Thursday, 2 April 2009

Susan Foh: What is the woman's desire in Genesis 3:16?

To my surprise and pleasure, I've discovered that Susan T Foh's article, What is the Woman's Desire? is available online as a pdf file. I read Foh's article some years ago and discovered that she'd come to the same conclusions regarding Genesis 3:16 as I had, that it needs to be read in the light of Genesis 4:7. In Hebrew, the two are closely parallel (if you don't do Hebrew, you'll struggle with Foh's article):

וְאֶל־אִישֵׁךְ תְּשׁוּקָתֵךְ וְהוּא יִמְשָׁל־בָּךְ

וְאֵלֶיךָ תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ וְאַתָּה תִּמְשָׁל־בּוֹ

Here are Foh's conclusions:

Contrary to the usual interpretations of commentators, the desire of the woman in Genesis 3:16b does not make the wife (more) submissive to her husband so that he may rule over her. Her desire is to contend with him for leadership in their relationship. This desire is a result of and a just punishment for sin, but it is not God's decretive will for the woman. Consequently, the man must actively seek to rule his wife.

The reasons for preferring this interpretation are:

  1. It is consistent with the context, i.e., it is judgment for sin that the relation between man and woman is made difficult. God's words in Genesis 3:16b destroy the harmony of marriage, for the rule of the husband, part of God's original intent for marriage, is not made more tolerable by the wife's desire for her husband, but less tolerable, because she rebels against his leadership and tries to usurp it.

  1. It permits a consistent understanding of hqvwt in the Old Testament also consistent with its etymology.

  1. It recognizes the parallel between Genesis 3:16b and 4:7b. The interpretation of 4:7b is clearer; we know from the context that sin's desire to Cain involves mastery or enslavement and that Cain did not win the battle to rule sin.

  2. It explains the fact that husbands do not rule their wives as a result of God's proclamation in Genesis 3:16b. (Further support is implied by the New Testament commands for wives to be submissive to their husbands and the requirements for elders to rule their families.) jb-lwmy xvhv is not an indicative statement, for if God states that something will come to pass, it will.

In short, the battle of the sexes is real, follows the Fall and is a result of judgement.

(I've now posted further on this, following Rachel's comment below.)

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37 comments:

  1. I'm trying to follow the logic of your argument in face of real tiredness - could you put it more simply? Are you saying it is God's will for the man to rule the woman pre-fall or this is a consequence of the fall?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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      .

      Delete
  2. Rachel, I recommend you read Foh's article to see what she is saying.

    However, what I'm saying (with which I find she generally agrees) is that the central point of Genesis 3:16 is not that the man will 'rule' the woman, but that the woman will seek to do for her husband what sin seeks to do for Cain in Genesis 4:7, and that therefore the husband should (though not necessarily will) respond to that as Cain was urged to, by resisting it.

    The weakness of the man is as much an outcome of the Fall as is the desire of the woman.

    I take it as axiomatic, though, that Ephesians 5 describes what was always meant to be the relationship between husbands and wives (Head-Body, Sacrifice-Submission), since it was always meant to be the relationship of Christ to the Church.

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  3. I've now read the article and you know what you're saying is obviously going to be highly disputed by many Christians. I offer the following response:

    What is the woman's desire in Genesis 3:16?

    Genesis 3:16 needs to be read in the light of Genesis 4:7. In Hebrew, the two are closely parallel

    Contrary to the usual interpretations of commentators, the desire of the woman in Genesis 3:16b does not make the wife (more) submissive to her husband so that he may rule over her. Her desire is to contend with him for leadership in their relationship. This desire is a result of and a just punishment for sin, but it is not God's decretive will for the woman. Consequently, the man must actively seek to rule his wife.


    The only thing those two verses have in common is the word "desire", but what she ignores is the fact that "sin" did not desire SOMETHING BELONGING TO CAIN, but CAIN HIMSELF. Sin did not crave some position or power, it wanted the man. Likewise, Eve wanted the man-- not his alleged "stuff" or position. And in spite of assertions to the contrary, where does Gen. 3:16 say Eve desired in order to possess, own, control, or master? Does the mere word "desire" make every single detail identical? That's just poor logic, overly simplistic and jumping to conclusions.

    And what is the context of Gen. 3? Confrontation over sin and penalties for it. But what God says to Eve is entirely different from what He says to Adam and the serpent. To those two God said "Because you have done this...", followed by something being cursed. But to Eve God said "A snare has increased your sorrow... (you fell into a trap); you will desire to follow your husband and then he will dominate you." And let's not forget that when God cursed the serpent He honored Eve by saying that HER seed would defeat him.

    If the aim is consistency and she wants "desire" always to mean the same regardless of context, then why not also admit that "ezer" is no different when used of Eve as when used of God.

    Then there's the matter of the future tense of God's statement: he WILL rule over you. That means such rule did not exist in the past; Adam never had rule over Eve before then. And since there was no imbalance of power between Adam and Eve before sin, then Eve could not possibly have been struggling for control before she ate the fruit. Never, anywhere in scripture, is Eve charged with desiring her husband before she ate the fruit; it is in the future tense when God says it.

    Likewise, there is no statement anywhere in scripture that Adam MUST "actively seek to rule his wife". It seems to have come quite naturally to him!

    The reasons for preferring this interpretation are:

    1. It is consistent with the context, i.e., it is judgment for sin that the relation between man and woman is made difficult.


    No, it is not consistent with the context. There is not one hint of hierarchy between Adam and Eve before sin. And again, if Eve had begun to desire rule over Adam before the serpent came along, then her sin would have been in that desire. But scripture NEVER says anything like this at all. It only says she sinned after being beguiled by the serpent, and only when she actually ate the fruit.

    God's words in Genesis 3:16b destroy the harmony of marriage, for the rule of the husband, part of God's original intent for marriage, is not made more tolerable by the wife's desire for her husband, but less tolerable, because she rebels against his leadership and tries to usurp it.


    Nonsense. It is not God who is to be charged with ruining harmony in marriage! There was no "rule of the husband"; it was never "part of God's original design"; that is begging the question. Once again, does any scripture anywhere in the Bible charge Eve with desire to usurp anyone's leadership? No.

