Imago Pauli: memory, tradition, and discourses on the real Paul in the second century Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • White, Benjamin Lee
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Religious Studies
  • The following dissertation is a theoretical and methodological examination of the legacy of the Apostle Paul in the second century. It explores the way he was remembered in the century after his death, as well as the discursive practices that accompanied claims about the real Paul in a period in which apostolic memory was highly contested. Five questions drive the inquiry: 1) How do we measure Pauline influence in the second century? (methodology); 2) How did various second-century writers imagine Paul and what resources were employed to produce a given interpretation of the Apostle? (exegesis); 3) What is meant, from a theoretical standpoint, by the language of tradition and memory, concepts often invoked by Pauline scholars, but hardly ever defined or explored? (theory); 4) What interests stand behind ancient discourses on the real Paul? (ideology); and 5) How did Paul become the Apostle for so many different kinds of Christian communities in the second century? (history). The connection between these questions is not ultimately logical or sequential. Each is part of a larger hermeneutical conversation. Chapters One through Three provide the methodological and theoretical foundation for the exegesis of Chapters Four and Five, which work through the Pauline tradition of 3 Corinthians and Irenaeus’ Adversus haereses, respectively. The latter texts serve as test-cases for the thesis that Christians of the second century had no access to the real Paul. Rather, they possessed mediations of Paul as a persona. These idealized images were transmitted in the context of communal memories of the Apostle. Through the selection, combination, and interpretation of pieces of a diverse earlier layer of the Pauline tradition, Christians defended images of the Apostle that were particularly constitutive of their collective cultures. As products of tradition and memory, each imago Pauli exhibits a unique mixture of continuity with and change from the past. Consequently, ancient discourses on the real Paul, like their modern counterparts, are problematic. Through a whole host of exclusionary practices, the real Paul, whose authoritative persona possessed a certain delegated authority, was and is invoked as a wedge to gain traction for the conservation of ideology.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Religious Studies (Ancient Mediterranean Religions)."
  • Boyarin, Jonathan
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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