Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A successful model of ministry

A couple of posts below a debate started about various things to do with the continuing question within Anglican evangelicalism of whether women may be ordained to the priesthood or the episcopacy. In the course of that debate some comments persisted in making the claim that what Scripture teaches about women in ministry, male headship etc is 'plain'. My attention was also drawn to a pamphlet published by Reform and written by Carrie Sandom, a member of the Reform executive council, in which the case is set out for an approach to women's ministry in which women always work under the leadership of a man, and minister to women, youth and children, but not to men. This not only being in accordance with Scripture but also important for the encouragement, if not prodding-into-action of men to take up their God-ordained responsibilities.

Consequently I have read two pamphlets by Carrie Sandom. One is entitled The Role of Women in the Local Church, the other is entitled The Biblical Pattern for Women's Ministry - Limiting or Liberating?

The first thing we can and should say is that the pattern for ministry where a man is always leader, a staff team includes women, and women in ministry exclusively focus their service on women, youth and children, is having extraordinary success around the world. Associated with this pattern (in my experience) is careful attention to sound ministry of the Word, strong commitment to excellence in ministry, special attention to family life, including forming and running great Sunday Schools and Youth Groups. One important outcome of this pattern of ministry is a special emphasis on ministry to men in an environment where male leadership is exercised without apology: men get involved in these churches and it is true (in my experience) that when the father/husband is involved there is a greater chance of the remainder of the family joining in than when only the mother/wife is involved.

My question is whether this pattern of ministry should be just that, a pattern of ministry, one which can be followed profitably in many churches, or a rigid rule of ministry which admits of no exceptions? My answer is that it is the former not the latter. But that answer is not the answer of some of the commenters on the post below, nor does it appear to be the answer of Reform within the Church of England. On the Reform approach no women should be a presbyter or bishop: there are no exceptional women (Deborahs and Huldahs of our day) who might be considered, nor are their exceptional circumstances in which consideration might be given to appointing a women as ministry team leader. I do not mind being criticised for being critical of this approach, but I hope it might be conceded that such rigidity in application of understanding Scripture bears careful scrutiny. After all it is rare in the New Testament for any rules to be laid down which admit of no exceptions (or of no change as the circumstances of life change).

Reading Carrie Sandom's pamphlets I am struck by several things which are of interest as I have followed the comments made on the post below.

(1) The question, already voiced in some British blogs, of the grounds on which a women may not teach men verbally but may teach them through writing (as Carrie undoubtedly does in these pamphlets). Where in Scripture is this distinction made?

(2) The question of when a child becomes a man. In the pattern above women may teach other women and may teach children but not men. I notice that in the second of the pamphlets mentioned above, Carrie says, "although the CYFA venture I help lead means I am involved in teaching teenagers of both sexes". There are various definitions of 'child'. I understand, for example, that a UN definition is 'under 18'. But others might demur. Young men, not children, for example drive cars at the age of 16. It seems strange (on the pattern being promoted in the pamphlet) that a woman may teach young men but not older men.

(3) Is the teaching of the Bible 'plain' on matters concerning ministry, marriage, and headship? I do not think it is. Some of my critics think it is plain. But I am pleased to find that Carrie Sandom agrees with me and not my critics. Read the first pamphlet cited above and note that at the end of the pamphlet is a section entitled 'More difficult passages to consider'. She cites 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, 14:26-35, 1 Timothy 2:14, and 2:15. Then note the frequent use of the word "seems" through each explanation given, as well as 'some would argue' in one explanation. In other words, some of the key texts are not plain to understand. Not only do they require explanation, but the explanation is given with tentative language.

(4) Noting that no passage alone in the New Testament intentionally teaches "the Biblical principle of male headship which is to be modelled in the church" - it is a teaching we deduce from reading several passages together, is it appropriate to elevate the principle of male headship to the status of 'God's law'?

In the pamphlet The Role of Women in the Local Church, the explanation of 1 Timothy 2:14 says this,

"Paul has just warned Timothy to avoid the false teaching of two men (1 Tim 1:19-20) so this cannot mean that women are more likely to lead the church into error - if that were so why would Paul encourage them to teach women? Verse 14 seems to follow straight on from the reasoning of v13 and serves as an example of the disorder that ensues when God’s law is disobeyed."

