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Neues Testament


Körner, Johanna


Sexualität und Geschlecht bei Paulus. Die Spannung zwischen »Inklusivität« und »Exklusivität« des paulinischen Ethos am Beispiel der Sexual- und Geschlechterrollenethik.


Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2020. XIII, 332 S. = Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament. 2. Reihe, 512. Kart. EUR 84,00. ISBN 978-3-16-156713-1.


William Loader

A doctoral dissertation completed under the supervision of Matthias Konradt in Heidelberg, this monograph addresses the questions of the extent to which Christ-believers and Paul in particular took a stance which was inclusive or exclusive in relation to outside influence and does so by focusing on the theme of sexuality and gender. Was there a distinctively Christian ethic or are ethical values reflective of the Jewish and Hellenistic world of the time, reinforced by Christian faith statements? The work begins with a brief research review, but giving particular attention to the contribu-tions of Michael Wolter generally on Pauline ethic as ecclesial and raises the questions: how inclusive or exclusive is Paul’s ethic in relation to sexuality and gender and for Paul what »indicative« lies behind his »imperatives« in this regard.
These issues are discussed through investigation of the key Pauline texts Gal 3:28 (no male and female); 1Thess 4:1–8 (immorality); 1Corinthians 7 (marriage, celibacy, divorce); 1Cor 5:1–13 (incest); 1Cor 6:12–20 (prostitution); Rom 1:18–27 and 1Cor 6:9–10 (homo-sexuality); 1Cor 11:12–16 (gender roles); Rom 16:1–16; 1Cor 16:19; Phil 4.2–3 (women co-workers). Before turning to these texts K. provides two chapters discussing, first, the social and cultural norms in relation to these matters in the world in which Paul’s churches found themselves and second, a review of their treatment in the Jewish texts, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and Pseudo-Phocylides, and pagan writings of Musonius Rufus and Plutarch.
The work concludes with 23 theses. These include the following: the importance of reading each of Paul’s statements in the broader context of its place in the writing as a whole and its argumenta-tion; the role of the theology of creation and of (imminent) eschatology (in part linked with cultic notions of holiness), informed by a christological understanding of both. The theology of creation coming from Paul’s Jewish presuppositions is particularly significant in informing his treatment of matters of sex and gender, in contrast to his treatment of issues of sabbath and food laws. In re-lation to the former Paul’s stance therefore remains very Jewish. While Paul embraces potentially egalitarian stances, he is neither a pioneer of feminism nor simply a purveyor of conservative tradi-tion, but operates with patriarchal assumptions, reflecting his de­pendence on the assumptions about male and female embodied in biblical understandings of male and female and marriage.
In the light of his imminent eschatology Paul de-emphases the procreational function of marriage but demeans neither marriage nor sexual relations in marriage. In all likelihood creation theology also informs his upholding Jesus’ prohibition of divorce and remarriage, although he shows himself pragmatic in dealing with mixed marriages. He reflects Jewish norms in rejecting incest. He employs christological argumentation in rejecting prostitution, in contrast to the norms of the Greco-Roman world, though primarily his view is shaped by creation theology. The latter, rather than, for instance, c oncern with procreation, informs also his rejection of homo-sexuality, employed as an instance in a broader argument about depravity.
Paul accepts both women and men in leadership roles, in contrast, K. argues, at least to non-diaspora Judaism, while at the same time insisting on maintaining the symbolism distinguishing men and women. Gal 3:28 does not, for Paul, mean abandoning such differentiation and, K. suggests, Paul does not always follow through on its implications, but returns to hierarchical modes of thought. In that sense Paul was a child of his time, something to be borne in mind when engaging his statements in the context of addressing such issues today. In that respect the more significant Pauline texts, K. suggests, are to be found in 1Cor 13 or Rom 15:2, 7; 1Cor 10:24; Phil 2:4. Paul’s stance mirrors what was also happening in diaspora Judaism as Jews endeavoured to uphold both an exclusive stance, differentiating themselves from their pagan contemporaries and an inclusive stance in establishing their place within wider society.
This is a useful treatment of the Pauline material, preceded by good overview discussions. Missing from the discussion of mar-riage is the age differential at marriage in both Greco-Roman and Jewish culture and its importance in generating and perpetuating the male fallacy of concluding that, because their wives were less experienced and less emotionally mature, women were by nature inferior, which then found ideological underpinning in Plato’s Timaeus and could be read from the Septuagint Genesis creation stories. While the choice of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and of Pseudo-Phocylides is apt for reviewing Jewish sources, as examples, it is far from adequate. There is so much more material, for instance, in Paul’s contemporary, Philo, and Josephus, and in much else as this reviewer has shown. This includes references to same-sex relations between women which K. does not see as the focus of Rom 1:26.
The discussion of each Pauline passage properly begins with consideration of the wider context in the writing and its argumentation before addressing the statements in detail. These treatments are well researched and executed and on the whole convincing. Paul’s psychological argument of the darkened and unfit mind is underplayed in Rom 1 in favour of an emphasis on actions. More attention could have given to the impact of an eschatology which saw the world to come as a holy place and therefore without sex/ marriage, especially in discussion of 1Cor 7 and the role of such assumptions in the conflict over celibacy and the rationale un­der-lying the differing stances between Paul and some Corinthians.
It is regrettable that K. follows those who consider 1Cor 14:33–35 a gloss, when the grounds for doing so lie primarily in what is perceived as incompatibility with what Paul writes in 1Cor 11. Rather this reviewer would argue that it is another example of Paul follow-ing the norms of the time which sought to put women in what was understood as their place, while at the same time allowing for exceptions, a phenomenon to be seen in Jewish history through the tale of Judith, the reign of Salome Alexandra, and women in prophecy, equally mirrored to the same degree in the early Jesus movement, and not without parallel also in the Greco-Roman world, for instance, the sibyl tradition. In addition, a certain egalitarianism can be present among the powerless and disenfranchised in re-sistance movements, such as appears to be the case in the beginnings of the Jesus movement, though it soon accommodates to the social norms.
The work is well organised. There is effective engagement with contemporary scholarship, though understandably selective, across the broad range of themes. Indices are only for the text not the footnotes. Altogether this is fine piece of work, a useful contribution to contemporary discussion which avoids extremes and is well-argued, a significant resource for all engaged in the field.