Does ὑποτασσω mean ‘respect’ in Ephesians 5?

And now we at BBB get our chance to weigh in on the translation question which is related to that exchange:

Does the Greek word ὑποτασσω in Ephesians 5:21–and assumed by almost all Bible translators to be implied in the next verse–mean ‘respect’ or something else?

Last night Bachmann did not quote from Ephesians 5 as she did in 2006. Instead she said that submission means ‘respect’ within her marriage to Marcus Bachmann.

Will Bachmann’s definition of submission be satisfactory to those who emphasize wives submitting to their husbands today? Does it bring home the bacon (a lot of hogs are raised in Iowa) for you, as you understand the meaning of ὑποτασσω?

No comments on this post will be automatically moderated. You may address the meaning of the Greek word ὑποτασσω. Feel free also to address any other gender questions in Bible translation, even if they don’t necessarily directly relate to the translation of ὑποτασσω. You will be allowed to discuss openly and freely without censorship or moderation of your comments.

Unlike in the recent BBB prohibition on discussion of gender on the WELS post on the NIV2011, there will be no unequal treatment of women who comment here at BBBB. Gender issues in Bible translation may be discussed on BBBB whether you are a man, a woman, a commenter, or one of the ones who posts the blog posts. Gender is a topic critical to current English Bible translation and must be discussed. The boundaries on how we discuss it and what is discussed at any one time are open and emphasize candor and freedom of speech, so that comments can be made on-topic or off-topic for each post. You decide what’s on topic or off.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Does ὑποτασσω mean ‘respect’ in Ephesians 5?

  1. Here’s the so-far moderated comment I left at BBB in reply to Mike Sangrey’s unmoderated comment there:

    the activity of ὑποτασσω must be able to be doable in both directions of a relationship.

    But Wayne Grudem suggests something different:

    “[E]vangelical feminists take another illegitimate step in Bible interpretation when they change the meaning of the word hupotasso (“submit to,” “be subject to”), giving it a meaning that it nowhere requires, something like “be thoughtful and considerate; act in love” (toward another), without any sense of obedience to an authority. This is not a legitimate meaning for the term, which always implies a relationship of submission to an authority. It is used elsewhere in the New Testament of the submission of Jesus to the authority of His parents (Luke 2:51); of demons being subject to the disciples (Luke 10:17—clearly the meaning “act in love, be considerate” cannot fit here); of citizens being subject to governing authorities (Romans 13:1, 5; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13); of the universe being subject to Christ (1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22); of unseen spiritual powers being subject to Christ (1 Peter 3:22); of Christ being subject to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28); of church members being subject to church leaders (1 Corinthians 16:15-16 [with 1 Clement 42:4]; 1 Peter 5:5); of wives being subject to their husbands (Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:5; cf. Ephesians 5:22-24); of the church being subject to Christ (Ephesians 5:24); of servants being subject to their masters (Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18); and of Christians being subject to God (Hebrews 12:9; James 4:7).”

    See http://bible.org/seriespage/wives-sarah-and-husbands-who-honor-them-1-peter-31-7

  2. I like to take hupotassw and allelos at face value and not try to tweak them to fit either a complementarian or egalitarian viewpoint. I don’t want to sound sanctimonious about this, but I think that sometimes we would do better to seek a biblical viewpoint rather than a systematized theological viewpoint.
    – Wayne

    I don’t have any difficulty understanding that the author of this epistle thought of marriage as a hierarchical arrangement in the same class as slavery. And slavery is an especially important metaphor for Christ’s service on earth. That does not mean that we should perpetuate slavery. I would try not to promote slavery, no matter what society I lived in.
    – Suzanne

    When Michelle and Marcos Bachmann interpret hypo-tasso in a way that may affect a whole nation and even the world, then what Paul wrote and how those in Ephesus read it and what is biblical and what is Christian in a paradoxical way really is irrelevant. Wayne Grudem, in the article I linked to, uses the word “today” 15 times. There’s a contemporary construct from the NT, one of power, woman under man, wife ordered below husband, that systematizes a theology of consequence. Grudem won’t allow mutuality the way Bachmann, when pressed in public, will. But neither Grudem nor Bachman want to give up on the unmutual and contemporary hierarchy of man on top, woman below.

  3. John says:

    “Suzanne,

    But there is no necessary contradiction between 5:21 and following, The passages you cite demonstrate that.

    There is no need to assert that 5:21 and following are in contradiction. No one in the Greek-speaking ancient church understood the passage along the lines you do. On what grounds do you set aside the historical interpretation?”

    In fact, Suzanne agrees with Willis Barnstone, who in his Restored New Testament is so convinced of the contradiction Suzanne sees that Willis asserts that Paul must not have written it! See page 897.

