Dealing With Abuse
M. Scholer is Professor of New Testament and Associate Dean for the
Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary
where he has been since 1994. He has served on the School of
Theology faculty as professor of New Testament since 1994 and has been
associate dean of the Center for Advanced Theological Studies (CATS)
since 1997. He previously taught at Gordon-Conwell Theological
Seminary, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary and North Park College
and North Park Theological Seminary. He is now in his 37th year as a
seminary professor. He holds a BA and MA from Wheaton College, a
BD from Gordon Divinity School and a ThD from Harvard Divinity School.
Scholer’s two volumes Nag Hammadi Bibliography 1948-1969 (1971) and Nag
Hammadi Bibliography 1970-1994 (1997) represent his long-term commitment
to gnostic studies. Also a specialist on women in ministry, he teaches
"Women, the Bible and the Church" and is the author of numerous articles
on women and ministry in the New Testament. He has in recent years
received formal citations of appreciation for his work in this area from
the American Baptist Women in Ministry, the Women’s Concerns Committee
at Fuller Seminary, and the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus.
He is an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches and served
as a pastor for two years and an interim pastor for three years.
Dr. Scholer is married to Jeannette Mudgett Scholer; they recently
celebrated their 45th anniversary. They have two adult daughters and
The Evangelical Debate over Biblical “Headship”
David H. Scholer
On August 17, 1549, a Bible, fundamentally a new edition of the 1537
Matthew's Bible, was published in London by Jhon [sic] Daye, edited with
notes by Edmund Becke. [I] The most famous of all the notes in Becke's
Bible is the one for the phrase, “Likewise, you men, dwell with them
(your wives) according to knowledge" in 1 Peter 3:7. Becke annotated:
"He dwelleth wyth his wyfe according to knowledge, that taketh her as a
necessary helper, and not as a bonde servante, or a bonde slave. And yf
she be not obedient and healpful unto hym, endeavoureth to beate the
feare of God into her heade, that thereby she maye be compelled to
learne her dutie, and to do it.”
Although Becke's note may be unique in the history of Bible publication,
the idea that the Bible may justify and even encourage husbands to
compel their wives to obey by force is, regrettably, deep within the
tradition and life of the church and has shaped a painful reality for
countless anonymous women throughout the last two millennia.
Background and Perspective
Christian Literature on Abuse
It is not my intention here to attempt either a psychological or
sociological study of the connection between the abuse of women and the
Bible; that is not my expertise, and others will do that. But it
is important to note here at the beginning of this biblical study that
the connection between the abuse of women and the Bible is a pervasive
and constant theme in literature on the sexual abuse of women.
The connection between abuse and the Bible appears to have at least two
dimensions, especially within the various strands of the Christian
tradition. First, many men who abuse their wives appear to feel that the
alleged biblical teaching of "male headship" is warrant, at least in
some degree, for their behavior. Second, many abused women,
especially those who have been taught the biblical principles of male
headship and female submission, have understood the abuse they have
received as either God's rightful punishment for their sins or God's
will for their lives, even if it involves suffering unjustly.
Not only are these connections between the abuse of women and the Bible
important issues, the other painful reality is that the church, and
perhaps in particular the evangelical movement within the church, has
been embarrassingly and wrongfully silent on these issues. One fears
that most of the silence is the consequence of patriarchy and androcentrism, if not misogyny, in human history and within the church.
It would appear that the silence has been significantly broken only in
our modem period with the empowerment of women to speak for themselves.
One of the early articles on these issues in our own time was the 1981
essay of Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, "Battered Women and the Bible:
From Subjection to Liberation." Thistlethwaite's article was followed by
what is now the 1983 classic of Marie Marshall Fortune, Sexual
Violence: The Unmentionable Sin. Chapter 10 in that book, "Religious
Concerns and Pastoral Issues," documents the reality of the use of the
Bible to sustain sexual abuse of women. 
Much of the Christian literature in the past five years (especially the
evangelical publications) on domestic violence and sexual abuse of women
contains pointed discussions of the relationship between biblical
teachings of "male headship" and the reality of abused and battered
women. The third chapter of Rita-Lou Clarke's Pastoral Care of
Battered Women is on "Theological Issues Related to Battering."
These issues are pervasive in Kay Marshall Strom's book In the Name of
Submission: A Painful Look at Wife Battering, as well as in Margaret
Josephson Rinck's Christian Men Who Hate Women: Healing Hurting
Relationships. Both James and Phyllis Alsdurf's book Battered into
Submission: The Tragedy of Wife Abuse in the Christian Home and
Carolyn Holderread Heggen's book Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and
Churches, the two most important evangelical discussions of this
issue now available, treat in significant ways these issues of
relationship between the Bible and the social reality of the abuse at
One recent example of the connection between the Bible and the abuse of
women is the popular article by James L. Franklin, "Clergy Vows New
Support for Victims of Battering," which appeared in the Boston Globe on
November 14, 1993. This newspaper article includes a graphic insert
on "The Bible on Love and Marriage," in which one column is entitled
"Passages Used as Rationale for Abuse," and the other is entitled" A
More Positive Message. "
It is remarkable to me that the magnum opus of the so-called
traditionalist evangelical position-John Piper and Wayne Grudem's Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical
Feminism so silent on the issue of the sexual abuse of women. The
Danvers Statement of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
states in its Fourth Affirmation that "The Fall introduced distortions
into the relationships between men and women." This is then expanded as
follows: "In the home, the husband's loving, humble headship tends to be
replaced by domination or passivity . . . . In the church, sin inclines
men toward a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual
responsibility" In light of this, I would expect the Piper/Grudem
volume to treat significantly and denounce clearly the abuse of women
perpetrated by men, especially when it is a corruption of what they see
as "loving headship." Yet no article in the volume addresses this
question. There are no entries in the index under “abuse,” sexual
violence,” or “violence,” although three page numbers are given under
"wife, abuse." The index has lengthy entries, however, for "authority,"
"headship," and "submission.”
As indicated, there are three references to wife abuse in the Piper/Grudem
volume. The first occurs in the chapter called" An Overview of Central
Concerns: Questions and Answers," in which, catechism style, fifty-one
questions are posed and answered. Question 9 reads: "Don't you think
that stressing headship and submission gives impetus to the epidemic of
wife abuse? The short answer is "no." The full answer, which is about
one-fourth of a page, stresses that Christlike husbands would not abuse
wives. Further, it is stated that "we believe that wife abuse (and
husband abuse!) have some deep roots in the failure of parents to impart
to their sons and daughters the meaning of true masculinity and true
femininity." It seems to me that the introduction of "husband abuse"
without further comment trivializes the historical and social realities
of the tragedy of wife abuse in the history of the church. More
critically, the answer does nothing to actually address the reality of
the issue or the pain of women.
The second reference to wife abuse in the Piper/Grudem book occurs in
one sentence in James A. Borland's article on "Women in the Life and
Teaching of Jesus," in which he states that instances of wife abuse
recorded in Scripture are not actions sanctioned by God.
The one strong statement in the Piper/Grudem volume comes from Wayne
Grudem in a footnote to his article "Wives Like Sarah, and the Husbands
Who Honor Them: I Peter 3: 1-7." The footnote reads: "However, nowhere
does Scripture condone or support the abuse of wives by husbands, but
explicitly forbids even harsh attitudes . . . and therefore certainly
condemns any physical violence used by husbands against wives. Evangelical churches have a strong responsibility to prevent such abuse
and to protect those threatened or harmed by it."  The importance and
value of this statement should not be underrated. Nevertheless, as
the one such statement in the 566-page book--and a footnote at that--it
appears to me to be too little too late.
