Thursday, September 11, 2003

Fee Article

Recently published article by Gordon Fee:

The Cultural Context of Ephesians 5:18–6:9 (PDF)

Its subtitle is "Is there a divinely ordained hierarchy in the life of the church and home that is based on gender alone?" which will give you some idea of the target audience. It's from a journal / magazine I hadn't heard of before, called PRISCILLA PAPERS (Winter 2002: 16:1). An excerpt to give you a taste:

"The fact that our cultural assumptions are so different from theirs makes it difficult for us even to imagine how absolutely radical and earth-shattering the Christian gospel sounded in their ears. Take especially Paul’s conclusion to his argument with the Galatians over true ecclesiology, having to do with Jew and Gentile as members together in the one household of God. “In Christ,” he says, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ.”
But such a revolutionary statement was not intended to abolish the structures, which were held in place by Roman law. Rather, it was intended forever to do away with the significance attached to such structural differences, which pitted one group of human beings against another. And the most radical thing of all was that such people—Jew and Gentile, slave and free, men and women—shared a common meal together, itself a cause for cultural shame, and thus celebrated their Lord’s death until he was to come again—which, as 1 Corinthians 11:17–34 makes clear, created onsiderable tension for the traditional householder. No wonder the world had such difficulty with these early Christians, and why they were considered to be “haters of humanity,” because they so willingly broke the rules—not by tearing down the structures, but by making them ultimately irrelevant! Such people are greatly to be feared as the worst of all possible anarchists.
So what in the end is it that makes our present text so radically countercultural? What Paul obviously did not do was to demolish the structures and create new ones. What was radical lay in his urging those who are filled with the Spirit and worship Christ as Lord to have totally transformed relationships within the household." (pp. 7-8).

Update (23 September 2005): Link updated (with thanks to Danny Zacharias for notifying me of the dead link above).