Meaning of κειράσθω in 1 Cor 11.6

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Costeon
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Meaning of κειράσθω in 1 Cor 11.6

Post by Costeon » June 21st, 2018, 11:51 am

In 1 Cor 11.6 Paul says that if I woman is not covered she should κειράσθω, "let her be shorn" as some older translations put it. I have understood the verb that this imperative is based on to mean "to cut the hair short." But recently I have been in a discussion with someone who asserts that it means simply "to cut" at all.

The verb is rare in the NT. As far as I can tell, it appears only twice: (1) in Acts 18.18 when Paul cuts his hair off after completing a vow, and (2) Acts 8.32, which contains a quote from Isaiah about a sheep being silent before its shearer, shearer being a participial form of this verb.

I pointed out that in the only two places it appears in the NT it involves cutting hair (or wool) short, and so we probably should understand the verb this way in 1 Cor 11.6, especially since Paul is placing this kind of cutting alongside "shaving" in the same verse. But he said no because in BDAG the definition given for this verb in the middle voice is simply "to cut one's hair" or something to that effect. I checked my lexicon and sure enough it does say this but only gives 1 Cor 11.6 as evidence for this meaning.

I checked the old Thayer and Abbott-Smith lexicons and both read "cut the hair short" for this verb in the middle and give 1 Cor 11.6 as their evidence for this meaning. Since BDAG only gives this one verse as suport for their definition I don't know why they would say it only means "to cut one's hair" when previous lexicons looked at the same data and said the verb means "to cut the hair short." I looked up where this verb appears in the Septuagint and it seems to me that it means "to cut short" in those contexts.

Can anyone help me understand why BDAG would give the definition as "to cut" when it seems the evidence points to "to cut short"?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Meaning of κειράσθω in 1 Cor 11.6

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 21st, 2018, 1:12 pm

Just a quick moderator note: I have allowed your post through (because it's a really good question), but remember that B-Greek has a "real name" policy. Please contact a moderator in order to have your screen name match your real name. Alternatively, you can set up a signature with your real name.

I'm not sure I have the answer as to why BDAG so defines κείρω, but here is the LSJ:


