On Head Coverings in Public Worship

Under Construction

“Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.    But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.  For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn…

1 Cor. 11:4-6

“…I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne…  and his train filled the temple.  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”

Isa. 6:1-2

“But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered.”

Esther 6:12




History of Head Coverings
Gillespie & Rutherford on Head Coverings
Natural Gestures, Signs & Customs about Worship, & of Reverence &
.      Veneration as Distinguished from the Worship of Adoration



Order of Contents

Extended Intro
Bible Verses

Early & Medieval Church
1700’s & 1800’s

Head Coverings, Cultural
Pinned Up Hair
Long Hair
Head Coverings, Perpetual

Men’s Head Coverings or Long Hair?  v. 4
Contra Men Having Long Hair
‘Head’: Authority or Source?  v. 3



Extended Intro

Coming Soon



More Bible Verses

On Men’s Long Hair

2 Samuel 14:25-26  “But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.  And when he polled [trimmed] his head, (for it was at every year’s end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it), he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king’s weight.”

Eze. 44:18-21  “Neither shall they [the priests of the eschatological temple] shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll [trim] their heads.”

[This may suggest that other Israelites often did, and were allowed to, let their hair grow longer.]

Rev. 9:7-8  “…and their faces were as the faces of men.  And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.”


On Male Head Coverings & Turbans

Eze. 23:14-15  “…men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion, girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea…”

Dan. 3:21  “Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.”

Zech. 3:4-5  “I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.  And I said, ‘Let them set a fair mitre upon his head.’  So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments.”



Job 29:14  “I [Job] put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem [tsaniph, turban].”

Prov. 1:8-9  “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:  For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.”

Prov. 4:9-10  “She [Wisdom] shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.  Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings…”


On Men Bareheaded

1 Sam. 10:1  “Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him…”

2 Kings 9:6  “…and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, ‘Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the Lord…'”

Song 5:2  “…for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.”

Eze. 8:3  “And He [God] put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem…”

Jonah 4:8  “…and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die…”

Mt. 26:7  “There came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as He sat at meat.”

Mk. 15:17  “And they clothed Him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head…”

Rev. 1:14  “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;”


Praying & Prophesying with a Metaphorical Helmet on

Ps. 140:7-8  “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.  Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked…”

Isa. 59:17, 21  “For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing…  As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed…”

1 Thess. 5:8, 17  “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation…  Pray without ceasing.”


Prophesying & Praying with Long Hair

1 Sam. 1:11  “And she [Hannah] vowed a vow, and said, ‘O Lord of hosts…  give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.'”

1 Sam. 3:15-18  “And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision…  And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him.”

1 Sam. 8:10  “And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.”

1 Sam. 12:23  “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way…”


On Men Praying with Head Coverings on

Jonah 2:1-5  “Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, and said…  ‘I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me…  The waters compassed me about, even to the soul…  the weeds were wrapped about my head…”


On the Head Coverings & Hair of Male Priests, who Prayed by Office

Ex. 28:40  “And for Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.”

Lev. 10:6  [After Nadab & Abihu were killed:]  “And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, ‘Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled.'”

Lev. 21:10-12  “And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes; Neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother; Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him…”

Eze. 44:18-21  “They [the priests] shall have linen bonnets upon their heads…  they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat.  And when they go forth into the utter court…  they shall put off their garments wherein they ministered, and lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments…  Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll [trim] their heads.”


On Veils Covering the Face

Ex. 34:29-35  “And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai…  that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him…  behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him…  And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.

But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out…  And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”

2 Cor. 3:13-15  “And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.”


Apparently Unveiled Women

Gen. 12:14  “And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman [Sarah] that she was very fair.”

Gen. 20:15-16  “And Abimelech said…  unto Sarah…  ‘…behold, he [Abraham] is to thee a covering [veil] of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.”

[The royal Egyptian women here likely wore headcoverings and/or veils, whereas the common egyptian women did not normally.  Women in or from rural areas, such as Sarah, may have been less likely to cover as well.  This was a rebuff to Sarah to be more modest, at least in concentrated public, given her beauty.]

