Eve's Higher Sphere Hopes

The Hermeneutical Refutation of the Male Headship Interpretation of Ellen White's Famous Quotation About Eve's Hope of Entering a Higher Sphere

Seventh-day Adventist male headship theorists have historically sought succor for their viewpoint from the following quotation by Ellen White:

Eve had been perfectly happy by her husband’s side in her Eden home; but, like restless Eves, she was flattered with the hope of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned her.  In attempting to rise above her original position, she fell far below it.  A similar result will be reached by all who are unwilling to take up cheerfully their life duties in accordance with God’s plan.  In their efforts to reach positions for which He has not fitted them, many are leaving vacant the place where they might be a blessing.  In their desire for a higher sphere, many have sacrificed true womanly dignity and nobility of character, and have left undone the very work that Heaven appointed them.1

Texie Henderson recites the quotation in support of her position that women are to function as homemakers rather than pastors.2

Hedwig Jemison considers the quotation that she recites twice in her paper dispositive regarding whether women should be ordained to the gospel ministry.3

Samuele Bacchiocchi also recites the quotation twice in his book as evidence for his argument that sphere assignment is based on gender and that ordination to the gospel ministry does not lie within a woman’s sphere.4  He stresses that the quotation is an explication of principles on “role relations of men and women in the church.”5

C. Raymond Holmes recites the quotation in support of his assertion that male headship and female submission describe the pre-fall relationship of Adam and Eve.6 Holmes argues that this “divine arrangement” resulted in “complete harmony” until Eve, in the above-quoted words of Ellen White, attempted to “rise above her original position.”7  Holmes claims that Eve’s attempt to “rise above her original position” was her refusal to permit Adam to function as “leader and protector,”8 a gender-based role that Eve manipulated Adam into relinquishing.9  

P. Gerard Damsteegt opines that there is a “sad parallelism between Eve and many modern women” in his commentary on the quotation.10  Upon reciting the quotation in support of his interpretation of the biblical text, he urges that “God created male and female equal, but with different roles.” 11

Laurel Damsteegt relies on Ellen White’s quotation in support of her assessment of Eve: “But she ultimately led Adam into temptation.  So Eve was a woman of influence, yet she was not head.”12

Edwin Reynolds and Clinton Wahlen give Ellen White’s quotation a prominent place in their minority report to the Theology of Ordination Study Committee in the context of their argument in favor of male headship and female submission.13

Richard Davidson disagrees with these interpretations of the quotation and claims that Eve’s attempt to “rise above her original position” was according to Ellen White an effort to become like God.14  In his substantive rebuttal that consists of a short six-sentence paragraph, he contends that Ellen White likens Eve’s attempt to become like God to an effort on the part of some women to “reach for positions for which He has not fitted them” (his quotation marks).15  Because he sees the principle expounded by Ellen White in the quotation as applying equally to men, he does not interpret her words as a criticism about female usurpation of “male headship in the home or church.”16  Although Davidson can be fairly identified as the leading hermeneutist in the Seventh-day Adventist Church today, he does not offer a hermeneutical rebuttal; he does not attempt to identify a causal link between these interpretations of the quotation he deems erroneous and any hermeneutical errors.17

John W. Peters in his reply to Davidson defends the male headship interpretation: Eve’s attempt to “rise above her position” was not an effort to become like God but a refusal to remain by her husband’s side.  Peters emphasizes key words of the quotation in his argument, as follows:  “Eve’s hope to be like God was not the “higher sphere” which she sought to enter, nor is that the higher sphere that modern Eves hope to enter.  The context suggests that modern Eves hope to enter a higher sphere by attempting to rise above their original positions, by their husband’s side [sic], in a manner congruent with the actions of the first Eve.”18  Peters’ reply indicates that Seventh-day Adventist male headship theorists in all likelihood remain united in their belief that sin in Eden occurred as a result of a role reversal occasioned by the refusal of Eve to function within her divinely-assigned sphere reserved for women.  

