What Does “Head” (Kephalē) Mean in Paul’s Letters? Part 1: Introduction 

Preston Sprinkle

Introduction 

On two occasions, the apostle Paul says that man (or a husband) is the “head” of woman (or his wife): 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23. The texts read: 

But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor 11:3 NIV)

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (Eph 5:23 NIV)

Many assume that “head” means “authority over, leader,” which would mean husbands/men occupy a kind of God-given position of authority and leadership over their wives (or women generally, or in the church particularly). But is this what Paul had in mind? 

The meaning of kephalē (“head”) in these passages has been a matter of (oftentimes intense) debate within biblical scholarship for over 70 years.1The reference to 70 years is based on Stephen Bedale’s important article, published in 1954, which sparked our modern debate, “The Meaning of kephalē in the Pauline Epistles,” Journal of Theological Studies 50 (1954): 211-15. And there have literally been thousands of pages published on the topic in articles, book chapters, and peer reviewed scholarly journals. I’ve done my best to comb through many of the best treatments of the topic, and am still working through the material. This post is the first of several that I’m going to publish on the topic in order to air out my current thoughts. 

Please note: I do not yet have a conclusive view of what kephalē means or how the word functions in Paul’s letters. I do have several tentative leanings, but I’m hoping to wash my thoughts in public scrutiny to fine tune and correct my ideas so I can come to a better understand of what Paul meant. 

Also, I personally don’t have a particular view on women in leadership (in the home or in church) yet. These posts are part of my real-time journey, which is a 3-4 year project I’m currently working on, and am still in the middle of. If God desires only men to occupy church positions of leadership—and if a particular meaning of kephalē supports that view—then so be it. And if all positions of leadership are open to men and women, then so be it. I don’t have any pre-determined view of what the text as a whole, or kephalē in particular, must mean. I’m approaching these questions from the position of a curious exegete, not a pastor being paid by a denomination with a stance.

With that in mind, here are some preliminary thoughts before we jump into the ancient literature. 

Preliminary Thoughts 

First, I am going to be as thorough as I can in this blog series, so if you’re looking for a quick and simple answer to the question “what does kephalē mean?”, then this is the wrong place for that. I will try to be a clear, but I also want to err on the side of thoroughness and historical honesty. The next few posts will focus specifically on the meaning of kephalē in the LXX and extra-biblical literature, so that we can get our “head” around what the ancients understood the word to mean. 

Second, I would love your feedback. Truly. I’m more interested in exploring exegetical questions than promoting a certain theological view. So if you have something constructive, thoughtful, and humble to say, then please do post your comment below. Of course, I reserve the right to delete any comment that is snarky or weird or unhelpful, but for those of you who are also curious about the meaning of kephalē (and related issues), I’d love to have you participate in our conversation. (Please don’t be offended if I keep your comment but don’t respond to your question/thought. Time is always an issue.) 

Third, I actually don’t think one’s interpretative conclusions about the meaning of kephalē should determine one’s position on women in local church leadership or in the home. So let me ease the exegetical tension up front. Don’t think that you must interpret kephalē a certain way at risk of losing your egalitarian or complementarian card. I really want to discourage people from having a locked down, airtight theological conclusion about women in leadership to govern their view of what kephalē must mean. (According to one theory rolling around in my head, interpreting kephalē as “authority over, leader” could lend itself to a more egalitarian reading of Eph. 5:21-33. But it’ll take us several posts before we tease this out.)

I’m personally curious about what the apostle Paul—a first-century Jewish Christian living in a male-dominated society much different from a modern western context—meant to say when he wrote: “the husband is the kephalē of the wife” (Eph. 5:23). What we do with the meaning of Paul’s words is our problem, not his. 

Possible Interpretations of Kephale

As for the possible meanings of kephalē when it’s not referring to the literal head of a person, there are three that are most common. For what it’s worth, complementarians almost also take the first view, while egalitarians typically take the second or third views. 

Authority over, ruler 

This is what many people assume kephalē means, since the English term “head” often conveys the idea of “authority over” or “ruler.” The “head of the planning committee” is in some sense in charge of the planning committee. The question, however, is: does the Greek word kephalē carry the same meaning as the English word “head?” Several scholars say “yes,” including (most prolifically) Wayne Grudem,2Wayne Grudem, “Does kephalē (Head) Mean ‘Source’ or ‘Authority Over’ in Greek Literature? A Survey of 2,336 Examples,” Trinity Journal 6 (1985): 38-59; idem., “The Meaning of Kephalē (‘Head’): A Response to Recent Studies,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1991), 425-68; idem., “The Meaning of Kephalē (‘Head’): An Evaluation of New Evidence, Real and Alleged,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44 (March 2001): 25-66. Joseph Fitzmyer,3Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “Another Look at Kephalē in 1 Corinthians 11:3,” New Testament Studies 35 (1989): 503-11; idem., “Kephalē in 1 Corinthians 11:3,” Interpretation 47 (1993): 52-59. James Hurley,4James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1981) and virtually every complementarian scholar who has published on the issue of women in leadership.

Source, origin, beginning 

Several scholars have countered the above interpretation by saying that the Greek word kephalē does not carry the same notion of “authority over, ruler” as the English word “head.” These scholars argue that kephalē is better interpreted as “source” in ancient Greek literature and in the two Pauline passages (1 Cor 11:3 and Eph 5:23). Man/husband is the “source” of woman/wife in light of Eve being created out of Adam in the creation account (Gen 2:18-23; cf. 1 Cor. 11:8-9). 

Several scholars have argued for “source” as the better interpretation of kephalē, including Stephen Bedale,5Bedale, “The Meaning of kephalē,” 211-15. Bedale, however, did not say that “source” excludes all notions of authority Jerome Murphy-O’Connor,6Jerome Murphy O’Connor, “Sex and Logic in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 42 (1980): 482-500; “Interpolations in 1 Corinthians,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 48 (1986): 81-94. Catherine Kroeger,7Catherine C. Kroeger, “The Classical Concept of Head as ‘Source’” in Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, Equal to Serve (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming Revell, 1987), 267-83. and (most prolifically) Phillip Payne.8Philip B. Payne, “Response,” in Mickelsen, Women, Authority and the Bible, 121-124; idem., Man and Woman in ChristThe Bible

Preeminence, prominence, foremost, first, representative 

Proponents of this third view argue that the best interpretation of kephalē is neither “source” nor “authority over,” but something along the lines of preeminence, prominence, foremost, etc. This might sound very close to the first view, but it’s actually different. Something can be prominent, for instance, and not necessarily be in a position of authority. A particular mountain peak can stand out among all other mountains in the range, but this doesn’t mean it’s exercising authority over the other mountains. Certain baseball players like Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, or Clayton Kershaw are prominent among the rest, but this doesn’t mean they are exercising authority over, say, Corbin Carroll, Christian Walker, or Zac Gallen (though I wish they did…sorry, it’s still painful).