Gen. 24:16  “And the damsel [Rachel] was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.”

Gen. 29:10  “And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban…  that Jacob went near…”

Lk. 7:37-38  “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house…  began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head…”


Women Covering on Special Occasions: Weddings, Feasts, Ornamentation, Prostitution, etc.

At Weddings

Gen. 24:64-67  “And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.  For she had said unto the servant, ‘What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us?’  And the servant had said, ‘It is my master’: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself…  And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife;”

[This verse shows that Rebekah was not covering herself at all times.  Besides the modesty issue here for the special occasion, Rebekah putting on a veil may have had a reference to a bride veiling herself at a wedding, as the custom was.]

Gen. 29:23-25  “…in the evening, that he [Laban] took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him [Jacob]; and he went in unto her…  And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?”


For Prostitution

Gen. 38:14-15  “And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath…  When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.”

Gen. 38:18-19, 22  “And he…  came in unto her [for the act of prostitution], and she conceived by him.  And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood…  And he returned to Judah, and said, ‘I cannot find her’;”


At Celebrations, Feasts & Special Occasions

Ruth 3:14-15  “And she [Ruth] lay at his [Boaz’s] feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another…  he said, ‘Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it.’  And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.”

[This was at a harvest celebration.]

1 Sam. 1:12; 2:1  “And it came to pass, as she [Hannah] continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth [Her face was not veiled]…  And Hannah prayed, and said, ‘My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn [tantura, head-dress] is exalted in the Lord…'”

[Note that this was at a festal ocassion, 1 Sam. 1:3-5.]


For Ornamentation

2 Kings 9:30-31  “…Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and [at]tired her head, and looked out at a window.  And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said…”

Song 4:1,3  “Behold, thou art fair, my love…  thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks [tsammah, veil]: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from mount Gilead…  thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks [veil].”

Song 6:7  “As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks [tsammah, veil].”

Isa. 3:16-24  “Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet… 

In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls [head-dresses, head-bands or head-scarves], and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers [or veils], the bonnets [or head-dresses], and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, the rings, and nose jewels, the changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, the glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods [tsaniph], and the vails.  

And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness…”

Eze. 16:10-11  “I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen [respecting a turban], and I covered thee with silk.  I decked thee also with ornaments…”

[This may also have reference to a wedding, Eze. 16:8.]


1 Tim. 2:9-12  “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

1 Pet. 3:3  “Likewise, ye wives…  whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;”


On People Generally

Isa. 28:5  “In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem [tsaniph, turban] of beauty, unto the residue of his people…”

Isa 62:3-4  “Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem [tsaniph, turban] in the hand of thy God.  Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken…”

Eze. 13:16-22  “…the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord God.  Likewise…  the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart…

…Thus saith the Lord God; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes [to the elbows and wrists], and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature [of person] to hunt souls!  Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?

And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?

Wherefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms…  Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand…  Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:”

[See commentators on these verses.  It appears that men and women set themselves up as prophets (or were already recognized as prophets) and had people pay to come to them to hear their prophecies of peace and security to Israel (and of threats to the righteous) when the Lord was against Israel.  Thus women sewed pads of ease to cloaks which the false prophets adorned themselves and their inquirers with as a symbol of their security and comfort.  They also adorned them with some sort of head covering as a testament to their prosperity.]


On Mourning, Shame & Humbling Oneself or Another Person

Lev. 13:45  “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.”

[Going bare headed here was likely a sign of mourning, here used by the leper, whether male or female, meaning that men also commonly covered their heads.  Yet this extraordinary practice is exactly the opposite as the custom for mourning in David’s time, as seen in 2 Sam. 15:30-32, and that of Haman in Ezra 6:12.]

Num. 5:18  “And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord, and uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering…”

[The phrase may be translated “unloose”, that is her covering, turban or hair.]

Dt. 21:11-13  “And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;  Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;  And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.”

1 Sam. 4:12  “And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.”

2 Sam. 13:19  “And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of diverse colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.”

2 Sam. 15:30-32  “And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.

…And David said, ‘O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.’

