A Review of Sampley’s ‘And the Two Shall Become One Flesh’

J. P. Sampley’s monograph, ‘And The Two Shall Become One Flesh’: A Study of Traditions in Ephesians 5: 21-33 (SNTSMS 16; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971), is a thorough treatment of the wives-husbands set of the Ephesian household codes. Sampley takes some of Ernst Käsemann’s observations about Ephesians, develops them into a working hypothesis, and explores Ephesians to see if Käsemann was correct. He works with three key points from Käsemann: first, Ephesians consists of an arrangement of smaller traditions; second, the Gentile Christians, the recipients of Ephesians, were in danger of separating themselves from their Jewish heritage; and third, Ephesians is not concerned with the OT for understanding the existence of the church (p. 3). Throughout the book, he demonstrates that Käsemann was correct concerning points one and two but incorrect on point three. We will summarize the content of this monograph prior to analyzing it briefly. Although Sampley’s treatment of this text lacks both a comparison of NT and classical household codes and an understanding of the rhetoric of Ephesians, which leaves some of his concluding implications to be found wanting, overall his monograph is invaluable for studying Eph 5:21-33 due to its lucid treatment of its underlying traditions, its explication of the text’s movement of thought, and its detailed analysis of each verse. To a summary of his monograph we now turn.

While bearing in mind Käsemann’s three points, Sampley sets out a roadmap to follow for examining Ephesians. First, he will uncover the traditions that Eph 5:21-33 contains. Second, he will determine the author’s movement of thought for assimilating these traditions into the text. Finally, he will see how Eph 5:21-33 functions in the letter (p. 2). He thus provides us with the broad scope of the book and where he will be heading. To start, Sampley provides an outline of Ephesians and combines it with information of the author’s readers, which is not much. The author is writing to Gentile Christians, but he does not seem to have an intimate relationship with them (pp. 6-15). He follows this information with a chapter, an important one in terms of his broad scope to be sure, on the traditions behind Eph 5:21-33, namely the household codes, Lev 19:18, the hieros gamos, Gen 2:24, “head,” “body,” “member,” and purity (pp. 16-76).

The Ephesian household codes consist of three sets: wives and husbands (5:22-33); children and fathers (6:1-4); and slaves and masters (6:5-9). Through observing the other NT haustafeln, Col 3:18-4:1, 1 Pet 2:17-3:9, 1 Tim 2:8-15, 6:1-10, and Titus 2:1-10, it is apparent that the household codes were adaptable to the author’s purposes. The codes could be expanded, and three characteristics of expansion can be observed. First, common language provides the basis for the expansion of the instruction. Second, a christological appeal provides a reminder for the instruction. Third, an appeal to the OT may be made to support the instruction. Since the codes were not a rigid and fixed tradition, those places where the author modified and expanded them were highlighted as of special concern (pp. 17-23).

After making some brief comments regarding the Colossian and Ephesian household codes (pp. 23-25), Sampley applies his observations of the NT haustafeln to the Ephesian one in particular (pp. 25-30). He notes that Ephesians contains common language for expanding the instructions (e.g., Eph 5:29, “no man ever hates his own flesh”). Additionally, he notes that Ephesians makes christological appeals for the instructions: “just as also Christ cares for the church” (Eph 5:29). Finally, he notes the use of the OT in this haustafeln, especially Gen 2:24 in Eph 5:31. The Ephesian household codes, Sampley observes, spend more words treating the wives-husbands set than both the children-fathers and slaves-masters sets combined (pp. 25-26). Finally, before exploring the formal features of the Ephesian haustafeln, Sampley provides the reasoning behind rightly studying Eph 5:21-33 as a unit within the Ephesian household codes, which is as follows: it contains a set, wives-husbands; this set is concluded by Eph 5:33; the christological expansions for the instructions are fully integrated throughout; and Eph 5:21 is syntactically linked to 5:22-33 through the use of ὑποτασσόμενοι (pp. 26-27).

Sampley, to start exploring the formal features of the Ephesian household codes, lists the admonitions for wives from Eph 5:21-33 alongside of the other instances from the NT haustafeln. It becomes apparent that it was a standard feature to utilize some form or cognate of ὑποτάσσομαι for instructing wives. Furthermore, while also listing the admonitions for husbands in Eph 5:21-33 alongside the other NT household codes, it is evident that these codes consistently instructed the one with reference to the other: “wives submit to husbands; husbands (verb) wives” (pp. 28-29).