Anyway, the most prominent scholars who take this view—though in no way are they exercising authority over other scholars—are Richard Cervin,9Cervin, Richard S. “Does Kephalē Mean ‘Source’ or ‘Authority Over’ in Greek Literature? A Rebuttal,” Trinity Journal 10 (1989): 85-112. Andrew Perrimann,10Andrew C. Perriman, “The Head of a Woman: The Meaning of Kephalē in 1 Cor. 11:3,” Journal of Theological Studies 45 (1994): 602-22. Judith Gundry-Volf,11Judith M. Gundry-Volf, “Gender and Creation in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16: A Study in Paul’s Theological Method,” in Evangelium, Schriftauslegung, Kirche Feschrift für Peter Stuhlmacher, ed. Jostein Ådna, Scott Hafemann, and Otfried Hofius (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997), 151-71. and Anthony Thiselton.12Anthony C.Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000), 803

The Polysemy of Kephalē

It’s important to keep in mind that the above meanings are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A word like kephalē could mean “source” and not “authority” or “prominence,” or it could mean “source” and also “authority,” or it could mean “source, prominence,” and “authority.” Words can be polysemous—capable of more than one meaning at the same time.  

For instance, if I said “the king is the kephalē of his family,” that could mean all three at once. As a father, he’s the “source” of his kids. As king, he’s also quite “prominent.” And as king and father (especially in a male dominated culture), he would also be an “authority” figure exercising “leadership” over his family. 

But if I said, “hey look, there’s the kephalē of the river!” I’m probably only referring to the fact that I’ve found the “source” of the river. (I guess I could also be admiring the prominence of the river’s source, but this sense would need to be supplied from the context.) I certainly would not be referring to any kind of “authority” or leadership abilities that the source of the river is exercising over other rivers and such. 

So, as we consider whether kephalē means “authority, source” or “prominence” in various text, we also need to be asking whether such a meaning excludes other possible meanings or senses as well. For instance, if kephalē does includes some sense of “source” in its usage, we need to ask the question—based on the surrounding context of the word—does this meaning of “source” exclude all notions of authority and leadership

Rhetoric, House-hold Codes, and Other Interpretive Issues 

Aside from determining the (potentially polysemous) meaning of kephalē, there are further issues surrounding what Paul is doing with the word. He could, for instance, be assuming a certain cultural understanding of the word, but then reverse, change, or play with that meaning. In other words, the lexical understanding of kephalē must be put in conversation with Paul’s rhetorical tactics in Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11. It’s possible, for instance, that Paul is “turning kephalē on its head,” as Michelle Lee-Barnwall as argued.13Michelle Lee-Barnwall, “Turning kephale on Its Head: The Rhetoric of Reversal in Eph. 5:21-33,” in Christian Origins and Classical Culture: Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament. Vol. 1 of The New Testament in Its Hellenistic Context, eds. Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts (Leiden: Brill, 2013): 599-614.

We should also pay special attention to how kephalē was understood when ancient writers thought about the literal relationship of the head to the body.14Clinton Arnold’s article has been particularly helpful in this regard: “Jesus Christ: ‘Head’ of the Church (Colossians and Ephesians),” in Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ, eds. Joel B. Green and Max Turner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994): 346-66. There is a lot of material here that often goes unnoticed (or underappreciated) in the debates over kephalē. How did the ancients view the head’s literal relationship to the body? Was the head its authority, source, or simply the preeminent part of the body? The ancient understanding of the head’s literal relationship to the body will help inform possible metaphorical uses drawn from this literal understanding. 

Related to this, how did ancient writers understand kephalē when they utilized it in a head/body metaphor? It was not uncommon for ancient writers, for instance, to describe a military general as kephalē and his military as the body. What function was the general occupying in this metaphor? 

I also think it’s important to note how kephalē is used when it’s describing a person’s relationship to other people, since that brings us closer to the Pauline texts and the question at hand, where the man/husband is described as kephalē in relation to woman/wife. A person’s relationship to other people is more significant than, say, an inaniment object being described as kephalē without relationship to anything around it. 

Lastly, with Ephesians 5 in particular, we have to appreciate how Paul’s household code is interacting with other ancient household codes, and what role kephalē (and the head/body metaphor as a whole) plays in that interaction. 

Future Posts

Since the meaning of kephalē in ancient literature has been hotly disputed, I want to devote some careful attention to this material, beginning with the use of kephalē in the Septuagint (LXX, the Greek translation[s] of the Old Testament). I then want to look at kephalē in extra-biblical Greek literature, the church fathers and early Christian literature, and then bring it back to Paul’s use of the term in 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23. I’m not sure how many posts this will take—several, I suppose—but I do know that I want to spend the next post interacting with the role of kephalē in the LXX. From my vantage point, it certainly does seem like Wayne Grudem and other complementarian scholars have the better understanding here. 


Notes:

  • 1
    The reference to 70 years is based on Stephen Bedale’s important article, published in 1954, which sparked our modern debate, “The Meaning of kephalē in the Pauline Epistles,” Journal of Theological Studies 50 (1954): 211-15.
  • 2
    Wayne Grudem, “Does kephalē (Head) Mean ‘Source’ or ‘Authority Over’ in Greek Literature? A Survey of 2,336 Examples,” Trinity Journal 6 (1985): 38-59; idem., “The Meaning of Kephalē (‘Head’): A Response to Recent Studies,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1991), 425-68; idem., “The Meaning of Kephalē (‘Head’): An Evaluation of New Evidence, Real and Alleged,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44 (March 2001): 25-66.
  • 3
    Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “Another Look at Kephalē in 1 Corinthians 11:3,” New Testament Studies 35 (1989): 503-11; idem., “Kephalē in 1 Corinthians 11:3,” Interpretation 47 (1993): 52-59.
  • 4
    James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1981)
  • 5
    Bedale, “The Meaning of kephalē,” 211-15. Bedale, however, did not say that “source” excludes all notions of authority
  • 6
    Jerome Murphy O’Connor, “Sex and Logic in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 42 (1980): 482-500; “Interpolations in 1 Corinthians,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 48 (1986): 81-94.
  • 7
    Catherine C. Kroeger, “The Classical Concept of Head as ‘Source’” in Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, Equal to Serve (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming Revell, 1987), 267-83.
  • 8
    Philip B. Payne, “Response,” in Mickelsen, Women, Authority and the Bible, 121-124; idem., Man and Woman in ChristThe Bible
  • 9
    Cervin, Richard S. “Does Kephalē Mean ‘Source’ or ‘Authority Over’ in Greek Literature? A Rebuttal,” Trinity Journal 10 (1989): 85-112.
  • 10
    Andrew C. Perriman, “The Head of a Woman: The Meaning of Kephalē in 1 Cor. 11:3,” Journal of Theological Studies 45 (1994): 602-22.
  • 11
    Judith M. Gundry-Volf, “Gender and Creation in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16: A Study in Paul’s Theological Method,” in Evangelium, Schriftauslegung, Kirche Feschrift für Peter Stuhlmacher, ed. Jostein Ådna, Scott Hafemann, and Otfried Hofius (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997), 151-71.
  • 12
    Anthony C.Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000), 803
  • 13
    Michelle Lee-Barnwall, “Turning kephale on Its Head: The Rhetoric of Reversal in Eph. 5:21-33,” in Christian Origins and Classical Culture: Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament. Vol. 1 of The New Testament in Its Hellenistic Context, eds. Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts (Leiden: Brill, 2013): 599-614.
  • 14
    Clinton Arnold’s article has been particularly helpful in this regard: “Jesus Christ: ‘Head’ of the Church (Colossians and Ephesians),” in Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ, eds. Joel B. Green and Max Turner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994): 346-66.

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60 comments on “What Does “Head” (Kephalē) Mean in Paul’s Letters? Part 1: Introduction 

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  1. Brody on

    Love this! Most people I hear teach on these topics make them seem so straight forward and simple.
    I appreciate that you show how complex they really are and give me a slight theological headache in the process. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Kevin Grasso on

    Hi Preston,

    This is Kevin Grasso. Not sure if you recognize my name. Matt Bates mentioned my work on the πίστις Χριστοῦ debate on your podcast (I’m a third-viewer). I’m one of the founders of Biblingo (I believe we are signed up to be at Exiles in Babylon ’24 as a sponsor). I regularly listen to and recommend your podcast to others, so first, thanks for diving into hard topics with honesty, clarity, and humility.

    Anyway, I just wanted to comment on how linguists would understand polysemy (my PhD is in Hebrew from Hebrew University, but I basically lived in the linguistics department there). Polysemy is not really a word being capable of more than one meaning at the same time, but having different possible interpretations at different times. Polysemous words normally do not mean multiple things simultaneously, but they have multiple related senses that the context could activate. Recent work in psycholinguistics suggests that multiple senses being activated simultaneously only occurs when the context is sufficiently ambiguous, but this is normally not the case. The usual case would be one sense is activated, even though there are multiple potential senses for that word.

    So in the example “the king is the kephalē of his family,” it is almost certainly not the case that all three meanings would be activated at once. As soon as you expand the context, we would start to disambiguate. If you said, something like, “The king’s kids come from him. He is the kephalē of his family,” you would have the “source” sense activated, but you would then lose the “prominent” sense and the “authority” sense. That the king is the “source,” “prominent” figure, and “authority” are inferences that we can normally draw about what it means to be a king, but that comes from world knowledge and not from the words. The words will normally give us only one sense at a time. We could draw dozens of other inferences from world knowledge, but we are then getting outside of what the text is telling us.

    This brings up a related issue of metalanguage and what a sense actually is. A complicating factor is that many of the English words we use as our metalanguage are also themselves polysemous, “source” being the most important one here. The examples given for κεφαλή meaning “source” are typically physical, like the source of a river (as you point out). This refers to a location and is a different sense of “source” than what we have when we say something like “the father is the source of the family” (though something like this sounds quite strange to me). The trouble in these discussions is that people will often take the English translation of the Greek word to be a sense and then broaden that “sense” to be the English word itself. In other words, κεφαλή in the source sense means the English word “source”. This, however, broadens the word κεφαλή greatly, since “source” is itself polysemous and has many different interpretive options. Just because the best English equivalent of a Greek word in one context is “source” doesn’t mean that κεφαλή means English “source,” only that one sense of κεφαλή is best approximated by one sense of “source.”

    In all the examples I have seen of κεφαλή meaning “source” (and you have done way more work on this than I have, so feel free to correct me here), it is always some physical location that κεφαλή is referring to, like the source of a river. I would consider such examples irrelevant to the discussion, since we know that that cannot be the sense of the word in any of the debated NT passages. Rather, NT scholars will then take this fact (that κεφαλή is sometimes best translated “source”) and argue for a different sense of “source” for κεφαλή in our passages. In my opinion, this can’t be sustained linguistically. What needs to be shown is that κεφαλή means “source” as it would mean “source” in the relevant NT passages. In what I have seen, this hasn’t really been done.

    Anyway, those are my two cents (or maybe three or four cents) on the issue of polysemy and how it relates to the problem. Of course, the whole issue of polysemy is way more complicated, and there is a vast literature on it in linguistics, but I hope you find some of the above helpful. Personally, I don’t think there is strong evidence for it meaning “source” in the way that some NT scholars have argued for, though like I said, you have looked at way more data on this than I have, so maybe you will convince me with the data you bring up in the blog posts. I did have a brief discussion with Lynn Cohick about this as well on my podcast (The Biblical Languages Podcast) in case you are interested, though it isn’t anywhere close to the depth you are getting into in these posts.

    Thanks again for your work!
    Kevin

    Reply
    • Preston on

      Kevin! What’s up, man! So glad that you chimed in. Honestly, brother, this is the EXACT kind of feedback I’m looking for! The whole reason I’m doing these blog posts is not to proclaim my “ironed out” view, but to invite critical feedback on my “untested thoughts at this point in my journey.” So–Thank you!!

      I’m now very curious to hear your thoughts on how I’m evaluating the use of KEPHALE in the LXX (post #2) and other ancient texts (which will published shortly). I now wonder if I’m being a bit sloppy in how I use the terms “meaning,” “sense,” “refer to,” and the like.

      For what it’s worth, my understanding of polysemy comes from a buddy of mine who has a PhD in rhetorical theory (which included a lot of study of linguistics). He did say that words can actually be polysemous in a single use, though it’s very rare outside of, say, poetry. I THINK he said that words typically have 1 meaning but can have different senses in the same occurrence, but I’d have to go back and read his DM’s he sent me on the topic.

