1. (1986) Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, “What Does Kephale¯ Mean in the New Testament?”33
In their 1979 and 1981 articles in Christianity Today, Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen exerted wide influence in the evangelical world by arguing that “head” in the New Testament often meant “source” but never “authority over.” I responded to those articles in my earlier study.34 But in this 1986 article they give further development of what I will call “the Septuagint argument,” an argument only briefly used in 1981.
A. “The Septuagint Argument”:
This is an argument that is also used by Philip Payne 35 (Article 3 above) and by Gordon Fee in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 36 (Article 7 above). It may be summarized this way:
The Septuagint translators used kephale¯ to translate the Hebrew word ro’sh (“head”) in a sense of “leader” or “ruler” in only eight out of the 180 cases 37 in which Hebrew ro’sh means “leader” or “authority over.” In all the other cases they used other words, most commonly archo¯n, “ruler” (109 times).Therefore, since the Septuagint translators had about 180 opportunities to use kephale¯meaning “leader,” and they only did so eight times, it shows that the translators desired to avoid kephale¯ in the sense of “authority” or “leader over.”
The Mickelsens, Philip Payne, and Gordon Fee all see this as a significant point. The Mickelsens say it shows that
“the Septuagint translators recognized that kephale¯ did not carry the Hebrew meaning of leader, authority or superior rank.”38
“When the Old Testament meaning of ro’sh was ‘leader,’ the Septuagint translators realized quite clearly that this would not be conveyed by kephale¯, so they resorted to some other translation in 171 cases out of 180.”39
Fee says that the Septuagint translators “almost never” used kephale¯ to translate Hebrew ro’sh “when ‘ruler’ was intended, thus indicating that this metaphorical sense is an exceptional usage and not part of the ordinary range of meanings for the Greek word.”40 Several points of response may be made to this argument:
(1) That the Septuagint translators used another word much more commonly to translate ro’sh when it meant “leader” is not so significant when we realize that archo¯n was the common word that literally meant “leader,” whereas kephale¯ only meant “leader” in a metaphorical sense. It is true that the Septuagint translators preferred archo¯n to mean “authority,” as I noted in my earlier article (p. 47, n. 17). But I have never claimed, neither has anyone else claimed, that kephale¯ was the most common word for “ruler.”
In fact, the most common word for “ruler,” the one that literally meant “ruler,” was archo¯n. It is not at all surprising that in contexts where the Hebrew word for “head” meant “ruler,” it was frequently translated by archo¯n. All I have claimed is that kephale¯ could also mean “ruler” or “authority” in a metaphorical sense of “head.” It is not the most common, but it is a clearly recognizable and clearly understood word in that sense. The fact that a word that literally meant “ruler, authority” (archo¯n) should be used much more often than a word that metaphorically meant “ruler, authority” (kephale¯) should not be surprising—it is only surprising that people have made an argument of it at all.
(2) The Mickelsens and the others who have used this Septuagint argument fail to note that these eight examples are many compared to the Septuagintal examples of kephale¯ used to mean “source,” of which there are zero. No one who has made this Septuagint argument has mentioned this fact. To use an athletic analogy, if the score at the end of a baseball game is eight to zero, one begins to wonder why anyone would declare the team with zero to be the winner because the team with eight did not score very many runs.
Yet that is what the Mickelsens (and Payne, pp. 121-124, and Fee, pp.502-503) conclude with respect to kephale¯ meaning “authority over”—they just say that the eight examples meaning “authority over” are very few, and fail to tell their readers that their preferred meaning (“source”) has zero occurrences in the Septuagint.
(3) Those who make this argument also fail to mention that in Genesis 2:10, when the Hebrew term ro’sh means “source” or “beginning” (of rivers), the Septuagint translators used another term, arche¯, “source,” “beginning,” not kephale¯, “head.”41
(4) When those who make this argument from the Septuagint give the number of occurrences of kephale¯ meaning “authority” or “leader” in the LXX as eight, they give a misleadingly low number. The Mickelsens and Payne arrive at their low numbers by dismissing five texts42 where there is a textual variant (apparently Judges 10:18; 11:8, 9; 1 Kings [LXX 3 Kings] 8:1, and one of the instances in Isaiah 7:8).43 Yet these “variant readings” are in Codex Alexandrinus, one of the three great ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint.44
Moreover, there seems to be an inconsistency on the part of these authors when they dismiss these variant readings but fail to mention that the single text they most strongly appeal to for kephale¯ as “source” (Orphic Fragments 21a, “Zeus the kephale¯ . . .”) also has kephale¯ only as a variant reading, with arche¯ in other manuscripts.In short, there is no good reason not to count these additional five examples of kephale¯ meaning “authority” as well. This gives a total of thirteen in the LXX.
