A Listener’s Response to Jim Hamilton (Part 1)

In episodes 85 and 86 I interviewed egalitarian Dr. Philip Payne, and found his case somewhat compelling. Recently I interviewed Dr. Jim Hamilton in episodes 96 and 97 for his complementarian response to Dr. Payne, which I also found compelling. While I lean toward complementarianism at this point, I find myself impressed by the case made by scholarly proponents of each position, and I don’t believe egalitarianism—at least of the sort promoted by Dr. Payne—can be as easily dismissed as I once thought.

I am reaching out to notable egalitarians asking if I may interview them for their response to Hamilton, or if they’re interested in a debate. In the meantime, listener Allison has written a review of part 1 of the Hamilton interview, which you can find here. With her permission, I’m reproducing it in its entirety below. Discuss!

A Response to the Egalitarianism of Dr. Payne?

Recently, I have been asked to share my thoughts on Dr. Hamilton’s response to the egalitarianism of Dr. Philip Payne. Initially, I had thought this would mean his Egalitarianism was being critiqued, but have recently discovered from listening to the interview that a good portion of it is more subjectively oriented than anticipated. The first thirty minutes of the first interview contained personal stories and outlooks and so I will move towards the next portion, which was a thirteen-minute critique, not of Payne’s argument, but his delivery.

Poor Delivery of Arguments: Footnotes and Charged Rhetoric?

Much time—perhaps too much—was allotted for discussing part of one or two footnotes concerning the censorship of Cervin’s response to Grudem, some of Payne’s complaints about being misrepresented with Kostenberger, and charged rhetoric mainly in the conclusion of his book. The impression given by the discussion was that Payne was reporting something untrue, since “fair-minded and godly men” would never use their power to silence their opponents and that Payne was using unfair tactics in order to gain an advantage for his argument.

It must be noted that the claims made by Payne were not essential to his case, nor were they offered up as evidence (except in one instance where a scholar himself clears up a circulated misquote). They rightly belonged in the footnotes, one of which was buried under other material and only the diligent observer would notice.

It is curious that so much time and attention was devoted to these by the host and guest speaker.

If one wishes to avoid my response to Hamilton’s rhetoric or anything about his critique of Payne’s character, I recommend going to the end of this page where I discuss the part of Hamilton’s response that did cover one of Payne’s main arguments.

Still, is the implication (not Payne’s words) that godly men were using their power to silence opposition unique? Is Payne the only one noticing these distasteful occurrences?  Unfortunately, he is not. These kinds of occurrences are all too common. For example, Hamilton spoke of the great unity of thought that prevailed on his campus. Well, this unity of thought came at a price. President Mohler made one’s position on gender the requirement for hiring, and often for keeping one’s job, instead of merely an affirmation of inerrancy (Evangelical Christian Women by Julie Ingersoll). Wayne Grudem reports discrimination against a Complementarian teacher who lectured at Fuller and was met with a barrage of protests from students for teaching his view on gender, some claiming he should not be allowed to teach. The Dean acknowledged his right to teach his position, but required the professor to apologize and did not offer any apology himself for the slander that was going around campus (Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth by Wayne Grudem pp503-504). It is also frequently the case that Egalitarian articles are not accepted in certain publications when Complementarian ones are as was the case when Kostenberger was the editor. Is it because these articles are not scholarly enough? It is strange that many of the rejected Egalitarian articles were picked up by more prestigious journals later.

Payne was accused of having emotionally charged rhetoric, actual and inferred. What words are these? Words such as “exclude” and “discriminate.” I fail to see how any of these words are that emotionally charged or used to such an extent as to hinder people from fairly analyzing the arguments he makes in his book or interview. Is this a rhetorical crime? It turns out that Hamilton himself believes the terms do apply, it’s just that if the Bible teaches this then Complementarians would not be discriminating or excluding “in the negative kind of way Payne is implying.” What is the problem then? If it is merely that Hamilton’s opponents do not see this positively, then there is not much anyone can do to appease him short of becoming a Complementarian.

A term that was emotionally charged was actually offered by Hamilton himself by inference. Hamilton says that the implication of what Payne says is that Complementarians are “bigots.” It may be that Hamilton does not like the implications of the Egalitarian system, but frankly Egalitarians don’t like the implications of the Complementarian system. Egalitarians don’t like being called rebels against the created order or sometimes being labeled as liberals. Egalitarians also often believe they have true “complementarity” when the Complementarian claims they don’t.  Such is life. In any case, this is all Hamilton’s rhetoric, not Payne’s.

