Some branches of Islam believe that uncovered women’s hair is immodest. I think Greek medical thinking is to blame for burqas!
Citing writings from Aristotle, Euripedes and the disciples of Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” Troy W. Martin of St. Xavier University in Chicago said that Paul reflected the physiology of his time in believing that the hair of adult women “is part of female genitalia.” Martin’s article appears in the spring issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature.
Modern commentators on the First Letter to the Corinthians have often confessed their confusion over exactly what Paul was telling the Greek church to do. Martin contends that is partly because Paul used a sexual euphemism in 1 Corinthians 11:15 for a word translated as “covering.” The word means “testicle” in works by Euripedes and a second-century AD Greek novelist, he said.
Ancient medical views of where semen comes from and where it goes help to explain Paul’s convoluted argument in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, Martin wrote. “Hippocratic authors hold that hair is hollow and grows primarily from either male or female reproductive fluid or semen flowing into it and congealing,” he said. The brain is the place where this fluid is produced or at least stored, they thought. “Since hollow body parts create a vacuum and attract fluid, hair attracts semen,” Martin said.
Martin, a professor of religious studies at the Catholic university, is collaborating on a multivolume work aimed at using ancient medical texts to illuminate passages and concepts in the New Testament.