New Creation in Pauls Letters and Thought (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series)

Paul, the Stoics, and the Body of Christ (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series)
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In this ethnic self-defence, Paul is claiming equivalence. Being a Hebrew, an Israelite, and Abraham's descendant, he is like the super-envoys Duling However, Paul also writes there is nothing to be gained by it 2 Cor Paul is also able to boast, as his Israelite honour was beyond reproach. Contrary to the advice of Ben Sirach , 24 , for whom honour was found in obedience to the Torah and in following the values of Israelite culture, for Paul honour comes by following the crucified Messiah and as a divine gift, and no longer by following the Judean way of life cf.

Gal Jewett Overall Paul has virtually destroyed Israelite claims of special privilege and superiority. Duling suggests that Paul's ethnic identity was only the beginning of his self-identity. A change had occurred when he was 'recruited' to 'Christianity'. In Duling's own words:. I would argue that Paul believed that he had entered another ethnos , which had its own boundaries, its own values, and its own symbols.

It was a different kind of ethnos. This was a new family.

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Duling's view is essentially sound, and we can relate it to Paul's language of 'newness'. Paul can forget what is behind him and strain towards that which is ahead Phil Paul and his Jesus followers participate in the 'new covenant' 1 Cor ; 2 Cor This 'newness' is inextricably linked with being incorporated into the death and resurrection of the Messiah cf. Wikenhauser Paul can say: 'I no longer live, but Messiah lives in me' Gal The combination of Paul's Christology and his transformation language suggests that he conceives of himself and his congregations as already expressing, or in the process of becoming, an identity that participates in the divine nature of God and so transcends the usual ethnic categories.

Paul himself was engaging in 'incessant boundary making', setting out two mutually exclusive ways of serving God cf. Paul consistently argued that the way through Messiah, and belonging to his community, was the superior and, indeed, the only way of serving God.

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He does, not simply for its own sake, but in a context of Israelite unbelief and a sense of privilege and superiority. In Romans Paul subverts Israelite identity on the one hand, while on the other maintains the privileges and status connected to it.

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As in Galatians, Paul constantly wages an ideological warfare between the 'old' Mosaic era versus the 'new' life in the Spirit Hubbard But what about the status of Israel and their relationship with the new movement that emerged around the figure of Jesus the Messiah? Here we find Paul's exposition of God's dealings with creation, his righteousness faithfulness , as well as his impartiality, important themes that relate to the evaluative dimension of having Israelite identity and membership.

Let us begin by examining Paul and the question of theodicy. Because most of Israel has rejected the gospel, is God righteous? Is he faithful to Israel? Paul's answer is 'yes', and it is important to him to maintain the priority of the Israelite in the gospel. The 'righteousness of God' appears in Romans repeatedly e. Rom ; , 21, 22, 25, 26; and it has to do with God's faithfulness and the fulfilment of his promises to Israel: 'first for the Judean Beker Linked with Israel's priority is Paul's argument for the equality of Israelite and Gentile: ' God is, therefore, not faithful only to Israel, but to humanity as a whole.

God has judged all people to be sinners, be they with or without the Law. At the same time, God provides exactly the same means of salvation, for 'all who believe' Rom ; ; This theme of 'all' is quite consistent throughout Romans Rom ; Simply put, in every aspect of judgement and accountability, as well as the means and availability of salvation, God treats Israelites and Gentiles as equals Bassler It should come as no surprise that Paul asked the following question: 'What advantage, then, is there in being a Judean, or what value is there in circumcision?

However, the overall logic of Paul's argument is that whatever advantage the Judeans think they have, it is now something of the past, or alternatively, an illusion.

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Instead of elevating Judean identity to a privileged position, Paul reduces it to a level where it shares the common plight of humanity having inherited the disobedience and sinfulness of Adam Rom ; , That is why Paul also questions Israelite 'boasting' once again Rom , 23 , i. To add insult to injury, Israel is a disobedient and stubborn people Rom Paul admits they are zealous for God, but their 'zeal is not based on knowledge' Rom Paul and fellow Judean believers are part of the olive tree faith Israel from which unbelieving Judeans, at least for the moment, has been removed.

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That brings us to another dimension of Paul's attitude towards ethnic Israel. Here the emotional dimension of group identity and membership also comes into play. They are attached in a way that Paul describes as para. The implication is that, to the contrary, if the natural branches were to be grafted back, they would bear more fruit.

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So where Paul 'denigrates' Israelite identity within the context of unbelief, he glorifies and even regards it as inherently 'superior' if all Israelites should show faith. What Paul writes about here was in response to non-Judean arrogance towards Israel among believers in Rome cf. Rom , 18, Esler explains that Paul spent his career arguing that the Mosaic Law was not necessary for non-Israelites. Yet this did not mean that he had forgotten his primary socialization as an Israelite, or that his work with non-Israelites had led him to abandon his pride in his Israelite ethnicity Paul's positive valuation of Israel, however, extends even further.

In Romans and Paul spoke of the chosen remnant within Israel. This may give the impression that unbelieving Israel stands under certain condemnation. However, this is not the case. From Romans quoting Isa , 21 and the context in which this is placed, one may assume that a covenant relationship still exists between God and ethnic Israel.

What this translates to is Paul's astonishing claim that ethnic Israel, the extent of which will not be speculated on here, is assured eschatological salvation! The blindness that has come upon Israel is temporary, 'until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in' Rom Paul's positive valuation of God's continual commitment to ethnic Israel and their inherent potential when accepting the gospel makes it impossible for Paul to leave traditional Israel out in the cold.

