About Philip B. Payne Man and Woman, One in Christ Philip B. Payne, and the cover of his latest book, Man and Woman, One in Christ
June 21st
2018
written by phil

This is Phil’s chapter “What-about Headship? From Hierarchy to Equality” in Mutual by Design: A better Model for Christian Marriage (ed. Elizabeth Beyer; Minneapolis: CBE International, 2017).

It shows that Paul’s longest passage about marriage, 1 Corinthians 7, teaches the equal rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives regarding twelve different aspects of marriage. It argues that Ephesians 5 teaches mutual submission between husband and wife, not “headship” of the husband over the wife. It argues from their contexts that Paul’s references to Christ as “head” of the church and a husband as “head” of his wife almost certainly do not refer to leadership or authority. Hardly any dictionaries of native Greek up to Paul’s time include even one example of “head” meaning “leader” or “authority.” It shows that of 171 cases where “head” in the Hebrew Scriptures meant “leader” only one is clearly translated with “head” as a metaphor for “leader” in the LXX Greek translation used in churches. If “leader” had been understood by the LXX translators as a natural meaning of “head” in Greek, they would have translated most of them “head” (κεφαλή). This is evident in light of the tendency of the LXX to use the closest Greek equivalent and since the LXX almost always (in 226 of 239 instances) translates the same Hebrew word for “head” κεφαλή when it refers to a physical head, not “leader.” That there is only one clear case where LXX translators chose κεφαλή as a metaphor to translate the Hebrew word for “head” when it means “leader” is remarkable in light of the tendency in the LXX for Greek words to extend their meaning in un-Greek ways to match the equivalent Hebrew word’s meaning. This shows that most dictionaries of the Greek of that time are correct not to include “leader” as a meaning for “head.” Furthermore, Paul explains what he means by Christ being “head” of the church as “savior of the body” who loved the church and gave himself for the church. Paul explains what he means by Christ is “head” of the church is that Christ is the source of love and nourishment for the church, and that, likewise, husbands being “head” refers to their being a source of love and nourishment for their wives. This fits the established meaning “source” for “head” in Greek literature.

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