Monday, April 28, 2008

The ordination

Today a few new priests were ordained. This is a little different from the licensing of those who were already ordained. That was yesterday. There were several bishops and priests present from all over the world as well as the new ordinands.

A few young adults from the youth group were hanging around chatting afterward. One boy was new to that church so he asked,

- How come they were all men up there at the front?

- That's because men are the head authority over women.

- They are?

- Yeah, men are the servant leaders, and women are the servant helpers.

- Why is that?

- Genesis.

- What about the authority? Why are men the authority?

- Because in Timothy it says women shall not have authority over men.

- But, hey, look this Bible says women can't assume authority or teach a man in a domineering way.

- No way, that is not the right Bible. I don't agree with the doctor when he says that you can't find new life in that Bible you have there. That is too much, but just the same it is not a trustworthy Bible. Here is the right Bible, see a woman cannot have authority.


One miserable young woman came home and asked her mom when she was going to write her a book. Mom said that they were all full of crap.

PS I get pretty depressed about the anti-TNIV stuff being passed around the teens and young adults. When will they stop?

The licensing

Here is a comment I made on Peter's blog.


I was at the licensing of the Canadian Anglican Network clergy by Greg Venables of the Southern Cone yesterday afternoon. It was an excellent service.

I am not personally either supportive or non-supportive of this move, but went as an interested observer and as a friend and relative of others there.

There about 14 bishops from around the world. Venables, along with the two Canadian network bishops, Harvey and Harding, commissioned a group of about 25 men and 5 women from across Canada.

The Southern Cone does not ordain women but the Canadian female ministers whose churches wanted to join the network were accepted, and these women were licensed and commissioned today under Harvey and Harding.

Venables gave a heart warming and positive sermon, but the highlight was when someone’s cellphone went off. He said “Is that my pacemaker or your computer? I hope I remembered to put new batteries in my pacemaker after all the jumping up and down last night.” My daughter said that Venables was a big hit at the youth night on Friday.

And this is from my comment on John's blog.


The present events in the Anglican Church of Canada has little to do with the ordination of women. It centres around the disputed same sex blessing.

The Anglican Communion has several levels of governance - national, provincial, diocesan and congregational.

The Anglican Church of Canada has ordained women since 1976, when John and I were both at the U. Of Toronto. As far as I am aware this has not been an issue in Canada.

Anglican women ministers are as likely to be white-haired little old ladies as much as anything else. Women were licensed as layreaders in British Columbia during and after WWII so it was a common sight in isolated areas to see a woman in the pulpit and it was much appreciated.

Florence Li Tim Oi, ordained in China in WWII later lived in Toronto and was a testimony to the service that Anglican women offer the church. This has a long and continuous tradition and women have been highly respected in the Anglican Church.

In the local church that I attended women had also been welcome in the pulpit. One occasional speaker was Cathie Nicoll, a long-time Inter Varsity worker who received the Order of Canada. She was a mentor of my mother and a much respected Bible teacher.

However, about 10 years ago the local congregational climate changed toward women. The priest was from the diocese of Sydney and Jim Packer was an honourary assistant.

After Cathie Nicoll passed away, I believe that no other women ever stood in the pulpit on a Sunday morning. This was a deliberate decision of the priest although I am not sure that the congregation was ever consulted on this practice. It is contrary to the expectations of Canadian Anglicans.

However, the ministerial staff of this church made known their discomfort with women in positions of authority to the diocesan staff. Since Dr. Packer and the priest are both non-Canadians, I am sure that this played a part in their views on women not being found acceptable to the diocesan staff. It would normally be a condition of employment in the ACC to accept women as equals in ministry. It simply did not occur to anyone at the time that someone coming in from outside would bring with them a view of women not equal in function. When Dr. Packer came to Canada 29 years ago, women were already being ordained in all dioceses.

When a group of churches broke off to form the Anglican Network over same-sex blessing, churches which had women ministers were not excluded from joining. The two Canadian Anglican Network bishops have been overtly welcoming to women.

So this is the current situation.

The Province of the Southern Cone does not ordain women priests. The two Canadian Anglican Network bishops have accepted ordained women into the group and licensed them. The church which Dr. Packer attends does not ordain women.

We have yet to see whether women will be ordained in the Network. My expectation is that the bishops Harvey and Harding will ordain women, but Dr. Packer's church will not. The province of the Southern Cone gave a hand of fellowship to Canadian female priests yesterday.

