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J. K. Gayle

Patriarchy with "love" is still patriarchy. Which means by such logic yours isn't so different from Aristotle's, John.

JohnFH

Kurk,

I'm not sure I understand you correctly, but here's a first try.

By your logic, not mine, anyone who notices that early Christianity including Paul humanized patriarchy rather than overturned it, is guilty until proven innocent.

I have run across this point of view before, but did not expect it from you.

I know, Kurk, that you respect Carolyn Osiek's scholarship. You are free to interact with her observations.
Where does she get things right? Where does she get things wrong, in reference to early Christianity and patriarchy?

J. K. Gayle

John,
By ana-logic, do you think that Paul humanized slavery rather than overturning it?

Ok, let's interact together with Osiek's scholarship. Are you familiar with "The Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5: 22-33): A Problematic Wedding" (Biblical Theology Bulletin '02? She herself "consider[s] this very influential passage in Ephesians first from the perspective of its historical and social context, then in light of its literary genre, and finally from the perspective of ecclesiology, in every case within a feminist framework of interpretation." She gives an "analysis and critique of how engendered power works, with a view ultimately toward the restructuring of society--including church--into a more just and equal distribution of power." Guess where the power unequally distributed was and is? That's right, we men had/have it.

So is Osiek writing about Paul here? She's claiming there are in Eph. "several Pauline themes" perhaps "beyond Paul's own thinking" by "the author of Ephesians [who] has read Paul well."

Right before her "Conclusion," Osiek says this (and we men do well to hear, I think):

"Both men and women do, however, make the connection that the ecclesial marriage metaphor means that women as members of the church should be submissive, however troublesome that realization may be, and whether they accept or reject it. Men certainly do identify not with the church in this metaphor, as members of it, but with Christ, because such identifications suit male interests. Herein lies the great danger posed by this ecclesiastical metaphor: it encourages men to identify with Christ, women with the church. As everyone knows who teaches or ministers, for most people the line between Christ and God is very thin. As long as the marriage metaphor is in play, gender symbolism is fixed. Men will, even unconsciously, identify with Christ and women with the church, and feminine imagery for God or Christ then has no place. Then God is the ultimate male."

So on to slavery and sexism. Osiek is one of very few scholars who examines the double bind of the female slave in the New Testament, Pauline economy. There is horrible silence in all the roles and rules that govern either the woman (i.e., "the husband's woman we call wife") or the slave (i.e., the male-only master's possession who is a human).

How are you reading Osiek as saying Paul humanizing patriarchy? And when does "humanizing" and "love" include silence? (Is patriarchy kinder under "Paul" than under Aristotle than under you, under the Male god, or even under me)?

JohnFH

Kurk,

Thanks for engaging on this, and doing so in a respectful way, though you find the direction of the conversation not necessarily to your liking. I hope the conversation will be helpful for others.

First of all, yes: Paul, Peter, and early Christianity in general did not overturn slavery, but humanized it. They viewed it as a relationship and filled it with Christological content, for both slaveholder and slave. Do you disagree with this? I don't think I'm doing more than point out the obvious.

For the rest, I think your difficulty is that Osiek is an egal who is fully aware of the riskiness of the theological and ethical path Ephesians 5 takes, of the fact that the passage has been and is abused by some, but nonetheless also believes that this very passage marks several steps forward from Aristotle, precisely in the direction of "love patriarchy." This combination for some reason strikes you as contradictory. But reread her full comments to which I link. She is clear about these very things.

Truman 1

Truman 1,

I believe that God intended for men and women to be equal and I believe that he sees them as equals. I think when the man is referred to the head of the wife I think that the man is to protect and help lead his wife not be in charge of her. When it talks about the wife obeying the husband I think that it is assuming that the man will act in the same ways that Christ did with the church. Therefore, I think that in many cases the man may be a poor example to obey and follow. I believe that if a marriage is going to be successful the man and the woman must be able to work together and compromise on many issues, which shows that they are equals.

True Grit 1

Following Truman 1’s lead, I think marriages are starting to strive for more of an equality between man and woman. Nowadays, it is more common to find more men and women striving to set a strong career following education. That’s not how it always used to be. With high career aspirations sometimes starting a family can be put on hold, and started later in life. This is starting to become a new trend as times are changing. The couple becomes more effective in sharing household duties as well as supporting the family at first. I also feel like it is right to share chores and for everyone to pitch in. I don’t believe that the woman necessarily has to perform the in-household chores if she doesn’t prefer and the man is happy with making dinner. But as a part of equality she should find a different chore to help out with around the house! It’s similar to the saying I learned in preschool, “sharing is caring.”

