WOMEN CAN BE PRIESTS
header

Responsive image
HOME REASONS DEFY THE POPE?! DEBATE MENU
Nederlands/Vlaams Deutsch Francais English language Spanish language Portuguese language Catalan Chinese Czech Malayalam Finnish Igbo
Japanese Korean Romanian Malay language Norwegian Swedish Polish Swahili Chichewa Tagalog Urdu
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pauline Teaching on the Body Person, Male and Female. From 'The Feminist Question, Feminist Theology in the Light of Christian tradition'. By Francis Martin

Pauline Teaching on the Body Person, Male and Female

From The Feminist Question
Feminist Theology in the Light of Christian tradition

By Francis Martin

Published by T& T Clark,
Originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Michigan 1994
and reproduced onour website with the usual permissions.

I wish in this section to look at a certain series of texts, some Pauline, others probably deutero-Paulinee, which provide some principles for understanding how to respond to the feminist question. Some of these texts are "difficult to understand" (2 Pet 3:16). I will treat of them only briefly, under the one aspect that affects the present study.

There is a fundamental statement repeated in the Pauline writings that must be considered in regard to the issue of women in the church. I refer to the baptismal formulae that declare former divisions to be eliminated in light of the unity we have in Christ. That union, which is strengthened and actualized by the Eucharist as we have seen, is created by baptism: "In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor 12:13). This theme, that the personae contructed by the societal and legal dynamics of this present age, along with the divisions they effect between human beings, have been done away with in Christ, is repeated once again in Colossians 3:11 and Galatians 3:28 (see also Eph 2:13-18). The differences between slave and free, Greek and barbarian are purely of human devising; for example, the division between the latter is the result of a divine election being lived out according to the limitations and sinfulness of "the flesh." This distinction is now eliminated by the divine call to all human beings ratified in the blood of Christ and actualized by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. There is, however, another division, that between male and female, mentioned in Galatians 3:28, that is also declared to be no longer operative. The text reads:

For you are all children (huioi) of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:27-28)

We should note first of all that the contrast between male and female ', is not expressed as "neither . . . nor" as in the case of the other two but rather as a denial: "there is not male and female." The interruption of the rhythm of the phrase and the explicit citation of Genesis 1:27 indicates the somehow a Jewish understanding of this Scriptural expression is being Set aside. It is impossible to think that Paul is saying that from now on there are no men and women. It is precisely on the basis of this distinction that he appeals to the same Genesis texts when speaking of the relation between, husband and wife and conduct in the community. The immediate context of. the passage is a consideration of the effects of faith and baptism into: Christ - all believers are one "person" (eis is masculine, not neuter) in Christ. The wider context is the whole debate of the letter to the Galatians] concerning the true children of Abraham. In this context the denial of "male and female" is a denial of the manner in which this biblical phrase operated," in the law and the current interpretation of the law. In this view "male and female" refers primarily to marriage and fruitfulness. This is not the basic orientation of the Genesis text. (1) Moreover, it may be that the order of naming, that is, first male and then female, was understood by some to indicate dignity.(2) The most fundamental significance of the phrase, however, is that it was considered to express the manner in which males were. considered full members of the people, while women were not so considered.(3)

By alluding to the Genesis text, Paul is declaring that the female persona created by Judaism, by which a woman found her dignity in marriage and childbearing and was a member of the people in a derivative manner, has now been set aside. Women as well as men enter God's new people through baptism and not through circumcision and have the same responsibilities and privileges. Moreover, the decision to remain unmarried and dedicated directly to Christ is an option available to women. Their dignity, as was already implied in the Genesis text, does not derive from 'fruitfulness but from their being an image of God.(4)

As is well known, there is a series of texts, some Pauline and some deutero-Pauline, that consider the question of the behavior of women in the community, usually in the light of Genesis 1-3. These texts also contribute something to our understanding of how to understand the New Testament, specifically the Pauline, teaching on the body person. Setting aside the abuses that these texts have been invoked to justify, I wish here to outline some principles that ought to govern our interpretation. (5) First,' these texts are coherent with the positive orientation already seen in 1 Corinthians 7, Galatians 3:28, and other texts that express Paul's relation to women, such as Romans 16:1-16 and Philippians 4:2-3. (6)Thus, they are not instances in which Paul lapses into a former pharisaic mind-set, as Paul Jewett maintains, (7) nor are they non-Pauline interpolations as has been frequently asserted. They are part of his teaching on the implications for the Christian life of the fact that human physicality has an eternal significance even as we live in history: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he or she did in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Cor 5:10).