κείρω, Aeol. κέρρω Choerob.in Theod.1.126, fut. κερῶ Pl.R.471a, Ion. κερέω Il.23.146: aor. ἄκειρα Pi.P.9.37, E.Tr.1173, etc. Ep. ἔκερσα Il.13.546 (ἀπο-, in tmesi), A.Supp.666 (lyr.): pf. κέκαρκα Sammelb.6002 (ii B.C.), (περι-) Luc.Symp.32:—Med., fut. κεροῦμαι E.Tr.1183, (ἀπο-) Pl.Phd.89b: aor. ἐκειράμην Lys.2.60, etc., Ep. ἐκερσάμην Call.Fr.311, A.Pers.953 (lyr.):—Pass., aor. 1 part. κερθείς (v.l. καρθ-) Pi.P.4.82: aor. 2 ἐκάρην [ᾰ] PSI4.368.45 (iii B.C.), subj. κᾰρῇ Hdt.4.127, inf. κᾰρῆναι, part. καρείς, Luc.Sol.6, Plu.Lys.1: pf. inf. κεκάρθαι Hdt.2.36: Att. plpf. ἐκεκάρμην Luc.Lex.5. part. κεκραμένος Schwyzer686 (Pamphylia, iv B.C.), (Cf. Skt. kṛṇá̄ti ‘wound’, Lat. caro: prob. also OE. scieran, Eng. shear.):—cut short, shear, clip, esp. of hair, σοί τε κόμην κερέειν (sc. Σπερχειῷ) Il.23.146, cf. Paus.1.37.3; κ. ἐν χροῒ [τὰς τρίχας] crop it close, Hdt.4.175; ἀλόχων κείραντες ἄθειραν E.Hel.1124 (lyr.):—more freq. in Med., cut off one’s hair or have it cut off, as a sign of mourning (cf. κουρά), τοῦτο .. γέρας οἶον ὀϊζυροῖσι βροτοῖσι, κείρασθαί τε κόμην βαλέειν εʼ ἀπὸ δάκρυ παρειῶν Od.4.198, cf. 24.46, Il.23.46; πολύν σοι βοστρύχων πλόκαμον κεροῦμαι E.Tr.1183; κείρομαι κόμαν Id.Ph.322 (lyr.): abs., cut off one’s hair, κείρασθε, συμπενθήσατʼ Id.HF1390; ἐφʼ οἷς ἡ πόλις ἐπένθησε καὶ ἐκείρατο Aeschin.3.211, etc.; ἄξιον ἦν ἐπὶ τῷδε τῷ τάφῳ κείρασθαι τῇ Ἑλλάδι Lys. l.c.: Com., πρὸς φθεῖρα κείρασθαι to have oneself close shorn, Eub.32:—Pass., κουρᾷ .. πενθίμῳ κεκαρμένος E.Or.458; σύμβολον κ. half-cropped, Hermipp.14; τὰ ῥόδα κ. Pherecr.108.29; also, of the hair, to be cut off, πλόκαμοι κερθέντες Pi.P.4.82; βοστρύχους κεκαρμένους E.El.515.
2. crop a person, σφέας αὐτοὺς καὶ τοὺς ἵππους, in sign of mourning, Hdt.9.24; κεκάρθαι τὰς κεφαλάς to have their heads shorn, Id.2.36; Θρᾳκιστὶ κέκαρμαι Theoc.14.46; v. χρώς I. 2, ἐγκυτί; shear sheep, μάχαιραι κουρίδες, αἷς κείρομεν τὰ πρόβατα καὶ τοὺς ποιμένας Cratin.37; κείρεσθαί (tonderi) μου τὰ πρόβατα, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἀποξύρεσθαι (deglubi) βουλομαι Tiber.ap.D.C.57.10 (cf. infr. 3); τὸ μὲν [καρῆναι] ἐπὶ προβάτων τιθέασι καὶ ἐπὶ ἀτίμου κουρᾶ (cf. Luc.Sol.6), κείρασθαι δὲ ἐπὶ ἀνθρώπων Phryn.292; but τῶν Ἀρψείων ἐπὶ πένθει καρέντων Plu. l.c.; τῷ σε χρὴ δρεπάνοισι καὶ οὐ ψαλίδεσσι καρῆναι AP11.368 (Jul. Antec.).


Liddell, H. G., Scott, R., Jones, H. S., & McKenzie, R. (1996). A Greek-English lexicon (p. 935). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

This citation made me laugh: κείρεσθαί (tonderi) μου τὰ πρόβατα, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἀποξύρεσθαι (deglubi) βουλομαι, "I want my sheep sheared, I don't want them flayed." ἀποξύρω itself is quite rare, and here could simply mean "shave completely" rather than "flay."
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Meaning of κειράσθω in 1 Cor 11.6

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 21st, 2018, 10:15 pm

Costeon wrote:
June 21st, 2018, 11:51 am
Can anyone help me understand why BDAG would give the definition as "to cut" when it seems the evidence points to "to cut short"?
I'm not really seeing much of a difference. When you cut your hair, doesn't it get shorter? I don't read BDAG as suggesting a mere trim.

Is somebody actually arguing based on BDAG that κειράσθω does not mean to cut hair short?
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Meaning of κειράσθω in 1 Cor 11.6

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 22nd, 2018, 8:32 am

Here is BDAG for quick reference:

