Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cotterell and Turner on KEFALH

While actually looking for something else,
I found some helpful information concerning
KEFALH in Peter Cotterell and Max
Turner's Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation(London: SPCK, 1989). See pp. 141-145.

Turner and Cotterell review GNT examples such as Col
2:19; 1 Cor 11:3 and Eph 5:23. They write:

"Now contextually it is by no means certain that Col
2:19 presents Christ as the origin, rather than as the
Lord of the Church, but clearly it would considerably
weaken the thesis if the sense 'source' was part of
the lexical meaning of the Greek word KEFALH ('head');
that is, if it were one of its established senses"
(page 141).

But is "source" one of the established senses of
KEFALH? After discussing LXX and Classical examples
where KEFALH is employed by ancient writers, these
scholars conclude:

"In other words, as far as we can tell, 'source' or
'origin' was NOT a conventional sense of the word
KEFALH in Paul's time. This does not preclude the
possibility that Paul himself began to use the word in
such a way, but we would need very strong evidence to
support such a view, and in our judgment nothing like
such strength of evidence is forthcoming" (145).

While, as Cotterell and Turner show, there does not
appear to be enough evidence in favor of
"source" being one of the lexical senses of KEFALH in
Paul's time, we do have attestation for the meaning
"ruler" or "authority over." Paul apparently used
KEFALH in this way, when he penned these inspired
words to the Ephesians:



Duncan said...

This goes into some of the pertinent details:-

Interesting how it is applied to beginning and end extremities.

An important end statement which point to a problem I have experience in many other fields of inquiry:-

"Such a threat to the trustworthiness of facts cited in academic articles and reference books is a far more serious matter than the meaning of an individual Greek word, even a word as important as KEFALH. We may differ for our whole lives on the interpretation of facts, for that is the nature of the scholarly task. But if our citations of the facts themselves cannot be trusted, then the foundations are destroyed."

Duncan said...

This is going to take a while to play out by the looks of it & I think the contextual arguments are going to be long debated.

Edgar Foster said...

A number of texts that "Eric" includes on the jawbone site actually defeat his argument. For instance, Deut 28:13, 44; Lamentations 1:5; Jeremiah 31:7 all support the "authority over" understanding. They may deal with triumph and defeat, but the promise is that Israel would have ascendancy over their enemies.

Much of the opposition to Grudem's position or what we read in BDAG and Louw-Nida is driven by modern agendas.