The texts in which Paul draws practical consequences for family and community life from his understanding of woman and man as body persons are found in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 and 14:33b-36. The first of these texts is echoed in Ephesians 5:21-33, and the second in 1 Timothy 2:9-15. These texts have been the object of innumerable studies, especially in recent years. It is not my intention here to enter into a full discussion but merely to glean some indications of New Testament teaching on male and female as body persons.

The issue being discussed in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has to do with the comportment of women and men in the assembly gathered for worship. Since Paul praises the Corinthians for holding fast to the traditions he passed on to them, the discussion has to do with correcting an erroneous understanding of what he taught them. Most probably this had to do with his teaching on man and woman in Christ based on an interpretation of Genesis 1-3.55 (8) Paul begins with a principle: "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, man is the head of a woman, (9) and God is the head of Christ." The difficulty in understanding this principle lies in the translation of kephale (head.) Paul may have chosen the word because the heart of his discussion has to do with how people do or do not cover their heads. Kephale, as a metaphorical expression, can signify, among other things, source or ruler? (10)Paul's argument requires that the term indicate a certain priority that is due to the fact that the head is the source of what is headed. Although it is not said explicitly, it is clear that head as applied to the three relationships mentioned can only be applied analogically. There is a certain resemblance, but the relationships are more unlike than like.

The principle is then applied to the way men and women should pray or prophesy in the community; the perspective is honor and shame.(11) Despite the difficulty posed by the terms usually translated "covered/uncovered" it seems that the question is that of men praying and prophesying with uncovered head and women doing the same with some covering or veil on their head. (12) To do the opposite is to shame one's head (in the literal and figurative sense of the term).

The next step in the discussion (vv. 7-12) develops the background for the line of thinking in verses 3-6, and makes more explicit reference to Genesis 1 and 2. There are two steps in the discussion. Verses 7-10 provide another argument that leads to the conclusion that a woman should "have authority upon her head," adding "because of the angels." The argument is based on understanding Genesis 1, regarding the image, in the light of Genesis 2, the creation of man and then woman. Under this very specific perspective, since the man was created first, he is the image and glory of God. The woman is also the image of God, though this is not said, but she is the glory of man because she was created to rectify his aloneness and to be a counterpart, making community possible. She somehow "reflects" the man (again, as with kephale, the term doxa is applied analogically to two different relationships). The next two verses (8-9) repeat the same line of thought by saying that the first man is not from the woman,but vice versa, and that the man was not made on account of the woman, but rather the woman on account of the man. The conclusion is that woman should have her head covered in the assembly as a sign of her authority over her own life and actions, her ability to live out her vocation.(13) The mention of the angels refers to their participation in the community's worship.(14)

Having established his point about the fittingness of a woman covering her head, Paul returns to the Genesis text and to the actual nature of things to assert: "Nevertheless (plen) there is not woman without man there is not man without woman in the Lord (15) For just as the woman is from the man, so too the man is through the woman. The whole is from God" (vv. 11-12). These verses form a diptych with verses 8-9 and intend to modify them. "In the Lord," the woman's original dependence upon,the man for existence is now counterbalanced by taking into account the man's need for a woman to give birth to him. This whole arrangement (ta panta) is from God. To put it another way: the creation of woman and the birth of a man are part of the order created by God that can now be seen to have been all along a prophecy of how the relation of equality between men and women is realized "in the Lord." In more theological but also more restrictive terms: the order of creation only yields its full intelligibility as a moment in, and a prophecy of, the order of grace. In the final four verses of the section (vv. 13-16), Paul returns to argue from "nature" and from the practice of the "churches of God." The term nature (physis) evokes nothing of our post-Cartesian concept of alienated and mechanistic universe. It refers rather to the common perception of organic existence as modified by commonsense practice. Our bodily comportment, transpiring as it does within a humanly interpreted environment, cannot but be symbolic. Within Paul's environment, a man having long hair or a woman exercising a public function in the communal gathering without her head covered "says something." In the latter case, something more than equality is being expressed by this practice at Corinth which is not the practice elsewhere.(16) There is a 'subversion of good order and of a certain priority given to men by God in the order of creation. This priority, while emptied of its power-laden significance and abusive practice in both Jewish and Greek environments by the fact of being in Christ, has some significance, most especially in the family. There is no other way of honestly interpreting Paul's use of such phrases as woman's being "glory" of man or being created "on account of" man and the fact the word kephale is never used of her, while at the same time he insists that there is not man without woman nor woman without man in the Lord.