    2. It permits a consistent understanding of hqvwt in the Old Testament also consistent with its etymology.


    No, it only shows how people like to take one method or meaning when it suits them and abandon it when it suits them. And exegesis by etymology doesn't work.

    3. It recognizes the parallel between Genesis 3:16b and 4:7b. We know from the context that sin's desire to Cain involves mastery or enslavement and that Cain did not win the battle to rule sin.


    No, it ignores semantic range and context, and ignores the fact that in both cases it is the person, not something they had, that is the object of desire. If I desire my husband, does that mean I want to boss him around? Of course not. I want him, not his qualifications or his job or his car.

    4. It explains the fact that husbands do not rule their wives as a result of God's proclamation in Genesis 3:16b.


    No, history has been consistent in its proof that husbands rule with an iron hand, and that this is a result of sin, not an attempt to redeem anyone or anything.

    (Further support is implied by the New Testament commands for wives to be submissive to their husbands and the requirements for elders to rule their families.)


    No, for several reasons. Telling wives to submit does not mean husbands are not to submit-- especially since Paul stated explicitly that submission is mutual. If a group of children are in school and one of them steals a book, and the teacher reprimands the thief, does that mean the other students are allowed to steal? Ridiculous as that sounds, it's exactly what Foh is arguing. She thinks that if Paul tells wives to submit then that must mean husbands are off the hook. Likewise, some actually believe wives don't have to love!

    And never are elders told to rule their families. Only wives are ever called "house despot", and the statement about elders and their families (1) does not exclude female elders and (2) the Greek indicates not iron rule but provision and protection. That's what elders are to do for the church, and the test is to see whether they've been good providers for their own families.

    Thanks
    I rest.
    C'mon John, you knew this would get people's backs up.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Rachel,

    I offer Foh’s article for reading because I think it is interesting and persuasive, not because I think it will ‘get people’s backs up’. But if people’s backs are ‘got up’ they must decide on what grounds and respond accordingly.

    You’ve offered a critique of her thesis, and I will make some response (though I speak for myself, not her, obviously).

    You wrote, “The only thing those two verses have in common is the word "desire"”. This is simply not true. On the contrary, the verses show a remarkable parallel of both structure and vocabulary:

    And unto the husband of you shall be the desire of you and he shall rule over you.

    And unto you shall be the desire of him and you shall rule over him.

    You continue, “but what she ignores is the fact that "sin" did not desire SOMETHING BELONGING TO CAIN, but CAIN HIMSELF.” But the thesis is that what sin desired was mastery of Cain. That is the point Foh makes with regard to Eve.

    I’m not sure how you get to read the first part of 3:16 as, “A snare has increased your sorrow.” This bears no resemblance to the Hebrew or to any English translation in my possession. The Hebrew is clear: “I will greatly multiply ...” (lit. ‘multiplying I will multiply’). It is God’s doing.

    You have to be very careful when interpreting Hebrew tenses. There is no precise equivalent to an English present tense. Hence God’s explanation of his name to Moses in Exodus 3:14 could be “I am who I am,” or equally, “I will be who I will be.” It is technically a future tense. However, the ‘future’ does not mean God will be something he was not in the past. Hence you cannot conclude that the future tense in Gen 3:16 means such rule “did not exist in the past”.

    In any case, this understanding of ‘rule’ is not quite what Foh (or I) would argue, any more than Cain ‘rules’ sin. On this understanding, however, Eve was, indeed, not struggling with Adam before the Fall. The struggle is part of the consequent curse.

    You also write, “Likewise, there is no statement anywhere in scripture that Adam MUST "actively seek to rule his wife".” Foh’s argument, and my own, however, would be that this is exactly that instruction, though with the added caveat that ‘rule’ is not a great translation at this point.

    The hierarchy between Adam and Eve before the Fall, however, is implicit in the passage, in Adam naming Eve. Foh equates ‘rule’ with the function of headship in a way I’m not sure I would, but there was clearly a head-body relationship of husband to wife before the Fall, as well as after. (I take the ‘rule’ in 3:16 as being a resistance, not a ‘ruling’.)

    On submission, there is mutual submission, and there is also ontological submission. We are all, for example, to submit to leaders. Wives are to submit to their husbands. Husbands are not to submit to their wives as wives. As to elders ‘ruling’ their families, I do see this in the instructions in Timothy and Titus. That does not exclude women running their households (being oikodespotes), but is part of the picture.

    What I like about Foh’s interpretation is that it makes sense of two passages, and of experience. I think there is a lot in it!

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  5. Here's the thing. Some of the Hebrew scholars don't like seeing this discovery attributed to Susan Foh, perhaps because she is a woman. They think they always knew this.

    On the other hand, if it was discovered by Susan, why was essential truth veiled for so long? One of the strongest arguments against ordaining women is that it had never been done before. But now in the same decade we have the ordination of women and the true exegesis of Gen. 3:16. Why reject one and accept the other?

    Another concern is how Christians carried on their battle of the sexes without this interpetation. In fact, the Vulgate says that Eve was put "under her husband's power" in this verse. That is the translation for teshuqah.

    So how was this battle waged? With other verses.

    The truth is that on some level the most important thing for some people is that the battle be engaged. Why not lay down the weapons of war and kiss your wife instead?

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  6. A snare has entrapped you ...

    I've done a little digging around the suggestion in Rachel's post that Genesis 3:16 should be translated as, “A snare has increased your sorrow.”

    The origin of this seems to be the 1921 work by the early Christian feminist, Katharine Bushnell, God's Word to Women, which is still in print.

    According to an article by Pat Joyce this site here, “Bushnell holds that the first section [of Genesis 3:16] should be translated “a snare has increased your sorrow . . .”

    It continues,

    “She gets “snare” from the Hebrew word ARB (ARB) translated “ambush” and” liers in wait” or “in ambush” fourteen times in Joshua and Judges. [Actually, I counted twenty.]

    “The difference is between the two translations given below is only in the vowel signs.

    “HaRBeh, AaRBeh, "multiplying I will multiply," which is usually translated as I will greatly multiply your sorrow

    “and

    “HiRBah AoReB, "has-caused-to multiply a lying-in-wait.” Remember that lyer-in wait can also be translated an ambush or snare.”

