A Lengthy Comment on Submission…

This post is actually a comment in reply to another comment in the post below, but I thought it was worth posting because its long and detailed, and applicable to the focus of this blog…

While I do respect the hierarchical interpretation of verse 22 with αλλήλων not being used in a mutual manner. I still disagree and explanations are easily anticipated. For one, Chrysostom’s separation of verse 21 from verse 22 has less to do with his understanding of the flow of Paul’s argument and more to do with his texts which for one is thoroughly of the majority tradition and secondly, it is well documented that lectionaries consistently split the text at verse 22, which skews the entire passage toward an inadequate reading that is challenged by p46 and others. So to appeal to Chrysostom’s dividing of the text is quite inconclusive. We do definitely for sure that his text had a verb in verse 22 and it is entirely possible (if not likely) that his writing is based on a lectionary that had already separated these verses.

It also must be noted that Chrysostom likely did not write his homilies straight through so that he wrote on marriage and then slaves and children directly after his looked at verses 18-21.

But regardless of all of that, the question regarding the reliability of Chrysostom for this verse has nothing to do with his exegetical/literal reliability. Silva’s point is what Chrysostom does not say in his exegesis, so how he divided the text or what he said later doesn’t matter. What is important is that there isn’t any debate in his mind regarding this particular exegetical challenge. The point I’m trying to make has nothing to do with what Chrysostom thinks about this particular problem because in his mind no exegetical problem exists. He’s just writing what he naturally reads. The full quote from Silva is this:

Strange as it may sound, Chrysostom, along with other Greek fathers, can be particularly helpful when he does not offer an opinion on an exegetical problem. As a native Greek speaker, his innate sense of the language—but not necessarily his conscious reflection on it—provides an important bridge between the modern commentator and the Pauline writings (with the qualification that Paul’s Greek was of course not identical to Chrysostom’s). Educated speakers are notoriously unreliable in analyzing their own language. If Chrysostom weighs two competing interpretations, his conclusion should be valued as an important opinion and no more. If, on the other hand, he fails to address a linguistic problem because he does not appear to perceive a possible ambiguity, his silence is of the greatest value in helping us determine how Paul’s first readers were likely to have interpreted the text.

Moisés Silva, Philippians (2nd ed.; BECNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 27.

So regardless of his exposition, thoughts about slavery later in other homilies has nothing to do with the fact that he doesn’t see any question about the mutuality of αλληλων.

I also do not see αλληλων as fully reciprocal. It does not need to be in order to maintain a mutual relationship. And since I’ve already given my own exposition and exegesis above, I’ll just drop one more quote this time from I. Howard Marshall:

Admittedly, the pronoun is regularly used of people’s doing things to others who are also doing the same things to them, but without specifying that literally everybody does it to literally everybody else. “We talked to each other” clearly means “I said something to you and you said something to me”. “They said to one another” suggests more loosely that an unspecified number of people in the group said something to others in the group, with the result that at least some people were both speakers and hearers. But there is nothing in the usage to suggest that the people can be divided into distinct groups of those who spoke and heard. Similarly, it is highly unlikely that on hearing “Be subject to one another”, some members of the congregation said, “But of course that doesn’t apply to me, since I am a husband/father/master/church leader”.

Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 196 n34.

It also seems unhelpful to appeal to the later section of the passage as well. When the audience would have heard verse 21, they would not being thinking to themselves, “oh well, Paul will being talking about slaves later, just wait for that.”

For the record, I’m incredibly impressed with Peter O’Brien’s commentary on Ephesians (I’ll be reviewing it in the next month or two). I prefer it to Hoehner’s, for readability though not for detail (by the way Hoehner views verse 21 as describing mutual submission, but then goes on and prefers a variant reading for verse 22 in order to maintain his hierarchical perspective on marriage [which was very surprising, very few scholars have done that in the past 150 years]). Not even Alford accepted such a reading and his commentary was written before most of the manuscripts with an ellipsis were found.

But again, I respect the complimentarian (or whatever you prefer to call it) interpretation of this passage. When I read Peter O’Brien’s discussion of this verse back in late August, his argument had thoroughly convinced me and I spent a good month considering the implications for my very recent marriage. That I read Silva was only by “chance” (Calvinist) since my wife and I were working through Philippians that summer together (she has a year of formal Greek study [and more on her own] and four years of Latin under her belt – yes I do find that incredibly attractive). All this to say that I understand this view and respect it. The argument is strong, just in my opinion, not strong enough.

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