Saturday, October 06, 2007

Authority 6: trampling or loving one another

There are two ways to write about reciprocity. If we love one another, then the person who loves can also be loved. If we kill one another, there is a group of people, within which some people kill other people, but no one person kills the same one who kills him or her.

Two views of submit to one another, in the words of Wayne Grudem,

    Everyone agrees that allēlōn has a "reciprocal" meaning. The question is what specific kind of "reciprocal" meaning the term implies. Of course when a writer says that a group of people "love one another" or "care for one another" or, conversely, that a group of people "were killing one another" or that they "were trampling on one another," the meaning is always in some sense reciprocal, because in every case some in the group do something to others in the group. In that sense the meaning of "one another" is reciprocal - the group acts upon itself, in contrast to saying that the group "loves other people," or that the group "was killing other people."

    What Belleville fails to distinguish, however, is that sometimes everybody in the group does something to everybody else (loving one another, for example), and sometimes some people in the group do the action to others in the group (killing one another, when some are killing and others are being killed). In English we use "one another" for both senses, and we say they were "loving one another" or they were "killing one another." In Greek likewise, the term allēlōn can be used in both cases. The kind of activity involved determines the exact sense of reciprocal allēlōn that is intended.

    My argument for Ephesians 5:21 is that "being subject" to someone in the sense intended by Greek hypotassō is a one-directional activity. In that sense it is like the action of "killing one another" - in the nature of the action of killing, one person kills and the other is killed. The dead person does not rise from the dead after a few minutes and kill the other person, nor could every single person kill every single other person. Killing one another rather has the sense "some to others," in that some were killing others. Trampling on one another is a similar example: some trample on others, so the group can be said to be "trampling on one another." Waiting for one another when some people are late is the same idea: some wait, and some are waited for.

Submitting to one another should be interpreted in the sense that people trample one another, not in the sense that people love one another.

    Belleville says she is unable to understand this distinction in meaning, and therefore she rejects it as a possibility. She says,

    Wayne Grudem's claim that allēlous ... in Ephesians 5:21 takes the "common" meaning "some to others" ... boggles the lexical imagination.... And how exactly Galatians 6:2 ("Carry each other's burdens"), 1 Corinthians 11:33 ("When you come together to eat, wait for each other"), and Revelation 6:4 ("To make the people [on earth] slay each other") support such a "common meaning" is likewise incomprehensible.14

    But is it really that difficult to understand that Paul in Galatians 6:2 did not want every single person in the churches of Galatia to carry every other person's burden (each person would be carrying hundreds of burdens!), but that he wanted some to help others as they had need? Is it really "incomprehensible" that in 1 Corinthians 11:33, Paul wanted some (who were on time) to wait for others (who were late), not that those who were late should wait for those who were on time? And is Belleville really unable to understand that in Revelation 6:4 some were killing and some were being killed (rather than the impossible idea that every single person was killing every single other person)? These are straightforward understandings of these passages. Belleville's only objection is to say that she finds them "incomprehensible."

    Now with respect to Ephesians 5:21, our conclusion is (1) that allēlōn often takes the sense of "some to others" within a group, when the activity described is by nature a one-directional activity, and (2) that hypotassō always indicates a one-directional submission to an authority. Therefore we do not need to invent a new, unprecedented meaning for hypotasso in Ephesians 5:21. It takes a common, ordinary meaning, "be subject to an authority," and allēlōn takes a common, ordinary meaning, "some (in the group) to others (in the group)."

No reciprocity here. Apparently there is no situation in which I bear the burden of someone else, who bears my burden with me.

    To return to the original question, it is significant that Belleville has brought forth no counterexamples for this sense of hypotassō as one-directional submission to an authority.

But Belleville's point is that Christianity introduces this concept of reciprocity. It is significant that there is no command in the Christian scriptures to use or have authority one over the other, except in an reciprocal situation.