The phrase 'God's law' here begs a number of questions about the nature and character of God's law in the New Testament era, to say nothing of the question of whether the principle of male headship which we deduce from Scripture is properly described as 'God's law'.

It is possible, in other words, that a very successful model for ministry in the church, organised around the principle of male headship, strains credibility when it offers a theological justification for the model. In so far as that justification is represented in the two pamphlets cited above I remain unconvinced that it has been achieved.

Please, dear readers, note that raising these questions is primarily about the rigid imposition of the principle of male headship. I am as keen as anyone on great male leaders leading churches, running youth groups, taking up responsibilities in public prayer and so forth. I accept entirely that the future life and health of the church depends on men being involved as well as women. But this passion and commitment to see men in church does not require the rigid imposition of a model in which women may not lead or teach men. Christ came to set us free from the law! We should view with the utmost care any attempt by any church to lay down a new law of God.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Peter, as one of the commentators below, I pretty much agree with the tenor of your remarks, even if the portrayal looks a bit idealistic. I do tend to see male headship as the NT ethos, with men and women working together in the exercise of their gifts, and minsitering together in marriage.
When you remark, "We should view with the utmost care any attempt by any church to lay down a new law of God", are you also saying that insistence on female episcopacy should be made a principle for admission to the ministry?
I also concur when you warn against making hard and fast rules out of what was probably a more fluid situation in NT times. But isn't that what the church did in adopting monepiscopacy and a rather legalistic understanding of sacraments?
I wish I could be cheerful, but sadly I fear Anglicanism will go on splintering in the West, with the Anglo-Catholics swimming the Tiber and the more conservative evangelicals withdrawing as well, leaving the more liberal or 'open' evangelicals to slug it out (if they wish) with the institutional liberals.

Anonymous said...

On my browser on your sidebar it mentions "recent comments" but none are showing for your site. Is that broken?

On a comment Feb 23 2:54pm you stated you thought Christ could just as easily have been a woman and still redeemed us. I think this would be an important starting point for discussion and hope you will consider making it a post of its own where you present your reasoning for this from the Bible. Starting a new post on that means that people do not have to try and work out where new comments are because they are not showing up in my browser.

I wonder if there are Evangelicals who agree with you.

I wonder if the Bible consistently has men as the head and representative and therefore needing Christ to be a male redeemer as head and representative.

In your position, God and Christ could just as easily be wife of Her people. As God's people hasn't changed, this leads from wife to spouse. And as was said earlier and you said you hadn't thought about it, your position leads logically to TECs who have thought about it.

Rachel Marszalek said...

Thank you Peter, this has been a very useful article to point people towards at my end as I explore the issues with David Ould and John RichardsonDavid Ould and John Richardson.

Kurt said...

“I wish I could be cheerful, but sadly I fear Anglicanism will go on splintering in the West, with the Anglo-Catholics swimming the Tiber and the more conservative evangelicals withdrawing as well, leaving the more liberal or 'open' evangelicals to slug it out (if they wish) with the institutional liberals.”--Anonymous

The more extreme Anglo-Papalists (particularly those in the UK) may indeed leave for Rome. Anglo-Papalism has never been a big thing here in America, where a native High Church Catholic ethos has always been skeptical of Roman claims. In America, at least the more conservative Evangelicals always leave when they do not get their way (e.g. Cummins). Rather than “slug it out” with likes of Affirming Catholicism, the Western Evangelicals who are left may well become Low Church Latitudinarians, much as what happened here in America 140 years ago. Shorn of the theological fifth columnists looking to Rome or Geneva, things may actually be looking up for Western Anglicanism in a few decades. We will see.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Tim Harris said...

Peter, the term 'headship' should be banned! It is not a biblical term (found nowhere in Scripture), and is not an simple synonym for 'kephale'. The term has both literal and metaphorical reference, and when metaphorical, there is a significant semantic field that it may indicate, depending on context. The term 'headship' begs the whole question of how the metaphorical use of 'kephale' may be operating, and imports as much as it reflects arising out of texts.

So as I say, it should be banned! To build a whole 'headship' theology on the basis of such slender semantic grounds creates the illusion that all that is implied by 'headship' is contained in the term kephale.

If a wider biblical pattern of male, unilateral hierarchical leadership is to be claimed (beyond the metaphorical range of kephale), then other terminology should be employed - but to my mind, appeals to supposedly self-evident biblical references to 'headship' is one of the most unhelpful and limiting factors in the whole discussion...

