What’s a Good Word for…

….Christian laywomen wearing headcoverings, in church or elsewhere?

Look, “veiling” is not historically correct (it was the term for nuns joining up!), and today it suggests Islamic women wearing hijabs or burkhas. So even though the term has a big head start, it’s not ideal. (And okay, it’s one of my pet peeves.)

The Vulgate does use “velato” and “velatur” in the broad sense of heads being covered. So I understand why people do it, but I’m still peeved.

In Greek, in 1 Corinthians 11:5, Paul talks about women being “akatakaluptou te kephale,” un-covered-upon the head. “Katakalumma” is a word for a head covering. So I guess you could coin something in English like “catacalyptic,” to mean wearing a hat or head covering. But it’s not pretty.

“Kalumma” is one of the Greek words for a veil, but Paul and the Septuagint use it for Moses’ face veil and for the Temple veil. (Hebrew “masve”.) So not ideal, no.

Same thing with “katapetasma,” which is the Temple veil or curtain. (That’s “paroket” in Hebrew.)

“Radid” is Hebrew for a thin, wide woman’s cloak, so also not what we’re talking about. “Mitpahat” is similar, but without the thinness — Boaz has Ruth turn her cloak into a temporary grain bag, so it’s a good size.

Jerome uses “theristrum” for Tamar’s hooker disguise veil in Genesis 38:14. It’s from the Greek “theristrion,” and what it really is talking about is a light summer garment that covers you just enough to not be naked. So Jerome figured that her hooker outfit was basically wearing a gauzy dress.

Hebrew “saip” seems to be about covering your face rather than your head.

Hebrew “masseka” can mean a mourning veil or a bed coverlet. So we’re talking a big huge cloth that covers your whole body.

In the Byzantine hair-tying prayer noted a few posts ago, the Greek term for a Christian woman who was fully dressed for public view, including a head covering, was literally “fully armed [in the Faith]” — “kathoplismenai.” It also uses a different term for having hair covered: “katakekalummenai.”

Interestingly, there are similar but metaphorical terms: “ana-ke-kalummenos” and “apo-ke-kalummenos,” both meaning “openly, ie, in an uncovered way.” Then, “apokalumma” can mean “a revelation,” because it’s literally “an uncovering, an unveiling.” Hence our word “apocalypse.”

The thing is, though, that when Paul talked about church, he said that women should have “exousia” on their heads. So “exousic” would seem more to the point.

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