Household Codes Motyer

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  Stephen Motyer, “The Relationship Between Paul’s Gospel of ‘All One in Christ Jesus’ (Gal. 3:28) and the ‘Household Codes’,” Vox Evangelica  19 (1989): 33-48. The Relationship Between Paul’s Gospel  of ‘All One in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28)  and the ‘Household Codes’ Stephen Motyer [p.33] I NTRODUCTION   The problem is easily defined. The statement that ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female’ (Gal 3:28) sits very awkwardly beside the household codes of Colossians 3:18-4:1, Ephesians 5:22-6:9, and 1 Peter 2:18-3:7, 1  with their insistence that wives should submit to their husbands, and slaves to their masters. It looks uncomfortably like the unspoken revoking of the party manifesto after the election, when it is discovered that the  promises made were just too bold to fit the realities of life. But even this analogy is too kind: for the Haustafeln (to give them their convenient German name) do not apologize in any way,  but urge this submission and obedience as the outworking of Christian discipleship ‘in the Lord’ 2  so that apparently the same ethical foundation (‘in Jesus Christ’, ‘in the Lord’) is given for two diametrically opposed views of social relationships. This judgement is, of course, too hasty. It is immediately possible to respond that Paul never intended in Galatians 3:28 to deny the existence  of the distinctions listed, merely their significance . Along these lines Rengstorf has argued that the Haustafeln, far from contradicting this basic gospel statement, are in fact its logical outworking. For him, the significance of Øpot£ssesqai  is limited to the area of parenthood, where it is appropriate that the wife ( qua  mother) should submit to her husband ( qua  father), because in the conception of children the husband reflects the creative activity of God. But in so far as she relates to him just as a man , she is his equal. Rengstorf leaves the master-slave relationship untouched, and his argument looks very much like special pleading ― Ephesians 5:22 mentions no such dramatic qualification ―  but nonetheless, following Rengstorf’s lead, we could argue that the whole point of the Haustafeln is the presentation of the household as a harmonious unity, with each part fulfilling its role within the whole as an expression of a common bond to Christ which transcends all differences. 3  We could even say that the 1  We limit our consideration to these three, in which the literary form appears most clearly. ‘Household Codes’ have also been found in 1 Tim 2:8-3:13, 5:1-6:2; Tit 2:210, and even (by K H Rengstorf, ‘Die neutestamentlichen Mahnungen an die Frau, sich dem Marine unterzuordnen’, in W Foerster (ed), Verbum Dei  Manet in Aeternum: Festschrift O Schmitz  (Wittenberg 1953) 133) in 1 John 2:12-14, as well as at several points in the Apostolic Fathers (Didache 4:9-11; Barnabas 19:5-7; 1 Clement 21:6-9; Polycarp, Phil 4:2-6:3; Ignatius to Polycarp 5:1-2: references from M Dibelius,  An die Kolosser Epheser an Philemon  (Tübingen 1953) 48). But these later examples show deviations of both form and content over against the three basic passages (form: the exhortation becomes more discursive, the neat reciprocity vanishes; content: interest is no longer restricted to the ‘household’, but is now mainly devoted to the church), and for this reason, simply to make the task a little simpler, we leave them out of account. The problem of diversity which the basic passages pose is quite difficult enough. Because the point of comparison is Pauline, we will concern ourselves more with Eph and Col than with 1 Pet. 2  Col 3:18, 20; Eph 6:1; cf æj ™n kur…J in Eph 5:22, 6:5, Col 3:23. 3  Underlying Rengstorf’s rather extraordinary view is a concern with the o    koj  as the object of Christian mission (136f, 139). He writes that we do not find a whole new conception of the o    koj in the Haustafeln, but ‘wohl... ist neu die Art and Weise, wie hier die zeitgenössische Lebensform des o    koj in seiner Ganzheit and unter  Stephen Motyer, “The Relationship Between Paul’s Gospel of ‘All One in Christ Jesus’ (Gal. 3:28) and the ‘Household Codes’,” Vox Evangelica  19 (1989): 33-48. Haustafeln present the Monday ― to Saturday expression of a basic principle of unity which finds its fullest earthly expression in the common Sunday worship ―  perhaps conducted in the same o    koj . 4  [p.34] There is probably truth in such statements; but on their own they represent an over-simplification which ignores real difficulties. For Paul, the distinction between Jew and Greek really was abolished through the gospel, and he fought with great determination against any reemergence of it, in religious or social life. But plainly the distinction between ‘slave and free’ was not abolished in the same way, even though this was an available social option taken up by some religious groups. 