The Naked Bible Podcast
The Naked Bible Podcast
Naked Bible 86: The Head Covering of 1 Corinthians 11:13-15

This episode begins a series of topical episodes following the end of our series on Leviticus. The topic for this episode is the controversial head covering reference in 1 Cor. 11:13-15. The discussion summarizes the material discussed in a scholarly journal article published in 2004 by Dr. Troy Martin entitled, “Paul’s Argument from Nature for the Veil in 1 Cor. 11:13-15: A Testicle instead of a Head Covering” (Journal of Biblical Literature 123:1 [2004]: 75-84). Martin summarizes his approach as follows: “This article interprets Paul’s argument from nature in 1 Cor. 11:13-15 against the background of ancient physiology. The Greek and Roman medical texts provide useful information for interpreting not only Paul’s letters but also other NT texts.” The article (and the author’s subsequent responses to criticism, also published in academic literature) presents a compelling case and is, to Dr. Heiser’s knowledge, the only approach that provides a coherent explanation as to why the head covering warnings are important, in the words of Paul “because of the angels” (1 Cor. 11:10). This warning ultimately takes readers back to the incident with the Watchers (sons of God) in Gen. 6:1-4. One of Martin’s concluding application thoughts is also important: “Since the physiological conceptions of the body have changed, however, no physiological reason remains for continuing the practice of covering women’s heads in public worship, and many Christian communities reasonably abandon this practice.” In other words, Paul’s rationale for what he says here is no longer coherent today — but his teaching points are (modesty, sexual fidelity). As such, wearing veils (in church or elsewhere) is a conscience issue, not a point of doctrine.

The nature of this material is overtly sexual, so this episode is for adult listeners.

Papers referenced:
Paul’s argument from nature for the veil in 1 Corinthians 11.13-15: A Testicle instead of a Head Covering
Why Should Women Cover their Heads bc of the Angels

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