Thursday, July 29, 2010

Modules 8, 9, & 10: Class Notes

Module 8: Exhortation

Robert Bellah, Habits of the Heart - Conclusion: Churches might be the best place for us to work toward the emergence of communities of character/moral discourse.

Alasdair McIntyre – After Virtue

They would argue current moral crises are not because of advances in technology, etc., but that we can’t solve problems through more specialized knowledge. More fundamental problem: collapse of the ethos. Ethos: accepted right way of doing things in a group. “We don’t do that.” The force of the ethos depends on the strength of the “we” in that statement, and our “we” has collapsed. And as always, this is a phenomenon of urbanization.

The moment of the “why not?” question is the moment ethics begin. The moment for teaching, maturity, etc.

We have an assumption today that the “why/why not” cannot be answered, because of the huge emphasis we place on individualism. Ethics becomes reduced to lifestyle choices. Relativism is so absolute that people doubt whether “why/why not” can be meaningfully asked.

Resurgence: we should try to ask these questions.

McIntyre: Intentional “communities of moral discourse”
Bellah: “communities of character,” dangers of “utilitarian individualism” aka “what works for me”

Alan Bloom – The Closing of the American Mind – the relativism is so rampant that our minds are closed to the big questions about the way to live

First century Christians have a lot to add to this project. Not from an interest in looking for our answers to questions about abortion, sexuality, etc. Not nostalgia for time that’s gone.

But, like us, they lived at a moment that was experiencing dissolution of ethos in every one of big cities where Paul was preaching. People asking, “Why not do this?” Their situation is like ours, so we can dialogue with them.

Early Christian writings contain:
Paranoeo^, parakaleo^ - think alongside, call alongside

1 Thess. 2:12 “Lead a life worthy of God who calls you”

Conflict between ethos of clan and ethos of city/community/gov’t.

Ethics of private life: birth, sex, death.

In private life, Romans made little attempt to legislate. Public life restricted. Private life was laissez-faire.

Birth: Greeks and Romans (and every ancient society) except for Jews and then Christians practiced exposure. (Greeks and Romans also practiced abortion – dangerous, expensive) Just left child outside to die, dumped child in latrine. Paul makes no direct reference to abortion. Only time word appears in NT is 1 Cor. 15:8, metaphorically: ektroma (out of trauma) (responding to one who called him a sort of miscarriage, not ‘cooked’ long enough in church. All other NT writers except Luke are Jews. No need to address subject, because it wasn’t an issue. Not a Jewish practice. Sarah Pomeroy. 17% fewer girls than boys due to routine exposure.

First explicit abortion condemnation is in Epistle to Diognetus: says “we do not expose our children.” Clement of Alexandria

J.D. Crossan – A Revolutionary Life

Hilarion to Alis: "If it was a girl, put it out." 

Paul’s attitude toward the body provides an example of how he might have conducted a moral discourse about exposure.  

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 People are going to prostitutes. Saying “all things are lawful.” After all, Paul’s gospel talks about faith, not law, saving us. So why need laws?

Pompeii’s population never exceeded 30,000, yet 27 brothels found in excavation.

“korinthia kore” Corinthians girl = call girl.
“korinthiazesthai” behave like a Corinthian – fornicate

Prostitution is not only legal, but has the endorsement/relationship with pagan religion. Paul’s words come in light of that.

Corinthian church members are going to prostitutes and justifying it. This is a dialogue, not a sermon, but quoting them.
1) What is beneficial? (1 Cor. 6:12a) sumpherei – better trans. “mutually beneficial”
2) What serves freedom? (1 Cor. 6:12b) So many things in life forms of addiction, things which master us. Other stuff is enslavement.
3) God is the Lord of the body. Ethical dilemmas can’t be resolved by appealing to nature. Have to appeal to God. Nature is not sufficient ground for morality. Nature has a Creator. Body has a Creator. (1 Cor. 6:13 – appeal to nature as ground of moral choice. What comes naturally. If it feels good, is good. Cynic philosophy. Paul probably politely only quotes first part of proverb.) “God will destroy both one and the other.”
4) God raised Jesus and will raise us. Resurrection signals a future use for our body. Can’t screw up body now. Our bodies aren’t meant for death but for life. (1 Cor. 6:15)
5) Ethical choices are corporate not individual! No autonomous ethical decisions! We’re members of a larger body, the body of Christ. 3 &4 also apply to whole body of which we are just part. (1 Cor. 6:15-16)
6) The corporeal is crucial (1 Cor. 6:18) We tend to forget this because we’re convinced only spiritual is important. “It’s just physical.” But physical is crucial. Body sins are very important because it is the temple of God, and the temple doesn’t belong to you!! Body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, desecrating holy ground.

Doesn’t quote scripture (except Genesis snippet) as foundation of his argument.
Paul asks: What moral choice is consistent with God’s resurrection of Jesus and resurrection of us? We don’t just go around once in life – God has a plan for your body.
Barth: Eschatology determines ethics.
Bultmann: Eschatology is obscure mythology. Doesn’t matter what you believe. The ethical choice is to be confronted now. Climax of 1 Corinthians is chapter 13.

