The Religious A priori

Women And Christianity

Neither Male Nor Female:

The Meaning of "head"

(part III)
(4) Battle of the Lexicons

Grudem explains the missing authoritarian defition in Liddell and Scott:

"The omission of the meaning "authority over" from the Liddell-Scott Lexicon is an oversight that should be corrected (but it should be noted that that lexicon does not specialize in the New Testament period)."

Now this is a fine response! It's an "oversight," We look to the Lexicon as the authority, and only so but Liddell and Scott is the only real authoritative Lexiocon for Greek-English and all others take their ques from it. We look to this source for authority, it doesn't back up our claim, so it's a "oversight." In fact its an oversight made in three different versions ("papa bear," "mama bear" and "babby bear") over houndreds of editions for several generations, one would think the authorities would have corrected. Moreover, since Grudem has been in contact with their editor one wonders why they have not!

(Grudem's argugument:Rejection of Patristic Evidence

Cervin then rejects any instances of head meaning "authority" from the period immediately after that of the Apostolic Fathers, the period of the Patristic writings. He admits that in Lampe's Patristic Greek Lexicon there are many citations referring to Christ as the "head of the church," and a few citations where kephale refers to "religious superiors or bishops" (p. 107). These references would seem to be strong evidence that kephale could mean "authority over" or "leader." But Cervin dismisses these examples with the following sentence: "It appears that the use of head in Patristic Greek is a technical term referring primarily to Christ, and occasionally to members of the ecclesiastical order" (p. 107)....

(Cervin responds):"Grudem's citation of Lampe is misleading" (p. 107), but by what kind of logic do examples that support a case become "misleading"? It is not clear to me how he can reason that instances of kephale where it refers to Christ or to church officers in authority over the church do not show that kephale can mean "leader" or "authority over."

It becomes misleading when one pretends that the Patristics are good clue as to NT usage. They are not, and most Greek scholars know that. That's why Bauer follows Liddell and Scott as much as he does.

Cervis casts doubt upon use of NT lexicons. Of course Grudem can't let him get away with that. He quotes Cervin:

"If 'leader' is a common understanding of kephale , as Grudem claims, then why is it apparently never so listed in any Greek lexicon outside the purview of the NT? I offer several possible reasons, not the least of which is tradition and a male-dominant world view."

"The expertise of theologians{9} is the NT, not Classical, or even Hellenistic Greek, per se. While it may be true that some theologians have had a grounding in Classical Greek (especially those of the 19th century), they spend their time pondering the NT, not Plato, Herodotus, or Plutarch. . . . Another reason stems from Latin. . . . The Latin word for "head," caput, does have the metaphorical meaning of "leader." . . . Thus, for English speaking theologians, at least, English, Hebrew, and Latin all share "leader" as a common metaphor for head. Thus, the forces of tradition, a male-dominant culture, the identical metaphor in three languages, and a less-than-familiar understanding of the Greek language as a whole, could, in my mind, very easily lead theologians to assume that the metaphor of "leader" for head must be appropriate for Greek as well. (p. 87)

To which Grudem responds:

"The result of this analysis is that Cervin rejects the judgment of the editors of those lexicons that specialize in the very period of the Greek language for which his article intends to give us a meaning for kephale .

Argument from incredulity tells us nothing. Cervin has a valid point, and it is one based upon an understanding of the scholarly world with which most Greek scholars would agree, although most Bible scholars might not.

Grudem takes issue:

"But several objections must be raised against Cervin's evaluation of the value of these lexicons: (a) The assertion that the authors of New Testament lexicons do not read "Plato, Herodotus, or Plutarch" simply indicates a lack of familiarity with the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker lexicon, whose pages are peppered with thousands of references to extra-Biblical authors, frequently including Plato, Herodotus, and Plutarch, as well as many, many others. The primary author of this lexicon, Professor Walter Bauer of Gottingen University, worked for more than thirty years at this task (see BAGD, pp. v-vi), during which time he "undertook a systematic search in Greek literature" for "parallels to the language of the New Testament" (ibid.). Moises Silva says, Bauer was fully sensitive to the need not to isolate the New Testament language from the contemporary speech and thus his work abounds with thousands of invaluable references to secular literature where parallel constructions occur---these references alone make Bauer's Lexicon a veritable treasure.{10} While Cervin cites with approval many specialized lexicons for authors such as Xenophon, Plato, Sophocles, etc. (pp. 86-87), he makes the serious mistake of rejecting the value of Bauer's lexicon. By contrast, Moises Silva says of Bauer's lexicon, "It may be stated categorically that this is the best specialized dictionary available for any ancient literature."{11}