The Tradition and Heritage of the Church Fathers
Carolyn Osiek, in her wonderful and powerful book Beyond Anger: On Being
a Feminist in the Church, makes a disturbing analysis of the message of
the cross in the tradition of the church:
It has been to women and other oppressed groups that the
message of the cross has been particularly directed. Women have been
exhorted to enter into the destiny and vocation that belong to them through
their superior capacity for self-sacrifice, self denial, and suffering that
has been thought . . . to belong to their “proper nature”. . . . Women have been
invited to participate in and conform themselves to the suffering of Christ
by remaining passive and powerless because it is these qualities that will
humanize the children they raise and the men for whom they provide a home. .
. . This persistent portrayal of women as demonstrating heroic but fitting
sacrifice by submitting passively and silently to pain and abuse . . . leads
directly to the image of the battered woman. She is the victim, not only of
the rage of her abuser but the blindness of a whole society that in the name
of the sanctity of home and family will do nothing to rescue her . . . . Women
are to imitate the victim Christ while at the same time they are denied any
possibility of fully identifying with him. Doomed to be like him in
suffering and humiliation, they are equally doomed to be unlike him in
power, authority, or exaltation. 
Such a pattern is found in the famous, fifth-century spiritual classic,
Augustine's Confessions, cited in Elizabeth A. Clark's Women in the
Early Church. Here the greatest theologian of the ancient church
expresses eloquently the story of his spiritual pilgrimage, including
his devotion to his mother, Monica. In one passage about Monica and her
pagan husband, Patricius (who converted at the end of his life)
Augustine talks explicitly about certain features of their relationship:
She was given to a husband whom she served as a lord . . . . Moreover, she thus endured the wrongs to her bed . . . . Indeed, more than
this, just as he was an excellent person when feeling well-disposed, so he
was raging when he was angry. She learned not to resist a wrathful husband,
not only in deed, but not even by a word . . . . In short, while many married
women with milder husbands nonetheless bore on a dishonored face the traces
of beatings, women who would in friendly conversation betray their husbands’
lives, she would censure their tongues . . . . She would tell them that from
the time they heard read aloud those matrimonial tablets, they should
consider them instruments by which they had been made servants; accordingly,
remembering the conditions of the marriage contract, they ought not to take
the upper hand against their masters.
It is not really surprising that Augustine could lift up his mother's
submission even to abuse as a model for all women and their husbands. Augustine, in line with the traditional understandings of Scripture held
by the early church fathers, held a rather negative view of women. For
example, Augustine reflects on the creation of the woman in Genesis 2:
If it were not the case that the woman was created to be
man's helper specifically for the production of children, then why would she
have been created as a "helper"? Was it so that she might work the land with
him? No . . . a male would have made a better assistant. One can also posit
that the reason for her creation as a helper had to do with the
companionship she could provide for the man . . . . Yet for company and
conversation, how much more agreeable it is for two male friends to dwell
together than for a man and a woman! . . . I cannot think of any reason for
woman's being made as man's helper if we dismiss the reason of
Augustine further understands Genesis 3 to show the inferiority of
That a man endowed with a spiritual mind could have believed
this [the lie of the serpent] is astonishing. And just because it is
impossible to believe it, woman was given to man, woman who was of small
intelligence and who perhaps still lives more in accordance with the
promptings of the inferior flesh than by the superior reason. 
Augustine applied his understanding of male headship and female
submission to a specific instance in which he wrote to Ecdicia, a
Christian woman, about her problems with her husband. According to
Augustine, her lack of submission to her husband led him to commit
adultery; she had asked her husband for intercourse after they had
agreed to continence, and she had given away some of her clothing and
jewelry to the poor without consulting him. Augustine wrote to her:
In his great anger at you, he was destructive to himself . . . . This
great evil occurred when you did not treat him with the moderation you
ought . . . you as the wife ought to have been subject to your husband
in other things, accommodating yourself to the marriage bond,
particularly since both of you are members of the body of Christ. And
certainly if you . . . had had a husband who was not a believer, it
would still have been proper for you to act in a submissive manner . . .
. You ought to have yielded to him in your domestic association with great
humility and obedience . . . . Furthermore, you ought to have consulted
with your husband and not despised his wishes . . . I have written this
to you because I am saddened by your husband's behavior, behavior that
came about by your unruly and reckless action. You ought to think
earnestly about recovering him, if in truth you want to belong to Christ
. . . Write to him, making amends, begging his forgiveness for the sin
you committed against him. 
Of course, Augustine is not alone in his attitudes. Two other
well-known church fathers may serve to confirm the patterns of thinking
in the early church about male headship and female submission. Tertullian,
about A.D. 200, talks about what women have inherited from Eve: "I mean
the degradation of the first sin and the hatefulness of human
perdition.” Tertullian continues:
God's judgment on this sex lives on in our age; the guilt
necessarily lives on as well. You are the Devil's gateway; you are the unsealer of that tree; you are the first foresaker of the divine law;
you are the one who persuaded him whom the Devil was not brave enough to
approach; you so lightly crushed the image of God, the man Adam; because
of your punishment, that is, death, even the Son of God had to die. 
John Chrysostom, the great fourth-century preacher and scholar, also had
a negative view of women. He argues that only the man has the image of
The "image" has rather to do with authority, and this only
the man has; the woman has it no longer. For he is subjected to no one,
while she is subjected to him . . . Therefore the man is in the "image of God"
since he had no one above him, just as God has no superior but rules over
everything. The woman, however, is "the glory of man," since she is
subjected to him. 
Chrysostom elsewhere argues that:
If the more important, most beneficial concerns were turned
over to the woman, she would go quite mad. Therefore God did not apportion
both duties to one sex . . . Nor did God assign both to be equal in every
way . . . But taking precautions at one and the same time for peace and for
decency, God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of
human life into two parts and assigned the more necessary and beneficial
aspects to the man and the less important, inferior matters to the woman. God's plan was extremely desirable for us . . . so that a woman would not
rebel against the husband due to the inferiority of her service. 
The early church fathers set a pattern for the history of the church,
which certainly continued to be a pattern in the patriarchal structures
of the medieval church. Ruth Tucker and Walter Liefeld point out that
Thomas Aquinas, the greatest medieval theologian, believed that women
were inferior, dependent, dominated by sexual appetites, and unfit for
any important role in society or in the church. Thus, Thomas Aquinas
argued, as did all medieval male theologians, that women should be
subordinate and submissive to men in virtually all matters. 
The implications of such views meant that women were often demeaned,
harassed, and abused. Both civil and church law codes permitted wife
beating although church law often stressed that such physical punishment
should be done only with reason. Although extreme, the 1486 Witcbes'
Hammer represents the ultimate denigration of women as completely
inferior and as willing to cohabit with demons. As Tucker and Liefeld
observe, "Indeed, the witchcraft frenzy of the late Middle Ages was one
of the most sexist atrocities to have occurred in all of history.”
Contemporary Expressions of the Evangelical View of Male Headship
It is not possible here to give a complete survey of various expressions
of the contemporary evangelical view supporting male headship and female
submission, nor is it necessary. Some of the major proponents of
this view will serve to express it well and clearly.
Robert D. Culver's essay, “A Traditional View: Let Your Women Keep
Silence,” is a forthright presentation of the evangelical traditionalist
view. Culver finds that the New Testament strongly supports male
headship and leadership, concluding the New Testament section of his
article with a citation of H. D. M. Spence in the nineteenth-century,
Ellicott commentary on the Bible: The catastrophe of Eden is the beacon
for all generations when the sexes repeat the folly of Eve and Adam and
exchange their distinctive position and function..” Culver finds that
the Old Testament supports male leadership and sees Deborah as “no
precedent,” and the few prophetesses whom he does not name, as
exceptional.”  Near the end of his article, Culver makes several
general comments arising out of his mention of the phrase "he shall rule
over thee” in Genesis 3:16 (KJV):
With occasional exceptions, this is the way it has always
been and likely always will be . . . it is a statement of fact, which
neither the Industrial Revolution nor the feminist movement is likely to
overturn . . . The radical feminists should give up and quit. Normal,
universal, female human nature is against them. Most women prefer things the
way they are, at least wherever biblical norms have prevailed . . . Male
ascendancy in most affairs is not a legal ordinance to be obeyed; it is a
fact to be acknowledged . . . Ordinarily the authority of adults over other
adults ougbt to be by men and almost certainly will be. The scriptural
standard for male leadership of churches is even stronger. "
Susan T. Foh's essay" A Male Leadership View: The Head of the Woman Is
the Man" also supports male headship and female submission, although she
explicitly attempts to distinguish her view from that of Culver. Foh's view of Genesis 1 and 2 stresses the complementary view of the
relationship of men and women. She wants to stress what she calls
“ontological equality” or “equality in being;" thus, she argues that
Genesis 2 does not establish the inferiority of women. What Genesis 2
does establish is a difference of function and male leadership.
