2011 Paul

Session 1

Samuli Siikavirta (University of Cambridge)

Paul beyond ‘Indicative’ and ‘Imperative’

The study of Pauline ethics is in turmoil. A vibrant discussion of Paul's doctrinal and exhortative language has continued for more than a century. At the background lies the problem that Paul seems to teach freedom from sin in Christ in the present but also admonishes Christians to fight against sin. Similarly, that which Paul commands in one verse he, in others, speaks of as an already existing reality (e.g. Gal. 3:27 cf. Rom. 13:14; Gal. 5:16 cf. Gal. 5:25; Rom. 6:2 cf. Rom. 6:11). The long-unquestioned solution to the problem - the "indicative-imperative" schema popularised by Rudolf Bultmann - has recently been called into question, particularly by German NT scholars (Backhaus, Horn, Landmesser, Schnelle, Zimmermann etc.). Some want to utterly reject the schema (particularly Zimmermann), while most critics of the model strive for its reconfiguration in one way or another (e.g. Backhaus's "locative", Horrell's "identity" and "ethics" and Landmesser's "christological performative").

My paper will be both an appraisal of the recent criticisms of the "indicative-imperative" model and a contribution to the discussion in light of my study of the Pauline corpus. As a test case for the varying attempts to summarise Paul's ethical teaching and its relationship with his theological insights, I shall focus on Romans 6-8. A particular emphasis shall be on Paul's baptismal theology and cognitive language.

Reverend Julia Bartolomew (University of Edinburgh)

The language of the cult in Paul’s discourse: an interactive ‘story’ of redemption

In a handful of passages Paul presents himself and his converts in priestly or sacrificial roles within the context of a cultic event. He does not just apply a cultic term in isolation but creates vivid pictures in which he and his converts participate alongside God, Christ and the Spirit. Historical-critical and rhetorical methods for understanding this language have their limitations, because Paul’s formulations are so fluid and appear to be without precedent. At the heart of the Jerusalem cult is a ‘transference’ whereby the ordinary or profane is declared pure, offered in the sanctuary as a gift to God and affirmed as acceptable to him. This acceptability establishes the worth of the gift and hence of the donor.

In this paper I argue that Paul’s varying cultic descriptions should be interpreted as religious discourse referring to a repeatable act of worship. Consistency in the literary contexts and function of this language indicates that the exegetical key is not to be found so much through making sense of the specific details of Paul’s imagery, but in the process of cultic transference itself with its message of acceptability to God. This pattern of use also suggests that, contrary to consensus, Paul in his deployment of λειτουργία in 2 Corinthians 9:12-13 is presenting the collection for the needy believers in Jerusalem as a specifically priestly function.

Bradley Arnold (Exeter University)

Pressing on toward the Goal: 'Ekphrasis' in Phil 3:13-14 and the Aim of Philippians

Scholars have increasingly become interested in exploring the role of visual imagery in the Greco-Roman world (Weissenrieder, et al. 2005). In Pauline studies the focus has primarily been on the imperial context out of which this imagery emerged and how Paul’s rhetoric subverts the imperial message (Kahl 2010 and Lopez 2008). While this work has been helpful in filling out the context of the Greco-Roman world, there has been little work done in examining how words and images were interrelated and what rhetorical significance certain ways of putting things might have (cf. Heath 2009 though).

This essay explores the interplay between the verbal and the visual by examining the rhetorical exercise of ekphrasis and its key component enargeia. This will establish the rhetorical import of vivid language; that is language that was thought to evoke visual experiences which could easily persuade the audience. The image of the runner in Phil 3:13-14 functions as a piece of such rhetoric; it brings the subject matter vividly before the eyes and thus has a particularly persuasive force. The rhetorical strategy in this text is part of Paul’s larger aim in Philippians. This can be more clearly identified by correlating the broad structure of moral discourse with Paul’s pattern of thought. By situating the image of the runner within this pattern the centrality of Paul’s vivid description is made evident; it encapsulates what Paul is aiming at in this entire letter.

