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To investigate the association of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and early neurodevelopment in the first 2 years of life, adjusting for maternal sociodemographic and psychosocial factors, in the Drakenstein Child Health Study (DCHS), a South African birth cohort study.
The DCHS comprises a population-based birth cohort of 1143 children, of which, a subsample completed the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-III (BSID-III) at 6 (n = 260) and 24 months of age (n = 734). A subset of alcohol exposed, and unexposed children was included in this analysis at age 6 months (n = 52 exposed; n = 104 unexposed) and 24 months (n = 92 exposed; n=184 unexposed). Multiple hierarchical regression was used to explore the associations of PAE with motor and language development.
PAE was significantly associated with decreased gross motor (OR = 0.16, 95%CI 0.06-0.44, p = 0.001) or fine motor (OR = 0.16, 95%CI 0.06-0.46, p = 0.001) functioning after adjusting for maternal sociodemographic and psychosocial factors at 6 months of age only. No significant effects were found in either receptive or expressive communication and cognitive outcomes at either time point.
PAE has potentially important consequences for motor development in the first 2 years of life, a period during which the most rapid growth and maturation occurs. These findings highlight the importance of identifying high-risk families in order to provide preventive interventions, particularly in antenatal clinics and early intervention services.
In addition to the stylistic break at Heb 13.1 which many have noted, the vocabulary and to some extent the content of ch. 13 differ from those of 1–12 and may be more plausibly explained if 13 was written in the knowledge of 1–12 but by a different author and for a different situation.
The presence or absence of references to Paul's collection can be a valuable aid in determining the relative chronology of the various Pauline letters. This is particularly true of Galatians if recent commentaries are correct in seeing no evidence in Gal 2.10 that Paul was then actually engaged in raising the collection, and if that agreement did not lead directly to his collection. Also suggestive, but puzzling, are the varied references to the churches taking part in the collection at different points in time, which seem to reflect the often turbulent relations between Paul and his churches.
Although the New Testament is usually taught within Departments or Schools or Faculties of Theology/Divinity/Religion, theological study of the individual New Testament writings is often minimal or at best patchy. The reasons for this are not hard to discern.
For one thing, the traditional style of studying a New Testament document is by means of straight exegesis, often verse by verse. Theological concerns jostle with interesting historical, textual, grammatical and literary issues, often at the cost of the theological. Such exegesis is usually very time-consuming, so that only one or two key writings can be treated in any depth within a crowded three-year syllabus.
For another, there is a marked lack of suitable textbooks round which courses could be developed. Commentaries are likely to lose theological comment within a mass of other detail in the same way as exegetical lectures. The section on the theology of a document in the Introduction to a commentary is often very brief and may do little more than pick out elements within the writing under a sequence of headings drawn from systematic theology. Excursuses usually deal with only one or two selected topics. Likewise larger works on New Testament Theology usually treat Paul's letters as a whole and, having devoted the great bulk of their space to Jesus, Paul and John, can spare only a few pages for others.
Of all the letters in the Pauline Corpus Ephesians is the most general in its scope, leading one scholar to designate it ‘an epistle in search of a life-setting’. Unlike Colossians, in this letter there is no specific false teaching in view, in the light of which the writer develops his own message. In fact, Ephesians is devoid of virtually all reference to particular circumstances which would enable the contemporary reader to reconstruct with any precision the setting of its addressees. As is well known, one cannot even be sure of their geographical location. In all probability, the words ‘in Ephesus’ were not part of the original text of 1.1 but were inserted later after a collection of Pauline letters had come into being and it was felt necessary to associate a letter, which at this stage had no place name in the address, with a city in which Paul had worked. Not only are there problems about identifying the original readers, but, as we shall discuss below, because of serious doubts about the letter's authenticity, there can be no certainty about who exactly was its author. Rather than attempting the impossible by searching for a specific life-setting, the interpreter of Ephesians would therefore do well to respect the letter's generality and focus on some of its overall features which may be of help in sketching the background against which its theology can be appreciated.
Any arrangement of the thought of Ephesians runs the danger of becoming abstracted from the writer's own way of thinking and mode of expression and of appearing arbitrary. Yet one does not wish, on the other hand, to have the presentation of the writer's thought become a running mini-commentary by simply following the sequence in the text. These two dangers can be mitigated somewhat by making the determinative framework for our own categories what we have seen to be the writer's main concern, namely, the issue of his readers' identity, and by endeavouring to keep in mind constantly the rhetorical means by which he pursues his goal. So this chapter will explore some of the major symbols and themes of the letter in the context of its purpose of strengthening the self-understanding and promoting the distinctive behaviour of its readers as members of the Church in the world. It will recognize that the letter's three major ways of reinforcing its readers' identity — through the language of worship (thanksgiving and prayer), the language of anamnesis (the recall of the past) and the language of paraenesis (ethical exhortation) — are not only vehicles for this writer's theologizing but also significant elements in the symbolic universe he constructs.
This study has been written on the assumption that the author of Colossians was not Paul himself, but that he or she was heavily influenced by Paul's thought. The differences in style from Paul's own writings, exhaustively discussed by W. Bujard, are to be set alongside differences in vocabulary and also in thought; the last is only to be expected if Bujard is correct in contrasting the ‘associative’ ways of thought of the author of Colossians with Paul's way of arguing, for, as he remarks, ‘at heart the difference between Paul and the author of Colossians is a difference in thought-structure’. It is true that many, particularly in the British Isles, fight a rearguard action on this question, denying that the case has been conclusively proven that Paul could not have composed Colossians; however, in my judgement, principles of historical criticism forbid that the odds should be thus loaded against one side in favour of a traditional or conservative position; one rather has to weigh the probabilities even-handedly, and for me the balance seems to come down reasonably clearly in favour of another hand than Paul's.
