Tag: widows

Kidson, “Real Widows, Young Widows, and the Limits of Benefaction in 1 Timothy 5:3–16”

Lyn Kidson has produced another contribution to the discussion of widows in 1 Timothy 5. (See also her “Fasting, Bodily Care, and the Widows of 1 Timothy 5:3–15,” Early Christianity 11.2 (2020): 191–205 [DOI: 10.1628/ec-2020-0016])

Lyn Kidson, “Real Widows, Young Widows, and the Limits of Benefaction in 1 Timothy 5:3–16.” Australian Biblical Review 70 (2022): 83–100.

Abstract: John Barclay, in his 2020 article, “Household Networks and Early Christian Economics,” outlines the puzzles that “abound” in 1 Timothy 5:3–16. Among his list of puzzles, he asks, “Is it inconsistent to say that a χήρα can be registered only if she has brought up children (5.10), but to deny her support in 5:4–8 if she has children to look after? Who are the younger χῆραι that the Pastor is evidently so anxious about (5:11–15) …?” Barclay’s article has gone a long way to resolving these puzzles. The “younger χῆραι” he identifies as “virgins.” This was an anomaly in the social world of the early Christians, which forced them to adapt terms for the woman beyond puberty but was without a man. This was a χήρα. While in agreement with Barclay, this article probes a little more deeply into the problem of the younger χήρα and her dowry. It makes the proposal that if the younger χήρα is a virgin, then the issue in 1 Timothy 5 is not her ongoing support, which seems manageable for the “real widow,” but the support for the virgin who wishes to marry after she has been assigned as a qualifying χήρα.

Maier, “The Entrepreneurial Widows of 1 Timothy”

A new essay on the widows of 1 Timothy has recently appeared:

Harry O. Maier, “The Entrepreneurial Widows of 1 Timothy.” Pages 59–73 in Patterns of Women’s Leadership in Early Christianity. Edited by Ilaria Ramelli and Joan Taylor. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198867067.003.0004

An earlier version of this essay is available on Academia, and includes this abstract: “This essay argues that the exhortations and admonitions voiced in 1 Timothy, a highly rhetorical pseudonymous letter written in Paul’s name, that widows (i.e. unmarried) women attests to a concern with single women’s patronage of Christ assemblies, which the writing seeks to address by having them marry. The argument seeks to move beyond a common explanation that the epistle was occasioned by ascetical teachings in which women discovered in sexual continence freedom from traditional gender roles. It seeks to furnish a broader economic concern with widows through an historical exploration of the socio-economic status of women who were artisans in the imperial urban economy. It identifies the means by which women gained skill in trades, the roles they played in the ‘adaptive family’ in which tradespeople plied their trade often at economic levels of subsistence. New Testament texts point to artisan women, some of them probably widows, who played important roles of patronage and leadership in assemblies of Christ believers. By attending to levels of poverty in the urban empire, traditional views of the widows of 1 Timothy as wealthier women assigned to gender roles are seen in a new light through consideration of spouses accustomed to working alongside their husbands taking on businesses after they died. While the lives of these women are largely invisible, attention to benefactions of wealthy women to synagogues and associations gives insight into the lives of women acting independently in various kinds of social gatherings.”

Beck, Witwen und Bibel in Tansania: Eine leserinnenorientierte Lektüre von 1 Tim 5,3-16

A new volume in the Bible in Africa Studies series provides a study of the passage on widows in 1 Timothy 5.

Beck, Stefanie. Witwen und Bibel in Tansania: Eine leserinnenorientierte Lektüre von 1 Tim 5,3-16. Bible in Africa Studies 27. Bamberg: University of Bamberg Press, 2020.