5  Paul does not suggest that Philemon ought to set Onesimus free  because he is a brother in Christ, though he objects strongly to Peter’s unwillingness to abandon the Jewish food-laws in Galatians 2:12ff. So it is not possible to maintain that Galatians 3:28 is not   a programme of social reform ―  because in one of the three areas mentioned it plainly was so understood. Why not, then, in the other two? 6  The difficulties multiply further. In the 1 Peter Haustafel only slaves, wives and husbands are addressed; children, parents and masters are not mentioned. It is hard to maintain that this Haustafel is addressed to the o    koj  as a socio-religious unit! Rather, it looks as if, in all the Haustafeln, the emphasis falls on the differentiated address to each ‘sort’ of person, and not on the o    koj  as a whole. This is certainly Paul’s method in 1 Corinthians 7:16-24, a passage widely regarded as parallel to the Haustafeln. Once this view is taken, however, Rengstorf’s link with Galatians 3:28 is broken. And further: it is now universally recognized, following the work of Dibelius and especially of his pupil Weidinger, that the Haustafeln are close cousins to a tradition of ethical instruction widely found in the Hellenistic and Hellenistic-Jewish world. It is found, for instance, in the Stoic Epictetus, who gives advice to an imaginary pupil who asks him how it would be fitting for him to behave, as a pious, wise and caring person, towards the gods, his  parents, his brothers, his country and strangers (Diss 11:17:31). Seneca also urges his reader to think about the behaviour appropriate to his particular position in life, and recommends  philosophy, ‘which gives to each person that which is appropriate to him, and does not lump all men together but persuades the husband of the right behaviour towards his wife, the father of the right way to bring up his children, the master of the right way to rule his slaves’ (Epist 94:1). Philo, though he was no Stoic, yet adopts the Stoic concept of tÕ kaqÁkon , and makes frequent use of a similar list-form of ethical duties. One small example will suffice: in gleichmässiger Beachtung aller seiner Glieder and ihres gegenseitigen Verhältnisses in das Licht des christlichen Offenbarungsglaubens gerackt and von ihm her normiert wird’ (139). Because of this, the Haustafeln may be conceived of as ‘angewandtes Kerygma’ (141 n 24). 4  Rengstorf, Verbum Dei , 139f finds it highly relevant that the New Testament church is presented as a kat' o    kon ™kklhs…a  (l Cor 16:19; Rom 16:5; Col 4:15; Phm 2; Acts 2:46, 5:42). This means ‘dass es sich fur Paulus in dem Satz Gal 3, 28 tatsächlich um die Grundregel für das Leben der Gemeinde and nicht bloss um eine Theorie handelt’ (140f). 5  J Gnilka, ‘Exkurs 3: Die Haustafeln’,  Der Kolosserbrief   (Freiburg 1980) 215: in Judaism a slave of foreign srcin was set free, if he adopted the Jewish religion; and certain Gnostic and mystery-religion groups abandoned all distinctions between slaves and masters. 6  Cf E & F Stagg, Woman in the World of Jesus  (Philadelphia 1978) 164f: they discern a qualification of the acceptance of slavery in Philemon, and try as hard as they can to minimize Paul’s problem, but yet conclude, ‘measured by his own vision in Gal 3:28, much remained to be done in closing the gap between ideal and  practice’ (165).  Stephen Motyer, “The Relationship Between Paul’s Gospel of ‘All One in Christ Jesus’ (Gal. 3:28) and the ‘Household Codes’,” Vox Evangelica  19 (1989): 33-48. expounding the fifth commandment, Philo finds ethical instruction there for ‘old and young, rulers and ruled, benefactors and the objects of their care, slaves and masters’, as well as for  parents and children, and these duties he then outlines in a reciprocal manner very reminiscent of the New Testament Haustafeln (De Decal 165-167). Recently Thraede has argued that a further area of background is to be found in the so-called ‘Oikonomia’ [p.35] tradition, which had a long pedigree by New Testament times and sought to give practical advice on the running of the household. 7  Scholars disagree greatly over the assessment of the relationship between these traditions and the Haustafeln, as we shall see, but all agree that a relationship of some sort exists; and this immediately suggests that the Haustafeln represent the adoption into New Testament ethics of foreign elements which have no foundation in the basic ethical impulses of the New Testament itself. When we bear in mind the tension within the New Testament as well, the case seems irrefutable. Many varied attempts to approach this difficulty are available in the market of New Testament scholarship. A survey of the options on offer will help us to decide where to put our money. S OME S OLUTIONS TO THE P ROBLEM   The ‘Delay in the Parousia’ Theory The scholars who first pointed out the link between the Haustafeln and contemporary ethics, Dibelius and Weidinger, proposed that the earliest Christian congregations, committed to an ecstatic form of religion and a belief in the imminent End, had no place for practical ethical instruction at all, for all problems would very soon be solved. But as the End did not come, and as the practical problems of life in society did not go away, it became necessary to develop an ethical tradition out of an ecstatic ― and here it was very useful to be able to use material already to hand, albeit of pagan srcin, which could be ‘christianized’ simply by the addition of the little phrase ‘in the Lord’ 8 . Weidinger is clear that such an addition by no means leaves the content of the admonition unaltered; 9  but at the same time it remains an admonition drawn from a foreign source, and adopted into Christianity only because the srcinal ‘complete solution of the family and slave problem’ through the Spirit, outlined in Galatians 3:28, was no longer found to work. 10   7  The fullest survey of the more usually emphasized background in Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism is to be found in J E Crouch, The Origin and Intention of the Colossian Haustafel  (Göttingen 1972). Shorter surveys are conducted by E Lohse,  Die Briefe an die Kolosser and an Philemon  (Göttingen 1968), W Schrage, ‘Zur Ethic der neutestamentlichen Haustafeln’,  New Testament Studies  21 (1975) 1-22 and J Gnilka, Kolosserbrief  . 