[*] context for a book review

I'm re-reading Doug Wilson's the Paideia of God because I'm supposed to review it sometime in the next ... well, before Jesus returns, and I'm stuck on the first essay of the book, from which the tome takes its name.

Pastor Wilson bases much of this essay on conclusions from another book by Werner Jaeger called Paideia: the Ideal of Greek Culture (Oxford: 1939), and let me tell you that I'm not going to read Jaeger's book. I'm sorry that I am not already familiar with it, but if I need it to review this much-smaller volume, I'd rather that I had read it first; since it's too late for that I'm going to take the coward's way out. I'm sure it's somewhat boorish of me not to read the underlying work which Pastor Wilson bases this essay on. Carry on.

See: I'm stuck on the first essay because Pastor Wilson says this:

Werner Jaeger, in his monumental study of paideia, shows that the word paideia represented, to the ancient Greeks, an enormous ideological task. They were concerned with nothing less than the shaping of the ideal man, who would be able to take his place in the ideal culture. Further, the point of paideia was to bring that culture about. To find a word of comparable importance to them, we would have to hunt around for a word like "philosophy". To find a word of comparable importance in our culture, we would have to point to something like "democracy". The word "paideia" was as central to the thinking of the Greeks as the idea of the proletariat is to the Marxist, or cash to the televangelist.
And in standing on this outcome of monumental study, Pastor Wilson applies this understanding of "paideia" to Eph 6:4 and uses it to begin a battle cry for cultural battlements to be built against the creeping ooze of American public education.

Listen: fair enough, alright? Please do not read this brief blog entry as a defense of American public education. I like the Homeschool movement as a trend even if it gets people in it that are too embarrassed to send their child back to Public schools, or people who think that Homeschool texts ought to be free or at least sold without the opportunity of profit on the part of the retailer or publisher (there's are bookstore stories in there, but this is not about my bookstore right now).

My problem is trying to squeeze Jaeger's 544-first-volume into the 16 Greek words of Eph 6:4. The English is well-rendered:
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (NKJV)
In making his point, Pastor Wilson here wants us to read Eph 6:4 as a challenge by Paul to make everything about a "Christian civilization" and the Father's role in pressing on from here to there. However, I think that application goes beyond what Paul is talking about.

See: in the first place, Eph 6 comes on the heels of Eph 5 (as if …), which is the extended discourse on the topic of " giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." In that, the model of marriage is outlined, and then the model of parenthood and child-hood is outlined. So the Child is to obey the parent in right-observance of the commandment, but the Father – to whom the submission is required – is not given the liberty to be just any kind of master. He is not to "provoke [children] unto anger" but instead to nourish them in the "paideia" and the "nouqesia" of the Lord.

And that's the second place: Paul uses two words which, when placed in proximity like this, tell us something somewhat specific about the Father's duties. If Paul has written only alla ektrefete auta en paideia kuriou, then perhaps we would have to simply take the word of Jaeger by way of Pastor Wilson and start the culture war (again, and for real this time) with gusto. But Why say "nouqesia" if "paideia" already means "inculcation of all the parts of culture"?

See: I think that Paul is saying something here which goes back to the harmony with James. On the one hand, a father should nourish his children with the "paideia" of God – all the right doings, all the outward acts that God would have us do. But on the other hand, Paul also says that a father should be nourishing his children with all the right ways of thinking from God that children will need.

It's a two-fold teaching. On the one hand, it ought to be a teaching which gives way to action, but on the other which is equally important, it ought to be a teaching which instills self-control and self-discipline. It is a two-edged sword of liberty and conscience, license and restraint, that Paul is talking about here and not necessarily a cultural mandate.

I'm not sure that we do justice to the book of Ephesians or the Pauline epistles to here say Paul is establishing a vision of broad (and, as Pastor Wilson might read it) post-millenial kingdom culture which is established through the outworking of families. I think Paul is specifically talking about something here a little more narrow-band even if, in the end, it can logically result in a larger consequence.

Now that I have that off my chest, I can re-read the rest of this book and give you a review worth reading. Thanks.