women and angels (Re:Veils)

From: Shaughn Daniel (shaughn.daniel@student.uni-tuebingen.de)
Date: Sun Apr 21 1996 - 07:10:13 EDT

Walt Wagner wrote (wagner@enter.net):

> ... Testament of Reuben. He says women seduced the angels, ...

That would mean that we are to connect the dots from T.Reub. with 1Co
11.10, yes? "...and because of the angels...." What are the Greek words
used in the phrase "seducing the angels"? Paul only has DIA TOUS AGGELOUS
and the NA27 points us to Gn 6.2 (LXX A = AGGELOI in place of hUIOI) and
LXX Ps 137.1 (ENANTION AGGELWN FALW SOI). Hints of women in Gn to later
develop in hellenistic times into some Jewish wisdom and/or household
traditions, but none in Ps to my knowledge.

Friedrich Lang has a nice discussion of this passage (7 NTD 1994:136-147).
Lietzmann and Conzelmann put forth the idea that a widely held
interpretation of Gn 6.1-4 found the head covering of the woman as a means
of defensive protection-power against the evil angels (Kopfbedeckung der
Frau als abwehrende Schutzmacht gegen die boesen Engel). In more words, the
proper alignment of authority (God->Man->Woman) brought on the protection
of a guardian angel; well, at least, according to the traditional
interpretation of Jewish-Christian theologizing on angels.

More important source material would be found in Isaiah 6 and 1QSa 2.5-9
and the Jewish idea that angels surround God's presence; hence, Paul, with
his Christology, would understand the sphere of "in Christ" as naturally
including being in the presence of angelic beings. Improperly "aligned"
(and please don't take that term too literally as with some gnostic texts)
praying and prophesying was subject to harm/influence by evil angels. One
could probably go on to some kind of tripod alignment theory among the
Greek priests and sibyls, seeing that they were quite concerned with
astrology and measuring things and such (Greek knowledge greatly enhanced
by Egyptian religion, of course).

aeth.Henoch 15.12: "Und diese Geister werden sich erheben gegen die
Menschenkinder und die Frauen, weil sie (von ihnen) ausgegangen sind." I
don't have the source text for this and the German doesn't make much sense
without a wider context (those loose pronouns! "sie" and/or "ihnen" could
be the "Frauen" or "Menschenkinder" or both or the "Geister"), but it is
worth looking up for the interested.

All I wish to say to the above is that Paul doesn't explain, or for that
matter, make explicit the tradition(s) behind, the phrase "...and because
of the angels...." So for all practical purposes, one could just as well
presuppose some hellenistic Greek tradition(s) (concerning angels + head
coverings + women + authority and also creation myths) or even fashion &
style found on vases; but, of course, as close as one can get to the
religious cults and practices in Corinth. In other words, what Paul would
have thought about "angels" is not necessarily what the Corinthians would
have thought about "angels." But I can't help but suggest the answer lies
in the rhetoric and traditions of Jewish synagogue preaching (Ac 18.4),
something we still know very little about, seeing that some modern
commentaries remain so enamored with rhetorical criticism from the
standpoint of neo-classical Greek with Latin labels.

But for the argument of the passage as a whole, the phrase "...and because
of the angels..." could be dropped. It's some kind of encrypted thought,
historically interesting, but not elaborated upon to make Paul's argument
any stronger.

Shaughn Daniel
Tuebingen, Germany

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