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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 I praise you because you remember me in
everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.
2 3 But I want you to know
that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and
God the head of Christ.
4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head
covered brings shame upon his head.
But any woman who prays or prophesies with her
head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as
if she had had her head shaved.
For if a woman does not have her head veiled,
she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to
have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil.
5 A man, on the other hand, should not cover his
head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.
For man did not come from woman, but woman from
nor was man created for woman, but woman for
for this reason a woman should have a sign of
authority 6 on her head, because of the angels.
7 Woman is not independent of man or man of
woman in the Lord.
For just as woman came from man, so man is born
of woman; but all things are from God.
8 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman
to pray to God with her head unveiled?
Does not nature itself teach you that if a man
wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him,
whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory,
because long hair has been given (her) for a covering?
But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative,
we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God.
9 In giving this instruction, I do not praise
the fact that your meetings are doing more harm than good.
First of all, I hear that when you meet as a
church there are divisions among you, and to a degree I believe it;
there have to be factions among you in order
that (also) those who are approved among you may become known. 10
When you meet in one place, then, it is not to
eat the Lord's supper,
for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own
supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk.
Do you not have houses in which you can eat and
drink? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and make those who have
nothing feel ashamed? What can I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this matter
I do not praise you.
11 For I received from the Lord what I also
handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took
and, after he had given thanks, broke it and
said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of
In the same way also the cup, after supper,
saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as
you drink it, in remembrance of me."
For as often as you eat this bread and drink
the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the
cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the
A person should examine himself, 13
and so eat the bread and drink the cup.
For anyone who eats and drinks without
discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment 14 on himself.
That is why many among you are ill and infirm,
and a considerable number are dying.
If we discerned ourselves, we would not be
but since we are judged by (the) Lord, we are
being disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
Therefore, my brothers, when you come together
to eat, wait for one another.
If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so
that your meetings may not result in judgment. The other matters I shall set in
order when I come.
[⇒ 11:2-⇒ 14:40] This
section of the letter is devoted to regulation of conduct at the liturgy. The
problems Paul handles have to do with the dress of women in the assembly
(⇒ 1 Cor 11:3-16), improprieties in the celebration
of community meals (⇒ 1 Cor 11:17-34), and the use
of charisms or spiritual gifts (⇒ 1 Cor
12:1-⇒ 14:40). The statement in
⇒ 1 Cor 11:2 introduces all of these discussions,
but applies more appropriately to the second (cf the mention of praise in
⇒ 1 Cor 11:17 and of tradition in
⇒ 1 Cor 11:23).
2 [3-16] Women have been
participating in worship at Corinth without the head-covering normal in Greek
society of the period. Paul's stated goal is to bring them back into conformity
with contemporary practice and propriety. In his desire to convince, he reaches
for arguments from a variety of sources, though he has space to develop them
only sketchily and is perhaps aware that they differ greatly in persuasiveness.
3  A husband the head of his wife:
the specific problem suggests to Paul the model of the head as a device for
clarifying relations within a hierarchical structure. The model is similar to
that developed later in greater detail and nuance in ⇒ Eph
5:21-33. It is a hybrid model, for it grafts onto a strictly
theological scale of existence (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 3:21-23)
the hierarchy of sociosexual relations prevalent in the ancient world: men,
dominant, reflect the active function of Christ in relation to his church;
women, submissive, reflect the passive role of the church with respect to its
savior. This gives us the functional scale: God, Christ, man, woman.
4 [4-6] From man's direct relation to
Christ, Paul infers that his head should not be covered. But woman, related not
directly to Christ on the scale but to her husband, requires a covering as a
sign of that relationship. Shameful . . . to have her hair cut off: certain
less honored classes in society, such as lesbians and prostitutes, are thought
to have worn their hair close-cropped.
5 [7-9] The hierarchy of v 3 is now
expressed in other metaphors: the image (eikon) and the reflected glory (doxa).