What grieves me is that when I first attended the church which Dr. Packer also attends, women were allowed to preach there. That was one reason that I was happy to attend that church. In the time that I spent there I was distressed by the theological, although not social, marginalization of women as women were excluded from ministerial leadership. This is my personal view on this situation.

I am personally happy to now attend a small local Anglican congregation not in the Network where the scripture is read and the gospel is preached and secondary issues are not a matter of dispute.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

James Packer leaves the Anglican Church of Canada

From yesterday's Vancouver Sun


Influential evangelical theologian latest to split with Anglican Church

James Packer says he believes many of Canada's Anglican bishops are 'arguably heretical'

Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun

Published: Saturday, April 26, 2008

One of the world's most famous evangelical theologians quit the Anglican Church of Canada this week because he believes many of its bishops are "arguably heretical" for adhering to "poisonous liberalism."

James Packer, whom Time magazine recently named as one of the planet's 25 most influential evangelicals, said he hesitated before using the harsh terms to describe the Anglican bishops, but believed he must do so in the name of truth.

Vancouver-based Packer, who has sold more than four million copies of his many books, said he and 10 other B.C. Anglican clergy left the national denomination this week to operate under the authority of a South American Anglican archbishop because they felt they were being "starved out and worn down."

Oxford-trained Packer was interviewed at a Friday gathering of about 300 members of the breakaway Anglican Network in Canada, which officially welcomed South American Anglican Primate Gregory Venables to Canada as their spiritual leader -- against the express wishes of Canada's top Anglican, Primate Fred Hiltz.

Packer, 81, said he can no longer serve under Vancouver-area Bishop Michael Ingham, who in 2002 sanctioned a diocesan vote that eventually permitted the blessing of same-sex couples at eight out of 67 parishes.

"He is a bishop who appears heretical," Packer said, comparing Ingham to high-profile progressive U.S. Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong and Church of England Bishop Richard Holloway.

Packer is a long-time member of St. John's Shaughnessy Anglican Church in Vancouver, which in February left the 640,000-member Anglican Church of Canada to join with 14 other congregations from across the nation to operate under the authority of the South American prelate.

Known for the way he does not sugarcoat his conservative Christian beliefs despite his soft-spoken, gracious demeanour, Packer said the Bible is the "absolute" authority on divine truth, which clearly describes homosexuality as a grave sin.

Opening his English Standard Version of the Bible, of which he was chief editor, Packer read out passages from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, in which the apostle Paul compares "men who lie with men" to drunkards, thieves, slanderers and adulterers, none of whom will enter the kingdom of heaven.

"That's a very solemn apostolic warning," said Packer, a self-described "Calvinist Anglican" who wrote the book, The Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life.

The priest at St. Mary's Anglican Church in Kerrisdale, which is seeking permission to bless same-sex relationships in the future, said Packer's decision to raise the concept of "heresy" to describe his theological opponents stunts dialogue and honest intellectual exploration.

"I think it's very unfair when any new insight that departs from an accepted position is labelled 'heretical'," said Rev. Kevin Dixon.

The priest called the Vancouver-area diocese's decision to bless same-sex relationships "a recognition of what's true in light of contemporary research in genetics and psychology."

Dixon said Packer is adopting a "literalistic" reading of the Bible when he takes Paul's 2,000-year-old words as proof for all time that the Supreme Being condemns homosexuality.

"It's the same process of logic that leads to supporting slavery," Dixon said, noting that the apostle of Jesus also did not oppose slavery.

"It's important for people to understand that the holy scriptures is a very nuanced document. I think we need to allow people room to come to a new understanding," said Dixon.

"I have not always held the view that same-sex relationships are consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but now I do."

Even though several Anglican dioceses have recently joined Vancouver in voting to allow same-sex blessings, the governing body of the national Anglican Church of Canada in 2007 narrowly defeated a motion approving the rites.

For his part, Packer described the blessings that many of Canada's Anglican bishops' are willing to give to active gays and lesbians, as well as the bishops' openness to diverse ways of interpreting the Bible, as "persistent unrepentant doctrinal disorder."

The author of the 1973 book, Knowing God, which alone has sold more than three million copies, said it is "utterly tragic" that some conservative Anglicans felt they had no option but to leave the Anglican Church of Canada.