What further unites these biblical scholars19 is their hermeneutical approach to interpreting the quotation, as evidenced by their implicit representations that the quotation’s meaning can be discerned merely by reading the quotation’s words in the appropriate context.  And the hermeneutical unity of these biblical scholars is further manifested by their common belief that the quotation constitutes evidence about what the biblical text means.  Paragraph 4(l) of “Bible Study: Presuppositions, Principles, and Methods,” voted at Annual Council in 1986, broadly affirms their common belief, as follows: “Seventh-day Adventists believe that God inspired Ellen G. White. Therefore, her expositions on any given Bible passage offer an inspired guide to the meaning of texts without exhausting their meaning or preempting the task of exegesis (for example, see Evangelism, 256; The Great Controversy, 193, 595; Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 665, 682, 707-708; Counsels to Writers and Editors, 33-35).”20  It is fair to speculate that most Seventh-day Adventists, a large majority of whom possess no understanding of hermeneutics, would be comfortable in aligning themselves with these biblical scholars in believing that a straightforward reading of the quotation, which discusses the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, offers some insight into what that story means.

In this essay, I discuss the unknown and ignored hermeneutics necessary to one’s interpretation of the quotation and show that the above-described male headship interpretations are hermeneutically unsound.  In so doing, I demonstrate that the quotation does not constitute evidence of the meaning of the biblical text and that citation of the quotation in support of one’s interpretation of the biblical text is not only hermeneutically unsound but reflective of a hermeneutic of criticism.  By providing the necessary hermeneutical approach for interpreting the quotation that is missing in Davidson’s substantive rebuttal, my essay establishes the correctness of his claims about what Ellen White believed regarding Eve’s “hope of entering a higher sphere.”    

For purposes of this essay, I presuppose that the quotation is divinely-inspired and true.  In addition, I presuppose that the hermeneutics one should adopt in interpreting the quotation are not to be externally imposed upon the quotation but instead are to be discovered in Ellen White’s writings.  

Hermeneutics Necessary to One’s Interpretation of an Ellen White Quotation

1. Is the quotation exegetic or homiletic?

In order to interpret an Ellen White quotation, one must first understand what it is and classify it.  Ellen White’s writings can be roughly divided into two broad categories: exegesis and homiletics. An exegetic use of Scripture is an explanation about what the biblical text means.  In contrast, a homiletic use of Scripture is an application of the biblical text.21  In her exegetic writings, she functions as a theologian in setting forth her interpretation of the biblical text.  In her homiletic writings, she functions as a preacher in applying the biblical text to the perceived circumstances of her contemporaries.  

Ellen White’s quotation is homiletic, because she applies the biblical text to the perceived extra-biblical circumstances of particular nineteenth-century women.  She exhorts these women to “take up cheerfully their life duties” and not to reach for positions for which they are not “fitted.”  And she sorrowfully observes that many such women have erred by leaving “undone the very work that Heaven appointed them.”  Her exhortation and sorrowful observation, taken together, is not an explanation about what the biblical text means, because the author of Genesis was not writing about the particular nineteenth-century women admonished by Ellen White, but is instead an application of the biblical text.  

A homiletic quotation is comprised not only of the application drawn but by whatever informs the application.  The interpreter commits a hermeneutical error by attempting to slice a homiletic quotation into exegetic and homiletic parts.  The first reason such slicing is erroneous is the interpreter cannot be certain that the quotation is informed solely by the meaning of the biblical text.  The quotation may be informed in whole or in part by the words or some other characteristic of the biblical text.  There may either be no exegesis whatsoever to slice from the application drawn or the interpreter may not be able to precisely identify the exegesis.  Second, for those homiletic quotations that appear to be informed by the meaning of the biblical text, the interpreter cannot be sure that such meaning has been exhaustively furnished.  Ellen White may have furnished only a portion of the meaning sufficient for the application drawn.  Third, the interpreter cannot presume that the informant she relies on for the application she draws can be used by the interpreter to draw applications that she does not expressly endorse.  Such a homiletic use of her informants would frustrate her authorial intent.  Fourth, the interpreter will most likely be at a loss in identifying neutral principles that would govern where and to what extent such slicing can be done and consequently will in all probability unwittingly implement a results-driven treatment of the quotation.  Accordingly, for these reasons classification of Ellen White’s quotation about Adam and Eve recited above as homiletic correctly encompasses the entire quotation.22

