J・グレシャム・メイチェン, Christianity and Liberalismより
6. Gilbert Bilezikian, "A Critical Examination of Wayne Grudem's Treatment of Kephale in Ancient Greek Texts" 66
Dr. Bilezikian has given some criticisms of my earlier article that I accept as valid and that are similar to those by Cervin in the article discussed above.67 Among them are:
(1) The need for a separate category, “ruling part,” to distinguish five examples where the physical head of a person is said to rule over the human body (p. 220).
I agreed with this suggestion in the discussion of Cervin’s article.
(2) The need to delete two examples from my list of forty-nine because I had miscounted them in my final enumeration.68
However, I must differ with Bilezikian’s critique at several other points.
Bilezikian suggests that some lexicons list the meaning “source” and others list the meaning “ruler, authority over,” and it is just a question of which lexicon one chooses to use. He says,
This lack of lexical agreement on the meaning of kephale¯ is partly responsible for the frustration of scholars who have been attempting, in recent years, to understand the meaning of male/female relations in the Pauline epistles. Each one here is aware of the battle of the lexicons that has been waged by Bible scholars who have written on this issue during the last two decades. . . . They have been flinging their favorite lexicons back and forth at each other’s heads. (pp. 218-219)
What Bilezikian fails to make clear is that, although one lexicon (Liddell-Scott) does list “source, origin” as a sense when kephale¯ is applied to the end point of something like a river or a span of time, nevertheless, no lexicon has ever yet listed “source” as a metaphorical meaning for kephale¯ when applied to persons.
By contrast, all the major lexicons for the New Testament period list a meaning such as “authority over” or “ruler, leader” as a meaning for kephale¯ when applied to persons.69 It is simply misleading to talk about a “battle of the lexicons.”
b. Individual texts:
In the examination of the individual texts where I found the sense “authority over,” Bilezikian differs from Cervin in that he finds the meaning “source” in almost every text in which I saw the meaning “ruler” or “authority over.” We do not need to examine every one of those quotations again, but a few instances will give the direction of Bilezikian’s argument.
(1) Herodotus 7.148: The Delphic oracle warns the Argives to protect those with full citizenship from attack and thus the remainder of the population will be protected, saying, “guarding your head from the blow and the head shall shelter the body.”70
Here Bilezikian says, “The notion of an authority function is completely absent. . . .This text describes headship not as ‘authority over’ but as a source of protection . . .which item . . . should be classified as ‘Source, origin’” (p. 221).
But here we can try substituting “leaders” and “source” to see which makes better sense:
My suggestion: “guarding your leaders from the blow; and the leaders shall shelter the body.”
Bilezikian’s suggestion: “guarding your source from the blow; and the source shall shelter the body.”
The first alternative is preferable because the idea of guarding leaders is an understandable one for a population. To tell a population to guard its source would make no sense, for they would not know what was being referred to. Bilezikian could respond that he was not arguing for the meaning “source” in this text, but the meaning “source of protection.”
But this illustrates a fundamental error in his argument: in order to make any of his explanations work, he must assume that kephale¯means not just “source” but “source of something,” and he then varies the “something” from text to text so that he actually gives kephale¯ many new senses (source of protection, source of vitality, source of well-being, etc.).
But this is not sound analysis: kephale¯ does not take all these new specialized meanings, never before found in any lexicon, attested only in one text, and discovered only now for the first time by Bilezikian. In actuality, the fact that he must supply “source of something” and make the “something” different each time shows even more clearly that “source” alone is not a legitimate meaning for kephale¯.
A few more examples will illustrate this point, and in each one when we try substituting the simple meaning “source” it will be evident how this meaning is unacceptable:
(23) Plutarch, Pelopidas 2. 1. 3: in an army, “the light-armed troops are like the hands, the cavalry like the feet, the line of men-at-arms itself like chest and breastplate,and the general is like the head.”
Bilezikian says, “The general’s function as the ‘head’ of the troops is explained as the general’s being the source of their safety, the cause of their continued existence. . . . This instance of kephale¯ should be tabulated under ‘Source, origin’” (pp. 226-227).
Bilezikian treats a number of examples in this same way: he looks around in the context until he can find something that the person called “head” is the “source” of, whether leadership or protection or financial support, etc. This is not hard to do because in the nature of things in this world, everything is the “source” of something else—the ground is the source of food, rivers are the source of water, trees are the source of leaves, cows are the source of milk, even rocks are a source of stability and support.
Conversely, to take the example above, the soldiers are also a “source” of strength and support for the general. But that does not mean that “hand” or “foot” or “chest” can all mean “source.” Some other examples show the same procedure:
(26) Plutarch, Galba, 4. 3:
“Vindex . . . wrote to Galba inviting him to assume the imperial power, and thus to serve what was a vigorous body in need of a head.”