Furthermore, Sampley shows how the instructions for the wives and the husbands follow a threefold pattern. First, the author provides the relevant instruction. Second, the author develops and expands the instruction. Finally, in the end, the author recapitulates the instruction (pp. 29-30). For the wives, Ephesians opens with the instruction (5:22). Then the instruction to the wives is expanded by christological appeals and common language (5:22-23). Finally, this instruction is recapitulated (5:24). The instruction for the husbands starts with the instruction to the husbands (5:25). This instruction is expanded on by utilizing common language, appealing to christological explanations, and providing Scriptural support, namely Gen 2:24 (5:25-32). For the husbands, the instruction in Ephesians is then recapitulated (5:33).

The haustafeln is not the only tradition behind Ephesians 5:21-33. Sampley shows also that Lev 19:18 is an important tradition involved in this text. He demonstrates clearly how a man’s wife could be referred to intimately as his “neighbor” in the Septuagint (LXX; πλησίον, “neighbor,” in Cant 1:9, 15; 2:2, 10, 13; 4:1, 7; 5:2; 6:4). Furthermore, he shows that other OT texts referring to one’s neighbor could be applied in Judaism of one’s wife, as in b. Yebam. 37b, which is an appeal to Prov 3:29 to discourage a man from marrying a woman if he intends to divorce her, because he should not devise evil against his neighbor. There is an underlying tradition then in which a man’s wife can interchangeably be referred to as his neighbor. Therefore, this tradition is firmly planted in Lev 19:18, and it bears striking resemblance in Eph 5:28, for a husband is instructed to love his wife as himself (cf. Lev 19:18b, “love your neighbor as yourself”). He also shows how a man’s wife is seen to be the same as his own body in later Judaism by quoting b. Ber. 24a and b. Yebam. 62b. He is demonstrating that it was a common string in Judaism for the wife to be seen as the body of the husband, and, therefore, it was important for the husband to love her as himself. Ephesians seems to follow this same string. Leviticus 19:18 is consonant with the use of Gen 2:24, Sampley concludes, in Eph 5:21-33 when the wife is considered to be one flesh with the husband and when the husband is instructed to love his wife as himself (pp. 30-34).

Sampley spends much time discussing the hieros gamos (“holy marriage”) as part of the background of traditions in Eph 5:21-33. Before examining any background traditions, he breaks down the elements of Eph 5:25-27. First, there is the self-sacrificing love that Christ had for the church. Second, there is Christ’s action of sanctifying the church with the washing of water. Third, there is the goal of Christ’s action, that the church might be presented ἔνδοξος. Sampley notes specifically the parallel between Eph 5:25 (Christ’s sacrificial love for the church) and Eph 5:2 (Christ’s sacrificial love for the believers). In Eph 5:2, there is an element not present in Eph 5:25, that Christ gave himself up as a sacrifice and fragrant aroma offering to God. Sampley points out that this language draws on OT texts, such as Exod 29:18 and Ezek 20:41. Furthermore, he compares Eph 5:2 with Gal 2:20 and Rom 8:32. He concludes that what is said in Eph 5:2, 25 is obviously part of a traditional formulation of the early Christian community in reference to Christ’s death (pp. 34-37).

But there are earlier traditions in the text, earlier than the NT. Sampley locates two such traditions, one in Ezekiel and the other in Canticles. He says that the hieros gamos between YHWH and Israel can ultimately be seen as a tradition behind Eph 5:21-33. He turns to Ezek 16 to support this view first. He shows how YHWH revealed to Israel its abominations (Ezek 16:2). Then YHWH passed by Israel in two separate times. First, at birth while she was wading in her own blood, he commanded her to grow up like a plant in a field, and she did, but, though she was fully formed, she was naked and bare (Ezek 16:3-7). Second, at the age for love, he passed by her, spreading his skirt over her, therefore covering her nakedness, then entering into a covenant with her. At this point, after having passed by twice on separate occasions, YHWH bathes her in water and washes her blood off, and he anoints her with oil. He clothed her and decorated her. She grew exceedingly beautiful to the point of renown, and she was indeed with splendor, and YHWH had bestowed it upon her (Ezek 16:8-14). It is striking, according to Sampley, the parallel connections between Ezek 16:8-14 and Eph 5:25-27, especially with the language of purity and splendor. The emphasis in both instances is what is done for the bride to cleanse her and present her in splendor. In Ezek 16, YHWH cleanses Israel with water and betroths her, adorning her as his bride. In Eph 5:25-27, Christ cleanses the church with water and presents her to himself in splendor (pp. 37-42).