    [Although in fact, as far as I can see, the KJV never translates it as 'snare', see also Swanson, J. (1997), A Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains.]

    The problem is that the first statement in the argument is simply not true, namely that "The difference is [sic] between the two translations ... is only in the vowel signs."

    The first transliteration should be not 2 groups of 3 consonants: HaRBeh, AaRBeh (where, following Pat Joyce, "Upper case represents the original Hebrew letter. Lower case represents vowel signs"), but (using the same convention) 2 groups of 4 consonants: HaRBaH AaRBeH. There is a Hebrew consonant (He) at the end of each word, not a vowel point.

    The reason for this is straightforward: the first word is an infinitive absolute, which combines with the imperfect of the same verb to express emphasis - "multiplying I will multiply", cf "not dying you shall die" (3:4, translated, "you shall not surely die.")

    The word 'ambush', however, as Joyce acknowledges, is 3 consonants: ARB. This cannot, however (following Joyce), be turned by conjectural re-pointing into AoReB ("a lying in wait", "an ambush" or "a snare"), because you still have a 'spare' He: AoReBH.

    I have checked this as thoroughly as I can, but others may wish to contribute.

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  7. John,

    How did you manage to get Hebrew text in Wordpress? Please tell!!!

    Peter O, Ware

    ReplyDelete
  8. Peter O,

    Copied from Libronix software into a document using Open Office, saved as a (temporary) HTML file, opened in Firefox, and then cut and pasted into Blogger in the 'compose' window.

    A long way round but, to my surprise, it worked.

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  9. Bishop Dominic Stockford (EC-FCE)3 April 2009 at 15:46

    I'm with Foh - always have been - what she says seems obvious to me.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi John, the idea that Adam names Eve and is therefore her superior is not a strong enough argument. During her creation, the Lord God "caused a deep sleep (tardemah) to fall upon the man." Man has no part in making woman; he is unconscious. He exercises no control over her existence. He is neither participant nor spectator nor consultant at her being brought forth. Just like Adam, Eve owes her life solely to God. For both of them their origin of life is in God. But this is just to set the points below in context, to get on with it...

    The naming is important not because it teaches hierarchy. It is our sinfulness which teaches us to see the world in terms of hierarchy. The naming is important because it is at this point that man understands his maleness in contrast to femaleness. Only in responding to the female does the man discover himself as male. No longer a passive creature, 'ish comes alive in meeting 'ishshah.

    Our God is such a generous God because he gives us this freedom to name, to decide, to have free will. The Koran in contrast pictures God who names and then tells humankind what he must now do - call everything by names already decided.

    There is also a distinction to be made between naming and calling which I have read explained thus

    Neither the verb nor the noun name is there. We find instead the verb 'qara', to call: "she shall be called woman." This verb does not function as a synonym or parallel or substitute for name. The typical formula for naming is the verb to call plus the explicit object name. This formula applies to Deity, people, places, and animals. For example, in Genesis 4 we read:

    Cain built a city and called the name of the city after the name of his son Enoch (v. 17).
    And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth (v. 25).
    To Seth also a son was born and he called upon the name of the Lord (v. 26b).

    Genesis 2:23 has the verb call but does not have the object name. Its absence signifies the absence of a naming motif in the power. The presence of both the verb call and the noun name in the episode of the animals strengthens the point:

    So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air and to every beast of the field (2:19-20).

    In calling the animals by name, 'adham establishes supremacy over them and fails to find a fit helper. In calling woman, 'adham does not name her and does find in her a counterpart. Female and male are equal sexes. Neither has authority over the other.(14)

    A further observation secures the argument: Woman itself is not a name. It is a common noun; it is not a proper noun. It designates gender; it does not specify person. 'Adham recognizes sexuality by the words 'ishshah and 'ish. This recognition is not an act of naming to assert the power of male over female.

    But John, ultimately, readers of this blog, are on the whole, of a complementarian mind-set and my views are going to be minority views. God communicates to us all in imperfect (because of our sinfulness)perfection. There is a perfection of understanding that we will never attain in this life. When I eventually meet God face to face and see all the wondrous sights and beings there, I am sure that these issues will pale into insignificance. Man and woman will battle no longer. Jesus came (in part) to show us the mind of God and I see nothing in Jesus' actions or words which asserts leadership of one creature over another only that we should all submit to the triune God. So I lay my assertions here down and seek rest. I am happy that you are happy with your theological viewpoints and that they work for you, perhaps this is the way you are to understand things. I can only see the potential disadvantageous spin-offs of the complementarian mind-set but maybe that is the result of the way in which I have become shaped. God communicates to me in his majesty a very simple hierarchy - God and then me and not God and then my husband and me and thankfully my husband feels the same way and that is the way we live and the way we minister. There are so many women and men who are damaged because of the stress upon men that a complementarian expression of faith exerts and there are so many abused women. When men and women can live as equals who are complementary and stop arguing about who should be in control the world will be a more harmonious place. I think we're getting there but we've still got a long way to go.

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  11. Rachel,

    You wrote

    "I am happy that you are happy with your theological viewpoints and that they work for you, perhaps this is the way you are to understand things."

    Is the real issue here, not the fact that complementarians or egalitarians are happy with their respective viewpoints (which is not in dispute), but the fact that one faction (the egalitarians) by voting in Synod, are actively trying to drive the other,(the complementarians)in the CofE to eventual extinction. Egalitarians that you find on Fulcrum are *not* happy that complementarians are happy with their viewpoint.

    Most complementarians I have met, accept that there will be female Bishops in the church in due course. Rather than just be happy with their viewpoint, they want to make sure that their own theological integrity is respected.

    Unfortunately most egalitarians I have read particularly on Fulcrum, do not seem to believe that complementarians have any theological integrity at all. They want to cleanse the church of them completely.

    So do you think a complementarian's integrity should be robustly respected? More so than the unenforceable undertakings so far mooted?

    So who is bullying whom Rachel?