Although this was an invitation to Galba to become emperor of Rome, Bilezikian says,
“They needed an emperor in Rome who would ‘serve’ them as the head ‘serves a vigorous body. ‘. . . Headship is viewed in this text as a source of increased vitality. . . .This instance of kephale¯ is to be listed under ‘source, origin’” (pp. 228-229).
In this quotation the “body” in question is the Gallic provinces. Once again we can substitute terms to see which is the most likely meaning:
My suggestion: To assume the imperial power, and thus to serve what was a vigorous province in need of a leader.
Bilezikian’s suggestion: To assume the imperial power, and thus to serve what was a vigorous province in need of a source.
Once again, the meaning “leader” makes sense in the context, for it was leadership that this section of the empire needed. But the meaning “source” would have made no sense—who would have said that a province that already existed needed a “source”?
(30) Hermas, Similitudes, 7.3:
The man is told that his family “cannot be punished in any way other way than if you, the head of the house be afflicted.”
Bilezikian objects that the next sentence should be added to the quotation. It says,
“For when you are afflicted, they also will necessarily be afflicted, but while you prosper, they cannot suffer any affliction!” He then says, “The full quote defines the role of the head in regard to the family as ‘provider,’ the source of its well-being. . . . This instance belongs in Grudem’s category 3, ‘Source, origin’” (pp. 230-231).
Once again we can substitute terms to see which is a more convincing translation:
My suggestion: The family “cannot be punished in any other way than if you, the leader of the house be afflicted.”
Bilezikian’s suggestion: The family “cannot be punished in any other way than if you, the source of the house be afflicted.”
The idea of leader of a family would be quite understandable. But the idea that the father is the source of the family would make no sense with respect to the wife (or any possible servants) in the household, for the father was certainly not the source of them.
Bilezikian’s error is simply this: whenever something functions as a “source,” he says that the name of that thing can actually mean source. But on this account almost any word could mean “source.” And in fact almost any word could mean anything else as well.
Using this procedure, we could easily make kephale¯ mean just the opposite of “source”—we could make it mean, for example, “recipient”: Since the general is the “recipient” of support from the army, we could say that kephale¯ means “recipient” in that text. Since the Roman emperor is the “recipient” of support and taxes from the provinces, we could say that kephale¯ means “recipient” here also, etc.
The fact that Bilezikian’s procedure could lead to almost any noun meaning “source” and that it can also make a noun mean just the opposite of “source” should warn us against the error of such a procedure—it has no controls and no basis in sound linguistic analysis.
It is proper rather to ask exactly which characteristics of a physical head were recognized in the ancient world and were evident in contexts where people were metaphorically called “head.” If those characteristics occur again and again in related contexts, then we can be reasonably certain that those characteristics were the ones intended by the metaphorical use of “head.” In fact this is what we find. It is consistently people in leadership or authority who are referred to as “head.”
The examples cited above show that not only the general of an army, but also the Roman emperor, the head of a household, the heads of the tribes of Israel, David as king of Israel, and Christ as the head of the church are all referred to metaphorically by kephale¯. What they share is a function of rule or authority. Moreover, several texts say explicitly that the head is the “ruling” part of the body.71
By contrast, where there are persons whose distinctive function is to be the source of something else, but where no leadership function attaches to them, the word kephale¯ is never used. Bilezikian recognizes this and finds it surprising:
There exists no known instance of kephale¯ used figuratively in reference to women. This is especially surprising since the meaning of kephale¯ as source of life and servant provider would have been particularly suitable to describe roles assigned to women in antiquity. (p. 235)
He goes on to explain this absence of any examples by the fact that kephale¯ was not frequently used in a metaphorical sense and that women were not often referred to in Greek literature (pp. 235-236), but such an explanation is hardly sufficient. When there are over forty examples referring to persons in leadership as “head” of something, that shows that the metaphorical use of kephale¯ was not extremely rare. And to say that Greek literature does not talk much about women (especially in the role of mother and provider) is simply not true. What this statement of Bilezikian’s actually indicates is that there are no clear examples to support his sought-after meaning, “source.”
But when no clear evidence turns up to support one’s hypothesis, it would seem better to abandon the hypothesis than to stick with it and give unsubstantiated reasons why the expected data have not been forthcoming.
At least we should realize that we are being asked to accept a meaning for kephale¯ for which no unambiguous supporting evidence has yet been provided.
Bilezikian’s opposition to the idea of “authority” in any human relationships and in any texts that contain the word kephale¯ carries over into the New Testament as well. Even in the three texts where authority would quite readily be admitted by almost all commentators, Bilezikian does not acknowledge it:
(43) Ephesians 1:21, 22:
Paul writes that God exalted Christ “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named . . . and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church.”
