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Synopsis About this title Studying Paul's Letters provides a survey of the most relevant current methods in Paul scholarship. About the Author : Joseph A. Review : "The essays in Studying Paul's Letters, each written by a first-tier scholar, manage to demonstrate cutting-edge Pauline scholarship in ways that remain highly accessible for beginning students. Buy New View Book. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. Published by Augsburg Fortress, United States New Paperback Quantity Available: 1.

Seller Rating:. Studying Paul's Letters Joseph A. Published by Fortress Press Seller Image. New Paperback or Softback Quantity Available: Udo Schnelle argued that 2 Thessalonians was significantly different in style from the undisputed epistles, characterizing it as whole and narrow, rather than as a lively and abrupt discussion on a range of issues. Moreover, Alfred Loisy argued that it reflected knowledge of the synoptic gospels, which, according to the current scholarly consensus, had not been written when Paul wrote his epistles. Bart D. Ehrman viewed the insistence of genuineness within the letter and the strong condemnation of forgery at its start as ploys commonly used by forgers.

However G. Milligan observed that a church which possessed an authentic letter of Paul would be unlikely to accept a fake addressed to them. Masson argued that the eschatology of each letter to the Thessalonians is considerably different. Norman Perrin claimed that, in the time of Paul, prayer usually treated God the Father as ultimate judge, rather than Jesus.

From this hypothesis he contrasted 2 Thessalonians and 1 Thessalonians , and contended that the letter was written after Paul's death. Contrariwise Nicholl [40] has put forward an argument [41] for the authenticity of Second Thessalonians. He argues that 'the pseudonymous view is The lack of consensus regarding a date and destination Despite this, these epistles were accepted as genuine by many, perhaps most of the ante-Nicene Church Fathers. According to Jerome , the gnostic Christian Basilides also rejected these epistles, and Tatian , while accepting Titus, rejected other Pauline epistles.

Donald Guthrie , for instance, argues that Marcion's theology would have been cause to reject the letters since it was incompatible with certain passages, such as 1 Tim and 1 Tim , [46] while Ehrman suggests that 2nd-century proto-orthodox Christians had motivation to forge the Pastorals to combat the Gnostic use of other Pauline epistles.

Modern scholars postulate that the Pauline Epistles originally circulated in three forms, for example, from The Canon Debate , [48] attributed to Harry Y. Beginning in the early 19th century, many German biblical scholars began to question the traditional attribution of these letters to Paul.

The vocabulary and phraseology used in the Pastorals is often at variance with that of the other epistles. Falconer, [51] while L. Johnson challenged the linguistic analysis as based on the arbitrary grouping of the three epistles together: he argued that this obscures the alleged similarities between 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians, between Titus and the other travel letters, and between 2 Timothy and Philippians. Norman Perrin argued that Paul's travels to Crete Titus , again to Ephesus 1 Tim , Nicopolis Titus , and Troas 2 Tim , cannot be fit into any reconstruction of Paul's life or works as determined from the other epistles or from Acts.


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In this he was preceded by several scholars who rejected Pauline authorship. Harnack , Lightfoot and other scholars have suggested hypothetical scenarios that would have these epistles written near the end of Paul's life without contradicting biographical information in the other epistles or Acts. Scholars arguing for the authenticity of the pastorals posit a "second career" of Paul to explain the occasion for the visits mentioned in these letters, though contemporary scholars generally consider the "second career" of Paul to be a creation of later Christian communities. Other reasons for a 2nd-century date have been argued.

The Pastoral Epistles lay out church organisation concerning the character and requirements for bishops, elders, deacons, and widows. Some scholars have claimed that these offices could not have appeared during Paul's lifetime. Unlike the thirteen epistles above, the Epistle to the Hebrews is internally anonymous. Moreover, scholars such as Robert Grant [58] and Harold Attridge [59] have noted the many obvious differences in language and style between Hebrews and the correspondence explicitly ascribed to Paul. Church Fathers and ante-Nicene writers such as Tertullian noted the different manner in which the theology and doctrine of the epistle appear.