Asking himself why God would allow "poisonous liberalism" and its views of God and homosexuality to grow and flourish in Europe and North America, Packer said it must be so the West would eventually realize how dangerous such ideas are -- "so the poison will be fully squeezed out."

Packer maintained it is top leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, not he and more than 2,000 fellow conservatives in the Anglican Network in Canada, who have changed their interpretation of Christianity since he moved from Britain to Canada more than 29 years ago to teach at Vancouver's Regent College.

"I'm simply being an old-fashioned mainstream Anglican," Packer said.

The Bible teaches, he said, that people who feel erotic attractions to people of the same gender "are called by God to remain chaste," avoiding sexual relationships.

Packer urged Anglicans who are adamantly opposed to liberal developments in the Anglican church in Canada and the U.S. to remain "tough" as they re-align themselves under Archbishop Venables into a new non-geographically-based form of Anglicanism.

To reach Douglas Todd, go to his blog at


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Let Her Speak for Herself

Marion Ann Taylor and Heather Weir have written Let Her Speak for Herself 2006. Here are some of the endorsements,
    "It is hard to imagine that anyone could discover a genuinely fresh approach to modern biblical interpretation, yet Taylor and Weir have done just that. At the same time, they offer new insight into the life, learning, and thinking of nineteenth-century women, both Jews and Christians. Their careful work will benefit scholars and students of modern history, biblical studies, and women's studies."

    -Ellen Davis, Duke Divinity School

    "This remarkable volume not only fills a painful lacuna in the history of biblical interpretation, but it opens up a new field within the discipline by recovering hundreds of forgotten female voices. I am confident that this volume will serve as an important catalyst to subsequent generations who will be stimulated to pursue a gripping subject matter still largely unexplored."

    -Brevard S. Childs, Sterling Professor of Divinity emeritus, Yale University

    "An invaluable collection of rare primary sources. Taylor and Weir's introductions to the authors and summarizing analyses enhance the significance of this book for the history of biblical interpretation, women's studies, and nineteenth century cultural history."

    - Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Eisenberger Professor of Old Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary

Here is the Introduction.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bruce Ware on the constitutional inequality of women

Bruce Ware's article on the Summaries of the Egalitarian and Complementarian Positions, posted on CBMW's website, opens with this claim,
    God created male and female as equal in all respects. Gen. 1:26-27 makes no distinction between woman and man insofar as both are equally made in His image (i.e., ontological equality), and both are given the responsibility to rule over His creation (i.e., functional equality).
However, elsewhere on the CBMW site we can hear exactly what Ware means by "equal in all respects,
    "Man is the image of God directly, woman is the image of God only through the man… Because man was created by God in His image first, man alone was created in a direct and unmediated fashion as the image of God, manifesting then the glory of God in man, that is male man… If male headship is rooted in the image of God itself, then it isn’t just a functional distinction of how we work out. It really does mean we are made in a different way.

    It may be best to understand the original creation of male and female as one in which the male was made in the image of God in a direct, unmediated and unilateral fashion, while the female was made image of God through the man and hence in a indirect, mediated and derivative fashion. So while they are both fully image of God, there is also a God intended priority given to the man as the original image of God through whom the woman, as image of God, derived from the male comes to be…

    Identity is rooted in priority given to the male… Her identity as female is inextricably tied to and rooted in the identity of the male… Her created glory is a reflection of the man’s… has her glory through the man. Seth is the image of God because he was born through the fatherhood of Adam. Specifically Adam is mentioned and not Eve. As Seth is born in the likeness and image of Adam, so is he born in the likeness and image of God. Male headship is a part of the very constitution of woman." Bruce Ware in his lecture Building Strong Families in Your Church
If male headship is part of the constitution of women, and headship is used with the meaning of leadership, then women are not equal to men in their constitution.

It is important to understand that women have their identity rooted in and tied to the male. Women do not have an identity in Christ apart from the male. Woman is, by constitution, second to man. There is nothing equal about this.

This is the declared platform of CBMW, the organization which defines complementarianism. Many complementarians are preserved by God's grace from living out the priority of the male and the derivative nature of the female in every day life. They treat each other as human beings. However, what Ware writes about men and women is the foundation of the complementarian position. I personally do not think that it is appropriate for mainstream Christians to endorse any part of this teaching or those associated with it.

