Behaving as a convert : moral teaching in Ephesians against its traditional and social backgrounds
The study examines Eph 4:1-5:20. Consisting of five chapters, it probes the following five passages: 4:1-16; 4:17-24; 4:25-5:2; 5:3-14; and 5:15-20. Each chapter investigates the relevant verses exegetically, focussing on behavioural aspects. This overview is then compared with issues raised in chapters 1-3, with similar notions of morality from antecedent Pauline writings and with selected Jewish and Graeco Roman writings. The final section of each chapter builds and then applies a social science or social history model. Though exhibiting differences from Paul's undisputed writings, the basic moral view of these verses is Pauline. Various Jewish writings (LXX, Greek versions of OT Pseudepigrapha and relevant passages from Josephus, Philo and Qumran) are brought to bear on these verses. Certain Graeco-Roman writings, (Plato's Laws, Aristotle's Nicornachean Ethics and discourses from Dio Chrysostom and Epictetus) are also examined. Though a remarkable number of affinities exist between Ephesians and these other writings, no evidence of direct influence is detected. Rather, Ephesians appears to be a product of its age, expressing similar ideas because it shares elements of a common world view. Ephesians differs from most of the non-Pauline writings examined by linking morality with religious devotion. Social network and exchange theories (chapter 1), New Religious Movements theories (chapters 2 and 3), principles from honour and shame cultures (chapter 4) and a social model from symposia (chapter 5) were applied to relevant passages. Though historical circumstances behind the letter are unknown, Ephesians' moral teaching portrays human situations. The NRM theory applied in chapters 2 and 3 proved to be particularly helpful in explaining how Ephesians' rejection of gentile immorality (4:17-19) does not contradict its acceptance of gentile social structures.