Our buddy St. Beatus of Liebana (or one of his sources, anyway) is talking about the angels of the seven churches, and he seems to think that the “angels” (which grammar has being sent “to the church”, not being “of the church”) are actually a kenning for the bishops of the churches. (And since this would have been before bishops designated priests of separate parishes, and every Christian in town would have been going to the one Mass with the one Bishop, it makes sense to compare their teaching authority and place at the altar to an angel.) This isn’t an unusual interpretation (which shows I wasn’t paying enough attention, apparently).
Not from Beatus… but it also seems that in the olden days in synagogues, the rabbi guy was called “the angel” or “the overseer/bishop”, and the thing he wore over and around his head was often called a “veil”. This is consonant with Christian bishops (and later, priests), who cover their heads at various bits of Mass.
So if Paul tells women in the churches to cover their heads for the sake of the angels, it could be “as a sign of respect for the bishop, who has been sent to you as God’s apostle/ambassador to teach you”, or something along those lines. You would then extend this respect to priests, etc. It would probably be interesting to compare and contrast with what people learning from philosophers and other teachers did, or what women visiting the houses of authority figures did. But it makes a lot of sense to me.
However, the obvious problem is that it’s on account of “angels” in the plural, and that I don’t see anybody else arguing this. So probably I’m all wet. 🙂
My other thought is that since John says Christ gives us the “exousia” (power) to become children of God, and since the angels in Ezekiel and Revelation go around looking for people who have the sign of the Tau sheepmark on their heads, and since being baptized is sort of like being espoused anyway, maybe the “exousian” head covering thing was connected to Baptism.
But in context in 1 Corinthians, the thing seems to be a lot simpler, honestly. The head of the man is Christ and the head of the woman is a man, so men pray with their Christ-head uncovered because it gets them closer to God (even though that’s the opposite of Jewish tradition, because in Christ we hope to see God face to face), but women pray with their man-head covered because otherwise you’d be walking around like a nekkid dude before God. (Jewish tradition isn’t big on praying starkers, as far as I can tell.) And apparently, if you’re a woman with no husband or father or male authority, you do it on account of the bishops, who are like your dads. But again, this may be too simple, because it’s certainly not the way people seem to take it! Probably the simplest way to understand it is that Paul is just trying hard to explain why Christian women still are supposed to pray with head covered, like Jewish women, when Christian men don’t have to wear prayer shawls and head coverings anymore, and that the mystical explanation may just be harder to understand than a simple regulation.
Aeh, well, don’t really care except from a decorum POV, but it’s interesting to poke around these things.