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Chapter IV.—Of the Argument Drawn from 1 Cor. XI. 5–16.
But in so far as it is the custom to argue even from the Scriptures in opposition to truth, there is immediately urged against us the fact that “no mention of virgins is made by the apostle where he is prescribing about the veil, but that ‘women’ only are named; whereas, if he had willed virgins as well to be covered, he would have pronounced concerning ‘virgins’ also together with the ‘women’ named; just as,” says (our opponent), “in that passage where he is treating of marriage,290
But we withal retort the self-same line of argument. For he who knew elsewhere how to make mention of each sex—of virgin I mean, and woman, that is, not-virgin—for distinction’s sake; in these (passages), in which he does not name a virgin, points out (by not making the distinction) community of condition. Otherwise he could here also have marked the difference between virgin and woman, just as elsewhere he says, “Divided is the woman and the virgin.”291
Nor yet, because in that case “divided is both woman and virgin,” will this division exert its patronizing influence in the present case as well, as some will have it. For how many sayings, uttered on another occasion, have no weight—in cases, to wit, where they are not uttered—unless the subject-matter be the same as on the other occasion, so that the one utterance may suffice! But the former case of virgin and woman is widely “divided” from the present question. “Divided,” he says, “is the woman and the virgin.” Why? Inasmuch as “the unmarried,” that is, the virgin, “is anxious about those (things) which are the Lord’s, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit; but the married,” that is, the not-virgin, “is anxious how she may please her husband.” This will be the interpretation of that “division,” having no place in this passage (now under consideration); in which pronouncement is made neither about marriage, nor about the mind and the thought of woman and of virgin, but about the veiling of the head. Of which (veiling) the Holy Spirit, willing that there should be no distinction, willed that by the one name of woman should likewise be understood the virgin; whom, by not specially naming, He has not separated from the woman, and, by not separating, has conjoined to her from whom He has not separated her.
Is it now, then, a “novelty” to use the primary word, and nevertheless to have the other (subordinate divisions) understood in that word, in cases where there is no necessity for individually distinguishing the (various parts of the) universal whole? Naturally, a compendious style of speech is both pleasing and necessary; inasmuch as diffuse speech is both tiresome and vain. So, too, we are content with general words, which comprehend in themselves the understanding of the specialties. Proceed we, then, to the word itself. The word (expressing the) natural (distinction) is female. Of the natural word, the general word is woman. Of the general, again, the special is virgin, or wife, or widow, or whatever other names, even of the successive stages of life, are added hereto. Subject, therefore, the special is to the general (because the general is prior); and the succedent to the antecedent, and the partial to the universal: (each) is implied in the word itself to which it is subject; and is signified in it, because contained in it. Thus neither hand, nor foot, nor any one of the members, requires to be signified when the body is named. And if you say the universe, therein will be both the heaven and the things that are in it,—sun and moon, and constellations and stars,—and the earth and the seas, and everything that goes to make up the list of elements. You will have named all, when you have named that which is made up of all. So, too, by naming woman, he has named whatever is woman’s.