It is important to note that an exegetic quotation may be written in homiletic form.  For example, a quotation in which a plea is made for everyone to keep the Sabbath that follows an exegesis of a Sabbath text has a homiletic appearance but is in essence exegetic.  Although the quotation formally applies the biblical text, there are no extra-biblical circumstances that are identified in such application.  Instead, the application drawn is general and universal.  The key determinant to whether an Ellen White quotation is exegetic or homiletic is not necessarily whether the text is applied in formalistic fashion but whether the text is applied to the perceived extra-biblical circumstances of her contemporaries.  

2. What hermeneutic governs interpretation of Ellen White’s homiletic writings?

Because Ellen White’s above-recited quotation about Adam and Eve is homiletic, I propose that the following hermeneutic for interpreting the quotation governs:  

Homiletic writings of Ellen White do not constitute evidence of the meaning of the biblical text and cannot be cited in support of one’s interpretation of the biblical text.  Ellen White’s application of the biblical text is informed by the biblical text, but her application of the biblical text cannot inform one’s interpretation of the biblical text.  In order to determine what she represents to be the meaning of the biblical text, the interpreter should consult her exegetic writings.

This hermeneutic recognizes that use of Ellen White’s homiletic writings to evidence the biblical text’s meaning can cause substantive error, because (a) many such writings are not informed by the biblical text’s meaning, and (b) no such writings are informed solely by the biblical text’s meaning.  In elaboration of (b), because all of her homiletic writings are by definition informed in part by the perceived extra-biblical circumstances of her contemporaries, use of her homiletic writings to evidence the biblical text’s meaning necessarily incorporates that irrelevant extra-biblical data into one’s interpretation of the biblical text.  Such incorporation of irrelevant extra-biblical data can cause substantive error.  More important, such incorporation is reflective of a hermeneutic of criticism that has been formally rejected by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.23  The hermeneutic of criticism deserves to be rejected, not only because of the erroneous interpretations such hermeneutic may produce but significantly because use of such hermeneutic is corrosive to the spiritual life of the interpreter.  Because of the Church’s a priori rejection of the hermeneutic of criticism, Ellen White’s homiletic writings cannot be permitted to constitute evidence of the meaning of the biblical text.  

What follows is an expanded explanation of the proposed hermeneutic:

a. Can an Ellen White homiletic quotation be informed by the words or some other characteristic of the biblical text rather than the biblical text’s meaning?

The heretofore-mentioned male headship theorists assume that the application drawn by Ellen White in her above-recited quotation about Adam and Eve is informed by the meaning of the biblical text.  According to these biblical scholars, Ellen White equates what they perceive to be Eve’s usurpation of Adam’s alleged headship role to women usurping the alleged headship role of their respective husbands.  All of these biblical scholars overlook or fail to understand that a homiletic quotation can be informed by the words or some other characteristic of the biblical text rather than the biblical text’s meaning.  A plausible interpretation (similar to Davidson’s interpretation) that I deem correct is that Ellen White likens Eve’s effort to become like God to some women’s neglect of the practical duties of life.24  Because an effort to become like God is clearly distinguishable from neglect of one’s duties, the informant of Ellen White’s application of the biblical text is not the biblical text’s meaning but the concept of “hope of entering a higher sphere” that she utilizes for rhetorical effect.

