||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Monday, April 24, 2017
Adultery hurts everybody
Gail R O'Day floated a theory on how John 7:53-8:11 got so controverted in the old MSS: The Patriarchy. On that point, this comment has made the rounds:
I've had my own good laugh... at O'Day's grammar; and her NT scholarship was just as weak, as Jennifer Knust has demonstrated (although to be fair O'Day was following Augustine). That leaves O'Day's sociology.
There is some truth that earliest Christianity promoted women to near-equality, in the books of "Luke" and of Paul; and that patriarchal men wrote the seminal (heh) texts which constrained their role. But the overall situation was more complex than that. We have found whole reams of literature aimed at Christian women. None of these texts proposed freeing womens' sexuality. In fact they went to the opposite extreme, advising women not to have sex at all, not even with hubby. "Paul and Thecla" is a case in point, as are stories of numerous female saints. Where I see Christian arguments for sexual libertinism, like the Carpocratians, such sects were founded by men.
This goes to who, exactly, cares to keep womens' sexuality in check. It isn't men as a group; the Carpocratians prove that if men can hit it, they will. Among men, would-be fathers care the most that the children they support are, in fact, theirs. But it's not just fathers - in a Near Eastern context, we aren't even dealing with a nuclear family but with a clan. If the father is young-ish, there is a good chance he has parents who also care, which may well include would-be grandma. And then there's the would-be father's extended family who are expected to pitch in to help. So there's maiden auntie - hubby's sister - and all the cousins.
If the woman is screwing around, she's not just hurting the Paterfamilias; she has wasted his whole family's time and resources, and has introduced a seed of suspicion upon everybody involved.
Women used to know this, especially if they were studying the Ancient Near East. It takes a feminist to pretend otherwise.
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