Subordination and headship: A case study in Lutheran hermeneutics

Tanya Wittwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hebrew Scriptures / Old Testament The Hebrew Scriptures 'take for granted the idea that a patriarchal society-where men are the visible authority structure-is how life is.'12 However the creation accounts, particularly as seen through the lens of the New Testament theme of reconciliation (to which we will return), may be considered foundational when examining the relationship between men and women. [...]Paul's understanding of mutuality in marriage includes that a wife has as much claim on her husband's body as he does on hers, and choice regarding whether or not to marry once widowed.58 Lynn Cohlck claims that in the Epistles: 'Paul critiques his culture's patriarchal worldview because it does not support or reflect the gospel message of new life in Christ, of forgiveness of sins and fullness of life through the Holy Spirit. Because of his great love, God, in Christ, renews and restores all creation, including humanity. Examining head-body rhetoric in antiquity reveals that the head is considered the most important part of the body and protection of the head was vital for the well-being of the whole. [...]to protect the head (e.g. the general of an army, the emperor of the nation), members of the body were willing to sacrifice themselves and it was also the duty of the head to ensure its own safety. [...]both married partners take their identity as members of Christ's body, to whom they are united through his love.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-38
Number of pages17
JournalLutheran Theological Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Theology
  • Lutheran Church
  • Family violence
  • Sex discrimination against women
  • Man-woman relationships
  • Hermeneutics
  • Divorce


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