In this volume, Beattie undertakes a comparative survey of the treatment of women and marriage in three different kinds of texts: 1) those generally viewed as authentically Pauline—namely, 1 Corinthians; 2) the deutero-Pauline literature—Colossians, Ephesians, and the Pastoral Epistles; and 3) some tractates from the Nag Hammadi Library—giving particular attention to the Gospel of Philip, the Exegesis on the Soul, the Hypostasis of the Archons, and the Gospel of Thomas. The theoretical position she takes is based upon the neopragmatist thought of Richard Rorty and Stanley Fish, Rorty’s notions of ‘contingency’ and ‘redescription’ being of particular importance.
The aim of this book is twofold. It seeks to draw attention to the contingency (that is to say, the situatedness and vested interests) attendant on all acts of interpretation. It also seeks to engage in a redescription of the category of “Gnosticism” to which the Nag Hammadi texts have traditionally been assigned, and thus also of the canonical texts as seen in relation to them. It is not the intention to suggest in a simplistic fashion that the Nag Hammadi texts should somehow displace the canonical documents as the “correct” reading of Paul, but rather to show that texts can be read in ways as diverse and numerous as the goals of their interpreters.
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Beattie’s discussion of the Nag Hammadi Texts will interest scholarly colleagues . . . In short, her focus on the importance of context and the vital role played by the presuppositions and interests of individuals and communities in both the writing and reading of texts has ongoing value not only for the scholarly reader, but more particularly, for the nonspecialist.
—J. Dorcas Gordon, Biblical Theology Bulletin
A book with original insights.
—International Review of Biblical Studies
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Gillian Beattie is a graduate of the University of St. Andrews and Princeton Theological Seminary. She received her PhD from the University of Manchester.