“This is not a gender matter, it’s a language matter.” Professor Jimmy Duke speaks for many in his comments on translations (Saint Paul Pioneer, June, 1997:4D). I beg to disagree. As a professor of New Testament who has served on several translation committees, and as a woman, I propose that the May 27 “Guidelines for Translation” released from Focus on the Family’s headquarters in Colorado Springs are solely “a gender matter.”
Since the middle of the twentieth century there has been an ongoing, sometimes acrimonious debate over the meaning of “head” (Greek, kephalē) in Paul’s letters, especially 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23. This article is an attempt to review the most significant scholarly literature that has emerged in the debate and to summarize each without critique.
Language does affect our thinking and our sense of who we are. Because both men and women have been conditioned to accept noninclusive language—even deprecating language—we may be unaware of the effects of a lifetime of such language on our psyche.
The badge of political incorrectness began as an oft-appropriate response to ideas and values imposed on us culturally by political liberals—a backlash against left-wing “thought police” whose anti-traditional values ironically included opposition to censorship, absolutes, and “legislated morality.”
The biblical insistence that the source of woman lay in man means that woman is fully human and fully equal because she partakes of the same substance as man, "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh." She too is made in God's image (Genesis 5: 1-3).
When a bomb goes off those behind the incident will usually take credit and publish a tract or manifesto to propagate their views. So it was in the latest chapter of the evangelical culture wars. On May 27, 1997, the International Bible Society (IBS) made a decision that exploded in controversy, and the real culprits behind the matter went to press proclaiming their point of view.
Interpretation is a complex adventure. The reader compounds this complexity, in part by asking (and not asking) certain questions. Such questions guide and sometimes limit or even obstruct the interpretive process. Interpreters have tended to ask certain specific questions concerning Paul’s words about women. This article examines two such questions and finds them wanting.