      I’m still having some difficulty understanding exactly what you’re saying (it’s me, not you…your comment is very clear!). For example, if “the king is the head of his family” means, in context, that he is in charge of his family, that he’s the leader, etc. This would also include some “sense” of prominence as well, right? Like, if someone said “kephale means ‘leader’ and NOT ‘prominence’ here,” this doesn’t feel convincing. (A) do you agree? And (B) what is the proper linguistic framing of this? Is it one meaning and multiple senses? Or what?

      Reply
  3. Kevin Grasso on

    Glad you found my initial post at least somewhat helpful! And as an aside, you aren’t the first one to complain about not understanding what I am saying, so the issue probably is with me (or my use of linguistic terminology). So no offense taken for sure! I’ll do my best to try to bring a very technical world and make it intelligible. I read your LXX post and am responding to that as well here. Thanks for carefully considering all the different viewpoints and laying everything out so clearly! It was very helpful to get oriented to what all the major players are claiming.

    If I understand what you are saying in your comment, it sounds different from what you say about polysemy in the post. It is true that words can have two different interpretations in a single use (this is called “zeugma”–Google’s random example is ‘John and his license expired last week’ where we see two senses of ‘expire’ activated at the same time), but that isn’t what polysemy refers to and isn’t really relevant to the conversation (since, as your friend points out, it is quite rare outside of poetry). We can pretty much assume, then, that one sense of κεφαλή is being activated at a time. Because κεφαλή is polysemous, there are different potential senses that are being activated.

    Again assuming I am understanding you correctly here, I think you are confusing possible inferences of a sense with a sense being activated. I know that’s another opaque sentence to those not in the linguistics world, so let me attempt to illustrate this with your discussion on the LXX interpretations (which I have now read):

    “I agree that kephalē refers to capital cites (Damascus, Samaria) in 2 of the 4 occurrences. But the final occurrence of the term does refer to a person, “Remaliah’s son.” Remaliah’s son was Pekah, the king who ruled over the northern kingdom of Israel for 20 years. The fact that a king is called “head” certainly includes some sense of “prominence,” as kings are always going to be prominent. But doesn’t it also suggest some sense of “rulership?” I just don’t see how this sense could be dismissed, unless there’s a desperate need to ensure that kephalē cannot mean “ruler.” Exegetically, it appears to be a very valid reading given the context.”

    Your reasoning for including the “prominent” sense is that “kings are always going to be prominent.” This isn’t really how senses work. In a polysemous word, one sense is going to be activated to the exclusion of others. It is essentially a zero-sum game when it comes to the interpretation of a word in a particular context, i.e. in what sense is chosen. So what you are doing when you say “kings are always going to be prominent” is you are taking a property you know about kings in the real world and you are putting that into the meaning of κεφαλή. You are saying we can infer that there is a meaning of “prominence” in this context because we know kings are prominent. The trouble is that this inference is not a contribution of the word κεφαλή. There are all kinds of other things we know about kings (like they are male), but we should not conclude from that that the word κεφαλή has “male” as a sense. My point is that you need to separate out an inference you can make about an entity in the world from what the words are saying.

    Let me illustrate with a non-controversial example. The word “lunch” is polysemous. It can refer to an event (‘Lunch lasted three hours’), or it can refer to a thing (‘Lunch tasted fantastic’). In normal usage (outside of zeugma), “lunch” will refer to either an event or a thing but not both. When referring to an event, the word “lunch” has certain properties, such as being protracted in time, and when referring to a thing, it has different properties. It seems to me that you are calling these properties of meanings senses. Linguists would call these properties meaning components. So we could say that “lunch” as an event is [+duration] while “lunch” as a thing is [-duration]. These senses are, of course, related, but the meaning components are different. While we know that eating a lunch (“thing” sense) takes place over a period of time, the word “lunch” is not contributing that meaning when we say ‘Lunch tasted fantastic.’ That meaning component is only present when “lunch” is interpreted as an event.

    Bringing this back to κεφαλή, I think the place to begin is clearly distinguishing the different senses. What does it mean to say that κεφαλή means ‘leader’, ‘prominence’, or ‘source?’ In other words, what meaning components distinguish ‘leader’ from the others? Is it exercising authority? What about ‘prominent’ and ‘source’? In other words, we want a way to rule out one meaning over the other. I suggested this when I discussed ‘source’ in the original post. Scholars claiming that κεφαλή means ‘source’ as in the “source of a river” is quite irrelevant, since that sense of ‘source’ in English is [+location]. Certainly, no one claiming that κεφαλή means ‘source’ is claiming that it refers to a location, which just means that that sense of κεφαλή that we translate with English ‘source’ is irrelevant to the discussion (unless other examples are given that do not refer to a location). We can rule that out in Paul because Paul is not saying that the husband is some sort of location of the wife, even though κεφαλή is used to refer to a location of a river. Hope that makes sense.

    Coming back to the last paragraph in your comment, I hope it’s a bit clearer how I would analyze it. In a short discourse like “Someone is always in charge. The king is the head of his family,” I would say that the meaning component found in “in charge” of having social authority leads us to interpret “head” as leader. I would say that it does not mean “prominence” here in that the word “head” is not contributing that meaning. Part of the problem, though, is that we have not given a definition of “prominence,” and since ‘leader’ and ‘prominence’ certainly have overlapping meaning components in English, we would need to do this first (I think this is the cause of much confusion, since again, the English word “prominent” is not the same as the sense of κεφαλή that is best approximated with “prominence”, though the two are often conflated). But let’s say that “prominence” is [-social authority] (which it would be if we define it with your mountain peak example). If that is the case, we would say that “prominence” is not activated here as a sense, since we know that the social authority meaning component is indeed activated. So my simple-ish answer is (A) I think that κεφαλή would have the meaning component of being a social authority in that context, so if “prominence” does not include that component, then that would not be the sense chosen here, and (B) the “proper linguistic framing” would be that we are trying to describe a single word with multiple senses/interpretations, each of which has different meaning components.

    Sorry this is so long. I hope some of it is intelligible. Honestly, it is all way more complicated than this, but hopefully what I said is useful. I’ll be reading the posts as you go along, and I am happy to continue to provide feedback if you think it is useful/helpful to you. Again, I really appreciate you taking the issue seriously and approaching it with humility. Let me know if something doesn’t make sense or you want my thoughts on anything else.

    As an aside, come by our booth at ETS if you are there this year, and we can chat about these things. That would actually be much easier (and my wife would judge me less for spending so much time on this comment)!