…when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head:”

1 Kings 20:30-32  “And Benhadad [king of Aram-Damascus] fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.  And his servants said unto him, ‘…let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life.  So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel…”

Esther 6:12  “But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered.”

Job 19:9  “He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.”

Song 5:7  “The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.”

Isa. 47:1-3  “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne…  for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.  Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.  Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen:”

Jer. 14:3-4  “…they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads.  Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.”


On Shaving the Head & making Bald

Ezra 9:3  “And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.”

Neh. 13:25  “And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, ‘Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons…'”

Job 1:20  “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped…”

Isa. 3:24  “And it shall come to pass…  instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth…”

Isa. 7:20  “In the same day shall the Lord shave [the kingdom of Judah] with a razor that is hired, namely…  by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.”

Isa. 50:6  “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”

Jer. 7:29  “Cut off thine hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for the Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.”

Jer. 48:37-38  “For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: upon all the hands shall be cuttings, and upon the loins sackcloth.  There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab…”

Eze. 5:1-2  “And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair.  Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled…”

Eze. 7:18  “They shall also gird themselves with sackcloth, and horror shall cover them; and shame shall be upon all faces, and baldness upon all their heads.”

Amos 8:10  “And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.”


On Taking Vows to the Lord

Num. 6:2-5, 13-18  “When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord…  All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow…

And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and he shall offer his offering unto the Lord…  And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings.”

Judges 16:17-22  “There hath not come a razor upon mine [Samson’s] head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak…  Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.”

1 Sam. 1:11  “And she [Hannah] vowed a vow, and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid…  give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.'”

Acts 18:18  “And Paul…  having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.”

Acts 21:23-24  “We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads…”


On Heavenly Creatures Covering, or Not, with respect to Worship

Ex. 25:20  “And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.”

Isa. 6:1-2  “…I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne…  and his train filled the temple.  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”

Rev. 10:1, 5-6  “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun…  And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever…”


On that which is Contrary to Nature

Dt. 22:5  “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

Rom. 1:26-27  “For this cause God gave them up unto vile [atimia] affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature [physis]:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly [aschemosunen], and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

[Compare this with 1 Cor. 11:4, ‘dishonors’, aschemosunen, and verse 14, ‘Does not even nature, physis, itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a shame [atimia] unto him?’]

1 Cor. 6:9-11  “Be not deceived: neither fornicators…  nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind…  shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed…”



Early Church

Collections of Fathers

E-Catena – 1 Cor. 11

Catena Bible – 1 Cor. 11  Click on the verses for excerpts




‘On the Veiling of Virgins’  in ANF 4.27-38

On the background to this work, see Mary Fellman, ‘The Social Context Of Tertullian’s ‘On The Veiling Of Virgins”  MA thesis  (Cornell Univ., 2009), especially ch. 2, pp. 13-21.

‘On the Apparel of Women’  in ANF 4.21-

ch. 6, ‘Of Dying the Hair’
ch. 7, ‘Of Elaborate Dressing of the Hair in Other Ways…’
ch. 11, ‘Christian women, further, have not the same causes for appearing in public, and hence for dressing in fine array, as gentiles…’
ch. 12, ‘Such outward adornments meretricious, and therefore unsuitable to modest women’

‘On Prayer’

ch. 15, ‘Of Putting Off Cloaks’
ch. 20, ‘Of Women’s Dress’
ch. 21, ‘Of Virgins’
ch. 22, ‘Answers to the Foregoing Arguments’



Ambrose – NPNF2, vol. 10

ch. 46, section 232  in Duties of the Clergy, bk. 1, pp. 37-8

ch. 14, section 69  in Concerning Repentace, bk. 1, p. 340

Chrysostom – Homily 26, on 1 Cor. 11:2 ff.



