1st Human Head Transplant! – Brad Jersak

First Successful Human Head Transplant!

A first successful human head transplant?! Who?! When?!

I don’t think it was Dr. Sergio Canavero. He was the Italian surgeon who claimed to be the first to perform the surgery successfully. But I don’t buy it, for the simple fact that his subject was already deceased… and stayed that way. Cadavres don’t count.

I know it wasn’t Valery Spiridonov. He is a Russian man who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, an irreversible muscle-wasting condition. Valery volunteered to be the first subject of a full human head transplant. Reports vary on why he ‘bowed out’ but he claimed to have found love and the risk of the experimental surgery was no longer worth it.

But how about Jesus Christ? Might we consider him as a candidate?  

Christ Re-heads Humanity

There is a strange word in the New Testament used only twice and only by Paul, in Ephesians 1:10 and Romans 13:9. The word is anakephalaioó. Now, if we read that word super literally, we might translate it, to “re-head.” From ana– [re] and kephalé [head]… a head transplant!

In Paul’s theology, the whole body of humanity had been ‘headed’ by Adam, whose turn away from God turned all of humanity away from the Light of Life so that we collectively faced into the darkness of death. But Paul’s gospel sees humanity receiving a new head, Jesus Christ, whose submission and obedience to his Father turns the body of humanity around, leading us back to communion with his Father via the Tree of Life, i.e., the Cross.

A key text describing the successful outcome of this ‘head transplant’ comes to us in Ephesians 1.

  • He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, the summing up [reheading – from ana-kephelaioo] of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth…
  • 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head [kephalé] over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Note that while ‘the church’ is recognized as his body, Paul likewise announces Jesus’ headship over ‘all things,’ ‘filling everything in every way.’ In this sense, he is truly ‘Lord of all.’

Love Recaps the Law

The one other time that Paul uses this word, it has a different sense but makes a similar point. In Romans 13, he writes,

  • The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up [there’s our word again] in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Previously, I shared two analogies about reading Scripture that I learned from my friend and teacher, John Behr. (1) Moving “From Letter of the Law to the Spirit of the Word,” and (2) “Reading from the End.” His third analogy was using the word “recap.” He pointed out that in theology, people often translate anakephelé, not as “re-heading” but as “recapitulation.” They then proceed to puzzle over what that word could possibly mean. But it’s so very simple! We hear it abbreviated for us every day in news, weather, and sports reports! RECAP! Recap is just the abbreviation of recapitulation… and as the above translation suggests, it simply means summary.

In Romans 13, Paul is saying, “Look, if you want to sum up the Law, it boils down to this: Love your neighbor. That’s it. That’s how you fulfill the whole of the law.”

But Behr takes it one step further. CHRIST is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. That is why Paul could recap the whole Law as Love and the whole of his Scriptures (our Old Testament) as Gospel. In the first paragraph of 1 Corinthians 15, he sums up the gospel in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ… but he specifies, “according to the Scriptures.” But wait, the four Gospels weren’t written yet! So Paul’s claim is that the message of how Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day is a recap, a summing up of the gospel that was already there the scrolls of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,… through to Malachi! But it was only unveiled when the events foretold were actually fulfilled.

For more insights in how to read the gospel of Jesus prefigured in his Scriptures, please refer to my book, A More Christlike Word: Reading Scripture the Emmaus Way and Greg Albrecht’s beautiful pictoral book, Wonders of His Word (coming soon HERE).

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