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Paul and love patriarchalism: Problems and prospects | Syreeni | In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi
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Original Research

Paul and love patriarchalism: Problems and prospects

K. Syreeni

In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi; Vol 37, No 3 (2003), 395-422. doi: 10.4102/ids.v37i3.475

Submitted: 02 August 2003
Published:  02 August 2003


The term “love patriarchalism” (Liebespatriarchalismus) was coined in the 1970s by Gerd Theissen in his seminal sociological studies on Paul and the Corinthian community. The idea of “love patriarchalism” itself goes back to Ernst Troeltsch, who in his publication, Die Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen und Gruppen (1912), described the social relations of early Christian, in particular in Pauline communities, as representing a “Typus des christlichen Patriarchalismus”. Troeltsch stressed the conservative basic outlook of this strand of Christianity, and noted that this "religiöse Patriarchalismus" was marked by the ideal of love, a hierarchic church structure, and a certain view of family relations.

The Troeltsch-Theissen concept has been criticised by feminist and liberation-theological scholars for its political conservatism. While this criticism is understandable, but in itself no less politically conditioned, the exegetical problems rather lie in the generalising nature of the concept. However, it depicts one extremely influential post-Pauline stream of tradition, and raises vital questions concerning Paul’s contribution to this development.

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Author affiliations

K. Syreeni, Department of New Testament, University of Uppsala, Sweden


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