restricted access Chapter 2. Piety in God's House
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55 2 PIETY IN GOD’S HOUSE F irst Timothy contains some of the clearest uses of piety in the Pastorals that would have signaled to ancient audiences an appeal to Roman pietas.1 The author admonishes the ekklēsia to pray for governing authorities so that they might live a life “in all piety” (ἐν πάση εὐσεβείᾳ; 1 Tim 2:1-­ 2) and for its women to embody behavior that 1 This chapter builds upon the groundbreaking insights of Mary Rose D’Angelo and Angela Standhartinger both in its reconstruction of the imperial situation that informed the Pastoral Epistles’ rhetoric of piety and in its analysis of the apologetic function of this rhetoric as informed by contemporary Hellenistic Jewish literature, most notably 4 Macc. See D’Angelo, “Εὐσέβεια: Roman Imperial Values and the Sexual Politics of 4 Maccabees and the Pastorals,” BibInt 11 (2003): 139–­ 65; Standhartinger, “Eusebeia in den Pastoralbriefen. Ein Beitrag zum Einfluss römischen Denkens auf das Entstehende Christentum,” NovT 48 (2006): 51–­ 82. See also Carolyn Osiek, “PIETAS in and out of the Frying Pan,” BibInt 11 (2003): 166–­ 72, esp. 170 for her clever assessment of the state of the question regarding piety in the Pastoral Epistles: “Does eusebeia/pietas belong to the Roman government and its political propaganda, or are there some who do not identify with it but nevertheless do a better job, beating the Roman political machine at its own game, as it were? Is this a version of ‘My Dad can beat your Dad’ or ‘Nobody does it better’? Or is the argument, ‘See we’re just like you!’ as Tertullian and other apologists like Diognetus are wont to argue?” See also Lilian Portefaix, “‘Good Citizenship’ in the Household of God: Women’s Position in the Pastorals Reconsidered in the Light of Roman Rule,” in A Feminist Companion to the Deutero-­ Pauline Epistles, ed. Amy-­ Jill Levine (London: T&T Clark, 2003), 147–­ 58. While Portefaix does not discuss the relationship between imperial legislation and propaganda in terms of piety, she did argue for the relevance of the Augustan legislation on marriage in understanding the Pastorals’ instruction toward women. 56 Civilized Piety befits both “piety toward God” (θεοσέβειαν; 1 Tim 2:10) and “the household of God” (οἶκος θεοῦ; 1 Tim 3:15), including modesty, deference to men, and childbearing, which resonates with obligations toward the divine, the fatherland, and the family that constituted Roman pietas . The author’s use of piety reflects imperial representations of the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian as well as the moral legislation passed under Augustus insofar as the author promotes the fulfillment of duty and devotion to one’s household and family. This chapter examines what such resonances between the piety associated with the household of God and with the household of Caesar might signal about the kind of disposition toward imperial authority, culture, and values the author of the Pastorals both exhibits and admonishes his audiences to embody. Furthermore, this study seeks to intervene in current debates over whether the disposition of the Pastorals toward Roman imperial authority, culture, and values is best described as essentially subversive or capitulating.2 2 In some important ways, the issue as to whether the Pastoral Epistles display postures of accommodation or resistance to their surrounding culture in their admonition to obey imperial authorities and to embody societal gender norms are mirrored in classic debates about 1 Peter’s similar exhortations. In 1981 two influential monographs were published within months of one another that came to radically different conclusions. David L. Balch’s work argued that the domestic code in 1 Peter (2:11–­ 3:12) is indicative of the author’s deployment of a common Greek philosophical trope on “household management.” According to Balch, 1 Peter’s admonitions toward women and slaves to obey their husbands and masters, respectively , functioned to disrupt Roman prejudices against Christians as a novel eastern cult posed to undermine Roman social and household customs; see David L. Balch, Let Wives Be Submissive: The Domestic Code in 1 Peter (Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1981). In contrast, John H. Elliot argued that the community of 1 Pet is best understood from the sociological category of a “conversionist sect” that resisted any social assimilation with a world perceived to be corrupt; see Elliot, A Home for the Homeless: A Sociological Exegesis of 1 Peter, Its Situation and Strategy (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981). See their debate in Charles H. Talbert, ed., Perspectives on First Peter (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1986), 61–­ 101. My own...