Overall, this whole part of the interview served as a poor critique of Payne’s character rather than his arguments, which should have gotten more attention, especially from the beginning.

How did Payne Misrepresent Complementarianism?

The actual content of Payne’s book covers the exegesis of key Complementarian passages and specifically targets Complementarian exegesis, and given the page limit set by the publisher, does not try to counter other views some Complementarians find important (more than 1/2 of Payne’s book had to be cut already). Hamilton’s argument using the relationship within the Trinity does not address what Payne’s book sets out to address. If one wishes to know more about the Trinity then Millard Erickson’s Who’s Tampering with the Trinity is a great book to read.  Payne focuses on the exegesis of passages such as 1 Timothy 2 or 1 Corinthians 14. He specifically selects works that are more directly related to male and female relationships and does not deal with words such as “ontology” which are not part of the Biblical vocabulary and other authors have already written on the topic.

Both Chris and Hamilton took issue with how Payne defined equality since it seemed to rule out the way Complementarians define it. This is actually a common difference and misunderstanding between Egalitarians and Complementarians. Although both believe in equality in personhood, the Complementarian believes a difference in roles (which includes who gets to be the servant leader and who has an essentially submissive role) is compatible with the equality of personhood. Egalitarians have long argued (not assumed) that this hierarchy is antithetical to the equality taught in Scripture. One should not expect an opponent to grant what is in contention in the first place.

The examples Hamilton and Chris provided concerning the “difference in role” exposed a lack of understanding of the debate. Where Egalitarians differ from Complementarians is not the difference in leadership between a dean and teacher or just different car models. Ironically, such analogies could easily be applied (and similar ones have) towards arguing for the subservience of certain races on the basis of a difference in roles or the idea that certain races were simply designed for certain tasks. This is most certainly not what Chris intends, but this is what the analogies allow for and similar ones have historically been used for. This is probably why many Complementarians would not offer up differ car models as a key analogy, but admit that women may also have gifts that are compatible with pastoral roles–they must simply apply these gifts in ways God ordains.

The provided analogies also do not get to the heart of what Egalitarian’s are against since most would agree that there is nothing inherently unequal in the relationships (or car models) described. A more proper analogy that Egalitarians would accept would be a king who is king by birth as opposed to a servant who is a servant by birth since it is not mere difference in position that the Egalitarian takes issue with, but the nature of these differences and what they necessarily entail.

All of this is not to say the Egalitarian is correct but merely that believing one has a true definition of equality does not guarantee that anyone saying otherwise is misrepresenting one’s view if it does not grant that definition.

Hamilton was also incorrect to represent Complementarianism as the view that holds that the differences in role are merely functional. This is true of some, but many key Complementarians believe the hierarchical difference in gender is based in ontology of gender (rather than personhood). This is what prominent Complementarian George Knight III believes and, is candidly expressed by Steven Cowen, “…I will grant (and I think most other complementarians will grant) that woman’s subordination is ontological, being grounded in women’s femaleness” (“The Metaphysics of Subordination: A Response to Rebecca Merrill Groothuis,” Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood 14, no. 1 (Spring 2009), 45).


The last part of the first interview finally addressed part of Payne’s argument that 1 Cor 14: 34-35 was a later addition. Payne is not alone in claiming this since most who have published a text critical analysis of this passage agree with him (Payne offers an extensive list of scholars on footnote 39 of pages 226-227 of Man and Woman One in Christ). Despite Hamilton’s claim that Payne has argued nothing that has not been argued before, Payne’s book has indeed made many original and significant contributions that further the ongoing debate among Evangelicals.

Payne is a text-critical scholar. This is a highly specialized and less common vocation. These guys don’t only just know the original language, they can identify different styles of this writing from different time periods and tell you what kind of ink was used. They analyze the old copies themselves and compare them with other copies. The work of these text-critical scholars has made us confident that the New Testament has been reliably copied and passed on. They do the hard work of confirming our New Testament and making sure we do not accept as Scripture what is not Scripture (like handling snakes as a test of faith which is bracketed in Mark 16).