She supports this with two observations: first, man was created first,
which means that woman is dependent upon man; and second, according to
her reading of Genesis 2:23, man named woman, establishing male
authority. Foh then writes:
Is God's arrangement fair? Our objections, whether philosophical or
emotional, to this hierarchical system arise because we do not know what
a sinless hierarchy is like. We know only the tyranny, willfulness and
condescension that even the best boss-underling relationship has.
I cannot help but wonder at this point in her argument what redemption
and new creation in Christ ought to mean even now in the church; must it
always and only be even there "tyranny, willfulness and condescension"?
Foh's essay continues with a long survey of New Testament texts that she
understands to support her perception of ontological equality and male
headship coupled with female submission existing at the same time in the
relationship of men and women in the church. Her view of Paul's remark
that "there is no longer male and female" in Galatians 3:28 is that "the
male-female distinction is . . . fundamental; God established it at
creation, and it cannot be removed . . . . [Thus,] Galatians 3:28 does
not annul the passages that teach the submission of women in the church
or in marriage. "
I consider James B. Hurley's book Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective
to be the single most important book on the New Testament by a New
Testament scholar in defense of the traditionalist evangelical view of
male headship and female submission. In my estimation, the most critical
juncture in the whole book for the understanding of male headship occurs
in Hurley's struggle with Paul's phrase "but the woman was deceived" in
I Timothy 2:14 and its use of Genesis. Hurley states that "we may
similarly dismiss the likelihood that Paul was saying that all women are
gullible . . . and therefore are untrustworthy teachers.” Yet, and I
struggle to be fair with Hurley, it seems that he goes on to present an
argument which says, in essence, that all women are indeed gullible. Hurley states that Paul's point in 1 Timothy 2:14 could be paraphrased
The man, upon whom lays responsibility for leadership in the home and in
religious matters, was prepared by God to discern the serpent's lies. The woman was not appointed religious leader and was not prepared to
discern them. She was taken in. Christian worship involves
re-establishing the creational pattern with men faithfully teaching
God's truth and women receptively listening. 
I find it difficult to understand this in any other way than as an
assertion of male headship and female submission that is based on a view
that God created women in such a way that they are gullible. In Hurley's
words, "not appointed religious leader and . . . not prepared to discern
. . . [the lies of the serpent.”
A final example here would need to be, of course, the virtually official
interpretive book of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical
Feminism, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. The editors wish to
identify their position as one of complementarity, which I understand to
be the position of Susan Foh described earlier. This position is held in
distinction from what these persons identify as the traditionalist
position, which they see as wrongly arguing for the inferiority of
women. For example, the title of chapter three, written by Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., may be paradigmatic for this perspective: “Male-Female
Equality and Male Headship: Genesis 1-3."
Nevertheless, as I read the Piper/Grudem/Council position, its view of
male headship and female submission is certainly the traditional view in
the history of the church. This volume develops these themes in careful
detail through twenty-six essays divided into the five sections of the
book. In my judgment, however, the most revealing comment in the entire
volume about these issues comes in John Piper's opening essay entitled:
"A Vision of Biblical Complementarity: Manhood and Womanhood Defined
According to the Bible." Near the end of the chapter, Piper gives an
illustration meant to clarify the "brink of contradiction" between his
biblical-theological point about male headship and leadership and the
social reality of women's leadership, or what Piper seems to want to
It is simply impossible that from time to time a woman not be put in a
position of influencing or guiding men. For example, a housewife in her
backyard may be asked by a man how to get to the freeway. At that point
she is giving a kind of leadership. She has superior knowledge that the
man needs and he submits to her guidance. But we all know that there is
a way for that housewife to direct the man that neither of them feels
their mature femininity or masculinity compromised.
It is difficult to comment on this. It seems far removed from the
biblical issues and concerns about the relationship of men and women.
In short, the comment seems to trivialize the issue.
It is my judgment that the male headship/female submission issue in
biblical interpretation, especially within the evangelical tradition,
revolves primarily around a series of five separate (but clearly
related) topics and texts. These are, in what I perceive to be the
order of their importance in the discussion and debate, the following:
(1) the meaning of the term kephale (head; the term understood
traditionally to indicate authority or headship) which also involves 1
Corinthians 11:2-16 and Ephesians 5:21-33, the two New Testament texts
in which kephale is used with reference to the relationship of men and
(2) the meaning of authentein (usually translated in Bibles as "to have
authority over") and its use in I Timothy 2:I2 within the I Timothy
(3) Genesis 1-3 and its interpretation with respect to the relationship
of men and women;
(4) the biblical examples of women in positions of some type of
authority, including women in the Old Testament, in the life of Jesus,
and within Paul's ministry circle of leaders; and
(5) the meaning of submission and silence for women
mentioned in I Corinthians 14:34-35, and the place of that passage itself in
It is not possible in this context, of course, to discuss all of these
topics and texts, rather, this essay will focus only on the first two
issues of these five, since they have involved the most intense,
careful, and technical debates within evangelical circles. Further, it
is not possible to discuss here all the interpretive issues in the
Biblical texts in which the terms kephale and authentein occur; the
emphasis will be only on those precise points on which the so-called
headship debate rests.
The Meaning of the Term Kephale
The modem discussion of the meaning of kephale for passages in the New
Testament about the relationship of men and women goes back to the 1954
article of Stephen Bedale, who suggested that the metaphorical meaning
of the term kephale could be "source" in some instances rather than the
traditional sense of "authority over" or "leader.” Probably the
first introductions of this perspective into the evangelical discussions
came in the 1971 commentary of F. F. Bruce on I and 2 Corinthians and in
the early evangelical feminist book of Letha Scanzoni and Nancy
Hardesty, All We're Meant to Be: A Biblical Approach to Women's
Liberation, published in 1974. Perhaps the most dramatic presentation of
"source" as the understanding of kephale in these texts came with the
two articles of Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen in Christianity Today in
1979 and 1981. 
The challenge from the traditional side, arguing that kephale means"
authority over" came from Wayne Grudem in 1985, with his famous article
covering 2,336 examples of kephale in Greek literature. Grudem argues
that kephale clearly means "authority over" or "ruler," and that it
never means "source" or "origin.”
The next year, 1986, saw further escalation of the debate. Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen's major article on kephale was published in the summer
with responses by Ruth A. Tucker and Philip Barton Payne. These were
papers that had been presented at a conference in October 1984, so they
do not enter into dialogue with Grudem's 1985 article. Essentially, the Mickelsens argue in detail for the meaning "source" or "origin" (and
other nuances which do not come into the authority category). Tucker
raises objections from the writings of theologians throughout the
history of the church; Payne agrees with the Mickelsens but attempts to
broaden, deepen, and refine their arguments.
The 1986 meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (its 38th annual
meeting! was held in a suburb of Atlanta, and devoted considerable time
to a debate over the meaning of kephale, with Wayne Grudem,
Gilbert Bilezikian, and Catherine Clark Kroeger participating. Christiamty Today
reported on the meeting in a news article entitled "The Battle of the
Lexicons." Grudem utilized his 1985 material. The presentations of Kroeger and Bilezikian were subsequently published in 1987 and 1990,
respectively. Both Kroeger and Bilezikian argue as extensively for the
meaning "source" as Grudem had for the meaning "authority over."
