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«Alan Padgett The PaulineRationale for Submission: Biblical Feminism and the hina Clauses ofTitus.2:1-10 Mr Pad.,{ett has previously contributed to ...»

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Alan Padgett

The PaulineRationale for

Submission: Biblical Feminism

and the hina Clauses ofTitus.2:1-10

Mr Pad..,{ett has previously contributed to The Evangelical

Quarterly on the problem of feminism in the New Testament

(58:2, April, 1986, 121-32). A minister of the United Methodist

Church, he is at present doing further study in the University of

Oxford.

For the scholarship of a previous. generation, it was axiomatic

that Paul believed in the inferiority of women and for this reason I required that wives submit to· their husbands. For example, Albert Schweitzer believed that for Paul, 'the man stands closer to God than the woman'.l This was an indication for Schweitzer of an inferior religion.

An interpretation of Paul has appeared, in recent years which argues that he was an egalitarian, especially in the light of hi!;) cultural milieu. 2 This new understanding of Paul is part of what I call 'biblical feminism', 'that is, a hermeneutic which respects the authority and integrity of the text and the equality and dignity of women, or better, holds to the latter because of the former. The centerpiece of this new and, in my opinion, correct reading of Paul is Gal. 3:28. Here Paul clearly teaches that in Christ a legalistic understanding of the OT and its social implications has been transcended.:~ The division between Jew and Gentile, slave 1 The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle (New York: Holt, 1931), 9.

., Among many works, see the following books in English: K. C. Bushnell, God's Wor'd to Women (Oakland, CA: private, 1923); K. Stendahl, The Bible and the Role of Women (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966); L. Scanzoni and N.

Hardesty, All We're Meant to Be (Waco, TX: Word, 1974); R. {i,o J. Boldrey, Chauvinist O/' Femini..,t? Paul's View of Women (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976);

M. Barth, Ephesians 4-6 (Garden City: Doubleday, 1977); D. Williams, The Apostle Paul and Women in the Chw'ch (Van Nuys, CA: BIM, 1977); P.

Tribles, God and the Rheto/'ic ofSe.L'uality (Philadelphia: Forh'ess, 1978); and M. J. Evans, Woman in the Bible (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1983). The work of some feminists does not give enough weight to the authority of the whole of Scripture to fit my definition of biblical feminism.

:j Ben Witherington, 'Rites and Rights for Women-Galatians 3:28', NTS 27, 1980/81, 593-604; F, F. Bruce, Commentary on Galatians (Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans, 1982), 189t:: H. D. Betz, Galatiarzs (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979), 189-200.

The Evangelical Quarterly and free, male and female, has been abolished in the Body of Christ ('in Christ'). Krister Stendahl quite correctly tells us, 'There can be no doubt that Paul did everything in his power toapply this principle in the actual life of his congregations.'4 Pace those who see this verse as merely a spiritual and not a practical equality, Paul did apply this egalitarian understanding in the church. Not only did he apply it to Jew-Gentile relationships in Gal., he clearly applied this principle to male-female relationships in 1 Cor. 11:2-16. In this passage, a similar understanding of the equality between men and woman (1 Cor. 11:11f.) led him to assert the right of women to wear their hair however they wish in the church services (11:10).5 An egalitarian view ofmamage can also be found at 11 Cor. 7:1-5. These examples demonstrate that Paul believed Jew and Greek, male and female, slave and free, to be equal in Christ even in the cox:tcrete situations of his day.

The question naturally arises, why did Paul then command submission? Our essay will focus on the qt1estion of submission to husbands. Although submission of slaves to masters was at one time a subject of some.controversy in America, since the slaves were 'freed', scholars have begun to see that slavery is not taught in the NT.6 The 'woman question', however, has yet to be settled.

The equally important question of submission to the state is outside the scope of this brief essay. 7 with respect to the Pauline submission regulations, the greatest difficulty for a biblical feminist hermeneutic arises from the Pastoral Epistles. The house-codes of Eph. and Col. describe a rather balanced give-and-take in the Christian home. Wives are called to submit, but not to obey unwillingly. Husbands are recognized as authorities, for the Roman culture of the day, but the kind of authority they are called to is one oflove and service,.

after the model of Christ (Eph. 5:25, Mk. 9:35 par.). This submission takes place in the context of a mutual submission of all Christians, one to the other (Eph. 5:21, C£ Phil. 2:2-4). Against the authoritarianism of his day, Paul has developed an ethic.. Role of Women, 33.

See my 'Paul on Women in the Church: The Contradictions of Coiffure in 1 Cor. 11:2-16,' ]SNT 20, 1984, 69-86.

