1 Cor 11:1012 has some major issues that have rendered many opinions and much discussion. The 2 major ones are in verse 10. a. what is meant by the angels and in particular what is meant by it as a condition for a woman having exousia or a covering on her head AND b. what is meant by “to have exousia on the head”.
In a later post I will propose some “exegetical” solutions to these. However, for now I, more basically, want to raise the issue of the order of the words in most English translations and also the determination of sentences.
I will first quote the ESV of which the NIV is similar
10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
In this translation, the phrase “in the Lord” has been moved from its location in the Greek AND “because of the angels” is part of the sentence that preceeds it.
I propose that we might better understand the passage and its difficult sections by 2 alterations to the ESV.
- Treat “because of the angels” as part of the following sentence.
- Put “in the Lord” back to its original location.
THIS GIVES US
10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head.
11 Nevertheless, because of the angels, woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;
12 for, in the Lord, just as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman.
And all things are from God.
Now verse 10 no longer has the cumbersome double conditional clauses “dia touto” at the beginning of the verse and “dia tous angelous” at the end of it. This leaves us with a much more direct and clearer statement in verse 10, other than understanding what “to have authority on” means which is my topic for another post.
Verse 10 is now the clear and direct and unambigous application ie. the “ought to” of verses 7 to 9.
It also now allows verse 10 to function as an inclusio with verse 7a around verses 7b-9. 7a has the “ought to” statement to the man and v10 now concludes the section with the "ought to "statement to the woman.
V11 now gains “because of the angels”. That is, it gains a reason for its statement “woman is not independent of man, nor man of woman”. As I indicated earlier, in a later topic, I will propose a place to understand “because of the angels”. Bnonn has elsewhere pointed to the dependence of Paul on Psalm 8.
v12 now gains “in the Lord” which is its place in the Greek. This strongly affirms that “woman is made out of man” is an “in the Lord” theology and issue. These issues of the nature of men and women are often assumed to be “secondary” issues and as such are allowed to creep through and destroy many many churches. Leaving “in the Lord” in its rightful place in v12 does not allow this. It is a central issue, it is a gospel issue, it is a kingdom issue, a new creation issue. It is an issue and a way of living that the Lord gave His life for. He has redeemed us to be His holy people, and His people are to live in accordance with “woman is made out of man”. Redemption does not negate or change creation. Rather, redemption leads us to living in accordance with creation. To live in the Lord will always lead us to live as originally created.
- ESV in v10 says “wife” and in vv 10&11 says “woman”. This, at best seems very clumsly translating of the same Greek word.
- v10 the word “symbol” is not in the Greek.