Bilezikian's article responds to each one of Grudem's examples from
Greek literature, text by text. 
Gordon D. Fee's thorough and excellent commentary on 1Corinthians in
the Evangelical New International Commentary on the New Testament series
appeared in 1987. Fee includes a brief but sophisticated discussion of
kephale under 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, utilizing the critical evangelical
literature in the debate published to that time, even Kroeger's 1987
article. Fee concludes that kephale means "source” or "source of
In 1989, Richard S. Cervin joined Kroeger and Bilezikian in critique of
the work of Grudem. Cervin's work was published in Trinity Journal, in
which Grudem's 1985 article had also appeared. Cervin also responds to
each one of Grudem's examples text by text, and concludes against Grudem. He shows that kephale does not mean “authority over" in most cases cited
by Grudem, and that it can mean "source." But Cervin concludes that in
the New Testament texts at stake in the discussion, kephale has
the meaning "preeminence,” which he contends is its basic Hellenistic
meaning. Cervin also responds to a 1989 article of Joseph A. Fitzmyer,
which concluded independently of and without knowledge of Grudem. That
kephale means "authority over" in Greek literature and in 1 Corinthians
Grudem then responded in great detail to Cervin in the Trinity Journal
in 1990, strongly reaffirming his 1985 position. There also appeared in
1990 an unpublished thesis on kephale by Terrence Alexander Crain at
Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. Crain's work is not generally
known. His findings, often in considerable dialogue with Grudem,
generally support the meaning of "source" rather than "authority over"
for kephale. Andrew T. Lincoln's interpretation in the Evangelical Word
Biblical Commentary on Ephesians also appeared in 1990. In connection
with Ephesians 5:23, Lincoln comments very briefly on kephale, noting
only Grudem's 1985 article and the contributions of Fee and Kroeger. He
concludes that kephale probably contains a mixture of the concepts of
"source" and "authority over," concluding that it means "authority over"
in Ephesians 1:22, 4:15, and 5:23. Finally, Craig Keener in 1992
discussed kephale in his book on Paul and women. Keener mentions most of
the literature and provides a summary of Fee's conclusions, with which
he expresses his agreement. 
What is the result of this two-decades-long debate within evangelical
circles over the meaning of kephale, and how does it relate to the
interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:2-16 and Ephesians 5:21-33?  It is
not likely that further progress can be made now in the analysis of the
Greek word kephale; the evidence is in and has been sifted from various
perspectives. It seems clear to me that the evidence shows the
metaphorical meaning of kephale can be varied, including "authority
over," "preeminence," and "source." It is, however, especially important
to note that the Septuagint evidence rather clearly indicates that the
Greek kephale was not normally used to translate the Hebrew
the Hebrew term meant a ruler, leader, or someone in authority. This
considerably weakens the argument that kephale in Hellenistic Greek
means "authority over" or "ruler." In my judgment, Bilezikian and Crain
have made this case especially well. Further, it seems clearly
established that kephale can mean "source," as many (such as Kroeger,
Fee, and others) have shown. Perhaps Fee has given the most succinct
statement of the basic evidence. However, and this is a very important
point that so much of the kephale debate seems to ignore or to put
aside, the determinative evidence for the meaning of kephale is its use
and function in particular contexts. Thus, proving a range of meanings
for kephale is important, especially against the undue limits argued by
Grudem but the critical issue is how kephale functions in 1
Corinthians 11:2-16 and in Ephesians 5:21-33.
Although I Corinthians 11:2-16 (especially in the allusions to Genesis 2
in verses 7-9) does reflect to some degree the traditional Jewish
understanding of androcentrism, the passage as a whole provides
considerable support both for an understanding of kephale as "source"
and also for a genuine equality and mutuality between men and women in
the church. The Christological issue in the words" and God is the head
of Christ; (11:3 NRSV) is better served in Pauline theology by the
understanding “source" rather than by "authority over.” Further, even
the Genesis argument (11:7-9) fits very well with understanding kephale
as "source." Paul’s strong balancing statement (11:11-12) introduced by
the emphatic adversative plen makes clear that his intent "in the Lord”
is for the mutuality (or equality) of men and women. Further, the clear
recognition that women as well as men participate in prayer and prophecy
(11:5) also underscores this understanding. Finally, the fact that Paul
states (11: 10) that women in the Lord who wear the proper cultural head
covering do have active, positive authority (exousia) makes clear the
authoritative participation of women in worship. 
Ephesians 5:21-33 certainly reflects the general Jewish and Greco-Roman
understandings of marriage in which wives were understood to have the
responsibility to submit to their husbands in all things, as Ephesians
5:24 indicates. However, it is clear that this cultural understanding of
marriage is significantly qualified for those in Christ, so that the
passage teaches an overarching concept of mutual submission. In this
context, kephale hardly means "authority over” especially in the
leadership and authority-bearing sense for husbands over wives given to
it by so many of the traditionalist and complementarian interpreters.
Kephale may mean “source” here, although it could just as likely mean
“authority over,” especially in light of the use of kephale
in Ephesians 1:22 and 4:15.
Whatever kephale might precisely signify in Ephesians 5:21-33, the
context makes it clear that it carries for those in Christ no
authoritarian sense for men. The opening sentence (5:21 NRSV) is the
theme of the passage: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for
Christ." In addition, husbands are three times commanded to love their
wives, an injunction that was not typical in first-century Mediterranean
cultures. This injunction is explicitly modeled on Christ’s relationship
to the church, which is described totally and only in terms of
self-giving activity. Thus, what Christ is to the church is the
archetype for behavior within the believing community--subjection to one
another out of reverence for Christ, a wife's submission to her husband
as to the Lord, and a husband's love for his wife.
The use of the term kephale in the New Testament texts about the
relationship of men and women, understood in their own contexts, does
not support the traditionalist or complementarity view of male headship
and female submission as described by those authors noted earlier. Rather, this data supports a new understanding in Christ by which men
and women are viewed in a mutually supportive, submissive relationship
through which either men or women can bear and represent authority in
the church. 
The Meaning of Authentein and I Timothy 2:8-I5
The King James (Authorized) Version translated the verb authentein in 1
Timothy 2:12 44 as "usurp authority over" (see also the New English
Bible translation: "domineer over"). The word authentein has frequently
been understood as a general term for authority. Thus, the phrase "I
permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep
silence in I Timothy 2:12 has traditionally been understood as strong
support for the male headship and female submission viewpoint.
Such an understanding is replete in the literature surveyed earlier
representing the traditional position within the evangelical tradition.
Whether 1 Timothy 2:8-15 supports a male headship view has, in the
evangelical debate of the last fifteen years, revolved primarily around
the discussion of the meaning of authentein. Although other significant
issues are relevant, especially the use of Genesis in 2:13-14 and the
nature of the heresy combated in 1 and 2 Timothy and its bearing on the
interpretation of the teaching and character of the passage (whether it
is normative/universal or contingent (particular) attention here will be
focused on the authentein debate, which it turns out has been rather
dramatic, especially in the last decade. 
What needs to be noted is that authentein is a very rare verb.
Its only occurrence in the New Testament is at 1 Timothy 2:12. It is
rare, too, in the Greek language outside of and prior to Paul, with less
than forty examples of its use given in the standard New Testament Greek
Lexicon of Walter Bauer. It is only within the last few years on the
basis of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG) computer database project
(which contains virtually all three thousand ancient Greek authors from
Homer to A.D. 600) that we now know that this rare term and its cognates
occur about 330 times, which means that it is still a relatively rare
The current evangelical debate may well have been initiated by Catherine
Clark Kroeger's 1979 popular article in the Reformed Journal. Although Kroeger's article suggested a possible sexual connotation for
(a meaning that has never been adequately or significantly documented in
my judgment!, her article correctly and powerfully noted that authentein
was not the usual word for positive authority, and that there was
substantial evidence that it had a negative connotation, thus developing
the alternative (second) translation of "domineer" given in Bauer's
lexicon. Kroeger developed her discussion further in an article written
in 1984 but published in 1986. 
