Faithfulness as Subhegemonic Antidote to a Precarious Existence: A Response to Peter-Ben Smit

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In this response to Peter-Ben Smit’s article in this volume, two questions are discussed. The first intends to review critically one of the main tenets of Peter-Ben Smit’s contribution by asking exactly how fluid and discursive the construction of gender in the Pastoral Epistles was. The second question is whether hegemonic performance of masculinity is the best explanation for the manner of expressing authority in the Pastorals. As a mostly additional yet partly challenging perspective, a related interpretive frame is introduced: philosophical imitation in virtue. As authority is expressed in terms of imitation in virtuous living, it can be better understood as a form of, in Smit’s vocabulary, “subhegemonic” masculinity: a critical rephrasing of the cultural hegemonic norm in terms of self-control that enables participation of “every body,” male and female. Crucial to this philosophical ideal of masculinity is control over one’s self (sōphrosunē) instead of the hegemonic ideal of control over the world outside. In addition to this virtue, it will be argued that in all three Pastoral Epistles the virtue of pistis, “trust” or “faithfulness,” functions to create a reciprocal, inclusive, and divinely modelled network of imitation. Rather than supporting the author’s masculine self-presentation, as Smit holds, pistis functions to balance hegemonically gendered power play.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-88
Number of pages9
JournalJournal for the Study of Paul and His Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Pastoral Epistles
  • masculinity
  • virtues
  • sophrosune
  • pistis

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