Saturday, 2 May 2015

Jennifer Jamer: Re-imagining the Corinthian Community: Gender, Households and Romanized Identity in 1 Clement

Gender roles and household norms are under-studied elements of 1 Clement. A close reading of 1 Clement reveals that the author advocated the Roman-style household -- characterized by a strong paterfamilias and limited roles for women -- as a fundamental building block of Christian community. The fact that Clement could not assume that the Roman household was normative in the Corinthian Christian community indicates that this community probably contained a large number of Jewish-Christian converts who maintained earlier worship and social practices, including a broader range of leadership roles for women (as per research by Bernadette Brooten and others).  This paper examines three aspects of Clement's treatment of gender and household management: his direct rhetorical exclusion of women from his audience, his gendered choices of words when describing particular actions (especially Διδασκω and Διορθοω), and his exegetical references to Judith and Rahab and other Old Testament women.  Clement's advocacy of the Roman household is an attempt to create a new "imagined community" among the Corinthian Christians that is clearly Romanized and homogeneous rather than one which is diverse and contains a number of Jewish-Christians.  This discovery presents important potential evidence not only of the Christian community's increasing comfort with Roman social institutions in this era, but also of the continued distinctiveness, import and influence of the Jewish (and later Jewish-Christian) community in Corinth at this time.

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