An Analysis of Their Origins, Relationship, and Message
Introduction The New Testament Haustafeln: What’s in a Name? Long before Shakespeare passionately asked this question through the dis- traught Juliet, the nominal/phenomenal question had been debated by phi- losophers, employed by poets and exploited by worldly-wise politicians. A name can, when the object in question is not thoroughly familiar to the hearer, determine a great deal about the object’s perceived character. This is particularly true in the case of the New Testament Haustafeln. The German term Haustafel, frequently rendered in English as “household codes,” has, since the time of the reformer Martin Luther, referred to a rather broad num- ber of New Testament texts which feature admonition directed toward par- ticular social groupings within the church.1 More recently, it has become a literary terminus technicus indicating a far smaller grouping of parenetic texts. Possessing common and recognisable characteristics, these New Tes- tament passages evoke a sense that they stand, if nothing else, in relief to their broader letter-form contexts. This perception is not without substance; the letters of Colossians, Ephesians and 1 Peter all contain the distinctive Haustafel form2 in their extended parenesis, each of which is readily recog- nised by its direct form of address, consistent relational pairings and recipro- cal commands. In the case of the New Testament Haustafeln, then, the dis- tinctive name corresponds to an equally distinctive literary phenomenon. 1 Luther did not, however, attempt to locate particular NT texts in order to consign them to this modern NT category, as some maintain. His contribution...
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