When I read this verse for the first time (in the Dutch NBG translation) I was very puzzled about it's meaning. In Dutch it reads something like:
For this cause the woman ought to have a power on the head because of the angels. (1 Corinthians 11 :10)Wow! That sounds heavy. A power on the head... But, what is it, that power that a women apparently ought to have on her head? (In Dutch it sounds just as strange as in English.)
The NIV is a bit more clear:
For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. (1 Corinthians 11 :10 NIV)But there is a problem with this translation. The word sign is not found in the source text! The translators have tried to translate this text in harmony with their interpretation of the relations between men and women. (The equality of men and women is a rather novel idea!)
Therefore, the Greek word for power (exousian) was interpreted as the authority under which the woman is. The meaning of exousia is:
power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleasesThe idea that here we are dealing with someone else's authority (allegedly over the woman) is foreign to the Greek.
The TNIV correctly translates:
It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.In this passage (1 Cor. 11:3-16), willingly used by traditionalists to demonstrate the authority of men over women, the word power (exousia) is only used one time. And in that occasion it is the woman who owns that power. I assume that head in this verse has a literal meaning. (Would it be figurative, then the hierarchy would be the other way around, for as we read in verse 3, her head is the man!) Taken literally this verse could mean that (in principle) the woman can decide for herself what to do with her head (long hair, short hair, bald, veiled...)
Soon we will look at how this fits in the context and what those angels have to do with it.
The original post in Dutch can be found here.