Paul 2020 Programme

Chairs: Dorothee Bertschmann and Matthew Novenson

Session One

J. Thomas Hewitt, University of Aberdeen, ‘“In the Lord” is not “in Christ”: The Distinctive Syntactical and Conceptual Functions of a Linguistic Doppelgänger’

Paul’s uses of the analogous phrases en christō and en kyriō have received recent attention, particularly by scholars interested in Paul’s participatory thought. Several such investigations detect no real difference between the expressions (Konstan and Ramelli 2007; Campbell 2012), but these treatments are characterized by two errors: 1) fixation on the connotation of the preposition en to the neglect of its objects christos and kyrios; 2) and disregard for the idioms’ distinct syntactical functions. As a result, the phrases en christō and en kyriō have come to be regarded inaccurately as uniformly participatory expressions and are treated uncritically as ciphers for the modern construct of participatory soteriology or ‘union with Christ.’ In this paper, I correct this misapprehension by assessing the distinctive syntactical and conceptual functions of en kyriō vis-à-vis a description, informed by Paul’s messianology, of the functions of en christō. I demonstrate that the syntactical functions of en kyriō are markedly less varied than those of en christō and that the so-called participatory use of en kyriō is – quite unlike that of en christō – never with reference to solidarity with the messiah in his suffering, death, resurrection, or (perhaps most surprisingly) authority. Further, I argue that these differences are best explained not in terms of an alleged ‘Pauline dialectic’ between ‘indicative’ and ‘imperative’ (Neugebauer 1961; Bouttier 1962; cf. Kramer 1966), but rather with reference to distinctions between Paul’s conceptions of messiahship and lordship.

Barbara Beyer, Humboldt University Berlin, ‘Determined by, Dependent on, and Dominated by Christ: Being “in Christ” in Paul’

While Adolf Deissmann once called the way in which people nowadays use Paul’s phrase ‘in Christ’ a chameleon, this is actually true for the apostle himself. In some places, it describes a circumstance (modal), sometimes it is equal to διά plus a genitive (instrumental), and other places appear to be spatial. It all comes down to the understanding of the preposition ἐν, which turns out to be the real chameleon. In order to determine what it means to ‘be in Christ’, one must ask whether there existed a similar phrasing in contemporary Greek which Paul could draw on. With much effort Deissmann sought to locate Paul’s use of ἐν within the context of Greek literature and the Septuagint, yet his references date too far back to explain the apostle’s usage. This paper traces a formulation which is strikingly similar to Paul from the Classical period (esp. Euripides, Xenophon, and Hesiod) down to later developments in the Hellenistic and imperial periods (Polybius, the Greek Papyri, the Vita Aesopi, Dio Chrysostom, up until Libanius). As it will turn out, this formulation represents the background on which the apostle could rest his speech of being in Christ. By adapting it to his own purposes it communicates that the believers are determined by, dependent on, and dominated by Christ their Lord. Two key passages will serve to show this: The argument of Rom 1–8 with its frequent spatial and hegemonial language employs ἐν Χριστῷ to describe the present existence of the believers as being dependent on Christ, just like Phil 3:7-11 does with a more eschatological perspective. Thus, by considering new evidence from contemporary Greek sources Paul’s use of the phrase ἐν Χριστῷ turns out to be less puzzling than has often been thought.

Matthew Pawlak, University of Cambridge, ‘Paul and Diatribe: Romans as Dialogical, but not Dialogue’

