Re: evil desires/lust or lust

Carl W. Conrad (
Thu, 14 Nov 1996 06:06:02 -0600

At 10:14 PM -0600 11/13/96, Jeffrey Gibson wrote:
>You'll find these sentiments expressed (though the idea about women not
>having minds seems to be an implicit assumption) in Plato's
>Symposium. And I think I'm right in saying that this is also the
>tenor of the Phaedrus - though it's been a long while since I read the work.
>In any case it certainly gives credence to the idea that Paul was ahead
>of his time: since women are to him full moral agents (why else does
>he address, let alone counsel them, as he does, to choose to subordinate
>themselves to their husbands?).

I suspect that we are getting off the appropriate area of B-Greek
discussion, but I think that the statements about Plato here are not really
right: the discussion in the Symposium does concern fundamentally the
institutionalized and to some extent educational functioning of the
Athenian relationship between an adult male and an older adolescent
(EFHBOS) who is undergoing military and citizenship training. A couple
points about the discussion of ERWS in the Symposium: the
intellectual-spiritual relationship ("Platonic love") is what is fostered,
and Socrates explicitly disapproves of physical sexual expression; the
self-styled "higher mysteries of Love" are revealed to Socrates by a woman,
Diotima of Mantineia. While in Athenian society women had no citizenship,
it should be noted that Plato's Republic formulates a notion of full
equality of the sexes at the highest level of education and governing
authoriy, the Guardians.

As for Paul, I'm not sure he's fully consistent regarding the sexes and
equality. Galatians 3:28 is revolutionary theology with profound
implications, but in 1 Corinthians Paul is being very pragmatic and basing
what he has to say upon assumptions about the nearness of Christ's
return--so one cannot really relate what he has to say there to any notion
of human progress toward enlightened standards. The matter of subordination
of wives to husbands in Ephesians, if Ephesians is Pauline, reflects
contemporary hierarchical standards rather than marks any advance over
them. However, there are so many vexed background assumptions--very
controversial matters on which we are almost certain to disagree (and even
come to blows over!) about Pauline positions on this issue that it really
does not seem profitable to get into those issues in this forum.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR