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Beards

These have been generally characteristic of the Caucasian races. In the Orient in particular it was a sign of male dignity. In the OT the cutting of the corners of the beard was forbidden (Lev. 19:27), and the removal of the beard was a disgrace (2 Sam. 10:4,5). This led in later Judaism to religious prescription for the beard. Since Roman times there have been many arbitrary switches of beard fashions in society in general, from no beards to beards in a multiplicity of styles. For example, rulers such as Louis XIII, Francis I, and Henry VIII were notable trend-setters. These variations in fashion without any other significance were largely reflected in church custom. The painter James Ward (1769-1859), however, gave eighteen scriptural reasons “why man was bound to grow a beard unless he was indifferent as to offending the Creator and good taste,” in his Defence of the Beard. In 1860, “Theologos” produced a book entitled Shaving a breach of the Sabbath and a hindrance to the spread of the Gospel.