Should kephale be translated "leader"?
(Headship refers to marriage not to behaviour in the assembly.)In the debates over the roles women can have in the church and home some (many?) believe that women are to submit to the "headship" of men in the assembly (or church, if you prefer).
But that is not what the biblical texts say. Note this essentially literal rendering from the RSV:
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor. 11:3 RSV)Some might call translation of the Greek word aner as "husband", rather than "man", interpretive translation, but aner often does mean 'husband' in Greek, especially when it is juxtaposed to gune ('woman' or 'wife') as it is in 1 Cor. 11:3.
In Ephesians 5:22-24 Paul clarifies whether aner in 1 Cor. 11:3 refers to a certain man, any man, or a husband:
22. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.The head of a woman is not any man. It is not a group of men, such as elders of a church. The head of a married woman is her husband. This is what Eph. 5:23 says. Dr. Sarah Sumner, who follows the biblical texts closely, makes the same point in her recent book, Men and Woman in the Church. That point is translated clearly in the RSV and several other English versions.
23. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
24. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (ESV)
When the Bible teaches about headship, it is probably best to translate Greek kephale directly as "head." None of us knows precisely what kephale meant with all its connotations, allusions, and additional teaching that it can trigger. Clearly there is something special about the relationship between a biblical "head" and the group or person that submits to it. We must not go beyond what the Bible says about headship and import (eisegete) our own ideas about it, extending what the biblical text actually says to teachings about leadership roles in the church. They are two separate issues and accurate Bible translations carefully distinguish the two.
Adequate Bible versions should communicate in translation as much as, and no more than, what the biblical texts say and what they mean by what they say.