The History of Head Coverings

.

Subsections

Post-Reformation
Scottish Church

.

.

Order of Contents

Whole of History  16+

Ancient World  6
Egypt  6+
Assyria  2
Greece  6
Rome  6+
Jewish  2
1st Century & Corinth  15+

Early Church  12
Middle Ages  10


.

.

On the Whole of History

Articles

McClintock & Strong Biblical Encyclopedia

‘Veil’
‘Headdress’
‘Diadem’
‘Veil, Ecclesiastical’

Edwards, Douglas R. – ‘Dress & Ornamentation’  in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 2  ed. David Noel Freedman  (NY: Doubleday, 1992), pp. 232-38

Sherrow, Victoria – ‘Headgear’  in Encyclopedia of Hair: a Cultural History  (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2006), pp. 203-5

Snodgrass, Mary Ellen – World Clothing & Fashion: an Encyclopedia of History, Culture & Social Influence  (Sharpe Reference, 2014), vol. 1

‘Hairdressing’
‘Hat’s Men’s’
‘Hats, Women’s’
‘Headdress, Formal’
‘Headdress, Functional’

Chico, Beverly – ‘History of Women’s Hats’  35 paragraphs  with bibliography

.

Books

On Veiling

ed. Heath, Jennifer – The Veil: Women Writers on its History, Lore & Politics  (University of California Press, 2008)  355 pp.  ToC

eds. del Fabbro, Roswitha, Frederick Fales, Hannes Galter – Headscarf & Veiling: Glimpses from Sumer to Islam  (Venice: Edizioni Ca’Foscari, 2021)  200 pp.

.

On Hats & Head-Gear

Keator, Charles E. – The History & Development of Hats & Head-Gear  (Brooklyn: Smith Press, 1890)  40 pp.  no ToC

Amphlett, Hilda – Hats: a History of Fashion on Headgear  Pre  (2003)  ToC

Wilcox, R. Turner – The Mode in Hats & Headdress: a Historical Survey with 198 Plates  Pre  (Charles Scribner’s, 1945; 1952; NY: Dover, 2008)  ToC

Smith, Malcom – Hats: a Very Unnatural History  Pre  (Michigan State Univ. Press, 2020)

 

On Men’s Hair

Article

Hopkins, Susie – ‘History of Men’s Hats’  25 paragraphs  with bibliography

.

Book

Charles, Ann & Roger DeAnrasio – The History of Hair: an Illustrated Review of Hair Fashions for Men throughout the Ages…  (NY: Bonanza Books, 1970)  285 pp.  ToC

.

On Apparel Generally

Books

Bradley, Carolyn G. – A History of World Costume  (London: Peter Owen, 1905)  465 pp.  ToC  with numerous pictures

Gorsline, Douglas – What People Wore: a Visual History of Dress from Ancient Times to Twentieth-Century America  (Viking Press, 1952)  275 pp.  ToC  with many pictures

Tilke, Max – Costume Patterns & Designs: a Survey of Costume Patterns & Designs of All Periods & Nations from Antiquity to Modern Times  (London: Zwemmer, 1956)  310 pp.  ToC  pp. 50-304 are all pictures.  The explanation of the pictures are on pp. 8-49.

Peacock, John – The Chronicle of Western Fashion: from Ancient Times to the Present Day  (NY: Harry Abrams, 1991)  220 pp.  ToC  Lots of pictures


.

.

On the Ancient World

Articles

Racinet, Albert – section 1, ‘The Ancient World’  in The Historical Encyclopedia of Costumes  (NY: Facts on File Publications, 1988), pp. 8-42  with many pictures

eds. del Fabbro, Roswitha, Frederick Fales, Hannes Galter – Headscarf & Veiling: Glimpses from Sumer to Islam  (Venice: Edizioni Ca’Foscari, 2021)

Biga, Maria Giovanna – ‘The Veil in Ancient Near Eastern Religions & Cultures: Some Remarks’, pp. 73-89

Fales, Frederick Mario – ‘Veiling in Ancient Near Eastern Legal Contexts’, pp. 89-101

Nadali, Davide – ‘To See or Not to See: The Issue of Visuality in Ancient Near Eastern Art Images of Queens, High Priestesses & Other Elite Women in the Third Millennium BC’, pp. 101-19

.

Books

1800’s

Hope, Thomas – Costume of the Ancients, vol. 1 (pp. 56-364 is all pictures), 2 (all pictures)  (London, 1841)  no ToC

.

1900’s

Houston, Mary G. – Ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian & Persian Costume & Decoration  2nd ed.  (London: Adam & Charles Black, 1920)  205 pp.  ToC  with numerous pictures

.

2000’s

Dossani, Khairunessa – Virtue & Veiling: Perspectives from Ancient to Abbasid Times  MA thesis  (San Jose State University, 2013)  140 pp.

Brief Table of Contents

ch. 1, Assyrian, Babylonian, Hellenistic & Jewish References to Veiling, 1700 BC – 1st Century A.D.  14

ch. 2, Roman, the Mishna & Christian Veiling Concepts & Practices between the 1st & 6th Centuries A.D.  38

ch. 3, Pre-Islamic, Quranic & Talmudic References to Veiling, 6th-7th Centuries A.D.  64

Ch. 4, The Hadith, Shariah, Abbasid Adab & Fatimid References to
Veiling & Seclusion, 8th–12th Centuries A.D.  85

Ellis, Jennifer Ellen – ‘She took a veil and covered herself’: Women & their Veils in the Hebrew Bible’  PhD diss.  (Monash Univ., 2020)  220 pp.