Origen of Alexandria c.

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But again, on the other hand, that the thoughts of the epistle are admirable, and not inferior to the acknowledged writings of the apostle, to this also everyone will consent as true who has given attention to reading the apostle…. But who wrote the epistle, in truth God knows. Yet the account which has reached us [is twofold], some saying that Clement, who was bishop of the Romans, wrote the epistle, others, that it was Luke, he who wrote the Gospel and the Acts. Modern scholars consider the evidence against Pauline authorship of Hebrews too solid for dispute.

Donald Guthrie, in his New Testament Introduction , commented that "most modern writers find more difficulty in imagining how this Epistle was ever attributed to Paul than in disposing of the theory. There are no preserved lists of a Christian New Testament canon from the 1st century and early 2nd century. Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote c. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Part of a series of articles on Paul in the Bible Pauline literature.

I Corinthians II Corinthians. Galatians Ephesians. Philippians Colossians. I Thessalonians II Thessalonians. Pastoral epistles. Philemon Hebrews. Paul the Apostle. Related literature. Lost epistles Apocalypse of Paul. Coptic Apocalypse of Paul.

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Corinthians to Paul Acts of Paul. Paul and Thecla Peter and Paul. Prayer of Paul. See also. Apostle Christian Pauline Christianity. Canons and books. Tanakh Torah Nevi'im Ketuvim. Christian biblical canons. Deuterocanon Antilegomena. Authorship and development. Authorship Dating Hebrew canon. Pauline epistles Petrine epistles. Translations and manuscripts.

Biblical studies. Hermeneutics Pesher Midrash Pardes. Allegorical interpretation Literalism. Gnostic Islamic Qur'anic. Inerrancy Infallibility. See also: Development of the New Testament canon. Ecclesiastical History 6. The impetus of the devastating conflicts that involved large parts of the world and their resulting movements is understandable, but modern social concerns should not be super-imposed on ancient times.

Socio-historical studies of texts and their interpretation do more justice to the crucial role of first-century Roman Empire, even where their influence has become indiscriminating and its acceptance was normalised. Yet, the significance of the Empire's impact on people's social location and socioeconomic structures and processes cannot be overestimated, given the "embedded economies" Oakes ; cf.

Oakman , of the time. The imperial prerogative tended towards maintaining stability, especially in the provinces, through some form of equilibrium between elite and majority, the powerful and the marginalised, the haves and the have-nots. The focus, in this instance, is on the latter, considering how military images in the Pauline corpus reflect something of the physical as much as the furtive or ideological presence of the army. The focus is on military imagery as an important factor in the construction of social order, and by implication for perceptions about social disadvantage.

Empire manifested variously, politically, economically, socially, religiously and otherwise; assumed different forms in various places, from Rome to the provinces, and from province to province, and existed and functioned through patronal links and alliances with locals. First-century imperial presence was ubiquitous, especially in its military presence. Empire was poised to use its military prowess ruthlessly when its preferred option of ideological persuasion was exhausted. The army was part of Empire, which was primarily a negotiated and relational concept rather than a materialist entity, but with both material and conceptual elements vital.

It was a complex constellation of interrelations between powerful and marginalised, characterised by uneven power relations and kept intact by constant social negotiations, aimed at the submission of those on the periphery or in distant settings, by controlling land and resources. Interactions with empire, then, were more complex and hybrid than only support or opposition. Acknowledging such engagements sits well with the cultural turn in Pauline studies, 8 no longer perceiving texts as providing the raw materials for social history, or constructing "ordinary, and marginalized, early Christians" Harrill , referring to Meeks ; texts do not render candid social description.

So too, essentialist understandings of Empire 9 fail to account for the dynamic and process nature of first-century Empire. In both its conceptualising and its constant fabrication, Empire was a negotiated concept Punt a , often represented by its emperor or legions, with military power as an important, defining image. The Roman army was professional and generally efficient. The Roman army consisted of approximately 25 legions during the early Principate. Each legion had approximately 5, men, further divided into ten cohorts, with each having three maniples, and with each maniple finally divided into two centuries.