    Reply
    • Jonathan Guerrero on

      I read this blog post, read your first comment and Preston’s reply, read the Septuagint blog post, and then read this second comment. I think I follow you, but you said that it is way more complicated than even this! Is there an introduction to linguistics textbook that you could recommend to someone who follows your train of thought but is interested in going a bit deeper?

      Reply
  4. Tim on

    Hey Preston,
    Thanks for this I really appreciate your work. I recently preached through Colossians (Colossians 3 is the sister passage to Ephesians 5). As you mentioned I think the other household codes of that time in comparison really show how radical Paul’s code is. This strays from the meaning of Kephale but I think the whole passage helps us understand the word.
    I really found myself focusing on Paul’s command for the husband to agape love the wife – sacrificial love. It was common that a wife would submit to the husband but uncommon that a husband would be called to sacrifice in love to the wife.
    Also I had to ponder what it means for Christ to be the head of the church. He does not rule with an iron fist but in His upside down kingdom He sacrificially loves and spends His time with the poor and widow with His coronation being on a shameful cross. Headship in the kingdom of God, though authoritative, may more so refer to submissive love.

    I heard Tim Mackie call Ephesians 5 the marriage dance where each spouse is constantly trying to out serve and love one another I thought that was a beautiful picture of biblical marriage. That maybe rather than this passage declaring the husband as the king of the family calling him to a higher standard of sacrifice and love like Christ loves the church.

    Just some thoughts. Cheering you on as you continue to do Gods work

    Reply
  5. Jill on

    Mr. Sprinkle, I am a huge fan of your work. Thank you for taking on such an intriguing subject, and one that is incredibly relevant in today’s world, such as the role of women in society, and that of all people who can be labeled “less than.”

    My question to you, and everyone commenting on this body of work is this…why are we looking at Paul’s interpretation only? I’m wondering why Paul’s interpretation, and that of all academia doesn’t include the actions of Jesus Christ during His three year ministry to define what the New Covenant means for the role of women in the world? Many areas of scripture point out differences between the apostles, and those differences sprung from their preconceived belief systems (their communities or customs of their time) but Jesus Christ changed that when He came to the world. Therefore, why only use Paul’s understanding of what the woman’s role would mean? Why not balance it with how Christ elevated the woman’s role amongst His disciples? I’m not saying that I do not appreciate the PhD level equivocation, because it is fascinating, but to not use Christ’s real world examples that broke the cultural molds of the day seems like an oversight. Christ looked at the academic groups of the day (Pharisees & Sadducee) and made it clear that “man’s” understanding lacked G-D’s insight & knowledge. I like to think of it in terms of an aircraft, yes the cockpit plays a crucial role in flight safety, but so does the wings and tail section. The wings give us lift and thrust, while the tail gives direction. It’s a delicate balancing act where both assist each other, equally important aspects of flight are created, maintained and sustained to a final destination or completion. Let’s acknowledge that G-D created man, and then completed the creation with woman, and neither is more important than the other? Obviously, I am not a theologian or scholar, but I’m humbled to be here to read what the leaders in these fields have to share with us. I look forward to reading more on this fascinating subject. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Margie Grosskreuz on

      Hey Jill,
      I definitely am not a Bible scholar or.theologian either.

      However, I do agree with your taking issue with the fact that Jesus did break the mold. He brought women to a state of being respected and listened to.

      Priscilla (actually named first) in Rom.16:3.and Acts 18) and Aquila were both used mightily in the life of Apollos, since he was only acquainted with the baptism of repentance.
      They basically preached the
      Gospel of Jesus Christ to him.
      I was really surprised when I started a little study on this subject – never noticed it before.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing. ❤️

      Your sister,

      Margie

      Reply
  6. Larry Carter on

    Hi Preston! I’m enjoying your thoughtful treatment of this subject. I wonder if your spelling of ‘inanimate’ is correct towards the end of the article.

    Reply
  7. Philip B. Payne on

    Preston: For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (Eph 5:23 NIV)

    Payne: Unfortunately, Preston chose a translation of Eph 5:23 that conceals Paul’s “emphatic apposition” [A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934), 399] by which Paul explains what he means “head,” namely “savior.” Furthermore, “savior” has no article (“the”) in Greek, and all references to Savior (capitalized) as a title of Christ are in later literature. This and the absence of an article support the translation “savior” instead of “the Savior.”

    In addition, there is serious debate whether to translate ἀνήρ here “husband” or “man.” In every other case when Paul uses ἀνήρ to mean “husband” he includes an article: Romans 7:2 twice, 3 twice; 1 Cor 7:2 three times, 3 twice, 4 twice, 11a, 13b, 14 twice, 16a, 34, 39 twice; 14:35 if by Paul; Gal 4:27; Eph 5:22, 24, 25, 28, 33; Col 3:18, 19; Titus 2:5 or the context makes it unmistakably clear that ἀνήρ means “husband” (Romans 7:3bd, 1 Cor 11:10, 11b, 13a, 16b; 2 Cor 11:2; 1 Tim 3:2, 12; 5:9; Titus 1:6). Furthermore, in the closest parallel, 1 Cor 11:3, ἀνήρ means “man.” This would be the only instance in Ephesians 5 where ἀνήρ means “husband” and does not have an article (“the”). Either “man” or “husband” provides an excellent reason for the submission of a wife to her husband with “head” conveying the well-established meaning “source.” If Paul intended “man,” his argument would parallel his argument with similar wording in 1 Cor 11:3, that because man is the source from whom woman came, woman should respect man by not letting her hair down when praying or prophesying. In Ephesians 5, the argument would be that a woman should submit to her husband in the context of mutual submission because woman should respect man as her source. Correspondingly, as in 1 Cor 11:11–12, a man should submit to his wife in the context of mutual submission because man should respect woman as his source. If, however, ἀνήρ means “husband” here, woman should submit to her husband because he is her source of love, nourishment, protection, shelter, and her children.

    The translation of 1 Cor 11:3 Preston provides also conceals articles in the second and third “head” relationship that should help guide our understanding of these “head” statements. “The man,” is particularly appropriate to indicate Adam, who is called “the man” throughout the MT creation accounts in Genesis, and is referred to five other times in this passage, in verse 12 “the woman was made from the man” (as in the LXX Gen 2:24, ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς) and twice in both verses 8 and 9. Since in the incarnation, Christ came forth from the Godhead, and since ho theos in the second half of 1 Corinthians usually refers to the Godhead, it is probably significant that Paul writes “the Godhead is the head-source of the Christ.” Reinforcing the significance of these articles for the meaning of “head,” most church fathers who comment on 1 Cor 11:3 explain that “head” in all three of its statements means “source.” I cited some of them in a comment on Preston’s post 4 on Early Church Fathers.

