Power, status and influence in Paul’s Corinth – Student dissertation (part 2)

In Part 1 of Newman graduand Isabella Wray‘s examination of Paul’s use of ‘slave’ and ‘freedman’ in 1 Corinthians 7:20-24 she described the geopolitical setting of Corinth and emphasised how the tumultuous events of the re-establishment of this Roman colony contributed to creating a climate in which social advancement was made possible even for those who would normally have been excluded by law from it – namely freed slaves (the apeleutheroi). This excerpt develops this theme by including an example of just such a freedman, Babbius Philinus.

As Isabella remarked during one tutorial, people like Babbius must have sprung into the minds of the Corinthian readers at his mention of ἀπελεύθερος (apeleutheros), in v.22…

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Paul and the freedmen of Corinth – Student dissertation (part 1)

One of the highlights each year is working with undergraduate students on their dissertations. It is the time when they choose the topic they want to research – rather than it being imposed upon them – and apply all their learning and skills that they have gained throughout their three years with us. I have had the pleasure of supervising some excellent work this year. One of the dissertations, by graduand Isabella Wray, is particularly suited for this blog and, I think, many will find it interesting and add a new dimension to your reading of 1 Corinthians 7.

With Isabella’s generous permission, I thought that it would be fun to post excerpts from her work. It is not just a great example of the types of questions and issues that students can explore in our degree programme, but I am also sure that a number of people will appreciate learning a little more about Paul, Corinth and the church that he founded there.

Why ‘slaves’ and ‘free’?

Isabella Wray

Isabella was intrigued by this text that we had  studied in class in relation to Paul’s attitude to women and his community ethics within the Corinthian assembly. Why did Paul suddenly stop halfway through his teaching about marriage (7:1-16) to address circumcision and slavery, only to then pick up the theme of marriage once more (7:25-39)? Isabella was particularly interested in the references to slavery and manumission (the process through which a slave became a freedperson) and was not entirely convinced with my, rather off-hand, remark that this was just Paul, typically, getting side-tracked and his attempt to provide further examples of the principle he was attempting to present. Moreover, Isabella noted that the text relating to slavery and manumission was extremely ambiguous. Furthermore, she was struck by Paul’s language in this section, not just his use of δοῦλος (doulos) , ‘slave’, but also his singular use of ἀπελεύθερος (apeleutheros) , ‘freedman’ in 7:22. Paul uses this term only once in his entire writings; why here and what would it have meant to his Corinthian readers? Isabella’s interest in post-colonialism suggested to her that there might be a far deeper issue behind Paul’s choice of topic and words. The question that Isabella wanted to explore was how would these words have been understood by Paul’s readers? Why would someone who had ‘fought’ for their freedom want to then end up being a slave of Christ (7:22)? Was there anything specifically about the socio-political context of Corinth that would make these terms particularly pertinent and add to their rhetorical power? Continue reading

Lloyd Pietersen on ‘Does the Matthean Jesus really loves his enemies?’

It was a real joy to have Lloyd Pietersen with us recently to present a paper on ‘Does the Matthean Jesus really love his enemies?’ He was participating as part of the Humanities Research Group Seminar Series for the Newman Humanities Research Centre

Matt 5

(full text of paper available to download below)

Lloyd began by conceding that this was his first time presenting an academic paper on the Synoptics (or Matthew in particular) and that this was very much a work in progress. The focus was Jesus’ instruction in Matt 5:44 to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, from the Sermon on the Mount, and argued that this idea broadly conflicted with the canonical and non-canonical Jewish understanding of ‘enemy hatred’. Continue reading

Does the Matthean Jesus really love his enemies – talk by Lloyd Pietersen

It is a real joy to have Lloyd Pietersen with us once again. This time he will be speaking at the Humanities Research Group Seminar Series for the Newman Humanities Research CentreThose of you who have heard Lloyd speak will know that this will be a stimulating, engaging and thought-provoking paper.