Between 1981 and 1984, three studies appeared defending the traditional
interpretation of authentein, understanding 1Timothy 2:12 as a
prohibition of normal, positive authority in the church to women. Two
studies, those by A. T. Panning and C. D. Osburn, were relatively minor. However, the study of George A. Knight III published in 1984 in the
prestigious New Testament Studies was a major contribution to and very
strong defense of the traditional interpretation. 
Four years after Knight's article appeared, Leland Edward Wilshire
published an article on authentein in the same New Testament
Studies. Wilshire's article was the first study to be able to use
the TLG database, and so constituted for the first time a study of
virtually all the evidence. This alone gave Wilshire's study great
significance. The findings of Wilshire are critical and diminutive for
Wilshire found that in the classical Greek period (sixth to the fourth
century B.C.) the word group almost exclusively means “a perpetrator of
a violent act, either murder or suicide.” In Hellenistic Greek, the
period of Greek in which the New Testament was written, Wilshire found
that lithe word continues its meaning of murder or murderer. There is
also beginning to appear a wider usage of the word, still revolving
around personal involvement in a crime." Wilshire notes that with the
church fathers, the term authentein begins to take on the meaning of
“have authority over” without the negative connotations. He then
observes: “There are authors, roughly contemporaneous with Paul (Apollonius
Rhodius, Polybius, Diodorus Siculus, Flavius Josephus, Appian of
Alexander, Philo Judaeus, LXX-Wis), who use the word almost exclusively
with the meaning of 'to murder/murderer' or 'to perpetrate a
crime/perpetrator of a crime.” 
Thus, Wilshire's study and summary of the evidence clearly and strongly
supports the view that authentein carries almost exclusively a negative
meaning in Paul's Greek context, which would support the idea of
"domineer," "usurp," or some such translation.
Consequent upon this, the case is very strong on the basis of this term
alone that 1 Timothy 2:8-15 is addressing a particular problem of abuse
in the church, undoubtedly related to the false teaching/teachers
opposed in 1 and 2 Timothy (as I argued in my 1986 article).
What struck me as strange and inexplicable when I read Wilshire's
article in 1988 was the fact that, beyond his summaries of the evidence
given above, his conclusions did not seem to flow out of his own
evidence. At one point, he cautiously says that: “The conclusion by
Knight that the recognized meaning for first century BC and AD documents
is that of “to have authority over” is increasingly to be questioned."50
Rather than "increasingly to be questioned," I would have expected
something like “shown” to be incorrect." In the closing pages of his
article, Wilshire seemed to give some weight to the view of the church
fathers on authentein as if it were legitimate context for the meaning
in 1 Timothy 2:12. He then finished the article with what seemed to me
to be a very ambiguous statement about the meaning of authentein
in 1 Timothy 2:12.
Paul W. Barnett, an Australian, was the first person known to me to use
the work of Wilshire on authentein in a published article. Barnett, who
is a strong evangelical supporter of the traditional position (excluding
women from authority and leadership in the church), used Wilshire in
support of his traditional position and interpretation of authentein,
even though that is actually against the evidence Wilshire presented, as
shown above. Barnett only briefly, and in my view quite inaccurately,
summarizes the evidence presented by Wilshire, and then states:
What, then, is Wilshire's conclusion? With due caution this
scholar suggests that . . . it is the notion of 'authority' [meaning normal,
positive authority] which is in the apostle's mind. In other words, Wilshire,
while rejecting Knight's generalizations based on the small sample available
to him, nonetheless appears to have reached the same conclusion, though this
is implied rather than stated outright. 
Barnett has, in my judgment, done two things: He has actually
misrepresented the evidence presented by Wilshire and yet he has
correctly noted Wilshire's own ambiguities in drawing conclusions.
Barnett's work drew two fairly immediate responses, both from other
Australians, published in 1990. Kevin Giles's response, actually
presented at the same 1988 conference at which Barnett's paper was
originally presented, correctly recognizes that Wilshire's data
disproves Knight (and the traditional rendering of authentein), thus
correcting (indirectly) Barnett's reading of Wilshire. Further, Giles
also identified clearly Wilshire's own problematic conclusions: “All of
the information needed to refute Knight is found in Wilshire's article,
but his presentation of the data is at times hard to follow and his
conclusion that we should take authentein in 1 Timothy 2:12 to mean . .
. can hardly be taken seriously." 
The other response came from Timothy J. Harris and was published in the
same journal in which Barnett’s article originally appeared. Harris
calls attention to Knight, Wilshire, and to Barnett's use of them, but
in rather brief terms. Without explicitly naming Wilshire, Harris
criticizes the utilization of the church fathers' use of authentein in
determining Paul's meaning of the term, which is what Wilshire appears
to do. Harris goes on to criticize Barnett at another, related
point. Barnett has a section in his 1989 article headed “Other
Exegetical Approaches.” Nevertheless, Barnett mentions for a short page
and a half only Payne, Kroeger's first article on authentein, and
Padgett; Harris scores Barnett for not also engaging Kroeger's later
work, Fee, and Scholer. By omitting these perspectives, the real
nature of the debate is skewed.
In 1992, Richard Clark Kroeger and Catherine Clark Kroeger published
their long-awaited book, I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:1
1-I5 in Light of Ancient Evidence. Part 2 of this book features a
lengthy study of authentein. The Kroegers, who mysteriously and
unfortunately do not mention at all Wilshire's 1988 study (as well as
several other articles on the 1 Timothy passage), conclude that
authentein has at its core the concept of “origination” or "source."
They translate 1 Timothy 2:12, then, in this way: “I do not permit a
woman . . . to represent herself as originator of man.” They
understand the cultural-social context to be a fusion of gnostic and
pagan “feminism” in Ephesus, which promoted the idea that woman was, in
fact, the source of man. Thus, Paul attempts to correct that false
teaching in 1Timothy 2:13 by reference to Genesis 2 and the priority of
man's creation. It is very debatable, in my judgment, whether or not the
social-cultural construction of the Kroegers is correct. Although their
discussion of authentein is fascinating, it does not appear to have
marshaled the evidence in as convincing a way as has Wilshire.  Of
course, the ultimate thrust of the Kroegers' book I believe to be
correct--1 Timothy 2 is a culturally limited text and does not exclude
women from the legitimate exercise of authority in the church. In 1993,
at least three more evangelical publications dealt with the authentein
debate. A. Wolters, in a review of the Kroegers’ book, uses the 1988
article of Wilshire, understand it (incorrectly) to support the
traditional understanding of authentein as legitimate authority. 
A.C. Perriman also published a substantial article on authentein in
another evangelical journal.  Perriman notes the problem of
Wilshire's ambiguous 1988 conclusions, as well as noting the Barnett/Wilshire
1989/1993 exchange with Wilshire’s clarifications. Perriman argues that
“authorship" not “authority" is at the heart of the meaning of
authentein (but in a sense different from that argued by the Kroegers,
whom he extensively critiques). Perriman understands that in 1 Timothy
2:12, authentein refers to women “initiating" or “perpetrating”
something on men, which he understands, correctly I believe, to be the
heretical teaching that 1 Timothy was written to oppose. Thus, 1
Timothy 2 is not an exclusion of women from the exercise of legitimate
authority in the church. Perriman has made a good case, but it is not clear to me
whether the distinctions he draws are actual or substantial differences
from the evidence as presented by Wilshire in 1988.