Sampley takes the time to show how in b. Qidd. 2a, 41a קָדַשׁ refers to the taking of a wife, thus separating her for himself from all other men, which parallels with the use of ἁγιάζω in Eph 5:25-27. He is attempting to show further how Eph 5:25-27 is using the tradition of the hieros gamos, which can be found elsewhere in Judaism. Then he shows how the hieros gamos itself has an earlier tradition in Sumerian literature, from which even Ezekiel drew upon. The difference between the Sumerian text describing Dumuzi’s betrothal with Inanna and Ezekiel is that Inanna cleanses herself whereas YHWH cleanses Israel. In short, Ezekiel seems to use a tradition of hieros gamos in the ANE but adapts it for his own purposes, and Eph 5:25-27 relies on Ezekiel’s adaptation (pp. 42-45).

In addition to Ezekiel, Canticles is an important factor in the traditions behind the hieros gamos tradition. Early on Canticles was allegorized as a way of talking about YHWH’s relationship with Israel, and perhaps earliest in 4 Ezra 5:24-27. Through the work of Hippolytus, Origen, Jerome, and Augustine, Christians reapplied Canticles to Christ’s relationship with the church (pp. 45-46).

It is noteworthy that in Canticles beauty and love directly coincide. Sampley, in comparison, demonstrates not only that Christ’s love for the church and his causing it to be presented in splendor relate to each other, just as love and beauty relate in Canticles. But love is central. For example, Cant 2:4, “His banner over me is love,” ties together beauty, the banner, with love, and Eph 5:25, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” In Canticles, the wife is called “beloved bride” or “my beloved” (1:9, 15; 2:2, 10, 13; 4:1, 7; 5:2; 6:4), and “loved one” (7:7). Love is a key factor in the relationship between the lover and the loved one; YHWH and Israel; Christ and the church. And beauty is closely associated with love. In Canticles, the wife is called “fairest among women” (1:8; 5:9; 6:1); the lover says to the bride, “you are beautiful” (1:15; 4:1); the lover says to the bride, “You are all fair” (4:7); the lover refers to his bride as “my fair one” (2:10-13); finally, the lover exclaims that his bride is fair (7:7). Clearly the bride is beautiful and with splendor. And the bride is also referred to as “my perfect one” (Cant 5:2; 6:9). In the LXX, the beauty of the bride is described as τελεία (Cant 5:2; 6:9). The bride is beautiful in the sense of perfection. Ephesians 5:25-27 shows how the church is sanctified and cleansed, being without spot, wrinkle, blemish, or any such thing (pp. 46-49).

In addition to Ezekiel and Canticles, Ps 45 seems to be part of the tradition of the hieros gamos, but to a lesser degree. Sampley observes three key similarities between Ps 45 and Eph 5:25-27, which are as follows: first, the beauty of the bride is that of splendor, and it is emphasized; second, the splendor described in both is done by use of δόξα and its cognate ἔνδοξος; third, the husband is the lord of the bride, and, as a result, she is instructed to submit to him (pp. 49-51).

To summarize the hieros gamos tradition, the formulations for describing the relationship between YHWH and Israel proved helpful for the purposes of Eph 5:25-27.

Since it is in fact quoted in Eph 5, Sampley discusses the tradition of Gen 2:24. However, there is a textual variant here in Eph 5, so that some manuscripts include Gen 2:23 as well. Sampley concludes that those manuscripts including Gen 2:23 are epexegetically expanding the previous clause. Therefore, in his view, Gen 2:23 is not likely to be part of the original text of Ephesians (p. 51). Having taken the view that only Gen 2:24 is quoted in Eph 5:21-33, Sampley then looks at the context of Gen 2.

It is possible that the original readers or at least the author of Ephesians understood Gen 2 to include the archetypal marriage of Adam and Eve, for Adam’s name in Hebrew means man. Philo used Gen 2:24 several times, but the only instance that is germane is found in QG I, 29. It is here that Philo clarifies the relationship of a man to his wife, noting in particular that the man is to leave his family and join the wife, and it is the wife who is subservient, for he has the authority of a master, yet they are one flesh, able to feel and think things together. Both Philo and Ephesians recognize the authority of the husband and the submission of the wife in Gen 2:24 (pp. 51-55).