Furthermore, the Mickelsens dismiss three texts where God tells the people He will make them “the head and not the tail” with respect to the other nations, or, in punishment, will make other nations the “head” and them the “tail” (Deuteronomy 28:13, 44; Isaiah 9:14).45 They say that “head” here is just used to complete the metaphor: it “would not make sense without the use of head in contrast to tail.”46
But Payne seems right to admit these three examples,47 since they just extend the metaphor to include tail as “follower, one ruled over” as well as using head to mean “leader, ruler” (especially in the context of nations who rule other nations).48 Allowing for a correction on one of the Septuagint instances I earlier counted, I have now adjusted my own count of instances in the Septuagint to sixteen instead of the earlier thirteen.49
Those sixteen instances of kephale¯ meaning “authority over” in the Septuagint are the following:
1.Deuteronomy 28:13: [in relationship to other nations] “And the Lord will make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall tend upward only, and not downward; if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day.” (Compare with the following passage, where rule and authority are in view.)
2.Deuteronomy 28:44: [“If you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God . . .,” verse 15] “The sojourner who is among you shall mount above you higher and higher; and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail. All these curses shall come upon you.. . .”
3.Judges 10:18 (A): “And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, ‘Who is the man that will begin to fight against the Ammonites? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.’”
4.Judges 11:8 (A): “And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, ‘That is why we have turned to you now, that you may go with us and fight with the Ammonites, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.’”
5.Judges 11:9 (A): “Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, ‘If you bring me home again to fight with the Ammonites, and the Lord gives them over to me, I will be your head.’”
6.Judges 11:11: “So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and all the people made him head and leader over them.”
7.2 Kings (2 Samuel) 22:44: David says to God, “You shall keep me as the head of the Gentiles: a people which I knew not served me.”
8.3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:1 (A): “Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel with all the heads of the tribes.”50
9.Psalm 17(18):43: David says to God, “You will make me head of the Gentiles: a people whom I knew not served me.”
10.Lamentations 1:5: [of Jerusalem] “Her foes have become the head, her enemies prosper, because the Lord has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe.”
11-12.Isaiah 7:8: “For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin” (in both cases head means “ruler” here: Damascus is the city that rules over Syria, and Rezin is the king who rules over Damascus).
13-14.Isaiah 7:9: “And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
15.Isaiah 9:14-16: (In the context of judgment) “So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail . . . the elder and honored man is the head,51 and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; for those who lead this people lead them astray.” Here the leaders of the people are called “head.”
16.Jeremiah 31:7 (LXX 38:7): “Rejoice and exult over the head of the nations.”52
(5) We should also note in this regard what it actually means to have sixteen (or even eight) instances of a term used in a certain sense in the Septuagint. It is really a rich abundance of examples. Many times in New Testament exegesis, if a scholar can find two or three clear parallel uses in the Septuagint, he or she is very satisfied. That means we can assume that first-century Jews could read and understand the particular term in that sense.
Let me give a contemporary example. Imagine that I turn to a concordance of the RSV and see that there is only one occurrence of a certain English word, such as “aunt.”53 Do I conclude, “That means that twentieth-century readers don’t know what aunt means, and we can be especially certain of this since aunt occurs only in an obscure portion of Scripture (Leviticus 18:14), a passage that people today seldom read”?
Should I conclude that people speaking English today do not know the meaning of aunt? Certainly this would not be legitimate. Rather, I would conclude that the translators of the RSV assumed that aunt was a good, understandable English word—so commonly understood that even a single use of it in the whole Bible would be understood without its having to appear time after time in various contexts comparison of which would make its sense clear. They put it in expecting readers to understand it. The fact that they used it meant that they thought it was a commonly understood term.