While one cannot prove reciprocity in submission from a direct quote, one can most certainly prove reciprocity in authority. Since the complementarians themselves set up an authority-submission paradigm, I would think that this would satisfy them as proof. 1 Cor. 7:3-5,

    The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5(C) Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again,(D) so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Is someone going to say that this use of "one another" is not reciprocal? It is distressing to see how the reality of being male and female is warped by the eternal model of authority-submission. But it is doubly distressing to see how the scriptures are also misunderstood and misrepresented.

If authority can be given mutually to each over other, then likewise submission. That is the mystery of Christianity. How sad to see this message is missed by some.


Peter Kirk said...

no one person kills the same one who kills him or her.

I'm sorry, but this is a myth. It rather often happens, in war and murder, that two people kill one another. Similarly with trampling on one another, since trampled people often get up and start trampling others. And of course all the more so with bearing burdens. The failure to recognise these possibilities fatally weakens Grudem's argument.

I agree with you that Grudem has missed the heart of Christian ethics.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Okay, fine, people do kill each other. I have no argument with that.

I am just totally set back by the ethical viewpoint behind Grudem's arguments. This is looking less and less like Christianity to me.

J. K. Gayle said...

That is the mystery of Christianity.

This [non-mystery of Grudem's] is looking less and less like Christianity to me.

The submission concept and action is the very mystery of Jesus as Christ. This person, for us, certainly does not model high-above-all hierarchy or even a supposed submission-with-reciprocity.

Ruud Vermeij said...

When I first heard about Grudems non-reciprocal "one-anotherness", I could not beleive my ears.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

It is not only on male/female relations that complementarians disagree, it is on reciprocity as a concept.

I really do believe that many complementarians must be unaware of the logical end to their argument.

believer333 said...

Hopefully I can find this again to see your answer. But I've been looking for something on your blog that would help with a discussion I'm having with Eric on Complegalitarian In the recent Authority thread here:

We are discussing the verb tense meanings and usage of hupotassomai or hupotassomenoi. I fine Eric's questions confusing the issue.

Any chance you could help?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Here is my answer,

I am afraid that I cannot read all of the comments here. However, let me address a couple,

“FWIW, there are no instances of hupotassomai in the Greek New Testament. (There are instances of hupotassô with other middle and/or passive endings, but no instances of hupotassô in the present middle/passive indicative 1st-person singular – i.e., the -mai ending.)”

This disregards the fact that Greek scholars typically treat the middle/passive as distinct from the active forms and do, in fact, refer to the verb hupotassomai. In fact, in a recent thread on Mike Aubrey’s blog, Carl Conrad made the point that mid/passive verbs should have their own entry in lexicons.

Second, a cursory glance at Conrad’s article will verify that he believes that many verbs which have been translated as passives could be middle in voice. He writes,

“While a “head-count” of verb-forms in either morphoparadigm in a particular literary corpus might well show that a majority of the verb-forms bear passive meaning, I personally doubt this very much and I would argue that Greek-speakers (at least in the Hellenistic and Roman Koine periods) felt that either one of these paradigms was inclusive enough to cover the range from intransitive to middle to passive semantics). ”

In fact, I believe the focus is wrongly put onto the verb hupotassomai in the first place. The issue is whether the other person has authority. In Eph. 5:21, no authority is mentioned, in Luke 10 authority is an important issue. The verb hupotassomai does not give us the relevant information regarding authority.


I am moderated from posting on compegal. You can write to Wayne and ask him why if you like. I simply ran out of patience with those who post crap against women.

believer333 said...

perhaps, I can ask if that moderation be lifted since it's been a while.

At any rate do you mind if I post your response?

I agree that the main emphasis would change if the other has confirmed authority, and also if there is no authority. Good point.

Part of the issue in the discussion is whether or not the passive/middle puts things into a voluntary sense. Are you suggesting that if the thing one is being asked to volutarily submit oneself to (like government) then the voluntary aspect changes?

believer333 said...

What do you think of this statement?
"Rather than define "submit," which is an English word (and which we know can be used for both voluntary and involuntary obedience), I think a better thing to do would be to determine whether hupotassein means "to yield voluntarily" or "to be obedient involuntarily" or "to be obedient, whether voluntary or not," etc. Depending on the uses and semantic range of hupotassein, then one could determine if it is ever right to translate it as "submit," and if so, if that means voluntary submission or forced submission or obedience regardless of whether its voluntary or not, etc., and if it can mean more than one type of submission, when is it proper to translate it as meaning voluntary submission, involuntary obedience, etc."

