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odern understanding of human embryology involves a fascinating story of multiple discoveries that have changed human knowledge no less dramatically than the Copernican revolution. In fact, the history of embryonic and reproductive research reveals so many twists, turns, and new-world surprises that one might aptly describe it as a field that has encountered numerous Copernican-type revolutions.1 It may come as a surprise to suggest that the science of embryology and Paul'sfirst-centurywritings intersect at 1 Cor 11:1112. In these two verses the apostle Paul works with the embryology of his day to talk about how procreation and other "in the Lord" factors ought to moderate or counterbalance his comments in w. 2-10 concerning original creation. Paul balances his Edenic-creation arguments with an appeal to another component of God's creation, namely, the creation of human beings within a second garden: the "fertile garden" of the female womb. I. Ancient Embryology To enter the world of ancient embryology forces one to leave behind major advances in knowledge that have come through the microscope, genetic engineering, and the study of human anatomy. In the ancient world conclusions about embryology were based primarily on simple comparisons with animals and plants and on the most readily observable features of the human body. Within the ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman world several embryology models developed. The one-seed model, in which the male provides everything apartfromnutrition to the creation of a newborn, seems to have been a dominant view in most ancient cultures. Yet, this dominant or traditional model was
William J. Webb is Professor of New Testament at Heritage Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. 1 For an overview of the developments in embryology, see Arthur W. Meyer, The Rise of Embryobgy (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1939), 1-367; Joseph Needham, A History of Embryology (New York: Arno Press, 1975), 1-304; T. J. Horder, J. A. Witkowski, and G. G. Wylie, eds., A History of Embryology: The Eighth Symposium of the British Society for Developmental Biology (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 1-477; G. R. Dunstan, ed., The Human Embryo: Aristotle and the Arabic and European Traditions (Exeter, Devon: University of Exeter Press, 1990), 1-235; Joan Cadden, Meanings of Sex Difference in the Middle Ages: Medicine, Science, and Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 1-310.




by no means an exclusive one.2 Aristotle offered a modified one-seed view, and there was a spectrum of two-seed models. 1. The Traditional One-Seed Theory. Among ancient societies the traditional view of a woman's contribution to her offspring was often quite minimal. The traditional view held that the seed came from the male only, not from the female. As suggested by the agricultural analogy, the male "planted" his childin-miniature seed within the female "garden" in order for it to grow and mature. This classic model viewed the male as contributing everything to the offspring; the female contributed nothing other than an environment in which the seed could thrive and derive nutrients. The man's seed provided the full human being in miniature form; the female merely "carried" the seedling child to maturity within her womb. Any physical similarities between the mother and child were explained as the influence of the "soil" upon the "plant"ancient agrarian cultures were familiar with different soils producing variations within their crops. The image of woman as "soil" and man as a "farmer planting his seed" is widespread in ancient literature. In Sophocles' Trachiniai, Heracles is described in relation to his wife and children as a farmer who sows his seed and then goes away, only returning in time for harvest.3 Classical Greek betrothal vows, spoken by the father of the bride, frequently included a statement that she is given to her husband "for the ploughing of legitimate children."4 This traditional agrarian framework often limited the contribution of women to a solely nutritive role. For instance, in Aeschylus's Eumenides the god Apollo says, "She who is called the child's mother is not its begetter, but only the nurse of the newly sown embryo. The begetter is the male, and she as a stranger preserves for a stranger the offspring, if no god blights its birth."5 Likewise, in Euripides' Orestes the father is seen as author and the mother as simply the nourisher: "Without a father there could never be a child. I reckoned that I should come to the defense of the author of my begetting [i.e., the father] rather than of her who gave me nourishment [i.e., the mother] ."6 Thefirst-centuryhistorian Diodorus recounts similar Egyptian sentiments about the uneven contribution of male and female to their offspring: "The father is the sole author of procreation and th mother only supplies the fetus with nourishment and a place to Uve."7 This traditional male-seed-only view is well documented within Greek, Jewish, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian
2 Some authors inaccurately portray the ancient world as holding a monolithic "one seed" maleonly contribution model. For example, see Alvin John Schmidt, Veiled and Silenced: How Culture Shaped Sexist Theology (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1989), 115-18. 3 Sophocles, Track 31 -33. Euripides (Orest. 551 -53) conveys a similar notion of the male planting his seed in the female field. 4 Helen King, "Making a Man: Becoming Human in Early Greek Medicine," in Human Embryo, 17. 5 Aeschylus, Eum. 658-61 (translation citedfromHugh Llyd-Jones, The Eumenides by Aeschylus: A Translation and Commentary [Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1970], 52). 6 Euripides, Orest. 554-56 (Kovacs, LGL). 7 Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 1.80.4-5 (Oldfather, LGL).



