Deepening Comparisons between Paul and Psychagogy: Constructive Adaptation in 1 Corinthians 8:1 – 11:1
1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1 is a key witness to Paul's vision for interpersonal "construction" among believers (οἰκοδομέω, 8:1, 10; 10:23), particularly construction via adaptation of the "wise" to the "consciousness" (συνείδησις) of others, especially the "weak". Interpreting this construction as an instance of interpersonal moral formation, Abraham Malherbe and Clarence Glad have employed the Hellenistic, philosophical practice of "psychagogic" adaptation as an explanatory paradigm for Paul's strategy in this text. Psychagogic adaptation entailed tailoring rational philosophical therapy to the particular illnesses of immature others in order to ensure successful treatment and minimize harm. Theirs is a comparison focused almost entirely on similarities as they seek to show that the psychagogic tradition profoundly shaped Paul's conception and practices of moral formation amongst believers.
This paper follows the lead of Malherbe and Glad, but deepens the comparison to account for both similarities and differences. The comparison assumes that adaptation was an essential part of interpersonal moral formation in both Paul and psychagogy, but does not assume that Paul shared a psychagogic understanding of "adaptation" and "moral formation", allowing important differences in conception and practice to emerge. In this paper I develop three key differences in Paul: (1) adaptation involves protecting the weaker moral consciousness, not curing it, (2) adaptation forms the immature wise to maturity in faith, and (3) adaptation reveals that the wise and weak are both indispensable to each other's formation in faith. I argue that this revised comparison is thus more fruitful for understanding the nuances of formative adaptation in Paul. I conclude by sketching how this study, if successful, indicates the importance of accounting for differences alongside similarities and using more flexible categories in the wider projects of comparing Paul and Hellenistic philosophy.
Paul and Philo in Dialogue: 'Die Namensoffenbarung' and the Name of the Lord
The revelation of the divine name in Exodus 3 has been a contentious topic amongst biblical scholars as long as one can trace back the reception history of the book of Exodus, especially for the meaning of the idem per idem (אהיה אשר אהיה) statement of v. 14, as well as the meaning of the divine name, so-called Tetragrammaton. Philo of Alexandria, one of the most prolific authors and Jewish philosophers in Antiquity, accounts and reinterprets Moses’ call narrative and the Namensoffenbarung (the revelation of the name) of Exod 3:14-15. Interestingly, Philo renders the idem per idem statement in the way that is identical to the LXX-Exod 3:14, namely the Greek rendering of ἐγω εἰμι ὁ ὤν. He further provides his own commentary on the idem per idem statement of Exod 3:14 asserting that a name should not be ascribed to or appropriated for the God of Israel. However, although Saul of Tarsus, also known as Apostle Paul, does not make any direct reference such as a citation to Exod 3:14-15, he refers to the name of God in reference to God (e.g., Rom 2:24; 15:9) as well as to name of the Lord in reference to Jesus the messiah (e.g., 1 Cor 1:2) in his letters to the earliest churches. Considering the early Jewish handling of the Tetragrammaton demonstrated by some material evidence (e.g., the Qumran scrolls), Paul as a Jewish rabbi and Pharisee in the first century C.E. must have been aware of such care and prohibition for the divine name even if the apostle himself might not be part of that scribal community. Thus, I will analyse, compare and contrast thoughts and theology of Paul and Philo concerning the name of the Lord in this paper.
Paul, Dio of Prusa, and the Elements of Anti-Sophistic Polemics
This paper argues that certain literary elements in Paul’s portrait(s) of his missionary opponents are reminiscent of Greek anti-sophistic polemics. As a recent study by Beatrice Wyss suggests, a pattern of the disparagement of sophists and sophist-like teachers had developed by the second century CE which was largely, if not exclusively, inspired by Plato’s critique of sophists. Traces of this pattern can be detected in the speeches of Paul’s younger contemporary, the Greek orator and popular philosopher Dio of Prusa, who throughout his work engages in polemic against the sophists of his time. In my paper, I will give an overview of the components of the pattern, exploring how the evidence of Dio’s speeches and Paul’s letters can be classified within each of the presented components. Although Paul never discredits his opponents explicitly with the label ‘sophists’, reading his letters both in the light of the pattern of the disparagement of sophists and through the lens of Dio’s critique of sophists reveals that his polemic can be interpreted within the larger Greek literary context of casting intellectual and religious rivals as sophists.
The Didache: Key to the Acts-Galatians Conundrum
Acts and Galatians appear to offer incompatible accounts of Paul’s dealings with the Jerusalem Apostles – with the Westar Fellows rating most of the Acts account as ‘Black/Improbable’. The infamous discrepancies between the two accounts resolve, however, when an early version of the Didache is placed in the role of the Apostolic Decree. The Didache is double-edged with regard to Gentile circumcision: Baptism, and thence Eucharistic participation, may be achieved without circumcision but salvation may be seen as, ultimately, requiring circumcision. If the Apostolic Decree had this bivalent property, then the following sequence becomes possible:
First, responding to a predicted famine, Paul and Barnabas take a gift to Jerusalem, at which point the Pillar Apostles accept the non-circumcision of Antioch’s Gentile believers. Second, others visiting Antioch insist that Gentile believers must be circumcised. Paul, confident of having recently secured the Apostles’ support, agrees to take the dispute for their adjudication. Third, the ensuing Council does not go as Paul expects. The Apostles produce a double-edged Decree (viz. The Original Didache). Paul nonetheless elects to use this document as an instrument of mission in Galatia. This allows, however, his opponents to trumpet Paul’s submission to the Jerusalem Apostles and his acceptance of their double-edged (ultimately pro-circumcision) ruling. Fourth, Paul writes Galatians – a letter that contests his opponents’ reading of the Council and its Decree by, among other things, citing what had happened at the earlier famine visit (Gal 2.1-11). Fifth, Luke writes Acts – mentioning the famine visit in passing and offering a singularly pro-Pauline account of the Council and its Decree.
