Instalment 1A. A further piece of information about the location of "Because of the angels"

In my other posts/instalments I have pointed out that Paul has a main argument that ties this whole passage 1Cor 11:2-16 together. This main argument has many parallelisms in it which can be seen by my color coding as below.


Each word or phrase has its place and its paralleled place in the main argument.

Well, where does “because of the angels” fit into this paralleled main argument? The answer is that IT DOES NOT.


It has no place in the paralleled main argument. If we put it with verse 10 as do all the English translations, then it actually disrupts this main argument and destroys the parallelism.
So, this leads me to suggest that “because of the angels” is actually part of the following sentence. ie. part of verse 11.

Hi Neil,

Few questions for you.

First, what do you see in the Greek manuscripts that lead you to believe there is grammatical warrant for joining “because of the angels” to the beginning of the thought in verse 11, as opposed to leaving it joined to the end of the thought of verse 10? It seems like you are moving this phrase arbitrarily because you can’t make sense of it and are looking for some code of parallelism, not because you have a textual warrant for doing so.

Second, if you do move it to the beginning of verse 11, what problem are you solving, exactly? Your suggested translation (which seems arbitrarily derived) doesn’t seem to provide any additional clarity as to the meaning of the phrase.

Third, do you know of any church fathers or commentators who arranged the passage in the manner that you’ve suggested? Or is this a new translation that is originating with you, as far as you’re aware?

Rather than seeking to identify a pattern of parallelism in the text, I wonder if your time might be better spent seeking to understand the Greek language itself, and look for the presence or absence of punctuation / dialectic clues in the extant manuscripts?

I obviously don’t know you, so take this with a grain of salt, but I kind of get the impression that you may be flirting with the error of approaching the text like it’s a code to crack, as opposed to just trying to to understand it in terms of its grammatical reasoning. I may be wrong? Food for thought.

God bless.


Jason, thanks for your questions. They are appreciated and needed with such a novel translation. I don’t believe every piece of scripture or every piece of Paul’s writings are written like this. Each piece of literature has to be understood and analysed in its own right. It seems to me that there has been great difficulty understanding 1 Cor 11:2-16 as a whole, understanding how all the parts, all the different things Paul says, relate to each other. There is an article by Joel Delobel which attemps to account for everything Paul says in a coherent interconnected way. This is also what I am attempting. However, specifically, if Paul,in this specific instance, does formulate his (main) argument by using parallel statements, then we should not ignore this. And this should inform how we translate and understand his seemingly more obscure statements in the passage. Now to your questions.

  1. What do I see in the Greek manuscripts.
    a. As per my argument about the structure of Paul’s argument. “Because of the angels” is an awkward fit with the structure and logic of Paul’s main argument. It is an awkward fit in verse 10.
    b. There is nothing in the Greek manuscript that would say it must go with what is before it rather than what comes after. There are no capitals or commas or full stops. We must work it out from the argument and logic and I propose from the structure.

