Original Research

Can the New Testament be blamed for unfair discrimination or domination in modern societies?

Elma M. Cornelius
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 56, No 1 | a2848 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v56i1.2848 | © 2022 Elma M. Cornelius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 February 2022 | Published: 31 May 2022

About the author(s)

Elma M. Cornelius, School of Christian Ministry, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


For many Christians the word patriarchy became an offensive word as it is seen as a system ‘created by men to serve men’ with men in positions of domination, creating a social system that ‘left women as victims’. Patriarchy hurts society in many ways – it creates the opportunity for violence, rape, it suppresses women, deprives women of freedom of choice, and creates identity crises for both men and women as it steals humankind’s freedom to choose their roles to be played in society. Who or what is to be blamed for the eternalisation of patriarchy throughout history? As religion is one of the most important agents of socialisation and social control, playing a significant role in organising and directing social life, the underlying patriarchy in the New Testament is very often blamed for inequality in our societies.

Contribution: This article focussed on the question who or what was to be blamed for discrimination and domination in societies. It contributed by arguing that both ‘male-dominion’ and ‘equality of men and women’ are portrayed in the New Testament. It was claimed that with resistance to patriarchy came the challenge on how to interpret the Bible and that it was all about hermeneutics. It seemed as if the New Testament as such was not to be blamed for the reinforcement of patriarchy in our modern societies, but the interpretation of the New Testament. The author therefore pleaded for a hermeneutics with a focus on all three elements in the process of communication, namely author and background, text and the reader. A method with a focus on all elements in the process of communication was used as an example of how it could be done, without being caught in over-contextualisation and the distortion of the biblical message.


patriarchy; New Testament; hermeneutics; discrimination; domination


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