The meaning of κεφαλή in the New Testament (resources)

This page will contain articles and written about the meaning of κεφαλἠ in the New Testament, and relevant excerpts from commentaries and books, plus primary source texts.

Articles and excerpts from commentaries and books

1885. Thomas Edwards. 1 Corinthians. [Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1885, 2nd edition]. Pages 271-3. kephale in Edwards 1 corinthians 1885 pp 271-3

1887. Charles Ellicott, 1 Corinthians. [Longman’s, London, 1887]. Pages 199-201. kephale in Ellicott 1 corinthians 1887 pp 199-201

1914. Archibald Robertson and Alfred Plummer. 1 Corinthians (ICC). [T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1914, 2nd edition]. Page 229. kephale in Robertson Plummer commentary 1 Corinthians 2nd ed p229

1954. Stephen Bedale. The meaning of kephale in the Pauline epistles. [Journal of Theological Studies, October 1954, pp 211-215] The meaning of kephale in the Pauline epistles by Bedale

1968. C.K.Barrett. A commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians [A & C Black, London, 1968]. Pages 248-9. C K Barrett on 1 Corinthians

1971. F.F.Bruce. 1 and 2 Corinthians. [Oliphant, London, 1971]. Page 103. F F Bruce on Corinthians 1971

1985. Wayne Grudem. Does kephale (‘Head’) mean ‘Source’ or ‘Authority over’ in Greek literature? A survey of 2,336 examples. [Trinity Journal 6.1 Spring 1985, 38-59] kephale_grudem 1985

‘Anatomy and Physiology’, entry in Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2nd ed. [Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1970] Anatomy and physiology in Oxford Classical Dictionary 2nd ed

Wayne Grudem cites this entry in the Oxford Classical Dictionary in his response to Philip Payne’s 1996 article (which I hope to post soon) ‘The meaning of kephale in the NT: a Response,’ (in ‘Women, Authority and the Bible’ by the Mickelsen’s). In a footnote on p.53, Grudem writes:

“ order to support his contention that “the ancient Greek world through the time of Paul commonly believed that the heart, not the head, was the center of emotions and spirit, the ‘central governing place of the body,'” (pp. 119-120), Payne cites only one ancient author, Aristotle, and then cites the Oxford Classical Dictionary article on “Anatomy and Physiology” as saying about Aristotle that, “having found the brain to be devoid of sensation, he concluded that it could not be associated with it. The function of the brain was to keep the heart from overheating the blood” (Payne, p. 120, n. 26, citing OCD, 59). What Payne does not tell the reader is that the immediately preceding two sentences in the OCD article say that this view of Aristotle’s was contrary to the commonly held view in the ancient world: “Among the noteworthy errors of Aristotle is his refusal to attach importance to the brain. Intelligence he placed in the heart. This was contrary to the views of some of his medical contemporaries, contrary to the popular view, and contrary to the doctrine of the Timaeus (OCD, 59, italics mine).”

1989 Joseph A Fitzmyer. Another Look at Kephale in 1 Corinthians 11.3 [New Testament Studies, 35.4, October 89, pp 503-511] Kephale by fitzmyer 1989

1989 Richard S Cervin. Does Kephale mean ‘source’ or ‘authority over’ in Greek literature? A rebuttal. [Trinity Journal 10 NS, 85-112] Cervin kephale 1989 pp 1-10 Cervin kephale 1989 pp 11-29

1990 Wayne Grudem. The meaning of Kephale (‘Head’): a response to recent studies. [Trinity Journal 11NS (1990) pp 3-72]

1993. Joseph Fitzmyer. Kephale in 1 Corinthians 11:3 [Interpretation 47, pp 52-59] Fitzmyer on Kephale in Interpretation 1993

1993 Catherine Kroeger. Head. Entry in ‘Dictionary of Paul and his letters’ [IVP, 1993]. Kroeger on head in Dictionary of Paul Wayne Grudem responds to this in his 2002 article (below).

1994 Andrew Perriman. The head of a woman: the meaning of kephale in 1 Corinthians 11:3 [Journal of Theological Studies 45(2) pp 602-622] Andrew Perriman on kephale 1994

1998 Gregory W Dawes. The body in question: Metaphor and meaning in the interpretation of Ephesians 5:21-33. [Brill, 1998]. Chapter 5: The ‘Head’ (kephale) metaphor. The head kephale metaphor by Dawes

2002. Wayne Grudem. The meaning of kephale (‘head’): an evaluation of new evidence, real and alleged. [Chapter 5 of ‘Biblical Foundations of Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Wayne Grudem, Crossway Books, 2002] Grudem 2002 book The meaning of kephale – an evaluation of new evidence

2009. Alan F. Johnson. A review of the scholarly debate on the meaning of ‘head’ (kephale) in Paul’s writings. [Ashland Theological Journal 2009] a review of the scholarly debate on kephale by alan johnson

2010 (or later) William W. Combs. 1 Corinthians 11:3 and the role of women in the church. [Detroit Baptist Theological seminary web-site:,%20Role%20of%20Women%20in%20the%20Church.pdf] Combs, Role of Women in the Church


Herodotus. Book IV, 91. [Loeb Classical Library]. Pages 292-3 kephale in Herodotus 4.91

Callimachus. Aetia, 43. [Loeb Classical Library]. Pages 292-3 kephale in Callimachus Aetia II 43

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