- The following exploration of Scriptural perspectives on
aging and the elderly has been richly stimulated and informed by J. Gordon Harris, Biblical
Perspectives on Aging: God and the Elderly (Overtures to Biblical Theology 22;
Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987) and Malcolm J. A. Horsnell, "Biblical Concepts of
Aging," McMaster Journal of Theology 3.2 (1993), 16-51. My indebtedness to
these studies will be evident at a number of junctures.
- Translations of biblical texts are based on the NRSV.
- The term "fictive kinship" refers to the
formalization of relationships between individuals not otherwise linked by birth or
marriage. In this sense, the term "brother" or "sister" provides a
metaphorical description of a close relationship: for example, Paul refers to Tychicus as
"the beloved brother...in the Lord" (Eph 6:21) and Jesus declares that
"Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother" (Mark 3:35).
- Harris, Biblical Perspectives, 60.
- Horsnell, "Biblical Concepts of Aging," 24; cf.
- Note that, notwithstanding patriarchal social structures,
the biblical text consistently counsels respect for both parents equally (similarly
Exod 21:15-17; Lev 19:3, 20:9; Deut 5:16, 21:18-19, 27:16; Prov 20:20, 23:22, 30:17; Mic
7:6; Mark 7:10-12; 1 Tim 1:9, etc.).