Early Church Latin Commentaries

Ambrose – 1 Cor. 11  in PL 17.239-41

Cyril of Alexandria – 1 Cor. 11  in PG 74.879-83



Medieval Church


Aquinas, Thomas – 1 Cor. 11



Medieval Church Latin Commentaries


Strabo, Walafridus – 1 Cor. 11  in The Sacred Bible with the Ordinary Gloss  (†849)



Anselm – 1 Cor. 11  in Ennarations on the Epistles of Paul



De Lyra, Nicholas – 1 Cor. 11  in The Sacred Bible Set in Order & Interlined with Glosses and the Postils & Moral Teachings of Nicholas de Lyra  (d. 1349)





Colet, John – 1 Cor. 11  (d. 1511)

Colet was a reforming, English, humanist, Roman Catholic Priest who was critical of the Church and was a friend of Erasmus.

Erasmus, Desiderius – 1 Cor. 11

Calvin, John – 1 Cor. 11

Geneva Bible – 1 Corinthians

Beza, Theodore – 1 Cor. 11

Willet, Andrew – ‘An Appendix concerning the Name of Jesus’  in Synopsis Papismi…  (London, 1592), 9th Controversey, Saints Departed, 2nd part, 5th Question, 2nd Part on the Sign of the Cross, pp. 361-2

Willet critiques the Papal (and Anglican) practice of bowing and removing one’s hat at the name of Jesus (but not of Christ, God, etc.).  In the era, when declarations of the king were read, and the king’s name was mentioned, the people, out of showing honor, would remove their caps and then put them back on.  This societal custom was apparently the foundation for the religious practice.



Mayer, John – 1 Cor. 11  (1631)

Ames, William – ‘Concerning Women’s Veils, 1 Cor. 11’  being ch. 3, section 28 of A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in Worship  (1633), pp. 345-50  GB

The flow of this piece by Ames is complex as he is summarizing the back and forth polemics of numerous publications that went before him.  He concludes at the very end that the veil in no way justifies the prelate’s appointment of human ceremonies to God’s worship.

Through the article Ames in general is approving of the Replier, and is against the Defense and the Rejoinder.  Ames appears to be approving of these statements:

“…the vail was neither apostolical, nor merely of human institution, nor of instituted signification, nor yet appropriated unto God’s worship: but a civil order of decency, used as well out of God’s worship as in it.”, p. 345

“The Replier said it was a civil order of decency, expressing the immediate end, which it had as well in, as out of worship, which will well bear this conclusion: that it was no more religious than women’s proper apparel, long garments, etc. (to which Chrysostom upon 1 Cor. 11) compares the vail, as one part to another, or their shoes, or slippers are.”, p. 345

“…it [the veil] did declare, or argue a good thing, as indeed all civil apparrel of modest fashion does.”, p. 346

“…yet I never heard all modest apparel called a mystical religious ceremony.”, p. 346

” this indeed was required in every grave meeting of men and women: but not primarily and principally instituted for God’s worship.  Paul surely did not institute them for new ceremonies, but only urged the Corinthians not to neglect them, as being natural.”, p. 349

“I may well again repeat (as justified) the Replier’s conclusion: Seeing the Defense could find but three examples of human ceremonies in all the New Testament, and none of those there can be showed to be of mystical signification, or appropriated only to God’s worship, or of human institution, the Prelates may be ashamed…”

Gillespie, George – Part 3, ch. 9, ‘That the lawfulness of the [English-Popish] ceremonies, cannot be warranted by the Law of Nature’  in A Dispute Against the English-Popish Ceremonies…  (1637), pp. 197-202  See especially pp. 200-202

a Lapide, Cornelius – 1 Cor. 11  (d. 1637)

Dutch Annotations – 1 Cor. 11  (1637 / 1657)

Diodati, John – 1 Cor. 11  (1643)

English Annotations – 1 Cor. 11  (1645)

Rutherford, Samuel – pp. 89-90  of Introduction, section 6  in The Divine Right of Church Government…  (London, 1646)

Leigh, Edward – 1 Cor. 11  (1650)

Firmin, Giles –

Dickson, David – 1 Cor. 11  (1659)

Hammond, Henry – 1 Cor. 11  (1659)

Lightfoot, John – 1 Cor. 11

Trapp, John – 1 Cor. 11

Baxter, Richard – 1 Cor. 11

Poole, Matthew – 1 Cor. 11

Edwards, John – The 2nd Text Inquired into, 1 Cor. 11:14  in An Enquiry into Four Remarkable Texts of the New Testament which Contain Some Difficulty in Them…  (Cambridge, 1692), pp. 27-136

