Re: Didache 1:3 POIA GAR CARIS

Date: Sat Aug 28 1999 - 19:41:41 EDT

Jonathan, just a few more thoughts for the lexical focus on "grace." You
might want to look at the work edited by J. G. Peristiany and Julian
Pitt-Rivers entitled "Honor and Grace in Anthropology." Grace is seen as
linked to the honor/shame culture of the Mediterranian basin, being the
inclusion of one of lesser social status in the benefits/honor status accrued
by one of a greater social status. In this sense, grace is the inclusion of
lower status people into a higher honor status/group inspite of such an honor
not being "earned" by meritorious deeds. Grace is a sharing of the benefits
of inherited or acquired honor with another, thereby allowing the other to
attain an increased honor status from a patron/by affiliation to a patron.
On the other hand, the proper response to grace is to uphold the honor of the
patron who granted such honor to his clients. But grace can only be bestowed
by one of superior social status. Of course, in the first century we find
Greco-Roman concerns with relationships between one of greater social status
with one below, between social equals, and between one of lesser social
status with one above. Grace is most appropriate for the first and last
categories, being granted in the first and sought/received in the last.

Perhaps 1 Peter 2:20 is referring to God bestowing grace on those of lesser
status due to seeing the manner in which their lives (free from just cause
for affliction) bring honor to God. That would be consistent with an
anthropological understanding of grace. In that sense, yes, grace can be
"gained" by behaving in such a way that honor is brought on the social
superior who shares the benefits of his/her honor status with the one
bringing them such honor. Normally/virtually always social status equal to
the superior is out of reach for those born into a lower social status and
whose lives do not cause them to acquire honor such as would elevate their
social status. Grace allows the breaking or stretching of that social status


Bill Warren
Landrum P. Leavell, II, Professor of New Testament and Greek
Director of the Center for New Testament Textual Studies
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

In a message dated 8/25/99 9:22:11 PM, writes:

>This is a really clear example - thanks! I must say that it comes as quite
>a shock to see CARIS used to describe something a person can earn by
>behaving in a particular way (1 Peter 2:20), since the notion that you
>simply can not earn CARIS in any way whatsoever has always been very basic
>to my understanding of the word. I'm gonna have to look for some
>commentaries on 1 Peter, I don't think I have any here.

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