Biblical understandings of human gender: Part Five: Grudem on Adam and Eve ii

In a previous post I dealt with Grudem’s first three reasons for claiming that we can see male headship in Scripture “before the fall”.

His fourth reason: “The naming of the human race” seems to me disingenuous. He claims that God names humanity “man” in Gen 5:1-2. This claim depends on arguing that ‘adam is not a gender neutral term. That claim depends on citing a selection of verses from the early chapters of Genesis, where ‘adam functions often as a proper name Adam (human), corresponding to his partner’s name Eve (life). One cannot argue from this (usually) quite distinct usage to claim that ‘adam where it is not a name is not a gender neutral term. Indeed quite the opposite, the way the Hebrew and Greek languages are used in Scripture shows that gendered terms like ‘ish & adelphos in the plural at least can and do act as gender neutral terms! 1 Incidentally in his footnote 20 he cites BDB to claim that ‘adam has four senses. When I looked it seemed that his meaning 3 “a man in distinction from a woman” is simply not present in BDB, which does not seem to support his ideas. 

I don’t plan to address the other arguments from his ten as they seem to me either to place too much weight on some idea which might or might not be present in the text but which is not expressed there, or to depend on reading back into Genesis elements of later theology (risking a circular argument).

So, in summary I am not convinced by Grudem that we should understand Gen 1-3 as teaching before the fall the submission of one gender to another or the authority of one over the other.

Therefore my conclusion from examining these chapters is that:

  • humans are created male and female equally in the image of God
  • humans are created for partnership in difference (but there seems before the fall to be no suggestion of a difference in authority or a hierarchy between the genders in God’s creative design)
  • as a consequence of the fall women may be “ruled” by their men.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Incidentally in his footnote 20 he cites BDB to claim that ‘adam has four senses. When I looked it seemed that his meaning 3 “a man in distinction from a woman” is simply not present in BDB, which does not seem to support his ideas.