“He lets them know that both these kinds of disorders are repugnant to the institution of God and the dictates of reason.  But especially the latter of these practises is con•uted here by an appeal to nature, which is a comprehensive topic, and you may understand by it the general dictate of natural reason, and the particular law of nature concerning distinction of sexes, as also usage and custom, which is a second nature…

In a word, a man must not be like a woman either as to her veil and covering or as to her long and dressed hair, because he is taught
otherwise by the law of reason, and by that of the sex, and even by the practice and custom of the soberest part of the world, which are all comprised in the large extent of the word ‘nature’ in this place of the apostle.” – pp. 135-6



Post-Reformation Latin Articles & Commentaries


Pellican, Conrad – 1 Cor. 11  (Zurich, 1539)

Musculus, Wolfgang – On 1 Cor. 11  in Commentaries on the Two Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians  (Basil, 1559), pp. 373-99

Marlorat, Augustine – On 1 Cor. 11  in A Catholic, Ecclesiastical Exposition of the New Testament… or a Library of Exposition  (Geneva, 1570), pp.

Marlorat (1506-1562) was a French / Swiss reformer.  This is mostly an anthology of quotes from other commentators, signified by letters before their quotes.  See the key to the abbreviations.

Beza, Theodore – 1 Cor. 11  (1598)  This is much fuller than what is translated into English.



Piscator, Johannes – On 1 Cor. 11  in Commentaries on All the Books of the New Testament  (d. 1625; Herborne, 1638), pp. 533-37

Maetz, Carolus – A Forest of Eminent Questions: Philological, about Antiquity, Philosophical, a True & Most Able View of Theology (Utrecht, 1650), ch. 24

Of the use of headcoverings amongst the Corinthians, and the practice of prostitutes and young men and women among them, pp. 244 bot -253

Of headcoverings and calotis [beautiful ears?] of ministers, pp. 258-62

Maetz appears to take the customs as cultural and not universally binding or necessary.  Maetz (1597-1651) was of Flemish lineage and a professor of theology at Utrecht.

Coccejus, Johannes – On 1 Cor. 11  in Commentary on the Epistles of Paul in All the Works, Tome 5  (d. 1669), pp. 294-97

Doughtie, John – Excurses 78 (1 Cor. 11:4-5) & 79 (1 Cor. 11:14-15)  in Sacred Analecta, or Brief Philological Excursus on Diverse Places of the Old and New Testaments…  (d. 1672; 1694), pp. 115-18

Doughtie (1598–1672) was a reformed Anglican.

Voet, Gisbert – Section 3, 6th Problem, ‘What of the Covering of Women in the Churches (1 Cor. 11)?’, pp. 475 bot. – 476  in ch. 8. ‘Questions on Some Rituals in Particular…’  in Ecclesiastical Politics, vol. 1  (Amsterdam, 1663-1676), Pt 1, Bk. 2, ‘Of Ecclesiastical Things, or Acts & Exercises’, Tract 1, ‘Of Formularies, or Liturgies & Rituals’, ch. 1, ‘Of Formularies, or Liturgies’

“It is not a rite indifferent, nor a sacred ecclesiastical ordinance, but a common one, by which out of a natural decorum it ought to obtain everywhere and ordinarily, where and however often women come together in some assembly or go out in public.  That being, moreover, a covering or sheltering of the head, even [tum] natural, that is, the hair, or in addition [tum] something put on.  Of that is put forth in verse 6 [14?], ‘Doth not nature teach…’”, pp. 475-6

Poole, Matthew – On 1 Cor. 11  in The Synopsis of Critics…  (Utrecht, 1686), vol. 5, pp. 461-75



1700’s Commentaries

Matthew Henry’s Commentary – 1 Cor. 11  (not Henry)

Gill, John – 1 Cor. 11

Brown of Haddington, John – 1 Cor. 11  (d. 1787)

Wesley, John – 1 Cor. 11  (1791)



1700’s Latin Article

Zeltner, Gustavus – On the Shelter of the Woman’s Head with Respect to the Angels  in ed. Conrad Iken, A New Theological-Philological Thesaurus, or a Syllabus of Exegetical Dissertations on Select & Significant Places of the Old & New Instruments, vol. 2  (1732), pp. 820-28

Iken (1689-1753) was a professor of theology at Bremen, Germany.




