Monday, January 21, 2008

The omitted citations.

Grudem wrote on gender blog,
    In these texts the word kephalē is applied to many people in authority, but to none without governing authority:

    • he king of Egypt is called "head" of the nation
    • the general of an army is called the "head" of the army
    • the Roman emperor is called the "head" of the people
    • the god Zeus is called the "head" of all things
    • David as king of Israel is called the "head" of the people
    • the leaders of the tribes of Israel are called "heads" of the tribes
    • the husband is the "head" of the wife
    • Christ is the "head" of the church
    • God the Father is the "head" of Christ
Grudem makes this look very authoritative. However, he does not give references nor does he supply citations. I have simply looked up the original citations for these quotes, to the extent that I could. Then I have made some comments in green.
  • the king of Egypt is called "head" of the nation
    "and, in a word, 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." Philo Moses 2:30

    It would be fair to say that Philadelphus is the head of all the kings in his own royal family in that he is the most illustrious.
  • the general of an army is called the "head" of the army
    Plutarch, Pelopidas 2.1.3: In an army, The light-armed troops are like the hands, the cavalry like the feet, the line of men-at-arms itself like chest and breastplate, and the general is like the head.

    In Job 1:17 small raiding party is called the kephale, and in Arrian the right hand of a phalanx. This quote is a simile and does not refer to normal usage. The general is no more "called the 'head' of the army" than the cavalry is normally called the "feet."
  • the Roman emperor is called the "head" of the people
    Plutarch, Galba 4.3: Vindex . . . wrote to Galba inviting him to assume the imperial power, and thus to serve what was a vigorous body in need of a head.

    This does not say that the emperor was '" called the 'head of the people."
  • the god Zeus is called the "head" of all things
    Zeus is the first. Zeus the thunderer, is the last.
    Zeus is the head. Zeus is the middle, and by Zeus all things were fabricated.
    Zeus is male, Immortal Zeus is female.
    Zeus is the foundation of the earth and of the starry heaven.
    Zeus is the breath of all things. Zeus is the rushing of indefatigable fire.
    Zeus is the root of the sea: He is the Sun and Moon.
    Zeus is the king; He is the author of universal life;

    Orphic Fragments

    My understanding is that Grudem agreed that here kephale meant "beginning."

  • David as king of Israel is called the "head" of the people
    2 Samuel 22:44

    Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people,
    thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen:
    a people which I knew not shall serve me.
    My main problem here is that Grudem misquoted it and gave the impression that David was the head of his own people. There seems to be some question of whether David was ever the ruler of the Gentile nations.
  • the leaders of the tribes of Israel are called "heads" of the tribes
    3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:1 (Alexandrinus): Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes.

    This text is based on a variant which translates "heads of the tribes" in the Hebrew into
    "heads of staffs" in Greek. Nowhere does the Greek expression kephalai twn phylwn (literally "heads of tribes") exist. The explanation can be found here. This example was invented by Grudem.
Overall, I do not feel that Grudem represented the citations with enough fidelity for anyone to use them as evidence. Some are clearly misquotes, others are of doubtful origin.

From these examples we can clearly see "preeminent," "beginning," and two live metaphors. There is a reason why "authority" does not appear as a meaning for kephale in the LSJ. This study is not terribly helpful in telling us the meaning of the Greek word kephale in the New Testament. This study is extremely helpful in giving us some idea how Wayne Grudem presents doctrinally significant material to the public, not word for word, in any case.


Unknown said...

Thanks for this Suzanne.

In the Gender blog article, Grudem says in brackets, after the bit you quote:

For details, see my 35-page article available under reprints on page 15, or see pages 425-468 in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

So I went and found the article and downloaded it. It seems to be the appendix, which is broken down into parts elsewhere on their site...

Anyway, I couldn't find details for his references. As you say they are far from clear and even misleading.

Anonymous said...

You're right Suzanne, and this is exactly the same criticism that Richard Cervin made against Grudem in the 80's in TrinityJ.


Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

It is scary, the respect this man receives in many quarters.

Psalmist said...

True. It's as though appealing to Grudem as authority (pun intended) has replaced study and discernment for some folks.

Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne, perhaps you should write this up as a formal paper for publication, in a journal which might help as a rebuttal to Grudem's claims.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Here is the problem. This has all been written up, by Richard Cervin. It needs to be done in a way that is absolutely sure and accurate, accessible, compelling and so on.

Right now, I am taking a course in Psalms, working with Kohlenberger's Hebrew and Greek psalter, just to get a natural feel for the Hebrew - Greek correspondances.

kerryn said...

thanks again for doing this research. it's very helpful for me. Grudem is a very popular name round 'here' - so i need accurate info to help me refute his claims and this stuff is spot on!
God bless you as you use your gifts to serve Him.

Eric Breaux said...

Has anyone ever responded to Wayne Grudems 1990 and 2001 critiques that have never been countered by the two respective scholars that he was arguing against? And what about the argument that kephale meaning a position of greater authority in the new testament is the consensus among scholars? Also what about the claim that egalitarian scholars were a result of the 70's feminist movement and that egalitarianism wasn't a thing before then?