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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Heads, you win!

The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has redesigned their website and I had to have a look. In one of their main features, Bruce Ware writes,
    Gen. 2 - There are at least four features of this chapter which support the idea of male-headship (i.e., male God-given authority over female).
I have noticed that there has been some slippage in the last few years. It is now simply assumed that "head" means "authority". However, this is supported later in the article, both by quoting 1 Tim 2:12, where authentein is used, and 1 Cor. 11:10 where a woman has a "symbol of authority" on her head. So a misunderstood term, "headship" is supported by two completely obscure verses, one of which does not use a word meaning "authority" but rather "dominate" and the other which says a woman is to have "authority" on/over her own head.

It would all be so simple if we knew that "head" meant "authority". Others suggest it means "source". It can mean both, but it is not at all clear to me that one could prove one meaning over another, I won't try.

What bothers me is that Grudem claims in The Meaning Source Does Not Exist that "source" cannot be the meaning. That is a little odd because it exists in English, for example, "fountainhead" means "source" of the fountain. At the end of the article, a curious article, which I cannot explain, Grudem concludes,

    This letter [by P. G. W. Glare] therefore seems to indicate that there is no "battle of the lexicons" over the meaning of kephalē, but that the authors and editors of all the lexicons for ancient Greek now agree (1) that the meaning "leader, chief, person in authority" clearly exists for kephalē, and (2) that the meaning "source" simply does not exist.

However, I know that Al Wolters wrote Grudem a letter explaining that the meaning "source" does exist in Greek lexicons in other languages. Sure enough, in the Magnien - Lacroix lexicon, the meaning "source" is found; and, curiously enough, the meaning "leader, chief, person in authority" or its equivalent, is not found. Does this mean that "head" means "person in authority" only for the English speaking world?

That's about it. How do you say "head of government" in French - chef du gouvernement. How about German, Regierungschef. "Chief" does come from caput meaning head in Latin, but it does not mean "head". But German has two words for head - kopf, meaning just the "head" and haupt meaning - "head" the "chief." So Luther chose haupt for 1 Cor. 11.

In French, you just don't have any wiggle room, so in 1 Cor. 11, there are two different words used - chef and tête.
    Christ est le chef de tout homme, que l'homme est le chef de la femme, et que Dieu est le chef de Christ.

    Tout homme qui prie ou qui prophétise, la tête couverte, déshonore son chef.
So, what we learn from this is that neither tête nor kopf, the common words for "head" in French and German can mean "the person in authority". They simply cannot. However, we do know that the translators in both languages thought that the Greek word meant "chief", or "the person in authority," so they did not translate this passage literally, but interpreted it in terms of authority. They inserted their own interpretation.

However, in the Grec-Français Magnien-Lacrois Lexicon, which is considered a very respectable lexicon, κεφαλη has absolutely no entry which mentions a "person in authority."

This is a strangely muddled situation. There is no clear correspondence between "head" and "person in authority" in Greek, other than the fact that certain translators, of the 16th century and later, thought there was. There is no evidence in this regard. In fact, κεφαλη is not the head of the Greek army, but a raiding party.

I have read Grudem's articles on κεφαλη but I won't bore you with the details. They are the usual list of one or two possibly relevant suggestions, and lists of citations which are too late to be useful. I haven't read the articles proving κεφαλη means "source". However, at this point, Grudem's articles have done a good job of convincing me that "source" is the more likely meaning. This is new for me!

I don't think I would want to change the way that κεφαλη is translated into English - the metaphor would be lost. However, the claim on Bruce Ware's part, that "headship" is "the person in authority" cannot be substantiated. It is dependent, I assume on Grudem's various studies, and as we know from Wolters letter to Grudem, that Grudem did not extend his study to materials outside of the English language. (Wolters is a fellow complementarian.)

I would feel happier if the CBMW would restrain from reposting their campaign against the TNIV, but that would be too much to hope for.

