This passage has always been one of the most controversial because of its appearance as a “black and white” precept. But what if it was an enigma? A dark saying? What if we paid a little closer attention to the finer details of the text rather than ignoring them? The definite articles in Paul’s writing are taken to mean he is talking about a specific man or woman. Traditional interpretation pays little attention to definite articles, if any at all. To emphasize the contrast the words with a definite article are capitalized (i.e. Man, Woman, Head). The presence of definite articles as opposed to possessives or indefinites (i.e. a woman, a man, her head, his head) should not be overlooked. Getting the enigmatic symbols right is difficult. It’s not me who’s playing around with words, it’s Paul:
For a man truly owes not to conceal the Head, him being a mirror-like-image and glory of Theos, however the Woman is the glory of a man.
It’s in Colossians where Paul speaks of the “son of his love” as “a mirror-like-image of the unseen Theos, firstborn of the whole establishment…” Col. 1:13 literal
For a man is not out from a woman, but a woman out from a man; for indeed a man was not established through the Woman, but a woman through the Man; because of this one the Woman owes to have exousia-authority upon the Head through the Messengers.
1 Cor. 11:8-9 literal
This text is not as black and white as was thought. In fact, it is incredibly obscure. If you have read this before in any context you have no doubt applied a enormous amount of presupposition to the meanings of the words without realizing it simply because it is so obscure. Obscure, dark sayings have a way of forcing our minds to “fill in the gaps” of meaning. But how do we know what to fill the gaps with? Even the thought that Paul is referring to the narrative of Adam and Eve is an assumption, since we have no quote or specific reference by Paul about it. The inherent problem with obscure language is that anyone can build any kind of dogma they wish from it. This is precisely why doctrine and denominations have multiplied beyond reason in the last few centuries. The more accessible biblical text has become to the masses, the more multiplied the dogmas have become until the point at which it is now—a massive jungle of babel.
If Paul intended to teach a basic male-female leadership paradigm here, he failed miserably. Exousia-authority is the highest form of authority and means a de-facto rulership or dominance, not some pseudo “servant-leadership” which is a new linguistic slight-of-hand invented by a failing modern church. The enigmatic text would seem to tell of an authority of “angels/messengers” being placed upon the (governmental) Head a specific “woman” (nation). Angels are defined as “sons of Elohim” in the Hebrew scriptures.
Pondering further, one could think of the symbolic pillars that were erected in the OT and the “oil” that was subsequently smeared on pillars’ heads. Is “anointing oil” upon the head symbolic of “angels” which is symbolic of “sons of Elohim”? And what of the first literal word of the Bible in Genesis 1:1, “In the head“, which is indeed the feminine construct of the Hebrew word for head? The mystery of it all would seem that the entire language of the Bible is enigmatic, meaning that although the world needs to be saved, it is in fact not for the world to know the truth. The trouble is, who can know it? He who has an ear to hear, right?
Classical Greek provides plenty of words and means to teach such a paradigm so that this could have been written in an indisputable manner and a 1000 times easier to understand. When one reads and studies a forced euphonic translation of an obscure text, confusion inevitably results because it is no longer possible to add up the actual thoughts of the author (Paul, Jesus, etc.). Their thoughts will seem inconsistent at best or contradictory at worse which is the case with a great many translations. What was Paul thinking? Paul knows. Elsewhere we have additional thoughts of Paul that we must take into account:
Let the Man the debt give back to the Woman. In like manner now also the Woman to the Man.
The Woman [who?] exousia-rules not her own body [her man?], but the Man [who’s that?]. In like manner now also the Man [who’s that?] exousia-rules not his own body [his woman?], but the Woman [who?].
1 Cor. 7:3-4 literal
It is Paul who has in mind the body as symbolic thing referring to a gathered people. Everywhere important words are used symbolically, and the trouble is knowing when he is using a word symbolically and when he isn’t. Riddles are the toughest things to figure out for anyone, and scholarly degrees don’t help one bit. In fact, academia will do very well to make you fudge the riddles.
Perhaps we read this wrong all along? Perhaps Paul is speaking sequentially? First the Man is in debt to the Woman, then the Woman becomes in debt to the Man? Perhaps the Man rules the body of the Woman first, then later the Woman rules the body of the Man? Maybe—understanding this as an enigma—Paul is speaking of two different men and two different women? Perhaps this is summation of a greater enigma of the Scripture regarding the first woman (a harlot) ruled by the Man, and afterwards, a second Woman ruling the first, as when a maidservant displaces her mistress…
Under a servant when he reigns; and a fool when he is satiated of bread
Under her-who-is-hated when she is being owned (becomes a beulat), and a maidservant when she is taking possession of her lady-queen [a head].
They are four small-ones of earth, and they are the Wise-ones from those-who-are-wise. The Nemalim (clipped-off ones, #5243, 5344) are a people not powerful, and they are erecting in the Harvest their bread.
Prov. 30:23-25 literal
What are you saying Paul?
Some will regard this hunting of pseudo-definition and deep riddle-solving as a complete violation of the whole of Christian orthodoxy. Of course it is. The orthodoxy is a tyrannical bitch goddess that entraps men in her lair where they whither away in self-denial. As long as the grandees keep scaring the common man away from breaking with the traditions and digging into the enigmatic possibilities of scripture by holding an abstract concoction of “hell” over their heads, they will continue to slave away in the tar pits of Egypt, unsaved.
An enigma necessitates the study of every individual word of a given text. The hypothesis that this and other sayings are not what they seem but constructed of an entirely different language or “tongue” (i.e. “man” and “woman” do not mean theologically what we take them to mean socially) is indeed an idea that would undermine the entire known paradigm of Judeo-Christian orthodoxy, which has always been controlled and dictated by the elite anyway.
And that’s just fine with me.