Module 9: Healing

Disease in the Ancient World

165-180 25%-33% mortality, Smallpox (Marcus Aurelius), Plague of Galen. (Galen fled.)


Underplayed/absent from commentary, but such a huge factor in life.

Thucydides – Peloponnesian War – Athens – priests leaving, “equally useless were prayers,” people overcome by suffering, visiting no one, dying alone

Cyprian – difference in Christian response: Measles – “The just are dying alongside the unjust. But it is not for you to think that the destruction is common for the evil and the good. The just are called to refreshment, the unjust are carried off to torture  . . . whether the well will care for the sick, whether relatives will dutifully love their kinspeople, whether masters care for slaves, physicians desert afflicted, etc.”  “We are learning not to fear death. These are trying exercises for us, not deaths.” “By our contempt for death, we prepare for the crown.”

Bishop of Alexandria, Dionysius (re: measles) “Most of our fellow Christians showed love and loyalty” “And with them, they parted this life, serenely happy.” “Many . . . in nursing others, transferred death to themselves.” Others “treated unburied corpses as dirt.” Pagan neighbours viewed some Christians who didn’t die as miracles (who we would call immune.)

Fleeing = normal. Christian response is abnormal one.

Theology/doctrine influencing social relationships.

Epidemics we suffer from: loneliness, burnout

Jesus’ healing ministry
            - not seeking attention

Mark 7:31-37, Greek Magical Papyri, Jesus does a lot of the things found in this book.

Morton Smith, Jesus, the Magician

Jesus risks identification with shaman-types in order to meet the pressing need of sick and poor.

Gerd Theissen: disease did not fall with equal hardship on all classes, Miracles Stories in the Gospel Tradition

Man with withered hand, in Codex Beza (D), man tells Jesus, “I was a stone mason and earned my living with my hands. Jesus, I beseech you to give you back my health, so that I know longer have to beg.”

Doctors served the rich. The poor turned to temples. Most and largest temples were temples of Asclepius. (Giving of ‘replica’ body parts to the god)

Slaves with diseases dumped at temples. (Cities are our dumping ground – vets, homeless, etc.)

Jesus was a healer and exorcist. Undeniable!

What do we learn?
1) Not for the sake of publicity.
2) Prevalence of exorcisms distinguishes Jesus from other healers in ancient world. They signal Jesus’ convictions about God’s power over evil. (Luke 10:17-18)
3) No less than 8 of Jesus’ cures are of deaf, dumb, blind, and lame. This is unprecedented. Hardly an accident that they are those that Isaiah names as Messianic (35:5-6), Matthew 11:4-5. Jesus is enacting the reign of God. In a world where God reigns, these intolerable constraints on human dignity cannot stand. Ministry of healing is a sign of the kingdom.

If we want to follow Jesus, we have to expose ourselves to the diseases that Jesus’ did. Poor look at him and say he does everything well, but Pharisees say his power is demonic. We run that risk.

Rodney Stark Book (Change World/Three Centuries)

Earliest evidence of hospitals attached to churches.

Ancient world: Basically, if you aren’t healed, gods aren’t with you. Very little variances in that. Constant assumption in religion!

Paul – Thorn in the flesh. We don’t know what is. God’s presence even when we are not healed. Christ’s crucifixion is truth in his own life. All of ancient religion was wrong to assume that sickness = God’s anger or God’s absence. God’s grace is sufficient without healing.


Module 10: Faith

Many current theologians say we live in a post-Christian age.

George Lindbeck – The Nature of Doctrine. Calls for catechesis of all ages as ministry of church. Indoctrinate ourselves in it, in good sense.

People have no language to express faith.

How do we go about it? Especially if nothing corresponds to our experience?

Theology – God language – are expressions that form out of the convictions of experience of divine.

Every articulation of our basic convictions (ones that supply motives) is inadequate to the mystery of God.

Rowan A. Greer – Broken Lights and Mended Lives

Risk of finding a new language of faith that does correspond to our experience of God is worth taking even if it is feeble/broken. Our broken voices can be translated into virtue.

How did the early Christians find language for their experience of God?

3rd century sarcophagus – many episodes from Bible, but the focal scene story of Jonah. Jonah is the most frequently represented in early Christian art, not only on sarcophagi, but also in frescos.

Graydon F. Snyder – Ante-Pacem

Also Daniel/lion’s den, deliverance from Egypt, Meshach, Shadrach, Abednego

Christian experience of first Christians: Deliverance from death, evil, anything that holds us in bondage, moral confusion and turmoil, addictions, etc.

Cyprian: Letter to Donatus – describes himself as Jonah, then in the peace of a bower. Cyprian delivered from a world of sin. “how great is the Empire of my mind” – no longer captive, freedom, hope.

This experience of deliverance is essential to the growth of early Christianity.

