Submission within the Godhead and the Church in the Epistle to the Philippians
This thesis seeks to conduct an exegetical and theological investigation of the notion of submission in the Epistle to the Philippians, in order to evaluate whether or not the normative understanding of submission as oppressive or coercive can be sustained in Philippians. Our investigation begins with exegesis of Philippians 2:6-11 and 3:2-11. In Chapters One and Two, we interact with the dominant interpretations of each passage and propose our own interpretation of each passage and suggest a theory of integration between Philippians 2 and 3. Chapter Three delves into a different terrain of biblical scholarship: Castelli's post-modern critique of Paul's mimetic injunctions as rhetoric of coercive power. In rigorous engagement with Castelli's interpretation we accomplish two objectives. First, by examining Castelli's interpretation, we explore the notions of power/authority, hierarchy and submission, which prepare the ground for our analysis of submission. And second, we conclude our arguments against a strict understanding of mimesis based on the examination of ancient Hellenistic and first century Greco-Roman literature on mimesis. In Chapter Four, we investigate three primary elements regarding submission in Philippians: 1) the definition of submission; 2) the context of submission; and 3) the rationale of submission. These three elements are examined on three levels of relationships in Philippians: 1) intra-divine relations; 2) God-believer relations; and 3) inter-believer relations. These issues are correlated to Paul's theology and ethics in Philippians. And finally, in Chapter Five, we offer a brief interaction with three feminist theologians, in order to examine the validity of their claims concerning equality, hierarchy and submission in Philippians.