G G. Klein, 'Christusglaube and Weltverantwortung als Intetpretation-probleme neutestamentlicher Theologie', VF 18, 1973, 47-54; E. Schweizer, 'Zum Sklavenproblem in Neuen Testament', EvTh 32, 1972, 502-506; S. Scott Bartchy, MALLON CHRESAI: First Centw,), Slaver,), and the Interpretation of 1 Corinthiarls 7:21 (Missoula: Scholars Pr., 1973). The subject was hotly debated in ante-bellum America. See the review essay, 'Slavery and the Bible', The New Englander 15, 1857, 102-134.

7 On this question, see P. Le Fort, 'Le responsabilite politique de l'tglise d'apres les epitres pastorales', EThR 49 (1974) 1-14.





The Pauline Rationale for Submission 41 where husbands are called to love and nurture their wives, as they would their own bodies (Eph. 5:28). He begins with the structure of the Roman household, but so fills it with love and service, each to the other, that he radically transforms it. 8 This egalitarian understanding of submission cannot be I transferred to the church-codes of the Pastorals. True, the word hypotassesthai still means a voluntary submission to a recognized authority. 9 But the context of this voluntary submission has radically changed. Gone is the mutuality of love and service that.one finds in Eph. There is a tendency for biblical feminists, therefore, to dismiss the Pastorals as deutero- or sub-Pauline, contrary to the teachings ofJesus and the 'true' Paul, and thus not important. Whether written by Paul or not, they are still authoritative as Canon, and therefore cannot be simply written off as less important for today than earlier NT writings. They deserve better study.lo There has been no research devoted solely to Tit. 2:1-10 that I could find. However, it does fall into two broad areas that have been studied: the Pastorals as a whole, and the NT house-codes or Haustafeln.

Most of the research into the Pastorals has focused on the question of authorship. Since this question is not central to my thesis, I will only deal with it summarily, considering four major positions. The first position, defended by Spicq and Guthrie, is that Paul himself wrote the Pastorals. Appeal is made to the obvious similarities between thePastorals and other writings by Paul; and that the style, language, context, etc. of letters can change with age and audience. l l This position is hard to accept, though, given the quaritity and the quality of the differences

Else Kahler, Die Frau in den paulinischen Briefen (ZurichlFrankfurt:

Gotthelf, 1960), 97-110; M. Barth, Ephesians, 608-611, 700-715, S. Scott Bartchy, 'esus, Power and Gender Roles', TSF Bulletin 7/3,JaniFeb 1984, 2ff., which contains 'theses' toward a fuller study.

G. Delling, TDNT, 8:41-45; E. Kahler, Die Frau; and her 'Zur Unterordnung der Frau im Neuen Testament', ZEE 3,1959,1-13; M. Barth, 609f, 708--715.

Among many others, see D. J. Doughty, 'Women and Liberation in the Churches of Paul and the Pauline Tradition', Drew Gateway, 50/2, Wint.

1979, 1-21: '... in the Pastoral Epistles any Christian basis for the subordination of women is totally absent.' (p.16). Ct: Tom aden, i.a., who argues for the authority and importance of the Pastorals in Agenda for Theology (San Francisco: Harper (j,o Row, 1979), 130-147.

D. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles and the Mind of Paul (London: Tyndale, 1955); his The Pastoral EpiBtleS (London: Tyndale, 1957); his New Testament Introduction (Downers Grove, 11: InterVarsity, 1970), 1~22;

and C. Spicq, Saint Paul: Les Epftres Pa..,torales (Paris: Gabalda,.19694) esp.

1:157-214.

The Evangelical Quarterly between the Pastorals and the accepted Pauline letters.12 The 80called 'fragmentary hypothesis' is equally difficult. Although it was interesting and convincing when first proposed by Hanison more than sixty years ago, it has received criticism since that time that makes it less SO.13 Why are the fragments distributed among three pseudo-letters? If they were separate, how did they survive, and why only these? Questions like these have led Hanson, for example, to abandon the fragmentary hypothesis he formerly adhered to. 14 Two more acceptable theories are the 'secretary theory' and the deutero-pauline theory, or pseudepigraphic theory. is I prefer the secretary theory to the deutero-pauline theory (specifically a Lucan redaction). The latter view explains only the dissimilarities from Acts. It does not explain the These are still best set forth in P. N. Harrison, The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles (Oxford: Oxford U. Pr., 1921).

See the decisive criticisms of D. Guthrie (n. 11); and more recently, David 1:i Cook, 'The Pastoral Fragments Reconsidered',]TS, n.s. 35 (1984), 120-130.

Versions of the fragmentary hypothesis are still maintained by two recent commentators: G. Holtz, Die Pastoralbritfe (Berlin: Evangelishe Vlg., 1965) and P. Dornier, us Epitres Pastorales (Paris: Gabalda, 1969).

A. T. Hanson, The Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982), 6f. Hanson adopts the deutero-pauline theory.