Paul is alluding basically to the text of ⇒ Genesis
1:27, in which mankind as a whole, the male-female couple, is created
in God's image and given the command to multiply and together dominate the
lower creation. But ⇒ Genesis 1:24 is interpreted
here in the light of the second creation narrative in Genesis 2 in which each
of the sexes is created separately (first the man and then the woman from man
and for him, to be his helpmate, ⇒ Genesis 2:20-23),
and under the influence of the story of the fall, as a result of which the
husband rules over the woman (⇒ Genesis 3:16). This
interpretation splits the single image of God into two, at different degrees of
6  A sign of authority:
"authority" (exousia) may possibly be due to mistranslation of an
Aramaic word for "veil"; in any case, the connection with
⇒ 1 Cor 11:9 indicates that the covering is a sign
of woman's subordination. Because of the angels: a surprising additional
reason, which the context does not clarify. Presumably the reference is to
cosmic powers who might inflict harm on women or whose function is to watch
over women or the cult.
7 [11-12] These parenthetical remarks
relativize the argument from Genesis 2-3. In the Lord: in the Christian economy
the relation between the sexes is characterized by a mutual dependence, which
is not further specified. And even in the natural order conditions have
changed: the mode of origin described in Genesis 2 has been reversed
(⇒ 1 Cor 11:12a). But the ultimately significant
fact is the origin that all things have in common (⇒ 1 Cor
8 [13-16] The argument for conformity
to common church practice is summed up and pressed home. ⇒ 1
Cor 11:14-15 contain a final appeal to the sense of propriety that
contemporary Greek society would consider "natural" (cf
⇒ 1 Cor 11:5-6).
9 [17-34] Paul turns to another abuse
connected with the liturgy, and a more serious one, for it involves neglect of
basic Christian tradition concerning the meaning of the Lord's Supper. Paul
recalls that tradition for them and reminds them of its implications.
10  That . . . those who are
approved among you may become known: Paul situates their divisions within the
context of the eschatological separation of the authentic from the inauthentic
and the final revelation of the difference. The notion of authenticity-testing
recurs in the injunction to self-examination in view of present and future
judgment (⇒ 1 Cor 11:28-32).
11 [23-25] This is the earliest
written account of the institution of the Lord's Supper in the New Testament.
The narrative emphasizes Jesus' action of self-giving (expressed in the words
over the bread and the cup) and his double command to repeat his own action.
12  It follows that the only
proper way to celebrate the Eucharist is one that corresponds to Jesus'
intention, which fits with the meaning of his command to reproduce his action
in the proper spirit. If the Corinthians eat and drink unworthily, i.e.,
without having grasped and internalized the meaning of his death for them, they
will have to answer for the body and blood, i.e., will be guilty of a sin
against the Lord himself (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 8:12).
13  Examine himself: the Greek
word is similar to that for "approved" in ⇒ 1 Cor
11:19, which means "having been tested and found true." The
self-testing required for proper eating involves discerning the body
(⇒ 1 Cor 11:29), which, from the context, must
mean understanding the sense of Jesus' death (⇒ 1 Cor
11:26), perceiving the imperative to unity that follows from the fact
that Jesus gives himself to all and requires us to repeat his sacrifice in the
same spirit (⇒ 1 Cor 11:18-25).
14 [29-32] Judgment: there is a series
of wordplays in these verses that would be awkward to translate literally into
English; it includes all the references to judgment (krima,
⇒ 1 Cor 11:29, ⇒ 34;
krino, ⇒ 1 Cor 11:31, ⇒ 32)
discernment (diakrino, ⇒ 1 Cor 11:29,
⇒ 31), and condemnation (katakrino,
⇒ 1 Cor 11:32). The judgment is concretely
described as the illness, infirmity, and death that have visited the community.
These are signs that the power of Jesus' death is not yet completely recognized
and experienced. Yet even the judgment incurred is an expression of God's
concern; it is a medicinal measure meant to rescue us from condemnation with
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