III. Response to Other Recent Studies
3. (1986) Philip B. Payne, Response
In this response to the Mickelsens' article, Philip Payne repeats the Septuagint argument concerning
the infrequent use of kephale to translate the Hebrew term ro'sh when it meant leader, ruler.
I have discussed that argument at length in the previous analysis of the Mickelsens' article.
Payne also adds some examples where he claims that kephale means source of life.
a. Philo: Payne's first example comes from Philo, The Preliminary Studies 61: And Esau is
the progenitor [ho genarches] of all the clan here described, the head as of a living animal [kephale
de hos zoou].
The sense of head here is difficult to determine. Payne suggests the meaning source of life for head,
a specific kind of source that has never before been given in any lexicon. Yet it is possible that Philo
thought of the physical head of an animal as in some sense energizing or giving life to the animal-this
would then be a simile in which Esau (a representative of stubborn disobedience in this context) gives life
to a whole list of other sins that Philo has been describing as a family in this allegory. However, the word
translated above as progenitor (genarches.) also can mean ruler of created beings (Liddell-Scott,
p. 342). In that case the text would read: And Esau is the ruler of all the clan here described, the head
as of a living animal. Here the meaning would be that Esau is the ruler over the rest of the sinful clan,
and head would mean ruler, authority over. It seems impossible from the context to decide clearly for one
meaning or the other in this text.
The next text cited by Payne is Philo, On Rewards and Punishments. 125. This was discussed above
in the response to Richard Cervin's article. In this quotation the sense source of life must also be seen
as a possible meaning, but the sense ruler, authority over is also quite possible, and, as we argued above,
in the context of commenting on God's promise to make the people the head and not the tail so that they
would rule over other nations, the meaning ruler, authority over seems more likely.
b. Artemidorus: Next, Payne cites some texts from Artemidorus Daldiani (late second century A.D.)
in his work Oneirocritica (or The Interpretation of Dreams). Payne gives the following citations:
Another man dreamt that he was beheaded. In real life, the father of this man, too,
died; for as the head [kephale] is the source of life and light for the whole body, he was responsible
for the dreamer's life and light…. The head [kephale] indicates one's father. (Oneirocritica
The head [kephale] resembles parents in that it is the cause [aitia] of
one's living. (Oneirocritica 1.35)
The head [kephale] signifies the father of the dreamer…. Whenever, then a poor
man who has a rich father dreams that his own head has been removed by a lion and that he dies as a result,
it is probable that his father will die…. For the head [kephale] represents the father; the removal
of the head [kephale], the death of the father. (Oneirocritica 3.66)
Do these examples show that kephale could be used metaphorically to mean source? If we give a
fuller context than Payne provided in his article, we can see that these do not provide an example of head
meaning source, for no person is in these texts called head. But what the text does show is that Artemidorus
pointed out various functions of the head in a human body and then said that these functions signified
something in interpreting dreams (the whole text is an explanation of how to interpret dreams).
In the following context we see that Artemidorus gives many different interpretations to the dream of
being beheaded, but in none of them would we say that this text adds new meanings to the word head itself:
If a man dreams that he has been beheaded… it is inauspicious both for a man with parents
and a man with children. For the head resembles parents in that it is the cause of one's living. It is
like children because of the face and because of the resemblance…. Also, a man who owned a house has lost
it. For the head is as it were the house of the senses…
To bankers, usurers, men who have to collect subscriptions, shipmasters, merchants, and
all who collect money, it signifies loss of capital because the word for capital is derived from the word
for head…. To a slave who enjoys the confidence of his master, it signifies that he will lose that confidence….
But to other slaves, the dream signifies freedom. For the head is the master of the body, and when it is
cut off, it signifies that the slave is separated from his master and will be free…
If someone who is at sea sees this dream, it signifies that the sailyard of the ship
will be lost, unless it is one of the sailors who has seen it. For, in these cases, I have observed that
it signifies death to their superiors. For the boatswain is the superior of the ordinary sailor; the officer
in command of the bow is the boatswain's superior; the steersman is the superior of the officer who commands
the bow; and the shipmaster is the superior of the steersman…
To have two or three heads is auspicious for an athlete. For he will be crowned in as
many contests. (Oneirocritica 1. 35) (59)
This larger context shows us that in all of these examples the word kephale simply means the
physical head of a person's body. When Artemidorus speaks of losing one's head or having three heads in
a dream, he is simply speaking of a physical head. When he says that the head signifies something in the
dream, he is still speaking of the physical head and then giving a symbolic interpretation to it.
It would certainly be illegitimate to take this text and make a list of many new meanings that the
word kephale could take in ancient Greek. We could not take that text, for example, and say that
head now also means (1) house, because Artemidorus says that the head is the house of the senses ; (2)
monetary capital, because Artemidorus says that the loss of the head signifies loss of capital ; (3) master
of a slave, for Artemidorus says that the head is the master of the body ; (4) sailyard of a ship ; (5)
superior naval officer ; and (6) athletic contest. All of these are simply symbolic interpretations that
Artemidorus has given and do not constitute new metaphorical meanings for kephale (60).