This work presents the evidence from the Ancient Near-Eastern (ANE) texts.

Abstract:  “Many types and styles of veil in the ancient world – evident in the extensive variety of veil terminology – were worn by women to construct and display their identities. This study examines the practice of veiling women as it occurred in the Ancient Near East, with a particular focus on women and their veils in the Hebrew Bible (HB)…”


.

.

On Egypt

Articles

Racinet, Albert – pp. 12-13  of  The Historical Encyclopedia of Costumes  (NY: Facts on File Publications, 1988)  with pictures

Vogelsang-Eastwood, Gillian – Ch. 10, ‘Headgear’  in Pharaonic Egyptian Clothing  in Studies in Textile & Costume History  (Brill, 1993), pp. 169-79  with pictures

Balkwill, Richard – p. 25  of Clothes & Crafts in Ancient Egypt  (Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2000)  with pictures

.

Books

1900’s

Houston, Mary G. – Ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian & Persian Costume & Decoration  2nd ed.  (London: Adam & Charles Black, 1920)  205 pp.  ToC  with numerous pictures

Dresses in Ancient Egypt  (Cairo: Centre de documentation sur l’ancienne Egypte, 1960)  75 pp.  with many pictures

Watson, Philip J. – Costume of Ancient Egypt  (NY: Chelsea House, 1987)  75 pp.  with many pictures

Tierney, Tom – Ancient Egyptian Fashions  (NY: Dover, 1999)  50  mostly pictures


.

.

On Ancient Assyria

Articles

Jastrow, Morris – ‘Veiling in Ancient Assyria’  Revue Archéologique
Cinquième Série, T. 14 (Jan-June, 1921), pp. 209-38

Brooks, Beatrice Allard – ‘Some Observations concerning Ancient Mesopotamian Women’  The American Journal of Semitic Languages & Literatures, vol. 39 (Oct 1922-July 1923), pp. 187-94


.

.

On Ancient Greek Culture

Articles

ed. Smith, William – A Dictionary of Greek & Roman Antiquities  3rd American ed., rev. Charles Anthon  (NY: American Book Co., 1900)

‘Birrhus’  (Cape or hood)
‘Chlamys’  (Scarf)
‘Coma’  (Hair)
‘Cucullus’  (Cowl)
‘Lacerna’  (Cloak)
‘Marriage’
‘Pallium’ (end, palliolum, Small square cloth)
‘Peplum’  (Shawl)
‘Pileus’  (Scullcap of felt)
‘Toga’  (‘cinctus Gabinus’, p. 987, lt. col., top)
‘Vestales’  (Virgin priestesses of Vesta)
‘Vitta’  (Hair band)

Cairns, D.L. – ‘Anger & the Veil in Ancient Greek Culture’  in Greece & Rome, vol. 48, no. 1 (April, 2001), pp. 18-32

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd – ch. 27, ‘House & Veil in Ancient Greece’  in Building Communities: House, Settlement & Society in the Aegean & Beyond  in British School at Athens Studies, vol. 15  (British School at Athens, 2007), pp. 251-58

Cairns, Douglas L. – ch. 5, ‘The Meaning of the Veil in Ancient Greek Culture’  in ed. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, Women’s Dress in the Ancient Greek World  (Classical Press of Wales, 2022), pp. 73-94  ToC

.

Book

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd – Aphrodite’s Tortoise: The Veiled Woman of Ancient Greece  (Classical Press of Wales, 2003)  ToC

The chapters in this book are very relevant on the topic.  Aphrodite was a Greek goddess associated with women.  The tortoise is made to represent a veiled woman in her shell, or veil.  The author has feminist influences.

The book derives from the author’s PhD dissertation, ‘Women & Veiling in the Ancient Greek World’ which covers the geographical range from mainland Greece to Asia Minor, Egypt, and Southern Italy, from 900 BC to 200 AD.

.

French

Rich, Anthony – Dictionnaire des Antiquites Romaines et Grecques, accompagne de 2,000 Gravures…  (Paris, 1873)  750 pp.

This work has many pictures of ancient Greek and Roman men and women throughout it.


.

.

On Roman Culture

Articles

ed. Smith, William – A Dictionary of Greek & Roman Antiquities  3rd American ed., rev. Charles Anthon  (NY: American Book Co., 1900)

‘Birrhus’  (Cape or hood)
‘Chlamys’  (Scarf)
‘Coma’  (Hair)
‘Cucullus’  (Cowl)
‘Lacerna’  (Cloak)
‘Marriage’
‘Pallium’ (end, palliolum, Small square cloth)
‘Peplum’  (Shawl)
‘Pileus’  (Scullcap of felt)
‘Toga’  (‘cinctus Gabinus’, p. 987, lt. col., top)
‘Vestales’  (Virgin priestesses of Vesta)
‘Vitta’  (Hair band)

MacMullen, Ramsay – ch. 15, ‘Women in Public in the Roman Empire’  in Changes in the Roman Empire: Essays in the Ordinary  (Princeton Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 162-68

Rothe, Ursula – ch. 10, ‘Veiling in Pannonia’  in eds. Ivleva,
De Bruin, Driessen, Embracing the Provinces: Society & Material Culture of the Roman Frontier Regions  (Oxbow Books, 2018), pp. 93-100  ToC

Roman Pannonia was a large region of modern day Western Hungary, Eastern Austria, Northern Croatia, North-Western Serbia, Northern Slovenia and Northern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

.

