Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Very Useful Little Book on the History of the Church's Response to First Corinthians 11:2-16

UPDATE: Just found out that the information in the booklet I'm talking about here is also in the study I've linked at the bottom of this post, where it is free.

I may have been neglecting this blog but other defenders of the head covering have been going ahead on the subject and all I can say is May their tribe continue to increase.

The best thing to happen recently is a booklet of quotes down through history on the head covering passage, Headcovering Throughout Christian History, that fills in the historical picture. David Phillips has done a great job of research tracking down these quotes and putting them together in a coherent picture of the Church's response to this passage over the last two thousand years. The book is available for $2.99 on Kindle, which can also be downloaded to your PC.

You can see in the quotations that to some extent the contentiousness over the head covering that Paul was answering in First Corinthians 11:2-16 continued in various churches and had to be answered again by these commentators. Nevertheless it is clear that the common practice in all the churches was in keeping with Paul's directives for women to cover their heads and men to be bareheaded during prayer and worship.

The question of when things started to turn toward women's giving up the head covering was one I had been unable to answer in my own studies, but it does get answered in this book. Phillips discovered that there was a shift in the attitude of some commentators in the 19th century away from the traditional interpretation of the text toward the view that covering the head was a cultural practice of the Corinthian church that didn't apply to churches in later times.

Nevertheless the practice continued in the churches, which is also noted in various of the quotes, starting to fall away here and there in the 20th century until by the 1960s it was no longer practiced in the majority of churches. The feminist influence also comes through in the later quotes. One fascinating incident was the coverage in a newspaper article of a Canadian pastor's officially releasing the women in his church from covering their heads. I forget the date now, sometime in the 1920s or 30s I think.

The author of this extremely useful little book, David Phillips, is interviewed about his research by Jeremy Gardiner of The Headcovering Movement,      And Gardiner's website also continues to accumulate interesting information in general, well worth reading.

David Phillips' study of the passage is available free HERE

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