The best defense of the deutero-pauline theory to date is Peter Trummer, Die Paulustradition der PaStoralbriefe (FrankfurtlLas Vegas: Lang, 1978). See also N. Brox, Die Pastoralbritfe (Regensburg: F. Pustet, 19694 ),22-77. One of the best critiques of the deutero-pauline theory can be found in the introduction (also in the commentary) by Gordon Fee, 1. and 2 Timothy, Titus (San Francisco: Harper & Row,.1984). See also Spicq and Guthrie (cited in n. 11). Versions of the secretary theory are found in O. Roller, Das Formular der paulinischen Britfe (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1933);J.Jeremias

and H.· Strathmann, Die Britfe an Timotheus und Titus (Gtittingen:

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, '1981 12); S. de Lestapis, L'enigme des Pastorales de Saint Paul (Paris: Gabalda, 1976); C. F. D. Moule, 'The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles', IfJRL 47,1965,430-452; Stephen G. Wilson, Luke and the Pastoral Epistles (London: SPCK, 1979); J. D. Quinn, I, II Timothy, Titus (Anchor Bible, Garden City: Doubleday, forthcoming) and his 'The Last Volume of Luke', Perspectives at! Luke-Acts ed. C. H. Talbert (Edinburgh: T.

& T. Clark, 1978), 62-75). I accept a dating for the Pastorals from F. F.

Bruce, New Testament Hist01")' (Garden City: Anchor, 1972), 350-367; his Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 441and W. Metzger, Die letzte Reise des Apostels Paulus (Stuttgart: Calwer Vlg., 1976), who defend a second Roman imprisonment. For criticisms of Lucan redaction see N..Brox, 'Lukas als Verfasser der Pastoralbriefe',JAC 13 (1970), 62-77. For a different chronology, see Bo Reicke, 'Chronologie der Pastoralbriefe', TLZ, 101 (1976),81-94; Lestapis, 185-301;J. A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976), 67-77.

The Pauline Rationale for Sub'mission 43 similarities to Acts;16 the apparently authentic passages upon which the fragmentary theory was based, and the theological similarities to Rom. despite the lack of any direct citations from that book. 17 I believe a secretary (Luke?) would reproduce ideas in different language, but a later disciple would actually quote Paul (as the early Fathers do). There are problems with this theory, as with all theories of the authorship of the Pastorals. 18 But in my opinion it best covers all the data, with the least difficulties. I shall thus refer to the author as 'Paul'.

Fortunately, since nothing like a consensus is forthcoming with reespect to the question of authorship, the cen:tral thesis of this essay does not depend on answering this question. All that is necessary is that Tit. 2 reflect an authentic rationale for women's submission. All theories of authorship admit that the Pastorals contain some Pauline material, even if written by his secretary or disciple. I assume, therefore, that Tit. 2:1-10 reflects Paul's reasons for commanding submission, even if expressed in unPauline language..

The second broad area of research that this pericope falls under is the house-codes. Though Seeberg was the first to focus scholarly attention on these codes, Dibelius was the more important early researcher in~o their Hellenistic background. i9 He concluded that words like 'it is fitting' (aneken) point to a Stoic morality which the house-codes merely Christianized. 20 His student Weidinger expanded this idea, to the point where it is a 'given' in some circles. 21 More recent research has found parallels in Greek philosophy, Hellenisticjudaism, and the Old Testament traditions, that are just as close-if not closer-to the NT pattern of addressing slaves,· women, and children as ethically responsible, Wilson, passim; Lestapis, 129-148; A. Strobel, 'Schreiben des Lukas?', NTS 15 (1968/69), 191-200. N. Turner, in Moulton, Grammar, 4:104 notes 34 non-Pauline words, common to Luke, in the Pastorals.

Lestapis, 315-388, for example.

N. Brox, 'Lukas', Hanson, 8f.

A. Seeberg, Der Katechismus de,' U,'ch1'iBtenheit (Leipzig: A.

Deichertschen, 1903); M, Dibelius, An die Kolosser, Epheser, an Philemmon (Tiibingen:

Mohr, 1953:i ), 48--50.

Ibid.

K. Weidinger, Die Haustafeln (Leipzig: J. C. Heinrich 1928). Weidinger rejected a purely Stoic origin, pp. 43-48.

The Evangelical Quarterly along with the free adult male. 22 There is specifically in the NT house-codes a reciprocity of 'what is fitting' that is developed significantly 'in the Lord' or 'in Christ'.2:-1 There is a mutuality here, and as Lillie says, 'aspirations to a more egalitarian order. '24 "While most scholars will often group the pastoral house-codes with the others, Schroeder has noticed an important distinction. 25 The reciprocity of the house-codes, and the balance of husband!



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