Sampley notes further that Gen 2:24 is used primarily in tannaitic traditions to specify or clarify acceptable marital relationships. More importantly, Gen 2:24 was referenced in Judaism as the divine ordination of marriage. Sampley highlights how Sir 13:15-16 demonstrates the importance of Gen 2:24 in Judaism during the early Christian era. These verses depend on Lev 19:18 in addition to Gen 2:24. This combination of Lev 19 with Gen 2 closely parallels the combination of these same texts in Eph 5:21-33, which may suggest that Ephesians was not the first to combine them, but rather it used an earlier tradition or formulation. Additionally, Sampley highlights 1 Esd 4:13-25 as being of particular importance. It describes Zerubbabel’s description of that which is strongest, wine, the king, or women. Zerubbabel concludes that wine and the king are both strong, but women are stronger still, for men depend on women for their existence. Furthermore, a man can be stopped dead in his tracks by a woman’s beauty, and, through loving his wife, a man will forget his father and mother. This text clearly uses Gen 2:24, though it does edit it slightly so as not to include “and his mother.” Yet, this text also seems to be using Ps 45. Psalm 45:10 commands the woman to forget her people and her father’s house; First Esdras 4:20-21 describes the husband as forgetting father, mother, and country. Sampley says that it is at least possible that Ps 45 is being utilized in 1 Esd 4. If it is correct, then here is an instance in which both Ps 45 and Gen 2:24 were combined in a traditional formula, which Ephesians may also have used (pp. 55-59).

Sampley notes also some connections between Ephesians and Tobit. In Tob 6, Tobias fears death when he performs his levirate duty to his kinsman’s wife, for she had been married seven times, and each one of them had died on the night of their consummation. Raphael encourages him, which causes Tobias in the end to love her and to cleave his heart unto her (v. 17, RSV). While we cannot be certain Gen 2:24 is used in Tob 6, both use the same verb, κολλάω, as does Eph 5:21-33. Furthermore, in Tob 6, Raphael says that Tobias will save her, which is not altogether different from Eph 5:25 where it says that Christ is the savior of the body (pp. 59-60).

In connection with Gen 2:24, Sampley notes Jub. 1:22-23, which portrays also the hieros gamos between YHWH and Israel. It incorporates the verb, κολλάω, as in Gen 2:24. But it ends by saying that YHWH will be Israel’s Father, and Israel will be YHWH’s children. With that difference aside, Jub. 1:22-23 is particularly noteworthy as it describes how YHWH cleanses Israel with the purpose that Israel would be faithful to him for all eternity. This purpose, according to Sampley, is found also in Eph 5:21-33, for Christ cleanses the church in order that she might be presented to himself blameless and in splendor (pp. 60-61).

Genesis 2:24, alongside of Lev 19:18 and the hieros gamos, provided more traditional material for the author of Ephesians. However, there is more, for Ephesians uses organic language, such as “head” and “body.” Sampley explores whether this organic language is indebted primarily to Greco-Roman literature or to later Gnostic development. He concludes that it is dependent on Judaism and Greco-Roman literature and traditions as opposed to Gnostic ones. To support this conclusion, he appeals to Seneca. In Ep. 95, 51 and following, Seneca speaks of everything being part of one great body. In Clem. I.v.1, Seneca speaks of Nero showing mercy to himself when he shows mercy to the body, the people. The author of Ephesians utilized the organic language tradition which was widespread during the time of the NT (pp. 61-66).

Following the use of organic language traditions, Sampley discusses traditions of purity found in Eph 5:21-33. He highlights, in connection with Ezek 16, that purity is bestowed and not achieved. In addition, there was a pattern, found not only in the NT but also in classical literature, in which a set of contrasting forms could be used, one with an ἐν prefix and a similar or the same term with the alpha privative. For example, in 1 Cor 9:21, mentioned by Sampley as a citation found in BDF 120.2, which has a contrasting set: ἄνομος-ἔννομος. Sampley claims that such a contrasting set is also found in Eph 5:21-33: ἔνδοξος-ἄμωμος. Canticles 4:7 describes the bride as having no spot (μῶμος). Furthermore, ἔνδοξος stands in contrast not to ἄμωμος but what is in between, namely σπίλος and ῥυτίς. The former means “spot” or “blemish” while the latter means “wrinkle.” The church is not to have spot or wrinkle or any such thing. This last clause, Sampley states, is inclusive. The author of Ephesians is not concerned with listing every single thing that the church is not to have, but rather he makes a broad sweep to include anything undesirable in terms of purity. Sampley notes also that the last and final clause concerning the purity of the church (Eph 5:27c) functions as a summary. All positive statements about the church’s purity is summarized with ἁγία, while all negative ones are summarized with ἄμωμος (pp. 66-69).