Praying with Lior 2

I agree with Osiek that, “change occurs at a slow drip.” This is true especially in regards to equality. For example, it has taken many decades for what a household was typically like, men working and women doing housework, to what it is today. Today more and more women are providing the primary income, while men are staying at home. If this isn’t the case for a family, household tasks are being distributed more equally between the couple. I think this is a big step, because it is showing that society is treating women almost as equally as men, which is something that wasn’t seen fifty years ago.

Dead Man Walking 2

I would continue to agree with the statements made by the different people above me, regarding how that change occurs slowly and the gender equality is slowing changing, but I wouldn’t by any means say it is at all close to being equal. What you may be falling into is the trap of just thinking about what you see around you. Don’t forget that there is a multitude of countries and different ways of thinking out in the world and that while the US maybe moving to a more equality by no means can the same be said of countries such Iran or India. I sincerely hope that someday equality can reach these countries, but also remind anyone that just because a holy book says it doesn’t make it right. As this topic demonstrates.

True Grit 2

Change can be a slow but it can also be very fast. It wasn’t till 1972 that congress passed an equal rights amendment and has been only ratified by 35 states. Change doesn’t happen overnight but in the large spectrum some changes in America have happened relatively fast. As for wanting other cultures to have equality like American, I don’t agree with. I don’t believe that a man should govern the women but in other cultures, that’s just the way it’s always been. I’ll use the example of polygamy. Not many women in American culture would feel comfortable with the idea of having to share a man with other women but in other cultures and religions this is commonly practiced.

Nell 1

God created Adam and formed Eve out of Adam. I do believe that God created both men and women equally because we are His creation. However, Adam had different duties than Eve had. Adam was to care, protect, and help lead Eve, not necessarily be in charge of her. When the wife is to obey the husband, I do not think that God is giving any more power to the man. Couples are to work together to have a successful marriage. When man and woman compromise and work together to get through tough times, they are proving they can respect each other and are equal. Marriage in today’s society is striving to have equality between men and women. Roles are slowly changing in today’s society and responsibilities that the men and women had years ago are now being distributed to both. For example, not all women are stay at home mothers anymore. In some cases, the man has taken on this role. Another trend that is more common is the fact that both men and women are striving to finish their education and find a job before starting a family. I agree that “change occurs at a slow drip.” It took awhile before the current household duties are where they stand today. Household tasks have begun to even distribute between members of the family which shows more equality, something that may not have been seen fifty years ago. However, one must keep in mind that even though the United States have begun to reach equality at home, it is not the same way in all countries. Someday I hope that all households will strive to have equality.

Nell 3

I would agree that change in America seems to come at a “slow drip.” If you think about how long it took for African-Americans to get equal rights, or women for that matter; it was not something that happened quickly. I would however point out that equality in America is relatively good compared to other parts of the world, in relation to both gender and religion. In America you are free to worship as you believe and are not restricted by any body as to what your religion is. In other countries you may be killed if you are a known worshiper of a forbidden religion. Women in other countries are treated like servants and sometimes even like an item. The story told in a previous post about a 13 year old girl being given away to a 40 year old man so the family could be stable financially proves my point.

shawshank redemption 5

Though I hate to agree, gender equality is a total myth. Women have came such a far way in terms of being treated equally, but there’s still so much to be done. One of the big issues in my opinion is that women get paid less than men. Why? Seriously, we can do the job just as well as a man, and in some cases, better than a man. I’m not trying to sound like one of those crazy feminists, the few who push it too far and make the other ones look bad, but it can’t be denied. I also need to clarify that I don’t think men should get any less, it should just be equal.
I agree that there are no solid grounds for a two-parent family model to thrive outside of a highly structured home where the division of labor and the configuration of domain-based hierarchies within that division are culturally given. Society’s view of the perfect nuclear family is a husband and wife with two or three children. The man works hard at his job while the woman stays home and takes care of the kids. They get by just fine and never have money troubles. I seriously don’t think I know anyone whose family is like that. Why should the women have to be a homemaker, whatever the hell that is, while the man gets to pursue his career goals?
My nuclear family consists of my lesbian mother, my eighty one year grandmother, and our five cats. You might think it’s odd that I include my cats in my nuclear family, but to us, they truly are family. It is easy to see we aren’t the norm. Though that’s true, we still have division of labor and hierarchies. When I go home to Fond du Lac, like most people my age, I have to keep my room clean, do my own laundry, and clean up after myself. My mom is the definition of a neat freak, so when I say I have to clean up after myself, I mean I have to pick up everything that wasn’t there before I was and make sure there are absolutely no crumbs. Even after I do this, my mom will “tidy up” after me because apparently I’m not qualified. In terms of hierarchies, the only time I’m on the top is over the cats. My mom has higher authority than me, but my grandma has the highest authority over both of us.