    Chris Bishop
    Devon

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  12. Hi Chris
    I have never accused anyone of bullying. Anglican down under explains helpfully how we 'engage with Scripture with zeal and integrity yet through a different interpretation arrive at different understandings. Thus the final presupposition to be noted here is that Scripture is authoritative for Anglicans, yet interpretation means the application of that authority to human conduct involves genuine questions, some of which do not yield, or do not yet yield common answers.' I think this is where I stand on things.

    I am more concerned by the fall-out of complementarian theology though, than I am by egalitarian theology. I follow a lot of the American blogs in which both women and men have sought liberation from the very patriarchal churches where they have worshipped because of the suffering they have experienced. I read a lot of liberation theology and so I find that I want to naturally align with the oppressed and in very right-wing churches, the oppressed are often the women and not the men. I think role-differentiation to the extent that Piper and Grudem promote is man-made and not divinely-sanctioned. However, liberation theology must also extend to liberating complementarians if they feel that they are being oppressed, however the idea of ghetto churches is very worrying. It's a very delicate subject.

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  13. Rachel,

    I am not accusing you of bullying. I have been following the exchange generated by your posting on Fulcrum where one poster refers to "scratch a Con Evo and you will find a bully" and by implication, having a dig at JR for having the temerity to suggest an alternative reading of Genesis that does not sit well with Egalitarians. I have found that this kind of response is not uncommon on Fulcrum.

    It seems to me that the bullying is being very largely done by Egalitarians to Complementarians in the CofE at the moment - but not by you, I hasten to add.

    And no doubt you are correct that in human conduct, some advocates of complementarianism have been oppressive to women in churches. I have seen cases of it myself. But then I have seen very good conduct by complementarians towards women in churches.

    However, the fact that there are bad exponents of complementarianism is not a reason to expunge them from the CofE no more than because than because there are some very bad doctors about, we should reject medicine.

    There are very good and strong theological arguments for the complementarity viewpoint based upon the relationship between Christ and the church and the man and the woman which I am sure you are aware of have been flogged to (and I am not going to go into them here); just as you can make a case for the egalitarian one.
    To both they are issues of conscience.

    However I'm sure you will agree that if your mind is made up one way or the other, then it is unlikely you will change it. And why should you?

    But surely the real question is can they coexist? While complementarians are prepared to co-exist with Egalitarians in the CofE, the latter are attempting to force the former out. They will not tolerate them at all or if they do, only in a manner that will lead to their eventual demise. If it is the ghetto church that you fear, then it must be logical for egalitarians to drive the complementarians from the church.

    And if this is done in the context of the 'liberation theology' that you speak, of then that is hard to see as liberating complementarians is it?

    Chris Bishop
    Devon

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  14. Dear Rachel,

    I’m always glad of your contributions because you obviously take great pains to engage with the stuff on this blog. I hope that my responses at least show I take that seriously. Let me deal with some of what you said, though I may not have time to cover all of it.

    You wrote in your last response to me that “the idea that Adam names Eve and is therefore her superior is not a strong enough argument” (for my remark that this indicates a “hierarchy between Adam and Eve before the Fall”, which was itself a response to your comment that “There is not one hint of hierarchy between Adam and Eve before sin”).

    It is my view, however, that a functional hierarchy is not necessarily the same as an ontological ‘superiority’. The position of my vicar, for example, demands my submission to his authority (following Hebrews 13:17) in the ‘hierarchy’ of our Benefice, but he is not superior to me as a person (at least, not in my opinion). There is, furthermore, nothing essentially wrong with hierarchical relationships.

    However, we must not overlook the enormous significance of the act of giving names to things. John Walton brings this out in his Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: “It was believed [in Ancient Egypt] that the name of a living being or object ... was the very essence of what was defined, and that the actual pronouncement of a name was to create what was spoken.” (188)

    The fact that God, as it were, ‘delegated’ his own work of naming (Gen 1:5,8,10, etc) to Adam is evidence in itself of humanity being the ‘image of God’. As you note, that is indeed a contrast with other views, such as that in the Qur’an. God reserved the naming of the human species to himself (Gen 5:2), but he ‘stepped back’ and allowed Adam to name things as well.

    The problem, I think, with your argument about naming is that the text records Adam indeed naming his wife: “And the man called his wife’s name Eve ...” (Gen 3:20). Here we have the verb, the object name and the naming formula: (literally) “And he called, Adam, the name (shem) of his wife (ishah) Eve.”

    But having said this, I would agree with what you said about ish and ishah, that “This ... is not an act of naming to assert the power of male over female.”

    Much of the problem I see with egalitarianism is that it seems always to associate ‘hierarchy’ of any kind with ‘power over’, ‘oppression of’ and so on. Yet surely the Bible holds out to us the reality of both hierarchy and equality, of power over and personal liberty, and so on? It is the denial of this which I find difficult in the egalitarian position.

    I have to say, though, that the most disappointing bit of what you wrote was the last paragraph, where you take the “Its OK if it works for you” approach.

    You go on disagreeing with me! I much prefer that to the intellectual surrender of “Everyone’s got to find their own way.”

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  15. I was stupid enough to look at the Fulcrum thread to which Chris Bishop refers last night. It was mostly a lot of ad hominem stuff about me, whereas Rachel has consistently engaged with the ideas (indeed, I think I'm right in saying she started the thread looking for other people's suggestions on this topic).

    I'm always telling people we shouldn't worry what others think or say about us. Now I have a chance to practice what I've been preaching. Not sneaking another look is step 1. "They say. What say they? Let them say," is surely a great motto.

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  16. (Chelmsford)

    John, you wrote:

    Much of the problem I see with egalitarianism is that it seems always to associate ‘hierarchy’ of any kind with ‘power over’, ‘oppression of’ and so on. Yet surely the Bible holds out to us the reality of both hierarchy and equality, of power over and personal liberty, and so on? It is the denial of this which I find difficult in the egalitarian position.

    I could say that it is all very well for you to say that as one in the hierarchy, even if only in a low position in it. But if you look from the point of view from someone who is not in the hierarchy at all, who indeed according to many should not be allowed to aspire to having any place in the hierarchy because of an accident of her birth, this does look very like power exercised over her and oppression. It is certainly an absence of equality. Also it is a denial of personal liberty to deny the validity of personal aspirations based on one's birth. Of course I know that there are theological arguments here which I don't want to get into in this comment. But please be aware that egalitarians have valid reasons in terms of basic human rights for objecting to the complementarian position.