    Can we please let Suzanne and Carolyn Osiek speak for themselves here please? (The latter endorses a number of different hermeneutics in “The Feminist and the Bible : Hermeneutical Alternatives” and does not endorse “love patriarchy” not even in “Jesus and Cultural Values : Family Life as an Example” or “Jesus and Cultural Values : Family Life as an Example”

    And if any would like to see how Willis Barnstone, Richmond Lattimore, and Ann Nyland have translated this word in this context, I’ve posted that here:

    http://speakeristic.blogspot.com/2011/08/classics-greek-scholars-translate.html

  4. Kurk,
    Thank you for stating your objections clearly. They belong to the realm of politics and ideology; I already knew that you are fiercely anti-complementarian. In fact, you are a fierce critic of the Bible wherever it does not conform to what you believe is acceptable in terms of a “feminist subject.” (I am confident that I am not misrepresenting your position, but if I am, please say so.) So I am not surprised that you also take offense at believers like Grudem and the Bachmanns. However, your commitment to reader-orientated interpretation means that they are just as entitled to their interpretation of the Bible as you are to yours.

    Really? Is nobody here at BBB monitoring this? I believe this comment you all allowed violates every single one of your commenting guidelines:

    1. Support claims with evidence.

    I already knew that you are fiercely anti-complementarian. In fact, you are a fierce critic of the Bible wherever it does not conform to what you believe is acceptable in terms of a “feminist subject.” (I am confident that I am not misrepresenting your position, but if I am, please say so.) … you also take offense at believers …

    What claims! And no effort whatsoever to support them with even a shred of evidence!

    2. Do not question anyone’s intelligence, spirituality or motives; NO PERSONAL ATTACKS!

    you are fiercely anti-complementarian

    you are a fierce critic of the Bible wherever it does not conform to what you believe is acceptable

    you also take offense at believers

    they are just as entitled to their interpretation of the Bible as you are to yours.

    What attacks these are! Using the logical fallacies of ad hominem and of begging the question helps no one, not the attacker himself here either!

    3. Do not tell someone what they believe. Instead, ask them.

    your objections … belong to the realm of politics and ideology …

    (I am confident that I am not misrepresenting your position, but if I am, please say so.)

    Would that he would just ask me instead of tell me!

    See the examples from 1. and from 2. above.

    4. Avoid sarcasm.

    Thank you for stating your objections clearly. They belong to the realm of politics and ideology;

    Sarcastic right from the start!

    5. Comments should be concise and relate directly to post content.

    Neither concise nor, I must say, even remotely related to post content.

    Dear BBB moderator(s),
    Do you really want me to respond here? Will you now allow me to do so?

  5. I like to take hupotassw and allelos at face value and not try to tweak them to fit either a complementarian or egalitarian viewpoint. I don’t want to sound sanctimonious about this, but I think that sometimes we would do better to seek a biblical viewpoint rather than a systematized theological viewpoint.
    – Wayne

    I don’t have any difficulty understanding that the author of this epistle thought of marriage as a hierarchical arrangement in the same class as slavery. And slavery is an especially important metaphor for Christ’s service on earth. That does not mean that we should perpetuate slavery. I would try not to promote slavery, no matter what society I lived in.
    – Suzanne

    I like what Wayne and Suzanne say here.

    Wayne Grudem won’t allow mutuality the way Bachmann, when pressed in public, will. But neither Grudem nor the Bachmanns want to give up on the unmutual and contemporary hierarchy of man on top, woman below.

    Mr. Grudem says this in the essay I linked to above: “We would then say that there is ‘mutual submission’ in some senses in marriage, but not in all senses, because the wife still has to submit to her husband’s authority and leadership in a way that the husband does not have to — indeed, should not— submit to his wife’s authority or leadership.

    Ms. Bachmann said the following in 2011 and before in 2006, as per Wayne Leman’s quotation pasted above: “What submission means to us, it means respect… We respect each other;” / “But the Lord said, ‘Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.’”

    I do not take offense at what either Mr. Grudem or what Ms. Bachmann have said. I do not like it, however. I do not believe it’s what Wayne Leman calls “biblical.”

    So, that’s the record. Why are BBB moderators allowing John F. Hobbins to come over here to their blog and break all of their posting guideline rules?

  6. Sue

    Why are BBB moderators allowing John F. Hobbins to come over here to their blog and break all of their posting guideline rules?

    That’s a very good question, and one that I cannot answer. That is why I left the BBB several years ago. You would think that it would take less than three years to send someone an email asking them to abide by the guidelines.

  7. Sue

    I don’t see why the BBB can’t ask for mutual respect among commenters. I don’t post nasty things about John Hobbins on my blog, and he should be asked not to post nasty things about me on his blog.

    But mutuality is not made a criteria for participation. It is a matter of who gets there first and who gets to write and post comments the fastest. That person gets their views aired in public and the person who comes second never gets to see her comments in rebuttal posted. That’s how it looks from my end. It was like that on complegalitarian where hurtful comments were made about my parents. and things haven’t changed since.

