What is driving my approach to Genesis 1 & 2?
The connections between 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 and Genesis 1 & 2.
My study started a year or two ago with an investigation into 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 and why Paul says women ought to wear a head-covering in church. [At a later date I will post some of my detailed exegesis on 1 Cor 11:1-16].
Paul in 1 Cor 11 says some things and makes some arguments regarding man and woman and the image of God that if taken on face value did not equate fully with what I as a complementarian Christian believed about Genesis 1 & 2 and what was meant by the image of God.
For now, I want to highlight some of the things that Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 that have pushed me to re-examine my understanding of Genesis 1 & 2.
1 Corinthians 11:3 (My Translation)
3But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ,
and the head of woman is the man, and head of Christ is God.
11:7-12 (My Translation)
7For a man ought not to cover his head,
Since truly he is the image and glory of God,
but woman is the glory of man.
8For man did not come out of woman, but woman out of man.
9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
10For this reason a woman ought to have authority/control over her head,
11Nevertheless, because of the angels.
neither woman without man, nor man without woman;
12 In the Lord, for just as the woman out of man, so also the man through woman.
And all things out of God.
What do we see here?
- Man is the image … of God. In the sentence this implies that woman is not the image of God. WOW! How can Paul say that? Does he not know that men and women are created equal? Most of us as we re-read this just re-interpret it in our mind and say to ourselves that Paul really means to say that man and woman are each individually made in the image of God. If Paul is correct and we have to assume that he is, then this view that man (and not woman) is the image of God does not fit in with my initial understanding of Genesis 1 and the image of God. If we in our thinking reinterpret Paul to be saying that man and woman are each individually made in the image of God, then this shows that my initial understanding of Genesis 1 &2 does not match up with Paul’s understanding of Genesis 1 & 2. Thus, I need to have another look at Genesis 1 & 2.
2. v7b. Man is the glory of God. How does this differ from man being the image of God?
3. v7c. Woman is the glory of man. Paul gives us the content of this, and it comes from Genesis 2 “woman out of man” (1 Cor 11:8) and “woman for man” (1 Cor 11:9). So, this content entails ordering of “substance/material” (out of) and ordering of “purpose” (for). It is these which make woman the glory of man. To be noted is that ordering of material “woman out of man” implies there is also an ordering of time. Paul in 1 Cor 11 does not emphasize that feature, though he does so in 1 Tim 2:13 “Adam was formed first, then Eve”. So, the ordering that Paul outlines, should guide me in re-examining my understanding of Genesis 1 & 2?
4. a. Man is the image and glory of God. PLUS. b. Woman is the glory of man. Paul here seems to be giving us the detail of how man is the image of God. It the 2 things combined that makes man the image of God, those two things being man is the glory of God and woman is the glory of man. Then how are these 2 facts related? What does he mean by this? In regard to b. Woman is the glory of man, Paul is linking Genesis 2 details regarding the creation of woman to Genesis 1 “the image of God”. And in regard, to a. Man is the image and glory of God Paul is linking the individual creation of man out of the ground (ie. that which makes him the glory of God) of Genesis 2 to Genesis 1 “image of God”. So, it is these 2 subsets, man is the glory of God and woman is the glory of man that Paul is saying make up what it means that man (not woman) is the image of God. This raises the question in our mind, how does he get this from Genesis 1 & 2?
5. v11 neither woman without man, nor man without woman. This seems to have some conceptual link back to Genesis 1 “male and female he created them”.
6. v12 for just as the woman out of man, so also the man through woman. This seems to be tying together Genesis 2 “woman out of man” and presumably what he has just said about woman being the glory of man, it is tying this in with Genesis 3:20 “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” and 4:1 “….. I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD”.
7. the head of every man is Christ, and the head of woman is the man, and head of Christ is God.
It is initially not obvious if there is a connection to Genesis 1 & 2, but these three things that are said in verse 3 are foundational to the theology and argument that Paul gives us in 1 Cor 11:1-16. And the three things are intimately linked conceptually through the headship motif.
11b the head of woman is the man obviously, has conceptual connections with what we have just seen Paul says in 11:7-9 re woman is the glory of man and woman out of man and for man. That is, the head of woman is the man, comes out of Paul’s understanding of Genesis 2.
11a the head of every man is Christ by extension from the what we just said about 11b and its connections to Genesis 1&2, might then be expected to have conceptual connections with what Paul has just said that man is the glory of God, which itself is connected conceptually back to man’s creation ie. to Genesis 1&2.
And 11c and head of Christ is God by further logical extension might possibly have as an underlying basis some connection to Genesis 1 & 2. That is, it raises the possibility that Paul’s understanding of the relations of Christ to God, of the Son to the Father, has some underlying basis back in Genesis 1 & 2. The relationship of Christ to God may by analogy have some connection to the relationship of man and woman as given in Genesis 1 & 2. My initial thoughts were that this connection may be via the concept of “the image of God” for the purpose of an image is to show you something about the one or the thing imaged. That is, if we understand man and woman correctly as outlined by Paul as he explains Genesis 1 & 2, then we might have a better and clearer understanding of God. As we understand Genesis in the way that Paul does “man is the image ….of God” then we may have a clearer understanding of God. In 1 Corinthians 11:7 Paul is clearly teaching us how we are to understand “the image of God” from Genesis 1 & 2. [As a connected aside, there is a debate within the larger Complementarian Egalitarian debate around 1 Cor 11:3 and the head of Christ is God, as to whether we can understand the relationship of man and woman in light of the relationship of Christ to God, of the Son to the Father. I wish to suggest that 1 Cor 11:3 with 11:7-12 (and as I argue in my Genesis articles) actually turns this argument on its head. That is, it is actually the correct understanding of man and woman as outlined by Paul, as given in Genesis 1 & 2, that has underpinned Paul’s understanding of the relationship of Christ to God. It is man who is the image of God. It is as we understand man aright that we will see God. If we misunderstand man, and man and woman, then it is likely that this will lead us to misunderstand God. We will misunderstand how Christ relates to God His Father.]
So, as I approach Genesis 1 & 2, in light of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 my previous understandings of what it is saying, is being challenged by what Paul says that man “is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man”.
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