The same principle is true with the Septuagint. If I find even two or three clear instances of a word used in a certain sense, I can rightly conclude that readers in the first century a.d. could have understood the word in that sense. The translators wrote expecting that the readers would understand. But in the case of kephale¯ meaning “authority over, ruler,” we have not two or three examples, but sixteen (or at least eight, even by the minimal count of the Mickelsens, or nine, according to Payne). That is really an abundance of evidence for kephale¯ meaning “leader” or “authority over.”
In conclusion, to those who say, “Only eight examples in the Septuagint,” I think it fair to respond, “A very significant eight examples, and more accurately sixteen, and compared to zero examples for ‘source,’ they look very convincing.”
B. Other Meanings for kephale¯ Claimed by the Mickelsens:
After rejecting the meaning “authority over, leader” for kephale¯, primarily on the basis of its Septuagint usage and the absence of this meaning from Liddell-Scott,54 the Mickelsens provide other meanings for the term kephale¯.
In 1 Corinthians 11:3, they say kephale¯ means “source, base or derivation.”55 Now I recognize that one lexicon gives the meaning “source” for kephale¯.56 But when the Mickelsens affirm that “base” and “derivation” are possible translations of kephale¯ they are claiming senses that no lexicon has ever proposed, and they are doing it with no examples of kephale¯ meaning these things in any other literature either. Where do they get these meanings?
In Ephesians 5:23, where it says that the husband is the head of the wife, they say that head means “one who brings to completion” (p. 108). They explain,
“the husband is to give himself up to enable (bring to completion) all that his wife is meant to be” (p. 110).
Then with respect to Colossians 1:18, where it says that “Christ is the head of the body, the church,” the Mickelsens say that head means “exalted originator and completer” (p. 108). We should note that the Mickelsens call these “ordinary Greek meanings” (p. 105) for kephale¯, and tell us that these are “Greek meanings that would have been familiar to the first readers” (p. 110). But a number of these “ordinary and familiar” Greek meanings have never been seen in any lexicon or claimed in any writing on the meaning of kephale¯ before the Mickelsens’ work in 1986.
The meaning “exalted originator and completer” is in no lexicon. The meaning “one who brings to completion” is in no lexicon. The meaning “base, derivation” is in no lexicon.
But if this is so, then what convincing examples from Greek literature do the Mickelsens give to show these to be “familiar” and “ordinary” meanings? They give none. Then what authorities do they quote to support these new meanings? They give none. In short, they have given no evidence to support their assertions that these are ordinary meanings. It would not seem wise to accept these meanings as legitimate senses for kephale¯.
In fact, this attempt to give some alternate sense to kephale¯ in New Testament contexts where the meaning “authority over” seems so clearly evident from the contexts is one more example of a disturbing tendency among evangelical feminist scholars today, a tendency to search for “any meaning but authority” for the word kephale¯ in the New Testament.
Even in Colossians 2:10 (where Christ is called “the head of all rule and authority”) and Ephesians 1:20-24 (where God has exalted Christ “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” and “has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church”), the Mickelsens still are unable to admit the meaning “authority over,” but say that head here means rather “top or crown (extremity)”(p. 106). When this can happen even in texts where authority is so clearly specified in context, one wonders if it is a prior doctrinal conviction rather than sound linguistic analysis that has led to their conclusions in these texts.
C. The Argument from Liddell-Scott:
Although all the lexicons that specialize in the New Testament period list “ruler, leader, or authority over” as a meaning for kephale¯ at the time of the New Testament,57 the Mickelsens and others have strongly emphasized that Liddell-Scott does not include this meaning. What is the significance of this?
First, our earlier survey showed that the meaning “authority over” was not very common—indeed, is hardly found at all—before the Septuagint, about the second century b.c. Nonetheless, the evidence we have cited above showing around forty examples of this meaning indicates that the omission from Liddell-Scott must have been an oversight that we hope will be corrected in a subsequent edition. In fact, Joseph Fitzmyer recently wrote, “The next edition of the Greek-English Lexicon of Liddell-Scott-Jones will have to provide a sub-category within the metaphorical uses of kephale¯ in the sense of ‘leader, ruler.’”58
Second, Liddell-Scott does list under the adjective kephalaios (“head like”) the following meanings: “metaphorical, of persons, the head or chief” (pp. 944-945). Liddell-Scott then lists eight examples of this sense. Similarly, for kephalourgos (literally, “head of work”), it lists the meaning “foreman of works” (p. 945). Therefore, the meaning “authority over” for kephale¯ itself would probably have been understandable even if not commonly used in earlier periods well before the time of the New Testament.