Thus, by the simple expedient of replacing Luke’s single-edged Decree with a double-edged one, the perceived incompatibility between Acts and Galatians becomes resolvable. And, at the same time, new light is cast on the specific crisis addressed by Paul in Galatians.
Pauline Christ Groups and Greco-Roman Voluntary Associations: Comparing Competing Conflict Management Models
In Galatians as well as in several of his other letters, Paul engaged in conflict management in absentu. The Galatian conflict was in many ways a reprise of the conflict discussed during the so-called Apostolic Council. The problem was twofold. It regarded both admission to the Christ movement (circumcision or not) and the unity of the movement (table fellowship between jewish and gentile Christ-believers or not). Three conflict management models seems to have competed for hegemony: an assimilationist approach arguing for both circumcision of Gentile Christ-believers and subsequent table fellowship (the so-called Judaizers; Gal 2:1-5), a segregationist approach neither requiring circumcision of Gentile Christ-believers nor wanting table fellowship with them (James and possibly the Apostolic Council; Gal 2:9), and finally Paul’s own Antiochean integrationalist approach, not requiring circumcision of Gentile Christ-believers but nevertheless insisting on table fellowship (Gal 2:11-14). The present paper discusses (in light of recent work by John S. Kloppenborg and others) the social impact of these three competing approaches to conflict by comparing them to conflict management practices in ethnically and socially diverse Greco-Roman voluntary associations.
The Christomorphic Shape of Paul’s Dualistic Eschatology in Galatians
This paper seeks to deconstruct the consensus that Paul’s dualistic eschatology in Galatians stems from Jewish apocalypticism. Though many have seen two-age eschatology and a negative view of the present as common to the apocalyptic genre, this conclusion comes from allowing 4 Ezra 7.50 to overdetermine how they read eschatology in other apocalypses. By making this text the paradigmatic expression of apocalyptic eschatology, scholars have misconstrued the unique eschatological contours of other apocalypses. Dualistic eschatology in fact runs against the theological grain of many apocalypses (e.g. 1 Enoch 1–36) and is therefore incidental to the genre. This calls into question the standard religionsgeschichtliche thesis regarding the origin of Paul’s dualistic eschatology.
Paul’s view of the present as evil is a response to and interpretation of the widespread rejection of his gospel. In reaction to such opposition, Paul posited a hamartiological universalism: all humanity, and thus the present age, is captive to sin. Paul’s dualistic eschatology in Galatians interprets this ‘evil age’ by projecting the cross and resurrection onto his cosmology and eschatology. Insofar as Christ encapsulates the cosmos within himself, the disjunction between the present evil age and the new creation is generated from and shaped by the disjunctive, e contrario event of Christ crucified and risen. Thus, Paul’s dualistic eschatology is not apocalyptic; it is christomorphic. It is not a redeployment of an apocalyptic motif but stems from a thoroughgoing application of the Christ-event to his theology and experience.
The Spirit as “promise giver” more than “promised gift”? Rethinking “τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πνεύματος” (Gal 3:14)
Few dispute the centrality of the Spirit in Galatians; and where, in Galatians 3:14, there are differing views concerning the meaning and relationship of the two ἵνα clauses it comprises, yet the wide consensus among commentators is that the genitive phrase of 3:14b “τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πνεύματος” is appositional / epexegetical; that is, the material content of the promise is the Spirit – in effect, “the promised Spirit” (cf. ESV, NJB, NLT). Thus, debate moves between whether the Spirit is the content of the Abrahamic promise (3:6-9, 16f) and, if so, how1; or whether Paul is alluding to Old Testament prophetic literature in this brief reference2.
This paper takes a dissenting view and seeks to question that initial interpretation of this genitive phrase. I intend to re-examine its exegetical foundations and further suggest the considered possibility that it is, rather, a possessive genitive, or genitive of source (cf. ὁ …καρπὸς τοῦ πνεύματός Gal. 5:22); that is, Paul’s concern at this point in Galatians is not to emphasise the promised nature of the gift that is the Spirit (an argument that seems redundant given the undisputed presence of the Spirit cf. 3:2-5), but the assurance of promise that is given by the Spirit, leading to a focus on promise as the pathway to inheritance and righteousness (3:15-22; cf. 4:28f, 5:5).
This study emanates from research on the role of ἐπαγγελία in Galatians, which combines exegesis with Relevance Theory as its methodological approach; and could open up implications for the interpretation of this Pauline letter, which I hope to draw out.
1 cf. Williams, S.K., 1988. ‘Promise in Galatians: A reading of Paul's reading of Scripture.’ Journal of Biblical Literature, 107(4), pp.709-720.
2 cf. Hays, R.B., 2002. The faith of Jesus Christ: the narrative substructure of Galatians 3:1-4:11.Second edn. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. pp.181-3; Kwon, Y., 2004. Eschatology in Galatians: rethinking Paul's response to the crisis in Galatia. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, p.107f; Lee, C., 2013. The Blessing of Abraham, the Spirit, and Justification in Galatians: Their Relationship and Significance for Understanding Paul's Theology. Wipf and Stock Publishers.