Auxiliary troops included not only infantry forces such as javelin throwers velites , but also cavalry formations, drawn both from the equestrian order and from Rome's allies. Roman soldiers acted with ruthlessness in battle, which included pursuing and killing retreating enemy forces and even the slaughter of residents of captured cities cf. Hatina Notwithstanding the ubiquity of the Empire and soldiers, the impact of the imperial military presence in the Pauline letters is often neglected.

In short, soldiers flying high their SPQR banners best manifested the materiality and ideology of the Empire.


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  • The legions' purpose was to make war, advance military expansion campaigns, and secure existing territories and borders. The bulk of a soldier's time, however, was taken up by duties performed in the absence of active conflict. Peacetime activities included policing as attested to in Egypt and Palestine, and maintaining general peace and order; protecting key structures, transport and trade routes against resourceful pirates and bandits, as well as other imperial assets such as mines and grain supplies; construction work in the form of building roads, bridges, and forts, and the thankless task of collecting taxes.

    The link between the army and economics is evident: On the one hand, "the root of the military's function was the preservation of the empire's economic viability and sustainability" Hatina ; cf. Campbell ; Goldsworthy , On the other hand, military imagery, invoking violence and war, co-constructed social locations and dis advantage. The army's impact on society went beyond military activity and the retirement of soldiers. By the first century CE, legionaries and auxiliaries generally served for 20 and 25 years, respectively, and were regularly settled in the area where they were stationed.

    Roman colonies often started with veterans as their backbone. Sometimes retired veterans were accommodated in newly created colonies, which served a dual purpose of rewarding former soldiers and having the advantage of loyal men with military experience in a foreign area. The extent to which the Empire's practice of settling military veterans in key areas, such as Philippi and elsewhere, influenced the metaphorical military language is a consideration not to be ignored. The use of military metaphors was less an indication that war occupied people's minds as that people could not avoid social interaction with structures or agents of Roman military enterprises.

    The world and lives of ordinary people, and establishing their impact on the course of events in history are no small task. What criteria are appropriate to determine such groups, given that economic, political and cultural categories are construed differently and determined temporally and spatially?

    Even a history of popular culture is confronted by an array of definitions and varied use of "popular" and of "culture" Burke ; Sharpe ; cf. Marchal , , n. Amidst the uncertainty, a people's history is characterised by historiographic strategies with concern for the world of ordinary experience and people, and their influence on historical events. History is linked to the identity of those writing or reading it Sharpe , but at times may harbour more sinister aims.

    In asymmetric power relationships, people construct narratives that challenge the dominant entity's attempt to obliterate the marginalised by dismissing or appropriating their collective history Dehay A people's history point of view Sharpe ; cf. Horsley , therefore, values the role of memory, without driving the dissimilarity between memory and history too far. Military images in Pauline letters is one indication of how people, from below, perceived and related to negotiated Empire, and simultaneously, in this way, signal their social location and standing.

    Greek and Roman philosophers often used battle or war terminology for human moral efforts. Philosophers, Paul and others shared a world in which armies and warfare contributed to its contours. Given the ubiquity of Empire and its army as its key symbol, the strong presence of military imagery in the Pauline letters - notwithstanding few direct references to military events - is unsurprising. Paul's letters mirror the New Testament where war is addressed indirectly: in relation to God's kingdom and Jesus' kingship in the Gospels; non-retaliation and love of enemies; Jesus' personal behaviour; the roles of the state and military officials, and the use of force cf.

    Marshall ; Swartley Paul is no warrior, but he is a traditional male, and he participates in violence in the ways open to him, given the historical and social setting supplied for him in texts by him and about him. Not only were social relations and kinship embedded in economics Oakman , but, given the gendered ancient society, it meant a continuous interplay between military, economics, and social life in the first century. The direct economic impact of the Roman army on society is not discussed in this instance, partly because of the general lack of statistics and partly because the focus is on people's history.