Tim Harris said...

I probably should resist the distraction, but having looked at Carrie Sandom's pamphlet on 'The Biblical Pattern', there is one other comment I would throw out. If Paul is 'absolutely clear' that women should not '...have authority over men' in 1 Tim. 2:12, why did he use a particularly rare term (authenteo) with all sorts of connotations of power and domination, when a number of quite simple and straightforward words for 'authority' might have been used? Doesn't seem 'absolutely clear' to me (and many other scholars). And the 'logic' of the example of Eve's deception (1 Tim. 2:14) is also far from transparent. If it is an appeal to creation, shouldn't it apply to any teaching anywhere in society? And if to aptitude (a proneness to deception, as some interpret the verse), then why allow women to teach other women and children - or put such 'teaching' into written form in pamphlets?

The claim that Paul is 'absolutely clear' is singularly unhelpful in such matters. The questions raised by such passages - often 'tidied up' in our translations, but far from clear when we look more closely - call for us to explore the context and textual nuances much more carefully (not as an attempt to evade the passage, as some claim, but to understand them better).

I recommend the recent book by Philip Barton Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul's Letters (Zondervan 2009) for anyone who wants to revisit the passages in detail - although I do differ in some areas.

Peter Carrell said...

Hello All

Tim: thank you for learned input. I do not demur!

Kurt: We will see!

Anonymice: (a) Do not know why 'recent comments' are not working - sometimes these things are beyond my control; (b) Will consider expanding on the thought that Christa (so to speak) could have redeemed us as readily as Christ ... but it will not be this week!; (c) it is right and proper to distinguish between 'the law of God' (eternal, unchanging etc) and 'the law of the church' - the rules the church might make from time to time in order to govern its life as best it discerns Word and Spirit guidance, and which, at another time it might revise or even unmake. (On the specific instance you state re insistence on female episcopacy etc, I am offering no particular comment at this time).

Anonymous said...

Tim: mutatis mutandis, the same could be said about 'Trinity'!
- and a host of other words in theo-speak and ecclesio-speak. (Homoousion, anyone? The Arians tried to ban that word!) Remember how Calvin defended the use of 'Trinity' as expressing biblical teaching. Maybe 'Triunity' is more accurate, but less elegant.
Peter: you may recall that 'Christa' was displayed in the Cathedral of St John the Divine in NY. I don't think there could have been salvation through God the Daughter - you would have to rethink the Trinity (pardon, Triunity, fairly thoroughly). But as another commentator mentioned, TEC has beaten you to that.
Kurt: it will be an even colder day in Buffalo when that happens! Tec is in terminal decline for social and demographic reasons which never pertained in the 19th century. The aging membership simply do not have children - which is the primary way that churches grow - and they are not converting them from the world. In every state the population has increased, and Tec has relentlessly declined. Kendall Harmon publishes new details daily. NY is the same. Whistling past the graveyard may keep one's spirits up but it won't raise the dead.

Tim Harris said...

Anonymous said: 'Tim: mutatis mutandis, the same could be said about 'Trinity'!'

No, this is not comparable to the use of 'headship'. My point is that 'headship' is frequently referred to as if it is a biblical term, and the confusion lies in the belief that 'kephale' and 'headship' are one and the same thing. They are not. No such confusion exists with the use of 'Trinity' etc, so they are less problematic or prone to confusion.

It is not that we should restrict ourselves to biblical terminology (that would be ridiculous), but we should stop referring to 'headship' as though it is a biblical term to justify the concept. It needs justification as a 'biblical concept' on more substantial grounds than just the occurrence of kephale.

Kurt said...

“Tec is in terminal decline for social and demographic reasons which never pertained in the 19th century.”-Anonymous

Actually, this is likely wishful thinking on your part. As Mark Twain used to say “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." You (Jensenites?) pretend to have a crystal ball into the future, but the future--including the future of TEC, the Anglican Communion, etc.--is in God’s hands, not yours. Don’t forget that.

Actually, you are historically incorrect. There were far more serious “demographic reasons” for the decline of North American Anglicanism in the last quarter of the 18th century than there are today (mass out-migration by Anglican Loyalists, for example). TEC in America only faces what all major religious organizations--conservative as well as liberal--face in the West. We should be concerned about decline in membership, but not panicked as some conservatives appear to be.