    Preston: I’m hoping to wash my thoughts in public scrutiny to fine tune and correct my ideas so I can come to a better understand of what Paul meant.

    Payne: I commend this invitation of public scrutiny and pray that my comments on each post based on fifty years of research on this topic will help all readers come to a better understanding of what Paul meant.

    Preston: I’m approaching these questions from the position of a curious exegete, not a pastor being paid by a denomination with a stance.

    Payne: Since Preston invited me to present the egalitarian position at his 2023 Symposium on Women in Leadership, I was able to see first-hand that many of those attending come from churches that do not permit women ministers or women in offices of church leadership. I hope Preston is not unduly influenced by the financial and social costs he may have to pay if he endorses the egalitarian position as I have. Complementarians have refused me permission to speak and even to ask questions at key conferences. Complementarian editors have repeatedly refused even to submit important articles for peer review. Complementarian editors have refused to let me correct misrepresentations of my work they have published or to publish rejoinders by me. Some, but thankfully not all, complementarians have written many slurs about me and about the egalitarian position. Doug Moo is an exception who invited my input to the NIV revision and shared it with the committee, and as a result the NIV changed its translation of 1 Tim 2:12 from “have authority” to “assume authority.” In contrast, the ESV revision committee chairman refused to let his committee see my research.

    Preston: I actually don’t think one’s interpretative conclusions about the meaning of kephalē should determine one’s position on women in local church leadership or in the home.

    Payne: While this may help encourage people to begin to investigate this question, which is a good thing, one should never assume that what they learn from Scripture will not affect their position on that topic. It should be obvious that if someone concludes from their study that “the husband as head has authority over his wife,” this has huge implications for how we live. I know from personal experience that it has had life and death implications. My father died on Mount Fuji because he believed that he, as head of his wife, did not have to obey his wife’s pleadings not to climb that mountain while a storm was raging. In the day-to-day outworking of marriage, belief that the husband has authority over his wife has wide-ranging toxic implications for both the husband and his wife.

    Preston: I would love your feedback. Truly. I’m more interested in exploring exegetical questions than promoting a certain theological view.

    Payne: Thank you, Preston, for this. It is refreshing.

    Preston: I’m personally curious about what the apostle Paul—a first-century Jewish Christian living in a male-dominated society much different from a modern western context—meant to say when he wrote: “the husband is the kephalē of the wife” (Eph. 5:23). What we do with the meaning of Paul’s words is our problem, not his.

    Payne: But Paul did not write the following capitalized words: “the husband [or man] is THE kephalē of THE wife.” Furthermore, there are serious questions whether andros here means “husband,” as I explained above.

    Preston: As for the possible meanings of kephalē when it’s not referring to the literal head of a person, there are three that are most common.

    Payne: The standard classical Greek dictionary, LSJ (Liddell, Scott, Jones) lists forty-nine figurative meanings for κεφαλή, including various examples meaning source. It does not, however, list authority over, ruler, leader or anything similar as a meaning for κεφαλή. None of its supplements, by Barber, Renehan, and Glare, nor the lexicons by Moulton and Milligan, F. Preisigke, P. Chantraine, or S. C. Woodhouse, nor the twelve additional Greek lexicons cited by Richard Cervin give even one example near Paul’s time where κεφαλή means leader or authority. Nor does LSJ list “preeminence, prominence, foremost, first, representative, or beginning” as meanings for κεφαλή. It does, however list “life, top, apex, and starting point.”

    What Preston states “are most common” meanings of “head” is true only of the first two words he lists for his second meaning: “source, origin.” Any other meaning must be established based on clear metaphorical usage and cannot be assumed. Clear examples will be from native Greek literature, not from translations from other languages, such as Hebrew, which used “head” as a common metaphor for “leader.”

    Preston: Several scholars have argued for “source” as the better interpretation of kephalē, including Stephen Bedale, Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, Catherine Kroeger, and (most prolifically) Phillip Payne.

    Payne: Philip is spelled with one L. The third title in note 8 should be The Bible vs. Biblical Womanhood: How God’s Word Consistently Affirms Gender Equality (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2023, 51–58, 111–124. Also relevant is my, “What about Headship? From Hierarchy to Equality” chapter 7 in Mutual by Design: A Better Model for Christian Marriage (ed. Elizabeth Beyer, CBE, 2017) 141–161, 226¬–232.

    Preston: Words can be polysemous—capable of more than one meaning at the same time.

    Payne: I checked over a dozen dictionaries, and none of them include in the meaning of polysemy “at the same time.” Quite to the contrary, polysemy is defined at https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/polysemy as “the ambiguity of an individual word or phrase that can be used (in different contexts) to express two or more different meanings.”
    Furthermore, all the examples of polysemy I found gave contrasting meaning in different contexts, none in the same context. Here are just a few examples:
    English has many polysemous words. For example, the verb “to get” can mean “procure” (I’ll get the drinks), “become” (she got scared), “understand” (I get it) etc.
    plane meaning “surface” and plane meaning “aircraft.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/polysemy
    a typical English example being the word kind, which can mean type (a different kind of food); quality (a difference of kind rather than degree); goods or services (payment in kind); something similar (respond to the attack in kind); compassionate (a kind gesture); or cordial (kind regards) https://www.oxfordreference.com/display/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100336222

    Normally polysemous words, and metaphors in particular, convey a single meaning, not multiple meanings. When a reader recognizes a metaphorical meaning for a word that fits the context, it is highly unlikely that it would occur to the reader to wonder if that word might have other meanings. The most obvious meaning is simply accepted as the meaning unless it does not fit the context.

    In English, if someone is said to be “the head of his family,” English readers will simply assume that it means “leader,” namely the “person with authority over,” because that meaning has become conventional in English. It does not matter if the person is a king or a peasant. The meaning is the same and does not assume a further meaning (such as prominent).

    Preston: So, as we consider whether kephalē means “authority, source” or “prominence” in various text [sic], we also need to be asking whether such a meaning excludes other possible meanings or senses as well. For instance, if kephalē does includes some sense of “source” in its usage, we need to ask the question—based on the surrounding context of the word—does this meaning of “source” exclude all notions of authority and leadership?

    Payne: Like other people who have already commented, I strongly disagree with Preston’s statement, “we also need to be asking whether such a meaning excludes other possible meanings or senses as well.” Not only is this not necessary. In the overwhelmingly preponderance of cases, it could cause us to posit additional meanings that were not intended by the author or understood the original readers.

