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Early Christian Attitudes towards Beards

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  • St Clement of Alexandria
    • “The hair of the chin showed him to be a man.” St Clement of Alexandria (c.195, E), 2.271
    • “How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!…For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest—a sign of strength and rule.” St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.275
    • “This, then, is the mark of the man, the beard. By this, he is seen to be a man. It is older than Eve. It is the token of the superior nature….It is therefore unholy to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.” St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.276
    • “It is not lawful to pluck out the beard, man’s natural and noble adornment.” St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.277

  • St Cyprian
    • “In their manners, there was no discipline. In men, their beards were defaced.” St Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.438
    • “The beard must not be plucked. ‘You will not deface the figure of your beard’.” (Leviticus 19:27) St. Cyprian, 5.553
  • Lactantius
    • “The nature of the beard contributes in an incredible degree to distinguish the maturity of bodies, or to distinguish the sex, or to contribute to the beauty of manliness and strength.” Lactantius (c. 304–314, W), 7.288
  • Apostolic Constitutions
    • “Men may not destroy the hair of their beards and unnaturally change the form of a man. For the Law says, “You will not deface your beards.” For God the Creator has made this decent for women, but has determined that it is unsuitable for men.” Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c.390, E) 7.392. (1)
  • Augustine of Hippo
    • “There are some details of the body which are there for simply aesthetic reasons, and for no practical purpose—for instance, the nipples on a man’s chest, and the beard on his face, the latter being clearly for a masculine ornament, not for protection. This is shown by the fact that women’s faces are hairless, and since women are the weaker sex, it would surely be more appropriate for them to be given such a protection.” City of God (c. 410) book 22, chapter 24
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