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The Social History Of The Early Christian Church

1391 words - 6 pages

The social history of the early Christian church is closely related to the kinds of documents and the secular, cultural context that was around at the time. Paul was highly influential on early Christian theology as was other people that wrote under his name. Three canonized works have classically been attributed to Paul, but are now known to be forgeries: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. These books are known as “The Pastorals” and they are different from Paul’s authentic works in many fundamental ways. In order to see the historical context in which these letters were written, we must first understand the social history of Christian theology at the time. We will present the social history ...view middle of the document...

In Galatians 3:28, Paul writes “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you all are one in Christ Jesus”. Although this theology contradicts some old testament writings, it appears to be saying that men and women are equal in the eyes of the Lord. 1 Corinthians does state that “It is a shame for women to speak in the church”, however this is widely believed to have been inserted at a later time from the verses in 1 Timothy to further bolster the Pauline authorship and theology of 1 Timothy. Conversely, in the Pastorals, we see a very segregated view of gender roles within the church. 1 Timothy 2:12-15 says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was created first, then Eve. and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. But she will be saved through childbearing, if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with good sense.” These verses convey the idea that women are inferior to men. By stating that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed,” the author seems to suggest that women are somehow more credulous than men and that women must be saved through childbearing if she “continues in faith, love, and holiness, with good sense.” The “if” is very important, it seems to apply conditional salvation upon women that is not extended towards men, implying women must do more, or work harder, than men to be saved.
The idea that women are inferior to men is an idea that existed in the secular culture of the time. Women were thought of as property and did not have equal rights with men. Over the years, Christian theology has changed according to how secular culture has changed. As secular culture begins to accept women as equals, the church later accepts them as equals. As we abolish slavery, the church also abolishes it within their doctrine. As we discover new things about the world, the church changes its theology based on these new discoveries. We can even see a vast change from old testament theology to new testament theology. The church is constantly changing its theology. Thus, it seems like a suitable hypothesis to suggest that the early Church did the same thing with respect to its cultural context. Since the secular culture at the time seemed to demonize women, it makes sense that the church would adapt that belief into their theology. This adaptation then continued on and changed over the years until it is what we see it today. We will argue that this theory holds for the changes in early Christian theology from the time of 1 and 2 Corinthians to the time of the Pastorals.
The Pauline community in the church of Corinths was experiencing much disarray with immorality and false teachings. When Paul addresses these issues, he does not write to a specific overseer or elder of the church, but he addresses the entire church. The reason that Paul subscribes his letters to the...

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