A lot can change in 25 or 30 years. After all, thirty years ago, who would have thought that “Sydney ‘Anglicanism’” would have financially imploded as it has? TEC and its wealthiest dioceses and parishes have lost money along with everyone else, but TEC has managed institutional wealth far, far better than has Sydney. And, therefore, will continue to hit above its size, while Sydney’s punch has significantly declined.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Anonymous said...

Tim, 'headship' is simply the abstract or derived noun used to describe the fact that the husband is 'kephale' of his wife. If you think it would be helpful to avoid English and refer instead to kephalaiosis, be my guest. But most people would think that microcephalic! :)
I can't find the word 'incarnation' in the Bible. But I think it a handy summary (anakephalaiosis even!) of 'ho logos sarx egeneto'.
Kurt: there is no doubt at all that agencies of ECUSA have inherited billions in legacies and have built up huge pension funds and have plenty of fund managers to look after these billions. And there is no doubt they are using that money to sue departing congregations, to attempt to buy influence in Africa (to no avail), to put on pointless conferences in NZ, and to set up Potemkin dioceses in the US. South Carolina is currently in their sights. But Matthew 19:23 is still in force, even if the Bible is little read by Ecusa's aging, childless members.
Sydney's financial losses will be its spiritual gain as it teaches reliance on God, not the stock market. Sydney recently ordained a record number of young clergy. Hallelujah! Remember: the future belongs to those who show up for it.

Tim Harris said...

Anonymous - you have just illustrated my very point of criticism! 'Headship' is not 'simply the abstract or derived noun used to describe the fact that the husband is 'kephale' of his wife.'

'Headship' has taken on a theological meaning that goes beyond the semantic range of kephale - it is a very specific and arbitrary interpretation of kephale, especially in terms of insisting on viewing it as a unilateral form of hierarchy, with claims to 'authority over' and 'submission' of the subordinate to the one who is over the other.

As I say, because the term now carries such theological baggage and imports the same into the way the term is used, it is no-longer simply a derived noun and synonymous with kephale. You need to remember that 'head' is not the only appropriate translation for the metaphorical use of kephale- although 'headship' assumes that it is.

Anonymous said...

Tim, you can argue over increasingly more obscure points of semantics but all you are doing is underscoring the inadequacy of the Bible in settling any issue of significance within the church and stressing the irrelevance of a theory of Biblical inspiration by a God who does not appear to have provided anything useful for our current situation. I could, for example, now take issue with your use of the word "hierarchy" which you appear to use as some sort of "higher" and "lower", ladder, or pyramidal form of rule - whereas it clearly refers to "holy rule". We each bring our own baggage to the words we use, not least English speakers who seem to generally have grown up monolingual and so have to be constantly reminded that translation is never merely a replacement by synonyms. Please can we get back to discussing what the Bible actually says and whether this addresses today or not. If it is not clear in the Bible, let's abandon the Bible as our normative authority.

Peter Carrell said...

Umm, Anonymous, there is no 'what the Bible actually says' apart from what we read in the Bible, how we translate it, and how we understand what the Hebrew/Greek means - a fraught exercise inasmuch as we all read what we want to read, we all read according to some predisposition of tradition, belief, custom and culture.

However, we are not without hope, because when we talk together about what we think the Bible says, we have the possibility of coming to a consensus reading, or a majority reading, or a reading which some authority (e.g. a church council) accepts as definitive.

Tim is rightly asking if we do, in fact, understand what the Bible actually says when we slide from kephale to headship. That's the job of a scholar such as he is.

As for the imputation that if we attend to semantics then we highlight "the inadequacy of the Bible in settling any issue of significance within the church and stressing the irrelevance of a theory of Biblical inspiration by a God who does not appear to have provided anything useful for our current situation" ... have you not read 2 Peter where it is suggested that Paul is difficult to understand ... or read the four gospels where it is clear that at least one of the four (actually I think it is three) improve on at least one other gospel to more clearly and comprehensively tell us about Jesus?

Of course God has not provided everything useful for life today ... you will struggle to find clear teaching in the Bible on marijuana usage, whether smoking cigarettes is wrong, and whether or not there are circumstances in which abortion, execution, or engaging in warfare are justified. But that does not make the Bible useless - rather it drives us to use our God-given brains, tongues and writing skills to seek out the truth of the matter. Nor is the purpose of God hard to understand in providing us with less than we would like in the Bible, both in content and in clarity: how we seek the truth is a test of our character. Will we be faithful, graceful, and truthful in the search?