This purity relates to the traditions concerning husband and wife as well as the hieros gamos in the OT. In Deut 24:1, if a husband finds an indecency (עֶרְוַה) with his wife, he can send her off with a divorce certificate. This word, עֶרְוַה, in this context means indecency or improper behavior, and such behavior would give cause for the husband to divorce his wife. According to Sampley, the same grounds were understood in the hieros gamos and then also between Christ and the church. These same grounds were applied to the priesthood, for any man having any sort of blemish (מוּם) could not be a priest (Lev 21:17-23). He cites Ketub. 7:7, highlighting the last sentence, which says, “All defects which disqualify priests, disqualify women also.” This purity tradition then extended even to animal sacrifices (Bek. 7:1), and in Qumran it extended to every member of the community (1QSa II, 3-9a). In connection with Lev 21:23, purity cannot be obtained, but it comes only through sanctification, which is done by the Lord. In Eph 5:21-33, while purity is expected of the church, it is bestowed, not obtained, being brought about by the sanctifying work of Christ (pp. 69-74).

The two key words from the last clause concerning the purity of the church, ἁγίος and ἄμωμος, occur earlier in Ephesians, and Sampley compares the earlier occurrences with the passage under consideration. Ephesians 1:4 says that God chose the church to be holy and blameless. Now, in the OT blemishes could concern physical or moral, but predominantly it was understood with reference to the former. In Ephesians, it is the latter that takes emphasis. In fact, Sampley emphasizes, the church can only be pure when it rests upon the sanctification of Christ, relying on him to nourish and sustain her. (pp. 74-75). After having discussed the traditional materials underlying Eph 5:21-33, Sampley then sets out in the next chapter to discuss the similarities and differences between this text and the homologoumena (pp. 77-85).

Sampley compares Eph 5:21-33 to three texts from the homologoumena, which are as follows: 1 Cor 6:12-20; 1 Cor 11:3; and 2 Cor 11:1-6. He says that these three texts demonstrate the identifiable set of traditions concerning marriage, especially with Gen 2:24 being combined with organic language. The result of this demonstration is the apparent originality of the way the author of Ephesians has adapted the Christ-church relationship with other traditions (pp. 84-85).

In the next chapter, Sampley considers the various hermeneutical issues inherent in Eph 5:21-33. In particular, what is the function of μυστήριον in Eph 5:32? What does it refer to? And is μέγα modifying it as an attributive or predicate adjective? Sampley turns to the next clause in the verse to answer the question, saying that ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω is the key. He concludes that this phrase was a widespread standard form from Judaism for opposing other interpretations. What follows after this phrase is the new interpretation that stands over and against what was generally accepted already. In the case of Ephesians, the new interpretation was provided prior to the quotation of Gen 2:24. Therefore, the μυστήριον is referring either to the quotation or to the institution of marriage. Since the formal features of the haustafeln suggest that marriage was no mystery, and because οἰκονομία always appears with μυστήριον in Ephesians, it must not be referring to the institution of marriage. Instead, it is referring to the quotation. It is applied to Christ and the church, so the μυστήριον is the new interpretation of Christ and the church. Indeed, earlier in Ephesians, much more is discussed about the μυστήριον.  The μυστήριον was previously hidden, it concerned God’s plan, this plan is now revealed and is understood in the work of Christ, it has in view the final fulfillment of all things, and it is to be seen or found in the church. This understanding of μυστήριον is appropriate for how the word is used in Eph 5:21-33 as well (pp. 86-96).

Additionally, Sampley considers why the OT quotation is given at all. We have seen already (pp. 17-23) that it was part of the convention to tie the Torah into the command for wives to submit. Sampley here examines 1 Tim 2:8-15, 2 Cor 11:2-3, 1 Cor 14:33b-4, and 1 Pet 3:1-6, showing how each refers to Adam and Eve in one way or another in support of the command for wives to submit to their husbands. He shows how in 1 Clem 57:2-3 the same pattern is present but it deviates from the convention in that it uses other OT texts to support wifely submission, for it quotes Prov 1:23-33. Sampley claims that the author of Ephesians is taking Gen 2:24, a text that was well-known but also applied to the ordination of marriage and provides a different interpretation, that it applies to Christ and the church. He argues further that Gen 2:24 applies to the very start of the passage under consideration. It does not enter as an afterthought, but it is present from the very beginning when the author instructs wives and then husbands (pp. 96-102).