Sounds to me like there is an effort to change the meaning of submit to obey. ??

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Yes, I am saying it depends on the authority of who you are being asked to submit to. The verb form doesn't tell us about the feelings of the person submitting.

But the context of these scriptures includes affirmation of slavery. We need to be very careful not to enslave ourselves to these words in a wrongful way.

I don't know if moderation will be lifted. I don't really want to participate except that there ought to be someone who actually knows Greek in a forum. However, from the start I had said that either Greek matters in compegal or it doesn't and my preference would be that it ought not to matter.

I don't think that clunking someone with Greek is useful. However, that's where the argument always seems to begin.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

We are back to the argument from 1 Clement. Search my blog for Clement and then search the page for submit or subject. Clearly it does not mean to obey in that context.

We have been through all of this before - where was Eric?

Anyhow, I think any text which affirms slavery is not useful for describing marriage.

believer333 said...

Eric writes: "Option b. is simply the way hupotassomai would be translated if it were to be regarded as a passive. I.e., if a verb is in the passive voice, that means that another person or thing does the action to them, sometimes in accordance with their will and sometimes against their will and sometimes regardless of, or irrelevant to, their will."

I'm not sure how an action one is being admonished to do, can end up being done by someone else.??

believer333 said...

"Anyhow, I think any text which affirms slavery is not useful for describing marriage."

Absolutely. The point Paul is making is interconnectedness and unity IMO. "head of and body of" is a picture of interconnectedness. And being of one flesh is one of unitedness, two living as one. This does not happen in a master/slave relationship.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

If a person is being commanded to do something then it can't be in the passive, but in the middle. It could be called a permissive passive, allowing someone else to organize you.

Far more is being made of this than one can tell from the Greek.

EricW said...


My comment to TL about there being no instances of hupotassomai in the Greek NT was simply that - i.e., there are no instances in the NT text of hupotassein in the present middle/passive indicative first-person singular.

My comment wasn't intended, intentionally or unintentionally, to "disregard" anything about Greek grammar and verb voice. It was simply a statement of fact, not an argument for a position or a meaning of hupotassein.

Where my discussion with TL could be construed as an argument for something was where I then suggested - perhaps insisted - that if one wants to claim an inherent meaning (i.e., one divorced from context or any other words or any other aspect of the context in which the word was found) for the -mai/-omai ending of hupotassein (or of any other verb, for that matter), one would also have to apply that meaning to hupotassein (or any other verb) with the -tai/-etai ending.

That's why and where I brought in Luke 10:17 - i.e., if one claims or insists that hupotassomai (again, by itself, regardless of the context) MUST mean a certain thing SIMPLY BECAUSE IT ENDS IN -MAI, then hupotassetai ALSO MUST MEAN THE SAME THING SIMPLY BECAUSE IT ENDS IN -TAI, because both hupotassomai and hupotassetai are the present middle/passive indicative singular of hupotassein, the only difference being that one is a 1st-person singular and the other is a 3rd-person singular.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

That's true. I don't think this kind of discussion is very fruitful. I have to disagree, however, with the notion that it is more likely to be passive than middle.

Don't you think that this can be resolved without calling down other people's knowledge of Greek. It isn't really an issue of grammar on either side. It could be this or that.

believer333 said...

"If a person is being commanded to do something then it can't be in the passive, but in the middle. It could be called a permissive passive, allowing someone else to organize you. "

Could you please explain the middle voice more. My understanding from reading Bristow was that the middle is where one is being told to take an action upon oneself, or something akin to that. In which case there has to be some element of voluntary. Otherwise, its a very confusing way to tell someone to obey in the case of the verb submit/subject. Also, I think a lot depends upon the actual verb in question. In this case, I just don't see how one can change submit/subject/arranging under to come out to an involuntary obedience.

I totally agree that one cannot determine these things for interpretation without taking into consideration the context of what is being said around it.