On a related note, inspired by the CBMW, I posted my own concerns regarding a return to a Biblical hierarchy. It may look like a spoof but it actually represents some of my serious research into the importance of the King James Bible to the cause of the divine right of kings. I have been dipping into the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes, a translator of the KJV. I may be having fun, but in a totally scholarly way.

22 Comments:

At Tue Sep 18, 07:45:00 AM, Blogger voxstefani said...

You know, I often think that the CBMW guys might have given more serious philological consideration to the suggested meaning of κεφαλή as "source" had it not been proposed by Catherine Clark Kroeger, who obviously has the wrong genes to be teaching them anything at all.

Meanwhile, CCK is a trained Classical philologist with graduate degrees in that discipline from the University of Minnesota. I don't see why I should take anybody else's word on classical Greek lexicology over hers, particularly when I do share, as one with some training in that field, in the irritation that the subpar "lexical" work of many a NT scholar produces in (real) philologists!

 
At Tue Sep 18, 07:48:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Suzanne, note the word "fountainhead" in this quote from the preface to the ESV:

The English Standard Version (ESV) stands in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium. The fountainhead of that stream was William Tyndale’s New Testament of 1526; marking its course were the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), the American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV), and the Revised Standard Version of 1952 and 1971 (RSV). In that stream, faithfulness to the text and vigorous pursuit of accuracy were combined with simplicity, beauty, and dignity of expression. Our goal has been to carry forward this legacy for a new century.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 08:21:00 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Some times I wonder if Grudem never says anything against "preeminence" as a meaning...

Perhaps its because he finds source an easier target.

I also wonder if he just never read Anthony Thiselton's excursus on kephale in his 1 Cor NIGTC volume, particularly since Thiselton is "preeminent" in the world of hermeneutics and semantics

 
At Tue Sep 18, 10:28:00 AM, Blogger colet1499 said...

Interesting comments. Voxstefani, you might consider the ETS articles Grudem wrote about κεφαλή from the mid to late 80s before you dismiss his "subpar 'lexical' work". Not everyone who holds to the position Grudem presents is as ignorant of the lexical data as you might think.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 12:47:00 PM, Blogger voxstefani said...

Colet1499> I have most certainly considered Grudem's article, and remain of the opinion that marshalling 2,336 bits of supposed evidence doth not a plausible argument make. (Incidentally, the article was published in Trinity Journal, not JETS.) The point is not any supposed ignorance of the lexical data, but its tendentious, methodologically flawed mishandling.

Mike> Grudem did of course read Thiselton's commentary, and interacts with it here.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 02:11:00 PM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

Suzanne, Hooray for your fun and your scholarship!

Wayne Grudem must conclude: But now the editor of the only lexicon that mentioned the meaning "source" in any connection says that the supposed sense "source" for kephalē "of course, does not exist," and says that it was "at least unwise" for Liddell and Scott to mention the word source. . . therefore . . . there is no "battle of the lexicons" over the meaning of kephalē, but that the authors and editors of all the lexicons for ancient Greek now agree (1) that the meaning "leader, chief, person in authority" clearly exists for kephalē, and (2) that the meaning "source" simply does not exist.

But would the ancients really agree? and why can't they play with language? so now how about more fun and scholarship?

who is the ancient "source" of these uses of κεφαλήwith the clear meaning of "source"?

The horns that grew from the goat's head /ἐκ κεφαλῆς/ were sixteen palms' length. Here the head is the literal source of horns!

he would drag the hair by its roots from his head /ἐκ κεφαλῆς/ . Here the head is the literal source of hair!

his cap of marten's hide from his head /ἀπὸ . . . κεφαλῆφιν/. Here the head is the literal source from which his cap of marten's hide is pulled!

In consumptive patients, with regard to the sputum and cough I have the same to say as I wrote with regard to internal suppuration: namely, that for those who are going to come off well it must be coughed up easily, and be white, uniform in consistency and colour, and without phlegm; and what flows down from the head /ἀπὸτη̂ς κεφαλη̂ς / should be directed to the nostrils. Here the head is the literal source of sputum!

