Yesterday I stumbled across a really interesting blog post, “Plutarch and Paul on Husbands and Wives,” by Marg Mowczko. (Credit where credit’s due: I discovered it through Rachel Held Evan’s Sunday Superlatives, a nice round-up of the progressive Christian blogosphere).
Marg’s post as its title suggests is about gender relations within marriage, as described by two classical writers: the Roman philosopher/historian Plutarch and the St. Paul who wrote roughly half the Christian New Testament. They worked and wrote within a century of each other, so while they probably weren’t familiar with each others’ work, they were responding to similar cultures. I’m not nearly a good enough classicist to evaluate what she says about Plotinus. As for Paul, I think if you’re inclined to interpret Paul negatively you could probably find some passages to work against what she quotes here. But her basic point is a really interesting one. Specifically: Plutarch wanted to preserve the existing culture, but Paul really was interested in setting up a “new creation” – one that offered women a lot more autonomy and equality than the current society could accommodate.
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