When the original equality at creation is restored by baptism into Christ and interpreted through the Christian understanding of Genesis 2, the result is that there is "not male and female." What then is left of the priority suggested by Genesis 2, and why does Paul retain these phrases? I suggest that this can best be understood not in terms of superior and inferior, or empowered and subject to power, but rather in a mode of relating. If a person is constituted by relationship, then while the persona of male and female has been done away with in Christ, the body person of male and female remains. I will return to this later in the chapter.

In the light of Paul's presumption that women will pray and prophesy in the community gatherings, his words in 14:33b-36 are difficult to understand, so difficult in fact that many treat them as an intrusive addition.(64) In fact, however, the passage is but one more in a series of Pauline injunctions in this part of chapter 14 involving the use of the terms be subordinate (hupotassesthai, v. 32) and be silent (sigan, vv. 28 and 30), by which Paul is trying to prescribe order and peace in the meetings of the Corinthian church. The passage runs:

"As in all the churches (ekklesiais), let the women be silent in the meetings of the community (ekklesiais). It is not permitted them to speak, rather let them be subordinate, as the law itself says. If they wish to learn about something, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak at the meeting of the community (ekklesia). Or has the word of God gone out from you? Or has it reached you alone?

The opening and closing lines indicate that, at the gatherings of the Corinthian community for worship, the women are doing something that is not done in all the churches, that it is against the law and shameful. It is the last instance treated in this chapter of an idiosyncratic manner of acting which creates the impression that the Corinthians think they are free to give practical expression of the gospel message in any way that suits them. What are these women doing? Obviously, it cannot be the simple fact of speaking, since they are presumed to be prophesying and praying in the community assemblies. Somehow, rather, their speaking is disruptive of the gathering and they are told to be silent as are those who have a message in tongues but no interpreter (v. 28), or who are prophesying when a prophetic word comes to someone else (v. 30). The injunction to "subordination" (v. 34) may reflect a lack of order in regard to their husbands, or it may echo a previous injunction that the spirit of the prophets is "subordinate" to the prophets. That is, no one moved by the Spirit of God is under such compulsion that they cannot either stop themselves or submit to the judgment of other spiritual persons in the community.

Obviously, every word in this passage has been subjected to minute scrutiny, particularly in these last decades. This is not the occasion to discuss all the opinions. I wish only to indicate what I consider to be the most satisfactory manner of understanding the text as part of this study into the New Testament teaching on body person. The secret of success in deciphering texts such as this one is much like that in trying to interpret a complex musical score that is missing its clef - that interpretation is the best which supplies a clef producing a satisfactory melody with the fewest additions of sharps and flats. I will give here the summary of Ben Witherington III, which strikes me as having achieved that result in the most satisfactory manner, so far:

Thus, the scenario we envision is as follows. Doting the time of the weighing of the prophet's utterances, some of the wives, who themselves may have been prophetesses and entitled to weigh verbally what was said, were asking questions that were disrupting the worship service. The questions themselves may have been disrespectful or they may have been asked in a disrespectful manner. The result was chaos. Paul's ruling is that questions should not be asked in worship. The wives should ask their husbands at home. Worship was not to be turned into a question and answer session. (18)