However, one further observation must be made from this text. Because Artemidorus, in speaking about
the physical head of a human body, says that the head resembles parents in that it is the cause (Greek
aitia) of one's living (literally, of life, tou ze n), we must recognize that there was an awareness
that the physical head was in some sense the cause (or one might say source) of life. Perhaps this is just
a common-sense observation of the fact that people who are beheaded do not continue to live! But it may
also reflect a more complex understanding of the mental faculties located in the head-Artemidorus does
say that the head is the house of the senses. In this case it would be similar to the Philo quotations
mentioned above where Philo apparently thought of the head as giving energy and direction to the body.
Whether the fact that (1) some in the ancient world thought of the physical head as somehow the source
of energy and life for the body would have led to (2) a metaphorical use of head to actually mean source,
or not, we cannot say without some clear examples demonstrating such a use. It is very similar to the
case of the quotations mentioned earlier from Plato, Philo, and Plutarch, in which the head was said to
be the ruler of all the parts within us. Those quotations showed that a metaphorical use of kephale
to mean ruler would have been possible and probably understandable in the ancient world, but it did not
mean that that metaphorical use actually occurred. In order to demonstrate that we needed to look at the
thirty or forty texts where someone was actually called the head of something (such as the Roman empire,
the church, the nation of Israel, etc.). In this case however, no metaphorical uses of kephale in
the sense of source have been found in the Artemidorus quotations (61).
In conclusion, kephale in all these Artemidorus texts simply means physical head of the human
c. Orphic Fragments 21a:
As an additional example of kephale meaning source, Payne also cites Orphic Fragments 21a, Zeus
is the head, Zeus the middle, and from Zeus all things are completed. But Cervin's analysis of this text
is quite valid: he says, This entire fragment is ambiguous (p. 90) (62).
d. 1 Corinthians 11:3: In 1 Corinthians 11:3 Paul writes, I want you to understand that the head
of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. Payne objects to
the sense authority over in this text because he thinks that it would imply a theological error:
Under the interpretation that head means authority the present tense of estin requires
that Christ now in the present time after his resurrection and ascension is under the authority of God.
Such a view has been condemned throughout most of church history as subordinationist Christology. (pp.
But Payne here has simply misunderstood the doctrine of the Trinity as it has been held throughout the
church from at least the time of the Nicene Creed in 325 A.D. From that time the doctrine of the eternal
generation of the Son has been taken to imply a relationship between the Father and the Son that eternally
existed and that will always exist-a relationship that includes a subordination in role, but not in essence
or being. Certainly Scripture speaks of that when it says, for example, that when Christ had made purification
for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is at the right hand,
but God the Father is still on the throne.
So Charles Hodge can write:
The Nicene doctrine includes, (1) The principle of the subordination of the Son to the
Father, and of the Spirit to the Father and the Son. But this subordination does not imply inferiority….
The subordination intended is only that which concerns the mode of subsistence and operation…
The creeds are nothing more than a well-ordered arrangement of the facts of Scripture
which concern the doctrine of the Trinity. They assert the distinct personality of the Father, Son, and
Spirit… and their consequent perfect equality; and the subordination of the Son to the Father, and of the
Spirit to the Father and the Son, as to the mode of subsistence and operation. These are Scriptural facts,
to which the creeds in question add nothing; and it is in this sense they have been accepted by the Church
universal. (Systematic Theology, vol. 1, pp. 460-62) (63)
Similarly, A. H. Strong writes:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, while equal in essence and dignity, stand to each other
in an order of personality, office, and operation….
The subordination of the person of the Son to the person of the Father, or in other
words an order of personality, office, and operation which permits the Father to be officially first, the
Son second, and the Spirit third, is perfectly consistent with equality. Priority is not necessarily
We frankly recognize an eternal subordination of Christ to the Father, but we maintain
at the same time that this subordination is a subordination of order, office, and operation, not a subordination
of essence (64).
Payne has simply misrepresented subordinationist Christology. Subordinationism has generally meant not
the orthodox view that there is subordination in role in the Trinity, but the heretical view found, for
example, in Arianism, in which a subordinate essence or being of the Son was advocated, so that Christ
could not be said to be of the same essence (homoousios) as the Father. The orthodox doctrine has always
been that there is equality in essence and subordination in role and that these two are consistent with
each other. Certainly this is consistent with Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that the head of
Christ is God, thus indicating a distinction in role in which primary authority and leadership among the
persons of the Trinity has always been and will always be the possession of God the Father (65).
Endnotes to Appendix 1 Part B
59. This translation is quoted from Artemidorus Daldianus, The Interpretation
of Dreams (= Oneirocritica), translated by Robert J. While (Park Ridge, NJ: Nooyes, 1975), pp.