Books

Wilson, Lillian M. – The Clothing of the Ancient Romans  (Johns Hopkins Press, 1938)  315 pp.  ToC  with numerous pictures throughout

Matthews, Lydia Lenore Veronica – Conspicuous Concealment: an Investigation into the Veiling of Roman Women, with Special Reference to the Time of Augustus  MA thesis  (University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2007)  225 pp.

“Although there is much evidence for the practice of female veiling in the Classical world it has for the most part been ignored.  Evidence for the veiling of Roman women is found in many sources.  Ancient lexicographers list many names for veils that these women wore.  Each of these veils was particular to the context in which they were worn and by whom they were worn.  The plenitude of veiling terminology as well as the specialized nature of these veils alerts the reader to the importance that the Romans attributed to the veil, suggesting that it formed an important part of their culture and this is described in visual and literary terms by ancient artists and writers.

The practice of veiling is therefore viewed by the Romans in a positive light, and its disruption is understood by them as a cause for concern.  This concern was especially apparent during the late republic.  The dissolution of the traditional forms of government was in some ways problematized in terms of gender, with women’s abandonment of their traditional roles and their incursion into the public sphere being of specific importance.  In order to remedy this, attempts were made by the new regime of Augustus to promote a return to what were seen to be traditional gender relations.  This programme of moral reform made use of both formal, legalistic decree (the Julian marriage laws) and more propagandistic constructions (the public works of art).  In this process traditional symbols assumed a high degree of salience.  Because of its power to signify the beneficial and appropriate status of the female body, one of the most important of these symbols was the veil.”

Smith, Elizabeth

Female Head Covering in the Early Imperial Period: Questions of the Covered ‘Other’ & the Ideal of Augustan Womanhood  MRes  (Macquarie University, 2014)  115 pp.

Abstract:  “This thesis examines the nature of the literary evidence for female head covering in early imperial Rome (defined for this purpose as 31 BC- AD 68) via a socio-cultural analysis of early imperial poetry…  Patterns as to the use of these head covering garments and adornments to characterise female protagonists in early imperial poetry are analysed and early imperial attitudes to covering are determined.  It is proposed that attitudes to covering in early imperial Rome were not beholden to a single perspective and concluded that a complex discourse on covering existed in early imperial literature.  The approach of the thesis is informed by a post-colonial feminist reading of Orientalism…”

Capite coperto/aperto [Head covered/uncovered] in Context: Selected Depictions of Female Head Covering on Statuary & in Relief Sculptures in the Large & Small Herculaneum Woman Types from the Roman World between the 1st Century B.C.E. & 4th Century C.E.  PhD diss.  (Macquarie University, 2022)  570 pp.  Pictures are on pp. 296-366

Abstract:  “…I examine head coverings among selected sculptural representations of women…  as they appear in portrait statues, reliefs and sarcophagi from the Roman world…  Where enough contextual information survives, I explore the possible reasons why the female figure depicted has a head covering or not.  I focus primarily on depictions of married women, representations of mother-figures and portraits of women depicted alongside statuesque iconography on sepulchral monuments and in civic commemorations.  My study enriches our knowledge of…  the nuanced and multivalent reasons for portraying women with and without head coverings within visual commemorations.”

Conclusions: “…the presence or absence of a head covering in the depiction of a particular female figure could have different meanings which ultimately depended on the overall purpose of the individual commemoration.

The absence of head coverings within multiple portrayals of married women is instructive…  [numerous statues] all represent married women with uncovered heads.  Therefore, in these instances, a head covering was not used to communicate marital status.  The presence of a head-covering garment could still emphasise a woman’s married status and by extension, her matronhood if she was a Roman citizen…

A head covering…  could emphasise maternal authority,
especially when a female figure was being depicted within a group monument…  [In numerous statues] the head covering both distinguishes the mother-figure being represented and emphasises her senior status within the familial group.  The absence of a head covering in the portrayal of a mother-figure did not seemingly undermine, however, her authoritative
characterisation…

…a degree of personal preference does seem to have influenced whether a sculptural monument included the depiction of a head covering [or not] in the representation of some female figures.  Personal preferences are especially noticeable in the sepulchral monuments dedicated by women and where the dedicator also represents herself on the monument…  In other [sepulchral] monuments…  the presence of a head covering in the depiction of the female figure draws the viewer’s attention to her mastery of the sartorial skills synonymous with elite femininity.” – pp. 252-4

.

French

Rich, Anthony – Dictionnaire des Antiquites Romaines et Grecques, accompagne de 2,000 Gravures…  (Paris, 1873)  750 pp.

This work has many pictures of ancient Greek and Roman men and women throughout it.


.

.

On Jewish Head Coverings

Articles

Krauss, Samuel – ‘The Jewish Rite of Covering the Head’  in Hebrew Union College Annual, vol. 19 (1945-1946), pp. 121-68

This article argues, and martials the evidence, that Jewish headcoverings were not prescribed by Scripture or the Talmud.  The practice, rather (followed by Orthodox Judaism, but not liberal Jews) is founded on custom.

The article surveys the headcovering practices, or not, of ancient, non-Jewish nations and cultures during the OT period, as well as Scripture’s declarations, but especally the cultures surrounding the NT, as well as the post-Biblical and Medieval eras.

The article appears to show that even in Paul’s day, the practice of headcoverings by Jewish men and women in public generally, was not uniform, was varied, and the coverings themselves were varied.  The author, in fact, argues that the Jews in the Talmudic era were not accustomed to wear head coverings.