8  M Dibelius, Geschichte der urchristlichen Literatur II: Apostolisches and Nachapostoliches (Berlin 1926) 67f; idem, Kolosser, 48. K Weidinger, Die Haustafeln: Ein Snick urchristlicher Paranese (Leipzig 1928) 74. 9  ‘Zwischen wohlgefällig = “gern gesehen” and “wohigefailig in dem Herrn” liegt ein gewaltiger Unterschied’. After further ‘Verchristlichung’ by the addition of scriptural quotations and other Christian sentiments, ‘Von der idealen Vershwommenheit and Allgemeinheit der Stoa, wo alles Aussere für gleichgaltig erklart wird und von der persönlichen Korrektheit alles Glück erwartet wird, ist kaum noch etwas zu spüren’ (75). 10  Weidinger,  Haustafeln , 7. Gnilka, Kolosserbrief  , 215 also accepts that the delayed parousia was formative.11  Stephen Motyer, “The Relationship Between Paul’s Gospel of ‘All One in Christ Jesus’ (Gal. 3:28) and the ‘Household Codes’,” Vox Evangelica  19 (1989): 33-48. The ‘Degeneration’ Theory This heading is used to group together the work of three scholars who, in different ways, maintain that the Haustafeln display a degeneration from an srcinal purity. Drane does not, so far as I am aware, mention the Haustafeln either in his book on Pauline ethics or in his related article in  Novum Testamentum , 11  but it is easy to see what his judgement about them would be. The starting-point of his assessment is, he says, the view that we must distinguish  between ‘apostolic’ New Testament writings (in which law was abandoned and behaviour was ‘pneumatic’ and thus ‘truly “Christian”’) and ‘early Catholic’ New Testament [p.36] writings, in which law was reintroduced and ‘a well-defined code of behaviour carefully surrounded by moral rules’ was produced (‘Tradition’, 167). Further, the beginnings of the move from the one to the other can already be discerned in ‘the early and genuine Pauline epistles’ ( loc cit  ). In Drane’s understanding the process which, according to Weidinger, took  place in the church as a whole, can be traced in Paul’s own wrestling with the problems he faced. But Drane adds a value judgement according to which the later developments represent a sacrifice of Christian freedom (cf ‘Tradition’, 174, 177). Sanders sees an analogous process of degeneration taking place, but understands differently the centre from which Colossians and Ephesians degenerate. For him the real achievement of Pauline ethics is the eschatological conception of ¢g£ph , a moral impulse derived from the imminent expectation of righteousness. 12  But in Colossians and Ephesians the eschatology has changed, so that the dialectic is no longer between present and future, but between earth and heaven, in both of which the Christian is resident. Because his existence in heaven is assured, there is no foundation for the demand to bring one’s earthly existence into line with one’s heavenly. For this reason ‘the Haustafeln must... be seen as completely worthless for Christian ethics’, because they propose essentially worldly values in a vain attempt to make the Christian distinctive in the world (  Ethics , 75). Schweizer, on the other hand, finds the degeneration within the Haustafeln themselves. In the Colossian Haustafel, he argues, we encounter a robust ‘worldliness’ which, like the ethic of the Old Testament, builds upon the fact of creation to require a personal obedience to the Creator Lord in the context of what he has made. There is no appeal to a ‘world order’ ( Weltordnung ) within which the Christian must take up his allotted position. But in Ephesians and 1 Peter such an appeal begins to appear, 13  and this in fact is the start of a process of ‘paganization’, which increasingly emphasizes the necessity of the lower orders to submit, and which reaches its climax in the Haustafeln of the post apostolic period, where essentially Stoic appeals to the world order are brought in to reinforce a paternalistic church hierarchy, and personal obedience to the Lord has faded completely from view (‘Exkurs’, 162f; 11  J W Drane, P aul: Libertine or Legalist? A Study in the Theology of the Major Pauline Epistles  (London 1975); idem, ‘Tradition, Law and Ethics in Pauline Theology’,  Novum Testamentum  16 (1974)167-178. 12  J T Sanders,  Ethics in the New Testament: Change and Development (Philadelphia 1975) eg 56. 13  The emphasis on the man in Eph 5:22-33 suggests the underlying thought of a hierarchy (‘Excurs: Die Haustafeln’,  Der Brief an die Kolosser   (Neukirchen/Vluyn 1976) 163; ‘Die Weltlichkeit des Neuen Testaments: die Haustafeln’, in H Donner, R Hanhart and R Smend (eds)  Beiträge zur Alttestamentlichen Theologie: Festschrift W Zimmerli  (Göttingen 1977) 408. There is no address to masters to match that to slaves in 1 Pet 2:18-25 (‘Exkurs’, 162), and what is said to the slaves there could lead them to believe that service to the ‘higher class’ is identical with service to God (‘Weltlichkeit’,409f) ― etc.
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