The Pauline Vision of Marriage and Family

The Pauline Vision of Marriage and Family

JPI 967
3 Credits

For St. Paul, marriage and family become radically redefined in Christ. This course examines how Paul develops his Christological vision, showing how both marriage and family realize their divinely ordained purpose in the Paschal mystery. We will examine key texts on the body, gender differentiation, sexuality, and celibacy; the functional/symbolic meaning of these in creation/salvation; and the nature of marriage, family, and divorce within the Paschal mystery. A proper understanding of Paul requires a careful exegesis of key texts (in Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, etc.) and locating his specific teachings within the wider context of his theology of creation and justification in Christ, as well as his appropriation of Semitic categories of thought operative in the Old Testament. In discussing texts, we will examine the different ways these texts have been appropriated and the critical theological controversies that developed because of them (especially in the Reformation and modern eras, e.g. New Pauline Perspective and Covenantal Nomism). Readings include Pauline letters, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Barth, von Balthasar, N. T. Wright, Sanders, Dunn, Fitzmeyer, and Watson.

Selected Texts


Joseph Atkinson portrait

Joseph C. Atkinson

Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
S.T.L. and S.T.D. Program Advisor

Dr. Atkinson’s work has included foundational research in developing the biblical and theological foundation of the family. He is a primary authority on the concept of the Domestic Church, which explores the ecclesial structure and meaning of the family. He teaches on the biblical structure and meaning of marriage and the family, on the Jewish background of the family, and on the nature and role of covenant.

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