Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Schillebeeckx on Galatians 3:26-28

The Greek literally reads, 'the male and the female no longer exists' - a clear reference to the Septuagint translation of Gen. 1:27, 'male and female he created them'. In this line of thought the baptism of the Spirit is the eschatological restoration of an order of creation with an equality which was destroyed historically and in society - it is 'new creation' (Gal. 6:15). The baptism of the Spirit removes historical discriminations. The three categories of those discriminated against are clear from the Jewish-Christian perspective: the Gentiles (discriminated against in favour of the Jews), the slaves (discriminated against in favour of the free), and women (discriminated against in favour of men). Nowadays we could add yet more categories. In principle, Christian baptism completely removes all these social and historical oppositions within the community of believers.
Edward Schillebeeckx: The Church with a Human Face, p. 38. (Ten crowns in a used book store!)


krister said...

This is an excellent quote Patrick. Hope the studying is going well. shalom!

Michael Joseph said...

A romantic thought, but dubious exegesis (Schillebeeckx's trademark!). Behold the precarious balance between sentimentality and biblical commentary.

Patrik said...

Nice rhetoric... Got an argument there?

John Meade said...


I would like to read more of the book, but I still disagree with his argument for at least to reasons. (1) The NT application of Gen 1:26-27 is not the abolition of gender roles, unless one a priori believes that there were no gender roles in the garden. If I believed that there were gender distinctions based on roles not essence created in the garden, then the new creation would simply be restoring those roles corrupted by the Fall. (2) "The baptism of the Spirit removes historical discriminations." What does this mean? Is not theology and history intertwined in the OT and NT? The distinction between Jew and Gentile is intrinsic to the Mosaic covenant. Therefore the "discrimination" is also theological, intended by God to occur. The cross removes this redemptive historical covenant (Gal. 3:19-26) so that all who have in Christ can become children of God. Racial discrimination does not seem to account for the meaning of the text since the distinctions between Jews and Gentiles were theological in the first place.

How do you view the relationship of Genesis 1-2? Do consider the order of Creation of the man first, then the woman as important? It seems that Paul does in 1 Tim 2:9-15 and 1 Cor 11. Just curious as to your thoughts here.


Patrik said...


To answer you questions briefly, I think one has to distinguish between different roles (as you call it) and subordination of the one to the other. I'd agree with Schillebeeckx that Paul envisions that because of the unity in Christ there are no longer and such differences in value or power.

I don't think we can assume that there were (and I obviously speak theologically here, not historically - the garden is a myth) given roles for the genders in creation: this as all else that makes up our identities are created in history since we are created free. While I agree that history and theology is intertwined in OT and NT, I'd think it is dangerous to draw conclusions about God's "intent" from history directly: Not all that happens is God's intent, not even in biblical history. The new creation is precisely the ability to redefine that which has been defined in history contrary to God's will. And this, according to Paul, includes questions of gender, race and slavery.

Regarding your last question: I don't think Paul wrote 1 Tim, and it reflects a later situation. 1 Cor I have to admit I understand very little of... It seems Paul is struggling to motivate an order which has been established in the Churches against an opinion which would seem to fit better into his general teaching. His argumentation is very weak indeed (especially verse 13-16).

Shane Clifton said...

it is intriguing that Schillebeeckx refers to baptism in the Spirit, when the passage in question refers to being baptised into Christ - one in Christ. I assume he is here drawing on verses 2 & 3 (as well as chapter 5), and thereby, on assumptions that baptism in Christ and in the Spirit are essentially synonomous concepts?. Pentecostals have traditionally distinguished between water baptism (in Christ) and baptism in the Spirit (distinct and subsequent), which of course is somewhat of a nonesense. But is there not, at least a different perspective that derives from these different phrases?

Be that as it may, i am in essential agreement with the logic of shillebeeckx' argument, and find john meade's logic strange - what are we really told about gender roles in the garden, except that the female submission to men is seen to be part of the curse? To suggest that order in creation is important is equally odd - as though being first on the scene carries some inherent status?

John Meade said...

Shane and Patrik,

The argument from the order of Creation is not mine, it is the author of 1 Timothy's (2:9-15), which I take to be Paul because the letter says that it was from Paul, and there are no good arguments to the contrary. We do not need to get involved in canonical arguments here about whether the early church would accept a pseudopigraphical work. All of the evidence shows that they would not. Arguments which depend on the Greek vocab. of 1 Timothy compared to other letters that we "know" Paul wrote will fail in the end because we do not know every word that Paul ever spoke. He addresses different circumstances in 1 Tim which requires different words.

Paul grounds his argument in the order of Creation and Fall. Man was created first, then the woman. The woman was tempted and succumbed to temptation, and then the man. Paul does not read the text a mythological. Paul reads the text as historical, and HE theologizes from it. He does the same thing in Ephesians 5:22-33 where he makes an astounding claim about the relationship of Christ and his Church and the creation of man and woman (Gen 2:23-25).

Shane, you may want to go back and read the text closer. To say there is only one point to really grasp from Gen 1-3 is and that point is submission of woman to man as a result of the fall, is simply reductionistic.