In thinking about and reading the first few chapters of Genesis, in conjunction with 1 Cor. 15, I found myself surprised that we are “living beings” just like the animals. And yet we are to rule the animals. If, as some argue, naming the animals indicates dominion over them, and Adam names Eve, then does he have dominion over her? Is the relationship somehow comparable? Same but different? Does a man have dominion over his wife in the same way that people have dominion over animals?
I have to leave that for a bit and think again about Adam – this time as “head” of the human race. Does this make him ruler of mankind? Does Adam, the head of mankind, function as ruler of all his descendants?
Or are all Adam’s descendants of the same flesh as him? Eve is certainly of the same flesh as Adam. She is from him, of the same species, and this is the basis for marriage, that the man and woman are of the same flesh, and become one flesh. They are not one single body, but they are in kinship, together they are of the same species.
So Adam and Eve have a kinship that they do not share with the animals. Adam recognizes Eve as being in kinship with him, having likeness with him. Together they have dominion over the animals whom they do not have kinship with. Nonetheless, animals are “living souls” and part of God’s creation, but Adam is not the head of the animals, they do not share his flesh. They are not of him.
Adam, with Eve, is the ruler of the animals but not their head. He is the head of Eve but not her ruler. Until the curse, that is, then kinship is broken. If people do all the things that people do, and we know that the possible transgressions of one spouse against another are many, then one person may to try to rule the other, to create a false kinship, a domination.
Here is a passage from Cyril of Alexandria (died AD 444), De Recte Fide ad Pulch. 2.3, 268. He is struggling with describing how Christ is the head of man. He concludes that it means that Christ became human and took on kinship with man.
In this passage the Greek word ἀρχή is translated two different ways. In this first version it is translated as “source” and in the second, it is translated as “ruler”. Which of these two versions makes sense? Then I will tell you who translated them. You are welcome to put your guesses in the comment section. Maybe it is obvious.
- Therefore of our race he become first head, which is source, and was of the earth and earthy. Since Christ was named the second Adam, he has been placed as head, which is source, of those who through him have been formed anew unto him unto immortality through sanctification in the spirit. Therefore he himself our source, which is head, has appeared as a human being: indeed, he, being by nature God, has a head, the Father in heaven. For, being by nature God the Word, he has been begotten from Him. Because head means source, He established the truth for those who are wavering in their mind that man is the head of woman, for she was taken out of him. Therefore one Christ and Son and Lord, the one having as head the Father in heaven, being God by nature, became for us a “head” accordingly because of his kinship according to the flesh.
The one of the earth and dust has become to us the first head of the race, that is ruler: but since the second Adam has been named Christ, he was placed as head, that is ruler of those who through him are being transformed unto him into incorruption through sanctification by the Spirit. Therefore he on the one hand is our ruler, that is head, in so far as he has appeared as a man; indeed, he, being by nature God, has a head, the Father in heaven. For, being by nature God the Word, he has been begotten from Him. But that the head signifies the ruler, the fact that the husband is said to be the head of the wife confirms the sense for the truth of doubters: for she has been taken from him. Therefore one Christ and Son and Lord, the one having as head the Father in heaven, being God by nature, became for us a “head” accordingly because of his kinship according to the flesh.
My sense is that God is always our ruler. But only through Christ becoming human, did God, in Christ become our head, or the head of the human race. That is, “head” means to have kinship with, rather than to rule. We rule animals, but are not their head, God rules us but is not our head. God is the head of Christ because Christ is of the same substance as God. And woman is of the same substance as man. But only by Christ becoming human, could humans be of the same substance as Christ. To bridge the gulf between God and humans, Christ became human and thus our “head”. This is how we can take on immortality ourselves, through Christ becoming our head.
This interpretation requires two things. First, I understand that “flesh” means “species” or “kind in Gen. and in 1 Cor. 15. Next, it is possible that there is little difference much of the time in the scriptures between ἀνηρ and ἀνθρωπος. Adam was the former head of mankind, the human race, and now Christ is the new head of the human race. It finally dawned on me how infrequently man, the male, and man, the human, are really distinguished in the Bible by a strict lexicography. Not so much. Christ is the new head of humanity, the true second Adam. He humbles himself and takes on a human form and human mortality. This is how he becomes our head. This is “headship.”