The contention that Romans should be read in light of ancient diatribe has been influential in scholarship. Stowers considers dialogical exchanges to be ‘the most distinctive feature of diatribe style,’ and finds such exchanges to be prevalent throughout Romans (1981: 2, 174-84). While the discovery of Paul’s dialogue partner has produced much exegetical fruit, it has become too easy to lose track of the interlocutor’s hypotheticalness in terms of narrative voice. The way that several scholars lay out dialogical passages in Paul and Epictetus make the text appear like a theatrical piece, with clear distinctions between speaking parts (see Campbell, 2009: 587-90; King, 2018: 269-70; Stowers, 1981: 158-65, 172). Such division implies a sharper demarcation between speakers than can be safely assumed. One may expect fully realized characters who speak with their own voices in dialogue, but not here. I will lay out an alternative proposal for conceptualising voice in Romans, and diatribe more broadly. I argue that as a rhetorical performance, diatribe is a one-man show. Whether the audience is Epictetus’s classroom or the Roman church, it is clear from this vantage point that there is only one speaker. The voice of the hypothetical interlocutor cannot be fully separated from the voice of the author. There is a level of self-consciousness to the performance such that both Paul and his audience remain aware that even when the ‘interlocutor’ speaks, there is a sense in which it is still Paul. While this paradigm adds a layer of ambiguity and complexity to the simpler notion of clearly demarcated dialogue, it better illustrates the liveliness and imprecision of diatribe. I will conclude by discussing the implications of this conception of voice in dialogical, diatribe-like texts for the debate over the identity of Paul’s ‘interlocutor’ in Romans.

Session Two

Joseph Longarino, University of Heidelberg, Germany, ‘Apocalyptic and the Passions: Overcoming a False Dichotomy in Pauline Studies’

In debates about the conception of sin in Romans 5–8, there are two major alternatives on offer. The apocalyptic school tends to speak of sin as a power that is extrinsic—but not necessarily external—to the human person, analogous to a demon or quasi-demonic figure inhabiting individuals and reigning over humanity. The moral-philosophical interpretation of Paul, by contrast, contends that sin should be understood as a representation of the passions within the human constitution. These two views are often opposed to each other as mutually exclusive. However, this obscures the extent of the compatibility of the two positions, which runs deeper than is often realized. This paper lays out the major arguments of the apocalyptic position in order to test whether and to what extent the fundamental concerns of this school are in fact at odds with the proposal of the moral-philosophical interpretation of sin. The proposal of this paper is that the major concerns of the apocalyptic school—to understand sin as a universally determinative reality, as a force prior to and exceeding human action, as a power from which only God can deliver humanity—can be accommodated by the basic stance of the moral-philosophical interpretation of sin as the passions. By overcoming the false dichotomy often posited between the two views, new avenues of research can be pursued for a more fruitful discussion.

Jamie Davies, Trinity College Bristol, ‘Why Paul Doesn’t Mention “the Age to Come”?’

Given how commonplace it is in Pauline studies to speak of his two-age inaugurated eschatology, it may come as a surprise to learn that Paul rarely (if ever) mentions ‘the age to come’. References abound to ‘this age’ (Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 1:20; 2:6-8; 3:18; 2 Cor 4:4), the ‘present age’ (1 Tim 6:17; 2 Tim 4:10; Tit 2:12), or the ‘present evil age’ (Gal 1:4), but nowhere do we find a clear example of the expression ‘age to come’ (with the exception, if authentic, of Eph 1:21). This has not stopped many scholars filling in Paul’s blank for him, insisting that, even though he doesn’t say it, Paul must be working with a ‘two age’ eschatological framework, inherited from Jewish apocalyptic thought and reworked in the light of the Christ event. Moreover, this christological adaptation is often cited as a sign of Paul’s theological genius, an indication of his distinctive modification of (or departure from) Jewish thought. This thesis has not gone unchallenged, however, with Second Temple Judaism scholars questioning how much Pauline eschatology really is discontinuous with the apocalyptic tradition. This paper, while endorsing some version of a Pauline ‘two age’ inaugurated eschatology, pushes in the other direction, examining the linguistic evidence, and suggesting that the best explanation is a more radical theological adaptation of the apocalyptic ‘two age schema’ than familiar ‘now-and-not-yet’ frameworks. Paul, I argue, avoids a simple deployment of ‘age to come’ vocabulary because he recognises that the Christ event effected a far more radical eschatological and ontological transformation than a simple overlap in the ‘two ages’ timeline. The Pauline vocabulary suggests, rather, a christological transformation involving an infinitely qualitative distinction between the ‘present age’ and the ‘aiōniallife’ or new creation, the ‘kind of time’ brought about by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Ann Jervis, Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada, ‘Paul’s Conception of the Temporality of Living “in Christ”’