What you said earlier makes great sense about having to determine elsewhere if authority is involved. One cannot use the submit verb to imply authority elsewhere. I've come to that conclusion before.

Thanks for taking the time to enter the discussion BTW. :)

EricW said...

believer333 wrote:

I'm not sure how an action one is being admonished to do, can end up being done by someone else.??

If someone is being admonished to do something - i.e., if they are being told to do something by their own volition and action - then the verb would of course not be in the passive. When it comes to hupotassomai, I was simply explaining how it would be translated IF it were parsed as a present passive indicative first-person singular. I was not saying that hupotassomai IS a passive, just saying that if it is a passive, that is what its translational meaning would be.

And there are instances where it can be passive, but likely not where it is an instruction or admonishment to someone. On the other hand, if the person refused to do what they were requested to do, then the master could, I guess, SUBMIT THEM TO IT such that a passive meaning would be understood. E.g., "The disobedient servant is subjected to his master by his master." There, "is subjected" would be a present passive indicative 3rd-person singular, hupotassomai.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

In my view, if it says "be subject" then that has the same meaning as "subject yourself." The voice, either passive or reflexive in English makes no difference. That is the point that I think Carl Conrad is making in his article.

Regarding Bristow, perhaps the point rests more on the fact that this is addressed to the person as an imperative, and not so much on whether the verb is passive or middle. The passive and middle are not distinct from each other. Can you quote Bristow to me? I missed that.

EricW said...

Correction: I meant to write hupotassetai for the present passive indicative 3rd-person singular, not hupotassomai.

(I was distracted before I was able to proofread my comment while posting it.)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

It seems to me that if the first person is the subject, then it makes no difference in the meaning whether it is parsed as middle or passive. The meaning is derived from the fact that the first person is the subject of the verb. This discussion has really helped me to understand why Carl Conrad does not think it is necessary to distinguish between passive and middle in all cases.

believer333 said...

Bristow talked about it for a few pages. Here is one paragraph that is relevant to our discussion.

”It is difficult for English-speaking persons to grasp the subtle yet important distinction between middle and passive voice in Greek verbs just by reading the definition, and yet we think in ways that the Grk verb forms express. For example, a person may teach _ an active verb. And, one may be taught _ a passive verb. But a person may also teach himself or herself by careful listening, discovering, reasoning, learning. In that sense, the person is both subject and object of the action. That is what the Grk middle voice expresses, a voluntary action by the subject of the verb upon the subject of the verb.”

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I think he is making too much of it.

believer333 said...

Perhaps not much. Wallace's grammar seems to confirm it.

Eric quoted it on Complegal.

It seems to me that a lot of trouble has been gone to to try to make hupotasso equal to hupakouo. The same thing has been done to peitho (in Heb. 13:17). I am at this point in time a firm believer that no word, though similar in meaning, is identical even when they can perform the same functions. They will perform those same functions from different starting points and different steps. To leave out the differences demeans the meaning. To my thinking, those different starting points and different steps make a lot of difference to the person performing them.

It seems to me that those who desire hierarchy will go to any steps to make everything end up a hierarchy with men at the top of the ladder and women never ascending more than a step or two above the bottom. That is their desired reality and they are clever at how they achieve it.

But I do believe there is a difference in those who desire hierarchy from those who've been taught that is what is supposed to be and are trying to figure it out.

EricW said...


Somewhat related to your comment:

My understanding is that in Koinê Greek some of the distinctions between words that were true in Classical Greek had disappeared. While it may be true that no two words are identical, that doesn't rule out the possibility that some words' semantic overlap and near-synonymity were so great that to create or insist on a distinction would be to protest too much. This is not to demean any word's meaning but simply to reflect the way that native speakers and writers used and understood the words. What, e.g., is the significant difference in English between "comprehend" and "understand" or between "stubborn" and "obstinate," etc.?

believer333 said...

Comprehend –
–verb (used with object)
1. to understand the nature or meaning of; grasp with the mind; perceive: He did not comprehend the significance of the ambassador's remark.
2. to take in or embrace; include; comprise: The course will comprehend all facets of Japanese culture.