In both the texts we have seen thus far, Paul is striving to maintain his teaching, based on his experience in Christ, of the abolition of those female and male personae that derive from society, culture, or even the law as understood without the Spirit. At the same time he is reacting against exaggerations, perhaps stimulated by his own teaching, that have created confusion at Corinth. Paul wishes, on the one hand, to protect the traditions already common in the New Testament community, and developed by himself in particular, concerning the equal dignity and responsibility of women and men in Christ. On the other hand, he wishes to avoid a superficial understanding of body person that easily creates new personae which derive from the same world as the former and lead to the same perverted value systems. In order to do this, he has recourse to a Christian reinterpretation of Genesis 1-3. Before attempting to sketch out a line of investigation that could help in understanding Paul's teaching, we must look at two other New Testament texts that depend upon and develop this teaching. These texts obviously derive from the background and explicit material present in 1 Corinthians 11 and 14.

The first text to be considered is Ephesians 5:21-33. It is generally agreed that Ephesians draws from earlier Pauline material, especially Colossians, Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Galatians,(19) Although there is a resemblance between the Ephesians passage and other New Testament texts, particularly Colossians 3:18-4:1, only here do we find an extended use of Genesis 1-3 in connection with the relation between husband and wife.(20) In addition to this similarity with 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, there is also the notion that the husband is the kephale of his wife, though here as in all the New Testament texts the word obey is not used for the husband-wife relationship (21) (though it is used in connection with children and slaves), but rather the term be subordinate, which is used of "the Son" in 1 Corinthians 15:28.

We should note first of all that the genre of this text, as that of all New Testament texts which treat household relationships, is one of exhortation, rather than one of abstract speculation as in the extrabiblical parallels. It is a second-person address to equals in Christ, not a third-person description of what ought to be. This presupposes then that the wife's response to her husband is that of a free and responsible agent who answers her husband's love for her. Second, as a corollary to this, we may remark that almost seventy percent of the text is addressed to the husbands, outlining for them what agape means in their imitation of Christ, laying down their lives for their spouses as Christ did for the church (5:25) (22) Third, although the wife is urged to be subordinate to her own husband, the context is that of mutual subordination in the fear of Christ (v. 21). This means that there are two forms of subordination being described. The man's subordination to his wife is expressed in terms of love and of laying down his life. The woman's relation is described by repeating the two terms from verse 21 describing the mutual relationship - subordination and fear.(23) Finally, we may note that the terms body and flesh are used to describe both the church in relation to Christ and the wife in relation to her husband. This advances the Pauline understanding of Genesis 1-2, combining earlier reflection on the Adamic character of Christ with that of the relation between Christ and the church, and applying it analogously to the relation between husband and wife.

In this application, neither wife nor husband is considered to be more "Christ" than the other. What is being accented is the sacramental (bodily/historical) manifestation of the relationship between Christ and the church effected in marriage. The author says that Genesis 2:24 is a great mysterion. That is, correctly understood, this text uncovers the marriage relationship inscribed in the very order of human existence as being a prophecy of the relationship between Christ and the church. The transposition of marriage from one level to the other is effected by agape. It is agape that transforms the relationship without abolishing it, and it is agape that gives substantiality to the persons who are being constituted by their relation to each other and to Christ. There is still an order in marriage, but it has been transformed to be centred now on the well-being of the wife, just as Christ's care is for the church, his body. Because of Christ, (the new Adam) and his bride, (the church), every Christian man and wife is enabled to recover God's plan for Adam and Eve. This is well summed up by Stephen Miletic:

The wife's role in the New Creation also reverses the role of the First Eve by doing battle with the forces of darkness (Eph 6.1-20), forces which until the eschatological age had the power to deceive her . . . . According to Eph. 5.22-25, subordination is not simply obedience to a despot, nor is it something the wife does by coercion, at the behest of cultural traditions in step with social stereotypes . . . . By redefining subordination and headship in terms of New Creation theology, the author of Ephesians has dislodged androcentric marriage from its powerbase of domination and relocated it in the sphere of discipleship which participates in and makes a contribution to the New Creation.(24)

1 Timothy 2:9-I5

The so-called Pastoral Epistles probably stand in relation to the previous Pauline material in much the same way as the letter to the Ephesians does.(25) The passage under consideration shows dependence upon 1 Corinthians 14:33b-36, but tends to accentuate conservatively one aspect of that teaching more than others, probably because of the situation to which it was addressed. Once more, we are faced with a musical score with no clef, and attempts to supply the clef are made the more difficult because we cannot be sure of the exact climate of thought and activity being addressed. We may accept the information in 1 Timothy 1:3, that the letter was being addressed to Timothy at Ephesus, as being at least paradigmatically correct. If Ephesus is not the actual destination, the situation is not vastly different.