κείρω fut. 2 sg. κερεῖς Pr 27:25; 1 aor. ἔκειρα; aor. mid. ἐκειράμην. Pass.: 2 aor. inf. καρῆναι (TestJob 9:3); pf. ptc. κεκαρμένος LXX (Hom. et al.; ins, pap, LXX; Jos., Bell. 6, 5; SibOr 3, 359) shear a sheep (Artem. 4, 51 πρόβατον; Babrius 51, 3; Jos., Ant. 6, 297 after 1 Km 25:2; TestJud 12:1) ὁ κείρας (v.l. ὁ κείρων [Aesop, Fab. 212 P.=382 H.]) Ac 8:32; 1 Cl 16:7; B 5:2 (all three after Is 53:7, where both readings are found) the shearer. Mid. cut one’s hair or have one’s hair cut (B-D-F §317; Rob. 809.—X., Hell. 1, 7, 8.) τὴν κεφαλήν have one’s hair cut (as the result of a vow; s. εὐχή 2) Ac 18:18. Abs. (Quint. Smyrn. 3, 686 and 688) 1 Cor 11:6ab.—DELG. M-M.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 538). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

There is a a difference in English between having one's hair cut and having one's hair cut short. I know this, because I just went to the barber, and we had a discussion about it. :lol:
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Meaning of κειράσθω in 1 Cor 11.6

Post by Stephen Carlson » June 23rd, 2018, 2:37 am

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
June 22nd, 2018, 8:32 am
There is a a difference in English between having one's hair cut and having one's hair cut short. I know this, because I just went to the barber, and we had a discussion about it. :lol:
I don’t remember a lot of hair on Fred Danker’s head.
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Costeon
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Re: Meaning of κειράσθω in 1 Cor 11.6

Post by Costeon » June 24th, 2018, 4:49 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
June 21st, 2018, 1:12 pm
Just a quick moderator note: I have allowed your post through (because it's a really good question), but remember that B-Greek has a "real name" policy. Please contact a moderator in order to have your screen name match your real name. Alternatively, you can set up a signature with your real name.
Thank you letting the post through and letting me know about the real name policy. I contacted a moderator and went ahead and put my name in my signature.
I'm not sure I have the answer as to why BDAG so defines κείρω, but here is the LSJ:
Thank you for posting this. Actually, the first lexicon I mentioned to this guy was LSJ. I noted that it was primarily used for classical Greek but also covered the Koine period. He just dismissed LSJ as an inferior resource and said it was irrelevant since it did not agree with the most authoritative NT lexicon, BDAG.

I later noted how Abbott-Smith's and Thayer's agreed with LSJ and all the other evidence I had presented him from the NT and LXX. He said they are obsolete resources and suggested I didn't know what I was talking about for even mentioning Thayer's. I only used Thayer's since it agreed with the other two. The bottom line, BDAG trumps everything.
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Costeon
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Re: Meaning of κειράσθω in 1 Cor 11.6

Post by Costeon » June 24th, 2018, 6:06 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:
June 21st, 2018, 10:15 pm
Is somebody actually arguing based on BDAG that κειράσθω does not mean to cut hair short?
Yes. I have been arguing with someone who is using 1 Cor 11.6 to teach that women cannot ever cut their hair since that would supposedly be a shame to her. εἰ γὰρ οὐ κατακαλύπτεται γυνή, καὶ κειράσθω· εἰ δὲ αἰσχρὸν γυναικὶ τὸ κείρασθαι ἢ ξυρᾶσθαι, κατακαλυπτέσθω.

His entire argument basically rests on what BDAG says about this verb in the middle voice, i.e., "cut one’s hair or have one’s hair cut" and the fact that BDAG gives 1 Cor 11.6 as the example of this meaning. I think he is misunderstanding or misusing BDAG here. BDAG also gives Acts 18.18 as an example of "having one’s hair cut," and since I understand that in Acts 18.18 Paul would have cut his hair off or would have shaved his head after fulfilling his vow, then here we see that BDAG's ambiguous "have one's hair cut" actually means "have one's hair cut off." I also pointed out that the only other place the verb appears in the NT is Acts 8.32, a quote from Isa 53, which refers to a shearer shearing a sheep. So in the NT, we have two examples where the action clearly involves removing hair or wool, and so in 1 Cor 11.6, since Paul also mentions ξυρᾶσθαι, "to shave," it seems likely that Paul is using κείρασθαι as a synonym for this verb, and so we should understand κειράσθω as "let her cut her hair off," not as "let her cut her hair."