    Suffice it to mention that, while regular and discharge payments can be estimated with the provinces probably footing part of the bill , it is almost impossible to appraise peacetime costs and that of equipping the army. Military expenses were possibly the single biggest cost on the fiscus, but did not account for more than half of all expenditure. For the army's influence on society,. Roman sources variously claim, for their own purposes, that Roman taxation was necessary to pay the armies which brought peace, or that civilians were overtaxed to pay greedy soldiers Rathbone The Roman army of the Principate was "an agent of economic development, especially in less developed provinces".

    Soldiers' needs stimulated agricultural and other production, but being a small part one per cent or less of the population, the army's impact should not be exaggerated, although they helped "diffuse a more sophisticated model of economic behaviour" Rathbone Paul used images related to military campaigning, as well as weaponry images.

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    It is not clear whether the military or athletic environment was the most appropriate referential sphere for example, Collins Pfitzner However, athletic and military aspects of struggle and contest cannot be separated in the Greek and Roman worlds Zerbe , , n. In 2 Corinthians , a section heavily laden with war-related notions, Paul used seven references linked to the military domain, expressing what transpires in battle.

    The imagery is indicative of an awareness of Roman military strategy and of these images' metaphorical usefulness among ancient authors cf. Collins ; Gerber ; Malherbe Military imagery reflected and bolstered a first-century consciousness informed by a prevailing threat of military power or action, suggesting that it was not a once-off use of such imagery due to the opposition in Corinth contra Malherbe Malherbe did not consider further implications:.

    He announces that, once he has crushed the opposition, he will take as prisoners the thoughts of the Corinthians in order to assure their submission to Christ. His phrasing implies a military preparedness to punish Malherbe ; emphasis added. Relying on military images to assert his authority in 2 Corinthians Glancy - maybe recalling Corinth's demise in BCE at the hands of the Romans Gerber - as well as in his other letters, attests to the significance of the images for Paul. Some military imagery was even connected to divine agency. God is portrayed as a victorious military commander leading a procession of the faithful, until 2 Corinthians b switches to olfactory metaphors for furthering God's name and reign.

    At times, Paul even thought about his fellow workers in military terms.

    Military imagery in Philippians may be explained with reference to the military's role in Paul's imprisonment in Philippi Philippians , , as well as to Philippi's military provenance 37 Collins Paul used battle and soldiery motifs, but also wrote about believers bearing weapons and wearing armour 2 Cor. While Paul's metaphorical use of the terms is clear, their purpose and frame of reference elicit debate. He did not speak of war or the tools of war as such, but of breastplates of righteousness, faith, and love, helmets of hope, and weapons of light.

    Clines ; Collins Word studies, however, do not pick up on all military imagery. The bugle and its explicit military connection suggest more than distinctive sounds of different instruments, or that an intended effect requires a particular sound Collins More tellingly, Paul appears to have used military imagery in situations where he felt compelled to defend himself. Collins In fact, military imagery penetrated everyday language use, often in subtle ways. Extensive military infused language can indicate the banality of the military angle, of course, but in conjunction with explicit military metaphors, such language rather suggests an acute awareness of the military.

    Military imagery did not simply show one side of Empire; the imagery, rather, represented Empire - at the same time indicative of the army's constructive impact and of its potentially destructive role on local communities and their economies. Paul rhetorically constructed the socio-economic life and status of Jesus-follower communities by means of military images. As Steuter and Wills xv argue: "What is reflected in language is not reality but construct, something conditioned and assembled, put together from fragments of information and observation". Military imagery derived, at least partly, from the ubiquity of soldiers and military materials, whether in their physical presence or by them occupying ideological space.

    The Gospels for example, Luke and Mark and Acts provide acknowledgement of tensions between Jews and the Empire, and of revolt and retaliation, hinting at the broader and more pervasive impact of imperial domination.

