I have just downloaded Gordon Wenham’s Story as Torah in libronix format. It looks like it is going to be a great read. I became interested in this book for 3 reasons. 1) Gordon Wenham is on faculty at Trinity college, Bristol where I am studying. I figure that if I read faculty books then I may be given extra biscuits at the postgraduate seminars (2) It has implications for the New Perspective on Paul (3) Don Garlington posted a helpfull review.
I came across this great quote from the introduction,
So there is a paradox in Old Testament narrative ethics: on the one hand God is terribly demanding, he looks for nothing less than godlike perfect behaviour, yet on the other, despite human failings, he does not forget his covenant loyalty to his people, and ultimately brings them through the suffering that their sin has brought about. Old Testament ethics are therefore as much about grace as about law: they declare that God, the all-holy, is also God, the all-merciful.
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This week, after someone sent me a book token, I purchased Slaves, Women and Homosexuals. IT is proving to be an excellent purchase which offers a short course in cultural hermeneutics. I may offer an overview of the book later but here is the blurb from IVP academic.
The introduction and Chapter One can be read online.
For now let me just share some reflections on the following verses of scripture.
- ” Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,” (1 Peter 3:1, ESV)
- “and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Titus 2:4-5, ESV)
- ” Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” (1 Peter 2:13-15, ESV)
- “Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.” (1 Timothy 6:1, ESV)
- “Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” (Titus 2:9-10, ESV)
I had not noticed, from this list, that the purpose of sunmission is their witness.. ie. (1) ‘that they may be won’, (2) word of God may not be reviled (3) put to silence ignorance (4) teaching may not be reviled (5) adorn the doctrine of God our saviour.
It may be that we seek to put ourselves under the authority of the word; by wives being subject (1), and submissive (2) to husbands. By being subject to the state (note carefully JT) (3) and by serving faithfully as a slave (5). However the purpose of these instructions is missional.
If I became a slave in the 21st century(5) I would not be able to fulfill the purpose of ‘adorning the doctrine of God’. In fact, it would be anti-missional and would look like I wanted to revert to a society which endorses slavery. What about submission between wife and husband(1,2), between submission to a leader in a democratic society (3) ?
. As society changes and shifts our missional responses, to some degree, change.
Not everyone is as convinced by the book, but I would say that for those who want to live faithfully to scripture and are aware of the complexiities of cultural change, the book is a must read.
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