1. First Christian communities live immerse in a world of social relations, such as they are in the Jewish and Greek-Roman society of the first century. For instance, man-woman, parents-children, master-slaves dependency relationship take place. Nevertheless, if the Christians live everything in the Lord, what does then happen? Do they assume like God´s word the social model of the ancient world? Or rather, do they live in the Lord the social model in which they find themselves? In this case, what changes do they introduce? How are lived in the Lord those dependency relationship? What does God´s word say? What does the Gospel say?

2. In the letter to the Colossians we find what is called the mirror or home manuals, that are domestic regulations of the ancient world: “Women, be obedient to your husbands, as it is convenient in the Lord. Husbands love your wives and don’t be rough with them.  Children, obey to your parents in everything, because this is agreeable to God our Lord. Parents, do not exasperate your children, lest they lose their spirit. Slaves, obey in everything to your masters in this world, not because they see you, as those who are trying to be agreeable to the men, but with heart’s simplicity, in the fear of the Lord. All what you make, make it with your heart, like for the Lord and not for the men, conscious that the Lord will give you the heritage like reward. The master to whom you serve is Christ. That  who acts with injustice, will receive according to that injustice, that there is no personal acceptation. Masters, give to your slaves what is just and equitable, having in mind that you have a master in heaven” (Col 3, 18 – 4, 1)

3. A similar passage, wider, appears in the letter to the Ephesians: “Let all kinds of submission to one another become obedience to Christ. So wives to their husbands: as to the Lord. The husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, of whom he is also the Saviour. And as the Church submits to Christ, so let a wife submit in everything to her husband. As for you, husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. He washed her and made her holy by baptism in the Word. As he wanted a radiant Church without stain or wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless, he himself had to prepare and present her to himself. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves him self. And no one has ever hated his body; he feeds and takes care of it. That is just what Christ does for the Church, be cause we are members of his body. Scripture says: Because of this a man shall leave his father and mother to be united with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a very great mystery, and I refer to Christ and the Church. As for you, let each one love his wife as himself, and let the wife respect her husband.” (Eph 5, 21 -33)

4. The passage continues: Children, obey your parents for this is right: Honor your father and your mother. And this is the first commandment that has promise: that you may be happy and enjoy long life in the land. And you, fathers, do not make rebels of your children, but educate them by correction and instruction which the Lord may inspire. Servants, obey your masters of this world with fear and respect, with simplicity of heart, as if obeying Christ. Do not serve only when you are watched or in order to please others, but become servants of Christ who do God’s will with all your heart. Work willingly, for the Lord and not for humans, mindful that the good each one has done, whether servant or free, will be rewarded by the Lord. And you, masters, deal with your servants in the same way, and do not threaten them, since you know that they and you have the same Lord who is in heaven, and he treats all fairly” (Eph 5, 22  - 6, 9; see Tm 2, 8 – 15; 5,3 – 8; 6, 1 – 2; Tt 2, 1 – 10; 1 P 2, 13 – 3, 7).

5. One thing attracts attention. The statement that the man is head (chief) of the woman appears (such as it reaches us) in several Pauline letters (1 Co 11, 3; Eph 5, 23; Tt 2, 5) and in the first letter of Peter (1 P 3, 1), but it does not appear in the evangels, which are the plenitude of the law and the prophets. What does this mean? Is that statement God´s word or it only reflects the social situation of the woman, of inferiority, dependency and submission, such as it is in the ancient world? Excepting isolated cases, the woman does not perform any roll in public life. Her instruction is limited to her homework. According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 – 322 b. C.), who so much influences the medieval Christian tradition, the woman is “like a mutilated man” (De generatione animalium 2, 3)

6. In the Jewish world, until twelve years and a half old, the father has over the daughter the parental custody: “She shall always stay under parental authority until she goes, with the marriage, to her husband dependency”, it is said in The Misnah, that gathers up the Jewish oral tradition until de century II a. D. (Third Order, IV, 5). “The woman, says the law, is submitted to her husband in everything” (Josephus, Contra Apionem, 2, 24). The same appears in the letter to the Ephesians: “The women must submit to their husbands in everything” (Eph 5, 24). Fortunately, in our time, the Human Rights Universal Declaration (1948) establishes equality between husband and wife: “man and woman have the same rights before, during and after the marriage” (article 16)