  8. Sue,
    Thank you for feeling free to leave candid comments here. Also feel free, as you wish, to get me to delete any posted comments that you no longer wish to appear in public. You’ve done that at my blog Aristotle’s Feminist Subject.

    I’m saying that here too for the benefit of anybody else who chooses to post a comment here. One of the BBB moderators did kindly comment here and then did promptly, in the same comment, request that I delete it once I read it. And so I did.

    Some of the issues that this BBB moderator brought up are worth revisiting here now:

    1. Some of the BBB moderators feel hurt when we think they are intentional in their failure to monitor by their own guidelines.
    2. The BBB moderators would first prefer private emails to public types of forums including this one. An appeal to “how Jesus taught us to resolve our differences” and a request to explain if there’s a different understanding about Jesus’s teachings on resolving differences specifically was made. Public forums can seem “gossipy” is another reason for the private emailing preference.
    3. There have been several deletions and modifications to the BBB comments of yesterday, to get back to the comment posting guidelines of BBB posted publicly.

    I believe that’s a fair summary of the concerns noted in the comment made by the BBB moderator, a comment which I’ve now deleted at his request. I believe he was wishing quickly to communicate directly but that he also wishes for some anonymity and for no gossip!

    I would like to respond quickly here to the three concerns.

    1. My main difficulty with BBB is how censorship is carried out. Some commenters are given voice while others are not. I’m not judging motives of the individual moderators or the moderator collective either. I am extremely curious about whether they’re all being male has anything to do with the patterns of the censorship practices. How “gender” is often off limits does seem odd to me; more, what seems peculiar is how gendered the censorship practices have been. I had the sense that John F. Hobbins was allowed to attack me personally because he seemed to make fun of my perspectives by putting in scare quotes “feminist subject” in a comment directed at me. But more importantly is how John and other male commenters are allowed at BBB to make statements about gender while you are not allowed to reply. And the statements can be directed at you too. I’m not trying to hurt Wayne or Mike or Peter, or Dannii or David Ker or David Frank or Iver or Rich. I am trying to call attention to the bullying and to the uneven gendered patterns of censorship as well. I am extremely happy to see BBB moderators come to reason, to make some good changes, to appeal to their own hurt, and to request we look at the advice and the ethics of Jesus.

    Now, with this blog, I’m not intending personally to hurt any of the BBB bloggers. On the contrary, it’s my hope that this BBBB blog can relieve the BBB bloggers of having to monitor. Anybody is welcome to comment how they please. I will only delete comments at the request of the commenter.

    2. I’d advise anyone wanting not to be censored by BBB to email the BBB moderators. Generally, they are reasonable. I’d recommend emailing individually first, since they do not always agree with one another. My own experience with lots of email with them is that they will be much slower to respond when it’s email with more than one. Speed of response sometimes really is the issue.

    Well, yes. Avoid gossip. And try to follow what you think is good advice, even wise teaching from Jesus, who engaged in many private conversations (some as noted in the public gospels).

    3. I’m thankful that the conversation is continuing today at BBB now, with the bullying and ugliness of yesterday deleted.

  9. Here is a CNN update report on Michele Bachmann’s statements in the debate. Some interesting quotations of support for the way she answered the question, “As president, would you be submissive to your husband?”

    “She answered it the most appropriate way in the context it was being asked. She was being asked a deeply theological question in front of millions of Americans,” said Gary Marx, the executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

    “Whatever someone thinks Paul means of submission of wives to husbands … it doesn’t leave any room for exploitation,” said David Matthewson, an associate professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. “I would say her response was very consistent with the text [of Ephesians 5].”

    “The English word ‘submit’ is as good a translation as any without using a bunch of words. The problem, though, is the word ‘submit’ in English carries connotations for most readers that may not have been there in the Greek,” Mathewson said. “In English, we think of forced submission or exploiting. … I don’t think that’s in the Ephesians passage.”

    Notice how the question of whether there’s a reciprocal arrangement is an avoided question. Will Marcus Bachmann be submissive to his wife, or need to be, in light of Paul’s Greek words or their best English translation?

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/12/bachmann-faces-theological-question-about-submissive-wives-at-debate/

  10. I am sorry that I have not commented on this thread. Because of the blatant uneveness of moderation (only enforcing the restriction on “gender comments” against female commenters, permitting personal insults against female commenters) I have decided, for the time being, at least, to no longer read BBB.

    It appears from what little I have read in this (BBBB) thread, that things at BBB are getting worse, not better. Clearly, the moderators at BBB are perfectly willing to allow bullying by paleo-conservatives.

  11. Sue

    I have now put the Better Bibles Blog and Ancient Hebrew Poetry on my blocksite list.