In the next chapter, Sampley examines the movement of thought in Eph 5:21-33. He notes especially the use of ὡς, οὕτως, καθώς, and πλήν. Aside from the OT quotation, the rest of Eph 5:21-33 follows two groupings, which is made evident in the use of these words in particular. The first grouping concerns husbands and wives; the second concerns Christ and the church. The passage starts with group one (vv. 22-23a). Here we find the exhortation to the wives. With the use of ὡς it transitions to group two (vv. 23b-24a). Here we have a description of the Christ-church relationship. Group one is then addressed, introduced with οὕτως (vv. 24b-25a), which is a closing statement concerning the exhortation to the wives and an introduction to the exhortation to the husbands; following καθώς group two is addressed (vv. 25b-27), which is the discussion of Christ’s work on behalf of the church. The οὕτως-καθώς pattern repeats: group one with οὕτως (vv. 28-29b); group two with καθώς (vv. 29c-30). The former is a section concerning the husband’s duties concerning his wife, while the latter provides a concluding statement for Christ and the church. Then comes the quotation (vv. 31-32a). Following the quotation, we have the conventional statement, ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω (v. 32b). This sentence concerns group two. With the use of πλήν, group one is addressed (v. 33). But why was πλήν used rather than ὡς or one of its cognates? First of all, there is no comparison being made following the OT quotation. Second, πλήν itself is used for closing discussions while summarizing the main points. What then do we see but an A B A B A B A pattern? Sampley shows that this passage is a chiasm. Furthermore, there is a relationship between group one and group two, so that the verbs for one can be used for the other (pp. 103-108).

Sampley devotes nearly 40 pages to a detailed analysis of Eph 5:21-33 in the next chapter (pp. 109-147). Before he gets into the text, he mentions briefly the role of Gen 2:24. First of all, the haustafeln is the primary influence on the text. However, Gen 2:24 operates within the household cold concerning husbands and wives to reinforce both commands, first for the wife to submit, and second for the husband to love. Not only does it apply to husbands and wives, but Gen 2:24 is applied to Christ and the church (pp. 110-114). From here, Sampley goes on to provide a detailed analysis of each verse in Eph 5:21-33.

Concerning Eph 5:21, Sampley notes the difficulty in understanding the participle, ὑποτασσόμενοι. Does this participle relate purely to what comes after, or does it also relate to what comes prior? Based on James M. Robinson’s work on patristic formulations and how they relate to 1 Cor 14, Sampley concludes that it is related to both, for the concept of submission was typically connected to ecstatic speech in ethical instruction, and because Eph 5:22 lacks a verb, it is clear that it is dependent on v. 21 while v. 21 is dependent on what is prior. However, Eph 5:21 is not itself part of the haustafeln. While all in the church are exhorted to submission, it is clear that the masters, the husbands, fathers, and slave-owners, were still in authority in the household code. But this exhortation for all to submit stands as a critique of the haustafeln. The authority that the masters bear is qualified by Eph 5:21, which is indeed a rubric for the entire household code (pp. 114-117).

The participle itself is qualified with the words ἐν φόβῳ χριστοῦ. Mutual submission is to be done out of fear of Christ. Both wives and slaves are instructed based on this same concept. In Eph 5, φόβος means neither “fright” nor “reverence,” but instead, according to Sampley, it refers to Christ’s act of cleansing the church and taking the initiative on behalf of the believers to make them holy (pp. 117-121).

Concerning Eph 5:22, Sampley notes that there is no verb and it is assuming the verb, ὑποτάσσομαι, from v. 21. While κύριος could here refer to the husband as master, it is more likely that it is referring to Christ as Lord. He bases this understanding on what comes in Eph 5:23-24. With v. 23c removed, the remaining text of 23-24a form a chiasm, which is as follows: the husband is head of  his wife (v. 23a); Christ is head of the church (v. 23b); the church submits to Christ (v. 24a); wives submit to their husbands (v. 24b). The first line in this chiasm is introduced with the conjunction, ὅτι, which provides the reason for wifely submission. Wives are to submit because the husband is the head of his wife. The husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church. Christ’s headship speaks of authority and power, as is evidenced in Eph 1:22-23. The same concept is reiterated in Eph 4:15. When the same language is applied in Eph 5, not only does the reader recall what was said in Eph 1 and 4, but the reader also infers it concerning the headship of the husband. But in comes this seemingly awkward parenthetical phrase: αὐτὸς σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος (Eph 5:23c). This phrase is differentiating Christ from the husband. While the husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church, the husband is not the savior of his wife like Christ is the savior of the church. In contrast to this parenthetical statement, Eph 5:24 uses ἀλλά to return to the chiasm, since Eph 5:23c interrupts it. In the concluding statement of the chiasm, the author qualifies the wifely submission to the husband to be done in all things. While the husband’s authority is not the same as Christ’s authority, the wife is still instructed to submit in everything (pp. 121-126).

Concerning Eph 5:25, Sampley highlights the point that Christ’s love was both defined in and demonstrated by his sacrificial death for the church. The ἵνα clauses found in Eph 5:26-27 further explain this love: he gave himself up in love in order to make her holy having cleansed her with the washing of the water with the word and to present her to himself in splendor. The first phrase recalls the Christ-church relationship in parallel with the hieros gamos tradition but then re-applies it to baptism with the words ἐν ῥήματι. The second phrase refers to Christ’s eschatological presentation of the church to himself as pure and holy. When the author says that Christ will present the church in splendor, he defines what he means: the church will not have any spot or blemish or any such thing. Furthermore, she will be holy and blameless (pp. 126-139).