literature.8 There is litde point in listing citation after citation.9 It was a widely accepted model based upon simple and observable phenomena of the day. 2. Aristotle's Modified One-Seed Theory. Aristode retained a male-dominance model of procreation but marginally increased the contribution of women beyond the traditional view. Instead of the male seed containing the full child in miniature form, Aristotle held that the female provided the material for the embryo through her menstrual blood. The male seed, however, contained the far more important controlling factor: the immaterial activating force of generation (pneuma). Although Aristotle's one-seed theory increases the contribution of woman beyond the nutrition-only perspective, his view clearly retains a high level of male superiority and dominance over the female. According to Aristode, the father contributes the final cause, the formal cause, and the efficient cause in shaping the newborn; the woman contributes nothing other than material. This imbalance in creative forces between the male and female led to Aristotle's famous statement that "the female is a deformed male."10 For Aristotle and much of the ancient world the female was the passive recipient of the male's creative forces. Philo of Alexandria seemingly adopted Aristode's menstrual model with its gender inequality when he wrote: The matter of the female in the remains of the menstrualfluidsproduces the fetus. But the male (provides) the skill and cause. And so, since the male provides the greater and more necessary (part) in the process of generation, it was proper that his pride should be checked by the sign of circumcision, but the material element [that the woman supplies], being inanimate, does not admit of arrogance [i.e., influencing her social status/pride].] l Of particular significance are Philo's words about relative gender status and its link to the disproportionate degree of embryo contribution: "since the male provides the greater and more necessary part in the process of generation" (italics added). As we will see with the aposde Paul, a theology of procreation (whether this or another one) certainly influenced how people saw levels of social honor between male and female.
For a broad range of ancient literature on embryology, see Heter Willem van der Horst, "Sarah's Seminal Emission: Hebrews 11:11 in the light of Ancient Embryology," in Greeks, Romans, and Christians: Essays in Honor ofAbrahamJ. Malherbe (ed. David L. Balch, Everett Ferguson, and Wayne A. Meeks; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), 290, 296, 299. For an extensive treatment of Greek literature, see Sarah George, "Human Conception and Fetal Growth: A Study in the Development of Greek Thought from the Presocratics through Aristotle" (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1982), 1-287. 9 As noted by Needham (History of Embryology, 44) this male-seed-only perspective seems to provide part of the rationale for why the capture and trade of females for reproductive purposes was not seen as a problem. Foreign women as concubines would not pollute the race since only the man's seed really counted in the formation of the offspring. 10 Aristotle, Gen. An. 737a28-29, 767b7-9, 775al5-16 (Peck, LGL). See also George, "Human Conception," 129. 11 Philo, (G 3.47 (Marcus, LCL).



3. Two-Seed Theories. A number of ancient philosophers held that both the male and female contributed seed to offspring. Asidefromother considerations, this two-seed theory was based upon the similarities of the offspring to both parents (not just to one), the perception of female ejaculation (similar to the male), and the emission of some kind of substance by the female during sexual arousal. Of course, Aristotle and other single-seed proponents denied that female emissions contained actual seed, like the male's seed. For them female secretions provided a lubricant that did not contain seed. Nevertheless, a significant number of philosophers and medical thinkers departed from the popular one-seed theory. Compared to one-seed proponents, two-seed theorists clearly moved toward greater gender equality in their perspective on procreation. It is important, however, to recognize that many two-seed theories, despite a movement towards equality, reflected a striking aspect of male dominance within their procreation model. For example, many two-seed theorists held that the father had either the greater or exclusive contribution for male offspring and the mother had greater or exclusive contribution for female offspring. A contest or struggle between the father's seed and the mother's seed determined the sex of the offspring. The outcome was determined by the strength or quantity of the respective seed.12 Furthermore, many two-seed theories are so cluttered with pejorative concepts related to women that they severely minimize the significance of female contributions. Notions such as "weak" (not strong), "thin" (not thick), "left" (not right), and "cold" (not warm) were almost exclusively linked with the mother's contribution and/or with female offspring. Polar notions such as strong/thick/right/warm depicted the father's contribution and/or the production of male offspring.13 Consequently, even though these two-seed proponents granted a greater contribution of women, their understanding of the procreative process in detail often embraced notions about the inferiority of the female contribution. Among ancient two-seed theorists, the Hippocratic authors and the later, second-century A.D. Roman physician Galen seem to have held the greatest equality in terms of male/female contribution to the embryo. These writers
12 This inequality for male offspring provides an important "limited horizons" factor even in the case of two-seed perspectives since Paul's argument in 1 Cor 11:12 is based upon the mother's role in developing male offspring (not female offspring). 13 The following list summarizes the different factors that were often combined in some fashion by two-seed theorists: Male offspring result from: Female offspring result from: strong seed weak seed thick seed thin seed right-testicle seed left-testicle seed right side of the body left side of the body right side of womb left side of womb warm womb cold womb warm seed cold seed