Bauer was a fine scholar, but his lexicon is primarily of the NT and Patristic literature as it proclaims on the cover. It takes some uses form classical Greek, but mainly follows Liddell and Scott when it does that. More importantly, it only sites the NT verses of Kephale for it's defintion of Kephale. Meaning, Bauer did not consult the LXX, nor did he do the spade work of the Mickelsens in uncovering the use of Kephale in the LXX, nor did he consult classical Greek sources for the use of that word.He merely read his doctrine back into the passages from whence it came, and called it a definition. Rather, he read it into the passages from the church expositors from whence it came, back into the verses that proof text it. Bauer was a fine scholar, that doesnt' mean he did his homework on the word Kepahle.

The Battle of the Lexicons could continue forever, and it probably will. At some future point I will deal with Grudem's hermeneutics. But that this point I want to break this off, as it it will probably never end, and resort to a tie breaker. We have a dispute over Methods and sources. Grudem is inconsistent in his use of the Patristics, criticizing Kroeger for her use of them, while they constitute his main focus. He also is inconsistent in use of the LXX because he admits it is a fine source:

(Grudem further castigates Cervin for his rejection of the LXX:

But if the Septuagint was indeed the Bible used by the New Testament authors and Christians throughout the New Testament world (as it was), then the fact that it was a translation made two centuries earlier does not mean that its examples of the use of kephale are irrelevant as evidence. To dismiss these as irrelevant would be similar to someone trying to find out what American evangelical Christians in 1990 meant by the use of a word and then saying that the use of that word in the NASB or NIV Bibles could not count as evidence because those Bibles were "translations" and therefore may not reflect native English uses of the word.

Now that is quite interesting, since the Mickelsens establish that in all but 8% of the time LXX uses arcon not Kefalh for Rosh. Even being charitable and allowing for all of Grudem's 18 examples, it's still something like 80+% of the time that "kephale" does not mean "superior." Grudem can't have it both ways.

Dr.Gilbert Bilezikian
Beyond Sex Roles, pgs. 277-78

In order to understand the meaning of "head" as used by the apostle Paul, it is helpful to determine its meaning within the language spoken by Paul. The authors of works such as A Greek-English Lexicon by Henry G. Liddell and Robert Scott (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1968), or Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1965, 10 volumes) have thoroughly investigated biblical and contemporary extra-biblical writings and reported that the word kephale was used in the secular and religious Greek contemporary to Paul, with the meaning of source, origin, sustainer, and not of ruler. The second century B.C. translation of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament into Greek provides a case in point. The Hebrew word for head (ros), commonly used for leader, ruler, or supreme is translated in the Septuagint by a Greek word other than "head" (kephale) over 150 times. It was much later that the word kephale began to be used as "authority" under the pressure of Latin usage, as evidenced in the writings of some post apostolic church fathers. For Paul and his correspondents the use of the word kephale as a synonym for ruler or authority would have been as meaningless as attempting to do the same today with tete in French, or Kopf in German.

Kittle'sis a theological dictionary of the NT by the way.

Tie breakers:

(1) Usage rates indicate Paul's use was less likely to carry authoritarian connotations. The major classical Lexicon, as well as other Lexicons define Kephale as "source," and since in both Hebrew translators and classical Greeks use the term as "supirior rank" infrequently:
a)LXX only about 8% of the time

b)Grudem's 2336 enstances only turned up 49 times

(2)The actual meaning has to be decided by context, however, the probabilty is very high that the term usually doesn't mean "supierior rank."

The problem is that both sides seem to want a nice concivent dictionary defition, but the problem is, words don't work that way. Dictionary defitions are only general guide lines, words must be defined in context. This is even more true in dealing with a metaphor. Grudem keeps insisting that there are no examples of Keaphale being used of a person in the metaphorical sense of "source" (of course he ignores the Orphic fragment where is used this way of Zeus). But it's silly to find an official dictionary defition for a metaphor. Metaphors can be anything. The Ditionary can give general usages patterns, and to that extent "source" might be more likely, but in the final analysis, we have to decide based upon context.

The Religious A priori