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1 Corinthians 11:6 seems to deal in some way with a head covering.

For if a wife will not cover her head... (ESV)

εἰ γὰρ οὐ κατακαλύπτεται γυνή... (SBL)

The word used for "cover" in this case is κατακαλύπτεται. I am trying to understand the definition of this word through the use of its roots. What does this word mean in the Greek, and is it correctly translated here?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The clause cited in the question does not contain the word "head," this is (properly) inferred in most major English translations from the surrounding context.

The word κατακαλύπτω, simply meaning to "cover" or "veil",1 can reasonably be broken into two roots: κατά + καλύπτω.

καλύπτω means "to cause to be covered in some physical way, cover someone (up)" or "to cause someth[ing] not to be known, hide, conceal, keep secret."2 Combined with the pronoun κατά, which in this usage indicates a "marker of extension or orientation in space or specific area..., of location that is relatively lower, down from someth[ing]."3, which in this instance is the object being covered, i.e. the head, this word clearly indicates that something is covered up or completely covered down from a specified object/location.

Even so, etymology is not the best indicator of the meaning of a word in a given context (although in this case it doesn't matter much).4 What is more important is how the word was used by contemporary writers in the context in which the word was written, and the word was used in extrabiblical literature during the same time period as Paul's writings to refer to young women's head coverings,5 and had also been used in the Septuagint in reference to covering (and uncovering) young women.6

Given the use of the word in Biblical and extrabiblical literature, the translation in the ESV is accurate.

1 William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 517.

2 Ibid., 505.

3 Ibid., 511.

4 As an example, the word 'robot' comes from a Czech word meaning 'forced labor', referring to slavery. Clearly we don't mean that when we use the word today, which is why etymology is not always indicative nor even helpful for determining meaning in context.

5 Hermas, Visions, IV, ii, 1; Ps.-Dicaearchus, p. 144 ln. 16ff F. of the Theban women; and the word is also used in Josephus' Antiquities 7, 254 to refer to a king 'covering himself.'

6 The word refers to the facial covering of a prostitute (specifically, a woman pretending to be a prostitute) in Genesis 38:15 in the LXX. This word is also used in the Apocryphal work of Susanna, v. 32 in the Theodotion.

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Thanks for answering the question that the editors changed it to. However I still need answer to my real need. I feel that this word symbolizes "brings down concealment". Causing the translation to go like this "Now every woman praying or prophesying brings down concealment the head, brings down shame the head of her. One since it's also who same the razor if since not brings down concealment woman also cut off. If now disgraceful woman who cut off or razor bringing down the concealment, a man truly indeed not owed bring down concealment (the head image also glory of God יהוה)." – Decrypted Dec 25 '15 at 21:06
Matt 7:19, John 3:8, Proverbs 25:2 (we are covered by the blood of Christ: death of the word: born of the breath.) – Decrypted Dec 25 '15 at 21:14
The phrase does not mean "brings down concealment" in context here. Using an interlinear or concordance is no substitute to learning the original languages. As for the rest, that would be off topic here unless asked individually (this is not a Christian site - we study the texts in their original historical, linguistic, and literary contexts). – Dan Dec 26 '15 at 0:59
"Roots", or etymology, is not an accurate indicator of meaning in context. Take the word "butterfly" as an example. It is not an airborne dairy product, as its etymology might suggest. Etymology has little to no correlation to the meaning of a word in a specific context (in any language). – Dan Dec 26 '15 at 1:02
By that same logic why is katacovering meaning covering? Butterfly does not mean fly. – Decrypted Dec 26 '15 at 3:44

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