were in some respects ahead of their time in understanding procreation and the contributions of male and female (even if their theories were not always based 14 upon accurate physiological data). It should be noted, however, that even in these more "egalitarian" two-seed perspectives there remain minor aspects of distorted inequality and a deficient view of a mother's contribution to her off 15 spring. II. Paul's "Through Woman3'Argument The cultural horizon of ancient embryology intersects with Paul's reasoning in the text of 1 Cor 11:12. Paul counterbalances his "woman comes from man" original-creation arguments with the pro-creation contribution of women: "man comes through woman." For Paul the heightened social-honor status of males because of the derivation of "woman from () man"a reference to the Genesis rib eventis somewhat offset by the derivation of "man through () woman"a reference most likely to the contribution of women in carrying and giving birth to men. While various translations use different English preposi tions for the woman's contribution to the procreation of the male, the referent concept is probably the same: For as woman camefrom() man, so also man is born / * () woman. But everything comesfrom() God. (NIV) For as the woman is of () the man, even so is the man also by () the woman; but all things /*() God. (KJV) For just as woman camefrom() man, so man comes through () woman; but all things comefrom() God. (NRSV) For sake of clarity the English preposition "from" will be used in this discussion to translate the of v. 12a, which describes the contribution of man to woman in Edenic creation, and the English preposition "through" will translate the of v. 12b, which describes the contribution of woman to man in procreation. Obviously one cannot know what Paul's personal view of embryology was. The preposition by itself in "man comes through () woman" tells us nothing about what position Paul himself held. Nor do we know exactly what view Paul would have chosen (if any) from the spectrum of competing embry ology theories in his daya traditional one-seed view, a modified one-seed view, a two-seed view with restricted female contribution (especially for male offspring), or a two-seed view with a more equally shared contribution of mother and father to their offspring (whether male or female).
14 For a detailed discussion of Galen, the Hippocratic authors, and other two-seed proponents, I recommend two studies: George, "Human Conception," and Rebecca Flemming, Medicine and the Making of Roman Women: Gender, Nature, and AuthorityfromCelsus to Galen (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000). See also G. E. R. Lloyd, Science, Folklore and Ideology (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983). 15 For instance, the Hippocratic authors still spoke of contests between the strong (male) seed and the weak (female) seed to determine certain characteristics of the child.



However, it is reasonably certain that Paul was arguing from a "minimalist" embryo contribution perspective in 1 Cor 11:12. In other words, Paul most likely persuaded his Corinthian audience by using the minimalist-contribution perspective of the day, namely, that the mother provides a place and nutrition for "carrying" the male embryo. Regardless of what Paul may have held per sonally, his argumentation almost certainly does not extend beyond this mini mal level of common agreement. Two considerations confirm this minimalist approach within Paul's argu ment. First, only a minimalist argument would have been persuasive across a broad-based audience. Everyone within the ancient world held that women contributed to the formation of male offspring by carrying the offspring within the garden-like womb; all ancients held that men came "through" women in this sense. In other words, since the ancient world was significantly split on how much women contributed to the emerging embryo (and the data was highly conjectural), it is unlikely that Paul would have argued from one divided slice of the ancient-world spectrum in order to make his point. It is unlikely that the apostle is invoking the medical/Hippocratic authors or that he somehow pre figured Galen to speak of women's (more) equal and substantive contribution to their (male) offspring. If Paul were making such an equal-contribution argu ment with his words in v. 12b, he would have failed to persuade a major section of his audience among both Greek and Jewish recipients. Should Paul have been constructing a maximal-contribution argument, he would have required a much more detailed, chapter-length discussion of this single point in order to convince his readers. But we do not find such a developed argument. Instead, the succinct statement in v. 12b "man comes through woman" seems to work from obvious, broad-based, well-accepted facts. These were facts shared by all views and not simply by a narrow segment of his audience. Second, only a minimalist-contribution understanding of Paul's argument works within the way he has juxtaposed and . The prepositional change from to is probably not a mere stylistic variation. The preposition recalled for the reader a highly concrete component of the Genesis story about the male contribution to the female, namely, Eve's being fashioned from Adam's rib (see Gen 2:21-22).16 The antithetical statement in v. 8 makes it clear that in the original creation "man did not comefrom() woman but woman from () man." For Paul only a few verses later to introduce a counterbalancing statement that "man does actually comefrom() women during procreation" would have put a significant strain upon his earlier reasoning. It would have introduced a highly strengthened counterbalance, well beyond where Paul seems to go within the immediacy of his application in 1 Cor 11. Furthermore,
16 The narrative depicts Yahweh "building" another human out of Adam's rib. While it is pos sible that God changed the one rib bone into the entire substance of the woman, the author's cryp tic statement, "And the rib that the LORD God had takenfromthe man he made into a woman" (ntvh ... STESTI ~ DVKrnn^**!) may well assume the mixture of clay and the bone to con struct the woman. See Glaus Westermann, Genesis 1-11: A Commentary (trans. J. J. Scullion; Minnea polis: Augsburg, 1984), 230.