This suggests a possible reason why the noun kephale¯ itself was not found in the earlier history of the language with the meaning “authority, ruler.” Perhaps because the adjective kephalaios or this adjective used as a substantive could function with the meaning “chief, ruler” in an earlier period, there may have been no need for the noun kephale¯ to take a similar meaning. Yet later in the development of the language the noun kephale¯ also came to take this sense.
- Pages 46-47, 52-53.
- Philip B. Payne, “Response,” in Women, Authority and the Bible, ed. Mickelsen, pp. 121-124.
- . Gordon D. Fee, First Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), pp. 502-503.
- The Mickelsens use the number 8 out of 180; Payne (p. 123) uses 9, but the form of the argument is the same.
- Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, “What Does Kephale¯ Mean in the New Testament?” in Women, Authority and the Bible, ed. Mickelsen, p. 104.
- Payne, “Response,” ibid., p. 123. In footnote 35, p. 123, Payne explains that he only counts “nine exceptions” (verses where kephale¯ means “leader”): Judges 11:11; 2 Samuel 22:44; Psalm 18:43; Isaiah 7:8-9; Lamentations 1:5; Deuteronomy 28:13, 44; and Isaiah 9:14, because five others are in variant readings found in some but not all manuscripts (Judges 10:18; 11:8-9; 1 Kings (LXX 3 Kings) 8:1; 20:12), and he thinks that in yet three others (Deuteronomy 32:42; 1 Chronicles 12:19; Psalm 140:10) the word refers to the physical head and is not a metaphor for “leader” or “authority” (in these last three he is correct, and I did not cite those as examples of “leader”).
- Fee, First Corinthians, p. 503.
- This is also the case when referring to a related idea, the “beginning point” of something, such as the “beginning” of a night watch (Judges 7:19; Lamentations 2:19), or the “beginning” of a period of time (Isaiah 40:21; 41:4, 26: 48:16; 1 Chronicles 16:7, etc.). This is interesting in light of the use of kephale¯ in Orphic Fragments 21a, where kephale¯ seems to mean “beginning” or “first in a series” (see below). If this meaning was commonly recognized at the time of the LXX, then kephale¯ could also have been used in these texts, but arche¯ was preferred by the translators. We should also note that when the New Testament wants to say that Christ became “the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9), it uses not kephale¯ but a perfectly good Greek word meaning “source,” aitios, “source, cause.” This does not of course prove that kephale¯ could not also mean source in a metaphorical sense, but it shows that in both the Old Testament (Genesis 2:10) and the New Testament (Hebrews 5:9), where there is a text that unambiguously speaks of “source” in the sense that the Mickelsens and others claim kephale¯ takes, the term used is not kephale¯ but something that means “source” without question. Philip Payne, “Response,” p. 119, n. 21, quotes S. C. Woodhouse, English-Greek Dictionary (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 19322 ) to show that kephale¯ does not mean “authority” or “chief.” Although we think that may be an oversight in light of the examples we earlier adduced, Payne should perhaps also have mentioned that Woodhouse lists under “source of rivers, etc.” pe¯ge¯, kre¯ne¯, and krounos, and under “origin” arche¯, pe¯ge¯, and rhiza (“root”), but not kephale¯ in either case. It does not seem fair to cite Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.537127.i02.indd 537 10/16/12 9:31 AM 538 • Notes to pages 451-454 Woodhouse to show lack of support on one side but fail to note that he gives no support to the other side either. Moreover, Payne fails to tell the reader that Woodhouse’s Dictionary is written to help students write compositions in Attic Greek and is specifically taken from the vocabulary of authors “from Aeschylus to Demosthenes” (pp. v, vi) (ca. 500 b.c.-322 b.c.). It does not cover the Koine Greek of the New Testament at all. Such a citation is troubling in a widely read popular book, for it conveys to the non-specialist reader an appearance of scholarly investigation while in actual fact there is little substantive relevance for it in the present discussion.
