The History of Head Coverings – it’s useful but be careful
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The History of Head Coverings – it’s useful but be careful
A few comments about reading up on head covering in Church history.
One of the things people ask about head covering is "What has the church has said down the centuries?"
This is a valuable question, but it is also a tricky one to answer because so much can be lost when quoting them. You can see this in an excellent little book by David Phillips called, Headcovering Throughout Christian History.
David Phillips brings together a whole host of quotes from history to show how consistently head covering has been practiced. It is a very helpful book for that purpose, but if you rely on his book to prove more specific points, you will find the quotes can actually be quite misleading.
A good example is the first quote David gives us from Clement:
 "Woman & man are to go to church decently attired...for this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled."
Clement of Alexandria (Theologian from Alexandria; c.150 - c. 215)

This tells us that head covering was practiced at the time of Clement, and that is what David is trying to show us. 

Now, suppose you are looking for quotes to determine where church people thought head covering was required. If you look at what David has provided, it seems Clement is only requiring covering in the church. However, Clement actually goes on to say that women should cover whenever they leave the house, and not their head only, but their faces as well!
We don't agree with Clement on his added comments. The Bible does not support the extra things he says.  

So, using church history is useful, but it has to be used carefully. Just because it can be used to support one point does not mean the same quote can be used to support another.

As time goes on, we're going to provide some examples of people in Church history who taught about head covering. Hopefully we'll read them carefully enough to tell you what they actually said. But we'll be providing you with links to their writings so you can check, and we suggest you have a Bible nearby, also, because while they all agreed that men must cover their heads and women must uncover their heads when praying or prophesying, there are some differences in the details.

Other Resources.

1. If you're interested, buy David's book, Headcovering Throughout Christian History. It's worth your time.

David Phillips Book

2. Aaron Shafovaloff has set up a website looking at a variety of historical texts about head covering:

3. For the Tweeters among you, Aaron has set up a Twitter account with historical quotes:

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