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  1. 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.
  2. Translations of biblical texts are based on the NRSV.
  3. 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 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).
  4. Harris, Biblical Perspectives, 60.
  5. Horsnell, "Biblical Concepts of Aging," 24; cf. 25-28.
  6. 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.).