Finally, Leland E. Wilshire published in 1993 a “correction” to his 1988
article in the same journal in which the Barnett and Harris articles
appeared. Wilshire was now responding explicitly to the use of his
landmark 1988 study. For our purposes here, the first section of his
article may be the most interesting; it is entitled,
"Misunderstandings.” Wilshire says that Barnett "has made me say
something that I scrupulously did not say, quoting the same section of
Barnett on Wilshire's conclusions quoted earlier in this paper. Wilshire
goes on to say: “Barnett has taken my utmost caution in dealing with
philology to arrive at conclusions unwarranted by the evidence and
neither stated, explicitly or implicitly, by myself.” Wilshire finally
says that his study differed from Knight's at all crucial points and
that, therefore, “it is a grave misunderstanding to think that we
arrived at the same conclusions.”  I continue to think that Wilshire
himself is the cause of some of the misunderstanding of his 1988
article, but I am delighted that he has now made it explicitly clear
that he was misunderstood, and that Barnett’s use of his study was a
misrepresentation of the evidence and of his intention.
Wilshire goes on in his 1993 article to speak clearly about the meaning
of authentein--its specific meaning in I Timothy 2:12, and its
implications for the headship debate and the place of women in the
church. He concludes for the term authentein and its cognates that “the
preponderant number of citations . . . have to do with self willed
violence, criminal action, or murder or with the person who does these
actions.” He notes that the infinitival form of authentein, which is
used in I Timothy 2:12, does not occur in Greek literature prior to
Paul. The meaning of authentein in I Timothy 2:12 Wilshire gives as
instigating violence.” Wilshire is unclear on the precise
social and rhetorical intent of the term in its context, but does
suggest one major option, which happens to be my own conclusion, that
the widows of 1 Timothy 5 who were speaking on behalf of the false
teachers are here told not to instigate violence in the church, but to
be silent. Wilshire notes other readings and comes to no firm
conclusion. Wilshire does,
however, draw a clear application based on his study:
Does the term authentein in 1 Tim. 2:12 have to do with
exercising ecclesiastical power or ecclesiastical authority? The answer is
probably not . . . Both men and women are created good, are to be received
with thanksgiving, and by being consecrated by the word of God and prayer,
are set free to serve their Lord in the church and in the world.
The "final" chapter in this debate (for now) is Paul W. Barnett's 1994
brief counterresponse, in the same journal, to Wilshire's "correction."
Here Barnett reaffirms his previous reading of Wilshire's 1988 article
(again clearly noting Wilshire's ambiguity), recognizes that Wilshire's
1993 article explicitly and clearly supports a negative meaning for
authentein, and rejects that interpretation. 
This interpretive survey of the recent debate on authentein virtually
speaks for itself. I am convinced that the evidence is in and that it
clearly establishes authentein as a negative term, indicating violence
and inappropriate behavior. Thus, what Paul does not allow for women in
1 Timothy 2 is this type of behavior. Therefore, the text is not a transcultural, normative establishment of male headship and leadership
with the concomitant view of female submission. I understand the impact
of these further studies of authentein to support and establish
more clearly the view I and many others have expressed that I Timothy 2
is opposing the negative behavior of women, probably the women mentioned
in 1 Timothy 5:15 who follow and represent the false teachers 1 and 2
Timothy are dedicated to opposing.
Conclusion and Implications
In full recognition of the complexity of the exegetical and
hermeneutical issues relevant to the so-called headship debate within
evangelical circles, I am fully convinced that the Bible does not
institute, undergird, or teach male headship and female submission, in
either the traditionalist or complementarian forms of evangelical
thought, which exclude women from equal participation in authority with
men within the body of Christ, whether in ministry or marriage or any
other dimension of life. Rather, the Bible affirms, supports, and
teaches by precept and example a mutuality or equality in Christ for
women and men, both in ministry and in marriage. This is what is
rightfully called evangelical feminism, although I fully realize that
the term "feminism" creates conceptual and emotional difficulties for
Because the Bible, and in particular the New Testament, affirms,
supports, and teaches a genuine mutuality and equality in Christ, I
believe this position should actively, even aggressively--in the Pauline
sense of gospel obligation--be taught and acted upon in the church.
This requires commitment and understanding, sensitivity and patience,
love and forgiveness, humility and courage.
The exceedingly difficult bridge to cross is whether or not this
commitment is part of the gospel. In other (radical) words, drawing the
analogy of the assessment of apartheid in South Africa, is the lack of
this commitment only ethical misunderstanding and moral failure, or is
it heresy, a perversion of the gospel? I am dedicated to understanding
this commitment as part of the gospel, especially on the basis of the
inclusion of women in the call and ministry of both Jesus and Paul. In
saying this, I am fearful of placing myself in the position of judging
others without humility or sensitivity that I do not want to do.
In other words, I would call no one a heretic, but I would call an
expression of the gospel that excludes women in any way or sense from
equality with men in Christ in status, response, action, and ministry a
misguided form of the gospel as presented in the New Testament.
Given these convictions, I believe it is critical within the evangelical
debate over male headship and within the social context in which we live
to commit ourselves with gospel vigilance to speak out, to act
fearlessly against the abuse of women, and to do all within our ability
to make certain that biblical misinterpretation and misrepresentation is
never used or allowed to be used--even indirectly, implicitly, or
unconsciously--to justify, by men or women, the abuse of women anywhere,
but especially within the household of faith.
1. This Bible was also printed in 1551. For the technical data see A. S.
Herbert, Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of The English
Bible 1525-1961 (London: The British and Foreign Bible Society; New
York: The American Bible Society, 1968), entries 74 (pp. 40-41) and 93
(p. 52); and William J. Chamberlin, Catalogue of English Bible
Translations: A Classified Bibliograph of Versions and Editions
Including Books, Parts, and Old and New Testament Apocrypha and
Apocryphal Books, Bibliographies and Indexes in Religious Studies 21
(New York: Greenwood, 1991), 5-6.
2. The citation of the note is taken from F. F. Bruce, The English
Bible: A History of Translations from the Earliest English Versions to
the New English Bible, 2d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press,
1970),83-84. Bruce gives only the 1551 publication date; see also the
reference to Becke's note in Geddes MacGregor, A Literary History of
the Bible: From the Middle Ages to the Present Day (Nashville:
Abingdon, 1968), 134 (the publication date is incorrectly given as
August 16, 1549).
3. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, "Battered Women and the Bible: From
Subjection to Liberation," Christianity & Crisis 41, no. 18 (16
November 19811: 308-r3. Also Marie Marshall Fortune, Sexual Violence:
The Unmentionable Sin (New York: Pilgrim Press, r983), 191-217; see
also Fortune's Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers Ear the
Abused Woman (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1967), 13-2r; and her
Is Nothing Sacred! When Sex Invades the Pastoral Relationship (San
Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1989) .
4. Rita-Lou Clarke, Pastoral Care of Battered Women
(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986),61-85; see also her article "The Bible
and Battered Women," Daughters of Sarah 15, no. 3 (MayfTune
Kay Marshall Strom, In the Name of Submission: A Painful Look at Wife
Battering (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1986),49-58.
Margaret Josephson Rinck, Christian Men Who Hate Women: Healing
Hurting Relationships (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990),71-75,81-86.
Jame.and Phyllis Alsdlhrf, Battered into Submission: The Tragedy of
Wife Abuse in the Christian Home (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity
Press, 1989); see especially chapter 6, "Wife Abuse and the Submission
of Women," 81-95.
Carolyn Holderread Heggen, Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and
Churches (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 19931; see especially
chapter 5, "Religious Beliefs and Abuse,” 82-97.
See also Elizabeth S. Bowman, "When Theology Leads to Abuse," Update:
Newsletter of the Evangelical Women's Caucus 12, no. 4 (winter
1988/1989}: 1-4; and Sarah J. Couper, "Prelude to Equality: Recognizing
Oppression," in Gender Matters: Women's Studies for the Christian
Community, ed. June Steffensen Hagen (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
1990), 249-63, especially 256-63. The literature cited in this article
from the last fifteen years is, of course, not an attempt to provide a
complete bibliography. Rather, I have noted the most important
contributions both from the Christian church in general and the
evangelical movement in particular.