Lesson 11 of the first quarter’s Sabbath School Lessons of 2009 (Gerhard Pfandl—principal contributor) recognizes that some of Ellen White’s writings are informed by the words rather than the meaning of the biblical text and defines those writings as homiletic.25  The Lesson’s definition is under-inclusive, because her homiletic writings encompass all applications of the biblical text, not merely those applications that are based solely on the words of the biblical text.  Notwithstanding this inaccuracy, Lesson 11 provides a useful elementary introduction to how Ellen White’s homiletic writings are to be interpreted.  

Perhaps the most famous example of an Ellen White quotation that is informed by the words or some other characteristic of the biblical text rather than the biblical text’s meaning is her application of 1 Cor. 2:9:  

Let all that is beautiful in our earthly home remind us of the crystal river and green fields, the waving trees and the living fountains, the shining city and the white-robed singers, of our heavenly home—that world of beauty which no artist can picture, no mortal tongue describe. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”26

1 Cor. 2:9 quoted by Ellen White does not speak about the wonders of heaven or how our homes should be ordered.  Therefore, the application Ellen White draws is informed not by the meaning of the biblical text but by the words of the biblical text—“Eye hath not seen…”  Lesson 11 provides other examples of Ellen White’s homiletic rhetoric.27  And the expository preaching that Seventh-day Adventists listen to every Sabbath morning is predominantly homiletic.  For example, when the preacher sermonizes about the crossing of the Jordan River and then exhorts shy men to propose marriage, he or she is employing homiletic rhetoric by drawing a comparison between both challenging endeavors.  And the preacher does so confident that no one will infer that the biblical text about the crossing of the Jordan River discusses the need for shy men to propose marriage.28     

b. How should we determine what Ellen White represents to be the meaning of the biblical text?

No biblical scholar should ever take the liberty of deducing that a homiletic quotation by Ellen White, even if seemingly informed by the meaning of the biblical text, is a reliable representation of what she believes the biblical text means.  The correct and safe way to determine what she represents to be the meaning of the biblical text is to consult her exegetic writings. 

Anyone who can operate a search engine can locate Ellen White’s exegetic writings.29  For example, the search terms “Eve” and “sphere” produce 13 quotations, including the following exegetic quotation:

When Satan tempted our first parents in Eden he said, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? ... Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Thus he tried to flatter Eve into believing that they should be raised above the sphere of humanity. But Christ, by the example he has set before us, encourages the human family to be men, obeying the Word of God within the sphere of their humanity. He himself became a man, not a bond-slave to Satan, to work out his attributes, but a man in moral power, obedient to the law of God, which is the transcript of his character.30

This quotation is exegetic, because Ellen White does not apply the biblical text to the perceived extra-biblical circumstances of her contemporaries.  This exegetic quotation sets forth Ellen White’s interpretation of the biblical text: (a) Satan’s temptation was directed to both Adam and Eve; and (b) Eve’s hope of entering a higher sphere was a desire to rise above humanity and become like God.  This exegetic quotation refutes the viewpoint of the heretofore-mentioned male headship theorists — a viewpoint hardened by their erroneous interpretation of Ellen White’s above–recited homiletic quotation — that she believed that God assigned to Adam and Eve spheres that were different from each other; this quotation sets forth Ellen White’s belief that the sphere assigned to Adam and Eve was the sphere of humanity.31

Similarly, in order to discern Ellen White’s interpretation of 1 Cor. 2:9, the interpreter should search for an exegetic treatment of that text from the body of her writings.  Her exegetic use of 1 Cor. 2:9 can be found in Acts of the Apostles, pages 250-251.  Here she discusses Paul’s reliance on the wisdom given by the Holy Spirit.  After reciting 1 Cor. 2:9 and including verse 10, which states “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit,” she remarks, “Paul realized that his sufficiency was not in himself, but in the presence of the Holy Spirit, whose gracious influence filled his heart, bringing every thought into subjection to Christ.”  There is no mention about the wonders of heaven or the ordering of homes.  Because her exegetic writings are dispositive regarding her interpretation of the biblical text, the interpreter can cite the relevant passage on pages 250-251 of Acts of the Apostles in support of his or her interpretation of 1 Cor. 2:9.  

c. Why is citation of Ellen White’s homiletic quotation about Adam and Eve in support of one’s interpretation of the biblical text reflective of a hermeneutic of criticism?

