“The Power of Children”

Larry Hurtado's Blog

Over the weekend I finished reading a brilliant new study of early Christian teaching about children and households:  Margaret Y. MacDonald, The Power of Children:  The Construction of Christian Families in the Greco-Roman World (Waco:  Baylor University Press, 2014).  The publisher’s notice on the book is here.

The key NT texts mined in this study are the so-called “household codes”:  Colossians 3:18–4:1; Ephesians 5:21–6:4; with attention also to 1 Peter 3:1-7; and passages in the Pastoral Epistles.  Comparisons with Greco-Roman instructions about household management have often been made, and there are obvious similarities:  e.g., wives, children and slaves are to be submissive to husbands, fathers, masters, etc.  That is, the larger social structures of the Roman era are reflected and accepted in the NT texts.  But, MacDonald argues (creatively and effectively in my view), there are also important notes that are subversive of those structures, or are at least subversive…

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