The differences in content between this letter's thought and Paul's have been succinctly set out by E. Lohse in his commentary in the course of an excursus on ‘The Letter to the Colossians and Pauline Theology’: there is, first of all, the absence of distinctive Pauline terms, even when the subject-matter is similar to themes which Paul handles; nor is there mention of ‘righteousness’, of ‘law’ (nomos), even though the letter is opposing a legalistic teaching, nor of ‘sin’ in the singular, and there is little mention of God's Spirit.
In the history of Christian exegesis and thought the chief contribution of Colossians has been exercised through the Christological hymn of 1.15–20. As Gnilka notes, it is significant that two thirds of that section of Schweizer's commentary that deals with ‘the impact of Colossians’ is concerned with this hymn.
One can readily see the reason for this if one looks beyond the immediate impact of the letter, which Schweizer regards as having its most important result in the writing of Ephesians. For it set the course for early Christians who, like it, utilized the traditions of Jewish wisdom speculation in the development of Christology, but its text, particularly the phrase ‘first-born of all creation’, became a battleground in the Arian controversy in the fourth century: the Arians argued that ‘if [Christ] is first-born of all creation, then obvious he too is a part of creation’. To this the defenders of orthodoxy had to retort, often none too logically, that it meant no such thing, but that the ‘first-born’ differed in kind from creation. The hymn, and even more the more explicit language of 2.9, also became a locus classicus for the doctrine of Christ's two natures, the divine and the human. In the view of W. L. Knox this is hardly surprising: Colossians, in identifying the divine wisdom with Jesus ‘as an eternal truth in the realm of metaphysics’, ‘had committed the Church to the theology of Nicaea’.
Much of the language and many of the ideas of Colossians perhaps strike the twentieth-century reader as puzzling; many of the terms and phrases are obscure, even in the original Greek. If it is in general true of the New Testament letters that the better we understand the situation which led to their being written, the better we understand them, then this is all the more true of Colossians. So we shall need to look with even greater care at what we know of the background to this letter than may be necessary with at least some other New Testament writings, and to consider both its readers' situation and that of the author. And it should not be forgotten that we are often as much influenced by views which we reject as we are by views which we espouse. The author of Colossians is no exception: it is perhaps as important to understand something about those against whom the letter is written, and in response to whom its theology is developed, as it is to know something of the traditions which are endorsed, adopted and adapted by its author.
THE COLOSSIAN ‘HERESY’ AND ITS BACKGROUND
For the most part it is assumed that the letter to the Colossians was written to combat some specific set of beliefs and practices that was being propagated in the church in the city of Colossae.
This volume investigates the respective theologies of the Letters to the Colossians and the Ephesians, and in so doing provides an accessible introduction to the themes and significance of these New Testament books. A. J. M. Wedderburn examines the background to Colossians, and considers both its readers' situation and that of its author. He asks whether the proponents of the teaching against which this letter is written were Christians, putting forward their views as the true form of Christianity (as in Galatia), or whether they existed outside the Christian community as a seductive alternative to it. Andrew T. Lincoln examines in turn the authorship of Ephesians, and tries to explain the letter's strategy of persuasion and the key elements of its teaching about the new identity of the Christian believer. The similarities and differences between the thought of Ephesians and that of Paul are thereby set out clearly. Both sections of the book reflect on the relevance of these letters for today.
The chief focus of theological interest in Colossians is the hymn of 1.15–20 and the use which the author of the letter makes of it, for it contains ideas and claims for the status and work of Christ which are to some extent unparalleled in the New Testament. That in turn raises a hermeneutical problem which will also concern us in chapter 4: once one recognizes a difference, at least of emphasis, between the author and the hymn, does one interpret the hymn in its own right or only as the author of Colossians utilizes it? For this is a text that is part of a canon to which a religious community, the Christian Church, looks at least for guidance (or which serves as an authoritative norm for some). To whom are they to listen, only to the witness to Christ of the author of the letter or also to the at least differently nuanced witness borne by those whom the writer quotes?
Yet there is more to Colossians than just the hymn and its interpretation and application to the situation in Colossae, and so this chapter looks also at two other important features of the letter, its ‘realized eschatology’ which seems to reflect a marked development of Pauline theology, and the relationship between its theology and its ethical teaching, a relationship which is basically Pauline in structure, even if the ethical teaching which flows from it bears distinctive marks of Graeco-Roman culture and of the thought-world of the hymn, features which distinguish it in certain respects from the ethical teaching of the letters agreed to be by Paul.
Ephesians itself can be seen as a skilful and creative appropriation of earlier tradition for its own time and setting. It is an interpretation of Colossians and of the Pauline gospel for a new situation. As such, it offers help to the contemporary interpreter in at least two ways. It already offers some important clues about how the Pauline gospel can be recontextualized in a setting removed from some of the original issues which shaped it and thereby be made more universal in its scope. It also encourages the contemporary interpreter to continue the inevitable hermeneutical process, to take its appropriation of the Pauline tradition and engage in his or her own critical appropriation of the appropriation.
What is involved in critical appropriation of a text? On the one hand, there must be a willingness to accept the invitation of the text to participate in the symbolic world it projects, to be caught up in its vision of Christian existence. On the other hand, for a critical appropriation to take place, there will also be the sort of distancing that has first allowed the text to retain its own identity and otherness and that then allows those who have been caught up in its world to retain their own identity, as they address questions to the text from their own time and place and assess its truth claims from the perspective of the Christian consciousness of contemporary communities of faith.