There is no better introduction to the hermeneutic of criticism than the essays on hermeneutics written by Davidson.32  In essence, the hermeneutic of criticism is a method of interpretation that does not willingly presuppose what Scripture represents itself to be.  The critic utilizes principles of interpretation that he or she externally imposes upon Scripture rather than adhere to principles of interpretation that arise out of Scripture. Criticism encompasses efforts to critique, question, correct, challenge the truthfulness of, invalidate, or validate Scripture through the lens of an external body of knowledge or political, cultural, or social attitude.  

Citation of an Ellen White homiletic quotation in support of one’s biblical interpretation is reflective of a hermeneutic of criticism, because extra-biblical data that the homiletic quotation comprises is accorded relevance in determining the meaning of the biblical text.  Ellen White’s homiletic writings are infused with extra-biblical data, because those writings discuss the perceived extra-biblical circumstances of her contemporaries.  Although some extra-biblical data that may have informed the thoughts of a biblical author can be looked to in determining the meaning of a biblical text, such data obviously does not include the nineteenth-century circumstances of women.  

It is important to understand that the meaning of the biblical text was fixed before Ellen White was born.  There is nothing about Ellen White’s birth, the circumstances of specific nineteenth-century women, or her written observations about those women that inform the meaning of the biblical text.  Even if we presuppose that the Holy Spirit inspired Ellen White, the one thing the Holy Spirit does not and cannot do is change the meaning of a written text.  Ellen White’s applications of the biblical text are illuminating, relevant, and authoritative, but they do not constitute data that can be incorporated into one’s interpretation of the biblical text.  

The likelihood that the hermeneutic of criticism will produce an erroneous interpretation of the biblical text is not the only reason why the hermeneutic should be rejected.  Indeed, there are some accurate interpretations of the biblical text that are coincidentally reflective of the hermeneutic. It is possible to criticize your way to a correct interpretation.  The more important reason for rejection of the hermeneutic is that willful employment of the hermeneutic, in contrast to various technical mistakes one can innocently commit, is sinful behavior.  Criticism is disharmonious with a humble willingness to submit to the authority of the Word of God.  About open and notorious critics of the biblical text, Ellen White thunders, “God will punish all those, who as higher critics, exalt themselves, and criticize God’s holy word.”33  For Seventh-day Adventists, the purpose of exegesis is not only the formation of correct interpretations but the strengthening of the interpreter’s relationship with God.  Criticism corrodes the soul of the interpreter.  

No criticism of the biblical text is insignificant or innocuous.  Criticism of the biblical text through the lens of Ellen White’s homiletic writings is not ameliorated by serendipitously-correct interpretations that may result or the interpreter’s hortatory expressions of fidelity to the Word of God.  Even a smidgeon of criticism renders an interpretation of the biblical text unacceptable to Seventh-day Adventists.34

The obvious question that arises whenever we see a biblical scholar incorporate irrelevant extra-biblical data into his or her interpretation of the biblical text is the following:  “Why did you do that?”  We are justified in wondering whether such incorporation is done for the purpose of coercing the biblical text into alignment with the extra-biblical political, cultural, and social attitudes of the biblical scholar.  We are justified in wondering whether what may seem to be a small technical act of criticism is in reality a manifestation of a larger problem.  The claim that the sin in Eden was caused by a role reversal may very well be a hermeneutically-critical interpretation of the biblical text.  Whether and to what extent the heretofore-mentioned male headship theorists have superimposed upon Scripture extra-biblical attitudes is a troubling question this essay does not address.35  

