Would the writers of the New Testament have made a distinction between purely cultural norms and universal moral standards (applicable beyond place or time), or is this distinction purely a modern invention? Would NT writers have allowed for and accepted the possibility of cultural norms/standards changing?
Did even the secular Graeco-Roman society during the time of the early Church make such a distinction as I am discussing here? For instance, was there a distinction made between the term "aischros" ("shameful") and the term "kakos" ("bad"), where the former simply applied to a particular society's notion of "shame" but where the latter were applied more broadly to a universal standard of morality? Would this have been the same sort of application of terms made in regard to societal v. universal moral norms within the early Christian Church? Just to use an example, let us consider the case of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 wherein Pual writes that it is "shameful" ("aischron") for a woman to speak within the assembly ("en ekklesia"). Here, Paul did not use any term meaning "bad" outright; he simply used a term meaning "shameful". (It has been argued that, in Corinth, it was literally unlawful even in its secular society for women to speak in public assemblies. Let's take this as a given for the moment.) So, does this mean that, if Paul hypothetically happened to be preaching to a non-Graeco-Roman society (say, modern-day America) where women speaking in assemblies was acceptable, would he have imposed the same standard about women not speaking in the assembly as he did in this Corinthian letter, or would he have accepted women speaking in the assembly in this hypothetical society?
Outside of the Bible, are there any examples in early Church history where the Church accepted cultural normative differences in various societies?
New Testament Greek
- Cultural Norms v. Universal Moral Standards