All the hard-shelled animals, like the plants, have their head /της κεφαλης/ downward. This is because they take their nourishment from below, just as plants do by means of their roots. Here the head is the literal source for nourishment!

So in the case of man, we divide him into reason and feeling— intellect and emotions—head /τή κεφαλή/and heart Here the head is the figural (and maybe literal) source of intellect!

The definition [of purpose] enables us to see why purpose is so vitally important in questions of morality. It is because it [i.e., purpose] is the outcome both of heart and head /κεφαλή/, and is therefore the full expression of the whole man. Here the head is one of the figural (and maybe literal) sources of purpose as important to morality!

who is the ancient "source" of those uses of κεφαλήwith the clear meaning of "source" noted above?

Respectively:

Homer:
The Illiad 4.109 source of horns
The Illiad 10.15 source of hair
The Illiad 10.458 source of hide cap

Hippocrates:
Volume VIII, Places in Man. Glands. Fleshes. Prorrhetic 1-2. Physician. Use of Liquids. Ulcers. Haemorrhoids and Fistulas. PRORRHETIC II source of sputum

Aristotle:
On the Parts of Animals I-IV source of nourishment

Aristotle:
Lectures in the Lyceum
source of intellect

Aristotle:
Lectures in the Lyceum
co-source of purpose

Forgive us for being so heady.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 03:17:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael Kruse has posted on just this subject as part of his series on household, and so apparently independently of what has been written here.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 04:07:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks, Peter, I just saw it and will link to it for tomorrow.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 05:38:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

thanks, voxstefani, he wrote just what I though he would...

his endless appealing to lexicons is a bit tiredsome.

LSJM may have receive a brand new supplement in 96', but its lexical base goes back to the 1500's. Greek scholars have been dreading the idea for starting fresh on the material for 100 years. at the turn of the century, the editors debated the issue and decided (ironically) that they didn't want to be in the mess that the OED editors are in (which has turned out amazingly well in the end...which Grudem never appeals to, its always American Heritage, which doesn't make sense for criticizing Thiselton who is British).

LSJM is also dependent upon Lampe and M&M as well, avoiding as much fresh work as possible.

BDAG is much better, but the recent lexicography book in honor of Danker, admitted that it was bloated. If fact half the essays in that book express distress about the status of Greek lexicography.

L&N is better too, but lacks the Hellenistic coverage and needs to cite more examples.

Lust derives its glosses from LSJM...(yes?)

Grudem seems quite proud of his own lexical study of 2,336, when less than 100 of the examples were actually relevant to the discussion since they were not metaphorical usage.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 05:47:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks Mike,

I appreciate your confirming my impressions. I carefully combed through all the 86 examples of authentein and found that only two were even remotely relevant.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 06:19:00 PM, Blogger voxstefani said...

I should like to make known to all that, on account of their recent comments, Mike and J. K. Gayle are my new best friends.

Thank you.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 10:33:00 PM, Blogger Charity said...

Suzanne

I have a couple of comments to make about what you say about French

How do you say "head of government" in French - chef du gouvernement...

In French, you just don't have any wiggle room, so in 1 Cor. 11, there are two different words used - chef and tête...

So, what we learn from this is that ... tête ... the common [word] for "head" in French ... can mean "the person in authority".


This is largely speaking true, but interestingly enough, in French we can say that someone is à la tête du gouvernement though we can't say that they are the tête du gouvernement though I'm not sure exactly what that proves! I suppose you could say that it means that from a French perspective a person is in a position of authority, but they personally are not that authority - I'll have to think more about that.

More anecdotally, the word chef can still mean head in the literal sense in the expression couvre-chef which is a synonym for hat.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 11:05:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Charity,

I have turned this one over in my head a few times. Two words in both French and German for "head".

I guess the French means that government has a head - a top - and that person is at the head.