7.  In the letter to the Corinthians, talking about the order in the assemblies, it is ordered to the woman to cover her head, it is to say, to put on the veil: “However I wish to remind you that every man has Christ as his head, while the wife has her husband as her head; and God is the head of Christ. If a man prays or prophesies with his head covered, he dishonours his head. On the contrary, the woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered, does not respect her head… Men do not need to cover their head, for they are the image of God and reflect his glory, while a woman reflects the glory of man. Man was not formed from woman, but woman from man. Nor did God create man for woman, but woman for man. Therefore, a woman must respect the angels and have on her head the sign of her dependence. Anyway, the Christian attitude does not separate man from woman, and woman from man, and if God has created woman from man, man is born from woman and both come from God” (1 Co 11, 3 – 12)

8. Behind the imposition of the veil to the woman, is the Jewish law. In the Jewish world the woman who comes out with her head uncovered could be fired by her husband without any kind of compensation: These are the women who must be fired with no compensation: that who profane the law of Moses or the Jewish law. Which is the law of Moses? If she, for instance, delivers food without separate before the tithe, or if she has a sexual relation during the period of menstruation… Which is the Jewish law? If she goes out with unleashed hair, of if she knits in the square, or if she talks with any man” (The Misnah, Third Order, VII, 6)

9. In the letter to the Corinthians, a little further, it is also ordered that the woman must be silent in the assembly. “As in all the churches of the saints, the women keep silent in the assemblies; that they are not allowed to have one’s say. That they must be submissive, as the law says too. If they want to learn something, they should ask it to their husbands at home” (1 Co 14, 34 – 35). But then how can they prophesize, according to what is said before? (11, 5). How can the author of the letter affirm both things, contradictory in themselves? With reason, it has been denounced here the later interpolation, that alters the Pauline text (G. Fitzer, 1963; see the note in the Bible of Jerusalem, 1998; some manuscripts place the verses 34 – 35 after the verse 40). This new imposition is presented like a Lord’s mandate (14, 37). The following passage can not be alleged: “You will be dependent on your husband and he will lord it over you.” (Gn 3, 16). The domination of the man over the woman is a consequence of the sin. It does not belong to God´s project. In the first letter to Timothy we also find the law of silence and of the submission. (1 Tm 2, 11 – 13). According to the Jewish law, “the women, the slaves and the minors (they are not included in the number that is minimum)to make the invitation (to the thanks giving in common)”: the woman “neither may be a teacher of the children” (The Misnah, First Order, VII, 2 and Third Order, IV, 13). The submission of the woman limits her freedom in every aspect, in the religious service too.

10. It is explained, since the second story of the creation (century X b. C), that the male was created first. God made the man with dust from the ground (Gn 2, 7), the woman was made from a rib from the man (2, 22), from the male she was taken (2, 23). Nevertheless, the text in itself reflects the social situation of the ancient world. It is ignored the passage coming next, that is assumed by the Gospel, a passage that proclaims the opportune autonomy with respect to the parents, just like the unity and equality of man and woman: “That is why man leaves his father and mother and is attached to his wife, and with her becomes one flesh” (2, 24) Besides, the first story of the creation (century V b. C.) presents the human being, differentiated from the sexual point of view. Both, man and woman, are God´s image, not only the man: “So God created man in his image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gn 1, 27)

11. According to the social model of the ancient world, the woman is at home and the man at work. This roll distribution is today under a deep revision. The female (in situation of submission) is not the queen of the home, but the slave; the love relationship becomes domination. The work is not a creative and stimulant activity, but a hard reality, prickly and slaving; the work relationship degenerates into exploitation (Gn 3, 16 – 18). This is not the world that God desired. It is a consequence of the human sin.

12. The woman participates in Jesus´ mission and in the first communities. There are the women who accompany Jesus (Lk 8, 1-3). They announce to the eleven and to all the rest the resurrection of the Lord (Lk 24, 10; Jn 20, 18), they have their word in the community: “Your sons and your daughters will prophesize” (Acts 2, 17; 1 Co 11, 5); many stand out in the service of the Gospel (Col 4, 15; 1 Co 1, 11; Rm 16; Ph 4, 2); there are prophetess (Acts 21, 9) and deaconesses (Rm 16, 1). Together to the large communities like Jerusalem or Antioch, are the small communities, which address could correspond to the family head, male of female (Rm 16, 3 – 5; Col 4, 15) In Philipus, the community begins with a group of women; they have a predominant roll (Acts 16, 12. 15; Ph 4, 2)