Clarke, Adam – 1 Cor. 11  (d. 1832)  British Wesleyan

Billroth, Gustav – 1 Cor. 11  (1836)  Liberal

Chalmers, Thomas – 1 Cor. 11  Free Church of Scotland

Brown, David

1 Cor. 11  in A Popular Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Philip Schaff

1 Cor. 11  in Jamieson, Fausset, Brown’s Commentary

Brown was a professor of the Free Church of Scotland.

Hodge, Charles – 1 Cor. 11  American, Northern presbyterian

Lange, Johann Peter – 1 Cor. 11

Meyer, H.A.W. – 1 Cor. 11  Liberal

Ellicott, C.J. – 1 Cor. 11  (1887)

Edwards, Thomas – 1 Cor. 11

Vincent, Marvin – 1 Cor. 11

Godet, Frederick – 1 Cor. 11

McClintock & Strong Biblical Cyclopedia – ‘Veil’

“Long hair, perhaps similarly done up, certainly, often plaited, was used by the Greek females; thus very commonly they appeared in public.  Hence, also, Paul contends, in Church meetings they should have a head-covering, formed either of a mantle or shawl (peplumt) drawn somewhat over the countenance, or a veil in the stricter sense (κατακαλύπτω, 1 Cor. 11:5-6).

Such a partial covering seemed to become females in public assemblies; and for Christian women to have departed in such a matter from the general practice of the countries where they resided would inevitably have brought reproach upon the Christian name. The attempt of some, therefore, at Corinth to do so, was wisely discountenanced by the apostle as implying an assumption of equality with the other sex; and he enforces the covering of the head, as a sign of subordination to the authority of the men (verses 5-15).

…the apostle, putting, a hypothetical case, states that every man having anything on his head dishonors his head, i.e. Christ; inasmuch as the use of the veil would imply subjection to his fellow-men rather than to the Lord (ver. 4).”

Beet, Joseph Agar – 1 Cor. 11  (1895)  Liberal



That Paul Enjoins the Women to Wear Material Head Coverings, & that this was Cultural


Grosheide, F.W. – 1  Cor. 11  in New International Commentary on the New Testament  (1960)

“…a veil or a ribbon for the hair belonged to the ordinary headgear of women.”  – p. 253, fn. 2

Humann, Roger J. – ‘1 Corinthians 11:2-16: Exegesis Case Study’  Consensus, vol. 7, issue 1, article 2  (1981)

Humann references numerous conservative commentators and reference works.  He cites differing evidence regarding what the female covering was, but ends up taking the material covering interpretation.

Morris, Leon – 1 Cor. 11  in Tyndale New Testament Commentary  (1985)

Fee, Gordon – 1 Cor. 11  in New International Commentary on the New Testament  (1987)

This is very detailed.  Fee was a Charismatic scholar.

Schreiner, Thomas – ‘Head Coverings, Prophecies & the Trinity, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16’  in eds. Piper & Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: a Response to Evangelical Feminism  (Crossway, 1991), pp. 124-39

Schreiner takes the passage as speaking of material head coverings, and that this was cultural.

“Am I suggesting that women return to wearing coverings or veils?  No.  We must distinguish between the fundamental principle that underlies a text and the application of that principle in a specific culture…  Now, in the first century, failure to wear a covering sent a signal to the congregation that a woman was rejecting the authority of male leadership.  Paul was concerned about head coverings only because of the message they sent to people in that culture…

Lack of head coverings sends no message at all in our culture.  Nevertheless, that does not mean that this text does not apply to our culture.  The principle still stands that women should pray and prophesies will be one indication of whether she is humble and submissive.  The principle enunciated here should be applied in a variety of ways given the diversity of the human situation.” – p. 138



Pratt, Richard L. with Ra McLaughlin – ‘Hair & Headship, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16’  IIIM Magazine Online, vol. 3, no. 50  (Dec. 2001)

This has a lot of relevant information in it.

