- But we have never been able to find any text in ancient Greek literature that gives support to your interpretation. Wherever one person is said to be the "head'' of another person (or persons), the person who is called the "head'' is always the one in authority (such as the general of an army, the Roman emperor, Christ, the heads of the tribes of Israel, David as head of the nations, etc.) Specifically, we cannot find any text where person A is called the "head'' of person or persons B, and is not in a position of authority over that person or persons.
Two of the examples here, David, and the "heads" of tribes, are both embedded in obscure translation Greek, and in fact, one says "heads of rods" and the other says "head of gentiles/nations."
There is only one case in all of Greek literature where kephale is used to say that a person was a leader, and this is in reference to Jephthah. He was called the head of the tribe.
In another case, in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Grudem cites Philo. Here is the Greek and the English, from Fitzmeyer, page 86,
- Philo speaks of Ptolemy II Philadelphus as one who was outstanding among the Ptolemies and expresses it thus,
- genoumenos kathaper en zōō to hēgemoneuon kephalē tropon tina tōn basileōn
being, as the head is the leading part in a living body, in some sense the head of kings [of the Ptolemaic dynasty]. (De Vita Mosis 2.5.30)
Grudem perhaps is depending on the same interpretation as Fiztmeyer. Here are my concerns with this text.
First, in Philo, we do see the head - kephale - used as the ruler of the body. The question is whether a person who is referred to as a kephale, is a ruler, or just a very prominent person.
1) Philadelphus II, is, as his name suggests, NOT the head of the Ptolemaic dynasty at all - his father was. So, Ptolemy is referred to as kephale, but he is not in authority over his father.
2) Philadelphus is being described in this passage as more illustrious than the other kings for doing a good deed, for having the Hebrew scriptures translated into Greek. There is no reference in this passage to Philadelphus being the ruler over other kings.
3) Philadelphus is not actually called "head" - this has been inserted in translation. Its a comparison or analogy. There is no phrase here which can be translated as "head of kings" or "head of the nation."
4) The Greek phrase en zōō to hēgemoneuon is extremely obscure and has been translated elsewhere as "leader of the herd." [edited] It says, "just as the head is the leading place of the living creature, so [Philadelphus] of kings."
I hope this gives you some idea of how obscure and tenuous these citations are. Although the head is considered the leader of the body in Philo, there is no expression in Greek which uses the word "head" for a person who is a leader. There is no expression "head of state" or "head of the army." It is not until a century after the NT, that there occurs only once in all of Greek literature, the expression "head of the house." This appears to be a passage written in Rome and perhaps influenced by Latin, which uses caput frequently to denote a person who is a leader.
I don't think that the examples of kephale in Greek literature support Grudem's thesis. However, that does not mean that the author of Ephesians does not see the wife as having a different status than the husband. It is quite possible he does. This is the way it was then. Does that justify it?
In my opinion, we should not seek to put the wife on a different level from the husband, any more than we should aspire to return to slave labour. Perhaps the author of Ephesians does think of a wife as entirely dependent on her husband, as someone who must fear and reverence her husband. Each generation has to work out how to translate this into a relationship that is not based on "fear."