This paper proposes that Paul understands the risen and ascended Christ to live in temporality rather than without time. Christ’s temporality is tensed insofar as Christ’s past, present and future co-exist. (This is not to be understood as eternity, as eternity is classically understood). Christ’s temporality shapes the time of those who live in him. Believers live sequential tenses while inhabiting Christ’s time. Christ’s past is present in his present; and it is available to those in him. Christ’s past functions not only as a past that affects and causes the future. Events in Christ’s past, such as his suffering and death, are in Christ’s present, and so able to be shared and entered by those in him. Christ’s resurrection—a past event—is present. Though believers’ resurrection is in their future, they may now share Christ’s resurrection (Rom 6:4). This is not because believers are time travelers but results from the fluidity of Christ’s tenses. Christ’s past is in Christ’s present, and his temporality embraces and includes the time of those in him. The primary future event for Christ is his Parousia. That Paul understood Christ’s future, like his past, to be in Christ’s present is evident when the apostle declares that Christ is now head of all rule and authority (Col 2:10), that now is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2), and that being in Christ is being new creation (2 Cor 5:17). For those in Christ the presence of his future manifests itself in a peculiar kind of waiting and hoping in sequential time; waiting and hoping grounded not in current absence but in the presence of the future. The day of the Lord’s nearness means they can act as if it had arrived (Rom 13:11-13). They can live as if the passing of the shape of the world had already happened (1 Cor 7:29-31). They are of the day (1 Thess 5:8). Those in Christ live in sequential time enveloped by the time of Christ, in which both Christ’s past and future are present.

Session Three [joint with Later Epistles]

Sydney Tooth, Oak Hill College, London, ‘The Eschatologies of 1 and 2 Thessalonians: A Comparison’

One of the main arguments made against Pauline authorship of 2 Thessalonians is that its eschatological account is incompatible with that of 1 Thessalonians. It is repeatedly claimed that the two accounts are simply too different to come from the same author. On the other hand, those who support Pauline authorship argue that they really are not that different or that any apparent differences are easily reconcilable. Yet, despite the fact that this debate continues ad nauseum, an extended comparison between the two has not previously been undertaken. The best way to progress this discussion is by leaving aside the authorship of both letters and focusing one what is said in the text itself. We should compare their eschatologies point by point, for the debate is too easily coloured by scholars’ presuppositions about authorship – either exaggerating or minimising any potential difference between the letters. The goal of this paper is to provide that thorough comparison. Thus, I examine the eschatology of 1 and 2 Thessalonians in five different aspects: (1) terminology (particularly the use of ‘parousia’ and ‘day of the Lord’), (2) timing of the end (and any preceding events), (3) eschatological fates, (4) agency (the respective roles of Jesus and God in these events), and (5) circumstances for writing the letters. In each of these categories I analyse the evidence in both letters and determine whether or not they are compatible accounts – can both letters conceivably have come from the same author, or are they too irreconcilably different for that to be possible? 

Jennifer Strawbridge, University of Oxford, ‘“Begotten Not Made’: Colossians 1 and Credal Formation’ 

T. J. Lang, University of St Andrews, ‘Financing Ransom in Ephesians’

In Eph 1:13-14, Paul describes believers as having been ‘sealed’ by a holy pneuma, which is somehow related to a promise (epangelia). This pneuma is additionally described as a ‘first instalment’ or ‘security’ (arrabōn) on an inheritance (klēronomia), which itself is then again additionally related to the ransoming of a possession (eis apolutrōsin tēs peripoiēseōs). This essay contends that there is economic sense in the syntax of this cluster of financial terminology. It then relates such economic reasoning to other fiscal images in the letter. It concludes by reflecting more broadly on the expression of theological ideas in an economic register.