Sunday, July 6, 2014

Egalitarian Resources on 1 Corinthians 11

This text has vexed many interpreters, and it has designated some to regard it as an interpolation (William O. Walker is one such interpreter, I believe). That said, assuming its textual veracity seems more reasonable than not, so many commentators have sought to somehow resolve the many issues within this text. For me, this text simply was a morass of terrible reasoning on the part of Paul. 

Remember I was rather annoyed with Paul at this time for other reasons. 

What does kephale mean? How is it used here? 

How does this pericope jive with the rest of 1 Corinthians? 

What 'hangs down from the head?' 

In the words of Wayne Meeks, "The structure of Paul's argument in 11:3-16 is not one of his most lucid patterns of logic." (The Image of the Androgyne, 200, though he does acknowledge for an equality of sorts on 201). 

So, without further time on myself, I will offer several egalitarian resources that may help you with this really difficult text. I will say, on the whole, I think 'source' and 'preeminent' are both reasonable, though I favor 'source.'

As it must be said, Philip Payne's really detailed exegesis of this text has largely convinced me that 'source' is more probable. He examines every aspect of this sequence and offers a cogent and exegetically probable rendering of this text. You may consult his book Man and Woman, One in Christ. His reading is the only one that makes sense of the entire passage. If you want a condensed version, see his free Priscilla Paper's article.

Alan F. Johnson's article in the Ashland Theological Journal is helpful for one key reason: he surveys the major publications regarding 'kephale' and assesses them. He includes Grudem, Payne, Bedale and others. Its compact, insightful and he even offers his own thoughts in the end. You also have his popular commentary from IVP here; it is helpful, especially in his discussion of 1 Corinthians 11 and 15. He opts for 'preeminence' though he accepts 'source.'

Linda Belleville's book Women Leaders and the Church is deceptive. First, it is rather short and yet, it is packed with goodies. You should read the book. Second, her section on 1 Corinthians 11 is both short and sweet. She highlights major difficulties and places them within the overall trajectory of Scripture. Just get the book.  I believe she is undecided between 'preeminence' and 'source.' 

Morna Hooker's classic article on 1 Corinthians 11:10 is worth reading. Very intriguing. I cannot find the online article, so here is a google book.

Richard Cervin's first response to Grudem is worth reading for two reasons. One, he covers every example from a classical and linguistic perspective, thus bringing fresh insight. Two, he argues that 'kephale' means 'preeminence.' To be honest, he has made his case well. However, Grudem responded and Cervin did as well, though his article wasn't accepted. Having read Cervin's masterful (yet 'unpublished') second response, which is again exclusively directed at Grudem, I think 'preeminence' is a strong possibility, though I still think 'source' is better attested.

Gordon D. Fee's commentary on 1 Corinthians is not as in-depth as Payne on 1 Cor. 11:2-16, but he covers many of the major bases. His use of a chiastic structure is helpful. He accepts 'source' as the key translation of 11:3. See also his work in Discovering Biblical Equality ch 11. 

Other egalitarian commentaries include Anthony Thiselton, NIGNT commentary and his 1 Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical & Pastoral Commentary, David Garland's commentary, Ben Witherington's commentary, and F.F. Bruce's (dated) commentary.  

For several great websites, see again The Junia Project, Christians for Biblical Equality, Adam Omelianchuk, Margaret Mowczko and J.W. Wartick. Tell them I say hi.

Hope this helps a bit.

--Nick

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