What advantage is there to being a Judean? Much more than the direct answer that Paul gave in Rom ! The emotional dimension that deals with attitudes towards 'outsiders' and 'insiders' also needs attention. Paul was socialised into a collectivist culture Malina ; Malina and Neyrey , and social behaviour in such a context tends to be dependent, emotionally attached and involved in the collective.

It is also cooperative and self-sacrificing towards in-group members, but indifferent and even hostile to out-group members Triandis a We have already seen that Paul encouraged conduct among believers that is appropriate to family members. On the one hand, this demonstrates his dedication to and concern for the congregations.

Five times he received 'forty lashes minus one' 2 Cor Thus Paul rejects the role of categorisation in that he rejects being told who he is an Israelite and what that means in terms of appropriate behaviour, honour and self-esteem. Paul is clearly not much of a dyadic or group-orientated person as far as his ethnic Israelite identity is concerned, for he does not live out the expectations of fellow Israelites. This means that the contention of Malina and Neyrey that Paul represented himself as the quintessential group-orientated person is in need of modification. Even so, there can be little doubt that Paul always remained emotionally attached to ethnic Israel cf.

Moreover, Paul demonstrated a lack of cooperation, as he refused to withdraw from having table fellowship with Gentiles and for them to be circumcised Gal 2.

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Taking into consideration that the sibling relationship was a central feature in antiquity and entailed reciprocity among family members, Paul again adopted this powerful frame of reference to guide behaviour. In other words, believers should act in a way normally expected of siblings Taylor According to Esler, in an attempt to reduce ethnic tension and conflict between Judean and non-Judean believers, Paul wants all persons concerned to internalise that they belong to a new group in Christ.

Through their faith in Christ they have been recategorised and now have a common in-group or superordinate identity. Yet this. We also need to pay attention to a person's emotional repertoire when influenced by his or her socialisation in a collectivist society. In collectivist cultures emotions focus not so much on the self individual, private internal attributes , but more on others, i.

Emotions are experienced particularly in the presence of others, i. Collectivist societies are high in uncertainty avoidance and dislike surprising or con-conformist behaviour. So negative emotions are experienced when social behaviour is deviant or inappropriate Triandis a Paul's negative emotions, caused by his frustrated relationship with ethnic Israel, were likewise rooted in 'deviant' behaviour Rom He writes: I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.

This passage testifies to the broken relationship that Paul felt, but also to his strong concern and yearning for the salvation of his ethnic kinsmen. In Romans, therefore, Paul appears to internalise his Israelite identity in a special, if not contradictory way.

Contrary to Paul's harsh language in most of his letters, in Romans he expresses special fondness for ethnic Israel. There is evidently a sense of belonging on Paul's part. And there is hope yet at least in Romans that a feeling of mutual belongingness will be restored.

We will proceed to investigate this question by breaking it up into two sections, namely Paul and Israel's core values, and Paul and Israel's cultural institutions. According to Barth , some cultural features function as emblems of ethnic distinctiveness, while others are played down or even ignored. Broadly speaking, the cultural features that serve the purpose of ethnic differentiation can be divided into two categories.

Esler summarises the approach of Barth as follows:. First, there are overt signals or signs, features which people deliberately adopt to show identity for example, dress, language, architecture and lifestyle. Second, there are basic value orientations, the norms of morality and excellence used to assess performance. Since belonging to an ethnic category implies being a certain kind of person, having that basic identity, it also implies a claim to be judged, and to judge oneself, by those standards that are relevant to that identity.

We will focus on Paul's approach to these 'standards' or 'basic value orientations' next. First attention needs to be drawn to what is understood here as Israel's norms or core values, at least as far as they relate to ethnic identity. There is of course 1 faith or loyalty to the God of Israel Yahweh , the monotheism it implies and the avoidance of idolatry. Then there is 2 Israel's understanding of being a divinely elected people, chosen from all the peoples of the world by God to be his special possession.

With this understanding went a sense of honour and privilege. Born out of this election is 3 Israel's understanding of having a covenant relationship with God, a covenant relationship which is maintained through 4 obedience to the Torah. All of these are related to 5 the notion of having a common ancestry derived from Abraham and the other patriarchs the persons with whom Israel's covenant s was initially made. Connected to this is 6 a shared 'historical' tradition or memory.

The last core value on the list is 7 Israel's millennialism, i. These core values were the main focus points of orientation for action in everyday life cf. Pilch and Malina xiii.

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They relate to the rules of acceptable attitudes and behaviour necessary by Israelites in order for them to communicate group identity cf. Esler c; Tajfel ; Brown Being socialised into a collectivist culture, the views, needs and goals of Israel would normally have been the most important, not so much that of the individual, Paul cf. Gal Also emphasised in collectivist cultures are shared beliefs, those things which the individual and collective have in common Triandis a; cf. Enculturation and socialisation have as their aim for members to embody the traditions of their ancestors cf.

In many respects Paul's value system is consistently and deeply rooted in the God of Israel and the traditions of the Tanak e. Salvation is only rooted in Israel. Eph From Paul's perspective, therefore, he embodied the traditions of his ancestors. At the same time Paul argues for God's freedom to do as he wishes through Jesus and to create a new divine dis order, even if it contradicts the previous ways of the synagogue and Temple Neyrey Let us first look at Paul's approach to Israel's divine election and covenant. The core value of divine election traditionally required Israelites to foster a strong sense of distinctiveness from the Gentiles.

Differently put, divine election along with the other core values required the communication of cultural difference in opposition to others see further below. However, it is evident from the above that for Paul the notion of divine election was no longer exclusively applicable to Israel.

Instead of being in a privileged position, Paul reduced Israelite identity to a sharing of the common plight of humanity Rom ; ; They seemingly also share the state of anthropological nakedness 1 Cor ; 2 Cor , thus a state of shame cf.