says "cover your heads in prayer", explains why, then says kind of "you have the information, decide yourselves" = don't wait for me to spell it out to you, more rudely said "use your brain", but if someone still insists on praying without the headcovers, I will spell it out this last time, we do not have such a custom, neither do congregations of God generally.
 
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Enochscion

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Re: 1 Corinthians 11:16
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2019, 07:18:15 pm »
Taalcon, I now think your latter explanation is probably the most likely one (though you expressed it much better than it seems most express it--or at least it made more sense to me).

I kind of wish it meant the way it has always looked to me though (which I figure is the second most likely option), because it involves Paul not enforcing a custom on others that might not be necessary. "Before anyone starts arguing: I think it should be done this way, and I've explained why, but that isn't official policy. You're free to do it how you want to."

In either event, he is trying to get rid of contentions and establish unity...I just don't have enough information about the ground-level view of what was going on to be happy with "putting his foot down" as the method of doing it. (Though I might have a different opinion about that if I did know what was actually going on.)

As a complete aside, I find it interesting that in looking up commentary on this verse I didn't see anything about the connection between the angels and the Book of Enoch that appears to have been accepted as true by at least some New Testament authors. Isn't it believed by some that the head covering during prayer was about not tempting the angels, or did I just imagine that?

 
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Taalcon

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Re: 1 Corinthians 11:16
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2019, 07:56:11 pm »
Isn't it believed by some that the head covering during prayer was about not tempting the angels, or did I just imagine that?

No, you're right. At least that's one of Paul's reasons, although not his main one. That's the only explanation for that reference  I've seen that makes contextual sense.
 
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