the switch back to in v. 12c, "but everything isfrom() God," rhetorically places the substantive -type contribution of the male closer to God's -type contribution than to women's -type contribution. In sum, the language in v. 12b is most likely arguing on the basis of the widespread recognition of a minimal contribution of women "carrying" the male offspring and nothing 17 more. III. Modern Embryology and the Contemporary Application of 1 Corinthians 11 Ancient worldviews clearly differ from the modern-world horizon and under standing of procreation. Unlike the world of old, there no longer remains gender inequality in contemporary, research-based concepts of procreation. At the risk of oversimplification, most modern Christians would agree that the male and female contribute roughly an equal amount of creative or genetic influence through the sperm and egg to the formation of a child.18 The male and female each provide 23 chromosomes for the creation of a new fetus. This procreation source for doing creation theology offers a striking portrait of gender equality. Consequently, when one adds the woman's genetic input in embryo formation (her substantive contribution) to the woman's input in carrying, birthing, and nursing the offspring (her supportive contribution), the overall contribu tion of the female far outweighs male contributions. In this second procreative "garden" Eve's combined contributions to the creative process clearly outdo Adam's contribution. Yet the ancient-world horizon made it almost impossible for Paul to have convincingly argued this developed creation theology within his Corinthian setting. How then should modern Christians carry over these embryological insights into the application of 1 Cor 11 and a theology of gender relationships? There seem to be two implicationsone primary and one secondarythat pertain to applying this text. Thefirstimplication is primary: Paul, if he were alive today, would acknowledge the significance and weight of the female contribution 19 within procreation. Were Paul to make his gender-relationship case today, he would most certainly argue that in the second procreative garden "man comes through () woman and man comes from () woman." While some evangeli cals may not like this implication, it is an inescapable conclusion given modern embryology. If all truth is God's truth (as Christians affirm), then Paul would
17 In another context Paul could well have used to infer a greater female contribution (though this is not found). Also, in another context Paul could certainly have spoken of the female role in the birthing process with the use of and meant little more than "carrying" a child to term (for he seems to do so in Gal 4:4). Rather, the point here is that the referent meaning of the preposi tions and must be contextually defined within the discussion of 1 Cor 11. 18 Obviously the male "determines the sex" of the offspring within the 23rd chromosome pairing. This point is addressed below in the objection section (question #5). 19 This kind of applicational addendum in our modern context simply takes further the direc tion of redemptive movement already established in the text. The redemptive spirit even in Paul's minimalist words already cuts against the grain of some ancient writers such as Philo (see citation above) who conceded but trivialized the material contribution of women.



without apology incorporate this truth in creation theology while thinking about gender relationships. The necessary corollary is that a modern perspec tive on embryology forces one to embrace a new outlook on female status within gender relationships. Modern application of Paul's counterbalance argument brings a new dimension to creation theology, one that includes and for the female (not simply ) and thus adds far more weight to the female status within male-female relationships. No longer does an updated version of Paul's counterbalance argument merely "take the edge off" of his statements about male prominence and greater social honor. One might say procreation theology begins to tip the scales toward a much greater sense of balance and equality in gender status than would ever have been realized in the first-century Corinthian context. A second group or cluster of implications should perhaps be held at a second ary level of importance. Inquisitive minds will want to ponder certain secondary questions. A renewed understanding and development of Paul's creation theol ogy through modern embryology invites a retriinking of Paul's Edenic or original-creation theology, at least as the garden is often understood. For instance, one wonders if a mother's half-of-the-chromosomes () contribution to the whole child should count for something when compared to an only-the-rib () contribution from Adam to Eve.20 One wonders if the repeated enactment of the "creation pattern" in procreation should count for something when com pared to the singular event of the garden. Andfinally,one wonders if the produc tion of female offspring within procreation theology should count for something since Paul's ancient-world argument looks only at the production of males through females.21 Perhaps one should give some measure of weighting for females also coming through females. Yes, the garden has a paradigmatic or col lective sense that gathers together all of male humanity into Adam and all of female humanity into Eve. Nevertheless, Paul has a collective sense of procrea tion in which he can speak of all the births of history as coming "through woman" (singular). If Paul is willing to use a collective procreation theology to counterbalance a collective original-creation theology, then interpreters must ponder these secondary implications. Despite such secondary implications, one should not lose sight of the pri mary implication: that if Paul were alive, he would update his procreation point to argue that "man comes through () woman and man comes from () woman." This updated argument requires those within a modern context to
20 Two side comments are appropriate here. First, if the rib bone itself was used as the only resource for making woman, then obviously this one (though not the other two) reflective ponderings would need to be removed from the mix. See n. 16 above. Second, this rib reflection (on the one end of creation theology) must be joined with the consideration that perhaps the material contribution of the mother to the child should count for something when compared to little or no material contri bution from the male in the nine-month formation of the child. 21 One ought to consider giving some weight to female offspring even if they are viewed through a restrictive (patriarchical) lens of counting only because they will give birth to male offspring in subse quent generations.