- The Mickelsens actually dismiss six texts as having textual variants (p. 104), but they do not specify which those are. I am using the number five from the response by Philip Payne (pp. 122-123).
- They do not specify exactly which texts they are not counting because of textual variants, but these five do have variants in the readings of Codex Alexandrinus, one of the major ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint.
- The second instance in Isaiah 7:8 is found in several manuscripts and omitted only by Sinaiticus among major manuscripts.
- Once again the enumeration is not exact between the Mickelsens and Payne. The Mickelsens say that four examples have the head-tail metaphor, but do not list them. Payne specifies these three texts in his response, and I have used his number here.
- Mickelsen and Mickelsen, “What Does Kephale¯ Mean . . .?” p. 103.
- Payne, “Response,” p. 123, n. 35.
- See note 38 with reference to my inclusion of Deuteronomy 28:13, 44; Jeremiah 31:7 (LXX 38:7).
- In addition to the three verses listed in the previous footnote, the articles by Payne and the Mickelsens have persuaded me to look again at Lamentations 1:5 (“her foes have become the head; her enemies prosper”), and to count this as a legitimate instance of kephale¯ meaning “leader” or “authority over.” These four examples, together with the deletion of the one I had erroneously counted (see above, p. 445, for discussion), bring my total to sixteen in the Septuagint rather than the thirteen I had previously listed.
- Philip Payne (article 3, p. 123) disagrees with the sense “authority over” in this text because he says the translators replaced the idea of “leader” “with ‘heads [meaning tops] of the staffs’ they carried.” I discussed this interpretation on pp. 441-442, above, in response to Richard Cervin.
- In this second occurrence of head in this verse, the LXX has arche¯ (here in the sense of leader, ruler), not kephale¯.
- Joseph Fitzmyer says of this passage, “The notion of supremacy or authority is surely present, and expressed by kephale¯” (“Another Look,” p. 508).
- In fact, “aunt” only occurs once in the English Bible (RSV), at Leviticus 18:14. There are many other commonly understood English words that occur only once in the Bible, such as (using the RSV): abstinence, acquaintance, afternoon, agent, anklet, anvil, armpit, aroma, arsenal, audience. Other common words occur only twice:, ambassador, ant, antelope, ape, awl.
- I discuss the absence of the meaning “leader, authority over” from Liddell-Scott in the next section of this article.
- Page 107.
- I discussed the legitimacy of using Liddell-Scott’s definition of “source” above, pp. 432- 433, 453-454.
- My earlier article (pp. 47-48) cites definitions from BAGD, Thayer, Cremer, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (henceforth referred to as NIDNTT), and (for the Septuagint) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (henceforth referred to as TDNT). See also note 69.
- Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “Another look at Kephale¯ in 1 Corinthians 11:3,” NTS 35 (1989), p. 511. Richard Cervin is hardly correct when he says “the contributors and editors of [Liddell-Scott] included a team of theologians, Milligan among them” (p. 86). In fact, the Preface to Liddell-Scott mentions no “team of theologians” but simply says that the results Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.537127.i02.indd 538 10/16/12 9:31 AM Notes to pages 454-457 • 539 of the study of the meanings of words in the New Testament are “readily accessible” and mentions some lexicons that are “generally sufficient” (p. ix). H. Stuart Jones, the editor of the most recent edition of Liddell-Scott, mentions only that Professor Milligan sent him some advance proofs of his specialty lexicon of the papyri as they illustrate New Testament usage. Jones also mentions A. H. McNeil and A. Llewellyn Davies regarding their advice on the Septuagint and the Hexapla, but the preface mentions nothing else concerning any “team of theologians.”
また付け加えておきたいのは、ほとんどの場合において、治める主体（the controlling agent）としての「かしら」という意味こそここで求められているものであり、［彼らの主張している］preeminence（卓越）という考えは、その意味で、かなり不適切であるように思われます。重ね重ね、論文を送ってくださりありがとうございました。今後、さらに徹底した大辞典の改訂作業に、ご一緒に取り組んでいけたらと望みます。