Here Bilezikian finds not authority but the idea of source. He writes,
“In His headship, Christ is the source of life and increase to the church. In this passage there is no reference to headship as assumption of authority over the church” (p. 244).
Yet the context of exaltation “above all rule and authority and power and dominion” certainly shows Christ’s assumption of authority.72
(45-46) Ephesians 5:23:
“For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”
Here Bilezikian says,
“As ‘head’ of the church, Christ is both the source of her life and her sustainer. . . . In this development on the meaning of headship, there is nothing in the text to suggest that head might have implications of rulership or authority” (p. 245).
But once again the context indicates something quite different: The previous verse says,
“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.” And the following verse says, “As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands” (verses 22-24).
Although Bilezikian speaks of the idea of “mutual submission,” (p. 245), he fails to deal with the fact that the verb hypotasso¯ always has to do with submission to authority in the New Testament and outside of it.
Husbands are not told to be subject to their wives in this context, simply wives to husbands. And Christ is never said to be subject to the church, only the church to Christ. This idea of submission to the authority of Christ on the part of the church is impossible to remove from the context and makes it difficult to accept Bilezikian’s claim that there is no suggestion of rulership or authority in the term kephale¯ in this context.
Bilezikian goes on to say that in Ephesians 5:23 “head designates the source of life (‘Savior’), of servanthood (‘gave himself up’), and of growth (‘nourishes it’)” (246), and says that “in their headship to their wives husbands fulfill servant roles similar to the servant ministries of Christ to the church” (245).
But Bilezikian’s analysis here is simply an illustration of the fact that at this key text the contrived nature of the suggested meaning “source” for “head” most clearly shows itself: How can Paul have meant that the husband is the source of the wife as Christ is the source of the church? I am certainly not the “source” of my wife! Nor is any husband today, nor was any husband in the church at Ephsesus the “source” of his wife!
The fact that this meaning will not fit is therefore evident in the fact that no evangelical feminist interpreter will propose the mere meaning “source” for this text, but each one will always shift the basis of discussion by importing some different, specialized sense, such as “source of something (such as encouragement, comfort, growth, etc.)”.
But the fact that the meaning “source” itself will not fit should serve as a warning that this suggested meaning is incorrect at its foundation. On the other hand, we should realize the importance of this text: If the husband is indeed the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, and if “head” carries the sense “authority over” or “leader,” then the feminist claim that there should be total equality and interchangeability of roles in marriage is simply inconsistent with the New Testament.
(48) Colossians 2:10:
“And you have come to fullness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”
Once again Bilezikian predictably gets the meaning “source” out of this passage:
“Christ is ‘the head of all power and authority’ because he is the source of their existence” (pp. 246-247). But it is difficult to understand how Bilezikian can see “source” here without any connotation of authority. If (according to Bilezikian) Christ is the source of all other rule and authority in the universe, then is He not also a far greater authority and a far greater ruler than all of these others? Even if we were to take the meaning “source” for kephale¯ here (which is not necessary, for “ruler” or “authority over” fits much better), it would still be difficult to agree with Bilezikian’s statement that “this text, like the others, is also devoid of any mention or connotation of rulership in reference to the headship of Christ” (p. 247).
In all of these individual texts, we must ask, is the meaning “authority, ruler” or the meaning “source” more persuasive? Bilezikian has not given us one example of a person called kephale¯ where he claims the meaning “source” but where the person was not someone in a position of authority. Would it not be unusual—if kephale¯ indeed means source and not authority—that people who are called “head” are all rulers and leaders?
We do not find that wives and mothers are called “heads.” We do not find that soldiers who are the source of strength and power for an army are called “heads.” We do not find that citizens who are the source of strength for a nation are called “heads.” Rather, the king of Egypt is a “head,” the general of an army is a “head,” the Roman emperor is a “head,” David the king of Israel is a “head,” the leaders of the tribes of Israel are “heads,” and, in the New Testament, the husband is the “head” of the wife and Christ is the “head” of the church and God the Father is the “head” of Christ. No one in a nonleadership position is called “head.” Why? Perhaps because there was a sense in the ancient world that kephale¯, when used of persons, meant someone in a position of rule or authority, just as the head was said by secular as well as Jewish writers to be the “ruling part” of the body.
c. 1 Corinthians 11:3:
Bilezikian alleges, “Grudem adopts the view that this text describes a chain of command, moving from the top of a hierarchy of power to the
bottom, whereby God the Father is the ‘authority’ over God the Son, Christ is the authority over every man, and man is the authority over the woman” (pp. 241-242).