    For the same reason, I must disagree with Preston’s statement, “For instance, if kephalē does includes some sense of “source” in its usage, we need to ask the question—based on the surrounding context of the word—does this meaning of “source” exclude all notions of authority and leadership?”

    Preston: We should also pay special attention to how kephalē was understood when ancient writers thought about the literal relationship of the head to the body.

    Payne: The problem with Preston’s application of this is that is that it takes a few references to the literal relationship of the head to the body and ignores a vastly greater corpus of literature regarding the literal relationship of the heart to the body.

    The absence of references to brain (ἐγκέφαλος) in the traditional Pauline corpus and its use of heart (καρδία) fifty-two times for functions now attributed to the brain (for example, 1 Cor 2:9) indicate that the writers of the Pauline corpus, including Paul’s amanuenses, probably did not think of the head as the body’s command center. This undermines a key assumption underlying the view that κεφαλή means “person in rank before” in the Pauline corpus.

    Preston: Related to this, how did ancient writers understand kephalē when they utilized it in a head/body metaphor? It was not uncommon for ancient writers, for instance, to describe a military general as kephalē and his military as the body. What function was the general occupying in this metaphor?

    Payne: Preston twice misuses the word “metaphor” in this paragraph. To describe a military general AS head and his military AS a body is a simile, not a metaphor. It is making a comparison between a general and a physical head and his military with a physical body.

    Preston: the man/husband is described as kephalē in relation to woman/wife

    Payne: It becomes clear in later posts that Preston is assuming that interpersonal “relations” are authority relationships. But “source” relations are no less relations between people. Adam was the source form whom God formed Eve. Woman owes respect to man as her source. Paul also argues the reverse in 1 Cor 11:12, that man owes respect to woman as his source because “every man comes through woman, and all this is from the Godhead.” Similarly, apposition in Col 1:18 explains, he [Christ] is the head (αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλή) of the body, the church, who “is the source (ὅς ἐστιν ἡ ἀρχή [ἡ ἀρχή P46 B 075 and others] ‘origin’ NEB) of the body’s life” (TEV/GNT). See the similar explanations using ὅς ἐστιν in 1:15, [ὅ ἐστιν 27]; and 2:10. Colossians 1:16–17 introduces 1:18: “for in him all things were created … all things were created through him … and in him all things hold together.” This highlights Christ as the creator and source of all things and so prepares readers to understand ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή as “who is the source.” The following, “through the blood of the cross” (1:20) Christ “reconciled [you who were once estranged] in his fleshly body through death” (1:22) further confirms that Christ as head is the active source who gave life to the church. This same meaning of man as “head-source” of woman should be considered in Eph 5:23.

    When a husband provides love, protection, nourishment, shelter, and children to his wife, this, too, is a “source” relation. Similarly, Paul twice describes Christ as the “head” “from whom” the church grows. “[T]he head [κεφαλή], from whom [ἐξ οὗ] the whole body … grows” in Col 2:19 and “the head [κεφαλή], that is, Christ, from whom [ἐξ οὗ] the whole body … grows” in Eph 4:15–16 clearly convey source because these passages teach that it is the head “from whom” the whole body grows. G. W. Dawes argues that “head” in Eph 4:15 is a live metaphor for the “source of the body’s life and growth.”

    Preston: From my vantage point, it certainly does seem like Wayne Grudem and other complementarian scholars have the better understanding here.

    Payne: Unfortunately, Wayne Grudem is not a reliable guide on this issue at all. I will demonstrate this now using a few examples from his publications.

    Wayne Grudem, “Appendix 4: The Meaning of κεφαλή (“Head”): An Evaluation of New Evidence, Real and Alleged,” in Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2004), 552–99, at 590; Grudem, Truth, 206 asserts, “Liddell-Scott was the only Greek-English lexicon that even mentioned the possibility of the meaning ‘source’ for κεφαλή.” “All … lexicons … for ancient Greek, or their editors … give kephalē the meaning ‘person in authority over.’” Neither is true. Preston should have begun his study with an examination of the meanings for κεφαλή identified in secular Greek dictionaries. Preston ignores almost an entire millennium of research by classicists regarding the meaning of kephalē.

    LSJ lists forty-nine figurative meanings for κεφαλή, including various examples meaning source. It does not, however, list leader, authority or anything similar as a meaning for κεφαλή. None of its supplements, by Barber, Renehan, and Glare, nor the lexicons by Moulton and Milligan, F. Preisigke, P. Chantraine, or S. C. Woodhouse, nor the twelve additional Greek lexicons cited by Richard Cervin give even one example near Paul’s time where κεφαλή means leader or authority. Heinrich Schlier’s TDNT 3:674 article states, “[I]n secular usage κεφαλή is not employed for the head of a society. This is first found in the sphere of the Gk. OT.” Apart from New Testament lexicons, the vast majority of Greek lexicons list no meaning related to leader. The only two citations meaning leader I have found in secular Greek lexicons are citations from the fourth century C.E. Henricus van Herwerden cites only Libanius, Orationes 52.18 for “dux” [Lexicon Graecum suppletorium et dialecticum (2 vols.; Leiden: Sijthoff, 1910), 1:797]. E. A. Sophocles cites only, “Headman, the principal. Pachom. 952 A. C”; Pachomius (PG40) wrote ca. 348 C.E. [Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods (from B.C. 146 to A.D. 1100) (Boston: Little, Brown, 1860), 662].

    It is not that these dictionaries never considered the meaning “chief” or “leader.” Liddell and Scott’s seventh and eighth editions identify the meaning chief as Byzantine (p. x). Dhimitrakou Δ. Δημητρακου, Μεγα Λεξικον Ολης της Ελληνικης Γλωσσης (9 vols.; Athens: Oikos Dhimitrakou, 1933–1950), 5:3880 lists the meaning leader as medieval.

    Many lexicons cite κεφαλή meaning source. The ninth-century lexicographer Photius explained κεφαλή in 1 Cor 11:3 as “begetter” [γεννήτωρ] and “originator” [προβολεύς]. The twelfth-century Johannes Zonaras Lexicon, the sixteenth-century lexicons by Petrina, Estienne, and Budé, Tusanus, Gesner and Junius, and later lexicons by Passow, Pape, Schenkl, Woodhouse, Bailly, Bölting, Rost, Feyerabend, Montanari, and Banks list the meaning “source” for κεφαλή. NIDNTT states that in 1 Cor 11:3 “head is probably to be understood not as ‘chief’ or ‘ruler’ but as ‘source’ or ‘origin’.” Most of these lexicons cover the New Testament period.