Tim Harris said...

Anonymous - this will be my last comment on this thread. I think it is fast outliving its usefulness...

My desire in looking closely at scripture is to understand it better, on its own terms (in as much as we are able). My appeal has been to question whether we are understanding scripture in these matters as well and as carefully as we might, so that our response to the authority of scripture is well-founded. I may be wrong, but argue the case on the evidence, not the person or suppositions about their motives.

As Peter rightly points out, we don't read/hear Scripture in isolation, and we constantly benefit from the respectful research and insights of others. We read or hear scripture as a community of the faithful, and seek to inform, and where appropriate, challenge our understanding and interpretations.

On hierarchy, I suggest you consult any dictionary. Derivation or etymology is not the same as meaning (which changes over time and in different contexts).

Grace and peace.
Tim

David Ould said...

You need to remember that 'head' is not the only appropriate translation for the metaphorical use of kephale- although 'headship' assumes that it is.

Well, of course. In terms of semantic range this is true. But when it comes to context, both direct literary and wider theological, it simply cannot mean "source" in 1Cor. 11, despite however much we dislike the conclusion that we must draw from the alternative.

unless you now have a different meaning of "kephale" that you want to suggest to us in 1Cor. 11? One that works for the relationship between God/Christ in the same way as it does for man/woman and Christ/man. I have yet, despite all the massive talk of semantic range, yet to see an alternative translation/explanation that makes sense.

Tim Harris said...

Hi David,

Thanks for your contribution, although I respectfully take issue with you:

" it simply cannot mean "source" in 1Cor. 11"

If we allow the shape of the passage as a whole to guide us, then 'source' in the sense of originating point actually makes good sense. Notice how 'ek' and 'dia' in vv. 8 & 9 (which both point to a 'source' metaphorical sense of 'kephale') are modified in the conclusion of vv. 11 & 12 - it is in the conclusion (emphatic - note 'plen') that we be guided in the sense overall. Taking this as our pointer to the metaphorical ambiguity of v.3, then Christ is the source of man's creation, man the source of the woman's (from man's rib), and God the source of Christ's incarnation (as argued by Gordon Fee, but see also Thiselton on this).

But there is a wordplay (almost to the level of being a pun) on kephale throughout, with the issue being both male and female presentation as an expression of distinctive gender (-there is no distinction in ministry or role), with how the literal head is adorned the key point at issue. In my view the theological rationale is reflected in the movement from vv. 8 and 9 to the modification 'in the Lord' in vv. 11 & 12.

You might like to track down a Synod Committee report to the Diocese of Sydney Synod (I think back in 1992) which laid out alternate readings, including one along these lines in more detail - or I can email you a pdf copy if you are interested.

As in my comments above, I'm not concerned with trying to 'win' discussions, but I am keen to encourage ongoing detailed examination of Scripture - and I appreciate many of your contributions in this regard which I find thoughtful and open to a fresh examining of the evidence.

I would suggest to you that a quite plausible reading of 'kephale' as source can be made in 1 Cor. 11, and one that is guided by the passage overall. To say it "simply cannot mean 'source'..." is unwarranted both semantically and contextually, and we do best with trying to keep the metaphorical sense open to the ambiguity conveyed in the Grk.

David Ould said...

Hi Tim,

Thanks for your irenic response to my somewhat intemperate comment!

I have some difficulty accepting the argument that you make, principally because it requires 3 different understandings of how "source" is to be understood (as you yourself point out) in the space of one verse.

If one understands kephale to be "head" then the same meaning can be used in each iteration - ie that there is authority implied. It is a far more consistent use of the term.

Notwithstanding, of course, the pun that you note and the obvious double-meaning of kephale in relation to anatomy.shell

Anonymous said...

'Source' and 'authority' are not necessarily opposed or entirely distinct ideas.
But an individual man (v. 3) is hardly the 'source' or 'origin' of his wife.

Tim Harris said...

To be honest, I find the 'authority over' reading far more problematic - for two reasons in particular:

1) it requires reading a hierarchy of authority into the godhead, which gets us into pretty dangerous theological territory (and yes, I know all the ontological -functional - economic nuancing). If nothing else, I don't believe this is how Paul understood the relationship between Christ and the Father, which I think he views more in terms of a voluntary conforming of his will to the Father.