“On account of the angels” could just as easily go with the following “however”. There is no greek punctuation (textual warrant) to tell you it should or should not. You must look for other indications such as structure of argument and the logic of the argument itself. This is what I am doing. There is equally no greek punctuation or textual warrant to tell you that it SHOULD go with what proceeds it.
Am I moving it arbitrarily? In one sense yes. But, have the translators put it where they have arbitrarily? Possibly. They have put it there and we try to make sense of it.
You say “not because of some sort of textual warrant for doing so”. My textual warrant is that it does not fit well into the structure (parallelsim) of Paul’s argument. So, let us try to understand it in this alternative position. Now, I will later try to give an understanding of it in its new position. But because my location in v11 is novel, I am seeking input from others such as you, to help me think through what it could mean if it is part of verse 11. My interpretation warrant is that many of the explanations for because of the angels in v10 just pluck an understanding of “because of the angels” out of the air and interpret the verse in light of this foreign understanding. That is, many understandings of it in its current position seem be be eisegesis rather than exegesis, rather than understanding it in its place in Paul’s whole argument. That is where I am heading, but you will have to bear with me for more instalments. However, I do recognise that my propositions may be shot down in the process.
2. “what problems are you solving? … what additional clarity”. You will have to bear with me as I provide more instalments. There has been 2000 years of trying to understand “because of the angels” as part of verse 10 and 2 years of my thinking maybe it should be part of verse 11. So, I would invite you to think along with me. And maybe in the process convince me it is a dead end. I know, that so far, I have not given any in-depth clarity other than to intimate I think it has some connection to Psalm 8 because of Paul’s also mentioning “man is the glory of God”. I do have a view but it is fairly mundane and I am hoping to stimulate others to look at Psalm 8 in connection with 1 Cor 11:2-16 before I propose it in a later instalment. Also, by placing it in verse 11, it is then related to specific theology that Paul puts forward. It is no longer part of his main argument. The question changes from “what do the angels have to do with headcovering in church” to “what do the angels have to do with Paul’s theological statement ''neither woman separate from man, nor man separate from woman” in v11 and his subsequent statement in verse 12 “for just as, in the Lord, “woman out of man”, so also the man by/through the woman”. And further, what do these statements have to do with Psalm 8 and by connection of Psalm 8 being a commentary on Genesis 1&2, then what do these statements in vv11 & 12 have to do with Paul’s other statements from Gen 1 & 2 in 1 Cor 11:7 “man is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man”? These things in v7 “image”, “glory”, “man”, “woman” also connect Gen 1&2 with Psalm 8.
As mentioned above I think I have a way of understanding 1 Cor 11:2-16 as an integrated whole and “because of the angels” relocation is just part of this. A very well known part which makes it a good starting point to get others looking and thinking about what I am proposing.
The issue of “because of the angels” is not just about us making a guess of what Paul could mean and trying to relate that guess to how it relates to v10 woman covering in church. There is a much wider issue that we have to come to grips with and promote from 1 Cor 11:2-16 and that is how Paul understands creation, the creation of men and women. Paul interprets and possibly even adds to or expands (or maybe I should say explains correctly) the old testament understanding of Gen 1&2 and Psalm 8. Many many commentators say that Paul got it wrong, that he does not understand Gen 1&2.
3. “any church fathers”. Not that I know of, but any others reading who are more widely read than I, might be able to comment further.
“any commentators”. Not that I know of.
So, as you can see, I do appreciate your questioning.
And please, bear with me in my future instalments, to see if I can tie this whole passage 1Cor 11:2-16 together as an integrated whole.

FINALLY, we have been talking about the location of “because of the angels”, which is only a very simple change, and only requires interchanging a full-stop and a comma in most English translations.
ESV That is why a woman … on her head**,** because of the angels**.** Nevertheless, in the Lord, woman is …
That is why a woman … on her head**.** Because of the angels, nevertheless**,** in the Lord, woman is …
the phrase “in the Lord” is moved substantially from its original position in the greek by many english translations.

e.g. ESV it is moved a whole verse away from end of verse 11 (beginning of verse 12) to the beginning of verse 11.

However, I propose that my leaving it where it is in the greek ie. as part of verse 12 makes much more sense and is a much more balanced argument by Paul in verses 11 and 12.
So, verse 11 & 12 both now have conditional/expansionary type clauses to match their theological statements about men and women.
v 11 However, because of the angels neither woman separate from man nor man separate from woman,
v12 For just as in the Lord the woman of the man, so also the man by the woman.

I propose that the whole argument flows much better this way.

This will help us to make the connection between Genesis 1&2 and Psalm 8. What is true “in the Lord” ie. Gen 1&2’s view and Paul’s view of men and women, is also true of Psalm 8.

“In the Lord” encompasses the created ordering of men and women “woman out of man” and the unity and interdependence of men and women “so also man by woman”. And that is also the picture of creation that we have in Psalm 8 “because of the angels”.

Yet, Psalm 8 does not mention “men” and “women” but only mentions man (?mankind).
Man and woman in Psalm 8 are presented as a whole, a unity, as mankind. Just as they are in Genesis 2 “woman out of man”. The woman is made out of the man. She is made out of his substance. They are one. To Paul, “woman out of man” is not an expression of inequality but of unity. Yes, they are diffferent and yes there is order, but they are the one substance.

Yet, Paul in 1Cor 11:7 takes the Psalm 8 “man … crowned with glory” and expands it in terms of Gen 1 “woman out of man” to say that man (male) is the glory of God and woman is the glory of man.