    Regarding specific passages as well, Grudem is not a reliable guide. Wayne Grudem, “Appendix 1: Does kephalē (“head”) Mean “Source” or “Authority Over” in Greek Literature? A Survey of 2,336 Examples,” in George W. Knight III, The Role Relationship of Men & Women: New Testament Teaching Appendix (Chicago: Moody, 1985), 65, 74 identified his translations as LCL “where available,” but replaced LCL’s “draw their life from the forces in the head,” which conveys “source,” with “which are animated by the powers in the head” and omitted the LCL explicit “source” explanation.

    Wayne Grudem, “Appendix 1: The Meaning of Kephalē (“Head”): A Response to Recent Studies,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem; Wheaton: Crossway, 1991), 443; cf. Wayne Grudem, “Appendix 4: The Meaning of κεφαλή (“Head”): An Evaluation of New Evidence, Real and Alleged,” in Wayne Grudem, Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2004), 595–96 writes that Philo here alludes “to Deuteronomy 28:13” and alleges that “Deuteronomy 28 contains much about the people of Israel ruling over the nations and having the nations serve them if God exalts them to be the ‘head’.” In fact, Deuteronomy 28 MT nowhere mentions Israel’s ruling over the nations or having the nations serve them. In both of these Philo passages, the person called “head” was not in authority over the group identified but is identified as their source, either of life or spiritual life.

    Even though I have provided Grudem with many examples of this, Grudem has repeatedly claimed that “the alleged meaning ‘source without authority’ has still not been supported with any citation of any text in ancient Greek literature.” [Grudem, Truth, pp. 202–4, italics by Grudem; “Response,” pp. 442–3, 454–5, 464–5, “there is no instance of ‘source’ apart from authority”; “Real and Alleged,” pp. 595–96.

    Grudem repeatedly writes about κεφαλή as a metaphor, but never acknowledges that instances of εἰς κεφαλήν may not be metaphors.

    Wayne Grudem, “Appendix 3: Over Fifty Examples of Kephalē (“Head”) Meaning “Authority over/Ruler” in Ancient Literature,” in Truth, 545; and “Survey,” 72–73, writes that κεφαλή in “The head of Damascus is Rasim” (Isa 7:8) means “ruler” here in the “LXX” “used … by the New Testament authors.” [Grudem, “Response,” 428, 438] But the LXX has no κεφαλή … Ῥασείν. Origen (ca. 185–254) added it, as the asterisk symbols (*) in Q and 48 show [Joseph Ziegler, ed., Isaias (3rd ed.; Septuaginta Vetus Testamentum Graecum 14; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1983), 25, 148; Alfred Rahlfs, Septuaginta (2 vols.; Stuttgart: Würtembergische Bibelanstalt, 1949), 2:574.].

    Grudem asserts that heads means “leaders” in 3 Kgdms (1 Kings) 8:1 (Alexandrinus only), “LXX … ‘with all the heads of the tribes.’ (2nd cent. BC)” [Grudem, “Fifty,” 545; https://waynegrudem.com/meaning-of-kephale-after-30-years accessed 22 Oct. 2022; Grudem, “Response,” 441–42]. Again, Origen added it.

    Grudem translates ῥάβδος in 3 Kgdms (1 Kings) 8:1 as “tribe”, a meaning apparently in no Greek lexicon [Grudem, “Fifty,” 545; https://waynegrudem.com/meaning-of-kephale-after-30-years accessed 22 Oct. 2022; Grudem, “Response,” 441–42]. It is irrelevant that מטּה can mean either tribe or staff (BDB 641), because when מטּה means tribe, the LXX translates it φυλή 158 times (HRCS), never elsewhere ῥάβδος. All fifty-one times the LXX translates מטּה ῥάβδος, the meaning staff or rod fits the context.

    Grudem cites four passages from Aquila’s second-century C.E. Greek translation of the MT where κεφαλή means leader [Grudem, “Fifty,” 547]. These, however, are useless for establishing Greek usage since, as Rahlfs states, Aquila “rendered every detail of the sacred Text as precisely as possible into Greek, and he did not shrink from perpetrating the most appalling outrages to the whole essence of the Greek language” [Rahlfs, Septuaginta, 1:XXIV, cf. also XXV–XXVII]. H. B. Swete describes Aquila’s “slavish adherence to the letter” [Swete, Introduction, 325]. Preston wisely did not follow Grudem’s use of Aquila.

    Reply
  8. Jacob Perry on

    Studied RELI and HIST in undergrad, just wrote 30 page exegesis paper on 1. Cor 11:2-16 at Duke Divinity. Excited to follow along.

    Interesting place to be, Duke, as a side B Christian married to a bisexual.

    Reply
  9. Beth on

    Giving three options for the meaning here, I believe we have another option to consider, as expounded in the true 316 project. In this interpretation it simply means head, as in the body part. In this interpretation Paul is making a metaphor where the man is the head, the wife is the body, and they are joined together to make one body in unity. The thrust of the passage is then about unity, not about authority. Check out the true 316 project. I actually find this interpretation quite compelling as it is the simplest explanation (head=head) and the passage all makes sense seen through this lens. I would love to see the idea given more thought, as so often I hear the only options as source or authority. Thanks for your consideration!

    Reply
  10. Pam Sand on

    Some feedback on your podcast episodes around egalitarian vs complementarianism….

    Fascinating to me that you do not consider your evangelical lens a hurdle, as well as being someone that answered to this does not affect frequently saying in your podcast that this is it that big of a deal. As a woman who is called to be a pastor, in a culture that says it is egalitarian, but still struggling to get all that out in leadership and roles at home, I highly recommend interviewing and being open to people who the Complemetarianism system have hurt including creating a level between women and God, power problems, and abuse. (You can’t separate complementarianism from the abuse and oppression it provides a place for.)

    Also telling that you didn’t mention your wife and daughters as people in your life who are impacted by your stance in this. Just surprising.

    I did listen to your podcast episode with Sheila Gregoire and her daughter and was taken aback by your stance and triggers around this, just from your open-mindedness approach to other issues and I am surprised to hear you say you’ve been diving into this for several years already?

    Anyway. Highly appreciate your teaching on gender and the lgbtq community and hope you are able to come to a less biased place as you go through this topic.

    Possibly go back to your standard of not talking theology without a person in front of you…. That is powerful and as a woman it does not feel like you did this here…

    Gal 3:28&29

    Reply

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