    Chris, I don't think egalitarians are trying to force anyone out of the Church of England. But it is simply impossible to have a functioning organisation in which people are validly appointed to positions of authority within it and others do not recognise their authority. An army can't function if the troops, or the mid-level officers, are allowed to pick and choose which generals' orders they will obey. Complementarians in the church are welcome to be that within their own spheres of authority. The church powers that be are bending over backwards to make this possible. But when the rubber hits the road, if ministers in the church are not prepared to accept the authorities validly placed over them, according to the properly made decision of the whole church, then I am afraid those ministers will have to leave.

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  17. Hi John
    Yes the Fulcrum thread hasn't exactly fed me in the way that I had hoped it would! Swifly moving on...I still have difficulty with naming. I grasp the ontological equality argument which is at the heart of complementarian thinking but still fail to understand the role differentiation theory. I find the following thoughts on Gen 3:20 helpful and I am afraid to say I am rather inclined to see Adam's naming of Eve as a result of his fallenness.

    Husband and work (childbearing) define the woman; wife and work (farming) define the man. To be faithful translators, we must recognize that women as well as men move beyond these defined roles. Whatever forms stereotyping takes in our own culture, they are judgments upon our common sin and disobedience. The suffering and oppression we women and men know now are marks of our fall, not of our creation.

    At this place of sin and judgment "the man calls his wife's name Eve" (3:20, thereby asserting his rule over her. The naming itself faults the man for corrupting a relationship of mutuality and equality. Yahweh evicts the couple from the Garden, yet with signals of grace.(25)

    Always a pleasure doing business with you ;)
    Rachel

    One of the points of my blog is Proverbs 27:17

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  18. Peter, the trouble (as is often the case) with your final position is that you make women's ordination into a 'first order' issue, definitive of being a Christian. Either that, or you make the Church of England into a sect instead of being what it has been hitherto: the Church in England.

    If the alternative to accepting women's ordination to the Anglican orders of ministry is 'to leave the church' then the Church of England becomes a sect within which only those who accept women's ordination can be accepted, whilst the wider Church may take a more flexible view. Or if all the Church ought to accept women's ordination, there can be no 'wider Church' and those who do not accept women's ordination are not Christians.

    So which is it?

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  19. John, I think a large part of where you differ is in your assumption that the church has to be a monolithic hierarchy headed by some kind of pope, although presumably not the one in Rome. I would have no problem with a situation in which there were in effect two parallel churches of England, one with women bishops and the other without. They could perhaps be sister provinces in the Anglican Communion, which I think is one suggestion of Forward in Faith. Of course there would be a lot of practical difficulties because the whole parish and diocese system, which is not biblical, would have to be dismantled. What I do object to is attempts to undermine the proper structure of authority within a single hierarchy.

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  20. Rachel, I still find this exegesis regarding the 'naming' too complex. In Genesis 1, God regularly calls things what they are: "God called the light day," etc.

    Day is not a 'proper noun', but it is clearly a noun, and the action is a 'naming' action. It fits, furthermore, into an Ancient Near Eastern understanding of 'naming and differentiating' which was understood as part of the creation process (see Walton, op cit above).

    Similarly, cat is a noun, and Gertie is the proper name for our cat. When Adam 'named' the animals, the implication is that he did this in the former sense (eg 'snake'), not the latter: Sammy the snake.

    The response to the creation of the woman is simple and straightforward - "She is called (niphal, a simple passive verb) woman." It is a 'calling by class name' directly comparable to God's 'calling' of things in chapter 1, especially since it is also a differentiation.

    I would find it hard, personally, to maintain that there were two kinds of 'naming' actions - the good kind, in chapters 1-2 and the bad kind in 3:20. On the contrary, 3:20 is an act of hope, of faith and, perhaps, also of forgiveness.

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  21. Rosemary Behan asked me (John Richardson) to post this for her:

    I hope I can add something to this conversation, but if it’s not helpful, please disregard.

    Rachel said, “I can only see the potential disadvantageous spin-offs of the complementarian mind-set but maybe that is the result of the way in which I have become shaped. God communicates to me in his majesty a very simple hierarchy - God and then me and not God and then my husband and me.”

    I don’t like either of the names being used here, complementarian and egalitarian, because neither it seems to me, expresses the true meaning of each side. Of course men and women are equal, completely and totally, but unlike Rachel, I can only see the potential disadvantages for men from the so called ‘egalitarian’ mindset. Not only that, but Rachel sees the hierarchy in ways I don’t, I don’t think it’s a question of God and then me .. it’s always surely, God and then His People, His church. ‘Me’ is both divisive and polarizing surely? As ‘servants’ of His church the ‘other’ should always have priority surely? Not ‘me.’

    Chris Bishop wrote .. “Is the real issue here, not the fact that complementarians or egalitarians are happy with their respective viewpoints (which is not in dispute), but the fact that one faction (the egalitarians) by voting in Synod, are actively trying to drive the other,(the complementarians)in the CofE to eventual extinction.”

    The situation here in New Zealand is that all Dioceses bar one, are refusing to ordain anyone who does not agree with the ordination of women. Meanwhile they wait patiently for those like us to get old and retire. However, unlike England , they have never actually made that a synodical decision either in local Dioceses or at General Synod level, so it is being achieved by subterfuge. Do please check out that what I say is true. We have very few genuine Anglo Catholics here, so in the main it is Evangelicals that are being refused ordination. I think there was a time [was it back in the 1670’s] in the CoE when Evangelicals were refused ordination, well that is happening here, but by stealth, not openly. Some Evangelicals are ordained, usually those of a more charismatic bent who are accepting of WO.

    Rachel said, “Anglican down under explains helpfully how we 'engage with Scripture with zeal and integrity yet through a different interpretation arrive at different understandings. Thus the final presupposition to be noted here is that Scripture is authoritative for Anglicans, yet interpretation means the application of that authority to human conduct involves genuine questions, some of which do not yield, or do not yet yield common answers.'

