16-04-'12 | Ancient World Seminar | Karin B. Neutel| When the Ideal Meets the Real: Paul's Community Construction
|Wanneer:||ma 16-04-2012 16:15 - 17:30|
As his letters show, the New Testament author Paul created religious groups in several cities in the Eastern Roman Empire. Driven by a vision that the end of the world was near, he encouraged non-Jews to abandon their idols, turn to the true God and worship this God in a new kind of community. Paul characterises this community as one where there is ‘neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor male and female’. This paper will argue that Paul’s succinct statement about social unity can best be understood as an adaptation of an ideal that is present in ancient thought. From Plato onwards, the notion that an ideal society or group is characterised by unity and a rejection of conventional family structure can be recognised in different forms in various sources. When faced with the task of creating communities, Paul drew on such notions and tried to implement them in the reality of first-century society.
Karin B. Neutel studied Theology and Religious Studies at the VU Amsterdam and the University of Groningen. She is currently finishing her dissertation on Paul's ideas about community and social difference in their first-century context.