2016 Paul

Session 1

“One God” and “One Lord” in 1 Corinthians 8:6: Splitting, supplementing or “brokering” the Shema?

Benedict Kent 

University of Manchester

The view that 1 Corinthians 8:6 represents a careful adaptation of the Shema (L. Hurtado 1988; N. T. Wright 1991; R. Bauckham 1998) has gained widespread acceptance, so much so that scholars increasingly consider the text to be paradigmatic of the shape of Paul’s Christology. However, the manner of the text’s relation to that central Jewish scripture is still contested. Is Paul splitting or supplementing the Shema? Is he identifying Jesus with God or distinguishing Jesus from Him?

Contrary to approaches that emphasize a background in Jewish divine Wisdom traditions, this paper argues that the relationships in 1 Corinthians 8:6 are best interpreted in light of the hierarchical resource-exchange relationships of Graeco-Roman society.  In order to combat powerful social obligations to patrons outside of the Christian community, Paul reminds the Corinthians of their obligations to their ‘patrons’ inside the community, God the Father and Jesus the Lord. A reconstruction of the patron-broker-client relationships between pagan deities, celebrated benefactors, and worshipping communities in Roman Corinth offers a new way of thinking about the God-Jesus-believer relation. In situating the passage within its immediate social context of pagan and Christian dining practices it becomes clear that Jesus functions as a broker of God’s benefactions to the community, analogous to the role of local patrons in Corinthian temples. A patron-broker-client framework moves beyond the limited labels of ‘low’ and ‘high’ Christology and provides a platform for understanding how Paul both maintains Jewish monotheism and honours Jesus as Lord within the relational structures of his own world.

The Problem of Pain: Paul's Use of Λυπ- Words and His Purpose in 2 Corinthians

Ben White 

Durham University

In 2 Corinthians Paul says that he and the Corinthians have experienced λύπη ('pain') as a result of his previous visit and letter (2.1-5, 7.5-16). This emotion is so problematic for Paul that it prevents him from visiting the Corinthians again (2.1). But scholars have largely overlooked the significance of this emotion for 2 Corinthians—neither the commentaries nor essays devoted to the situation in Corinth give a detailed study on Paul's use of λυπ- words. Most view the Corinthians' errant theology or the presence of opponents in Corinth as the key problem in 2 Corinthians. Could it be that Paul is more interested in this problem of relational pain?

Through a study on λυπ- words in first-century sources (especially Philo, Josephus, and Plutarch), and building upon Larry Welborn's An End to Enmity, I will argue that the pain in Corinth is multi-faceted and far more pervasive than the oft-discussed 'godly grief' of 7.5-16. The social setting and history of the relationship between Paul and the Corinthians suggest that Paul uses λύπη to refer to heartbreak, humiliation, and anxieties, all of which are active at the composition of 2 Corinthians. By way of conclusion I will suggest how my understanding of the situation in Corinth transforms our understanding of Paul's purpose in 2 Corinthians, particularly as it relates to his discourses on weakness. 

Romans who have lost their Religion: Paul’s Letter to the Romans and the Building up of a New Community of Worshipers

Teresa McCaskill 

University of Edinburgh

Given that cult was embedded in almost every aspect of first-century Roman life, it is useful to consider what effects Gentiles within the in-Christ-community of Rome might have faced in abandoning their pagan cultic activities. These Christ-following Gentiles were arguably more familiar with the practices of Roman pagan cults than with Israelite worship. It is accepted that Paul did not require his non-Jewish auditors to adopt Israelite cultic practices upon becoming Jesus-believers. Paul also affirms that the Christ-followers of Rome should no longer be identified as worshipers of pagan gods. It is evident then, that a new group has emerged, a burgeoning community in Christ who lack a definite sense of religious identity and practice. My paper examines Paul’s letter to the Romans in light of his calling to the Gentiles and asks whether it contains cultic clarification for this new group. I will marshal primary evidence from an array of documents and archeological findings that illustrate the ubiquitous nature of cult and worship in Rome, whether in the public square or in private homes. I then weigh this data in relation to the question of worship as a primary concern for the Roman Christ-followers. Pagan rituals involving blood, sacrifice and identity will be laid alongside Paul’s teaching in Romans on these matters and then analyzed in light of the shift in understanding and practice for individuals who were once pagan worshipers. I then survey the paraenesis of Romans 12–15 and assess the possibilities of viewing this practical instruction within a cultic framework that culminates with the worship of both Jew and Gentile. I conclude with a consideration of how Paul’s letter addresses and confirms religious identity in light of the new worship practices he advocates.