The exhortation begins in verse 8 with an injuction that men pray, "lifting up holy hands without anger or argument," which implies that this was not always the case. Then the author continues by directing his attention to women: "Similarly," women are to adorn themselves with modesty and self-control, and not with elaborate hair styles made up with pearls and gold,(26) but rather with good deeds as befits women who profess reverence for God. Again, we are entitled to presume that what is proscribed was actually taking place and that there was something immodest and disruptive in the conduct of some of the women. It is in this context, then, that the injunction continues:

Let a woman learn in quietness and in complete subordination. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, but rather to be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman, deceived, came into transgression. She will be saved through childbearing, provided they persevere in faith and love and holiness with self control.

The most plausible scenario underlying this text is as follows. Some women were acting in a way that was seductive in many senses of the term. Their conduct and mode of dress was immodest and they were teaching false doctrines, which probably had to do with "myths and genealogies" (1 Tim 1:35), the forbidding of marriage and the need for an ascetic diet (1 Tim 4:3), and, in general, things that did not agree with "the sound words of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim 6:3-5). When it is recalled that teaching was always considered to be a function endowed with a certain authority, and that, contrary to our academic approach, was always geared to some practical conduct, it can be seen that this way of acting could involve, and probably did in this case, a domineering over men in general or perhaps more particularly the woman's own husband. The ministry of teaching was being abused and treated as though it were the office of teaching. The teaching, moreover, was probably of a gnostic character.(27)

The injunction, then, to learn in quietness and complete subordination is calling for a more modest, peaceful, and teachable conduct that respects the good order both of the community gathering and of marriage. The allusion to Adam's having been formed first reflects the same teaching in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 and probably depends upon it and the doctrine behind it. The remark that Eve was deceived, reflecting as it does one strand of Jewish thinking obliquely referred to by Paul only once (2 Cor 11:3),(28) is probably invoked here in order to accent the notion that the women in question have been deceived; a theme present elsewhere.(29) The statement that women will be saved through childbearing is a rebuttal of the doctrine that forbade marriage, and envisages not only the conception and birth of children but the whole Christian activity of raising children referred to in 1 Timothy 5:10. Once again, the importance of the body person is being stressed.

Since women are described as having some ministry that involved "training" (sophronizein, Tit 2:3) the younger women, as well as having some functions parallel to those of deacons (1 Tim 3: 11) and performing various good works (1 Tim 5:9-10), it is not a question of total silence (hesuchia implies more tranquillity than silence) but of a return to both marital and community order on the part of some women who are taking functions to themselves and disrupting the group. Once again, we see that there is an assertion, though here in a very conservative context, of the equal dignity and responsibility of both sexes. Yet, the mention of Adam and the use of the term subordination implies a certain priority of the man, most probably the husband. An understanding of this twofold assertion, so difficult for our modern rights-oriented society and power-oriented sense of worth to grasp, must lie in the direction already pointed out by Ephesians 5:21-33. We will return to this after considering the history of Christian thinking about the body person.

1. See Francis Martin, "Male and Female He Created Them," 240-65, and the literature given there.

2. In the Mishna (Keritot 6,9) the statement is made that "father" is always (bkl mqwm) mentioned before "mother," but this is challenged by citing Lev 19:3, which inverts the order. Although the Mishna was redacted in A.D. 200, much of the material of which it is composed antedates that period. A saying in material considered as additional to the Mishnah recommends three prayers in which a man thanks God that he was not made a Gentile, a woman, or a boor (t. Berakot 7:18).