Understand –
. to perceive the meaning of; grasp the idea of; comprehend: to understand Spanish; I didn't understand your question.
2. to be thoroughly familiar with; apprehend clearly the character, nature, or subtleties of: to understand a trade.
3. to assign a meaning to; interpret: He understood her suggestion as a complaint.
4. to grasp the significance, implications, or importance of: He does not understand responsibility.
5. to regard as firmly communicated; take as agreed or settled: I understand that you will repay this loan in 30 days.
6. to learn or hear: I understand that you are going out of town.
7. to accept as true; believe: I understand that you are trying to be truthful, but you are wrong.
8. to construe in a particular way: You are to understand the phrase literally.
9. to supply mentally (something that is not expressed).

I would say that comprehend has a deeper intellectual basis than ‘understand’. To understand is more generally applied to a wider base of subjects.

Obstinate –
1. firmly or stubbornly adhering to one's purpose, opinion, etc.; not yielding to argument, persuasion, or entreaty.
2. characterized by inflexible persistence or an unyielding attitude; inflexibly persisted in or carried out: obstinate advocacy of high tariffs.
3. not easily controlled or overcome: the obstinate growth of weeds.
4. not yielding readily to treatment, as a disease.

Stubborn –
1. unreasonably obstinate; obstinately unmoving: a stubborn child.
2. fixed or set in purpose or opinion; resolute: a stubborn opponent of foreign aid.
3. obstinately maintained, as a course of action: a stubborn resistance.
4. difficult to manage or suppress: a stubborn horse; a stubborn pain.
5. hard, tough, or stiff, as stone or wood; difficult to shape or work.

Stubborn and obstinate are more closely related. Even so, I would use obstinate over stubborn if a person was more deeply stubborn than average. I consider the ‘ob’ to infer ‘more’.

I like words. I try not to handle them loosely. Each word came into being because of a need. Each one has its uniquenesses even when similar to others. Some words are more similar than others.

I consider the concept of arranging oneself under to have a much wider range of variances than ‘listen and obey’. I do not consider them swappable. Certainly ‘obey’ isn’t swappable with something less than obedience. Although sometimes submission looks like obedience in it’s activities/actions. Yet they are different.

I am very wary of those who handle words loosely.

Sue made an observation, you have not yet responded to. Whether there is authority or not is not determined by the use of the word submit in any of it's variances. That fact must be supplied in the context. I said something about that also.

Do you think you could reply to that, or perhaps respond is the better word. :)

EricW said...

believer333 wrote:

Sue made an observation, you have not yet responded to. Whether there is authority or not is not determined by the use of the word submit in any of it's variances. That fact must be supplied in the context. I said something about that also.

Do you think you could reply to that, or perhaps respond is the better word. :)

Nothing I have said in response to your posts has to do with the issue of "authority" (i.e., the subject of your post on Complegalitarian).

The only point I was making or was wanting to make, and the only thing that drew me into the discussion, was to question the claim that the naked "mai" ending (i.e., the ending itself apart from the lemma or the context) had the semantic notion of voluntary self-instigation.

I have no issue with the authority discussion.

As for your listing of dictionary definitions, I don't disagree that there are or may be distinctions between similar-meaning words, or that such distinctions in an ideal world should be maintained; I'm suggesting that the way native speakers and writers use near-synonymous words often means that for all practical purposes the words are interchangeable, and even if one wishes to firmly believe that different words are and must be viewed as having different meanings, where the rubber meets the road it ain't necessarily so. :^)

believer333 said...

Eric, Do you think that Paul used words loosely? Do you think that he used words that were slightly different in meaning as if they meant the same thing? Is that your picture of Paul of Tarsus, the pharisee of pharisees, perhaps the most scholarly writer of the NT?

Personally, I am of the opinion that Paul was deliberate in his usage of particular words. On a couple instances he used almost obsolete words. I think he did that because of their unique meanings. It is my opinion that Paul was a lover of words, thoughts, insights and desired to be precise in explaining the insights he learned from God. I believe he was careful and inspired in the words he choose.