I think Paul in 1Cor 11:7 when he says “man is the image of God” actually means what he says that man/male is the image of God. But, equally what he means by “man is the glory of God” and “woman is the glory of man” is that man/Adam/male could not have been the image of God without the creation of woman “out of” him. Paul’s 1 Cor11:7 “man is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man” is in effect a comment on Gen 2 “it is not good for the man to be alone”. For man/Adam to truly be the image of God required God to make woman out of him (so she is his glory). Man/Adam is the image of God BUT not without the creation of woman out of Him. So, she is his glory. They are in it together, just as we see pictured in the dominion of man/mankind in Psalm 8. Paul does not argue for egalitarianism, rather he argues for created order and the unity of interdependence. It is the same ideas that we use to explain the Trintity. Man and woman are the one substance, but are each persons. Egalitarianism misunderstands and misrepresents God’s creation and it is not what God has recreated us to be “in the Lord”.

However, as always, as I put forward my understanding of this passage and Gen 1&2, I value your hard questions, and I am opten to the possibility that through them I may have to recant my interpretations.
It is why I have written on this forum, to have you ask me these questions.

Just a further comment on what I said [In my original plan, this typye of content was going to be about instalment 8 or 10 when I got on to Genesis 1&2 from analysing 1 Cor 11:2-16, however, here it is now]

Paul’s 1 Cor11:7 “man is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man” is in effect a comment on Gen 2 “it is not good for the man to be alone”. For man/Adam to truly be the image of God required God to make woman out of him (so she is his glory). Man/Adam is the image of God BUT not without the creation of woman out of Him. So, she is his glory. They are in it together, just as we see pictured in the dominion of man/mankind in Psalm 8.

As I reflect on what I just said and on “man is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man” I think Paul is commentating on and explaining in terms of “image” and “glory” the 2 stage process on Genesis 2 of the creation of Adam from a piece of dust and then the building of Eve out of him. "“Man is the …glory of God” is the creation of Adam out of the piece of dust. And, “woman is the glory of man” is the building of Eve out of Adam. The whole process is God making Adam the image of God “man is the image of God”. It is Adam who God created from dust. Eve is not created from dust. She is not a separate creature to Adam, rather, she is part of him. She is not one of the animals. She was not found among the animals as if she had been created from a separate piece of dust to Adam. (If she had been found among the animals then she would have been an animal, created from a separate piece of dust to Adam). I really do think Paul is saying “man is the image of God”. And the way he becomes the image of God and not just the glory of God is by God building Eve out of him. As I said previoiusly, from the same substance as him, yet at the same time a differentiated person. Without Eve being created out of him, Adam would not be the image of God. She is essential to him, beng the image of God. But, Paul and the OT never describe woman as the image of God. I think that is because if she is by herself, independently, the image of God, then that implies that Adam and Eve are separate creations, each created from a separate piece of dust. And Paul takes this stance further and never even describes Eve/woman as being the glory of God, for this too would imply that she is a separate creation, a separate creature. Rather, Eve is made out of Adam, which then makes Adam more than just the glory of God, it makes him the image of God. Thus, if we go back into Genesis 1, we have the seemingly nonsensical and confusing mixing up of the singulars and plurals in regard to both God and man. (I will go into more detail in a later instalment how Gen 1 & 2 fit together, and the place of the singulars and plurals). Adam is singular, the one creation, but in Genesis 2 he becomes plural/dual/two yet still one Adam. It is the same conundrum we face in understanding the Trinity. For Adam is made in the image of God, one Adam yet also 2 persons. One piece of dust, one image of God, yet 2 persons. Adam/man is the image of God. Adam/man is the glory of God PLUS woman is the glory of man/Adam = Adam/man is the image of God.

Further thoughts on Jason’s helpful comment where he says

Particularly, when he says “looking for some code of parallelism, not because you have a textual warrant for doing so”.

IF we read this (or any) passage and instantly recognised it as let’s say “poetry”. Would that be “looking for some code”? Yes, it would be. It would be finding some code. It would be finding the type of literature that the author has used and in that sense it would be a key to better understanding of what we are reading.
I am arguing that the parallelism is inherent in the type of literary construction that Paul is using in his main head-covering argument.
In English, we have punctuation marks and other indicators (e.g. capitals) to tell us what parts go where and in which sentence. In greek, we have to look for other indicators. I am arguing that the parallelism that Paul clearly is using, is one of these indicators. I am arguing it is a device that he uses to convey his meaning and to structure his whole complete discussion around.
Above, I used the example of poetry. Now, I am not saying Paul is necessarily using poetry here in the main argument, but there are affinities in what he does - repetition, parallelism etc …
Usually, poetic and literary devices are much more evident in the original language. Something that is obvious to a native reader, may be totally obscured in a translation. So, it may take some effort to recognise them.
In fact, recognising the parallelism in his main head-covering argument, and recognising its boundaries, is very helpful in working out what other types of literature or information he is using in the whole passage.
In another article, I point to 4 types of literature/information that Paul is using.
Main head-covering argument (which uses parallelism)
Underlying theological argument (s)
Background practical information.