True Grit 3

Just like the controversy of homosexuality, men and women being equal is nowhere near where it should be. History lays it out as the wife had to obey the husband and things of that sort, I find that very disturbing, because it makes it seem like women are just and object and should do whatever a man tells them to do. I would agree with some of the other people when they say that equality between men and women is much better these days, but is nowhere near what it should really be.

Shawshank Redemption 3

I do not think God intended for men and women to be treated unequally. I think he meant for them to work as a team as husband and wife. I like to think of the relationship between husband and wife as one of my favorite sayings describes, "the husband may be the head of the family, but the wife is the neck, and the neck tells the head what to do." Unfortunately women have been suppressed by their husbands' authority, but I think Americans at least have come a long way in improving the equality between men and women. For example, in my family, both my parents went to college, work at office jobs, and have a joint account. They share everything they own and make decisions together on everything. Unlike in the past when women could hardly hold an office job, let alone be considered equal to their male co-workers, my mother actually holds a higher position than my father and makes more money than he does. They also share all the household duties. They clean together and and do yard work together. They also raised me and my brother to do the same. We had to switch off doing certain chores such as doing dishes or pulling weeds. Obviously there is still room for improvement in today's society when it comes to the equality of men and women, but I don't think that men and women could ever be considered completely equal in every aspect. Naturally men are stronger than women and physically more capable when it comes to gross motor skills, such as the ones used in sports, and women are more capable when it comes to fine motor skills. If men and women really were equal in every way, then there would be no WNBA, only the NBA. Of course this doesn't hold true in all cases, but for the majority it does. We can also see how women are being treated equally when we look at newer Christian churches that have women on the committee with just as much power to make decisions about the church as men have. Also, many churches allow women to be pastors. In most churches this is still unacceptable, but there are more and more churches that are appointing female pastors every year.

chariots of fire 3

As I was reading this article I felt that it was very one sided. The comment is made that America does not have gender equality, and the supporting fact was that feminist are the first to point that out. Asking feminist to comment on gender equality would be like asking a Chevy dealer what they think about the new Ford trucks; obviously their perspective is going to be completely distorted because they believe their vehicles are better. The fact is that America is one of the most gender equal countries in the entire world. Equality is very important and everyone should be treated fairly and equally.

Lior 4

I am of the opinion that women and minorities have it pretty good in America. If you want to see an example of women inequality then you should look towards the Middle East. Women there are basically servants to their husbands usually because of Islamic traditions. One also has to remember that when the bible was written, it was done so within a patriarchal society, so women inequality is to be expected.

Nell 6

I believe that God intended for men and women to be treated equal. If he wanted one sex to be inferior he would have done something to one sex to make them inferior. It has gotten a lot better over the year with men and women being equal. It is not expected anymore that the women stay home every day and cook and clean or watch the children. Now there are men that do this job as well there are many stay at home days or men who are nannies “manies” and this is accepted in our culture for the most part. There are many more women in the work for now than there used to be and this is also starting to be more and more accepted. Even though men and women now can have the same jobs there is still a difference in the wages that they make women are still only making 70 cents to the man’s dollar, this is one of the things that still needs to be worked on if men and women are really going to be equals like God intended for us.

Pulp Fiction 3

Change is slow, it happens over a vast amount of time. With marriage there is more equality between man and women in the household. Yes we do say “hes the man of the house” but we also say “shes the queen of the house.” The household is beginning to become more shared through chores and responsibility. Change has come a long way in society! I still feel that women are discriminated against in some cases, but they are rising up in the world, and showing that they are very influential for this world.

Shawshank 4

I think God entirely intended for man and woman to be seen as equals. However, perhaps there are certain gender roles and gender stereotypes that society will never break away from. I have noticed that in my own parent’s marriage they have, and stick to, strict roles. In short, my father is the “provider” and my mother is the “caretaker”. My father has always been the parent that works long, hard hours to assure there is a roof over our heads and food in or mouths, and my mother is the parent that tends to said “roof”. My mother might not do the same job as my father but I have never thought that her job was easier or less important than his and that is the crucial piece to remember. Although some families may practice more traditional ways of life, or stick to more traditional gender roles they do embrace the modernity of their situation. My father praises my mother for having the patience to stay home all day cleaning and cooking or running errands all day and doing the things that keep everyone else’s lives in line. Just the same, my mother praises my father for going out into the work word and wearing himself down working hard to supply income. They acknowledge completely that they could not trade places, and they are equally outstanding at their given roles. As long as appreciation is given neither feels inferior to nor dominant over the other.

Nell 5

Just like prejudice, sexism will always remain. Granted, equality has gotten better over the past couple decades. However, you look at how an average man will view his wife, and that is as one who bears children and is expected to take care of them. In today's society, that is not always true and instead the roles change. The point I am trying to convey here is this: gender roles are instilled in us by our culture and circumstances. It is hard to change how people view the opposite sex, but all we can do is work towards a more equal future. As time has taught us, all things change.