This statement is simply false. I have never taught or written that there is a “chain of command” in 1 Corinthians 11:3. Neither (to my knowledge) have other responsible advocates of a complementarian position with regard to men and women. The idea of a “chain of command” suggests that the wife can only relate to God through her husband rather than directly. But this is certainly false. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:3 simply sets up three distinct relationships: the headship of God the Father in the Trinity, the headship of Christ over every man, and the headship of a man over a woman. But certainly every woman is able to relate directly to God through Christ, not simply through her husband.
d. A Fundamental Opposition to the Idea of Authority:
A fundamental commitment of Bilezikian’s is evident in his unwillingness to see any authority in the New Testament view of marriage (or apparently in the relationship of Christ to the church):
The New Testament contains no text where Christ’s headship to the church connotes a relationship of authority. Likewise, the New Testament contains no text where a husband’s headship to his wife connotes a relationship of authority. (pp. 248-249)
He then goes on to say that the existence of any authority structure in marriage would “paganize the marriage relationship.” Regarding husband/wife relationships, he says:
The imposition of an authority structure upon this exquisite balance of reciprocity would paganize the marriage relationship and make the Christ/church paradigm irrelevant to it. (p. 249)
As far as I can understand this sentence, it implies that any existence of authority within marriage is a “pagan” concept because it would “paganize the marriage relationship.” Does Bilezikian mean, then, that the existence of any authority between parents and children is also a pagan concept? And if the existence of authority within marriage would “make the Christ/church paradigm irrelevant to it,” he must mean that there is no authority relationship between Christ and the church either—for if Christ did have authority over the church, then certainly the paradigm of Christ and the church would not be “irrelevant” to an authority structure within marriage.
What seems to me to be both amazing and disappointing in this statement is the length to which Bilezikian will go in order to carry out his fundamental opposition to the idea of authority within human relationships. A commitment to oppose any idea of the husband’s authority over the wife has apparently led him ultimately to say that authority within marriage is always a pagan idea and—it seems—to imply that Christ’s authority over the church would be a pagan idea as well.
At this point we must object and insist that authority and submission to authority are not pagan concepts. They are truly divine concepts, rooted in the eternal nature of the Trinity for all eternity and represented in the eternal submission of the Son to the Father and of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son.
To resist the very idea of authority structures that have been appointed by God (whether in marriage, in the family, in civil government, in church leadership, or in Christ’s authority over the church) is ultimately to encourage us to disobey God’s will. If effective, such an argument will only drive us away from conformity to the image of Christ. If we are to live lives pleasing to God, we must submit to the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom God has placed “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named . .. and has put all things under his feet, and has made him head over all things for the church” (Ephesians 1:21-22).
66. Appendix in Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), pp. 215-252.
67.Although Dr. Bilezikian wrote these criticisms before Mr. Cervin’s article, they apparently came up with the criticisms independently, because Mr. Cervin does not indicate that he has seen Dr. Bilezikian’s article.
68.See above, pp. 445-446.
69.My earlier article (pp. 47-48) cites definitions from BAGD, Thayer, Cremer, NIDNTT, and (for the Septuagint) TDNT. Since then two more lexicons have been published: the sixth edition of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-deutsches Wörterbuch, ed. Kurt and Barbara Aland (Berlin: Walter DeGruyter, 1988), pp. 874-875, lists no such meaning as “source” but does give the meaning “Oberhaupt” (“chief, leader”) (p. 875). And the new Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2 vols., ed. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene E. Nida (New York: United Bible Societies, 1988), lists for kephale¯ the meaning, “one who is of supreme or preeminent status, in view of authority to order or command—‘one who is the head of, one who is superior to, one who is supreme over’” (vol. 1, p. 739), but they give no meaning such as “source, origin.” In light of such unanimity of testimony to one meaning and absence of testimony to another, it is difficult for me to understand how Dr. Bilezikian can speak of a “lack of lexical agreement on the meaning of kephale¯” (p. 218).
70.See discussion above, p. 440.
71.See above the quotations from Plato, Philo, and Plutarch [quotations (3), (18), (19), (20), (28), and (29)], pp. 440-442. 72.Bilezikian’s objection that the Greek phrase hyper panta, “over all things,” cannot mean “authority over all things” because hyper means “above,” not “over” (p. 244) carries little force: Whether Christ is head “over all things” or “above all things,” He still has authority over all. Moreover, in the same sentence Paul says that God “has put all things under his feet” (Ephesians 1:22). Paul’s use of hyper here to say that Christ is “over all things” probably picks up on his use of the related preposition hyperano¯, “far above,” in verse 21, where Christ is said to be “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.” It is futile for Bilezikian to try to empty Ephesians 1:22 of the concept of Christ’s universal authority.