rethink their understanding of biblical anthropology and readjust the relative weighting of male-and-female status accordingly. IV Questions At this point it might be worthwhile to address six thoughtful questions that one might raise in thinking about this essay. Question #1. "Are we not using natural revelation (science) here to correct special revelation? Are you not saying that the Bible contains error?" Here it is necessary to disagree and offer an emphatic, "No." No, I am not suggesting that Paul is in error in his "through woman" argument in 1 Cor 11:12b. What he states about woman's creative contribution in carrying and birthing (and possibly nurturing) children is correct. It is a valid argument that has transcultural status. Rather, what I am saying is that Paul's procreative argument (and its corresponding implications for our lives) can and should be strengthened through modern science. Modern embryology takes Paul's procreative argu ment further along the same lines that the original spirit and intent of his "through woman" argument began, that is, as a counter weight to w. 2-10. The strengthened or extended meaning from modern embryology supplements a counterbalancing argument within the biblical text, an argument that weighs social honor implications derived from pro-creation insights in a manner that offsets original-creation insights. However, it is Paul himself who establishes this qualifying configuration between his own arguments. It is Paul who is saying readers ought to consider the counterbalance between these two ways of weighing social honor. The use of modern embryology strengthens rather than diminishes a point already within the biblical text. Question #2. "Was Paul perhaps only talking about giving birth and not about the entire embryo-formation process?" This question is understandable, since the NIV translation reads, "For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman" (emphasis added). However, a more literal rendering of the text is that "man is [or, comes] through woman." A survey of over thirty ancient and contemporary commentators finds none that limits the referent to the last few hours or moments of the birthing/delivery process. Even hierarchical writers generally talk about the "through woman" clause in v. 12b as "the pro cess of procreation"22 in a broad sense compared to original creation. Regard less of leanings on the gender debate, most understand v. 12b to reflect the way in which men are "dependent" upon women for coming into this world. This broader dependency point (suggested by v. 11) would logically include the fetal
22 For instance, Saucy and Arnold write, "As the woman's existence was originally out of the man in creation, so in the process of procreation, man comes into being through woman. Thus... each owes his [/her] existence to, and cannot continue without, the other." See Robert L. Saucy and Clinton Arnold, "Woman and Man in Apostolic Teaching," in Women and Men in Ministry: A Complementary Perspective (ed. Robert Saucy and Judith Tenelshof; Chicago: Moody, 2001), 129. Their perspective is broadly representative of most commentators on the text. There is no attempt to limit the meaning of v. 12b to the birthing/delivery process.



growth and development process as well as the climactic birthing event (and possibly even postnatal nursing). Furthermore, the immediate juxtaposition of "woman's coming from () man" with "man's coming through () woman" shares one overarching idea: the way in which both genders contribute to the 23 existence of the other. Contribution to the existence of male offspring would include more than the birthing event. In sum, the dependency theme (v. 11) and the contribution-to-existence theme (v. 12a) strongly imply that Paul did not intend to limit the referent to the birthing process alone. Question #3. "Can we not affirm hierarchy and mutuality with the same degree of balanced affirmation that Paul establishes in this passage?" Here the answer is both "yes" and, in some measure, "no." To a large extent the answer is "yes" if we are talking about w. 11-12 from an ancient-worldhorizon. Paul does not seem to overturn completely his earlier hierarchy discussion in the passage by introducing the concept of mutuality in w. 11 -12. Given the first-century setting of Paul's writing to Corinth, one can gladly side with hierarchalists such as Blomberg (see also Schreiner and Saucy) who argue that Paul's earlier contextual instructions in w. 2-10 "would be pointless if verses 11-12 entirely canceled them out as many egalitarians imply" (emphasis added).24 Hierarchical scholars are to be applauded for reading the text in this grammatical-historical, "no nonsense" manner. From a purely ancient-world exegetical standpoint, Schreiner's state ment about w. 11-12 makes an important point: "The fairest way to read Paul is to let his own writings strike the balance [i.e., the balance between equality and hierarchy] ." 2 5 This is correct. But when it comes to application, the idea that we should "leave the balance just as Paul left it" unfortunately restricts under standing of the biblical text to the original-setting context alone. The answer to this third question in some measure must also be "no" if one is to talk about w. 11-12 from a modern-world horizon. Most hierarchalists will ingly admit that w. 11-12 qualify, soften, and offset Paul's earlier statements about hierarchy.26 Yet this qualifying function is established in a particular man ner. It is the difference between and in v. 12 that in a comparative sense reduces the status of women and strengthens the prominence of the male (hier archy). While w. 11-12 create a mutuality of sorts because both genders con tribute to the other's existence, it is the reduced degree of the female's