.

Book

Steinberg, Aliza – Weaving in Stones: Garments & Their Accessories in the Mosaic Art of Eretz [the Land of] Israel in Late Antiquity  Pre  (Archaeopress, 2020)  385 pp.  ToC  See especially ch. 27, ‘Head & Neck Coverings’


.

.

On the 1st Century & Corinth

Articles

Ramsay, W.M. – pp. 202-5  in pt. 2, Tarsus, ch. 17, ‘The Oriental Spirit in Tarsus’  of The Cities of St. Paul  (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1907)

Ramsay, a noted scholar of first-century Greek culture and of Paul in his day, argues that the city Tarsus had a certain Oriental characteristic to it where women wore full vails, including over the face, and that the city was little influenced by Greek culture.  He interprets 1 Cor. 11 as speaking of material veils, and that the authority on the head of the woman in verse 10, or her veil, contra much interpretation, refers to her carrying dignity and a right.  It is not clear that this interpretation consists with the verses immediately before it.

Murphy-O”Coner, James

‘Sex & Logic in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16’  Abstract  Pre  Catholic Biblical Quarterly 42 (1980), p. 482 ff.

Abstract:  “This chapter argues that 1 Cor 11: 2–16 has nothing to do with the veiling of women.  The man is criticized for letting his hair grow long, because it was the overt sign of the active male homosexual.  The woman, on the contrary, is blamed simply for not dressing her hair in the conventional manner.  If she will not be feminine, she might as well go the whole way and appear ‘manish’ by cutting off her hair.  Lesbians were known by their short hair.”

‘1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Once Again’  Abstract  in The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 2 (April, 1988), pp. 265-74

“This chapter responds to J. Delobel’s critique of the thesis developed in ch. 10.  His objections and positive observations prompted the clarification and simplification of a number of important points.  He showed convincingly that v. 10 can only be translated ‘a woman must exercise control over her head’, i.e. must dress her hair properly.  Given the subjectivity of the interpretations of ‘because of the angels’ based on the assumption that they are heavenly beings, it is suggested that Paul has in mind human ‘messengers’ from other churches.  The Postscript devotes particular attention to the pros and cons of the proposed meanings of kephale, ‘head,’ ‘ruler,’ ‘source,’ and ‘person’ in various contexts in this passage, while also dealing in detail with the archaeological and literary evidence for sartorial customs in Corinth.”

Both of the above articles were reprinted later in Murphy-O’Conner, Keys to First Corinthians: Revisiting the Major Issues  (Oxford, 2009), chs. 10-11.

Hurley, James B. – Appendix: ‘Veiling Practices in Judaism & Graeco-Roman Culture of the First Century’  ToC  in Man & Woman in Biblical Perspective  (Zondervan, 1981)

This is an excellent summary of that era and those cultures by an expert; note especially his ten conclusions at the end.  Hurley had previously wrote in the Westminster Theological Journal on a similar topic.

Thompson, Cynthia L. – ‘Hairstyles, Head-Coverings & St. Paul: Portraits from Roman Corinth’  in The Biblical Archaeologist, vol. 51, no. 2 (Jun., 1988), pp. 99-115  with many pictures

Abstract:  “In the many discussions of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, very little note has been taken of the relevant archaeological evidence that is available.  Such evidence [from Corinth], unearthed over the last ninety years, can be helpful in clarifying the historical context in which Paul and his congregation lived.”

“Thus, it would seem that concerning men’s short hair, Paul was in harmony with general Greco-Roman customs as observed in iconography.” – p. 104

“The artifacts from Corinth that portray women suggest that Paul’s advice that women wear their hair long was in harmony with Greco-Roman customs…  Paul also represented Greco-Roman conventions when he suggested that women’s long hair be a ‘wrapping’ (peribolaion; 1 Corinthians 11:15)–that is, fastened up, as contrasted to being allowed to flow unimpeded around the shoulders.  Such flowing hair is sometimes suggested by the word koman [1 Cor. 11:14-15], which, however, predominantly means to wear long hair, whether up or down.  Greco-Roman women seem to have let down their hair publicly only on special ocassions, such as mourning, some Greek wedding ceremonies, or religious rites…

The evidence reviewed suggests that the Christian women of Corinth who felt that they could choose whether or not to cover their heads may well typify Greco-Roman women of the first century C.E.  These are the women Paul thought needed his advice.  This choice of hairstyle, then, would have extended beyond ornamental decorations such as a stephane or fillet to the type of vail seen on the coin portrait identified with Livia [p. 107], which is the type of covering Paul probably recommended.” – p. 112

“Paul and Christian converts at Corinth are too often considered as theological abstractions.  Portraits from the time of Christian beginnings may show how people made choices influenced by custom in dressing to please themselves and be accepted by others.” – p. 113

Oster, Richard

‘When Men Wore Veils to Worship: the Historical Context of 1 Corinthians 11.4’  Pre  New Testament Studies, vol. 34, issue 4  (Oct. 1988), pp. 481-505

Extract:  “…exegetes have tended to neglect the ‘male issue’ in this text and the Corinthian context underlying it.  The purpose of this article is to reconstruct the most plausible matrix of the practices addressed by Paul in 1 Cor 11:4 when he refers to [Greek, ‘Every man praying’].”