    I have had long conversations with the author of Anglican’s Down Under, I’ve got copies of that correspondence. He has said that were he a Bishop, he would not accept for ordination anyone who does not agree with the ordination of women. So whatever that means above, in practice, and again by stealth and not by open synodical agreement, we are being forced out of the church. It’s not so much ‘bullying’ as a ‘fait accompli.’

    Chris Bishop said, “But surely the real question is can they coexist? While complementarians are prepared to co-exist with Egalitarians in the CofE, the latter are attempting to force the former out. They will not tolerate them at all or if they do, only in a manner that will lead to their eventual demise. If it is the ghetto church that you fear, then it must be logical for egalitarians to drive the complementarians from the church. And if this is done in the context of the 'liberation theology' that you speak, of then that is hard to see as liberating complementarians is it?

    We work in the only Diocese left in New Zealand as far as I’m aware, where a number of men who do not agree with the ordination of women have been recently ordained .. YOUNG men .. which is unusual in the Anglican Church here in New Zealand . We are also working in the only Diocese in New Zealand with a woman Bishop. These ordinations were made before she arrived, she is new to the Diocese, so we have yet to ascertain whether she will permit this situation to continue.

    Peter Kirk said, “But please be aware that egalitarians have valid reasons in terms of basic human rights for objecting to the complementarian position.”

    Chuckle .. human rights? Can I invoke those ‘human rights’ to get me into Heaven? I suppose next it will be ‘justice,’ and you know what happens to folk who demand justice!!

    Peter Kirk also said, “I don't think egalitarians are trying to force anyone out of the Church of England. But it is simply impossible to have a functioning organisation in which people are validly appointed to positions of authority within it and others do not recognise their authority. An army can't function if the troops, or the mid-level officers, are allowed to pick and choose which generals' orders they will obey. Complementarians in the church are welcome to be that within their own spheres of authority. The church powers that be are bending over backwards to make this possible. But when the rubber hits the road, if ministers in the church are not prepared to accept the authorities validly placed over them, according to the properly made decision of the whole church, then I am afraid those ministers will have to leave.”

    This is much closer to the real problem isn’t it? I think for Anglo Catholics, of which you have many in the UK , there is a genuine problem in that ordained ministers simply cannot accept the ministry of a woman Bishop. But Evangelicals don’t have that problem. I’m not saying it’s easy, but we can genuinely accept that it IS a second order issue, and work both with and for a woman Bishop. If however, such a Bishop should decide, as have all the other male Bishops, that she cannot work with us, then it becomes a first order issue.

    Rachel said, “Husband and work (childbearing) define the woman; wife and work (farming) define the man. To be faithful translators, we must recognize that women as well as men move beyond these defined roles.”

    I believe Rachel, that you’re only talking about the last few hundred years. Prior to that, prior to the industrial revolution, men and women worked side by side on their small holding or small farm. In fact the children worked too as soon as they were old enough. You are visiting your perceptions from our present culture, onto the whole of time when that isn’t in fact warranted. Consider where the wife in Proverbs 31 came from perhaps? The family unit was very much a shared unit for thousands of years, it’s only since the Industrial Revolution, with husbands going out to work and wives staying at home, that the situation you’re talking about has arisen.

    Peter Kirk said, “I would have no problem with a situation in which there were in effect two parallel churches of England , one with women bishops and the other without. They could perhaps be sister provinces in the Anglican Communion, which I think is one suggestion of Forward in Faith.”

    Hmm, I think a problem might come later for your sister provinces. Experience here in New Zealand , where we’ve had two women as Bishops, and where women have been ordained for longer, is that this church is shrinking at a rapid rate. Whereas parishes with strong male leadership, or parishes like ours where women are encouraged into full time ministry, but not the ordained ministry, are growing apace. Eventually I suspect the pragmatics of the situation would need to be considered. They are generalizations I know, but on the whole, men are the breadwinners, so it’s monetary support from men that often pays for outreach. Women have had some success in raising churches from their children’s work, but have lost those children as adults. New Zealand is also a great Rugby playing nation and I’m afraid to say that women are not successful at conducting outreaches in the Rugby Club for example. Experience here suggests the possibility that the sister province that ordains hundreds of women, will soon be without a strong male presence, and broke. YMMV

    Rosemary Behan,
    Christchurch, New Zealand

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  22. Apropos the side issue on this thread about women's ordination, on Thursday last week I had an interesting conversation at the New Directions editorial board, where concern was being expressed about the fact that GAFCON includes those who do ordain women as well as those who don't.

    The view was expressed by the Anglo-Catholic members present that this couldn't work long-term since ordination is, for them, a first-order issue.

    I remarked that it is precisely the fact that ordination is a second-order issue for Conservative Evangelicals that meant we were able to sit at the same table.

    This was surprisingly well-received!

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  23. Rosemary, it seems odd that it is mainly people from the beautiful city of Christchurch on the other side of the world who respond to me. On my own blog I have been having a long conversation with four different people from Christchurch, but I actually think they are four different identities for one person. I think your style or writing shows that you are not yet another identity for that person!

    I don't want to respond to all your questions. But I must agree with you that bishops can refuse to ordain whoever they want. Here in Chelmsford diocese there was a recent case where the diocesan bishop refused to ordain a candidate who wouldn't take communion with him, although I think he later relented. In the Church of England we have been fortunate in that for the most part bishops have not refused to ordain candidates because of their particular views on controversial issues - or perhaps not so fortunate as this has opened the door to many extreme liberals. But there is of course no guarantee that this will continue, and I don't see how there can be a guarantee within the existing structures of the church. So it is possible that at some time in the future those opposed to women's ordination will not be accepted for ordination. But that is a danger which cannot be circumvented by any of the measures which are now being suggested, except perhaps that of a separate and completely independent province for those not accepting women's ordination. That is another reason for favouring that proposal.

    The situation here in England is different from that in NZ: there are many large and growing congregations, especially charismatic ones, which do accept women's ordination. I would be interested to see any figures, but I would be surprised to see a significantly larger overall growth rate among parishes which have formally rejected women's ordination than in the Church of England as a whole, which is now growing slowly.

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  24. John, I would love you to expand a little on this comment from above:

    "I remarked that it is precisely the fact that ordination is a second-order issue for Conservative Evangelicals that meant we were able to sit at the same table."

