Sunday, May 13, 2007

Kephale Meanings

Lets look at 1 Cor. 11 and it’s usage of kephale. The questions arise as to what in this application is kephale meaning metaphorically. “kephale” properly translated as “head”, metaphorically has meanings ranging from pre-eminant, origin, source, “in front”, and less rarely a type of dignity.

Gordon Fee says in his book on First Corinthians (pg. 502 & 503)
“Indeed, the metaphorical use of kephale to mean “chief” or “person of the highest rank” is rare in Greek literature------so much so that even though the Hebrew word “ros” often carried this sense, the Greek translators of the LXX, who ordinarily used kephale to translate ros when the physical head was intended, almost never did so when “ruler” was intended, thus indicating that this metaphorical sense is an exceptional usage and not part of the ordinary range of meaning for the Greek word. “

OK, so the listings in 1 Cor. 11:3 are not in the order of a hierarchy of authority, kephale is not normally used to mean a ranking anyway, so what in that listing CAN you see, that flows without changing the order and that flows with the normal range of meanings of kephale. Look again.

In humanities creation the first event spoken of was the creation of the human, and it is Christ through whom all things were created. The second event is that the woman was drawn forth from the first human. (this is further discussed in verses 8-12 giving credence to this observation), and the last event in the creation of humanity is that God brought forth the God-Man, the “last adham”, the Messiah – Christ.

Not only does that sense fit without changing anything, but it is confirmed in six of the verses following verse 3. (keep in mind that verses don’t really matter since the Greek was not written in verses or even sentences, but in groups of thoughts.... IOW no grammatical divisions). And nothing following verse three shows any relationship to a hierarchical concept. (Verse 10 does not have the words “a symbol of” in the orginal Greek).

So, then the next question is, is what was Paul bringing to our attention with these comparisons. And that is another post. In brief, I belief he was pointing us all to give honor and respect, in particular wives to not fail in this when in public services.... Preaching/prophesying and praying/worshipping.


Author: Gilbert Bilezikian
Title of Book: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.


Author: David Scholer
Title of Book:Women, Abuse, and the Bible, pgs. 42-43

What is the result of this two-decades-long debate within evangelical circles over the meaning of kephale, and how does it relate to the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 and Ephesians 5:21-33? It is not likely that any further progress can be made now in the analysis of the Greek word kephale; the evidence is in and has been sifted from various perspectives. It seems clear to me that the evidence shows the metaphorical meaning of kephale can be varied, including "authority over", "preeminence", and "source." It is, however, especially important to note that the Septuagint evidence rather clearly indicates that the Greek kephale was not normally used to translate the Hebrew rosh when the Hebrew term meant a ruler, leader, or someone in authority. This considerably weakens the argument that kephale in Hellenistic Greek means "authority over" or "ruler." In my judgement, Bilezikian and Crain have made this case especially well. Rather, it seems clearly established that kephale can mean "source", as many (such as Kroeger, Fee and others) have shown. Perhaps Fee has given the most succinct statement of the basic evidence.
However, and this is a very important point that so much of the kephale debate seems to ignore or to put aside, the determinative evidence for the meaning of kephale is its use and function in particular contexts. Thus, proving a range of meanings for kephale is important, especially against the undue limits argued by Grudem, but the critical issue is how kephale functions in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 and Ephesians 5:21-33.
Although 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (especially in the allusions to Genesis 2 in verses 7-9) does reflect to some degree the traditional Jewish understanding of androcentrism, the passage as a whole provides considerable support both for an understanding of kephale as "source" and also for a genuine equality and mutuality between men and women in the church. The christological issue in the words "and God is the head of Christ" (11:3 NRSV) is better served in Pauline theology by the understanding "source" rather than by "authority over". Further, even the Genesis argument (11:7-9) fits very well with understanding kephale as "source."

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