Oster’s “purpose was to establish the fact that it was obligatory for elite Roman men in certain ritual settings to wear a head covering.  His article did not focus on the element of shame.” – Massey (2018)

‘Use, Misuse & Neglect of Archaeological Evidence in Some Modern Works on 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 7,1-5; 8,10; 11,2-16; 12,14-26)’  ZNW 83 (1992), pp. 52-73

Oster here was “bemoaning the ‘little concern’ that New Testament scholarship had shown with regard to the artifacts of the Greco-Roman world.” – Massey (2018)

Gill, David W. J.

‘The Importance of Roman Portraiture for Head-Coverings in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16’  Tyndale Bulletin 41 (2) (1990), pp. 245–60

“If we are to understand the background or cultural context of these letters we need to read them against the backdrop of a Roman colony, not a Greek city.  Institutions, legal procedures, social customs, architecture, public images and to some extent language owed more to Rome than to the Greek world.” – p. 245

‘In Search of the Social Elite in the Corinthian Church’  Tyndale Bulletin 44 (1993), pp. 323-37

Payne, Philip B.

‘Wild Hair & Gender Equality in 1 Corinthians 11:2–16’  Priscilla Papers  (2006)  The host site is Christian-egalitarian.

This is a very important and documented study.  Payne argues that the shame for men in 1 Cor. 11:4 was not in wearing a material headcovering, but in having long hair, which, he says, was associated with homosexuality.  The woman’s ‘headcovering’ was not a material covering, but having her hair done up.  Hence, not having her hair done up in public was regarded as provacative, sensual or sexual, associated with pagan religious practices and possibly dissheveled.

Payne is an egalitarian, which is a serious error, which especially affects the middle verses of the passage.  Whether the emphasis of the headship in 1 Cor. 11:3 is on authority or source is debatable, but it certainly is not limited to source, as Payne argues.

“What head covering would have been disgraceful for men in Corinth, a Greek city and a Roman colony?  The pulling of a toga over one’s head in Roman religious contexts was a sign of piety, not disgrace.  Jewish priests wore turbans in obedience to the Law with no disgrace.  There is, however, abundant evidence in the Greek, Roman, and Jewish literature of Paul’s day that it was disgraceful for men to wear long effeminate hair, whether hanging down or done up like a woman’s hair.  Long hair fits Paul’s expression in verse 4, literally “hanging down from the head,” and Paul confirms in verse 14, “If a man has long hair, it is degrading to him.”

The extent of moral indignation over effeminate hairstyles by men is abundantly documented with more than one hundred references to effeminate hair in classical antiquity cited by Herter, the greatest number of these coming from around Paul’s time…

…many other such references near the time of Paul show that long effeminate hair on men was considered degrading, disgraceful, and contrary to the norms of Greek, Roman, and Jewish culture.  The most common word to describe long effeminate hair is the very word Paul used in 1 Corinthians 11:14: “degrading” (atimia)…  Since the evidence is overwhelming that Greek and Roman men in Paul’s day typically wore short hair, long hair stood out in its association with effeminate homosexuality.

Virtually all depictions of Greek women, not only in formal portraits and busts, but also in the vase paintings and other depictions of daily life, show respectable women with their hair done up on their heads, not hanging loose.  There is virtually no evidence that veiling was a custom or that the lack of a shawl in daily life or in worship was generally regarded as disgraceful.  The interpretation that Paul was requiring a veil or shawl to avoid disgrace does not fit what we know of Greek culture.  Women in Greek culture typically participated in worship without a veil or shawl.

In light of this, it seems highly improbable that Paul would expect the Corinthians to judge for themselves (v. 13) that it is disgraceful for a woman to pray without a veil or shawl.  There is, however, abundant evidence that it was disgraceful for women in that culture to let their hair down loose.  This symbolized undisciplined sexuality.  In the Dionysiac cult, whose influence was pervasive in Corinth, including the presence of a prominent temple, it was customary for women to let down their hair to ‘prophesy’ and engage in all sorts of sexual debauchery.  Understood in light of this background, the argument of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 flows smoothly.”

‘A Critique of P. T. Massey’s ‘The Meaning of κατακαλ˜πτω [covered] and κατÏ κεφαλῆς ἔχων [hanging down from the head] in 1 Corinthians 11.2-16’  NTS 53 (2007), pp. 502-23

Payne, in response to Massey’s article (below), says: “Each of P. T. Massey’s five conclusions attempting to exclude reference to hair are refuted by evidence he cites.”

Finney, Mark – ‘Honour, Head-Coverings & Headship: 1 Corinthians 11.2-16 in Its Social Context’  JSNT 33 (2010), pp. 31-58

“Finney provides scholarly documentation and references to ancient sources that make it difficult to discredit the thesis that some Roman men did, in fact, have the serious obligation of appearing before a deity with their heads covered…  He takes exception to the works of Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, Richard Hays, and Gordon Fee, who all argued that the text is discussing long hair, not veiling.” – Massey (2018)

Abstract:  “A significant yet missing dimension of scholarly engagement with 1 Cor. 11:2-16 is the consideration of honour-shame and its critical importance in ancient cultures.  As this section of Paul’s letter abounds in honour-shame terminology, analysis of the text within such a framework will allow a profitable exploration of the reasons why the Corinthians are changing their attire (for purposes of this paper, their headcoverings), in a way that appears to be contrary to what may be considered the Pauline norm.  The argument offered here is that notions of honour come to the fore and higher-status male Corinthians are employing modes of head attire to maintain distinctions of status.  At the same time, Paul insists upon female head-coverings to safeguard the honour of the community within a context of the potential presence of non-believers in a communal service of worship.”

Massey, Preston T.