One of Payne’s Unique Contributions

How has Payne contributed uniquely through his area of study? Here is just one of these major contributions as I understand it: Most text-critical scholars publishing on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 have already said it was added later (the reasons are similar to other passages we know are added later). Payne found even more evidence. He found a special marker (“distigme-obelos” which is two dots and a long bar) marking the point where everyone else knows there are additions in the oldest surviving Greek Bible (Codex Vaticanus B). Every time this mark has appeared it has told us there is a multi-word block of text that was added later and is not original. The added text marked by these symbols has already been put in brackets by our English Bibles, but we now have 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 to consider as well.

Payne’s original research also provides evidence that these markers date to the original production of Codex Vaticanus. As was mentioned previously, color ink is very important. In this situation apricot colored ink is the earlier one and dark chocolate is later (the dark chocolate was the later period Hamilton was talking about). It was common for scribes in the Middle Ages to trace over fading manuscripts and this is what happened with this document. Chocolate colored ink was used to trace over the original apricot colored ink. Payne and Paul Canart, the senior paleographer at the Vatican, found the special markers (in the case of 1 Cor 14:34-35 a distigme-obelos) that match the apricot color from the original ink used for Vaticanus. Their findings are widely recognized and they are published in the most important collection of essays about Codex Vaticanus B ever published (Le manuscrit B de la Bible Lausanne: Zèbre, 2009, 199-226).

Critiques…and More on Payne’s Character

What does Hamilton say about the contextual and manuscript evidence all pointing to a later addition? Hamilton, who acknowledges he is not a text-critical scholar, goes against what is widely accepted by critical scholars. He even claims, “There is universal attestation to these verses being in Paul’s original Letter to the Corinthians.” He claims that Payne is “desperate” and is “inventing imaginary manuscripts that lack these verses.” If that were true, why were his discoveries published after careful peer review in the most highly respected academic journals, including New Testament Studies and Novum Testamentum, and publications like Le manuscrit B de la Bible?

Since it is beyond the scope of this paper to go into too much textual critical detail. I will merely say, there is a reason the majority of text-critical scholars think the evidence is against seeing this passage as original. It is not as simple as Hamilton makes it out to be. Just some of those reasons are (2 mentioned by Hamilton himself): This part of text floats and appears in different locations in the text just like other later additions, the apostolic fathers seem to know nothing about vv34-35, and Clement of Alexandria in the context of citing 1 Corinthians 11 about women praying veiled refers to “woman and man…embracing silence,” the presence of lots of variant readings just like other texts added later, and Codex Fuldensis’s Text that was corrected by Bishop Victor omits the passage. Victor has had a history of getting these types of corrections right (example: 1 John 5:7-8 is also left out!) and had special access to ancient manuscripts he used to make his corrections.

Hamilton attempts to reduce Payne’s arguments to be relying on “gender bigot scribes” who want to exclude and discriminate against women. But nowhere in Payne’s book will you find exciting rhetoric such as “bigoted scribes.” The bulk of his work has to do with presenting evidence for thinking 1 Cor. 14 is later, not trying to figure out the motives of individual scribes. Anyone who has read this part of Payne’s book will immediately notice not charged rhetoric, but a methodical and highly technical discussion of the evidence for his view. Frankly, many will find it extremely dry and be lost in the details. Here is what Payne does say about the scribes:

The gloss could have even been written into the very first codex collecting Paul’s letters some time in the late first century.  Since it was common for scribes to write text in the margin that they had omitted by mistake, subsequent scribes would insert 1 Cor 14:34-35 from the margin into the body of text (Payne, 266 and he says something similar on p230).

This hardly sounds like a charge of “bigoted scribes.” In addition, it was common for scribes to put their own thoughts in the margins as well. One could have easily mistaken it as a piece of text that was accidentally left out.

Hamilton also seems to get confused with what types of markings signal what. He tells Chris that the marking Payne appeals to can just be pointing out a general issue and not that the whole text was added later. This is simply false. If it were true then this would be the only exception to the rule. It is possible that Hamilton has two similar sounding technical terms confused: the “distigme” symbol vs the “distigme-obelos” symbol. The latter is the one that indicates a multi-word addition whereas the former is the general symbol identifying the location of a textual variant. This last one is what Hamilton is confusing with the first.

