"Slavery and the Gendered Construction of Head-Coverings in 1 Corinthians," Biblica 101.3 (2020): 431-443.
"A fascinating treatment, totally revolutionizing our reading of this passage." - Alistair C. Stewart
Biblical Mind interview with Dru Johnson: Here
Summary by Michael Bird: Here
Paul’s prescription of veiling practices at Corinth interfaced with Roman customs at the Roman colony. In the early imperial Roman view, clothing and grooming displayed one’s place in the socioeconomic hierarchy, both by custom and by fiat. Roman interest in hair exemplified the artifice the Romans created in order to separate civilization from the natural, Roman society from the barbaric. As part of maintaining a militaristic appearance, Roman men during the late Republic and early imperial period visited commercial barbering establishments daily. For women, ornate hairstyles indicated extreme wealth. Veiled heads signaled power over one’s own head, that is, not being enslaved and ranked among the foreigners captured in war in the social hierarchy. Only high-status individuals — male priests, female priests, elite women capable of being married, and so forth — wore veils. Elite satires make the abnormality of a slave woman receiving the honor of a marriage veil quite clear. Therefore, I argue that Paul gave the Corinthian Christian women status when he gave them veils, and he denied the social construction of the Roman Empire by refusing head-coverings for men. As the Corinthian Christians are participating in outside social events, they cannot completely extricate themselves from outside social values, as we see in the desire of the “strong” to partake of food sacrificed to idols at banquets. Paul encourages the Corinthians to cohere along gender lines in order to lessen their attachments to factions based on socioeconomic status or ritual (that is, baptism).