Seeing where the parallelism in the head-covering argument begins and ends is very helpful for delineating these 4 types of literature/information, and so for getting a better understanding of what Paul is saying in each and how the 4 types all fit together in his overall argument.

If we mix up information from one type of literature/information with another then we are going to misunderstand what Paul is saying. And we will most likely, give undue weight and emphasis to something that Paul does not. e.g. treating his comments about long hair on man or bald heads on women as theology or law. Conversely, we may not give enough weight to his underlying theology (e.g. man is the image and glory of God …) or his main head-covering argument (man ought not … woman ought to).

Hi Neil,

I’m not able to respond to everything you’ve said, as your writing is more prolific than I am able to keep up with. :slight_smile: But I did want to circle back to the main responses you wrote to me.

First, I am thankful for the humility you demonstrate in acknowledging that your suggested reading of the text is novel. I hope you’ll agree with me that when we dig into the Scriptures, our goal is not to discover something that’s never been discovered before, but rather to understand the faith that has been once for all delivered (Jude 1:3). In other words, we’re trying to rediscover something that our forefathers in the faith plainly saw, but is merely veiled to us in our present day due to the poor teaching we’ve inherited from our own fathers, and sinful presuppositions we bring to our dealing with the word of God.

One of the hermeneutical principles I am committed to – which I hope we all share on this forum – is the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture. We believe that Scripture is more or less clear. To be sure, there is work to be done to understand it, but we don’t believe God is hiding anything from us. The purpose of his word is to reveal himself to us, not to keep himself hidden. I believe that everything God would have for us to understand in his word will be fairly plainly understandable at the end of the day.

Do you remember the Where’s Wally books? Where the character was hidden in a chaotic picture filled with people and objects, and you had to find him? Or the Look And Find books, where you had to find objects hiding in plain sight in some scene? I remember as a kid spending a great deal of time staring at a picture, trying unsuccessfully to find something. The longer you stared at the page, the more tunnel-visioned you’d become. You start to wonder if there’s something wrong with the page. Maybe the publisher made a mistake? Maybe it’s really not there. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.

Eventually, you realize that spending more time staring at the page isn’t going to get you anywhere, because you’re only seeing the same things you’ve always seen, and it’s just maddening. But then when you have the presence of mind to simply step away for awhile and come back, you spot the thing immediately. All it took was a little distance, and a reminder that the darn thing was always simpler than you were making it out to be.

I think this is the case with a number of truths in Scripture. The Bible has always been fairly plain. The issue isn’t that the truth is hard to find. The issue is that something has made us dull of seeing what’s plainly there.

Yes, there are times where we need to dig. There are times when comparing English translations and returning to the Textus Receptus and the Septuagint are valuable and necessary. But the point stands that God isn’t hiding himself from us. His word is given to us to be understood by man, woman, and child, with the help and instruction of faithful pastors and teachers to feed God’s sheep and give the people the sense (Nehemiah 8:8).

Perhaps you’ve written so prolifically and thought so exhaustively on this that the time has come to come up for air? I think you’ve already discovered that our church fathers all saw the sense of this text pretty darn plainly, and our fathers and mothers in the faith observed the practice. Our striving should be to see what they saw, with the confidence that God has been leading his church in truth for 2,000 years, and we don’t need to see anything novel.

I’ll mention one last thing. You mentioned above:

I don’t know which commentators you are referring to, but might I encourage you to throw them out? If we can’t trust the apostles to rightly unfold the Old Testament to us, then we have far bigger problems than head coverings. :slight_smile:

God bless.


Jason, thanks for your words. I won’t reply to specifics. I would still value any further comments and questions you have to my posts on this topic. It makes me think further and more carefully about this.
Yours in Christ Jesus the Lord.