Family matters: an exegetical and socio-historical analysis of familial metaphors in 1 Thessalonians

Burke, Trevor J. (2000) Family matters: an exegetical and socio-historical analysis of familial metaphors in 1 Thessalonians. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (17MB) | Preview
Printed Thesis Information:


Building upon recent insights of classical research re family life in antiquity, this investigation combines the study of the family as social reality and as metaphor in order to explore the relationships between Paul and the Thessalonians and the Thessalonians' relationships to one another. An in-depth investigation of 1 Thessalonians - Paul's earliest extant letter - is justified since it is here that we find a heavy preponderance of fictive-kinship terms.
Chapter 1 reviews the most recent literature where we note that Paul's familial metaphors are briefly considered within the broader social context of Pauline Christianity. Some scholars assume (e.g. Meeks et al.) that the terms 'brother/sister' indicate that Paul's earliest communities are non-hierarchical in structure. Others (e.g. Castelli) argue that Paul's paternal role is solely understood in hierarchical terms and take little account of the composite nature of such a role. A full survey of parent-child and brotherly relations in antiquity, and the implications this might have for Paul, is called for.

The theoretical base under-girding this study, that of 'metaphor theory', is ten set out. Using the insights of linguists (e.g. Lakoff and Johnson) a basic working definition for metaphor is established. It is highly likely that Paul is drawing on a familiar source field (the family in antiquity) to describe Christian relations as a family. Other aspects of metaphors such as extension and coherence are discussed in relation to Paul and their usefulness to this investigation.

An in-depth study of aspects of family life (i.e. parent-child and brotherly relations) in the ancient world is carried out in chapters 2, 3 and 4. A broad range of sources literary and non-literary (Jewish and non-Jewish) are studied to determine the normal social expectations of household members. In chapter 2 and 3 parent-child obligations are the focus whilst chapter 4 deals with brotherly responsibilities. A number of stock meanings for both relationships are identified. For example, fathers are superior to their children, exercise authority over them, and are to be an example for them to follow. Parents are expected to love their offspring but whereas a mother's role is to nurture her children, a father is supposed to instruct them. Children reciprocate by loving, obeying, honouring and caring for their parents.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Barclay, Prof. John M.G.
Date of Award: 2000
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:2000-1310
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:37

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year