Paul may have in mind Gen 3:20, "Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living." If so, the concept of women/mothers producing their living offspring can hardly be limited to the moment of birth alone. 24 Craig L. Blomberg, "Neither Hierarchicalist nor Egalitarian,', in Two Views on Women in Minis try (ed. Craig L. Blomberg and James R. Beck; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 346-47. See Tho mas R. Schreiner, "Women in Ministry," in Two Views on Women in Ministry, 229; Saucy and Arnold, "Woman and Man in Apostolic Teaching," 126. 25 Thomas R. Schreiner, "Headcoverings, Prophecies and the Trinity: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16," in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem; Wheaton, 1.: Crossway, 1991), 137. 26 Blomberg's assertion (cited above) that w. 11-12 "do not entirely cancel out" the hierarchy implies that w. 11-12 do in fact cancel out or modify the hierarchy in part or in some measure. Blomberg ("Neither Hierarchicalist nor Egalitarian," 346) explicitly labels 11:12 as a "qualifying" verse. See Schreiner, "Headcoverings," 136.



contribution relative to the male's contribution that sustains male hierarchy in the midst of the mutuality statement.27 Adding modern embryology to the equation clearly strengthens the woman's contribution. Consequently in our modern horizon the balance within the gender-status equation simply cannot stay the same. Question #4. "Maybe the added weight of modern embryology could be used to reinforce positive male attitudes towards women rather than reducing male hierarchy. Why does the degree of hierarchy need to be impacted?" This is a valid question. Yet it possibly drives an artificial wedge between attitudes and actions. After all, within the passage as a whole Paul does more than curb male attitudes. He also addresses actions inasmuch as he permits women to pray and prophecy within the congregation. It may well be that the mutuality statement of w. 11-12 offsets hierarchy both by curbing male attitudes and by establishing sufficient status within gender relationships for women to pray and prophecy in the congregation.28 A more important response to this fourth objection, however, is that proponents of hierarchy cannot selectively use cer tain "nuts and bolts" of creation theology to build hierarchy between genders and then ignore other "nuts and bolts" of creation theology that might in some measure undo or reduce that hierarchy. Consequently, the modification of hierarchy due to modern embryology must go beyond attitudinal alterations. Question #5. "While it is true that man and woman contribute an equal num ber of chromosomes (23 from the father and 23 from the mother), should we not give the man a slight edge of extra honor because he 'determines the sex' of the offspring?" A response to this question comes on two levels. On one level, even if this question accurately reflects procreation reality, the thesis holds. We still need to acknowledge an and a 5t (not solely a ) contribution from the female to the male. Even if we cut back the contribution of the female from 23 to 22 chromosomes in view of the male sex determination, this still leaves an almost-balanced chromosomal contribution and involves a much larger contri bution than the ancient minimalist contribution that served to make Paul's point. On another level, however, the question betrays a faulty understanding of the genetic process. Yes, the male "determines the sex" in a manner of speaking.29
27 That is why hierarchy does not entirely dissolve within Paul's mutuality statement (not for unknown mystical or mysterious reasons). 28 Though w. 11-12 in some way qualify the earlier development of hierarchythe ties between them are implicit not explicitit is possible to know only by inference what the qualification of w. 11-12 meant in the passage as a whole. In all likelihood the wearing of the veil (concretely) expressed the component of hierarchy while the permission for women to pray and prophecy (con cretely) reflected the counterbalance contribution of women to men and their respective mutuality in the Lord. Attitudes are no doubt included. But, it is difficult to divorce attitudefromact or concrete expression of hierarchy within gender relationships. 29 A more accurate statement would be that the father "provides the genetic sex coding" in part (half) for XX females and almost in whole for XY males. However, the "determination of sex" is quite another matter. The determination of whether a child will be a boy or girl is an arbitrary (roughly half and half) process to which in general neither parent contributes causally. I do not wish to get caught up in semantics. As long as we understand the popular idiom, "the father determines the sex" in this qualified sense, that is fine.