‘The Meaning of κατακαλυπτω [covered] and κατα κεϕαλης εχων [hanging down from the head] in 1 Corinthians 11.2–16’   Ref  New Testament Studies, vol. 53, issue 4  (Oct. 2007), pp. 502-23

“For the past forty years NT scholars have been divided over the text of 1 Cor 11.2–16.  Some see this pericope as addressing the issue of head coverings, while others see the issue as one of hairstyles.  Although Stefan Lösch was the first to advocate the case for long flowing hairstyles, credit for starting this enduring controversy must be given to Abel Isaksson.  This article investigates Isaksson’s claim for the hairstyle thesis and concludes that a study of the verb κατακαλυπτω will permit a translation only of textile head coverings.”

This article was responded to by Payne (above), who says, “Each of P. T. Massey’s five conclusions attempting to exclude reference to hair are refuted by evidence he cites.”

‘Is there a Case for Elite Roman ‘New Women’ Causing Division at Corinth?’  Revue Biblique, vol. 118, no. 1 (Jan. 2011), pp. 76-93

“Bruce Winter has developed a case that elite Roman ‘new women’ brought into the church at Corinth a style of dress that was offensive and disruptive to church unity, as well as an affront to Rome itself.  As a response to this avantgarde feminine independence, Winter situates the άγγέλοι of 1 Cor. 11.10 and the ίδιώται of 1 Cor. 14.23-24 as agents of the State who are sent to investigate the behavior of such Christian women at worship.  This study considers Winter’s novel claim and concludes that the evidence does not justify such an interpretation.”

‘Long Hair as a Glory & as a Covering: Removing an Ambiguity from 1 Cor 11:15’  Novum Testamentum, vol. 53, Fasc. 1 (2011), pp. 52-72

“This study addresses the issue of v. 15 in 1 Cor 11:2-16 from the perspective of a veiling custom.  If veiling is in view (the position adopted here), then how does one confront the difficulty of reconciling the overall context with the exceptional statement in v. 15 that long hair for a woman is a glory.  If, as the text argues, long hair is to be taken as a ‘glory,’ by what logic could a woman understand that she should place a veil upon her head?  This article provides a way out of the dilemma by showing how a veil can serve the double function of reflecting the hair’s beauty while at the same time preserving a symbol of female modesty.” – Abstract

‘Veiling among Men in Roman Corinth: 1 Corinthians 11:4 & the Potential Problem of East Meeting West’  Pre  Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 137, no. 2 (Summer, 2018), pp. 501-17

Brown (below) had previously argued against Massey and another scholar on whether the key greek syntax in 1 Cor. 11:4 could mean, or primarily does mean, that it was a shame for men to have long hair while praying (Brown), or that it was a shame for a man to pray with a material head-covering on (Massey).  This article of Massey follows that of Brown but never appears to address Brown’s article directly.  This work of Massey “is based on the foundational work of Oster, Gill, and Finney.”

Abstract:  “Close attention to the original meaning of the words κατακαλύπτω [covered] (1 Cor 11:6) and κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων [having down the head] (1 Cor 11:4) permits a translation only of a material head covering.  These words do not describe the process of letting hair hang down loosely.  These words are consistently used in Classical and Hellenistic Greek to describe the action of covering the head with a textile covering of some kind.  In spite of sustained efforts by advocates, the long-hair theory still has not succeeded in gaining an entry into standard reference works.  The original edition of BAGD in 1957, the revised edition in 1979, and the more recent edition of BDAG in 2000 all support the view that the text of 1 Cor 11:2–16 describes an artificial textile head covering of some kind.”

“I will address the following three questions: (1) To what extent would male head-covering ideology in Greek and Roman cultures be at loggerheads with the text of 1 Cor 11:4? (2) To what extent would wearing a veil for a man create tensions of shame and conflict in the church in Roman Corinth? And (3) what is the specific issue regarding male sartorial practice?  I will first address the controversial and long-standing issue of whether the verse refers to veils, long hair, or both.” – p. 503

Karaman, Elif Hilal –  Ephesian Women in Greco-Roman & Early Christian Perspective  Pre  (Mohr Siebeck, 2018),

‘Women’s Head Coverings’, pp. 129-35
‘Men’s Head Coverings’, pp. 135-38
‘Head Coverings in Early Christianity’, pp. 148-53

.

Books

Hoelke, April M. – Exposed Heads & Exposed Motives: Coverings as a Means to Unity at Corinth  MA thesis  (Gardner-Webb Univ., 2014)  125 pp.

“This thesis argues that in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Paul asserts most centrally that women should wear head coverings while praying and prophesying in the Corinthian Christian assembly.  I examine the honor and shame value system of the Greco-Roman world, both generally and in specific reference to head adornment, since head coverings and hairstyles were connected to honor and status. Then I look at Paul’s treatment of honor and shame throughout 1 Corinthians, which denounces the worldly value system of status seeking in favor of the value system of the cross.  Paul’s stance leads him to subject cultural norms to gospel values…”

Montier, Curtis E. – Let Her Be Shorn: 1 Corinthians 11 & Female Head Shaving in Antiquity  MA thesis  (Univ. of North Texas, 2015)  67 pp.  Images (involving orgies) are on pp. 13-21.

“In 1 Corinthians 11:3-15, Paul writes that if a woman is to be so immodest as to wear her hair uncovered while praying or prophesying in a Christian assembly she might as well shave her head.  Paul instructs the Corinthians that it is “one and the same” for a woman to have her head shaved and for her to unveil her hair.  There is a large body of works cataloging the modesty standards in Hellenistic Greece but Paul’s reference to head-shaving remains obscure.  This thesis looks to find the best explanation of Paul’s instructions.