3. For a collection of some of the material see R. Loewe, The Position of Women in Judaism (London: S.P.C.K., 1966).

4. For this last point see Martin, "Male and Female." For two interpretations of Gal 3:27-28 that are largely in agreement with the one I propose here see Ben Witherington III, Women in the Earliest Churches, SNTS Monograph Series 59 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), chapter 3; Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins (New York: Crossroad, 1987), chapter 6. It is hard to imagine the revolution introduced into society by the Christian attitude that left women free to choose an unmarried state dedicated to Christ. For a treatment of some aspects of this, see Peter Brown, The Body Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), along with the modifications proposed by Charles Kannengiesser, "Early Christian Bodies: Some Afterthoughts on Peter Brown's The Body and Society," Religious Studies Review 19 (1993): 126-29.

5. Many feminist authors have collected abusive interpretations of these texts. For a balanced presentation of the material and a remarkable illustration of the need some communal and traditional context for biblical interpretation, see the work by William M. Swartley, Slavery Sabbath, War, and Women: Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1983).

6. Other examples can be adduced from Acts. For some examples, see Witherington, Women in the Earliest Churches, 143-57.

7. Man as Male and Female (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 111-19.

8. For a good development of this aspect of the question, see L. Ann Jervis, " `But I want you to know . . .': Paul's Midrashic Intertextual Response to the Corinthian Worshippers (1 Cor 11:2-16)," Journal of Biblical Literature 112 (1993): 211-30. There are some who maintain that Paul's praise here is nothing but a captatio benevolentiae, but a glance at his explicit statement in the following section (1 Cor 11:17), introducing another aspect of community worship, should dispel that notion. He says quite clearly he does not praise them.

9. Although the discussion in this passage is about "man" and "woman" in a general sense, Paul seems to be thinking principally about husbands and wives even when he is referring to Genesis texts or discussing the usual course of nature in which "man is of woman." I do not agree with Antoinette Clark Wire, who, amid some valuable remarks, maintains that Paul has in mind the celibate women he has discussed previously: The Corinthian Women Prophets: A Reconstruction Through Paul's Rhetoric. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990).

10. There has been an effort to deny that kephale ever means "ruler" in literature contiguous to Paul. See for instance Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, "Sex and Logic in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 42 (1980): 482-500, and the literature given there. But this has been shown to be inadequate. For instance: Wayne Grudem, "Does kephale (`Head') Mean `Source' or `Authority' in Greek Literature? A, Survey of 2336 Examples," Trinity Journal 6 (1985): 38-59; Joseph Fitzmyer, "Another Look at KEPHALE in 1 Corinthians 11.3," New Testament Studies 35 (1989): 503-11; and again, "Kephale in I Corinthians 11:3," Interpretation 47 (1993): 52-59.

11. Recall what was said earlier about the power of these realities in the ancient world: Honor and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean, ed. David D. Gilmore, American Anthropological Association, special publication 22 (Washington: American Anthropological Association, 1987).

12. For an argument in favor of the more usual translation, see Joël Delobel, "1 Cor 11,2-16: Towards a Coherent Interpretation," in L Apôtre Paul. Personnalité, Style et Conception du Ministère, ed. Albert Van-Hoye, Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 73 (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1986), 369-89.

13. I owe this notion of "having authority" to J. Delobel: "Of course, v. 10 has to do with the wearing of the head covering, because according to v. 5 this covering is the concrete way in which the woman behaves correctly as far as her head is concerned, the actual way in which she exercises control over her head" (ibid., 387).

14. See Joseph Fitzmyer, "A Feature of Qumran Angelology and the Angels of 1 Cor 11:10," in Essays on the Semitic Background of the New Testament (Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press, 1974), 187-204.

15. Fiorenza, following Joseph Kürzinger, translates choris in this verse as "different from" (In Memory of Her, 229-30). Besides being philologically less plausible, this proposal does not enhance the meaning suplied by the following explanatory verse, which states that as woman came from man, so man comes through woman.

16. This is the third time in this letter (see 4:17; 7:17) that Paul has appealed a more general observance of what he teaches in all the churches, and there will be another in 14:33b.

17. For an enumeration of the arguments in favor of considering this passage as an interpolation and a response, see Ben Witherington Ill, Women in the Earliest Churches, SNTS Monograph Series 59 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 90-104.

18. Ibid., 103.

19. The question of the authorship of Ephesians does not enter into our argument, though it does seem more likely that the letter is the work of a disciple who utilizes the previous material to advance the thought of the master, particularly in regard to ecclesiology.