The volume is the published version of a dissertation completed under Joachim Kügler at the University of Bamberg (Otto-Friedrich-Universität). The table of contents is available here. The entire volume is available online here. The following description is provided:

“After the death of their husbands African women, who are living in patriarchal societies, experience cruel mourning and purification rituals, which they have to undergo and they are often stigmatized and accused of being witches. In this fatal situation, God is often their only anchor, God, who already appears in the Bible as the protector and father of widows and orphan. In the Old Testament, two book are named after widows, the Book of Ruth and Judith, and in the New Testament there are numerous widow stories, primarily in Luke, which are all characterized by a special relationship with God. However, the reality in the ancient world was as follows: there was a large number of widows, working in the churches, which displeased the officials of the communities. They didn’t only take over charitable activities, but they missionized and were even paid for it. 1Tim 5:3–16, which categorizes widows, was read and interpreted by widows in Tanzania. It is demonstrated how they deal with a text, which was written for them as widows. They didn’t allow themselves to be influenced by restrictions, in fact they drew out positive results. It is also highlighted how the widows interpret 1Tim on their cultural background, how they position themselves and see themselves as brides of Christ.”

As a final note, the fact that the dissertation was completed under the direction of Joachim Kügler, and the reference to Tanzanian widows seeing themselves as “brides of Christ” brought to mind the following essay by Kügler:

Kügler, Joachim. “Junge ‘Witwen’ als Bräute Christi (1 Tim 5,11f.). Der Gender-Impuls der Jesus-Tradition und seine Umsetzung in paulinischen Gemeinden vor dem religionsgeschichtlichen Hintergrund religiös motivierter Ehelosigkeit von Frauen.” Pages 483–97 in Erinnerungen an Jesus: Kontinuität und Diskontinuität in der neutestamentlichen Überlieferung. Festschrift für Rudolf Hoppe zum 65. Geburtstag. Edited by Ulrich Busse, Michael Reichardt, and Michael Theobald. Bonner Biblische Beiträge 166. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011.

Kidson, “Fasting, Bodily Care, and the Widows of 1 Timothy 5:3–15”

Lyn Kidson, whose dissertation on 1 Timothy 1 is forthcoming in WUNT as Persuading Shipwrecked Men: Rhetorical Strategies in 1 Timothy, has produced an article on the widows of 1 Timothy 5:

Lyn Kidson, “Fasting, Bodily Care, and the Widows of 1 Timothy 5:3–15.” Early Christianity 11.2 (2020): 191–205. (Mohr Siebeck)

Here’s the abstract: “In his essay, “Medical Imagery in the Pastoral Epistles,” Abraham Malherbe argued that medical terminology was a conventional polemic used to describe the opponents of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. His identification of this medical schema is the starting point in this article to explore the relationship between the opponents’ commands not to marry and to abstain from foods (1 Tim 4: 2–3)  with “Paul’s” instruction to younger “widows” to marry in 1 Timothy 5: 3–15. This exploration will begin by noting that the writer’s purpose in 1 Timothy is to dissuade certain men and women from teaching the other instruction (1 Tim 1: 3–4), which is the command not to marry. It will then consider the link between fasting and sexual continence in the texts of the contemporary physicians, early Christian writers, and Philo of Alexandria, and make the case that the other instruction is about controlling the desire for marriage through diet. However, it will be demonstrated that contemporary physicians were skeptical about women maintaining control of their sexual desires because of the weakness of their bodies. This suggests that the rhetorical scheme used against the opponents is not only conventional, but is a rhetorical play against the medical advice given by the ascetics in their efforts to comply with the command not to marry.”

Barclay, “Household Networks and Early Christian Economics: A Fresh Study of 1 Timothy 5:3–16”

John M. G. Barclay has produced a treatment of the widows passage in 1 Timothy 5:

Barclay, John M. G. “Household Networks and Early Christian Economics: A Fresh Study of 1 Timothy 5:3–16.” New Testament Studies 66.2 (2020): 268–87.

Here’s the abstract:

“1 Tim 5.3–16 defines which women may be registered for financial support at church expense. It is integrated around four ‘household rules’, but is not concerned to regulate an ‘order’ or ‘office’ of widows. Rather, it clarifies that the church should not supplant households in financial matters, and should be responsible only for destitute widows who have no other network support. Since χήρα can mean ‘woman without a man’, the instructions in 5.3–16 are best interpreted as directed against young women who have chosen celibacy. By contrast, the author conceives of the church as a network of Christian households connected by mutual economic support.”

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