…a popular modern view…  that women in ancient Greece with their head shaved were prostitutes…  probably temple prostitutes.  The evidence does not bear this out as there is no artwork depicting prostitutes, or indeed any women, with their heads shaved.  Instead prostitutes are shown in Greek erotic art with both long and short hair, some with and some without head coverings.

Literary sources do offer several different examples of women who had their hair cut off…  the most probable impetus behind Paul’s writing [that the uncovered woman be shaved] relates to punishments for adultery.”

Wu, Rongxi – The Veil in Classical Antiquity: A Sociocultural & Exegetical Study of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16  PhD thesis  (University of Sheffield, 2020)  280 pp.

“This thesis will examine the literary evidence of the cultural significance of head-coverings, particularly with reference to the Corinthian congregation addressed by Paul in 1 Cor. 11:2-16.  There are two main objectives of the thesis: to produce a coherent interpretation of 1 Cor. 11:2-16 and to establish Paul’s view of gender in the text.

…The first part investigates the significance of ‘the veil’ for the ancient Greeks and Romans respectively and compares certain aspects of gender in Greco-Roman culture and the letters of Paul…  Paul’s view of gender in the text shows a degree of consistency with the culture…”


.

.

On the Early Church & Middle Ages

Articles

The Catholic Encyclopedia – ‘Religious Veil’  (1907-1912)

Koslin, Desiree G. – ch. 9, ”He hath couered my soul inwarde’:  Veiling in Medieval Europe & the Early Church’  in ed. Jennifer Heath, The Veil: Women Writers on its History, Lore & Politics  (University of California Press, 2008), pp. 160-70

James, Carol – ‘Sprang Bonnets from Late Antique Egypt: Producer Knowledge & Exchange through Experimental Reconstruction’  in Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings 2018  (Univ. of Nebraska, 2018)

Abstract:  “Arid conditions in the Nile Valley communities of Egypt preserved hundreds of sprang bonnets dating to the Late Antique period (c. 3rd to 7th centuries)…  Sprang is a symmetrical plaiting technique used to create close-fitting garments such as the head coverings commonly worn by women.”

Drake, Susanna – ‘Veils in Motion: Sacrality, Visuality & Architectural Textiles in Late Antiquity’  Abstract  The Journal of Jewish Thought & Philosophy, vol. 30, issue 1 (Brill, 2022), pp. 9-36

“This article examines a small subset of late antique veil imagery – depictions and descriptions of veils in motion – in visual and literary sources including churches, synagogues, and descriptions of the veil of the temple in Jerusalem.”

.

Book

Dossani, Khairunessa – Virtue & Veiling: Perspectives from Ancient to Abbasid Times  MA thesis  (San Jose State University, 2013)  140 pp.

ch. 2, Roman, the Mishna & Christian Veiling Concepts & Practices between the 1st & 6th Centuries A.D.  38

ch. 3, Pre-Islamic, Quranic & Talmudic References to Veiling, 6th-7th Centuries A.D.  64

Ch. 4, The Hadith, Shariah, Abbasid Adab & Fatimid References to
Veiling & Seclusion, 8th–12th Centuries A.D.  85

.

.

On the Early Church

Collections of Primary Source Quotes

‘Veil’  in Early Christian Dictionary: The Doctrine and Practice of the Early Christians

This website is clearly sectarian (see the homepage) but it provides 18 excerpts from a standard edition of the ante-Nicene Fathers, from:

Hermas, Clement of Alexandria (x 3) & Tertullian (x 14).

Classical Christianity: Eastern Orthodoxy for Today – ‘On Head Coverings’

Provides quotes from:

Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus of Rome, John Chrysostom, Augustine & Paulinus of Nola.

Price, Greg – ch. 5, ‘What does Church History Teach?’  in Headcoverings in Scripture

Price provides 8 excerpts, from:

Catacombs, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, John Chrysostom, Jerome & Augustine.

Schwertley, Brian – Appendix: ‘The Church Fathers on Headcoverings’  in ‘Head Coverings in Public Worship’  (n.d.), pp. 25-27

Schwertley provides 6 quotes and a reference from:

Paedagogus, Clement of Alexandria (x 2), Tertullian, Jerome (x 2) & Ambrose.

.

Articles

Brown II, A Philip – ‘Chrysostom & Epiphanius: Long Hair Prohibited as Covering in 1 Corinthians 11:4, 7’  Pre  in Bulletin for Biblical Research, vol. 23, no. 3 (2013), pp. 365-76

Abstract:  “Recent surveys of extrabiblical Hellenistic literature by Ben Witherington III and Preston Massey claim that κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων [‘having his head covered’] in 1 Cor. 11:4 necessarily refers to the wearing of a material head covering.  This essay argues (1) that these surveys misread the extrabiblical data, (2) that examples of κóμη [long hair] as the object of ἔχω highlight the viability of taking κóμη as the implied object of ἔχων [having] in 1 Cor. 11:4, (3) that two significant church fathers understood the covering to which Paul refers to be or include κóμη [long hair], and (4) that data in the context of 1 Cor. 11:2-16 better supports understanding κóμη [long hair] as the covering Paul has in mind.”