Session 2

“You only die twice?”- Exploring the Pauline participation discourses of “dying with” and “suffering with”

Dorothee Bertschmann 

Durham University

Does Paul proclaim God’s free, unpredicted and creative righteousness extra nos? Or is the real Paul a mystic, who preaches a deeply internalized way of spiritual transformation in nobis? Ever since Schweitzer’s proposal this question and its related inquiries about Paul’s ethics, pneumatology and sacramental understanding have been hotly and fruitfully debated. Vocabulary such as “participation”, “interchange”, “conformity” and even “union” has helpfully replaced the charged word “mystical”. While a lot of scholarly proposals seek to explore the balance between “juridical” and “participationist” language this paper will focus on the relationship of two Pauline discourses, which can both be termed as “participationist”. One is “dying with Christ”, the other one is “suffering with Christ” as presented respectively in Romans 6 and 8.

Though both discourses offer a concept of connecting the believers’ existence with Christ’s by deploying συν-language, they are motivated by highly different concerns and pursue distinguishable theological goals. The paper will particularly explore in what ways “death” is both associated with suffering and with sin and how the two discourses converge in this point. The paper will conclude that it is precisely this overlap and its related tensions, which prepare the ground for the influential concept of “mortification”, which has no foothold in Paul.

Christ, The Cessation of the Jewish 'Civil Law' and the End of the 'Natural Law': the 'Living Law' as Incarnated in Christ

George van Kooten 

University of Groningen

A Reading of Rom 10.4 within the Context of Stoic-Roman Triple Law Discourse, Greek Ruler Ideology and the Stoic-Academic Debate about the End (τέλος) of Ethics’

Scholarly debate on Romans 10.4, on “Christ [being] the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes (τέλος … νόμου Χριστὸς εἰς δικαιοσύνην παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι)”, does not seem to cease, despite its subject matter ... Some argue that “end (τέλος)” here has the primary meaning of “cessation”, others that its meaning is “fulfillment”, while a few opt for a deliberate ambiguity here. This paper sides with the third interpretation but for different reasons not normally considered. I propose to read Paul’s use of νόμος here within the triple law discourse characteristic of Roman Stoicism that differentiates between civil law, natural law, and ‘living law’ (νόμος ἔμψυχός). Applied to Rom 10.4, and within the context of the entire debate about νόμος in the Letter to the Romans, Paul seems to argue that Christ is the cessation of the Jewish civil law, and the end (in the sense of the goal or fulfillment) of the natural law, which, in its identification with Christ, manifests itself as the ‘living law’. 

Paul also links up here with the ancient philosophical ruler ideology according to which “justice is the aim and end of law (δίκη … νόμου τέλος ἐστί), but law is the work of the ruler, and the ruler is the image of God who orders all things (νόμος δ᾿ ἄρχοντος ἔργον, ἄρχων δ᾿ εἰκὼν θεοῦ τοῦ πάντα κοσμοῦντος” (Plutarch, To an Uneducated Ruler 780C-781A). The entire logic of Paul’s Letter to the Romans seems present here: Christ is the end of the law, the living law, and the image of God (Rom 8.29), in whose likeness human beings are moulded, so that they, too, become righteous (Rom 3.21-26; 8.29-30; 6.13-19; 10.4). Christ functions like the ideal Roman king Numa, whose exemplary life is “the noblest end of all government (τὸ κάλλιστον ἁπάσης πολιτείας τέλος)” and invites the multitude to “conform themselves to a blameless and blessed life of friendship and mutual concord, attended by righteousness and temperance (συμμετασχηματίζονται [cf. Rom 12.2] πρὸς τὸν ἐν φιλίᾳ καὶ ὁμονοίᾳ τῇ πρὸς αὐτοὺς μετὰ δικαιοσύνης καὶ μετριότητος ἀμύμονα καὶ μακάριον βίον)” (Plutarch, Numa 20.2-8).

