I wrote a paper a while back on the westerner’s needs to quantify and enumerate the vast expanse of eastern philosophies. Being an avid martial artist and a Hapkido teacher, this was a topic that I was extremely passionate about. It’s interesting to me that throughout the process of writing that paper I never once took a look at that same concept applied to the way that people look at the Bible. The Bible is such a vast and incredible book but there are so many people who try to break it down to the basics and read it in the sections that it has been broken up into.
These sections that we now call chapters of the Bible weren’t actually seen as separated until the fourteenth century and it wasn’t until the sixteenth century that we separated the chapters out into verses. Recently, another type of division in the form of story titles has come in and separated the text another time, which can often cause a lot of confusion as to what was actually meant in the original writing. We see this type of thing happen in Ephesians 5 and 6 when titles and chapters separate the passages between husbands and wives, children and parents, and slaves and masters.
It would appear in these passages that, because of these separations, each of these portions of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus were meant to be separate statements. This makes it seem like when Paul says, “Wives submit to your own husbands… and husbands love your wives.” (ESV eph. 5:22 &25) he is setting out a hierarchy of authority with which to structure the family and appeals to the complimentarian philosophy.
If we take away these separations; however, (and get back to the way it was written) we see that Paul is repetitively scolding the men of the house. He first says, yeah wives need to submit to your husbands, but HUSBANDS love your wives. Then he say, yeah kids need to obey their parents, but FATHERS do not provoke your children. He finishes with, yeah slaves need to obey their master, but MASTERS treat your slaves with respect. If we notice these sections without the separations we see that Paul is continually harping on the man of the house to be loving, un-provoking, and respectful and he is not at all describing how women are beneath their husbands.
Now we could argue about this particular issue all day but the main point isn’t about the egalitarian debate. What I’m trying to make very clear to you is that these separations, the one’s which were not originally written into the Bible are causing us too look at the word in a way which was not originally intended. We now see our Bible as a text book rather than a powerful weapon, which is, “Living and active, and sharper than any double edged sword.” We need to break away from thinking of these texts as we have them today and try to imagine their history and what they would have meant when they were originally written.
If you guys have any questions don’t hesitate to comment and check us out next week to read more on this topic.