Grace Emmett, University of Sheffield, ‘Reimagining Paul: Apostolic Portraits of Masculinity’
This paper reflects on the process of commissioning artists to bring Paul and his letters to life in fresh ways in the form of a public exhibition entitled “Reimagining Paul: Apostolic Portraits of Masculinity”, due to tour cathedrals later this year. In this paper, I outline the value of this project for the academic community. After reflecting on the process of collaborating with artists to translate academic research (namely, my recently completed doctoral research) into publicly accessible content, I will spend the majority of the paper introducing the newly commissioned visual media, which will be ready by the time of BNTC. This discussion will center around how such a reimagination of Paul helps us to “reverse the hermeneutical flow” (Kreitzer) when it comes to a number of Pauline texts, including 2 Cor 12:7–10, with particular respect to gender. This paper is also an invitation for the Paul seminar to join in with “reimagining” Paul, as well as the way in which Pauline studies as a discipline is constituted.
Tyler Hoagland, University of St Andrews, ‘Two Kings for Two Covenants: Royal Discourse and the Covenants of 2 Corinthians 3’
A renewed consideration of the royal connotations of the story of Exodus 34 suggests the relationship between the two ministries of 2 Corinthians 3 is not based on a replaced covenant but on covenant fulfillment in the person of the true king, Jesus. Paul draws on Exodus 34 in 2 Corinthians 3 for more than the imagery of the renewed giving of the ancient covenant. This passage is a key text in the characterization of Moses as a king, most clearly seen in Philo’s Life of Moses. Yet despite being a divine liaison who brings the law, Moses is not the law’s living embodiment. The juxtaposition in 2 Corinthians 3 is not between ministries of old and new covenants, but between a glorious lawgiver and a representative of the true king, the embodied law himself. The new covenant of which Paul is a minister is the result of Jesus’s fulfillment of the royal task, not of the replacement of an earlier covenant.
Ryan D. Collman, University of Edinburgh, ‘“You’re a Shining Star”: Doxa, Pneuma, and Human Mortality in 2 Corinthians 3′
While the past decade has seen a considerable shift in Pauline scholarship regarding Paul’s relationship to his ancestral traditions, recent treatments have broadly focused on Romans and Galatians (with a dash of Philippians and hint of 1 Corinthians for added flavor). One text that has been broadly, if not completely, overlooked within this scholarly shift—the so-called “Paul within Judaism” perspective—is 2 Cor 3. This paper offers an attempt at reconciling some of the perceived incompatibilities between this new understanding of Paul and what Paul writes in 2 Cor 3. Here, I focus on Paul’s language of doxa and pneuma as it pertains to the “ministry of death” and mortality. Rather than being understood as a text that promotes a proto-supersessionist replacement of Judaism with Christianity, I argue that within its wider epistolary (and Pauline) context this passage should be understood in light of Paul’s preoccupation with the problem of human mortality and the hope of a future pneumatic and celestial existence.
Melissa J. Barciela Mandala, University of St Andrews, ‘The Body as a Site of Transformation in 4 Maccabees and 2 Corinthians 4:7–12’
This paper argues that the suffering body is a distinct site of multi-faceted transformation in 4 Maccabees and 2 Corinthians 4:7-12. Not only do Paul’s writings feature intriguing language about the body as a location of human-divine activity where agency interacts and exchanges, but also Paul wrote within the adolescence of broader Greco-Roman constructions of the body and philosophical reflections. Further, there is a rise in modern inquiry within the fields of classics, philosophy, and biblical studies regarding the body as a socio-cultural construct wielded by authors in particular ways. This paper highlights this lacuna in Pauline studies, namely that the suffering body is an important organizing concept for illuminating Paul’s understanding of suffering. It then examines the conception of the suffering body in 4 Maccabees and argues that, borrowing the language of “site” from Foucault, it features as a site of virtue formation and a constructed image wielded for persuasion. These findings are placed in conversation with intriguing resonances in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 to highlight the presentation of the suffering body as a distinct site of transformation.
Alexander Chantziantoniou, University of Cambridge, ‘Paul’s Iconic Christ among Mediterranean Cult Statues: A Comparison of Divine Images’
Ever since the so-called ‘material turn’, classicists and art historians have witnessed an explosion of interest in ancient Mediterranean cult statues as material epiphanies of the gods. Drawing from this research, this paper outlines ritual perceptions of divine images among Greeks, Romans, and other non-Jews as comparanda for Paul’s iconic claims about Christ in 2 Corinthians. For Paul, Christ is the image of the Jewish god (εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ), in whom god’s presence (τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ) is seen and known (4.4–6). Insofar as Paul and his gentiles-in-Christ are a ‘temple’ of this god (6.14–7.1), I suggest that Christ-in-them is the cult statue within it (cf. 4.7–12), through whom the deity lives and walks among his people. I argue that, notwithstanding Paul’s polemics against iconic ritual elsewhere in his Corinthian correspondence (1 Cor 8.1–11.1), his iconic claims about Christ in fact operate within and innovate upon a ritual perception of divine images that was otherwise common in ancient Mediterranean religiosity—intelligible and recognisable as such to his gentile followers.
Matthew Sharp, University of St Andrews, ‘Physics and Cosmology in 2 Corinthians 3–5: Stoic, Platonic… or Peripatetic?’
Scholars are increasingly recognising the influence of philosophical physics and cosmology in Paul’s letters, but there is little agreement about how to weigh the relative influence of Stoicism and Platonism. The problem is particularly acute in 2 Cor 3–5, which Stanley Stowers (2017) characterises as “a remarkable combination of Stoic materialism and Platonic mentalism.” In this paper I argue that the first-century CE Peripatetic treatise On the Cosmos provides a useful lens through which to view the disparate influences on this section of 2 Corinthians. It is useful, firstly, because it presents a coherent presentation of God, heavenly bodies, pneuma, and cosmos that is a closer analogue to Paul’s presentation of these concepts than any single Stoic or Platonic text. Secondly, even where it differs from Paul (most notably in the matter of eschatology) it is instructive for the way it similarly combines Platonic, Aristotelian, and Stoic ideas into a coherent whole with traditional notions of divinity and piety.
Session 3: Book review panel on B. G. White, Pain and Paradox in 2 Corinthians (Mohr Siebeck, 2021)
Dominika Kurek-Chomycz, Liverpool Hope University
Alex Muir, University of Edinburgh
Chris Tilling, St Mellitus College
B. G. White, The King’s College