In taking a closer look at the respective genetic input of the X and Y sex chromo somes for male offspring, however, one discovers a delightful turning of the tables. Modern embryology actually reverses the objection. In the XY case of male children (Paul's point in v. 12b) the mother provides a far greater genetic contribution than does the father. In fact, the mother's X chromosome contains 1,184 genes for forming the male child, whereas the father's Y chromosome provides only 231 genes (primarily related to male sex organs).30 In other words, the mother provides almost 1,000 more genes for forming the male offspring than does the father. David Page, a scientist with the Whitehead Institute (part of the Human Genome Project) who has spent over twenty years mapping the Y chromosome, acknowledges that the number of genes on the Y chromosome is "meager compared to maybe 2,000 or more genes on the X."31 A further way of appreciating the difference in the X-and-Y contributions is to look at their respective developmental importancethe omission of a mother's X contribu tion (OY) is lethal, while the omission of a father's Y contribution (XO) at least permits the offspring to live.32 Lest one still think that this mismatched pairing of the father's 231 genes (Y) somehow outweighs the mother's 1,184 genes (X) due to the father's influence on the male child's genital formation, we need to reflect again upon the breadth of Paul's argument. As noted above under question #3, Paul's concern is with the dependency of both genders upon one another (v. 11) and the degree to which one gender contributes to the existence of the other (v. 12a-b). One can not restrict Paul's point to the birthing event (alone) any more than one can restrict it to the formation of male sex organs (alone). Paul's "man is through woman" argument encompasses the whole procreation process. Although this includes the male sex organs, it obviously is not limited to such a referent. If so, then modern embryology does indeed turn the tables. Instead of decreasing a woman's procreative contribution to man, the focus on the X and Y chromo somes increases her contribution to him. In the procreation of male offspring, the mother actually contributes significantly more to the genetic (-type) for mation of the child than does the father.
30 Many sources suggest that the number of genes on the X chromosome may range as high as 2,000 or more. On the other hand, some sources restrict the Y chromosome to fewer genes than cited above. Almost all sources agree that the up-side potential of future finds is much higher for the X chromosome than the Y chromosome. For this essay I have provided the most conservative estimate for the X chromosome and the largest estimate for the Y chromosome. For thefigurescited above, see the following official government website, "Human Genome Project Information," n.p. [cited 29 July 2004]. Online:; see espe cially the documentation provided under "Research" and "FAQs." 31 Associated Press, "Scientists Close to Deciphering Y Chromosome," (Oct. 30, 2000), n.p. [cited 29 July 2004]. Online: 32 With humans the XO combination produces a female with Turner syndrome (sterile, webbed neck, etc.). My point is not to compare the grief of deformity to the grief of death. Rather, I am making a point about the pervasive, life-and-death difference that the mother's X chromosome makes compared to less than life-and-death contributions that the father's Y chromosome makes.



Question #61 Assuming that one has been persuaded so far, certain readers might still raise the "So what?" question: "Does not a difference of 23 chromosomes seem like an insignificant addition to the gender status equation?" Obviouslyfromthe perspective of physical size the addition of 23 chromosomes to Paul's point in v. 12b (thanks to modern embryology) is relatively trivial; however, several considerations make the addition a significant one. First, one could say that the rib contribution of man to woman is insignificant. Yet, Paul's theology of creation seems to give a high degree of significance to it. It was a substantive contribution. It is no doubt just as easy for egalitarians to trivialize (wrongly) theribcontribution as it is for hierarchalists to trivialize (wrongly) the contribution of modern embryology. Second, these procreation factors clearly shaped the status of women in the ancient world. All one has to do is to go back to the citations above from Sophocles, Aeschylus, Diodorus, Aristotle, and Philo, and one quickly realizes that this discussion very much influenced the way in which gender relationships were framed in the ancient world.33 Third, some of the works cited in footnotes at the outset of this article discuss the history of embryology as it winds a fascinating path all the way to the present. One cannot read these accounts without being struck by the degree to which the status of women has been forever changed by the newly emerging understanding of how much they substantively contribute to the formation of the human race. Women are not merely passive recipients of the male's creative seed. They actively contribute to the procreation process in a profound and meaningful way. Fourth, if Paul found the carrying and birthing of male children significant enough to use it as a counterbalancing qualification to his hierarchy discussion, how much more is the creative genetic contribution of woman to man a profoundly weighty point. What is important here is not that everyone agree on how much weight to derive from modern embryology for strengthening v. 12b (and offsetting male hierarchy). The degree of weighting introduces a more subjective component, and the resulting differences of opinion need to be respected. The important issue is that everyone ought to grant modern embryology at least some significant weight that makes a tangible impact on the configuring of gender relationships. The impact should show that appropriate modern application differs in some measure from a strictly on-the-page approach to defining gender relationships, namely, an approach that leaves the degree/weight of hierarchy unchanged from the way it is expressed in the biblical text. Reading the Bible in a contemporary-application approach differs from a strictly ancient-world exegetical approach. Both approaches are needed in a complementary fashion if we are to be true to the text of Scripture within our modern context.
Interestingly, Paul's "through woman" argument grants a certain amount of gender status/ honor based upon the strictly material contribution of woman to man. Yet, Philo (in the citation above) belittles and trivializes this contribution. Here Paul is seen to convey a clearly redemptive movement (relative to Philo) even in his esteem of women for their (minimalist) material contribution. How much more would Paul go on with great exclamation (!) about the substantive creationcausal contribution that Philo explicitly denies.