Dead Man Walking 5

God created both men and women to be equals. Although Eve was created from Adam, they she was not meant to be inferior to him in any way. They simply had different duties in their relationships. Adam was geared more towards protecting and caring and not necessarily to be in charge of Eve. I think there is no reason that God would decide to give more power to either gender. Couples were meant to work together to raise a child and live together. Not one person was meant to have more power over the other, despite difference in duties and responsibilities, each person works together to perform everything that was needed. Roles for genders have changed dramatically over time. Years ago, women married men and then were stay at home mothers while the man was out working. Slowly, over time, this role has changed and now the majority of women have excellent jobs and are even heading companies.

The Mission 5

I have been reading many case studies in an Anthropology class, and I have never been more grateful to live in the US. In other cultures women have to endure female circumcision, beatings, share husbands, arranged marriages, and the list goes on. While we may have a little work yet to do on equality in this country, I am thankful that I have the right to stick up for myself as an equal.

The Truman Show 3

I agree that in an ideal world, equality exits between men and women, however, I do agree with Carolyn Osiek when she claims that gender equality is a myth and we have traded one set of gender inequalities for another. Anyone who is in touch with modern society can tell you, that although it is not as bad as it used to be, gender inequality remains a part of society. As The Mission 5, In other cultures women suffer much worse gender inequality, but in the United States, it tends to be more prevalent in careers and salaries, than beatings and arranged marriages. Although gender equality is the ultimate goal, I feel that it is a difficult task to push an entire nation in the right direction any time soon.

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  • Ricoblog
    by Rick Brannan, it's the baby pictures I like the most
  • Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
    Nick Norelli's fabulous blog on Bible and theology
  • SansBlogue
    by Tim Bulkeley, lecturer in Old Testament, Carey Baptist College (New Zealand). His Hypertext Commentary on Amos is an interesting experiment
  • Ancient Near Eastern Languages
    texts and files to help people learn some ancient languages in self study, by Mike Heiser
  • Midrash, etc.
    A fine Hebrew-to-English blog on Midrash, by Carl Kinbar, Director of the New School for Jewish Studies and a facultm member at MJTI School of Jewish Studies.
  • Phil Lembo what I'm thinking
    a recovering lawyer, now in IT, with a passion for a faith worth living
  • Roses and Razorwire
    a top-notch Levantine archaeology blog, by Owen Chesnut, a doctoral student at Andrews University (MI)
  • Scripture & Theology
    a communal weblog dedicated to the intersection of biblical interpretation and the articulation of church doctrine, by Daniel Driver, Phil Sumpter, and others
  • Scripture Zealot
    by Jeff Contrast
  • Serving the Word
    incisive comment on the Hebrew Bible and related ancient matters, with special attention to problems of philology and linguistic anthropology, by Seth L. Sanders, Assistant Professor in the Religion Department of Trinity College, Hartford, CT
  • Singing in the Reign
    NT blog by Michael Barber (JP University) and Brad Pitre (Our Lady Holy Cross)
  • Stay Curious
    excellent comment on Hebrew Bible and Hebrew language topics, by Karyn Traphagen, graduate, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia PA (archive)
  • Sufficiency
    A personal take on the faith delivered to the saints, by Bob MacDonald, whose parallel blog on the Psalms in Hebrew is a colorful and innovative experiment
  • The Sundry Times
    Gary Zimmerli's place, with comment on Bible translations and church renewal
  • Sunestauromai: living the crucified life
    by a scholar-pastor based in the Grand Canyon National Park
  • ta biblia
    blog dedicated to the New Testament and the history of Christian origins, by Giovanni Bazzana
  • Targuman
    by Christian Brady, targum specialist extraordinaire, and dean of Schreyer Honors College, Penn State University
  • Targuman
    on biblical and rabbinic literature, Christian theology, gadgetry, photography, and the odd comic, by Christian Brady, associate professor of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature and dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
  • The Biblia Hebraica Blog
    a blog about Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the history of the Ancient Near East and the classical world, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, early Judaism, early Christianity, New Testament interpretation, English Bible translations, biblical theology, religion and culture, philosophy, science fiction, and anything else relevant to the study of the Bible, by Douglas Magnum, PhD candidate, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • The Forbidden Gospels Blog
    by April DeConick, Professor of Biblical Studies, Rice University
  • The Naked Bible
    by Mike Heiser, academic editor at Logos Bible Software
  • The Reformed Reader
    by Andrew Compton, Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (focus on Hebrew and Semitic Languages) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • The Sacred Page
    a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma
  • The Talmud Blog
    a group blog on Talmud News, Reviews, Culture, Currents, and Criticism
  • Theological German
    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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    Copyright © 2005 by John F Hobbins.