13. Let´s see the case of the letter to Philemon, a Christian from Colosas. Paul has met Onesimus in the prison who had fled from his master´s home, Philemon. Now he returns him not like a slave, but like a dear friend: “And so, because of our friendship, receive him as if he were I myself. And if he has caused any harm, or owes you anything, charge it to me.” (Fil 16 – 18). Although Onesimus´ social condition stays, the relationship changes.
14. In the letter to the Galatians, the letter of the Christian freedom, Paul says: “Here there is no longer any difference between Jew or Greek, or between slave or freed, or between man and woman: but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Ga 3, 28). The Gospel questions the circumcision and the Jewish law, the slavery and the submission. The council of Jerusalem means for the gentiles converted to the Christianism the liberation from the Jewish law (Acts 15, 18). This the Paul’s fight: “All you who pretend to become righteous through the observance of the Law have separated yourselves from Christ and have fallen away from grace.” (Ga 5, 4). Then, how are the laws upon the submission of the woman, the veil and the silence explained?. It seems to us that there is interpolation, added later on to the letters of Paul, carried out, besides, by adversaries (judaizers). Paul saw it coming: “I know that after I leave, ruthless wolves will come among you and not spare the flock” (Acts 20, 29). At the end of the century I, times of the second persecution, a grave crisis divides the community of Corinth, according to the letter of Clement Roman.

15. In the century II the Muratori Cannon shows a list of Paul’s letters: “To the Corinthians, the first; to the Ephesians, the second; to the Philippians, the third; to the Colossians, the forth; to the Galatians, the fifth; to the Thessalonians, the sixth; to the Romans, the seventh; besides he repeats to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians for their correction… There is also one to Philemon, one to Titus and two to Timothy, (written) for affection and love; but sanctified by the catholic Church honour”

16. During all the Middle Age and the Renaissance, Ambrosias, Jerome and Agustin are cited like Paul’s commentators. Nevertheless, neither Ambrosias nor Jerome write the works that are attributed to them. His authority is used. That who impersonates Ambrosias is unknown, and he is called Ambrosiaster. That who impersonates Jerome is identified with Pelagius, an Irish monk who started the pelagianism. Both commentators give a very “roman” version of the Pauline texts: “practical, juridical and somehow rationalist” (J. Sánchez Bosch, Pauline writings, Ed Verbo Divino, Estella, 1998, 96). An official support is supposed.

17. The critic specialized in the Bible maintains unanimously the Pauline authenticity of these seven letters: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon. It is discussed the Pauline authenticity of the other six, that could be attributed to disciples of the apostle: Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus. Of course, the old tradition of the Muratori Cannon has its weight, citing the thirteen letters from Paul. The non Pauline contents, that appears in some of them, should not provoke a global rejection of them. It should be only necessary to detect and denounce the eventual interpolations.

18. All above supposed, in the human life dependency relationship take place: conjugal, familiar, social, labour. In some sense, love between husband and wife means a mutual dependency. Until emancipation, children dependency is natural. “The child, due to his lack of physical and mental maturity, needs special protection and care, including the due legal protection, as much before as after his birth”, says the Child Rights Declaration (1959). The social cohabitation, just and pacific, also means a dependency: we are dependents one of the other. Our rights must be combined with the rights of the others. It is what happens every day in the labour relationship. In the communitarian relationship, even more, we are members the ones of the others (1 Co 12, 27)

19. The Church, says the II Vatican Council, “has the permanent duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel”, it must discern, in the deep and quick changes of today’s world, the signals of the times that manifest the action of God´s spirit: “Today the human kind finds itself in a new age of its history, in which the deep and quick changes progressively extend to the whole universe” (GS 4), “the traditional local communities, like the patriarchal families, the clans, tribes, small villages, the diverse groups and even the relations of  social cohabitation experiment every day more important changes. Little by little the type of industrial society is spread, carrying some nations to the economic opulence and deeply transform social life notions and conditions established from always” (GS6), “in the family large discrepancies are originated, due to the demographic, economical and social conditions, or to the difficulties that come up between the successive generations, or due to the new social relations between men and women” (GS 8), “the woman, there her she did not get it yet, claims equality of right and fact with the man” (GS9), “in our time, due to diverse causes, mutual relations and interdependences multiply day by day” (GS25), the common welfare “is more and more universalized”, “as a consequence, it implies rights and obligations that affect to all the human kind” (GS 26)

20. Everybody’s fundamental equality is a signal of our time discerned by the Council like an action of God´s spirit in today’s world: “Any form of discrimination in the people’s fundamental rights, whether social or cultural, due to sex, race, colour, social condition, language or religion, must be overcome and eliminated being contrary to God´s plan”, “human institutions, both private or public, must effort to serve the dignity and purpose of man, At the same time let them put up a stubborn fight against any kind of slavery, whether social or political, and safeguard the basic rights of man under every political system” (GS29), “Women now work in almost all spheres. It is fitting that they are able to assume their proper role in accordance with their own nature” (GS60), “since in our days women participate more and more in the whole life of the society, it is important that their participation in the different fields of the apostolate of the Church equally grow” (AA9); many times, the work associated to the men is made “in detriment of some workers”, “who become, in certain way, slaves of the job carried out” (GS67)

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