πετροστελος

March 28, 2009

Paul’s wife

Filed under: St. Paul — Petros @ 9:50 am
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The full thread of the discussion (Oct 23-26, 2000) is found here, here, here, and here.

From Corpus Paulinum 23 Oct. 2000

Jim West wrote:
>any bib on whether paul was married etc would be appreciated.
>
See Henry Chadwick, Alexandrian Christianity 33-34, 64-65 (Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 3.53, who interprets Phil 4.3 as refering to Paul’s
wife).

Peter W. Dunn

From Corpus Paulinum 23 Oct 2000
Liz Fried wrote:
>I personally doubt he’d be galavanting all around the world if he were
>a married man.

Let me cite Clement of Alexandria from Chadwick’s translation (strom. 3.53):

Even Paul did not hesitate in one letter to address his consort. The only reason why he did not take her about with him was that it would have been an inconvenience for his ministry. Accordingly he says in a letter: ‘Have we not a right to take about with us a wife that is a sister like the other apostles?’ But the latter, in accordance with their particular ministry, devoted themselves to preaching without any distraction, and took their wives with them not as women with whom they had marriage relations, but as sisters, that they might be their fellow-ministers in dealing with housewives. It was through them that the Lord’s teaching penetrated also the women’s quarters without any scandal being aroused.

If indeed Syzyges (Phil 4.3) was his wife, one could speculate the following: Paul arrives in Philippi a single man. He is invited to the house of Lydia which becomes his base of ministry. He marries Lydia to avoid scandal, though their marriage may be no more than a convenience.  When Paul moves on, he leaves Lydia in Philippi. Thus, as Clement suggests, he does not exercise his right to bring along his wife, but this does not mean he is unmarried. Lydia remains in Philippi, lending leadership stability to the church in Philippi, while selling her purple cloth and supporting Paul financially in his mission. Given Jesus’ declaration regarding the reward for those who leave their wives, etc., it does not seem impossible for Paul to have been married.

F.F. Bruce writes on Acts 16.14-15: “The fancy that one of them became more than her guest–that, as S. Baring-Gould [A Study of St. Paul (London, 1897)] urged, ‘she and Paul were either married at Philippi or would have been so but for untoward circumstances’–may be dismissed as nothing but a fancy” (NICNT). I am not so sure. If Lydia were already married, how does she have the right to invite Paul into her home without first consulting her husband? I don’t think she was married already. On the other hand, unless Lydia was a very, very old woman, then gossip about her and Paul would have undoubtedly circulated the city. A marriage of convenience would certainly have simplified matters.

Cheers,
Peter W. Dunn

From Corpus Paulinum:

This view was ridiculed by Jim Hester 23 Oct, 2000.
Ain’t historical criticism wonderful! With enough digging around and over reading, a wife for Paul can be constructed. Anyone want to argue that Secundus, Tertius and Quartus were his younger siblings?

The discussion continues here

I responded:

The practice of self-control (enkrateia), i.e., sexual continence, in early Christianity and in 1 Corinthians, also affected the marriage relationship. Some (women probably) in Corinth appear to be practising it and leaving their husbands in the cold (7.3). Now perhaps the very dilemma that confronted Paul may have been telling these enkratites that they should not practise enkrateia in their marriages because of it led to immorality (1 Cor 7.3) while he had a wife and lived as though he had none (7.29). When Paul says that he wishes that all were as he is (7.7), why couldn’t he mean that he wishes simply that they could all be enkratites like him, whether in marriage or out? But alas, their behavior in too many cases proved them incapable of it.

Jim Hester continues:

My larger point is that we just don’t have enough unambiguous data from the pauline corpus to say that Paul had been married and that it is a waste of time to fuss with the question!

There were considerable disputes in the early church regarding encratism and spiritual marriage (i.e., marriage without sexual relations). Much of the debate concerned 1 Cor 7. Both Clement of Alexandria and Origen thought that Phil 4.3 referred to Paul’s spouse. Since these two native Greek speakers thought that a natural interpretation, it would seem to me far from a waste of time to consider the possibility, especially as it affects the exegesis of 1 Cor 7. Besides, how often is there unambiguous data for anything discussed on this forum? (Why would we discuss something unambiguous?) I would be interested in knowing what prompted Jim West to bring up the subject–perhaps therein lies the ultimate justification for the discussion.

Jim Hester responded.

David Garland responded.

Robert A. Kraft responded.

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