2007 Paul

Session 1

Francis Watson (University of Aberdeen)

Beyond the New Perspective

This paper is the Introduction to the new, rewritten version of my Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles (Eerdmans, forthcoming). In this, I reflect on the origins on the "new perspective on Paul" and highlight in particular the fundamental differences between Sanders' christocentric reading of Paul and Dunn's covenant-centred one. My own reading of Paul, in both its earlier and its current guises, has more in common with Sanders than with Dunn. I propose that, at a number of points, this makes it possible to find a way beyond the sterile juxtaposition of "old" and "new" perspectives on Paul.

The Rhetorical Identification of Judaism and Gentile Paganism in Paul's Letters

Recent scholarly discussion of Paul's post-call/conversion attitude towards Judaism can neglect the rhetorical, contextual and polemical dimensions of the relevant epistolary texts. Works that portray Paul's 'view' of Judaism in terms of either continuity or discontinuity, as either 'positive' or 'negative', often assume that such a view can be abstracted from the texts and shaped into a coherent set of statements, otherwise known as Paul's 'theology'.

In this paper, I do not intend to survey such portrayals, and do not want to reject the possibility of giving an account of Paul's theological convictions. Instead, I seek to show how attention to the rhetorical features of his letters might add nuance to any such account. Specifically, I want to investigate Paul's portrayal of Judaism in terms that establish different kinds of rhetorical identification between his ancestral faith and Gentile paganism. The texts to be explored are: 1 Thessalonians 2.14-16; Galatians 4.1-11; Philippians 3.2-3, 18-19; Romans 1-2 and Colossians 3.8-23. While, at first glance, Paul's ability to make such an identification should give pause to those who are keen to describe Paul's theology in terms of continuity with Judaism, such a rhetorical strategy is commonplace within 2nd Temple Judaism itself. Thus, the nature of Paul's theologizing, in this instance, demonstrates his location within the various competing identity claims within Judaism, yet contains the ingredients that explain the development of early Christian identity into a tertius genus.

Session 2

Ward Blanton (University of Glasgow)

Pauline Histories, Biopolitical Futures

This paper considers the way an understanding of Paul can both extend and critique Agamben's (extension and critique of Foucault's) diagnosis of "biopolitics." Among other things, Agamben is touchy about "apocalyptic" teleology in all of his writings. I will propose a reading of Paul that shows how apocalyptic imaginaries afforded crucial ground for a resistance to the biopolitical dimensions of Roman colonial power. I want to use this genealogical example to think through the question of whether the formalistic or "empty" dimensions of Agamben's thinking might gut its ability to DO the political work he wants the "messianic" to do.

Roland Boer (Monash University)

Julia Kristeva, Marx and the Singularity of Paul

Better known as a psychoanalyst who has kept both feminism and Marxism at arm's length, I seek to uncover a more Marxist and feminist Kristeva. In order to do so I focus upon two of Kristeva's readings of biblical texts - her interpretatins of Paul in Tales of Love and Strangers to Ourselves. In these texts, especially through the themes of 'other-than-human love', 'crucifying the pathologies' and 'collectives' I ask what a more Marxist Kristeva might do with Paul.

Session 3

Cherryl Hunt (Exeter University)
David Horrell
Christopher Southgate

An ecological mantra-text? Ecological interest in Romans 8.19-23 and a modest proposal for its narrative interpretation

Romans 8.19-23 has, for obvious reasons, come to be a favourite text for ecotheologians, though there has been little work that both engages with the passage in detail and considers its possible contribution to an ecological theology and ethics. This paper begins by tracing the development of ecological interest in this text, and then proposes a narrative analysis as a strategy by which the meaning and contribution of the text may fruitfully be explored. The various elements of the story of ktisis are then discussed, before, finally, the paper provides some initial indications as to the ways in which this story might inform a contemporary theological response to the groaning of creation.

Kathy Ehrensperger (University of Wales, Lampeter)

Power in Pauline Discourse from a Feminist Perspective

Paul was power conscious. This is hardly a matter of controversy. It is perceived as almost self-evident that Paul was self-consciously involved in the exercise of power. In recent scholarly debate controversy arises when it comes to the evaluation of what is perceived as fact in differing readings. Was Paul trying to impose his will and understanding of the gospel on others in order to establish a position of domination over them - or was he legitimately establishing a leadership role as the unique apostle to the gentiles?

Feminist scholars have drawn attention to the problems inherent in an image of Paul as a leader who exercised dominating power over others in order to establish a static hierarchy within the early Christ-movement, as well as the impact this image has had throughout history. If power is identical with domination and static hierarchies, the Pauline discourse witnesses to a departure from the ethos of a movement which was guided by sayings such as 'no one shall lord it over you'.

The question I will address in this paper is whether a different perception of power in the Pauline discourse emerges when alternative theories of power come into play. I am informed here by a variety of feminist theories of power which have moved beyond a concept of power as domination and power-over. It has been recognized that such models do not sufficiently account for the power of the powerless and subordinate, and also do not adequately encompass the diversity of forms of power that are present in social interaction. In response to this perceived deficiency, feminist theorists (drawing on theories of e.g. Hannah Arendt) have been developing theories of power which are attentive to the empowering dimension of power as well as to its dominating aspects, proposing a threefold perception of power as power-over, power-to and power-with. In this paper I will analyze aspects of the Pauline discourse of power, in concert with such threefold feminist perceptions of power advocating that, despite its contextual limitations, a significant discourse of empowerment emerges from such a reading.