HT Wade Burleson

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Julia Greswell

Last fall Dave Reimer sent me a link to this book, thinking it would help me with my studies in the Hebrew Psalter, and it has.

Julia Greswell's Grammatical Analysis of the Hebrew Psalter, 1873, has been the perfect companion to my studies this winter in the Hebrew Psalter. It was written to help divinity students get through their Hebrew studies, and includes notes for each psalm and an index to all the vocabulary and forms in the Hebrew Psalter.

The "advertisement" for this book is as follows,
    I fear that it will be thought presumptuous in a Lady to undertake to write a work, the professed intention of which is to afford assistance to Beginners in the Study of Hebrew. It is, therefore, in the way of self-defence against any such charge of presumption, that I am induced to prefix to my volume the accompanying Letters, which have been received by my father, the Rev. Richard Greswell, from two very distinguished Hebrew Scholars, who have been pleased to express their opinion concerning the probable usefulness of my 'Grammtical Analysis of the Hebrew Psalter.'
The letters are by J. J. Stewart Perowne and R. Payne Smith who comments about the book,
    It will prove a great boon to Students preparing for the Divinity Schools at Oxford, and generally to those who wish to learn Hebrew. ... I think our students and the younger Clergy generally have reason to be very grateful to Miss Greswell for producing a work which will make the acquisition of Hebrew so much more easy; and I trust that it may aid in inducing a larger proportion of them to study that language in which so large a part of the Scripture is written.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Elizabeth Wilson

Two years ago I wrote about Elizabeth Wilson, who taught me Latin and Greek. She died last year of Alzheimer's in her late 80's.

Last week another former student of Miss Wilson's emailed me and shared some more memories. Robin wrote,
    Miss Wilson did more than teach me that ancient language, she brought that ancient time to life again. I had never been to Italy, nor even out of North America, but she filled my mind with pictures of Rome and especially Pompeii. I longed to go to Pompeii more than any place because of those hours spent in that first floor classroom which was always cool and dim, (she liked to keep the nasty overhead fluorescents turned off and I have preferred dimmer lighting ever since).

    I remember one long, hot day when I lay slumped on my desk, drained of all energy, listening to her read some boring passage from some boring book - such was my attitude as a bright but disengaged teenager in the 80's. She paused and that smile curved over her face as she gazed down at us.

    "Here's a word for you - susurrus". Her voice was a caress and I looked up, suddenly engaged.

    "Suuuuuuu-surrrrrrrr-ussssssssssssssss". Her eyes were half-closed with that familiar, knowing smile playing on it, but suddenly the air seemed charged. I stared at the slight woman with the long grey hair wrapped around her head, and suddenly to me she seemed decades younger, those remarkable blue eyes clear with youth's light, and she seemed to flit in and out of the shadows cast by billowing curtains suddenly moved by the first breeze of that sultry afternoon.

    "It is my favourite word and isn't it splendid? Onomatopoeia at it's finest - it sounds like a whisper. She said the word again and for the first time, the dusty academic was revealed as a real woman. I whispered the word and felt it tingle in secret places and it must have shown on my face because her eyes twinkled as they caught mine and then she moved on, breaking the spell.

    Two years ago, I finally made it to Pompeii and it was even more glorious than I had imagined. I sat on the steps of the amphitheatre, gazing around and remembering Miss Wilson, her eyes alight and her voice clear as she prowled the front of the classroom describing the wonders of the very place I was now in. I shed a few tears then and I shed a few more when I read on your blog about her having Alzheimer's. I hope the people who have been/are caring for her know what a remarkable and unforgettable woman she was. A class-act all the way and I will always remember her.

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.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Judith Plaskow

Judith Plaskow is an important Jewish feminist and theologian. She comments on how easy it is for Christian feminists to imply that the God of the Hebrew Bible is a warrior God and a patriarchal deity while the God of the Christian scriptures is a God who divests himself of power. She writes,

    There are several problems with this dualistic depiction of the two natures of God, the most serious of which is that it projects a tension that exists within Judaism and Christianity as a conflict between Judaism and Christianity. In the so-called Old Testament, God is fully developed as a God of justice and a God of mercy. page 103

She continues,

    It is easier for Christian feminists to point the finger at problematic aspects of the Christian tradition as they also appear within Judaism than it is to deal with them within Christianity itself.