5. James L. Franklin, "Clergy Vows New Support for Victims of
Battering," Boston Globe, 14 November 1993, p. 128.
6. John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and
Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton: Crossway
Books, 1991 I, 470.
7. Ibid., 62.
8. James A. Borland, "Women in the Life and Teaching of Jesus," in
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 113-23. The specific
sentence is on p. 114.
9. The footnote is number 13 on p. 501 (and is referred to again in note
19 onp. 502.); the article is on pp. 194-208.
10. Carolyn Osiek, Beyond Anger: On Being a Feminist in the Church
(New York/Mahwah: Paulist, 1985). The quotations here are from pp.
11. Augustine, Confessions 9.9, quoted in Elizabeth A. Clark,
Women In the Early Church, vol 13, Message of the Fathers of the
Church (Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1983), 252-53.
12. Augustine, Literal Commentary on Genesis 9.5, quoted in
13. Augustine, Literal Commentary on Genesis 11.42, quoted in
14. Augustine, Letter 262, quoted in Clark, 65-69.
15. Tertullian, On the Dress of Women, 1.1.1 for the short
quotation; 1.1.2. for the long quotation, quoted in Clark, 39.
16. John Chrysostom, Discourse 2. on Genesis 2., quoted in
17. John Chrysostom, The Kind of Women Who Ought To Be Taken As Wives
4, quoted in Clark, 37.
18. Ruth Tucker and Walter Liefeld, Daughters of the Church: Women
and Ministry from New Testament Times to the Present (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 19871, 164-65.
19. Ibid., 165-70. The quotation is from p. 166.
20. Robert D. Culver, “A Traditional View: Let Your Women Keep Silence,"
in Women in Ministry: Four Views, Bonnidell Clouse and Robert G.
Clouse, eds.(Downera Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1989), 37; quoting from
Charles John Ellicott, A Biblical Commentary for English Readers,
vol. 8 (London: Cassell, n.d.), 188.
21. Culver, "A Traditional View," 38.
22. Ibid., 41-42.
23. Susan T. Foh, "A Male Leadership
View: The Head of the Woman Is the Man," in Women in Ministry,
67-105; see her critique of Culver in the same volume, pp. 53-54·
24· Ibid., 73.
25. Ibid., 89.
26. James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 215. On the same page Hurley similarly writes,
"I think it very unlikely that Paul meant to say that . . . all women
are too gullible to teach.” See my essay review of Hurley:
“Hermeneutical Gerrymandering: Hurley on Women and Authority,” TSF
Bulletin 6, no. 5 (May/June 1983): 11-13.
27. Ibid., 216.
28. I have discussed this point concerning Hurley: as well as articles
by Douglas Moo “1 Timothy 2:11-15: Meaning and Significance,” Trinity
Journal : 62-83; and "The Interpretation of 1 Timothy
2.:11-15: A Rejoinder,” Trinity Journal 2
: 198-222, in my "1 Timothy 2:9-15 and the Place of Women
in the Church's Ministry," in Women, Authority, and the Bible, ed. Alvera Mickelsen (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1986), 193-219. The
specific discussion of Hurley and Moo is on pp. 211-12. See also Philip
B. Payne's critique of Moo in "Libertarian Women in Ephesus: A Response
to Douglas J. Moo's Article, '1 Timothy 2:II-15: Meaning and
Significance,'" Trinity Joumal 2 (1981): 169-97.
29. Piper and Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
The copyright is held by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
30. Ibid., So. The entire chapter I covers
31.I have treated some of these issues before in a very brief article:
"Male Headship: God's Intention or Man's Invention?" WATCHword
12, no. 1 (February/March 1988): 3-4, 7.·
32. Stephen Bedale, "The Meaning of kephale in the Pauline
Epistles," Journal of Theological Studies 5 (1954): 211-15·
33. F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Corinthians, New Century Bible (London:
Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1971), 103, with credit to Bedale.
Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty, All We're Meant to Be: A Biblical
Approach to Women's Liberation (Waco: Word Books, 1974), 30-31, 100. The second edition appeared in 1986 as All We're Meant To Be:
Biblical Feminism for Today (Nashville: Abingdon), where the
parallel pages are pp. 42-46, 121-22. The third edition appeared in 1992
with the same title as the second edition (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans), where the parallel pages are pp. 33-37, 149-50.
Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, "Does Male Dominance Tarnish Our
Translations?" Christianity Today 22 (5 October 1979), 1312-18;
and "The 'Head' of the Epistles," Christianity Today 24 (20
February 198I), 264-67.
34. Wayne Grudem, "Does kephale ('Head') Mean 'Source' or'
Authority Over' in Greek Literature? A Survey of 2,336 Examples,"
published as appendix 1 in George W. Knight III, The Role
Relationship of Men and Women: New Testament Teaching, 2d ed.
(Chicago: Moody, 1985), 49-80. Knight's first edition was entitled
The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women
(I977). Grudem's article was also reprinted in Trinity Joumal 6
35. Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, "What Does kephale Mean in the New
Testament?" in Women, Authority, and the Bible, 97-110, with Ruth
A. Tucker's response (pp. 111-17) and Philip Barton Payne's response
(pp. 118-32). The October 9-11, 1984, conference was held in Oa Brook,
Illinois, and was organized by stanleyN Gundry,Catherine Clark Kroeger,
and David M. Scholer.
36. David Neff, "The Battle of the Lexicons," Christianity Today
31, no. 1 (16 January 1987), 44-45. Catherine Clark Kroeger, "The
Classical Concept of Head as 'Source,'" Appendix 3 in Gretchen Gaebelein
Hull, Equal To Serve: Women and Men in the Church and Home (Old
Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1987), 267-83; Gilbert Bilezikian, "A
Critical Examination of Wayne Grudem's Treatment of kephale in Ancient
Greek Texts," appendix in Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: What
the Bible Says About a Woman's Place in Church and Family, 2d ed.
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990),215-52.
37. Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New
International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans, 1987), 502-3.
38. Richard S. Cervin, "Does kephale Mean 'Source' or 'Authority
Over' in Greek Literature? A Rebuttal," Trinity Journal 10
(1989): 85-112. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, "Another Look at kephale
in I Corinthians 11:3," New Testament Studies 35 (1989); 503-11. Fitzmyer's
article has been reprinted as “The Meaning of kephale in I
Corinthians 11:3," chapter 6 in J. A Fitzmyer, According to Paul:
Studies in the Theology of the Apostle (New York: Paulist, 1993),
80-88 (in which he does take note of Grudem and Cervin). Fitzmyer has
reasserted his view in another article, "Kephale in 1 Corinthians
11:3," Interpretation 47 (I993): 52-59. Fitzmyer, a prominent
Roman Catholic scholar, discusses kephale in the work of various
non-evangelical New Testament scholars, some of whom also have argued
for the meaning “source."
39. Wayne Grudem, “The Meaning of kephale ('Head'): A Response to
Recent Studies," Trinity Journal II (1990): 3-72. This is
reprinted as appendix I to the Piper/Grudem volume (1991), 425-68. Richard S. Cervin has prepared a response (1991), which has not been
published (I have the 39-page manuscript copy from Cervin).
Terrence Alexander Crain, “The Linguistic Background to the Metaphoric
Use of kephale in the New Testament." (I was the external
examiner for this thesis, which explains my acquaintance with it. It has
not yet played a role in the public scholarly discussion.)
Andrew T. Lincoln, Ephesians, Word Biblical Commentary 42
(Dallas: Word, 1990), 368-69; and Craig S. Keener, Paul, Women, and
Wives: Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul
(Peabody: Hendrickson, 1992), 33-34.
40. See the useful summary presentation of views on headship given in an
appendix to a book by 'Elaine Starkey, What's Right with Feminism
(London: SPCK, 1985/Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1986),
41. For details of exegesis on I Corinthians 11:2-16, see the
commentaries of Fee (pp. 491-530) and of Bruce (pp. 102-81). Bruce's
comment on 11:10 is worth citing: "In Christ she received equality of
status with man: she might pray or prophesy at meetings of the church,
and her veil was a sign of this new authority" (p. 106).