However, we are all entitled to our opinions! :)

EricW said...


So what are the significant distinctions that Paul wished to make between hamartia and parabasis and paraptôma, and between dôrea and dôrêma in Romans 5:12-21 that translators must make clear if they wish to be true to the Apostle's meaning?

believer333 said...

Oh come on, Eric. :)

So, are you one who thinks authentein is interchangeable with exousia?

EricW said...

Answer my question, please. You challenged me re: St. Paul's lexical care; I want to know how that passage in Romans fits your grid re: Paul's care as a writer. :)

As for authentein vs. exousia, the subject doesn't hold any compelling interest for me. As I said, I'm not here with respect to the "authority" issue/question. I jumped into Complegal re: the -mai claim, and then you, in true Jason Statham fashion, transported me over here. :D

Suzanne McCarthy said...

The discussion was transported over here because I can't comment on compegal.

I think you both have points of merit and I don't think a pure grammatical analysis will resolve the issue entirely.

EricW said...


Your comment did finally appear at Complegalitarian.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

They have always denied blocking me but I think two days delay is about the same thing.

believer333 said...

"in true Jason Statham fashion"

I'm guessing that must be a form of mockery. But I don't know who Jason Statham is. :)

Look Eric. You've gone way beyond what I was discussing on Complegal. You know more in general about Greek than I do. Although, I have done particular research on certain things and am not easily moved from research I've done myself.

I have no qualms with you. But this feels as if its moved too far from a friendly conversation such as I've had with you in the past. It is not my desire to make an enemy or become one.

The question of the middle voice has not been settled for me by our discussion. And I'm unlikely to be convinced by someone who feels as if they're trying to authentein me. And I don't feel the need to convince you of anything.

So perhaps, we might leave off while we can still be friendly.

believer333 said...


Wayne is traveling right now. My guess is the moderators were trying to reach him and it took a while. I did send a personal query.

believer333 said...

Oh, Eric, BTW regarding the question on Romans 5, I would have to do some research before tackling that question. I'm not adverse to that, as it sounds challenging and I'm sure I'd learn something, but I'm in the middle of preparing for a Bible Study tomorrow. And then I'm also preparing a Teacher's Team study on Key's to Bible Study and have a fair amount of organizing to do on that.

If there were another blog where you could present your case on it, what you see as the problems with those words, or why you think they are completely interchangeable, etc. ... maybe I could meet you there. Sin, transgression and offense I would view as different angles of a concept, kind of like different parts of an elephant (if you've ever heard of the 3 blind mice and the elephant). That sounds like an interesting discussion.

Mahalo and Aloha, :)

EricW said...


I apologize if anything I wrote struck you as adversarial or combative. That was not and is not my tone.

I'm not trying to convince you of anything re: the middle voice. My only points were:

1. Inquiring as to the basis for the claim that the -mai ending carries with it the idea of self-instigation.

2. Explaining that the -mai ending is both the middle and the passive ending in the present indicative and therefore hupotassomai can technically be translated as either a middle or a passive. I wasn't arguing that in the verses cited it was or had to be a middle or a passive, just pointing out that the mai ending (or, more specifically, the tai ending, since in the Ephesians 5 verse the word is hupotassetai, not hupotassomai) means that hupotassetai can be either a middle or a passive.

As for Jason Statham - he was the main character in a series of movies called The Transporter (wretched film), Transporter 2 (almost as bad), and Transporter 3 (kinda fun in comparison). He "transported" human cargo, no questions asked. Kind of a James Bond on steroids.

believer333 said...

So now I'm James Bond on steriods. LOL ahahahaha That is terribly funny, but I'm not really sure how to take it.

Ephe. 5:21 is hupotassomenoi, which is what I was referencing.... and vs. 22 carries that over.

Ephe. 5:24 is hupotassetai, which is what you were referencing I'm guessing.

I should have checked that earlier. So we have been discussing two different words and applications.

Well, I'll think on whether or not I want to continue on and get back to you. Thank you for explaining more fully.

Oh BTW, did you get the concept of adversarial from the word authenteo. :)

EricW said...