    John Simmons (Oldham)

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  25. I think that if ordination were a 'first order' issue for Conservative Evangelicals, we would have to insist that Anglo-Catholics shared our view (which they patently don't).

    However, it is the fact that there is a closer affinity between Evangelicals and Catholics on genuine first-order issues - the need for salvation, the inspiration of Scripture, the nature of sin, the basics of the Creeds (the Virgin Birth, etc), and so on - and that we don't worry too much about what is still an Anglican ministry (even if overlaid with 'Romanist' tendencies), that gives us common ground. That, and the fact that they sometimes just think we're weird, not (necessarily) 'the enemy'.

    By contrast, where someone insists that our view on ministry, for example regarding women's ordination, makes us enemies of the gospel or no longer welcome in the denomination, it is much harder - indeed really impossible - to sit at the same table, no matter how notionally 'Evangelical' we may all be. That is the irony of the present situation.

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  26. Hi

    I may be a lamb to the slaughter here but surely the argument for heirarchy does not finally rest on the post fall punishment nor indeed on the pre-fall 'naming' though I take the view this powerfully supports heirarchy. Patriarchy however is based ultimately on the fact that man was created first and women second - 'from' the man. Also that woman was created 'for' the man as a suitable help. This interpretation rests ultimately on Paul's interpretation of Gen 1-3 - and so is an inspired interpretation, not a speculative one.

    John Thomson Glasgow.

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  27. Susan Foh's interpretation of Genesis 3:16, that the desire in question is for a woman to usurp her husband's authority is very recent.

    Historically, before the modern conveniences of birth control and central heating, it was understood that pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding placed women in a vulnerable position, so of course, as "the weaker vessel" her desire would be for her husband. Jewish and Catholic interpretations of Genesis also take the view that a woman's desire in this case pertained to sexual desire or the aforementioned vulnerability created by its products. Yet, Grudem, Piper, et al seem to have latched on to Foh's interpretation as if they alone have found the "right" exegesis -- how lucky we are to have them to lead us out of the darkness after so many centuries of wandering around scratching our heads. Mystery solved!

    However, they seem to have overlooked what earlier protestant reform critics had already said about Foh's intepretation (that, btw, certainly bore no similarity to what Calvin had ever said). Here's what Irvin Busenitz had to say in the 1986 Grace Theological Journal in an article titled Woman's Desire for Man: Genesis 3:16 Reconsidered:

    "Her sin had nothing to do with denying Adam
    his rightful role of leadership in their marriage or with grasping a role
    that belonged to her husband. The only role that Eve usurped was
    that of God's, a usurpation that is characteristic of all acts of sin of
    all people living in all times of the history of mankind.
    Woman may desire to dominate or rule over man, but it is not a
    part of the punishment pronounced upon woman; it is just the essence,
    character, and result of all sin against God. Self-exaltation and pride
    always result in the desire to dominate and rule. Every person to some
    extent desires to dominate and rule over others--not just woman over
    man."

    Poignant words to read now, considering how "woman's desire to usurp her husband's authority" has been recently used on a number of men's rights blogs to blame modern "unsubmissive" women for current divorce trends.

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  28. I should like to add a few comments. First, I found this whole discussion very interesting and commend you, John, for your patience. To fit it all in, however, I will have to make a few posts. Here are my comments:

    "Susan Foh's interpretation of Genesis 3:16, that the desire in question is for a woman to usurp her husband's authority is very recent.

    Historically, before the modern conveniences of birth control and central heating, it was understood that pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding placed women in a vulnerable position, so of course, as "the weaker vessel" her desire would be for her husband. Jewish and Catholic interpretations of Genesis also take the view that a woman's desire in this case pertained to sexual desire or the aforementioned vulnerability created by its products."

    The question of history and our present culture determining an interpretation. I don't believe this is true of Susan Foh's article (I went back to read the pdf file to be sure). She was concerned with looking at the text of one passage of Scripture because of the use (it appears) made of it by modern feminists. But the concept of friction between husband and wife - and the unwillingness of a woman to submit to her husband's authority seems to (at least as far as the NT is concerned) have a far longer history than the past 100 years. My reading of the New Testament would appear to have exactly that problem raising its head in the fledgling Church of Paul's day.

    Second, we need to keep the content of her article in perspective. Suppose her view is false, what has changed? We still have the Bible teaching us that women rebel against their husbands and that they need to practice submission - only now we don't use Genesis to show that this is a result of sin. And if it is true? We can show there is some hope that, when we are all glorified and with the Lord in heaven, all those annoying spats will be over. And both husbands and wives will no longer have this problem

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  29. What is more worrying is the passage quoted from Irvin Busenitz's article in the 1986 Grace Theological Journal entitled "Woman's Desire for Man: Genesis 3:16 Reconsidered": Two things worry me. Related to the passages concerned they are:

    First; "Her sin had nothing to do with denying Adam his rightful role of leadership in their marriage or with grasping a role that belonged to her husband."

    Adam had told her God commanded them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet, "without denying Adam his rightful role as the leader in their marriage" Eve not only took of the fruit and ate it but she also gave it to Adam to eat as well. At the very least Mr Busenitz has not proven she honored Adam's leadership. The steps necessary to ignore God's command imply, however, she not only denied Adam's leadership but God's as well.

    Second is the section: "... Woman may desire to dominate or rule over man, but it is not a
    part of the punishment pronounced upon woman; it is just the essence, character, and result of all sin against God. ... Every person to some extent desires to dominate and rule over others--not just woman over man."

    What disturbs is that this was part of an article in a theological magazine. Now it may be true that attempts to dominate those God says we should submit to is the essence, character and the result of all sin against God. That the rest may also follow as true is not my concern. The bible text certainly seems to say that God declared things would be different for Eve. That seems plain with respect to childbirth. Surely the esteemed author did not expect us to believe that verse 16b merely describes the essence of sin and that there was no connection with the earlier mention of "increased pain" in childbirth?

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  30. "The naming is important not because it teaches hierarchy. It is our sinfulness which teaches us to see the world in terms of hierarchy."

    Such goes against 1 Corinthians 11:3. In contrast to the error of Gender Feminism, this teaches us a DEFINITIVE hierarchical relationship in three couplets. In each case, the two in question are "consubstantial" and equal, yet have different roles. One is the authority, the other is not. One commands, the other obeys. One gives, the other receives.

