Book Notice: Men & Women in the Household of God


Korinna Zamfir Men and Women in the Household of God: A Contextual Approach to Roles and Ministries in the Pastoral Epistles (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013)

Korinna Zamfir is Associate Professor at the faculty of Roman Catholic Theology of the Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj in Romania, and she has published several works on the Pastoral Epistles. This is a very thorough monograph which will demand attention from those doing future work in the Pastorals. By “contextual” Zamfir means the social and cultural context from which the text emerged, and by “roles and ministries’ she means the authorization of people to serve in various ways and the roles expected of various groups, particularly men and women. Zamfir draws from Abraham Malherbe regarding social and cultural context.

The book assumes non-Pauline authorship written in the third generation of Christianity and that the NT preserves perspectives from competing strands of Christianity. This is not uncommon in more critical work, though the assumption of competing strands of Christianity seems, to me, to be too readily accepted with slim basis. Zamfir also sees the Pastorals as documents which are attempting to move a community towards a more culturally conservative perspective. She stresses the directives of the letters do not represent what is really happening in these churches but what the author wants to happen- which is probably different from the current reality.

Although I do not share many of the basic assumptions with which Zamfir works, this book is worthy of careful attention. She develops the idea of the church as oikos, noting that although this has often been thought of as a private family the metaphor is also used of larger public groups like the polis. The key texts on gender roles also receive significant attention.