Tuesday, July 30, 2013

St. John Chrysostom's Interpretation of Kεφαλή in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. A Review

Kapsalis, Maria-Fotini Polidoulis. St. John Chrysostom's Interpretation of Kεφαλή in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. Greek Orthodox Theological Review. Vol. 49 Issue 3. 2004. 321-356. [internet] accessed 17 July, 2013. Available at http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=11&sid=7d6c3f3b-a5d5-4acf-8f26-73feb1ecd3ea%40sessionmgr198&hid=119&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=rlh&AN=32139902.

I found Kapsalis’ take on the kephale debate interesting. She uses John Chrysostom's writings, particularly his Genesis One and commentary of First Corinthians, to gain a perspective on what the early church father thought about male headship. While I did not always agree with her interpretation of Chrysostom’s writings, I do believe that she gave a fair treatment to a controversial topic, and perhaps showed most important of all that the debate is not a twenty-first century creation. If Chrysostom (AD 347-AD 407) wrestled with the topic of male headship, should it be so surprising that modern theologians still debate the issue? Kapsalis seems to take a view that divides the authority of male headship between physical and spiritual realms. I will admit that throughout the modern debates I have read concerning this issue, the spiritual divide has never seemed that important. The pericope found in First Corinthians 11:3-16 deals more with a physical, day-to-day life of the church issue. To present this subject as being an eternal issue, that is to say that male headship will exist in eternity, is beyond the scope of the passage itself. I have never read (to my knowledge) the idea that men will dominate women in eternity. In fact I think that is where the liberals miss the boat with Galatians 3:28. Galatians speaks of eternity, First Corinthians speaks of the present. Kapsalis’s take on Chysostom’s writings is that he taught that kephlae constituted a preeminence for the man but did not support an ontological male superiority. Male headship then is seen by the church father as temporal and equality as eternal.