Plaskow remarks that Christian feminists want to contrast Jesus with his Jewish context and focus on how freeing his ministry was to women. Jesus is a feminist if we say that the Judaism of that period was uniquely misogynist.

And yet we can find in the writings of Christian authors for the last 2000 years misogyny of all sorts. We need to realize that the desire to subordinate women resides in all religions, and the desire to subordinate other resides in all humans. We end up finding the enemy within ourselves.

Women can read about Rebekkah, who, beautiful and beloved, wanted control and managed to get it. Within the patriarchal narratives are women who were painfully subordinated and ruthlessly dismissed as well as those who got their own way, one way or another.

There were also women who were generous and loving heroes. They weren't Christian women, but they were real women of a generous and adult nature, Ruth, Esther, and Rahab. What society shaped these women and gave them values?

I have wandered away from Judith Plaskow's thesis. However, one point remains to be made. Of all the female theologians I have read recently - essays by about 10 different women, Plaskow stands out as saying some very important things. She is not to be missed.

Plaskow, Judith. and Donna Berman. The Coming of Lilith: essays on Feminism, Judaism and Sexual Ethics

masculine Israel and feminine Zion

In Hebrew it is clear that Israel is masculine and Zion is feminine. Both of these represent the people of God. It is to be regretted that this is usually obscured by translation. Here is John F. Schmitt on this topic,
    A study Bible should try to convey the ways of thought and expression that are characteristic of the original. So human an interest as gender seems unworthy of suppression. None of the newer translation remove from Israel his sonship in Ex. 4:22 yet they are often careless in other regards. (81) If masculine Israel can keep his gender there, why should not Zion be able to maintain her femininity elsewhere? The parallel between masculine Israel and feminine Zion is one that the Bible itself maintains. page 119 *
The author is referring to a lack of feminine pronouns and inflections. I want to explore how this works. Here is one contrasting example of gender treatment with regard to Zion and Jerusalem in Isaiah 37:22,
    this is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him: She despises you, she scorns you - virgin daughter Zion; she tosses her head - behind your back, daughter Jerusalem. NRSV

    this is the word the LORD has spoken against him: "The Virgin Daughter of Zion despises and mocks you. The Daughter of Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee. NIV
The TNIV, HCSB, and many others concur with the NRSV that Zion is herself the daughter. The other translations, NIV, ESV, KJV and others infer that the virgin is the daughter of Zion and not Zion herself.

However, in the NRSV the gender of the pronoun is, in fact, suppressed in Isaiah 29:2,
    Ah, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped! Add year to year; let the festivals run their round. Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be moaning and lamentation, and Jerusalem F81 shall be to me like an Ariel.
The TNIV, also a gender inclusive translation has,
    Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel,
    the city where David settled!
    Add year to year
    and let your cycle of festivals go on.

    2 Yet I will besiege Ariel;
    she will mourn and lament,
    she will be to me like an altar hearth. [a]

So far, with respect to keeping the gender of Zion clear, the TNIV outperforms the others. The KJV has "daughter of Zion" which, I think, obscures the gender of Zion herself.

But perhaps this is not fair, since in verse 7 we see,
    And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, all that fight against her and her stronghold, and who distress her, shall be like a dream, a vision of the night. NRSV.
What is difficult to explain is that all pronouns in this passage from beginning to end refer to the city as feminine. What is especially missing in English is the capacity to say "you" in the feminine singular - "you" meaning "you, the one woman that God is speaking to." I am not sure that any translation can create the effect that the Hebrew does.

However, this does not mean that the people of God are always feminine in relation to a masculine God. Far from it. Israel, also the people of God, is masculine; and God has the feminine feelings of a mother for her child in regard to her people. The interplay of gender in the Hebrew scriptures is complex.

*Schmitt, John J. The city as woman in Isaiah 1-39 in Evans, Craig and Craig C. Broyles, Writing and Reading the Scroll of Isaiah: Studies of an Interpretive Tradition (2 vols., VTSup 70; FIOTL 1; Leiden: Brill, 1997).

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Kephale in Philo

I still seem to fall on more evidence for the strange hermeneutic presented in Grudem's Kephale studies.

Rob has posted one of the original articles on Kephale by Grudem, 1985. I took another look at the references from Philo. Grudem argues that Philo uses the term kephale "head" with the meaning "authority over".

