Tag Archives: Philippians

Euodia and Syntyche again

Richard Fellows draws our attention to an article on Euodia and Syntyche in significant agreement with ours.
I think that wraps that particular matter up nicely! Mind you, we got there first!!!*

*(Actually James C. Watts, “Did Euodia and Syntyche Quarrel?” Methodist New Connexion Magazine and Evangelical Repository 61/3 (1893), 24–29, got there first but his contribution was totally forgotten until Dr Stewart turned it up in the British Library!)


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Euodia and Syntyche

Now published online is “Euodia, Syntyche and the Role of Syzygos: Phil 4:2–3” ZNW 109 (2018), 222–234.

Abstract: In Phil 4:2–3 Paul urges Euodia and Syntyche to unite with each other. He also addresses ‘true yokefellow’, and asks him to assist the two women. This paper disputes the almost universally held assumption that Paul was asking him to mediate a conflict between the two women. Rather, Paul is here calling the church leaders, Euodia and Syntyche, to have the mind of Christ and to foster unity among the Philippian churches, and the other church members to support them. The term ‘true yokefellow’ is a piece of ‘idealized praise’ and is Paul’s way of diplomatically correcting one or more church members.

I do not post the German abstract as I realize that somebody somewhere interfered with my version by turning “Gemeinde” at each point to a singular, whereas I had plurals, reflecting the plural nature of Philippian congregations even in a single Ortskirche.

This article is chiefly the work of Richard Fellows, though I have managed to get my name on it as co-author, mainly by exercising my editorial skills.

By way of an aside, to lighten up a rather quotidian post, we may note that this in part continues my argument in Original bishops that Euodia and Syntyche were patrons, episkopoi, of Philippian Christian associations. Those interested in ancient precedents for the ordination of women (among whom I am not numbered) may do better exploring the roles of these ancient female patrons than by examining the rather dubious and difficult evidence of the church orders regarding female deacons.

Thanks also to Richard Fellows, note the article is open access, and can be read from the link above.



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Presbyters in 3rd Corinthians and names in Philippians: insights from Richard Fellows

A communication from Richard Fellows drew my attention to his article on Acts, which is of rather more interest than the title might lead one to think. It can be read here.

In particular, Fellows points out that 3rd Corinthians, in the Acta Pauli, contains a letter sent by Stephanas and his co-presbyters (Daphnus, Eubulus, Theophilus, and Xenos). Fellows points out that the names suggest that these presbyters were hosts/benefactors of the church, and that this tends to support my case in Original bishops.

I agree that this letter to Paul from Corinth bears out my hypothesis at several levels, as this is communication by a gathering of presbyters on behalf of churches within an urban setting, as well as bearing names indicating benefaction. I suppose the failure to note 3 Corinthians must go down as an error of omission, and I am grateful for the correction.

There is more of interest here. Fellows’ overall hypothesis is that, just like Paul himself, many of the co-workers had two names, a phenomenon with which we are particularly familiar in the West Indies. Thus Stephanas, he suggests, is what he terms a “leadership name “ (though I would prefer “associational name”). I will admit that it had always struck me that Stephanas was a name which sort of belonged in associational honorific, and so to see this as a nom de guerre, as it were, is very illuminating.

There is, indeed, more. I argued at several points in the book that the episkopoi and diakonoi are mentioned in Phil. 1:1 because they were the agents of the gifts sent to Paul by the Philippians. And that two of these are mentioned by name, namely Euodia and Syntyche. My discussion of female leadership is brief, but admits that these are likely to have been among the episkopoi, and that female associational leadership is manifest in the first generation but largely in the first generation only. Since then I have read E. Hemelrijk, “Patronesses and ‘mothers’ of Roman collegia” Classical Antiquity 27 (2008), 115-162, which causes me to puzzle further about the disappearance of female ministry within the church in the earliest period. Is it, in some way, related to federation and the eventual development of monepiscopate?

Fellows suggests that Euodia is also a leadership name. Indeed he suggests, convincingly to me, that Paul’s description of the gift as an ὀσμή εὐωδίας at 4:18, is a play on Euodia’s name, linking her in particular to the gift and offering.

In response to a question he states that he has “found little evidence that associations gave leadership names… The phenomenon, however, did have parallels in the ancient world. New names were often given to kings, emperors, and philosophers, as well as to converts to Judaism. Interesting examples among the philosophers are Porphyry and Amelius-Amerius.”

Fellows has opened up a very interesting avenue of discussion. Do check out his link, and indeed his blog, where the link may be found.

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