Monday, April 07, 2008

Andreas Kostenberger, did you really mean to say that?

Or, no end of nonsense on the internet continued.

Andreas Kostenberger, on his blog, Biblical Foundations, 06-09-06 wrote,
    While the senses “source” and “pre-eminent” have been proposed for kephalē, no passage is extant where that sense is favored by the context. In fact, every time one person is referred to as the “head” of another person in both biblical and extrabiblical literature, the person who is the “head” has authority over the other person and kephalē conveys the notion of authority.

    For further study see my forthcoming commentary on the Pastoral Epistles in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. 12 (Zondervan); God, Marriage & Family; and my various other publications on Gender and Family.

Did he really write "no passage is extant where that sense is favoured by the context"? Now let's scan back to the CBMW blog and see what Grudem, the king of kephale researchers wrote (no date) here,
    I once looked up over 2,300 examples of the word "head" (kephal¯e) in ancient Greek. In these texts the word kephal¯e is applied to many people in authority, but to none without governing authority:

    • the king of Egypt is called "head" of the nation
I am only supplying Grudem's premiere example, not the lesser ones. You would think that this example at least would show a person in authority over the persons over whom he was the kephale.

Here is the quote about the king of Egypt,
    the whole family of the Ptolemies was exceedingly eminent and conspicuous above all other royal families, and among the Ptolemies, Philadelphus was the most illustrious; for all the rest put together scarcely did as many glorious and praiseworthy actions as this one king did by himself, being, as it were, the leader of the herd, and in a manner the head of all the kings. Moses 2:30
Here Philadelphus was the most illustrious of his family who were "eminent and conspicuous." Philadelphus had no governing authority over his father. The statement made by Grudem is false, and the statement made by Kostenberger is doubly false. Remember that this example was chosen by Grudem as the citation to place first in line. It is clear that Philadelphus was never called "head" of the nation. It is hard to believe that Grudem made that up but he did.

Now let's see how else Philo uses the word kephale.
    If, then, any one proves himself a man of such a character in the city he will appear superior to the whole city, and if a city show itself of such a character it will be the chief of all the country around; and if a nation do so it will be the lord of all the other nations, as the head is to the body occupying the pre-eminence of situation, not more for the sake of glory than for that of advancing the interests of those that see.

    For continual appearances of good models stamp impressions closely resembling themselves on all souls which are not utterly obdurate and intractable; (115) and I say this with reference to those who wish to imitate models of excellent and admirable beauty, On Rewards and Punishment 114
Oh, here it actually says "pre-eminent." I guess this is the passage from which people got the bizarre idea that kephale meant pre-eminent. How did Kostenberger miss this? And what about governing authority? It may appear that is in included, but actually, the man talked about here is the virtuous or wise man,
    For virtue and goodness are judged of not by quantity but by quality, for which reason I look upon it that even one day spent with perfect correctness is of equal value with the entire good life of a wise man.
The wise man is the kephale. And so what does that mean exactly? The passage explains, the wise man is a "model of excellence and admirable beauty." Philadelphus is an example of this kind of man. He is the kephale, the leader of the herd. The herd is the family of kings that precede him and follow him over whom he had no authority.

What does all this have to do with kephale in the Bible? Is God the model for Christ and the husband the model for the wife? I don't see the connection myself. Unlike Grudem and Kostenberger, I see no way to derive an interpretation of the kephale passages of the scriptures from these citations.

However, I wish Grudem and Kostenberger would face up to the facts. The premiere example of kephale meaning governing authority speaks only of the wise and virtuous man who is a model of excellence. What a lesson has been missed. They seek power and are blind to virtue.


mike said...

Sometimes I wonder if they actually read Richard Cervin's response to Grudem's first article. I know Grudem responded to it with another one, but that doesn't mean he actually read it.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Grudem read Cervin and that is why he wrote,

"people in authority"

but he did not specify that the person had authority over the ones over whom he was the kephale.

However, Kostenberger, in writing,

"In fact, every time one person is referred to as the “head” of another person in both biblical and extrabiblical literature, the person who is the “head” has authority over the other person and kephalē conveys the notion of authority."

has grossly misread Grudem. Kostenberger has also not read any of the original citations, because this citation includes the word "pre-eminent" and this is where the idea of pre-eminent probably came from. This is the most influential piece of evidence.

What I can't figure out is how Kostenberger can write books and commentaries about keeping women under authority, without having the first idea what he is talking about.

Would I go to a medical doctor who did this kind of research?