The comments on the blog Can a wife’s authority be overruled? are very interesting to me and the timing is providential as I have been meditating along the lines of some points by NN and Susanna Krizo. Here are some quotes from the comment section (which is well worth the read IMO) and my questions and reflections which I added to the discussion (very late by blogging standards)…
NN said: Most commonly used in literary works by the ancient historians to describe military action. As time went on the word became much more widely adopted, used by Greek playwrights and considerably even in common writing. For instance, one common non military specialized usage was in document preparation to denote attachments & submissions. (E.g. “we submit the attached note for your inspection”, or “see appended note”).
I recall reading that the word hupotasso was commonly used in the postal system with the meaning, “stick (to)”, “attach”. Can you (or someone) point to the original source of that information as I would like to have an accurate citation (for an article)?
NN said (in comment 20):
Paul makes a point of “hupotassoe” when speaking to the wife (and a point of agapao when talking to the husband) indicating distinction between the two.
And on the possible meanings of “hupotassoe,” it should be pointed out that this is the word used in Luke 10 to describe the subjection of devils to the commands of the apostles. I think this could hardly be couched as a friendly exchange of suggestions.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert in Greek, but I did take hermeneutics in seminary and learn how to use Word Study Tools for exegesis.
If you will go to these links at BLB: Luke 10:17-20 and Eph 5:24 and scroll down, you will see that the form of hupotasso is exactly the same in Luke 17, 20, and Ephesians 5:24. ὑποτάσσεται=hupotassetai.
If you scroll down further, you will see the parsing of the verb under “Tense” and all three cases are identified as the PASSIVE voice. I also checked the interlinear at: www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/Greek_Index.htm
They all identify these instances of “subjection” as passive voice where the subject receives the action without volition/will on the part of the subject.
Though on the surface it’s a shocking parallel, I think your example of the submission of the devils to the apostles actually provides a great deal of insight as to the nature of the submission of wife to husband. Do the devils have any will in their submission? Do they choose their submission? Can they decide not to submit? No, they are in subjection without any volition/will on their part. Their subjection is not a “command” that they must “obey”; their subjection their state of being, which they cannot resist even if they wanted to.
Likewise, the submission/subjection of the wife in Ephesians 5 as well as in 1 Peter 3 is stated with verbs using the passive voice. This suggests that a wife’s submission/subjection is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Its not a COMMAND, its her state of being which she cannot resist even if she wanted to.
I suggest that the passive voice of hupotasso is evidence that biblical teaching about wifely subjection is not a command to women. Commands are in the imperative. (eg. verse 25 directed to HUSBANDS is in the imperative love-agapete) . Rather this submission is a state of being and a response. Much like a garden passively receives watering, nourishing, cherishing,. The garden is SUBJECT TO the gardener. If tending, nourishing, cherishing, is neglected, the garden wilts and dies.
I suggest that the statement in Ephesians 5:24 should not make wives sweat at all. Rather, husbands should be sweating. She has no power nor control to resist. When she marries, her husband holds her heart in his hands. Will he be harsh and trample her under his feet? crushing her spirit? or will he be like Christ and minister LIFE?
The way I am seeing this passive voice of submission in marriage is reflected by this quote from the movie Fireproof:
A woman is like a rose.
If you treat her right she blooms.
If you treat her wrong she wilts.
In this way, a wife is subject to her husband as the church is subject to Christ.
But Christ ministers LIFE, while a husband is capable of ministering a great deal of death.
And a husband has a particular power and influence upon a wife that may not go “vice versa” because she is uniquely “subject to” (being harmed by?) him moreso than he to her. John Gottman observed this in his marriage laboratory (see quote below). This view also makes sense of the instruction to wives that they need to PHOBEO their husbands (Eph 5:33).
Susanna Krizo mentioned this passive state of submission/cooperation of women in comment 184:
Women tend to smile more than men, and often their smile is taken for approval, whereas it is often just part of their nature as co-operative beings (women tend to be more co-operative, especially during the childbearing years due to large amount of estrogen. This does not mean that men are less co-operative, but some studies have shown that testosterone makes men more hierarchical, and dominating in relationships)
and John Gottman has observed and reported this from his laboratory research
This observation led me to formulate the hypothesis that marriages work to the extent that men accept influence from, share power with women. Next I applied this to a longitudinal study of 130 nonviolent newlywed couples and found that, amazingly, those in which the men who did not accept influence from their wives wound up divorced. The prediction rate was very good, 80% accuracy, and it did not work the other way around: Most wives accepted influence from their husbands, and the acceptance predicted nothing. [from Gottman “The Marriage Clinic”]
I am intrigued by your research and insights on hupotasso, and by your new book.
The reason I asked NN for a source for the use of hupotasso in the postal system with the meaning, “stick (to)”, “attach” is that I have noticed a thread of “attachment” like glue :) in the teaching to BOTH husbands and wives (a head and body are quite “attached”)
From Perseus, here are some definitions of the relevant words:
post in the shelter of
underlie, to be implied in or associated with
Col 3:18 anako
be connected with
Eph 5:31 cleave see also http://scripturetext.com/ephesians/5-31.htm
glue on or to
to be stuck to, stick or cleave to
The latter is in the “leave and cleave” instruction. I am intrigued that “LEAVE” is in the ACTIVE voice “The active voice represents the subject as the doer or performer of the action” while cleave is in the PASSIVE voice ( as is hupotasso in Ephesians 5).
Though CLEAVE-ing is in the passive voice- implying that they cannot resist even if they wanted to- it sounds conditional upon active “LEAVE-ing which I take not as mere geographical departure from parents, but as a 1 Peter 1:18 forsaking of the “futile ways of the forefathers”/”vain conduct received by tradition from your fathers”.
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