Does the Matthean Jesus Really Love His Enemies?

love-your-enemies

Dr Lloyd Pietersen

Thursday 30 March 2017

Newman University

Room DW112
17.00 – 18.00 Continue reading

Visiting Corinth: A theology student’s perspective

One of the real joys about teaching at Newman is that we get to work with some highly motivated, interesting and extremely capable students who don’t simply want to learn facts and figures, but who are seriously engaged with subject. You might be interested in following one of our third year Theology  undergraduate’s blog, theologianinprogress. The blog is written by Isabella Wray and reflects on her visit to the city of Corinth for her final year dissertation.

isabella-wrayFor her honours dissertation Isabella is looking at the Ancient city of Corinth with a particular interest in the place of freedmen (like Erastus; Romans 16:23) within the Pauline church. As part of her research, she visited Corinth last Summer (2016) and her blog follows her itinerary and reflections on what she discovered.

Click the link below to read her posts.

theologianinprogressblog

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No room for the 3 ‘kings’: Refugees, the nativity and the social media

Last year I posted a short piece reflecting on the use of the Bible in the debate concerning the refugee crisis: Migrants, Refugees and the search for a Biblical Perspective. Tragically, fourteen months later, the crisis shows no signs of abating and political solutions remain (largely) incoherent and confused. In the light of this, I have become increasingly aware of the application of a relatively new narrative to the traditional nativity story. This has been particularly pronounced in the use of memes on social networking sites and exemplifies the plasticity of this story and the way that it can be adapted to provide powerful messages that address specific issues and needs.

CBC News (December 2015)
CBC News (December 2015)

As part of the CCRS programme I regularly take a couple of sessions where we compare and contrast the canonical birth narratives and students almost overwhelming state that they prefer Luke’s account because they find it more applicable to them and to contemporary society. When asked to explain further, they generally point to the ‘humble setting’ of Jesus’ birth, and the identification with the poor and socially disadvantaged. There appears to be little room for the ‘kings’ (or more accurately, magi) in our modern day nativities! Continue reading

Newman Research Focus – Saara-Maria Jurva: The Cognitive-Emotive Functions of Biblical Narration in the Letter to the Hebrews

We’ve had the pleasure of welcoming Saara-Maria Jurva from the University of Eastern Finland to our department for the last few months. Saara is currently working on her doctoral research on the Letter to the Hebrews and has been working closely with, our resident Hebrews and OT in the NT specialist, Susan Docherty.

On October 24th, Saara presented a PhD seminar on her work. Her research examines the way the author of Hebrews retells stories and events from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) in a way that resonates on both cognitive and emotional levels. Saara’s seminar focused upon the author’s retelling of the wilderness experience in Hebrews 3: 7-19. Continue reading

Short notice announcement – Saara-Maria Jurva on Hebrews

Saara-Maria JurvaWe have the pleasure of having Saara-Maria Jurva (University of Eastern Finland) studying with us at Newman for a couple of months while she completes her doctoral research into “The Cognitive-Emotive Function of Renarrated Biblical Stories in the Letter to the Hebrews.”

Saara-Maria is an ordained priest with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and completed her MTh at the University of Helsinki in 2009.

We are really pleased to announce that she will be leading a seminar on her work at Newman University on Monday 24th October at 15.00 – 16.30. If you would like to attend and for more information, please contact r.goode@staff.newman.ac.uk.

 

End of semester news round-up

The sun is at last shining. Most of the undergraduates have dispersed leaving the library and atrium feeling strangely empty and rather lonely. However, the campus is far from quiet. Major building work is underway; buildings are cordoned off, the chapel stands gutted and open to the elements, and the sound of heavy plant machinery fills the hot summer air. All this tells us that the spring/summer semester has now drawn to a close and this affords me a brief respite in time to give you a round up of news about the centre for the year so far – and a very busy year it has been!

Atrium Starbucks
Newman Atrium Starbucks

In case you missed anything, here is the centre’s news of 2016 (to date)… Continue reading

Which book of the Apocrypha did Paul use most?

Most readers of the New Testament are familiar with the idea that Paul used the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament). However, they might be more surprised to realise that he also makes frequent use of a range of Jewish religious writings that are not included in the Hebrew Bible (sometimes referred to as ‘apocryphal’). Which apocryphal book did he use the most and which of his letters reflect the influence of this group of writings?

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