|previous article in this issue||next article in this issue|
Document Details :
Title: 'Apostolische' Ehen und Familien
Author(s): HENGEL, Martin
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 3 Issue: 1 Date: Spring 1997
“Apostolic” marriages and families
1. Although in the New Testament we have only indications, we can conclude from these that almost all the apostles were married. Paul and Barnabas are the only exception known to us. The New Testament tradition is uninformative on the topic because people had no biographical interest in personal data. At the centre stood Christ and the faith proclaimed.
2. All the more interesting are those few indications. They show that the families of the first Christian authorities with their households had great significance as centres of missionary preaching. The Pauline mission is hard to imagine without this basic fact. His whole mission strategy is based on their existence. Here marriage could create a community of service to mission.
3. Charismatic ce1ibacy was not grounded on any dualistic ascesis hostile to the body, but on freedom (in the context of the imminence of the end time) for the service of the kingdom of God and the Gospel. Basically this motive goes back to Jesus Himself.
4. It was an Encratism hostile to the body and to creation, influenced by gnosticism, that brought about a change here in the 2nd century. The best example of this is the work of Clement of Alexandria; he himself was married and he used Jewish and Stoic arguments to defend the significance of marriage as God’s good creation ordinance against the Gnostics, while at the same time valuing abstinence even more highly. The marriage of Peter is for him among other things a paradigm for the right to have a family.
5. This dichotomy continues in the later Petrine legend where the accent is more and more on the celibate ascetic way of life. The wife of Peter, who remains nameless, disappears from view. The legend of Petronilla, daughter of the chief Apostle, makes her a model ascetic, and she was later honoured as saint and martyr.