History of Church Practices

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Nick Steffen | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Mar 27 2018 5:06 PM

What texts would you recommend that track the history of church practices through the ages? For example, if I want to learn more about women's head coverings through the ages, where would you recommend I look?

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Doc B | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 27 2018 8:29 PM

If you want Logos-only resources, the list won't be as long. If paper is fine, I recommend Nick Needham's four-book history series called '2000 Years of Christ's Power.' He makes a lot of comments on practices and how theology was played out in church life.

I'm not as familiar with Logos resources of this type, but I know Gregg Allison's Historical Theology is available in Logos, and I've appreciated his work in the past (having that volume in both hardback and Logos).

With all the ancient literature available in Logos, and assuming you have a large library to access it, I'm sure searches could be contrived to find references to things like women's head coverings and similar topics. My library is relatively small (less than 2K volumes) and I don't play the LN game, so I don't have access to some of these ancient writings nor the feature sets that use them. So I can't help much with the searches.

My thanks to the various MVPs. Without them Logos would have died early. They were the only real help available.

Faithlife Corp. owes the MVPs free resources for life.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 27 2018 11:09 PM

Nick Steffen:
For example, if I want to learn more about women's head coverings through the ages, where would you recommend I look?

You are looking at praxis here - it sits on the boundary of cultural practices and liturgical practices. You'll need to search liturgical history resources to get solid answers. For this particular question, I'm still looking for a particular post but:

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Nick Steffen | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 29 2018 12:34 PM

Thanks for the suggestions! I'll dig in and see what I can find. 

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 29 2018 12:57 PM

MJ. Smith:
You are looking at praxis here - it sits on the boundary of cultural practices and liturgical practices.

An article search idea is: (field search is usable in application and Web Apps)

([field heading,largetext] praxis OR (head NEAR covering))

Keep Smiling Smile

Posts 426
Nick Steffen | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 29 2018 1:42 PM

Thanks, Keep Smiling. I will try that search. 

Also, does anyone know if Janz's People's History of Christianity would have relevant material for this?

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 29 2018 3:23 PM

Nick Steffen:
Also, does anyone know if Janz's People's History of Christianity would have relevant material for this?

Search for praxis found two chapters:

Keep Smiling Smile

Posts 426
Nick Steffen | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 29 2018 6:36 PM

Thanks! Did you see any related mention of headcoverings or veils?

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Gao Lu | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 29 2018 7:06 PM

This book has some recommendations:

https://www.amazon.com/Glories-Seen-Unseen-Study-Covering/dp/0979538726 

I don't think Logos has it yet.

Posts 426
Nick Steffen | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 29 2018 7:19 PM

Most discussion of the covering I have found relates to the exegesis of Paul, theological reflection on headship, and the cultural context of Second Temple Judaism. As MJ explained (better than I), I'm looking for data relating how this practice was (or was not) lived out within the context of the church, throughout history. Insofar as the People's History of Christianity looked at the way Christianity was actually lived out, it seemed like a real possibility. And I am impressed with the selections Keep Smiling shared. But I'm still hoping that an historian focused on Christian praxis has done some solid work in this area. 

Posts 426
Nick Steffen | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 29 2018 7:40 PM

Here is a passage from C Henry Smith's The Mennonite of America on the topic (emphasis mine): 

'Prayer Head-covering

Another religious custom which is now confined almost exclusively to the Dunkards and the Mennonites is the wearing of the prayer head covering among the women of the church. The practice of wearing a covering of some sort on the head during religious worship was common among the Anabaptists, and if one may judge from the portraits of the women of past generations it was not unusual among later Protestant denominations. This covering which at first was perhaps some sort of veil finally developed into a small cap made of light material and just large enough to cover the head. The custom is common among most of the branches of the American Mennonite church, but has been discarded by the General Conference Mennonites and other of the more liberal elements of the denomination.'

I also know that some Catholics would wear chapel veils, but this is an interesting example of a particular group that was wearing "a small cap made of light material and just large enough to cover the head" in the early 20th century. 

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 29 2018 8:17 PM

Nick Steffen:

Thanks! Did you see any related mention of headcoverings or veils?

Keep Smiling Smile

Posts 426
Nick Steffen | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 29 2018 8:29 PM

Thanks, Keep Smiling!

Posts 538
Stephen Steele | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 30 2018 2:29 PM

Here is a summary of lots of Reformation and Post-Reformation teaching on headcoverings - you can use Logos to chase up the references.

I've recently done an historical study on this myself and the most helpful thing was just looking up commentaries on 1 Corinthians 11. If you look at commentaries from a range of centuries they will give you an insight into what the practice was at that time. For example, Matthew Henry's commentary states that the practice in his day was the opposite of what it was in Corinth (he saw headcoverings as cultural).

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Gao Lu | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 30 2018 3:04 PM

Logos sells this quality resource from ECF:

Bercot, D. W. (Ed.). (1998). Veil. In A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs: A Reference Guide to More than 700 Topics Discussed by the Early Church Fathers (pp. 666–668). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

I think that a little digging will dredge up a lot.  For example, here is this from Wikipedia to which MJ linked above:

Among the Protestant reformers, Martin Luther encouraged wives to wear a veil in public worship16 and John Knox and John Calvin both called for women to wear headcoverings in public worship.17 18 19 Other commentators who have advocated headcovering during public worship include John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, A. R. Fausset, A. T. Robertson, Harry A. Ironside20 and Charles Caldwell Ryrie.21 In fact, until the 20th century no Reformed theologian taught against head coverings for women in public worship.

This could be a resource from which to find what such men wrote on the topic.

Posts 538
Stephen Steele | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 30 2018 4:00 PM

Gao Lu:

 Other commentators who have advocated headcovering during public worship include John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, A. R. Fausset, A. T. Robertson, Harry A. Ironside20 and Charles Caldwell Ryrie.21 In fact, until the 20th century no Reformed theologian taught against head coverings for women in public worship.

This could be a resource from which to find what such men wrote on the topic

Yes I would encourage you to find out what they really wrote, because many of the men listed there actually taught that headcoverings were cultural!

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 30 2018 4:53 PM

1992 Anchor Yale Dictionary has Dress and Ornamentation article.

2000 Dictionary of New Testament Background has Head Covering article

2004 The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions has Women's Head Coverings on page 376

1880 Dictionary of Christian Antiquities has Head, Covering of the article, which includes Tertullian reference

1993 Dictionary of Paul and His Letters has Man and Woman article

The New Testament and the People of God by N.T. Wright includes Praxis in a couple chapters:

Keep Smiling Smile

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 30 2018 7:31 PM

Nick Steffen:

For example, if I want to learn more about women's head coverings through the ages, where would you recommend I look?

Do check out Tertullian's On the Veiling of Virgins and On the Apparel of Women.

Posts 176
Robert Neely | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 31 2018 8:43 AM

Of course for the original meaning of head covering, you can't beat the discussion in this series of scholarly papers.

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