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The Colossian and Ephesian «Haustafeln» in Theological Context

An Analysis of Their Origins, Relationship, and Message

Series:

James P. Hering

In this groundbreaking study, James P. Hering investigates the theological and ethical motivation that informs the controversial New Testament household codes ( Haustafeln) found in the epistles to the Colossians (3:18-4:1) and Ephesians (5:22-6:9). Within most New Testament scholarship, the household code has been regarded as an imported element within its host letter, reflecting either pagan or embarrassingly sub-Christian values. Is the household code merely a nod to the pragmatic demands of culture, or can it be understood as a reflection of the author’s theological concerns? What can it teach us today? Hering provides a unique analysis of these passages, revealing the Haustafeln in their historical context and examining their theological roots. This book is of vital importance for courses on Christian ethics and New Testament backgrounds.

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Chapter Three: The Relationship of Colossians and Ephesians 107

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Chapter Three The Relationship of Colossians and Ephesians Introduction An investigation of the Ephesian HT cannot be engaged without careful at- tention being paid to its place within the development of the HT form.1 A general consensus has emerged within NT scholarship, which views the Ephesian HT as dependent upon the older, Colossian Vorlage. This is also the opinion of our study. In spite of the general consensus, objections have been raised against this assumption, and will be treated in the first section of this chapter. It is our hope that this investigation will not only support our thesis, but will render useful solutions towards resolving the complex nature of the letters’ relationship. After having established the likelihood of Colos- sian HT priority, our inquiry will consider the numerous innovations which the author of Ephesians has employed in his version of the HT. It is our hope that an analysis of the letters’ respective HT forms will uncover a pattern of thoughtful adaptation of the Colossian original by the hand of the Ephesian redactor. The remarkable amount of common material found in Colossians and Ephesians, as well as the identical order of appearance in the respective epis- tles, suggests some form of literary relationship between them.2 This has given rise to a number of contrasting yet interrelated theories3 touching upon the provenance, authorship and relative priority of the letters. As early as the 19th century, the priority of Colossians (and the literary dependence of Ephe- 1 Though a number of...

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