Beale, G.K. & D.A. Carson – 1 Cor. 11  in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament  (2007)

Hester, David W. – ‘The Nature of the Head Covering in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16’  (2017) with a bibliography of 42 sources

This appears to be a graduate school paper.  Hester takes the view of a material covering, which was cultural.

Wedgeworth, Steven – ‘Going on a Bear Hunt: Head Coverings, Custom, & Proper Decorum: Revisiting 1 Corinthians 11:2–16’  (2021)  26 paragraphs

“I don’t believe that churches have to resurrect the custom of head coverings. Were the custom still dominant, it would be pious to respect and retain it, but a lost custom is somewhat different.  When a custom is lost, the public meaning of that custom changes, and enforcing it anew can send a new and different (and, yes, mistaken) meaning…

Yet 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 teaches us that godly customs in practice should be retained, and it teaches us to investigate our customs to see what message they are sending.  Intelligible customs that signify male headship or the glory of godly femininity should be respected and promoted.”




Robertson, Archibald & Alfred Plummer – 1 Cor. 11  in International Critical Commentary  Liberal

This is a commentary on the Greek text.

Moffatt, James – 1 Cor. 11  Liberal

Barrett, Charles K. – 1 Cor. 11  in Black’s New Testament Commentaries  (1993)



Fitzmeyer, Joseph A. – 1 Cor. 11  in Anchor Yale Bible  (2008)

Excellent response to the Septuagint word in Leviticus.

Perkins, Pheme – 1 Cor. 11  in Paideia  (Baker Academic, 2012)

Perkins presents a fair amount of helpful, summary information of varying practices, but has a deficient view of Paul’s integrity (p. 138, vv. 6-9).



That Paul was Enjoining Pinned Up Hair for Women

Hurley, James B. – ‘Did Paul Require Veils or the Silence of Women?  A Consideration of 1 Cor 11:2-16 & 1 Cor 14:33b-36’  Ref  Westminster Theological Journal, 35:2  (Winter 1973)



That the Issue for Both Men & Women was Long Hair or Not

Hays, Richard B. – 1 Cor.  in Interpretation  (John Knox Press, 1997)  Liberal

Brown II, A Philip – Eikon kai doxa Theou: An Interpretive Key to 1 Cor. 11:2-16′  (Bible Faculty Leadership Summit, 2003)  12 pp.  with bibliography

Brown closely examines v. 7 as a key to the larger passage.  Brown also has an article on the early Church, below, defending this interpretation.

“…men and women fulfill their respective roles…  when they pray and prophesy appropriately covered: cut hair on men and uncut hair on women.” – p.12



That Women’s Head Coverings for Worship is a Perpetual, Regular Obligation



Murray, John – ‘Headcoverings, a Letter’  (1973)  12 paragraphs

Pink, A.W. – Studies in the Scriptures, August, 1930, p. 191

Pink teaches that ladies are to cover their heads in private prayer also.

Weeks, Noel – ‘Of Silence & Head Covering’  in Westminster Theological Journal, no. 35:1 (Fall 1972), p. 21 ff.

Weeks’s conclusions are not as explicit as one would desire, but he appears to infer the conclusion that women wearing material headcoverings for public worship is an obligatory, universal practice, though his main interest is in arguing that women ought to be silent in the churches and not in leadership roles.

Waltke, Bruce – ‘1 Corinthians 11:2-16: an Interpretation’  Bibliotheca Sacra 135 (1978), pp. 46-57

Isbell, Sherman – ‘Headship & Worship: Notes on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16’  no date  33 paragraphs

Silversides, David – ‘Is Head Covering Biblical?’  no date  71 paragraphs

This paper was primarily intended as a rebuttle to the position paper of the Still Waters Revival group, in their reversal on the head covering issue

Schwertley, Brian – ‘Head Coverings in Public Worship’  (n.d.)  27 pp.



Kayser, Phillip – Glory & Coverings: a Study of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16  (2003)  52 pp.