Concerning Eph 5:28-30, Sampley notes the connection between love and purity. In b. Nid. 17a, the husband is instructed not to make love to his wife during the day lest he see something undesirable in her, because he is to fulfill the command, “love your neighbor as yourself.” On account of her impurity he may break the command. There is a connection of love and purity. In Eph 5, in terms of the comparisons being made, the wife and the church are to be pure, and now in vv. 28-30, the connection to love is brought in. Since Gen 2:24 is the main underlying tradition of Eph 5:21-33, the author of Ephesians, according to Sampley, can speak of the wife being the body of the husband, for a man’s wife is the same as himself or his own body. At this point, Sampley notes that the author of Ephesians is combining Gen 2:24 with Lev 19:18, for the husband is exhorted to love himself. Therefore, whoever loves his wife fulfills Lev 19:18. The author further explains that no one ever hates his own flesh, but instead nourishes and cares for it. The love commanded is that of nourishing and caring for one’s wife. This command to love is not about emotion but continual, tender care, and it is the same love that Christ has for the church. Sampley notes that the author concludes the entire Christ-church and husband-wife comparison with v. 30, “for we are part of his body (pp. 139-146).

Concerning Eph 5:31-32, Sampley refers back to his previous comments concerning the quotation of Gen 2:24 (pp. 97-100), and refers back to his comments on the phrase, τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο μέγα ἐστίν (pp. 86-96), concluding that Gen 2:24 refers not only to husbands and wives but also to Christ and the church (pp. 146-147).

Concerning Eph 5:33, the last verse in the study, Sampley briefly comments on the function of this verse in the structure of the entire section. Ephesians 5:33 repeats, essentially, Eph 5:25a and Eph 5:22 with a link to Eph 5:21. It shows that Eph 5:21-33 must be understood as a unit. It also completes the unit with a chiasmus, so that wives are addressed first (Eph 5:22-24), then husbands (Eph 5:25-30), then husbands again (Eph 5:33a), and finally wives (Eph 5:33b). This ending helps to transition into the next set of relationships, that of children and fathers, as provided by the haustafeln (p. 147).

Following his detailed analysis of each verse in Eph 5:21-33, Sampley provides five concluding remarks. First, he comments on the interrelationship of Eph 5:21-33 with the rest of the Ephesian haustafeln. He emphasizes that Eph 5:21, though grammatically related to Eph 5:22, functions as the introduction to the household code as a whole. Sampley expects that the rest of the household code will integrate various traditions as did the section concerning husbands and wives (pp. 148-149).

Second, he addresses the interrelationship of Eph 5:21-33 with the rest of Ephesians. He notes above all the use of family language throughout Ephesians. He notes also the use of organic language elsewhere in Ephesians. Additionally, he comments that Ephesians uses several metaphors for unity, such as house, building, body, and temple, which is similar to Eph 5:21-33. He points out that the church is only ever the recipient of Christ’s work and is never in a position to merit anything. The same is true in Eph 5:21-33, for Christ cleanses the church, making her holy and pure, even splendorous. Furthermore, Ephesians calls the believers to humility, not unlike the call in Eph 5:21-33 with mutual submission. Finally, the hieros gamos has not become void, but it has been reapplied to the church, and the church has been set out on a mission to the world. Ephesians 5:21-33 reflects this reapplication and mission (pp. 150-153).

Third, Sampley comments on the portrait of the church in Eph 5:21-33. He notes that the death of Christ functions as the defining marker for the church, distinguishing it from Israel. But while his death was a single event, his nourishing and caring for the church is ongoing. Furthermore, Christ is not identified to be the equivalent to the church, Sampley says, and is not said to be “one flesh” with the church. Instead, he is always the head, meaning that he is always continuing on as the founder and savior of the church. Moreover, he claims that Eph 3:9-10 is of utmost importance for Eph 5:21-33, for the church has been given a cosmic function, and Eph 5:21-33 is part of that function (pp. 153-157).

Fourth, he discusses about marriage in Eph 5:21-33. He notes that the command for wives to submit has often been taken out of context and understood only as a product of the culture. He notes rightly that in truth the command has been preserved from the haustafeln, but in context Eph 5:21 must be given its full force. In addition, he notes correctly that Gen 2:24 with Lev 19:18 further qualifies the wifely submission (pp. 157-158).