2) it runs against the theological shape and direction of Paul's argument, which is not about roles and who has authority over who. It is about the respectful inter-dependance reflected in verses 11 and 12, where Paul clarifies his main point. I find it hard to read Paul's conclusion in 11 and 12 and to come away thinking, yep, it's all about hierarchical authority... it is just not the thrust of the passage as a whole.

It is for those reasons I conclude that source is a better reading of verse 3 - but I don't think Paul is laying out a great theological construct in that verse - he is just preparing the way for his concern for how the head is adorned, and what this says about the relationship between husband and wife, and men and women's interdependence.

However I do recognise and respect that others in good faith view the passage differently - but I still contend it is slim ground for establishing a major 'headship' theology.

David Ould said...

Agreed Tim, on it's own it might be slim pickings. Just as well it's not reliant on that text alone.

Tim Harris said...

Thanks David - this has been a helpful discussion in clarifying where you are coming from - and hopefully modeling some constructive critique, while holding a mutual respect for the text.

Anonymous said...

Tim, that Christ has his 'source' in God (the Father) and is (voluntarily) subject to his Father is of course central to the Orthodox monarchic understanding of the Trinity. I don't think this would have been 'dangerous theological territory' for St Paul, who was quite clear that Christ, though divine, is subordinate to the Father in terms of his misison and obedience. The point is made even more explicitly by St John (John 5:19-20 etc). They are equal in nature but different in function.
I repeat that translating 1 Cor 11:3b as 'the source of a wife is her husband' sounds very odd.

Tim Harris said...

Thanks Anonymous. I quite agree that Christ finding his 'source' in God (at least in an economic sense) is well established orthodox (and Orthodox) theology - it is reading the term as 'authority over' as troublesome, especially if in any hierarchical sense.

You conclude, however: "I repeat that translating 1 Cor 11:3b as 'the source of a wife is her husband' sounds very odd."

Are you assuming Paul is specifically referring to husband and wife at this point? It is not nearly as 'odd' if we read it as an allusion to the creation narrative, where the woman as taken from the man.

This is *precisely* the point Paul makes in verses 8 and 9, before advancing his argument and specifically qualifying the significance of vv. 8 and 9 by a newer and more profound interdependence highlighted in verses 11 and 12 - the main point of Paul's argument.

I would again suggest that the notable interplay of 'ek' and 'dia' in verses 8 & 9, qualified in 11 & 12 - makes a strong contextual case for reading 'man' as the source of 'woman' in verse 3, as an allusion to the creation narrative.

And as you say, understanding God as the source of Christ is a sounder theological reading than some sort of hierarchy of authority within the godhead.

Again, I'm genuinely interested in your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

"And as you say, understanding God as the source of Christ is a sounder theological reading than some sort of hierarchy of authority within the godhead."

But as you know, the Orthodox do believe in 'hierarchy' within the godhead, with the Father (not the Son) as the fons divinitatis. None of this derogates from the full divinity of the Son. And the Son is willingly submissive to the Father. And yes, I know there was a big flap in Oz over 'eternal subordinationism'!
If verse 3 is, as you think, a veiled allusion to Adam and Eve, what is Paul's point in making it here? If he's not talking about marriage, then v. 3b literally reads: 'and [the] head [kephale] of a woman is the man'.
And what is the point of v. 3a: 'Christ is the head [kephale] of every man'? What does that mean?
For any thoughtful Bible reader the issue has never been whether men and women are 'equal' to each other but whether there are different callings, within interdependence.

Tim Harris said...

Anonymous - I'd suggest that understanding the metaphorical sense of kephale as 'source' is entirely consistent with 'fons divinitatis' - especially as fons indicates 'spring, fountain, well; source/fount'.

As for the sense of the rest of v.3? Paul is preparing the way for the argument to follow, which in turn is the best guide to how we understand v. 3. The verse itself, standing alone, is ambiguous and could mean a number of things - and perhaps we should let that ambiguity stand, and the rest of the passage draw out the conclusions (ie. v. 11 and 12).

This has been an interesting exchange - but I think it time I bail out now and attend to other things. Thank you for your comments - I have found them helpful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you as well, Tim - I appreciate your comments and may get round one day to tackling Thiselton on the subject (my commentaries on 1 Cor extend only to Fee).
pax et bonum