Garriott, Aaron L. – ‘The Abiding Apostolic Ordinance of Rules for Decorum in 1 Corinthians 11:  An Exegetical & Theological Case for a Normative Principle of Head Coverings in Public Worship’  (2018)  21 pp.  a seminary paper for Reformed Theological Seminary



The Head Covering Movement



Whether 1 Cor. 11:4 refers to Men wearing a Material Head Covering, having their Hair Pinned Up, having Long Hair Simply, or to any Combination of these? or whether the Case is Purely Hypothetical?

“Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.”

1 Cor. 11:4




McClintock & Strong?

Archibald Robertson & Alfred Plummer, on 1 Cor. 11:4  in International Critical Commentary

“There is no reason for supposing that men at Corinth had been making this mistake in the congregation [in 1 Cor. 11:4].  The conduct which would be improper for men is mentioned in order to give point to the censure on women, who in this matter had been acting as men.”

Fitzmeyer, p. 413 top

Gordon Fee



Contra Men having Long Hair



Prynne, William

The Unlovelinesse of Love-Lockes; or, a Summary Discourse Proving the Wearing & Nourishing of a Locke or Love-locke, to be altogether unseemely & unlawful unto Christians…  (London, 1628)  63 pp.

‘A Gag for Long Haired Rattle-heads who Revile all Civil Round-Heads’  [in verse]  Ref  (1646)  4 pp.

Hall, Thomas – Comarum Akosmia the Loathsomeness of Long Hair, or a Treatise wherein you have the Question Stated, Many Arguments against it Produced & the Most Material Arguments for it Refelled & Answered: with the concurrent Judgment of Divines, both Old & New Against it: with an Appendix against Painting, Spots, Naked Breasts, etc.  (London, 1654)  125 pp.

Hall (1610–1665)

Wall, Thomas – Spiritual Armour To Defend the Head From the Superfluity of Naughtiness…  (1688)  44 pp.



Diatriba Theologica de Capillis, constans Disputatione Textuali, ad 1 Corinthians 11:14-15  cited by John Trapp and Edward Leigh



On the 1600’s


Poppy, Pat – ‘Love Locks & Round Heads’  (2020)  6 paragraphs  at Costume Historian



On the Meaning of ‘Head’, or of Headship, in 1 Cor. 11:3: Authority or Source?

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

1 Cor. 11:3



The traditional view in Church history has been that ‘head’ in this 1 Cor. 11:3 (kephale in Greek) refers to one having authority over another.  ‘Evangelical’ egalitarians, in the last several decades of the 1900’s, began to promote and defend the novel notion that ‘head’ in this verse means source, exclusively, without any connotation of authority.

The articles below by Wayne Grudem show conclusively that this novel opinion is groundless (it always has been) and is contrary to both the Scriptural and extra-Scriptural data.



Grudem, Wayne

‘Does Kefale (‘Head’) Mean ‘Source’ Or ‘Authority Over’ in Greek Literature?: a Survey of 2,336 Examples’  Trinity Journal, no. 6.1 (Spring 1985), pp. 38-59

‘The Meaning of Kephale (‘Head’): a Response to Recent Studies’  being appendix 1 in eds. Piper & Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: a Response to Evangelical Feminism  (Crossway, 1991), pp. 425-68

‘The meaning ‘source’ ‘does not exist’: Liddell-Scott editor rejects egalitarian interpretation of ‘head’ (kephale)’  in CBMW News, vol. 2, no. 5  (Dec. 1997), pp. 1, 7-8

“A recent letter from one of the world’s leading Greek lexicographers, P.G.W. Glare, has undermined a foundational building block in the egalitarian view of marriage.  Glare denies that the word ‘head’ ever had the meaning ‘source’ in ancient Greek literature.”

‘The Meaning of Kefale (‘Head’): an Evaluation Of New Evidence, Real & Alleged’  Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44:1 (March 2001) pp. 25-65




“And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel…  therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.”

Gen. 24:64-65

“And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord, and uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering…”

Num. 5:18

“And for Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.”

Ex. 28:40




Related Pages


The Regulative Principle of Worship 

Whether Ladies have the Right to Vote for Church Officers

Saying Amen at the End of Prayers


Ladies in the Church

Church Membership