Head and body, an organic unity
Dru asks on this post,
- If 'kephale', despite it's use twice in Judges 11 in what appears to be the way it is used in English, is only normally used in greek to mean a physical head, then what on earth can Paul be meaning when he uses it metaphorically in what appears to be a similar way to how the equivalent word for 'head' is used in Hebrew, English and various other languages?
If that metaphorical usage, which is so familiar in English that it is hardly a metaphor at all, did not work in Greek, what was he trying to say? If it really didn't work, would it have meant anything to his readers?
After all, in English, Christ being the skull or the cranium over men does not work.
Or was he thinking in Hebrew and translating so instantly that he didn't notice he was doing it? And for that matter, what was Paul's first language, and how was the word for 'head' used idiomatically in Aramaic?
'Head' used biologically has a fairly precise meaning. I would query whether it is legitimate to insist that 'head' when it is used idiomatically as a metaphor/cliche, must have a meaning that is quite as precise as its biological one.
What I think I am trying to say, is that I'd query whether it is possible to say that Paul does not mean by this metaphor something much like what we'd probably expect it to mean in English.
I'd also, though, query, and I hope Suzanne you'll agree with me on this, how much one should found doctrine on a metaphor.
We assume thought takes place in the head. Do you, or any other readers happen to know whether the ancients believed this?
Here is the catch. There seems to be an agreement between the early patriarchs, more recent complementarians and egalitarians, that in Eph. 5 the head forms an organic unity with the body. However, in the few examples that we have where kephale is used to translate r'osh, the leader has discontinuity with the people. David is not of the same people as the Gentiles. This, I believe, is what posed a problem for Chrysostom. He writes,
- Is He then Head of the Gentile also? In no wise. For if
we are the Body of Christ, and severally members thereof,1 Corinthians 12:27 and in this way He is our head, He cannot be the head of them who are not in the Body and rank not among the members. So that when he says,
of every man,one must understand it of the believer.
Christ is called
the Head of the Church.If I am to take nothing from what is human in the idea, why, I would know, is the expression used at all? On the other hand, if I understand all in that way, extreme absurdity will result. For the head is of like passions with the body and liable to the same things.
What then ought we to let go, and what to accept? We should let go these particulars which I have mentioned, but accept the notion of a perfect union, and the first principle; and not even these ideas absolutely, but here also we must form a notion, as we may by ourselves, of that which is too high for us and suitable to the Godhead: for both the union is surer and the beginning more honorable.
Oddly, when some people report the results of the kephale study, they claim that "David as king of Israel is called the "head" of the people" thereby giving the impression that kephale is used to refer to the ruler of one's own people. There is actually no case of that. There is no example of the phrase "head of the people" using kephale in Greek. And yet this is cited as evidence.
The other example is, of course, in Philo, where King Philadelphus is called the "head" of the herd, the most illustrious of all the Ptolemies. Philadelphus is not actually called the "head of the nation" although, once again one finds this cited. Since the family of the Ptolemies includes Philadelphus' father, the meaning of "authority over" is not in view. I don't know how or if this occurrence relates to Paul's use.
So, simply put, there is no evidence for the use of kephale as the leader of one's own family, tribe, or nation before the epistles and this is an important point. If one wants to maintain the notion of perfect unity, then one has to appeal elsewhere for an idea of ruler or leader.
Naturally, one can say that the head makes the decisions. But, for the Greeks, there are many different psychological models. In the tripartite soul, reasoning takes place in the head, appetite in the belly, and the will is located in the thumos, or lungs. There is no point in equating "reason" and kephale since Christ is the logos of God, and God is the kephale of Christ. So we chase a wild goose on this one.
Some say that the head is where the semen is stored and there seems to be some evidence that the head is related to the idea of reproduction. The head is also the place where we eat, see, talk, hear, and so on. Does God provide this for Christ, and man for woman? Does man think for woman? It becomes rather complicated. Chrysostom does not go in that direction. Here is another passage from Cyril of Alexandria,
- Therefore of our race he become first kephale, which is arche, and was of the earth and earthy. Since Christ was named the second Adam, he has been placed as kephale, which is arche, of those who through him have been formed anew unto him unto immortality through sanctification in the spirit. Therefore he himself our arche, which is kephale, has appeared as a human being: indeed, he, being by nature God, has a kephale, the Father in heaven. For, being by nature God the Word, he has been begotten from Him. Because kephale means arche, He established the truth for those who are wavering in their mind that man is the kephale of woman, for she was taken out of him. Therefore one Christ and Son and Lord, the one having as kephale the Father in heaven, being God by nature, became for us a kephale accordingly because of his kinship according to the flesh.
PS By "headship" I mean the definition in English, that man is the master of woman. That is not a likely meaning for the Greek word kephale.