Ferguson, Everett – ‘Of Veils & Virgins: Greek, Roman, Jewish & Early Christian Practice’  Restoration Quarterly, 56, no. 4 (2014), pp. 223-43

“…Tertullian wanted all females veiled from the time of puberty (1.1; 16.3).  Some virgins, to the contrary, were attending the church gatherings unveiled, and some married women made only a token covering of the head (17.1, 4).  Both sides, it seems, assumed that married women would be veiled in public.  It is not clear whether Tertullian, who was under the influence of the Montanist movement on the basis of a revelation by the Paraclete (1.7) is an innovator or is trying to restore a practice being neglected or abandoned.  His description of varied hairstyles (On the Apparel of Women 2.7) indicates not many women were in fact veiled.” – p. 223

“Various explanations for the veil appear in the sources…  it seems clear that the veil was treated as a matter of custom, and the customs varied among different peoples and at different places in the first-century world.  Christian practice varied too, but generally followed local custom.” – p. 243

Panou, Eirini – ‘Veiled Brides of Christ in the Patristic Period’  Abstract  Marriage, Families & Spirituality, vol. 26, issue 1 (2020), pp. 65-73

Abstract:  “The current article considers the problematic around veiling in the Patristic period in relation to discourses linking women with brides of Christ…  Determining the precise meaning of veiling is difficult, since we do not have a full picture of the practices of head covering in late antique Roman society, or how the practice of Christians differed from the common practice.  The article explores the issue by examining Christian texts that specifically admonish women to be veiled and determines to what extent bridal mysticism referred to female attire and veiling in particular.”

.

Book

Fellman, Mary – ‘The Social Context Of Tertullian’s ‘On The Veiling Of Virgins”  MA thesis  (Cornell Univ., 2009)  55 pp.

“The theologian Tertullian (c.160-c.230 CE) was a prominent voice in early western Christianity, writing extensively about women…

The thesis contextualizes Tertullian’s beliefs and offers specific examples of both incidences where elements of his thought may be traced, directly and indirectly, to contemporary non-Christian ideas, and places where that thought is in dialogue with or explicitly rejecting those ideas.  The research here suggests that Tertullian was both influenced by Roman, non-Christian intellectual culture and explicitly rejected aspects thereof.”


.

.

On the Middle Ages to the Modern Era

Books

Racinet, Albert – section 3, ‘Europe from Byzantium to the 1800’s’  in The Historical Encyclopedia of Costumes  (NY: Facts on File Publications, 1988), pp. 126-240  with many pictures

De Courtais, Georgine – Women’s Hats, Headdresses & Hairstyles: with 453 Illustrations, Medieval to Modern  (Dover Publications, 2006)  185 pp.  ToC  with many pictures

.

.

On the Middle Ages to the 1500’s & the Renaissance

Article

Brown, Frances Susanne – ‘Hats’  in Renaissance Magazine, vol. 17, issue 2 (March-April, 2012)

.

Books

Cunnington, Phillis – Medieval & Tudor Costume  (Boston: Plays, Inc., 1968)  78 99.  ToC

Brooke, Iris – English Costume from the Early Middle Ages through the Sixteenth Century  (NY: Dover, 2000)  ToC

.

.

On the Middle Ages

Articles

Firey, Abigail – ch. 6, ‘Veiled Threats Constraining Religious Women in the Carolingian Empire’  in ed. Line Cecilie Engh, The Symbolism of Marriage in Early Christianity & the Latin Middle Ages: Images, Impact, Cognition  (Amsterdam Univ. Press, 2019), pp. 155-78  ToC

Stadtlober, Margit – ‘The Bonnet & the Beret in Medieval & German
Renaissance Art’  in eds. del Fabbro, Roswitha, Frederick Fales, Hannes Galter – Headscarf & Veiling: Glimpses from Sumer to Islam  (Venice: Edizioni Ca’Foscari, 2021)

.

Books

Innemee, Karel C. – Ecclesiastical Dress in the Medieval Near East, pp. 1-83, 84-115, 116-207, 208-225, plates 1-37, 38-64, Indices, Biblio  (Leiden 1992)  This book has been put online by the author.

Houston, Mary G. – Medieval Costume in England & France: the 13th, 14th & 15th Centuries  (1996)  250 pp.  ToC

Norris, Herbert – Medieval Costume & Fashion  (NY: Dover, 1999)  550 pp.  ToC

Tibbs, Kristen M. – “Semiotics of the Cloth”: Reading Medieval Norse Textile Traditions  MA thesis  (Marshall Univ., 2012)  85 pp.

Abstract:  “Reading textiles from medieval Norse society supplements written sources…  This project puts women and traditionally female tasks at the forefront of historical thought and analysis…  to further understand the significance and symbolism of clothing and production in literature and daily life.  I also focus on the finished head coverings worn by women in medieval Norway and analyze specific garments from the collection uncovered at…  Greenland in order to address questions about the complex social cues related to clothing and textile production.”

Anderson, Leslie – Erotic Tresses: Hair & Power in Medieval French Narrative  PhD diss.  (Tulane Univ., 2018)  185 pp.

Abstract: “This dissertation addresses how women’s hair in medieval French literature denotes female sexuality by untangling the narrative conveyed by long, glorious tresses, head-coverings, and hairstyles.  By analyzing descriptions and imagery of hair, head- coverings, and the removal of hair, I examine how women’s hair mediates social hierarchy…  I [also] treat religious female head coverings to show how two women manipulate religious settings to their advantage, and I consider Otherworldly fairies who uncover their hair, deliberately wielding their sexuality to gain influence and dominate male figures.”

.

.

.

Related Pages