I don't have the Greek version of Philo but I think one can see from these excerpts that "head" means something else,
    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, that they may not despair of a change for the better, nor of an alteration and improvement from that dispersion, as it were, of the soul which vice engenders, so that they may be able to effect a return to virtue and wisdom. On Reward and Punishments 124
Although the terms "lord" and "chief" occur here, a close reading will show that the "head" is actually the "model" and has no authority whatsoever. Philo continues,
    For as in an animal the head is the first and best part, and the tail the last and worst part, or rather no part at all, inasmuch as it does not complete the number of the limbs, being only a broom to sweep away what flies against it; so in the same manner what is said here is that the virtuous man shall be the head of the human race whether he be a single man or a whole people. And that all others, being as it were parts of the body, are only vivified by the powers existing in the head and superior portions of the body. (126)

    These are the prayers on behalf of good men who fulfil the laws by their actions which it is said will be accomplished by the grace of the bounteous and beneficent God, who honours and rewards all that is good for the sake of its similarity to himself. We must now consider the curses appointed against those who transgress the commandments and the Laws.
The lawgiver is discussed in a different category. The "head" is the virtuous person. I see no indication that this person has ruling authority. In another book, Philo gives an example of this kind of person, Philadelphus,
    Ptolemy, surnamed Philadelphus, was the third in succession after Alexander, the monarch who subdued Egypt; and he was, in all virtues which can be displayed in government, the most excellent sovereign, not only of all those of his time, but of all that ever lived; so that even now, after the lapse of so many generations, his fame is still celebrated, as having left many instances and monuments of his magnanimity in the cities and districts of his kingdom, so that even now it is come to be a sort of proverbial expression to call excessive magnificence, and zeal, for honour and splendour in preparation, Philadelphian, from his name; (30) 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. On Moses II:29
Here "head" means "most illustrious" and simply cannot mean "authority over" since Philadelphus is head of the kings in his family who lived before him and followed him. He simply never had authority over the other kings in chronological succession with him. Was Philadelphus really the "ruling authority" over his own father?

Thanks to Rob for bringing this article to my attention. Much still needs to be done to release men and women from a ruler - subject relationship, and allow them to enter into a relationship of hesed, which is "covenant love" and is simply called kindness, or lovingkindness in the King James Bible. The scriptures are so clear on the fact that hesed is the core value in relationships.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Women as leaders in Gospel Women by Bauckham

In answer to a recent email, I want to comment on the role of women in Gospel Women. First, Richard Bauckham notes that in the gospels the men who follow Jesus have abandoned everything, their homes and families, parents, wives and children along with their means of support. (pages 114-115)
    The women, on the other hand, were either independent people, without husbands or dependent relatives, or, if they left families, probably left male family members well able to support the family economically.
Bauckham believes it is clear that it is the women who have disposable financial resources. He goes on to present the different ways that Jewish women of that century owned disposable property or had income. These wealthy or aristocratic women acted as providers and patrons for Jesus and the male disciples.

There have been, throughout history, many wealthy women who have supported and protected male leaders. These leaders would not have been able to support themselves otherwise. Some of the great women patrons and protectors throughout history have been Margaret of Valois, Anne Boleyn, Countess Huntingdon, and of course, Queen Elizabeth I, about whom we read,
    In a letter to William Cecil in 1559, John Calvin (1509-64) reasoned that female rule was acceptable in countries where it had been established by law or custom and, furthermore, asserted that in exceptional circumstances God deliberately chose to channel His authority through women rulers, witness the Judge Deborah and prophetess Huldah in the Hebrew Bible. Susan Dorian
Women in the New Testament who had the authority to extend aid to Jesus or his followers include Joanna, Salome, Mary the wife of Clopas, Susanna, Phoebe, Lydia, Chloe and Nympha.

Returning to Bauckham's book on named women of the gospels, the author does make at least one statement which puts him squarely in support of leadership roles for women. He remarks that there are nine women and twenty-four men named in the gospels and,
    ...the names individuals Paul greets among the Christians of Rome in Romans 16:3-15 comprise nine women and sixteen men. These figures may give us some rough idea of the relative numbers of men and women in the leadership of the early Christian communities. page xxi
I have the impression that Bauckham supports women in a variety of leadership roles in the church and society.

Women have been protectors and providers for men since Rahab tucked the spies under the thatch. God asks us all to step outside the conventional gender roles that society assigns us in order to serve him.