He dismissed Acts 18.18 as being a unique situation and not applicable to anything else, and noted that BDAG says that in the "absolute sense" (abs.), it just means to have the hair cut at all. Besides--and this move really surprised me--he said that, even it if did mean to cut off in Paul's case, since it involved a man, it was erroneous for me to apply that to interpreting what the verb might mean for the woman in 1 Cor. 11.6. He mocked my example of Acts 8.32, as if something said about a sheep would apply to a woman. Besides, it is an active participle not an indicative in the middle voice.

Puzzled by all this, I tried to find where this verb appears in the LXX. I found several places, and in the context for all of them it seems to me to involve cutting the hair off in mourning or in light of some calamity. He dismissed it all, again saying, "You're desperate in going to the LXX when all these contexts have nothing to do with the context of 1 Cor 11. You're ignoring BDAG, which says this verb in the middle means only to cut or trim for a woman." (He has also frequently referred to the UBS's Translator's Handbook for 1 Cor, which says about 1 Cor 11.6: "To be shorn, literally "cut-her-hair" in Greek, probably referred to a regular trimming of her hair.")

Micah 1.16 was particularly interesting to me because it contains κείρασθαι and ξυρᾶσθαι right next to each other like 1 Cor 11.6 does--well, in Micah 1.16 they are second person singular aorist middle imperatives. He replied, "You mean this verse that the New English Translation of the Septuagint renders as, 'Shave, and cut your hair for your pampered children.'" I quoted Brenton's version and an interlinear I saw online that both render it as "cut off" or something to that effect, and tried in vain to show how "shave" and "cut your hair" are clearly synonyms, but he dismissed all that and just said that this reputable translation of the LXX agrees with what BDAG says about this verb in 1 Cor 11.6. I put Micah 1.16 forward as an example that refutes his idea that this verb in the middle regarding women means only to cut or trim, because here God's people are represented symbolically as a woman and clearly it involves removing all the hair. "No, NETS says 'cut'--as does BDAG."

I know this argument is all in vain--the guy is not going to change his view--but others are reading the posts and I want to perhaps help them.

It just seems crazy to me for him to base everything on a single definition in BDAG that is supported by only one verse. Though I have noted that other lexicons read "cut off" and that all English translations (besides the CEV and GNT) read "cut off" or "shorn," he just rejects it with, "But the most authoritative lexical resources for NT Greek say 'to cut' at all, so the translators rejected BDAG because of theological biases," and since I only have studied Greek for 4 semesters, he pulled the Authority Card on me, "So you know more than the recognized authorities in Greek NT lexicography?"
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Re: Meaning of κειράσθω in 1 Cor 11.6

Post by Barry Hofstetter » June 27th, 2018, 8:26 pm

Just a few comments.

1) It sounds as though your correspondent has a theological agenda. That always complicates these sorts of discussions.
2) Thayer's really is outdated, mainly because it does not include any of the papyrological evidence. That doesn't mean that it's wrong.
3) BDAG is authoritative and really needs to be taken seriously, but that doesn't mean that it's always right. In this case, BDAG doesn't really seem to assess the data in its entirety.
4) It sounds to me that you have presented your case well. It's now up to people to assess it for themselves.
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Bill Ross
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Re: Meaning of κειράσθω in 1 Cor 11.6

Post by Bill Ross » November 10th, 2018, 1:56 pm

The correspondent might be a "hairetic". :)

This is a verse I never hear brought up in relation to the issue but it seems to provide some background:
mGNT Ezekiel 44:20 καὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς αὐτῶν οὐ ξυρήσονται καὶ τὰς κόμας αὐτῶν οὐ ψιλώσουσιν καλύπτοντες καλύψουσιν τὰς κεφαλὰς αὐτῶν

KJV Ezekiel 44:20 Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads.
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