Hamilton charges Payne with using words like “exclude” to describe the Complementarian position, yet he repeatedly asserts that the Bible prohibits women from teaching or having authority over men without addressing the exegetical evidence Payne gives against his interpretation (at least not in interview 1). Payne is not some rogue scholar no one listens to. For instance, beyond the wide acceptance of his text-critical argument concerning 1 Corinthians 14, the NIV 2011 revision, chaired by Complementarian Doug Moo, took his evidence concerning 1 Timothy 2:12 and changed it from “have authority” to “assume authority.” If the complementarian position does, indeed, exclude women from teaching or having authority over men in the church, why is it wrong for Payne to say this?

If complementarian editors have indeed censored articles that give exegetical defense of an egalitarian position, why is it wrong for Payne to expose the truth? Paul argues the logical association “slave and free” with “male and female.” In defense of equal treatment of Jews and Greeks in the church, Galatians 3:28 affirms, “There is no Jew/Greek division, there is no slave/free division, there is no male and female division. You are all one in Christ Jesus.” Why it is wrong for Payne to draw the same parallel he thinks Paul does? If Payne believes the Scriptures speak against something, he should say so.

Hamilton mentions “anthropos” and “aner” but does not mention how Payne has misunderstood the words. As a Greek student I have learned that the first is a general term for humanity and “aner” can be husband or man. I don’t see how Payne has made any mistake with these words or committed any fallacies. Readers will have to check out his word for themselves, but here are a few things other people had to say about Payne’s work who have approached his work as Egalitarians and Complementarians:

A massive amount of research and careful argumentation! This important contribution to the church should shape the discussion for some time to come. A really significant piece of work. –Harold Netland, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Extraordinarily invaluable, comprehensive, fair, freeing research! Finally, it all fits together! –M. L., Dallas Theological Seminary

A long time adherent to CBMW’s Danver’s Statement, I had assumed the exegetical and theological issues were settled by Grudem, Schreiner, and Köstenberger. However, exegetically, this book is the best. Its arguments for interpolation (1 Cor 14:34-35) are persuasive. It has won me over with regards to ministry roles. A fruitful and stimulating paradigm-changing challenge.–David R. Booth, Balcatta, Western Australia

Wow, I’m thoroughly enjoying the book. It’s amazing! You’ve done a wonderful service to the body of Christ. It makes the most sense to translate kephale throughout 1 Cor 11:3 ‘source.’ I love your approach to everything – start and stay with orthodoxy. –Kevin Meserschmidt, East Hampton, CT

Ironically, although Hamilton concentrates so much on Payne’s alleged charged rhetoric, he is full of all sorts of colorful words to described Payne and what he perceives to be Payne’s actions. He has described Payne’s suggestion concerning the scribes as “uncalled for,” “inappropriate” and something Payne needs to “repent of.” He has characterized this scholar as “desperate” and “inventing imaginary manuscripts” in order to make his case. None of these accusations are founded and it is very strange that it is Hamilton who is so confident in his own text-critical abilities despite admitting this is not his area of expertise. He is confident enough to explicitly strike out against Payne’s character even though Payne’s work is well received. Is Bruce Metzger (one of the leading conservative textual critical scholars) also desperate enough to be supporting  “imaginary manuscripts that lack those verses?”

I hope part two of Hamilton’s critique will spend less time going after Payne’s character and will instead give quality critiques of the bulk of Payne’s work. If one is seeking a more fair and cordial look at Payne’s book by a Complemenarian, I strongly recommend one of my favorite scholars Dr. Blomberg. Find it here: http://www.denverseminary.edu/news/man-and-woman-one-in-christ-an-exegetical-and-theological-study-of-pauls-letters/

3 thoughts on “A Listener’s Response to Jim Hamilton (Part 1)

  1. I am enjoying your blog. Just discovered it thanks to Theopologetics and Chris Date.

    I had for many years been on the fence regarding the complementarian/egalitarian debate, but in the last year or so find myself firmly planted on the egalitarian side of that fence, thanks in no small part to the likes of Payne, Keener and some helpful insight from Edward Fudge and the many publications at CBE.

    Keep on keepin’ on!

    Jonathan G.

  2. Pingback: A Listener’s Response to Jim Hamilton (Part 2) | Theopologetics

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