    This underlies the entirety of Scripture.

    To argue that consubstantiality is undermined by one being the authority or head of another would mean that this verse supports Arianism, for the Father is called the "head" of the Son. But that isn't how any of the Church Fathers seem to have taken this. St. John Chrysostom understood that you could be consubstantial with something and that there could STILL be a hierarchical relationship.

    What Gender Feminism does is assume that hierarchy destroys equality. That belief makes no sense with this verse, it makes no sense with the headship of a husband over his wife. Gender Feminism results in destroying the hierarchy, and thus, the notion of the one giving and the one receiving, and thus...destroying the relationship. The complimentarity is destroyed. No wonder gender feminism leads so quickly to an endorsement of homosexuality.

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  31. Sean, as has been amply demonstrated the Greek word kephale never means "one in authority". So why are you presupposing this meaning in 1 Corinthians 11:3? Anyway, on any reasonable definition of "equality" there is a fundamental contradiction between "A is in authority over B" and "A is equal to B". That implies that your interpretation of the verse is Arian and so cannot agree with Chrysostom's.

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  32. Peter (and Sean), your assertion about the meaning of kephale is simply wrong.

    If I may quote from Low and Nida's Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament, "κεφαλήb, ῆς f: (a figurative extension of meaning of κεφαλήa ‘head,’ 8.10) one who is of supreme or pre-eminent 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’ (emphasis added).

    Also from Arndt, Gingrich, Danker and Bauer, A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature "in the case of living beings, to denote superior rank (cf. Artem. 4, 24 p. 218, 8 ἡ κεφ. is the symbol of the father; Judg 11:11; 2 Km 22:44) head (Zosimus of Ashkelon [500 ad] hails Demosth. as his master: ὠ̂ θεία κεφαλή [Biogr. p. 297]) ...

    You may wish to argue kephale does not have this meaning in relation to Christ and the Father, but you cannot do this on the basis that "it never means 'one in authority'".

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  33. John, you really shouldn't trust dictionaries, especially of NT Greek, which so often repeat past misunderstandings which are demonstrably incorrect. Suzanne on her Bookshelf blog has looked into the evidence for this sense of kephale, quoted by Wayne Grudem who takes the same line as Sean, and has found an almost complete lack of evidence, except for the two examples in LXX of over-literal translation of Hebrew ro'sh quoted by BAGD. I don't remember the discussion of the "Artem." and Zosimus citations but of course they need to be looked at in proper context.

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  34. Peter, I've checked out Fee in his commentary on 1 Corinthians, and he certainly dismisses the BAGD quotations. The Zosimus quotation is from the 6th c AD, so I think you are right to urge caution, and I was wrong to accept the dictionary at this point.

    Fee does however, concede that Grudem's survey (which he largely dismisses) "demonstrated ... that the metaphorical usage of 'leader' can be found", though he then adds "it is not at all clear that it ever means 'authority over'" (Fee 1 Corinthians pp502-503).

    Moreover, from the New Bible Dictionary, I find examples in the OT where kephale certainly does entail the 'leadership as authority' role:

    "καὶ ἔθηκαν αὐτὸν ὁ λαὸς ἐπ̓ αὐτοὺς εἰς κεφαλὴν καὶ εἰς ἀρχηγόν" OR "καὶ κατέστησαν αὐτὸν ἐπ̓ αὐτῶν εἰς κεφαλὴν εἰς ἡγούμενον" - two version of the LXX of Jdg 11:11, "and the people made him head and commander over them".

    "φυλάξεις με εἰς κεφαλὴν ἐθνῶν, λαός, ὃν οὐκ ἔγνων, ἐδούλευσάν μοι" - 2 Sa 22:44, "You have kept me as the head of the nations. A people I have not known shall serve me."

    The whole NBD statement is worth quoting, however, as I think you will like it:

    "Figuratively, headship denotes superiority of rank and authority over another (Jdg. 11:11; 2 Sa. 22:44); though when Christ is spoken of as head of his body the church (Eph. 5:23; Col. 2:19), of every man (1 Cor. 11:3), of the entire universe (hyper panta, Eph. 1:22), and of every cosmic power (Col. 2:10), and when man is spoken of as the head of the woman (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23; cf. Gn. 2:21f.), the basic meaning of head as the source of all life and energy is predominant." Wood, D. R. W. (1996, c1982, c1962). New Bible Dictionary (448). InterVarsity Press.

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  35. Thank you, John. Yes, Fee's account seems much more balanced. But you can't use the LXX of Jdg. 11:11 and 2 Sa. 22:44 as models of good Greek usage any more than you can safely use the texts that these examples came from as models of good English usage. I don't mean that LXX is quite this bad, of course, but translations are never good models of usage.

    The problem with the NBD article is that it is trying to turn the varied language use of Hebrew and Greek into a unified theological concept. But I would accept the conclusion that, in Greek metaphorical usage, "the basic meaning of head as the source of all life and energy is predominant."

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  36. I have enjoyed reading the many posts listed. I will add my own comments. First of all, I am greatly disturbed that women have such a hard time accepting the loving headship of their husbands, which is clearly called for in NT Scripture (Eph. 5:22, Col. 3:18). I think one of the basic issues is that women have been incorrectly taught that they are inferior and therefore unable to perform leadership. However, a correct interpretation of Scripture is that women and men are equally valuable in God's eyes but are called to different tasks. The man images Christ, who is the Servant Leader, sacrificing his all for those he leads. The woman images the Church, who is to willingly and lovingly submit to her leader.

    I think that much of the issues that have come up with women wanting positions of leadership over men is an extreme reaction because women have not seen the Servant Leadership in men that is supposed to be there. Now, of course, we live in a sinful world, and there will always be those who want to disregard God's divine order. But, I believe that if men acted as Christ toward their families, more women would want to submit to their loving, sacrificial leadership.

    Finally, even though there has been a problem with proper male leadership, it does not give women the right to usurp authority. Rather, our job is to pray for our husbands and our leaders, so that they will become the men that God wants them to be.

    Sincerely,

    Christi Say

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