3. Some Concluding Observations about Hermeneutics Necessary to One’s Interpretation of an Ellen White Quotation

The hermeneutic I propose herein is not necessarily the only hermeneutic that should guide one’s interpretation of Ellen White’s writings; there are other commonly-accepted hermeneutics in the popular literature.36  Indeed, rejection of the Male Headship interpretation of Ellen White’s homiletic quotation about Adam and Eve can rest on those commonly-accepted hermeneutics.  For example, the following line of reasoning is tenable: (a) Ellen White’s writings should be allowed to interpret themselves, (b) her exegetic quotation about Adam and Eve is relevant in determining the meaning of her homiletic quotation about Adam and Eve, and (c) an orthodox interpretation should be preferred over the novel Male Headship interpretation.  This essay does not suggest that my proposed hermeneutic should displace commonly-accepted hermeneutics insofar as those commonly-accepted hermeneutics cohere with my proposed hermeneutic.  

The reader can see that I have honored my earlier-stated presuppositions about how Ellen White’s writings are to be interpreted.  I have not imposed upon her writings an external construct by classifying them; such classification is demanded by those writings.  By stating that her homiletic writings do not constitute evidence about what the biblical text means, I have not stood in judgment of those writings and suggested that external correction is required.  Instead, I have established that her homiletic writings, in light of her exegetic writings and her pointed rejection of the hermeneutic of criticism, do not purport to constitute evidence about what the biblical text means.  The hermeneutic proposed herein for interpreting Ellen White’s homiletic writings has not been externally imposed upon her writings but has been discovered in her writings.  Furthermore, my approach to how Ellen White’s homiletic writings are to be interpreted has not necessitated acceptance of any critical hermeneutical ideas about her writings. 

Conclusion

For over 40 years, Seventh-day Adventist male headship theorists have misunderstood and misrepresented Ellen White’s beliefs about what the biblical text regarding Adam and Eve means.  Ellen White’s exegetic writings establish that she believed that Eve along with Adam occupied the sphere of humanity but aspired to become like God.  Instead of relying on her exegetic writings, these male headship theorists have repeatedly cited Ellen White’s homiletic quotation to support a proposed New Light interpretation that Adam and Eve were assigned two different spheres and that the sin in Eden occurred because Eve functioned outside of her sphere.  By according the homiletic quotation evidentiary value, male headship theorists have incorporated irrelevant extra-biblical data into their exegesis, resulting in a hermeneutically-flawed interpretation of the biblical text that cannot be trusted to be substantively correct.  More important, such incorporation of irrelevant extra-biblical data has resulted in an interpretation of the biblical text that is reflective of a hermeneutic of criticism.  Because the hermeneutic of criticism remains unacceptable to Seventh-day Adventists, the interpretation of the biblical text offered by these male headship theorists, insofar as such interpretation relies on Ellen White’s homiletic quotation and her other homiletic writings, should be rejected. 

Phillip Brantley obtained his law degree from the University of Texas Law School and is a graduate of Andrews University where he has recently done some teaching.  He practices law in Houston, Texas. 

Endnotes

1. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 59.

2. “The Role of Seventh-day Adventist Women in the Woman’s Rights Movement”, p. 10, found online here in the collection of Mohaven Documents of 1973.

3. “Our God-Appointed Roles: Should Women be Ordained?”, p. 9 and p. 33, found online here in the collection of Mohaven Documents of 1973.

4. Women in the Church: A Biblical Study on the Role of Women in the Church, p. 13, 279.

5. Id. at 279

6. The Tip of an Iceberg: Biblical Authority, Biblical Interpretation, and the Ordination of Women in Ministry, p. 124-126.

7. Id., p. 126.

8. Id., p. 128.

9. Id., p. 128.

10. Headship, Gender, and Ordination in the Writings of Ellen White”, p. 23.

11. Id., p. 24.

12. Women of the Old Testament: Women of Influence”, p. 9 (including n.15).

13. Minority Report by Edwin Reynolds and Clinton Wahlen p. 200.

14. Davidson, “Should Women be Ordained as Pastors? Old Testament Considerations”, p. 24.  Seconding his analysis is Angel Rodriguez, “Evaluation of the Arguments Used by those Opposing the Ordination of Women to the Ministry”, p. 31, n. 54.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.