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    Military imagery functioned in a context where "a man or a state was judged as good at something agathos or as possessing arete excellence to the extent that he demonstrated superiority over others" Roisman Military exploits informed the construction of masculinity and differences between men and women. In fact, individuals used ideas from war to understand and construct their own personalities Sidebottom Gender determined ancient social standing, and the construction of identity through soldiery meant a claim to power, which construed a kind of "warrior masculinity" James Ancient rhetoricians associated military prowess, manliness and mastery with virtue, or a sense of good Gunderson However, while military imagery was important for his male selfunderstanding, Paul's position on fighting was ambiguous.

    The link between Paul's readiness for battle, engagement in warlike contest and self-understanding as a man is instructive. Military imagery gendered social life, which again determined social standing and impacted on notions of disadvantage. Evidently, the "use of military metaphors does not make the speech nor the speaker inherently violent" Zerbe , but does raise the question as to why these metaphors? To regard "Paul's socially binary or militarily combative conquest language [as] most certainly amenable to misappropriation", yet to claim that this "fault" "cannot be ascribed simply to Paul" Zerbe exonerates Pauline language too quickly, also in its unwillingness to consider Pauline ambivalence on these matters.

    Military imagery bolstered his self-presentation claims, but also allowed for remapping social location. Military imagery clearly contributed to the rhetorical construction of social life in the first century.

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    From the discussion, at least two conclusions became evident. One, if it is indeed correct to argue that a primary purpose of the Roman army was related to ensuring economic stability across the imperial lands, military presence cannot be ignored in discussions about socio-economic concerns.

    In addition, abundant military imagery in the Pauline letters underwrote the apostle's claims and defence towards other proselytisers, and shows the penetration of the military into first-century consciousness. The embedded economics of the first century privileges an intersectional approach, which stresses the multiple contacts through which people and groups experience life, such as gender, ethnicity, the status of someone's work, class, geographical location especially urban and rural , status slave, free or freed , but also these factors' interwoven and at times confluent status. Within this bigger, interrelated world, military images fed into an "overarching system of subordination and control" Marchal The military setting impacted on social consciousness, as suggested by the Pauline texts' widespread military imagery.

    The general military awareness goes beyond the army's material presence and influence on social life and economics. Military imagery impacted on societal consciousness with consequences for notions of social disadvantage in the sense of reflecting or construing social status. Pauline military imagery suggests the Roman army's ambivalent but often malignant influence on communities, and its lingering effects.

    In postcolonial mimicry style, Paul took up military imagery to further his own ministry, often framing values in opposition to those of Empire. His use of military images as metaphors and not references to actual military events indicates that he co-opted imperial language for his own purposes. On the one hand, the power of Paul's images stacked up against the power of imperial images cf. Collins ; Zanker ; Lopez Similar to Paul's positive use of slavery metaphors to describe the life in Christ against slavery's dehumanising tenor, he used military imagery in a way that forces a rethink of social disadvantage in so far as Roman politics and military systems impacted upon early Jesus-follower communities.

    Paul's metaphorical language neither provides nor depends on accurate real-life scenarios, and discourages misplaced attempts at reconstructions. His military imagery suggests familiarity with the Empire's war machine and propaganda, and with common literary topoi of moral philosophers. Metaphorical use of harmful concepts such as slavery or war for constructive purposes suggests contexts where systems such as slavery and enterprises such as war were valued even by those on the sharp side of such systems and enterprises.

    The mimical use of concepts aligned with Empire redraws the social world and its inhabitants from a constructivist perspective, emphasising the conjoined nature of life in Empire. The Roman army and accompanying military apparatus had a decided if ambivalent impact on ancient social life, offering economic benefits for the insiders, while impacting harshly on those remaining on the underside of history. Paul's use of military images in his rhetorical construction of communities shared such ambivalence, especially since in his letters the instruments that threatened lives were now employed to define life in Christ.