Greek God and Women's Hair
I am enrolled in a Humanities course at a local college and we have been studying Greco-Roman culture going back to around 600 B.C. to around 300 A.D. I have recently stumbled across some stunning information after doing a little extra-curricular research on my own in regards to the religious practices of that time.
First of all, one must understand that the Epistles were written (contrary to popular belief) to address issues of that day, not with some sort of a timeless view, as the common notion in the early church was that Christ was to return in their lifetimes. They did not expect people 2000 years down the road to be reading the scriptures, so the Epistles focused on the immediate issues of the day. Of course I believe, that the principles taught are indeed timeless, as they are the words of God, but the Epistles (letters) had a very sharp focus on issues pertinent to the immediate needs of the intended audience.
One of the most popular gods of that time was Dionysus, the god of wine. According to myth, Dionysus was male but was raised as a female and also was alleged to be homosexual. His followers were terribly cultic. A number of evil and dark things occurred while worshipping this pagan god. The worshippers would take live animals, rip them limb from limb, and eat the raw meat from the bones while drinking the blood. They would dance in a frenzy, drink to the point of incoherence and participate in wild homosexual orgies.
Here is the fascinating part. His female followers would are you ready? either cut their hair very short (shorn) or shave their heads (shaven), and put on male clothing (often with fake male organs attached) while the male worshippers would grow their hair long and dawn veils. Sound familiar?
Thats not all. A vase discovered depicting the practices of this wicked cult was discovered and on this vase was a woman, equipped with the right parts if you will, with a near shaven head. This vase depicted the standard methods of worship of this god. But the real kicker is where this vase was discovered in Corinth.
Here is a quote from an essay written by Reverend Jimmilea Berryhill, M.A. of The Restoration Foundation. Women sometimes used their worship of Dionysus, the Roman Bacchus, in protest when the "uncovered head and bound hair was to signify both commitment to the strange god of wine and at the same time repudiation of male injustice" (Catherine Clark Kroeger, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March, 1987). In the Dionysiac cult, as well as other Greco-Roman mystery rites, transvestitism was a specific distinction and by the second century A.D. was considered to be indispensable. Veils and long hair were worn by men as a sign of dedication to their god while the women used unveiling and shorn hair.
Furthermore, according to researchers at Abilene Christian University, there have been nearly 80 works of art from both Greek and Roman societies that date from between 800 B.C. to 600 A.D., depicting women worshiping gods with either extremely short or shaved heads.
All this is just confirmation of what a lot of us already knew. The teaching that the Bible is telling women that they cannot so much as trim their hair is light years from what Paul was actually trying teach the Corinthians.
God bless all of you. I hope this will be of benefit.
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August 23, 1997
Page Added April 13, 2002
Copyright © 1997-2015 by Lois E. Gibson
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