Sunday, February 24, 2013

Paul’s Graeco-Roman Context CBL 2013


July 16-18, 2013


Cilliers Breytenbach

 The topic of the colloquium is Paul’s relation to Jewish and Greek traditions. Paul the Apostle is an ‎excellent example for the cultural exchange so typical for the eastern provinces of the Roman ‎Empire during the early imperial age. He is a Jew from Tarsus, feels  himself, according to his own ‎words, as Hebrew descended from Hebrews, and as Pharisee according to the way of interpreting ‎the law. However, he writes his letters in Greek,  showing acquaintance not only with the Greek ‎translations of the Law and the Prophets, but also with contemporary Greek and Roman ‎philosophical concepts and rhetorical style. He lived and worked in several Roman colonies, his ‎letters are specked with metaphors from the military, and according to Acts, he possessed Roman ‎citizenship. Trained in Jewish traditions and raised in Greek, Paul was influenced by different ‎intellectual  worlds. He stands at the crossroads of cultural development. The invited contributors ‎of  the main lectures have been asked to discuss this phenomenon.

Paul’s life within the cultural ‎encounters of the first century suggests reception of  Graeco-Roman traditions. Paul the Jew, ‎believed to be sent to the nations, brought the  Gospel to the Graeco-Roman world. To make his ‎letters accessible to the audiences, it would have seemed logical to utilize language and modalities ‎which his addressees could understand. But how does he dress his Jewish-Christian gospel in the ‎garb of the time?

In this colloquium we will focus on the reception and implementation of Graeco-‎Roman traditions by Paul, who always remained a Jew. Taking his letters as point of departure,  ‎Pauline language, concepts, metaphors and style will be investigated within the  context of first ‎century Greek literature, including Jewish literature written in Greek. The  following questions ‎illustrate the broad range of potentially instructive lines of inquiry. Where do Pauline terms, ‎concepts and strategies come from, how and with which intention does he mix and recast them to ‎express his message and to give instruction to his congregations?

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