34-35; the Greek text is found in Artemidori Daldiani Oneirocriticon Libre V, ed. Robert A. Pack
(Leipzig: Teubner, 1963), pp. 43-45.
60. Although Payne uses incorrect reasoning to derive the meaning source from these
uses in Artemidorus, it is additionally disappointing to see that he quoted this very obscure text (accessible
only at highly specialized libraries) to show instances where Artemidorus said that the head symbolized
the source of something but did not inform the reader that in the very same section he quoted (Oneirocritica
1.35) Artemidorus also said that the head symbolized the superior of a sailor and the master of a slave,
and that the head was the master of the body -all meanings that Payne denies.
Moreover, in order to support his contention that the ancient Greek world through the time of Paul
commonly believed that the heart, not the head, was the center of emotions and spirit, the central governing
place of the body (pp. 119-120), Payne cites only one ancient author, Aristotle, and then cites the Oxford
Classical Dictionary article on Anatomy and Physiology as saying about Aristotle that, having found the
brain to be devoid of sensation, he concluded that it could not be associated with it. The function of the
brain was to keep the heart from overheating the blood (Payne, p. 120. n. 26, citing OCD, 59). What Payne
does not tell the reader is that the immediately preceding two sentences in the OCD article say that this
view of Aristotle's was contrary to the commonly held view in the ancient world: Among the noteworthy erros
of Aristotle is his refusal to attach importance to the brain. Intelligence he placed in the heart. This
was contrary to the views of some of his medical contemporaries, contrary to the popular view, and contrary
to the doctrine of the Timaeus (OCD, 59, italics mine).
So in the use of both Artemidorus and the OCD Payne has given misleading and selective quotations, and
has done so from technical works that will not be checked by even one in a thousand readers of such a
widely-circulated and popularly written book.
61. Peter Cotterel and Max Turner, Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), p. 144, concur with this analysis:
Least helpful of the types of evidence advanced, is the claim that amongst the ancients
the head was often regarded as the source of a variety of substances and influences pertinent to life. The
claim itself need not be doubted, but how is it relevant? Just because, say, Artemidorus… maintains that
the head is the source of light and life for the body does not mean that the writer considered source to
be a sense of the word head. Our employers are the source of our income, books are the source of our knowledge,
and the good, well-watered land the source of our food, but no one in their right mind would suggest that
source is a sense of the words employer, books, or land. Such would be a classic case of the confusion
between the sense of a word and adjunct properties of the thing-in-the-world the word denotes.
62. See discussion above, p. 433.
63. Systematic Theology (3 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970 [reprint])
1:460-462 (italics mine).
64. Systematic Theology (Valley Forge, Pa.: Judson, 1907), 342.
65. It is troubling therefore to find the evangelical feminists Richard and Catherine
Kroeger writing the article "Subordinationism in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology," ed. Walter Elwell
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984), and asserting in the first sentence that subordinationism is
a doctrine which assigns an inferiority of being, status, or role to the Son or the Holy Spirit within the
Trinity. Condemned by numerous church councils, this doctrine has continued in one form or another throughout
the history of the church (p. 1058, emphasis mine). When the Kroegers add the phrase or role to their
definition they condemn all orthodox Christology from the Nicene Creed onward and thereby condemn a teaching
that Charles Hodge says has been a teaching of the Church universal.
A similar misunderstanding is found in Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, Equal to Serve (Old Tappan, NJ:
Fleming H. Revell, 1987), who says, If we define head as 'authority over,' then 1 Corinthians 11:3 can
mean that there is a dominant to subordinate hierarchy within the Trinity, a position that does violence
to the equality of the Persons of the Godhead. Early in its history, orthodox Christianity took a firm
stand against any teaching that would make Christ a subordinate figure. To say that God is somehow authoritative
over Christ erodes the Savior's full divinity and puts a Christian on dangerous theological ground (pp.
193-194). And Katherine Kroeger says in her appendix to this same book, The heretics would argue that
although the Son is of the same substance as the Father, He is under subjection (p. 283). But these statements
by Hull and Kroeger are simply false. (A strong warning against this theological tendency of evangelical
feminism is seen in Robert Letham's recent article, "The Man-Woman Debate: Theological Comment," Westminster
Theological Journal 52:1 [Spring 1990], pp. 65-78.)
Such an attempt to shift the understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity as it has been held through
the history of the church does not appear to be accidental, however, for the fact that God the Son can
be eternally equal to God the Father in deity and in essence, but subordinate to the Father in authority,
cuts at the heart of the feminist claim that a subordinate role necessarily implies lesser importance or
lesser personhood. (Surprisingly, Millard Erickson, Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology [Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker, 1986], p. 161, Similarly his Christian Theology [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1983-85],
338, 668, expresses a position similar to the Kroegers here, seeing subordination in role as non-eternal,
but rather a temporary activity of members of the Trinity for a period of ministry [similarly, his Christian
Theology, pp. 338, 698].)
From Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood edited by Piper J and Grudem W, p. 455-57.
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