Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Paper Abstracts for SBL 2007 Annual Meeting

Session 1:  Scripture and Righteousness in Romans

Tit for Tat: A Rhetorical and Apocalyptic Analysis of Paul's Intertextuality in His Justification Texts
Douglas Campbell, Duke University

The language that Paul uses in the passages where he speaks about justification is distinctly intertextual. Most interpreters have construed this language as an attempt by Paul to corroborate a particular account of his gospel directly, building from problem to solution. Against this trajectory, this paper will argue that Paul's use of Scripture represents a "tit-for-tat" argument with another adept Jewish-Christian exegete from whose system Paul has appropriated some of the texts that he cites. In the process, Paul constructs an argument that is framed around a web of scriptural texts linked together by shared key words. This web offers a systematic, point-by-point refutation of the opposing system of his opponent. Viewed in this light, Paul's argument from Scripture turns out to be less direct than many interpreters have supposed for the reconstruction of his own position. It deploys explicit scriptural texts, and also draws, slightly less directly, on a shared theology of divine kingship. The theology behind this argument turns out to be more apocalyptic than is usually thought.

Blasphemed Among the Nations
Neil Elliott, Augsburg Fortress Press

Going against the tide that reads a Jewish or Jewish-Christian interlocutor (or "opponent") as the target of Paul's rhetoric in Romans, this paper argues that Paul's statements and citations of Jewish scripture regarding "works," law, and being put right before God must be interpreted in the context of non-Judean perceptions of Judeans. This requires attention to the historical context of Roman policy toward Judean populations and Roman ideological portrayals of Judean and other subject peoples.

"O dikaios ek pistews zesetai" in Intercultural Translation: "Living Justly" as Paul's Jewish Paideia to Roman Greeks
Diana M. Swancutt, Yale University

Paul and his Roman Greek rhetorical audience lived in a complex interethnic echo chamber in which Greek, Roman, and Judean ethnic cultures collided. The meaning of scriptural phrases like "o dikaios ek pistews" and the identity and rhetorical function of Paul's interlocutor(s) in Rom 1-2 must be understood as complex enculturated moments of interethnic translation, the alchemy of Judean and Greek ideas and ideological engagements with their “others” within the larger frame of the Roman imperial gaze of both subject groups. In this paper, I argue that Paul deployed Israel's scripture to teach Roman Greeks how (and why) to be good Jews. I show that 1) Romans is a high-status, Greco-Roman protreptic speech, the first four chapters of which censure and educate his rivals in the gospel as the best way of life. 2) At crucial points, Paul punctuates this instruction of rivals with Israel's scripture in order to portray himself as the best teacher of Roman Greek believers--better than his Roman (1:18-2:16) or non-Christian Judean counterparts (2:17-4:25). 3) Heard in this rhetorical context, and in the heart of the Empire, Paul's scriptural instruction in "dikaiosyne" (1:16-17) is infused with imperial resonances of divine kingship, justice (iusticia), and fidelity (fides), which, when directed at Paul's Roman opponent (1:18-2:16), carry the counter-imperial claim that only the God of Israel, through his Son, the Davidic King, has brought true justice to all people. He alone is faithful and just, and thus, he alone enables all to "live justly," in faithful imitation of Christ's faithfulness (Rom. 15:1-6). The heart of Paul's good news to the Romans was, thus, a Romanized counter-Roman understanding of Israel's scripture that offered a Jewish Paideia in “just living” designed to call his Romanized Greek audience to (re)turn to lives of faithfulness to Israel's God.

Session 2: Broadening the Conversation—New Approaches to Paul and Scripture

Paul and Writing
Mark D. Given, Missouri State University

This paper takes a philosophical and ideological approach to the subject of Paul and Scripture, relying especially on insights from deconstruction. While the discussion of Paul and Scripture in recent years has been preoccupied with methodology, the discussion should begin with theory, particularly with the issue of Paul and writing per se. I will demonstrate that underlying Paul’s entire ideology is a hierarchy of value grounded in a logic of presence and absence that can be designated “apocalyptic logocentrism.” This hierarchy has profound implications for the subject of Paul and Scripture because of where writing itself falls within it. An awareness of Paul’s apocalyptic logocentric symptoms will allow a number of key texts pertaining to his usage of writing and Scripture to be read from a new and illuminating perspective.

Paul and Postcolonial Hermeneutics: Marginality and/in Early Biblical Interpretation
Jeremy Punt, University of Stellenbosch

The paper explores Paul's engagement with the Scriptures of Israel from the point of view of his (sense of) marginality, which invites a postcolonial perspective on his hermeneutics. It first briefly considers the deployment of postcolonial criticism in biblical studies, followed by a consideration of the value of postcolonial theory for Paul's hermeneutical strategy towards the Scriptures of Israel in particular. Four areas where postcolonial criticism can make a particular contribution to the understanding of Pauline hermeneutics receive special attention: the importance of acknowledging the influence of ideological concerns on Paul's hermeneutical strategy; the conceptualisation and portrayal of (textual and personal) "others" in the hermeneutical enterprise; considering how hybrid notions of identity within postcolonial hermeneutics carry important consequences; and, the interplay, confluence and (contradictory yet inherent) tension between operational marginality and hermeneutics - aspects of which are also demonstrated from the Pauline epistles. The argument is concluded in seeing Paul's hermeneutical challenge informed by the tension between center and margins, and his efforts to deal with this tension constructively without allowing the one to assume or assimilate the other.

Feminist Perspectives on Paul's Reasoning with Scripture
Kathy Ehrensperger, University of Wales-Lampeter

The perception of Paul’s use of Scripture is closely intertwined with the perception of Paul’s use of power. When it is presupposed that Paul claimed authority over his congregations in the vein of a command-obedience model, then his appeal to divine authority via the use of Scripture appears to have a coercive tendency to end dispute. From a feminist perspective this involves using Scripture in support of a highly problematic exercise of power. If on the other hand Paul’s use of Scripture is viewed from the alternative perspective of feminist theories of power, a different assessment of the function of Scripture in Paul’s way of arguing emerges. Distinguishing the differing aspects of power not only as power-over, but as power-to, and power-with (following Arendt, etc.) impacts on the understanding of the function of Scripture in Paul. Rather than being a coercive tool to settle disputes, Scripture may be seen as part of a socialization process into Christ which includes socialization into the world of the Scriptures. Like good teaching Paul’s reasoning with Scripture forms part of an ongoing interactive conversation concerning the meaning of the Christ-event.

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