17. One can understand, given the sheer magnitude of Davidson’s effort to address all issues pertaining to the subject matter of his 89-page paper, why he chose to limit his rebuttal in this way.

18. Restoration of the Image of God: Headship and Submission”, p. 17.

19. I do not substantiate my characterization of these Male Headship theorists as biblical scholars and am unconcerned if such characterization may be imprecise.  The reader should understand that although this essay’s focus — hermeneutics — lies within my formal area of expertise, I do not present myself as a biblical scholar.

20. See the 1986 Rio Statement on Bible Study.

21. The elementary and workable definitions of exegesis and homiletics offered in this essay are sufficient to guide the reader and help establish the hermeneutical refutation.  This essay does not endeavor to explicate detailed and comprehensive definitions that are set forth in the vast literature that discusses exegesis and homiletics.

22. Material surrounding the quotation is also to be classified as homiletic if the interpreter perceives that Ellen White accords that material relevance in how the quotation is to be interpreted.

23. See n. 20.

24. An Ellen White homiletic quotation can be clarified by other homiletic quotations of hers that utilize similar words.  Ellen White was concerned that highly-educated women were not learning about the practical duties of life that every wife and mother should know.  See Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 75, par. 1.  Most likely, her above-recited homiletic quotation about Eve’s “hope of entering a higher sphere” addresses this concern.

25.  See http://ssnet.org/qrtrly/eng/09a/less11.html

26. The Adventist Home, p. 545.

27. See n. 25.

28. I do not think Ellen White has done anything wrong in her homiletic use of 1 Cor. 2:9.  The test for how a preacher’s homiletic rhetoric is to be judged is not how closely tethered the application drawn is to the meaning of the biblical text but whether the application drawn is persuasive and edifying for the preacher’s intended audience.  Be that as it may, a discussion about best homiletic practices lies outside the scope of this essay.

29. The search engine for Ellen White’s writings is furnished by the Ellen White Estate and can be found online here.

30. Signs of the Times, October 14, 1897, par. 4.  See also General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 6, 1899, par. 34, in which she states in part, “By partaking of this tree, he [Satan] declared they [Adam and Eve] would attain to a more exalted sphere of existence, and enter a broader field of knowledge” (clarification added).  These quotations are as far as I can determine nowhere to be found in the Seventh-day Adventist male headship literature.

31. The central tenet of Male Headship Theory — that the spheres assigned to Adam and Eve were different — enjoys no support from the voluminous body of Ellen White’s exegetic writings.  I have not been able to find one exegetic quotation to support this tenet either via the Ellen White Estate’s search engine or in the Seventh-day Adventist male headship literature.

32. See http://www.andrews.edu/~davidson/bibliography.html

33. RH, March 16, 1897, par. 9.

34. See n. 20.

35. Male Headship Theory was created by non-Seventh-day Adventist Christians in response to feminist developments in the United States of America that began to transpire in the 1960s.  The origins of the theory suggest that it is essentially a political theology similar to other political theologies such as Liberation Theology (including Feminist Liberation Theology), Black Theology, and Queer Theology.  The incorporation of Male Headship Theory into Seventh-day Adventist thought and discourse has been chronicled in Gerry Chudleigh’s important work, A Short History of the Headship Doctrine in the Seventh-day Adventist Church (2014), but there have been no significant writings that focus on whether or to what degree the theory has functioned to advance the extra-biblical political, cultural, and social attitudes of its Seventh-day Adventist exponents.  My current study has not progressed to the point where I am comfortable expressing a formal judgment one way or the other.

36. See for example George Knight, Some Principles for Interpreting the Writings of Ellen G. White; Herbert E. Douglass, Basic Rules of Interpretation—Internal; Herbert E. Douglass, Basic Rules of Interpretation—External.

 

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