42. See R. Wall, “Wifely Submission in the Context of Ephesians,”
Christian Scholar's Review 17 (1988): 272-85.
43· For some further discussion of I Corinthians 11:2-I6 and Ephesians
5:21-33, see my "Feminist Hermeneutics and Evangelical Biblical
Interpretation," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
30 (1987): 407-20, especially pp. 415-17. This article was reprinted in
the Evangelical Review of Theology 15 (1991): 305-20, and was
abbreviated as “How Can Divine Revelation Be So Human? A Look at
Feminist Hermeneutics," Daughters of Sarah 15, no. 3 (May/June
At the April 15-16, 1994 conference, A. C. Perriman (currently from
Amsterdam, The Netherlands) gave me copies of two of his articles on
kephale, unpublished at that time: "The Head of a Woman: The Meaning
of kephale in 1 Corinthians 11:3" and "Headship and Submission:
Disputing the Excuse for Abuse.” In these articles! Perriman argues that
kephale is best understood in the sense of "prominence," a conclusion
very similar to that of R. S. Cervin. Perriman argues strongly for the
equality of men and women in the church and all forms of its ministry;
he also directly confronts the abuse of women in the name of alleged
understandings of kephale.
44· See my extensive article of a decade ago on this text: "1 Timothy
2:9-15 and the Place of Women in the Church's Ministry," in Women,
Authority, and the Bible, 193-219; abridged as "Women in the
Church's Ministry: Does I Timothy 2:9-15 Help or Hinder?" Daughters
of Sarah 16, no. 4 (July/August 1990): 7-12.
45· In addition to my own article cited in the previous note, for other
representative evangelical discussions of the issues of the. use. of
Genesis and of heresy and the consequent nature of the passage, see the
articles by Moo and Payne mentioned in note 28; Douglas Moo, "What Does
It Mean Not To Teach or Have Authority Over Men?: 1 Timothy 2:11-15," in
Piper/Grudem, 179-93;Hurley, 195-223; Gordon D. Fee, "Issues in
Evangelical Hermeneutics, Part III: The Great Watershed-Intentionality
and Particularity: 1 Timothy 2:8-15 as a Test Case," Crux 26, no.
4(1990): 31-37, reprinted as "The Great Watershed-Intentionality and
Particularity-Eternality: 1 Timothy 2:8- 15," in Gordon D. Fee,
Gospel and Spirit: Issues in New Testament Hermeneutics
(Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991), 52-65; A. Padgett, "Wealthy Women at
Ephesus: I Timothy 2:8-15 in Social Context/I Interpretation 41 (I987):
19-31; Keenerj 101-32; and Richard Clark Kroeger and Catherine Clark
Kroeger, I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking I Timothy 2:11-15 in
Light of Ancient Evidence (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992).
46- Catherine Clark Kroeger, "Ancient Heresies and a Strange Greek
Verb," Reformed Journal 29, no. 3 (March 1979): 12-15. Catherine
Clark Kroeger, "1 Timothy 2:I2--A Classicist's View” in Women,
Authority, and the Bible, 225-44, with pp. 229-32 particularly
devoted to authentein. Kroeger does mention the 1984 article of
Knight, but it had appeared too recently for her to have taken full
account of it in this article. See also Kroeger's "Women in the Church:
A Classicist's View of 1 Timothy 2:11-15," Journal of Biblical
Equality I (1989): 3-31. See note 55 for extensive, further work on
authentein by Kroeger.
47. A. J. Panning, "Authentein--a Word Study," Wisconsin
Lutheran Quarterly 78 (1981): 18S-91; and C. D. Osburn, "Authentein
(1 Timothy 2:12)," Restoration Quarterly 25 (1982): 1-12. George A. Knight III, "Authenteo in Reference to Women in I
Timothy 2:12," New Testament Studies 30 (I984): 143-57. Knight
mentions only briefly his own study and the study of Wilshire in his
The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New
International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans/Carlisle: Paternoster, 1992), 141-42.
48. Leland Edward Wilshire, "The TIG Computer and Further Reference to
authentein in 1 Timothy 2:12," New Testament Studies 34 (1988):
49. The three citations in this paragraph are from Wilshire, 122, 123,
50. Ibid., 124.
51. Paul W. Barnett, "Wives and Women's Ministry (1 Timothy 2:11-15);
Evangelical Quarterly 61 (1989): 232. The article is reprinted in a
virtually identical form as "Women in the Church with Special Reference
to I Timothy 2.," in The Bible and Women's Ministry: An Australian
Dialogue, ed. Alan Nichols (Wanniassa, ACT: Acron Press,
1990),49-64, without any mention of the Evangelical Quarterly
form of the article. The article was first presented as a paper in May
1988 in Kurrajong, New South Wales, at a conference of the Evangelical
Fellowship in the Anglican Communion (Australia). The Evangelical
Quarterly article was also reprinted in the Evangelical Review of
Theology 15 (1991): 321-34.
52. Kevin Giles, "Response," The Bible and Women's Ministry, ed.
Nichols, 65-87; the specific discussion of authentein and the
quotation are from p. 75. For the record, it should be said that Kevin
Giles and I had discussed Wilshire's article in early 1988.
53. Timothy J. Harris, “Why Did Paul Mention Eve's Deception? A Critique
of P. W. Barnett's Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2," Evangelical
Quarterly 62 (1990): 342-43. Harris had earlier critiqued very
briefly Knight's 1984 article on authentein in his [Harris's]
"The Buck Stops Where? Authority in the Early Church and Current Debate
on Women's Ministry," Interchange 41 (1987): 21-33, especially p.
54. Ibid., 350-51.
55. Richard Clark Kroeger and Catherine Clark Kroeger, I Suffer Not a
Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11-I5 in Light of Ancient Evidence
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 103. Part 2, “The Prohibition” (I Tim.
2:12), constitutes pp. 77-113 of the book.
56. See my review of the Kroegers' book in Themelios 20, no. 2
(January 1995), 30-31. Other reviews of the book, basically by
evangelicals, are those of R. H. Finger, Daughters of Sara 19,
no. 4 (fall I993): 50-52; R. Oster, Biblical Archaeologist Digest
56 (1993): 225-27; J. F. Watson, Ashland Theological Journal 24
(1992): 121-22; A. Wolters, Calvin Theological Journal 28 (1993):
208-13; and R. W. Yarbrough, Presbyterian 18 (1992): 25-33. See
also the article of A. C. Perriman, cited in note 58, especially pp.
132-34. See also L. E. Wilshire cited in note 62.
57. A. Wolters, Calvin Theological Journal 28 (I993): 208-13,
especially p. 211.
58. A. C. Perriman, "What Eve Did, What Women Shouldn't Do: The Meaning
of authentein in 1 Timothy 2:12," Tyndale Bulletin 44
59. Leland E. Wilshire, “1 Timothy 2:12 Revisited: A Reply to Paul W.
Barnett and Timothy J. Harris," Evangelical Quarterly 65 (1993):
44 (all three quotations)! 60. Ibid., 47.
61. Ibid., 48.
62. Ibid., 52-53. It may be noted that Wilshire has a brief addendum at
the end of his article (pp. 53-54), in which he gives his critique of
the Kroegers' book on 1 Timothy 2 (see note 55), especially objecting to
the fact that it does not utilize his 1988 article on authentein,
but also noting that there is much to commend in the book.
63. Paul W. Barnett, "Authentein Once More: A Response to L. E.
Wilshire," Evangelical Quarterly 66 (19941: 159-62.
64. This essay, here in a slightly revised form, was prepared as an
invited paper, presented on April 16,1994, for the "Women, Abuse, and
the Bible" consultation sponsored by Christians for Biblical Equality,
April 15-16, 1994, Chicago O'Hare Marriott, Chicago, Illinois.