20. It has become a commonplace to point to those places in the New Testament and early Christian literature that treat of life in a Christian household and to try to subsume them under one heading. As I mentioned in chapter 3, the texts usually invoked are Col 3:18-4:1; Eph 5:21-6:9; 1 Pet 2:17-3:9; 1 Tim 2:8-15; 6:1-10; Didache 4:9-11; Epistle of Barnabas 19:5-7; 1 Clement 21:6-9; and the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 4:2 - 6:3. The first two in this list bear a real resemblance, the others have in common only the subject matter, not any real literary form or structure. This leads me to doubt that line of argument which seeks to reduce them, and other Hellenistic and Jewish texts, to a common topos. The topos was then supposedly invoked by Christians who, as I mentioned previously, are presumed to have suffered a loss of nerve and capitulated to the pressure of their pagan neighbors in order to avoid persecution because of the liberty given to women in a Christian context. For some recent work on topos see John C. Brunt, "More on the Topos as a Literary Form," Journal of Biblical Literature 104 (1985): 495-500; Edward P J. Corbett, "The Topoi Revisited," in Rhetoric and Praxis (Washington: Catholic University Press, 1986), 43-57. Some work has been done to rectify the thinking based on the notion of topos and Christian capitulation by Ben Witherington III in Women in the Earliest Churches.

21. With the possible exception of 1 Pet 3:6, by implication.

22. The theme for this whole section is set by Eph 5:1-3, which is addressed to all believers: "Be then, imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love just as Christ loved us and gave himself over for us [see Gal 2:20], an offering and sacrifice to God for a fragrant odor." As Fiorenza puts it, "Patriarchal domination is thus radically questioned with reference to the paradigmatic love relationship of Christ to the Church" (In Memory of Her, 269-70). It may also be noted that, in the household texts, the primary duty of the husband is that of love for his wife (Eph 5:25; Col 3:19; equivalently, 1 Pet 3:7; Tit 2:6).

23. The most adequate treatment of the meaning of phobos in this context is to be found in Markus Barth, "Ephesians 4-6," in Anchor Bible 34A (New York: Doubleday, 1974), 608, 648-50, 662-68. To employ terms I will use in the next chapter, there is both a male and a female way of being subordinate to the other. We can read in Mulieris Dignitatem, §24, "All the reasons in favor of the subjection of woman to man in marriage must be understood in the sense of a mutual subjection of both out of a reverence for Christ."

24. Stephen Francis Miletic, "One Flesh": Eph. 5.22-24, 5.31, Marriage and the New Creation, Analecta Biblica 115 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1988), 117.

25. For a balanced assessment of this problem, see Jerome Quinn, "Timothy and Titus, Epistles to," in Anchor Bible Dictionary 6, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 560-71.

26. For an idea of the type of hair styles envisaged, see Witherington, Women in the Earliest Churches, 119, and the literature given there.

27. Simone Petrement, A Separate God: The Christian Origins of Gnosticism, trans. Carol Harrison (San Francisco: Harper, 1990), part 1, chapter 4, "The Signs of Gnosticizing Heresies at Ephesus."

28. For examples from early Jewish literature that accent Eve's responsibility and those that place the blame on Adam, see Susanne Heine, Women and Early Christianity: A Reappraisal, trans. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988), 14 -19.

29.A description of this process of deception may be provided by 2 Tim 3:6-9. See also 2 Pet 2:1-3, l0b-18; Rev 2:20-23, Irenaeus, Against the Heresies 1,13,1-4


Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

Visit also our websites:Women Deacons, The Body is Sacred and Mystery and Beyond.

You are welcome to use our material. However: maintaining this site costs money. We are a Charity and work mainly with volunteers, but we find it difficult to pay our overheads.


Visitors to our website since January 2014.
Pop-up names are online now.



The number is indicative, but incomplete. For full details click on cross icon at bottom right.


Please, support our campaign
for women priests
Join our Women Priests' Mailing List
for occasional newsletters:
Email:
Name:
Surname:
City:
Country:
 
An email will be immediately sent to you
requesting your confirmation.