Session 2

Professor N. T. Wright (University of St Andrews)

How and Why Paul Invented ‘Christian Theology’

Professor Richard Bell (University of Nottingham)

Romans 7 and the Mind

Session 3

Stephen McBay (University of Manchester)

Perilous Negotiations: a Contemporary Analysis of Pauline Exousiology

Biblical texts consistently represent the human encounter with the created principalities and powers as perilous and incantatory negotiations. The Pauline vision of this encounter refines and encapsulates these narratives in order to discipline and develop first century churches. These stories make extreme and conspicuous claims about the socio-political world and Church set within the context of all things and a Creator.

If there is any truth to these claims, beyond their own immediate contexts, then an insightful contemporary analysis should reveal discrete and broad continuities with Pauline exousiology. The application of Michael Taussing’s critique of state-fetishism in The Nervous System to Pauline principalities and powers passages will draw out many continuities.

Exegesis of the language, setting, and tone of these passages clearly resituates Paul’s New Testament communities within the tradition of the oppressed, so the analysis provides a canonical test for the traditions of churches today. And lastly, the examination argues that from Saul’s terror, seizing, and enslavement upon the Damascus Road to the War in Ephesians Benjamin’s oft cited aphorism that this tradition “teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule” is presaged in Pauline exousiology by almost 19 centuries.

‘Do Not Eat it’: Rediscovering the Offensiveness of 1 Cor. 10:25-30 in Light of LXX Ps 23:1 and Recent Scholarship on Idol Meals in Roman Corinth

Scholars have generally assumed that 1 Cor. 10:25-30 supports Paul’s stance of indifference towards eating idol food. It is generally assumed that the biblical quotation in 1 Cor. 10:26 is for the purpose of justifying the Christian’s freedom with regard to eating: ALL meat bought in the market is legitimate for ALL Christians to eat. 10:26 functions as a guilt-killer to further substantiate Paul’s instruction of freedom in 10:25.

In this paper I will re-examine the rhetorical purpose of Paul’s quotation of Ps. 23:1 in 10:26 in light of recent scholarship on the correlation of eating idol meals and building up the civic identity of Corinthians, as well as the overall context of LXX Ps. 23. I conclude that 1 Cor. 10:25-30 is better regarded as Paul’s solemn response to thanksgiving meals to patron gods (traditional Greek gods or Caesar), which were common in the society. When the eater acknowledged the food as a blessing of gods other than the God ‘Christians’ believe, it constitutes an idol meal and the participation of ‘Christians’ constitutes an act of idolatry. Finally, the correlation of this new understanding of 10:25-30 and previous warnings in 10:1-22, as well as the Christian monotheistic confession in 1 Cor 8:4-6, will be examined.

Read Marlatte (University of Oxford)

Issues in the Exegesis of Pauline Metaphors

The epistles of Paul are full of vivid images drawn from the various cultural domains of the apostle’s world: judicial, agricultural, architectural, cultic, anthropological, familial, etc. Many of these images serve as fulcrums for important areas of Paul’s theology. Using a basic definition drawn from the fields of Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language, we may characterize much of this language as metaphor, “understanding one thing in terms of another”. Thus much of Paul’s theology is expressed metaphorically. However, the concept of metaphor has remained problematic for linguists, raising questions concerning how metaphors are created, whether they have any cognitive content and how they are understood. Most of these problems are transferable to the study of Paul and present challenges to some of our exegetical assumptions in the analysis of his letters.

In this paper I propose to introduce some of the critical issues surrounding the study of metaphor, some influential theories (Black, Davidson, Ricoeur, Lakoff and Johnson) and begin to tease out what implications these might bear for the study of Paul. Using the metaphorically potent 1 Corinthians 3.5-17 as a test case, we shall observe how an awareness of the critical issues surrounding metaphor may problematize certain areas of exegesis as well as provide useful tools of analysis for others. We shall argue that though metaphor is a basic mode of cognition, as a mode of communication its cognitive content is not fixed and thus its intentions and implications cannot simply be historically reconstructed. Metaphors rely on their interpreters’ hermeneutic creativity for their meaning to be constructed and therefore an understanding of Pauline metaphor requires an examination of its effects upon its earliest interpreters.