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Prof. Lindeman Allen Writes about the Fluidity of Family in the New Testament

Amy Linderman AllenProf. Amy Lindeman Allen wrote a recent article for the Political Theology Network‘s ongoing series “Politics of Scripture” on the Gospel of Mark and its portrayal of the family. Exemplifying the rigorous and engaged scholarship of the CTS faculty, Lindeman Allen regularly writes on the intersection of New Testament studies, ethics, and modern culture. In particular, she has written widely on the topics of children and the family in the New Testament, including her first book, For Theirs Is the Kingdom: Inclusion and Participation of Children in the Gospel according to Luke.

In this new article, Lindeman Allen reflects on the portrayal of the family in Mark 1:29-39. She begins by noting that “The New Testament contains no single word to express the contemporary construct of ‘family,’ utilizing, rather, various references to siblingship, descendancy, and households,” before carefully thinking through the details of the passage in light of other information regarding first century family life from biblical scholarship and archeology.

Lindeman Allen then insightfully writes,

Jesus and his disciples can be seen to both affirm and expand the construction of first-century family, even as they are not limited by it. Such a reading of Mark complicates any single definition of “biblical family” in favor of recognizing the fluid and constructed nature of family systems across time. Today’s world is increasingly divided around “correct” definitions of family and familial associations, from colonial legacies continuing to legislate who “counts” as family and how family can be embodied across the globe, to social and political policies that continue to benefit married, heterosexual households with children above all other models of family. Much of this division is, lamentably, undergirded in Christian rhetoric of “family values.” Nevertheless, family is not—and cannot be—a static thing, neither in the Bible nor today.

In the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, she concludes, “family is not a question of who is in or who is out, but rather an expansive enactment of compassion and concern across relationships.”

Read Prof. Lindeman Allen’s article here.



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