V Other Corollary Arguments One can hardly sense the full impact of this article about 1 Cor 11:12b with out setting it within a larger context of other exegetical, theological, and hermeneutical arguments that further support a corollary "ease up" or "lighten up" thesis with respect to male hierarchy. Since these other augmenting or cor ollary arguments are beyond the bounds of this article, it is necessary here sim ply to indicate where they are developed in detail. There are good reasons why a contemporary application of a "greater male honor" principle (if it exists and is transcultural) ought to reduce the weight of hierarchy beyond the "heavy" concrete restrictions and forms of the biblical text.34 These six or seven corol lary factors support a significant reduction in the weighting of Edenic creation theology as it impacts the formulation of our present-day gender relationships. VI. Conclusion like the theological reflection voiced in Fiddler on the Roof Paul works with an "on the one hand .. . but on the other hand" kind of argumentation in 1 Cor 11:12. The apostle provides a gende nudge, a qualifying counterbalance in explaining male-female relationships by combining insights derived from Edenic creation (on the one hand) and insights derived from procreation (on the other hand). From Paul's perspective the male predominance in male-female relationships due to a distinct contribution from the male to the female (first Eden) should be tempered somewhat in view of the female's contribution to the male in procreation (second Eden). Perhaps all that Paul's counterbalancing argument achieved in ancient Corinth was a softening of male attitudes and a greater openness to women participating in worship (praying and prophesying), provided they did so in a certain deferential fashion. Paul's counterbalancing argument from procreation (and from "in Christ" considerations) hardly over turns the entire weight of Edenic-creation considerations as applied within the immediacy of the Corinthian setting. But we do not live in ancient Corinth (nor in ancient Ephesus). We live in a modern world with modern horizons that are significantly different from the ancient world horizons. Differences between these two worlds should influence our application of Scripture. The thesis of this essay is that Paul's counterbal ancing procreation argument must be given much greater weight in forging our contemporary application of gender relationships than was ever possible in Paul's day. Contemporary application of Paul's counterbalance argument brings an entirely new sense to creation theologyone that celebrates an and contribution from the female to the male (not simply ) and thus adds far more weight to the female status within male-female relationships. Corre spondingly, a set of corollary arguments suggest that the "applicational" weight
34 William J. Webb, Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (Downers Grove, . : InterVarsity Press, 2001 ), 209-20,236-44; and idem, "The Limits of a Redemp tive-Movement Hermeneutic: A Focused Response to T. R. Schreiner," EvQJb (2003): 327-42.



of Edenic creation theology must be givenjr less weight in shaping the extent of hierarchy within male-female relationships today than was ever possible in Paul's day. The radically changed horizons on these two components of creation theologyone requiring increased weight; the other needing decreased weight must inform the configuration of gender relationships today. Based upon this double-sided rationale (and a number of other considerations) I am very comfortable living out a modern application of the Bible's creation theology within an egalitarian framework. Nevertheless, I understand that some evangelical colleagues may be reluctant to move this far. Some may still wish to retain a certain expression of "greater male honor" within their contemporary application of creation theology in an almost egalitarian (ultra-soft hierarchy35) framework. But what should that look like in our present setting? At the very least, Christians today ought to reduce the extent and weight of hierarchy well beyond the forms expressed in the biblical text as they seek to live out a contemporary application of creation theology.36

35 Ultra-soft patriarchy/hierarchy could apply a contemporary form of "greater male honor" in keeping with original-creation beliefs through some alternative, much-less-heavy expressions of ritual/social honor (e.g., husband's last name in the home, a male as board chair or perhaps board secretary in the churchthe alternatives are endless) but not through any gender-based leadership restrictions in the home or church. 36 This article began as a paper delivered at the 2002 ETS meetings in Atlanta, Ga. In several years it will appear within a forthcoming book, Tough Texts on Sex, Marriage and Family (InterVarsity Press) as a chapter entitled, "Adam's Rib: Sufficient Basis for the Subordination of Women?" I am grateful to the WTJ editors for their willingness to print an "early version" and to IVP for its kind permission to do so. My hope is that even in its present, emerging form the article might contribute constructively to the ongoing gender discussions and to the broader topic of biblical hermeneutics.

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