I don't think one can prove much either way on this but it certainly is not the only possible exegesis - that "head" means "person in authority". Some say that it most certainly does not mean that. But I don't think you can go further than saying that one cannot prove that it means "person in authority."

 
At Wed Sep 19, 07:06:00 AM, Blogger colet1499 said...

voxstefani, The JETS article I was thinking of is 44:1 (March 2001), 25-65.

As to the alleged mishandling of the lexical data perhaps you could contribute a correction to Grudem's error.

I'm not trying to pick a fight here, I'd just like to see something more substantive than simply dismissing his findings. If his analysis or method of dealing with the data is wrong we all need to know how and why so we do not repeat the same mistakes.

 
At Wed Sep 19, 07:14:00 AM, Blogger colet1499 said...

voxstefani, yes, you are correct, Grudem's work from the 80s was in TrinJ. My mistake.

 
At Wed Sep 19, 08:02:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I have my concerns about taking data from Chrysostom about the meaning of
head". By his time, Contantine, the Roman emperor, had made himself "head" of the church.

For Chrysostom, any church leaders are also "head" of the church. Certainly, in the Patristics, there is more than one sense to the word "head". It has dozens of meanings in English. I just don't see how any one of them are definitive.

It seems likely to me that this is affected by the Latin use of the word "head".

At one point in the article Grudem concedes the meaning "beginning" for "head" in some documents.

I have read the article, but don't have time to go through it all now.

We would, however, have to end up analysing the Greek belief that the physical head of a man contained semen, and that impotence was thought to be relieved by making an incision behind the ears to let it flow more easily.

It seems fairly ambiguous to me.

The way I undertand it, "authority over" is not a meaning attested to "head" in Greek contemporary with the NT.

 
At Wed Sep 19, 12:39:00 PM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

Stefan>Much appreciate your keen insight, and your friendship!

Suzanne>
We would, however, have to end up analysing the Greek belief that the physical head of a man contained semen, and that impotence was thought to be relieved by making an incision behind the ears to let it flow more easily.

ouch! intelligent commentS to say the least. Here's the beginning of an Aristotelian analysis. or rather just some Heart and Soul.

 
At Wed Sep 19, 01:51:00 PM, Blogger Charity said...

Hi Suzanne

I don't think one can prove much either way on this but it certainly is not the only possible exegesis - that "head" means "person in authority". Some say that it most certainly does not mean that. But I don't think you can go further than saying that one cannot prove that it means "person in authority."

I (think)I agree with you totally on this. There's a real danger I see often when people want to bring proof texts to bear from the Bible, in making them go way beyond what the passage actually says.

I would say that the connotation of à la tête de in French is one of leading, or being in front of, but not necessary one of undisputed/indisputable authority.

I don't know whether that adds anything to the discussion though...

 
At Wed Sep 19, 05:06:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I like making friends.

colet1499:

Its been a couple years since I read Grudem's lexical article, so I cannot say much on method off the top of my head...

BUT the fact that he claims to survey over 2000 instances of kephale to prove his point is incredibly misleading since only those instances that are metaphorical uses of kephale are actually relevant. Those instances actually come out to less than 100.

I would consider a manipulative title for the sake of persuasion relatively methodologically flawed.

 
At Wed Sep 19, 05:31:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

As I mentioned the authentein article is much the same with 2 out of 86 citations relevant. What is such a killer is that my pastor was impressed by the numbers, not realizing what small percentage were relevant. He really believes that "head" means "authority" on the basis of Grudem's high numbers.

 
At Wed Sep 19, 08:06:00 PM, Blogger Brian F. said...

if this gets read, I heard somewhere Kroeger' work 'I suffer not a woman..." was at some time and place totally discredited and supposedly Kroeger admitted falsifying stuff in their work. Is this true, where I could I find any info related to it? I ask because I have the book and had no idea it was so controversial.

Someone said Gurdem's constant appeal to lexicon's is tiresome, I agree in fact, I find Gurdems constant harping on this issue tiresome.

 
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