Saturday, September 08, 2007

What subordination in creation?

The following are 7 reasons Grudem believes male leadership is found in the creation order. There were three more, which I don't mention but they come from the NT and I don't want to use NT material to influence a translation paradigm for the Hebrew scriptures. (my comments added)

1. Adam is created first, so he is our leader. (He is?)

2. "In Adam we all die" means that Adam is our leader. (It does?)

3. Adam names woman and naming always expresses authority. (And Hagar names God.)

4. God names the human race "Man". (Or God calls Adam the "human". Either way. God did call the human race after Adam, for sure, and Adam means "from the soil". We are all of us dust.)

5. Adam has primary accountability for the sin. (And Saphira is accountable for her own sin.)

6. Woman is helper. She has a "helping role". (God also has a "helping role".)

7. The curse is a distortion of roles which are already established and known to be good and proper. The curse on the woman is that she has a "hostile desire to resist the fair and right leadership role of her husband."
(As far as I know, the curse introduced an altogether new dynamic. Eve labours to bear children and Adam labours the grow food.)

In every case above, the idea of male leadership is read back into the narrative. I have not yet understood how Adam has authority over the human race, or why the human race is called "Man", rather than the first man being called the "Human". And how does helping someone make them the leader? More likely if you help, you would say, "Here let me show you, now it's your turn, and I'll help." You lead and then you graciously stand back.

Leadership is a blessing but believing that you have authority over someone else because of your biology is not too brilliant, no matter how you cut it. Dr. Grudem even goes so far as to say that there should be "faint echoes" of this male/female difference with respect to leadership in all our male/female relations. That is, male leadership should enter into all male/female encounters.

It appears that the paradigm of male leadership is established outside the creation narrative and then the translator has brought the paradigm to the Hebrew and declared that adam means "Man" in Gen. 5:2. But a translator benefits greatly from learning the language first. A translator also benefits greatly from knowing how previous translators have translated a verse, apparently not done, in this case.

Read the rest of my post on this subject here.


Josh said...

I wish you would explain your short comments to Grudem's points. Countering by questioning does not lead one from one side of the fence to the other. You seem sure that Grudem is mistaken in his points, and if this is true, then you should let him know of these mistakes.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Josh,

I have emailed Dr. Grudem. Many people have emailed him after each book and article he has written.

Someone had to let him know that adelphoi in Greek actually does mean "brothers and sisters." Someone else had to write and explain that kephale really does mean "source", at least some of the time. It is one possible meaning for kephale. I had to let him know that aner, meaning "man" in Greek does also have a gender neutral meaning. Grudem did link to my study because it was clearly proven and solid lexical research.

But Dr. Grudem doesn't answer email. There are mistakes in the "authentein" study which he quotes, some examples where he thinks an English word translates a certain Greek word, but it is actually mixed up and mistranslated. There is no definitive answer for authentein, we just have to live with ambiguity but it probably means compel or dominate.

Grudem does not engage with those who point out that he does not know that Gen. 5:2 never said Man, until 1952. He says that male and female are called Man in every Bible known to him, before the 1980's. However, that is simply not true. It was Adam in the King James tradition. Adam means "human" in Hebrew. He says Adam does not mean human. It is hardly worth discussing this. If he can't open a lexicon on his own, how will another email from me help?

I really have ceased to find Dr. Grudem or Mary Cassian's arguments to be derived from scripture. Women were routinely described as strong or heroic in the Bible. Ruth and the Proverbs 31 woman for example, were called women of "courage" or "valour". In fact. the Greek word for this in the LXX is translated as "manly" or "brave". There is no such thing as male only strength and leadership in the Bible. Women were strong and they made their own decisions and they initiated action. Think of Deborah, Ruth, Tamar, etc. Think of Sarah's decisions, and Rebekah's. Think of all the single women in the New Testament who supported the apostles financially and hosted house churches, and were leading women, and co-workers. There was not sense at all that men were strong and women nurtured and affirmed male strength. That is simply not in the Bible. Phoebe succoured Paul. She was not a subordinate helper but a patron.

If all a woman wants to do is teach women to fill some kind of female stereotype then it is fine to follow the "womanhood" stuff. but if a woman engages with mainstream study like Greek and Hebrew she could never teach a word of it to a male. She would never be able to have a job from it and engage in research and interact with other scholars. She would always have to be a learner of Greek and Hebrew but never a colleague. It is pitiful to think of that, when women are very good at languages. I am tired of stereotypes. I can't think of where all of it comes from anyway. I just cannot connect the notions of the manhood and womanhood movement with any real men and women in the Bible.

Josh said...

Thank you for the quick response. All of the points you bring up make me wonder if the underlying issue in the debate over biblical equality is largely one of hermeneutical method. I will research these points and comment at a later time.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Maybe you would be interested in the hermeneutical method used to support the monarchy. It was similar to the complementarian position. ;-) See today's post. Of course, it is a spoof but I have only changed a few words here and there.

Equality for women is in line with our movement towards democracy. After all, why give women the vote if they have to vote the way their husband says. That gives married men two votes.

We women are fully human, and fully able to respond to God without being in the submissive role to man. We are made from the same material as men. We have the same capabilities, feelings, ambitions and interests as men.

That is how single women missionaries are able to operate. They function as adults, not children and they are under the leadership of God.