Fifth, he draws his final conclusions about the traditions in Eph 5:21-33. He asks why there might be so many traditions incorporated into the passage, and concludes that since the author did not know the Ephesians he relied on a certain pool of traditions to draw from perhaps established as part of catechetical studies. He asks also why these traditions were chosen and not others, determining that they were both germane and helpful for the current situation of the Ephesians. Sampley recapitulates the various traditions utilized: Gen 2:24; Lev 19:18; the hieros gamos, namely Ezek 16, Canticles, and Ps 45. He concludes that the author of Ephesians is addressing an issue in which Gentile Christians are in danger of separating with Jewish Christians on the ground that they believe they are better than their Jewish brothers and sisters. He states that Käsemann is correct, not only concerning the use of traditions, but also that Ephesians was written to Gentile Christians who reject the Jewish Christians. Sampley firmly states that the author of Ephesians in 5:21-33 argues that the Gentile Christians cannot be understood independently of Israel, for they are bound inseparably with Jews in God’s overall cosmic plan. But as for Käsemann’s third assertion, that Ephesians is not concerned with Jewish Christianity as the context for understanding the church, Sampley disagrees, for it is clear, he says, that Eph 2 and 5 demonstrate the dependence of Jewish background in relation to the church. He concludes in the end that Eph 5:21-33 is an intricate yet not labored passage that was constructed with care throughout (pp. 158-163).

Now that we have summarized the contents of Sampley’s book, we may now comment briefly on the minor shortcomings of ‘And the Two Shall Become One Flesh’ prior to highlighting its major benefits for discussing Eph 5:21-33.

Sampley’s monograph suffers only in the sense that it lacks to important comparisons. First, it lacks a comparison of classical household codes to that of the NT and the Ephesian haustafeln. Had Sampley taken the time to consider the stark contrast between classical household codes, then in his concluding chapter, when discussing marriage in Eph 5:21-33, he could have even more forcefully demonstrated that the call for wifely submission is somewhat counter-cultural when understood in the light of the husband’s responsibility to love his wife. Not only that, but it would have been helpful in demonstrating that the author was going against cultural standards simply by addressing wives at all. He leaves his conclusions regarding wifely submission in this aspect incomplete. Second, Sampley’s monograph lacks an understanding of rhetoric, and therefore, it lacks a rather important comparison between Eph 3:1-13 and Eph 5:21-33. It is clear that Eph 3:1-13 is part of the narratio in Ephesians, while Eph 5:21-33 is part of the exhortatio. However, the exhortatio functions as the moral end of the narratio. While he does well to conclude that the church has a purpose and a mission, he fails to demonstrate how this relates to wifely submission and husbandly love. In a patriarchal society that clearly expected wifely submission, wives are here commanded accordingly, not merely as a reflection of society, but as a means of bringing about the church’s mission. If wives did not submit, the surrounding culture could discredit the church as a whole, thus nullifying its mission. The author of Ephesians thus gives wives an important role in the church. But Sampley fails to recognize this moral end of the church’s goal as it affects wives in the marriage relationship, which leaves his conclusions regarding marriage found wanting. However, ‘And the Two Shall Become One Flesh’ has three important benefits that clearly outweigh any shortcomings.

Sampley provides us with a lucid treatment of the traditions behind Eph 5:21-33, a fantastic explication of the text’s movement of thought, and a thorough analysis of each verse. The treatment of the traditions in itself is clearly worth the cost of the book. One simply cannot understand the text unless full measure is given to the traditions that helped construct and inform the passage. Sampley has demonstrated how the haustafeln is the major underlying tradition behind the passage, and not that one only, but also Gen 2:24, Lev 19:18, Ezek 16, Canticles, Ps 45, purity traditions, and organic language. No discussion of Eph 5:21-33 that leaves out an understanding of the underlying traditions will suffice. As Sampley has demonstrated, it is simply impossible for a study of this passage to glean a solid understanding without considering these traditions. Moreover, Sampley’s explication of the text’s movement of thought is absolutely essential. His chart is in itself also worth the cost of the book. He shows with utmost clarity the transitional movements and comparative relationships between each phrase throughout the passage, which is also necessary for understanding the text. Sampley has made a most helpful observation in the use of ὡς language in Eph 5:21-33, and his chart is even more helpful. Finally, his detailed analysis of each verse is exemplary. He helps anyone studying this passage to understand each clause in how it is being used syntactically. Based on his work on the underlying traditions and the movement of thought, he also explains with clarity several of the troubling sections of Eph 5:21-33. The book’s aforementioned strengths undoubtedly combine significantly to outweigh its shortcomings. Any discussion of Eph 5:21-33 must utilize, incorporate, and debate with this thorough monograph.

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