This Greek ruler ideology, it is argued, is now taken up within the contemporary issue of the end (τέλος) of ethics, which was heavily debated between Stoics and Academics (see A.A. Long & D.N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, Cambridge: CUP, 1987, ## 63-64) and within a particularly Roman-Stoic discourse about the relation between the three laws: civil, natural, and living.

Session 3

'Abschrift' Manuscripts of Paul and their Scribal Habits

Alan Taylor Farnes 

University of Birmingham

Codex Sangermanensis (0319) is a ninth century copy of the Pauline epistles. 0319 is also the earliest New Testament manuscript with a known exemplar being a copy of the sixth century codex Claromontanus (D06). James Royse commented on the singular role which duplicate manuscripts can play in textual criticism saying that they provide “the best possible case” to access a scribe’s habits and that by using Abschrift manuscripts “we can virtually look over the scribe’s shoulder.”

One unavoidable disadvantage of previous studies on scribal habits is that they, of course, do not have access to the Vorlagen of early manuscripts. They therefore must postulate what the Vorlage probably said and then base conclusions concerning scribal habits off of the hypothetical Vorlage. While such hypothetical reconstructions are unavoidable, the duplicate manuscript method is to be preferred, when possible, because it requires no hypothetical reconstructions and we can get to the actual habits of these scribes. The main disadvantage of the duplicate manuscripts method is that there are very few sets of duplicate manuscripts and most of them are very late with the ninth-century 0319 being the earliest.

Codex Claromontanus is the only extant New Testament manuscript to have two known duplicates in 0319 (ninth century) and 0320 (tenth century). 0319 and 0320 are also the only known duplicate majuscule manuscripts. This paper analyzes test passages of 0319 and 0320 in order to determine the scribes’ habits. The shocking conclusion is the strict accuracy of these scribes who neither add nor omit text.

A major focus of this study is how these scribes have copied the controversial sections of Paul such as Romans 1:7, 15; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Cor 14:34–35; and Hebrews 2:9 in order to determine if these scribes took liberties when copying these controversial verses.

A Call to Enact Relationships of Mutual Embrace: Romans 16 in Performance

Sarah Agnew 

University of Edinburgh

As a storyteller performs biblical compositions for live audiences, the way in which the body moves will not only communicate meaning to the audience in the live performance moment, but to the storyteller through preparation, performance and reflection. This presentation considers how the body moves, speaks and feels as invitation to an audience to also move, hear and feel and thus to enter the call to enact relationships of mutual embrace as followers of Christ themselves. The body moves: the repeated gestures of embrace in Romans 16, extending the hands in ‘welcome’ or ‘embrace’ challenge accepted interpretations, as well as translation (the Greek ἀσπάσασθε is most often rendered in English as ‘greet’). Hear the body speak: this performance employs an elevated tone of joy and reverence in celebration of God’s love for all. This tone carries the flow of this chapter to respect its integrity as a whole, and integral to the entire letter with its teaching on a body richer for its diverse gifts. The body feels emotions of joy and love throughout Rom 16, enhancing the performer’s understanding of Paul’s love for his fellow followers of Christ. As the performer feels and thus knows that Paul cares deeply for these people, their lives, and their witness to the Liberator Jesus as a community of love, she interprets the ‘admonishments’ not as words from an angry preacher, but as concerns of a loving pastor. This presentation demonstrates through the discussion outlined here, and through performance of Romans 16, an embodied performance approach to biblical interpretation that honours the body, emotion and audience as lenses through which to make meaning of these compositions.