Wednesday, 29 June 2011

How has kephalē (κεφαλὴ) been used in academic debate? (Part 2)

This series is looking at the argument of the Greek word κεφαλὴ (head) and how it could mean "source" and not "ruler" or "authority over". Hopefully at the end of this series something practical will be produced. For now this series is still in the middle of an academic debate. This post looks at Wayne Grudem's response to the people in the last post.

Grudem responded to Cervin (and also to Payne and some others) a year later in the Trinity Journal 11.1 (1990) which was reprinted in an appendix to a book Grudem co-edited (link to pdf down the bottom).

Grudem says that even if he was to agree with Cervin's article in full it is still not an egalitarian position, but rather a modification of his own position, not a rejection of it. Grudem see that Cervin states that the use of κεφαλὴ as "source" is rare and not common. Grudem then sets out reasons why he thinks Cervin's article was wrong.

On the rejection of the 12 New Testament verses that Grudem used to show κεφαλὴ meaning headship, Cervin argues Grudem couldn't use them as that was what Grudem was setting out to prove. Grudem showed that Cervin concludes his own article citing what the New Testament means when using κεφαλὴ but never once looked at those verses. Cervin's conclusions were not based on anything he had argued for, except by implication of other Greek texts. The least he could do was look at the use of κεφαλὴ and retort back to Grudem as to why these verses do not mean "authority." If a word in Aristotle's writings was disputed, the first thing a scholar would do would be to look at all the referenced in Aristotle of that word and see the context and how that word was used. Why can't the same method be used with Paul?

Cervin didn't like Grudem using the Septuagint as it was a translation (from the Hebrew), but Grudem points out that it was a common translation at the time period of the New Testament and shows how the language of the Septuagint was used in the same time period (give or take a little) as Paul. The main New Testament dictionary, Bauer, in the introduction mentions that the Septuagint is the most influential text in translating the New Testament. After a few other specific examples Grudem concludes that Cervin leans too much on lexicons on Plato or Thucydides and not enough on writings that are closer to Paul's.

Grudem looks at what Cervin says about the few references to κεφαλὴ possibly meaning "source" which were already addressed in his first article and there is some agreement on these possibilities. There are some more examples of κεφαλὴ meaning "source" from Payne, which Grudem will deal with later.

The four examples that Cervin states that are clearly and unambiguously mean "leader" are from examples that are quite close the the New Testament, three from the LXX and one from Hermas (Similitudes 7.3). Cervin also made reference to two other examples in Joseph Fitzmyer's work which were not included in his four examples of "leader".

Cervin disregarded 11 of Grudems examples because they were questionable due to variant texts. Grudem does says they are less weighty examples, but they are not obscure variants and the texts that uses κεφαλὴ are quite major works. To be consisted if disregarding variant texts Cervin then needs to then remove one of the "source" examples (Orphic Fragments 21) as that also is a variant text. Some more examples are considered and discussed and Grudem concludes revises his 49 examples to be 36 legitimate examples, 2 possible, 2 using head as a simile for leader, 5 for a literal head to rule over body and 4 illegitimate examples. Grudem then wants to add (or sneak in) a few more to his tally drawing from Joseph Fitzmyer's work (and one of his own, Lam 1:5), bumping the legitimate examples of κεφαλὴ meaning "authority over" to 41 and 6 references for a literal head to rule over body.

Grudem also questions Cervin's translation of κεφαλὴ to mean "preeminence" as the LSJ doesn't suggest this is possible and Grudem wonders if this same type of speculation that the Mickelsens did to suggest κεφαλὴ to mean "source". Grudem teases out the ides of κεφαλὴ to mean "preeminence" and suggest that this would produce a "distasteful male chauvinism that has no place in the New Testament".

Grudem then turns his sights onto 10 other works that had been produced since his first article. I will only look at the first three, as that is what I dealt with in my last post (and this one is getting quite long already, man academics like to write).

With the Mickelsens chapter (along with Paynes) Grudem sees their argument based on the Septuagint translators use of κεφαλὴ, as of the 180 cases where "leader" or "ruler" is meant in Hebrew only eight times did they use κεφαλὴ. This shows that it is uncommon to use κεφαλὴ to mean "leader" or "ruler". Grudem argues that κεφαλὴ shouldn't be used in all 180 cases as there already is a Greek word for ruler (ἀρχή) and that κεφαλὴ is used only when "ruler" or "authority" is used in a metaphorical sense of "head". On the flip side what this argument fails to show is any example of κεφαλὴ to mean "source" in the Septuagint, in Gen 2:10 ἀρχή is used to mean "source" not κεφαλὴ. Also to arrive at only eight examples from the Septuagint they dismiss one of the main manuscripts used in translation (Codex Alexandrinus) due to other variants from other works. Really κεφαλὴ is used 16 times in the Septuagint to mean "leader" or "ruler": Deut 28:13, 28:44; Judg 10:18; 11:8, 11:9, 11:11; 2 Sam 22:44; 1 King 8:1; Psalm 18:43; Lam 1:5; Isa 7:8, 7:9, 9:14-16; Jer 31:7. Having 18 examples (or even eight) is plenty to build a case that the readers of the time of the Septuagint understood κεφαλὴ to mean "leader" or "ruler". There is no case from the LXX to argue for it to mean "source" and to not use variant texts again means the example from the Orphic Fragments 21 also should not be considered.

The Mickelsens point out that LSJ does not continent the meaning for κεφαλὴ to include "ruler, leader or authority over" to which Grudem argues is an oversight and points to his 41 examples where in the context it can mean that. Grudem also points out that κεφάλαιος ("head like") in the LSJ does include the meaning "the head or chief" and κεφαλουργός means "foreman of works", which all imply that κεφαλὴ would have been understood in these terms as well (hopefully it will be in the next post where there will be a comment from the editor of the LSJ about Grudem's statement of their entry).

In Tucker's response to the Mickelsens chapter, Grudem agrees with her findings of κεφαλὴ to mean "authority over" from the church fathers and that this adds some support that this meaning was understood at the time of the New Testament. (Summarising is quicker when they both agree)

In Payne's response to the Mickelsens chapter, Grudem picks up on the examples cited for κεφαλὴ to mean "source of life". Grudem shows that one references is ambiguous, as it could mean "source of life" or "ruler, authority over", another examples fit with the direct meaning of a physical "head". With a reference to 1 Cor 11:3 Grudem shows that Payne use of the verse demonstrates he has misunderstood the Trinity. Payne also shows no support from other lexicons to back up his examples.

Grudem concludes stating that there are at least 41 ancient uses of κεφαλὴ to mean "ruler, authority over" and  that the use for it to mean "source" is far far weaker, and possibly hasn't been established convincingly enough yet. Even in the texts that are argued for the meaning of "source" the person who is called the κεφαλὴ (head) "is always a person of leadership or authority".

Works Cited
Grudem, W. A. (1990). The meaning of kephalē ("head") : a response to recent studies. Trinity Journal, 11(1), 3-72. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. [Full PDF download here - from a book, not from the original journal]

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