[B-Greek] Heads in 1 Corinthians 11
cwconrad2 at mac.com
Tue Nov 17 15:26:01 EST 2009
On Nov 17, 2009, at 2:02 PM, Matthew Malcolm wrote:
> 1 Corinthians 11:4: Every man who prays or prophesies KATA KEPHALH ECHWN...
> I recognise that there are loads of questions about this passage, but I'm just wondering about one in particular: Would it be feasible (aside from contextual considerations) to understand this as "against having a head"? - The meaning of the sentence would thus be along the lines of "Every man who prays or prophecies as though having no head [i.e. Christ]..."
> I realise that it's common to understand the phrase as referring to a "covering coming down from the head" - and I'm quite open to such a reading. I'm simply wondering whether this other reading is even possible or whether it can be ruled out on the grounds of grammar or language usage.
Text: 1Cor. 11:4 πᾶς ἀνὴρ προσευχόμενος ἢ προφητεύων κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων καταισχύνει τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ.
[1Cor. 11:4 PAS ANHR PROSEUCOMENOS H PROFHTEUWN KATA KEFALHS ECWN KATAISCUNEI THN KEFALHN AUTOU.]
The phrase is KATA KEFALHS ECWN; there's no way in the world that it could mean "against having a head." KEFALHS construes with the preposition KATA; KATA KEFALHS means "down from the head." The prepositional phrase KATA KEFALHS functions adverbially with the participle ECWN which will mean in this context, "wearing" or "carrying." Frankly I find it difficult to see how anyone insructed in basic Koine Greek could construe these words as meaning "against having a head."
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
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