Liberation of any one poor human has an economic/political cost.

What did ordinary people in the NT world pray for?
Ramsay MacMullen – survey of ancient temples and the prayers recorded there
Paganism in the Greco-Roman World
“To Zeus, Savior, and Giver of Wealth” “To Silvanus, for freedom from slavery” “For relief from tax payment” “For a safe and successful journey” “For protection from one’s enemies” “For a safe return of my squadron” “For the safe-keeping of the colony” “For himself and his” for oxen, good harvest, for cattle, for hunting dog – utilitarian character to our need for God – we need God to be useful!

First Christians – how did they articulate their need for God to come to their aid?

Luke 10:25-37 Good Samaritan
Bailey – Poet and Peasant, Through Peasant Eyes
Levite, insubordinate middleman.
Samaritan – splanchizomai: medley of three emotions – anger/outrage, (this shouldn’t have happened), anxiety, love, most frequently used in relation to Jesus.
The man uses eleos (pity) instead of splangchnizomai in his response – Jesus who is moved by our plight.

Deliverance (salvation is traditional language)

Modules 6 & 7: Class Notes

Here's the next set of notes on Reconciliation and Consolation: 

Module 6 – Reconciliation

Practice of not naming the person who hurt you is wide spread in conciliatory letters.
Perfect Tense: Present condition b/c of past event.

Physical pain and emotional pain had no different words, descriptions.

Stoics, etc., thought that a wise person could have no relationship to pain.

2 Cor. 1:11 – not outwitted, but defrauded. Indicates the person’s loss in community would have had an economic impact.

2 Cor. 7:12 – adikeo – injustice, legal wrong
2 Cor. 12: 16 – panourgos – capable of any work (of wrongdoing)

Paul is being accused of embezzling the offering for the poor in Jerusalem through means of Titus and his ‘brother’ – this accusation is the wrong done against Paul that has caused him so much pain.

Francis Watson: 2 Cor. 10:2, then v. 7 – switches from some people to someone. Why? Paul’s emphasis on cross?

10:10 Again, should say “Someone says” but not “They say” – this is an individual accusation.
Words here are technical terms – a forceful style of writing, Demosthenes noted for. Person admires Paul’s letters, but is weak in person.
:11 “Let this one” – not let such people, plural.

Best trans: New English Bible

Is this someone the owner of the house, the host of the ekklesia, so everyone was silent – not agreeing with, but not disagreeing with Paul’s accuser.

Paul lays out here his model of reconciliation.

Paul’s strategy for reconciling wrongdoer: (Deals with him first, victim after)
1) Acknowledgement (2 Cor. 2:5) Someone has caused pain, pain is received. This step is so difficult – people can’t do it.
2) Discern a sufficient discipline/censure/reproof – not even just – only sufficient. We’re so uncomfortable with this! Squeamish! We don’t dare discipline anymore. Paul suggests that without this step to restore a right balance, can’t really go forward/move on.
3) Forgive and console. Literally give gift/grace, and call alongside. We’re with them, not above them.
4) Resolve/ratify to love – you may never like the person. This is an effort of will. MLK: “Aren’t you glad Jesus didn’t say “Like your enemies?”
5) Understand that forgiveness is obedience – we have to do it.

Paul’s strategy for those who were wronged/his emotional therapy for victims:
(2 Cor. 7:9 – Paul is almost unique in saying that there is something godly in pain. Socrates is the only other writer who says this.)
2 Cor. 7:11 – A list of stages you have to pass through to heal from pain

1) Earnestness – spoude – Get up and go-ness
2) Eager to clear – apologia
3) Indignation – aganaktesis – anger
4) Alarm – phobos – fear/alarm
5) Longing – epopothe^sis – deep down longing
6) Zeal – zelos – burning
7) Justice – ekdikesis – restore balance/justice

This isn’t elsewhere before Paul! Unique to him.


Module 7: Consolation

1 Thessalonians 40/41 AD
Earliest Christian and Pauline writing – experimental quality in Christian letter-writing

Paul is dealing with death, and is writing, perhaps, on the occasion of the death of an important community member in the Thessalonians’ community.

“Correspondence” portion of letter (chapters 1-3) – relationship maintenance portion of book.
“Content” is in chapters 4 & 5.: Now concerning, now concerning, now concerning…

Disclosure formula: “Ou thelomen humas agnoein, adelphoi” (1 Thess 4:13) occurs thousands of time in papyrus letters. Like the subject lines in our emails. RE: This formula marks what follow as the real reason the letter is written.

Paul doesn’t say who died, but his metaphors are like windows: open to social realities of world, open in to writer’s heart.

2:7 We were like a nursing mother caring for her child
2:17 We were orphans
Metaphors suggest that the mother, matriarch of the community is the one who died.

2:11-12 Model for consolation? Call alongside, tell stories, bear witness

Tombstones: me^ lupe^sthe: stop grieving – because: ____ argument. (I no longer have toils, troubles, stop cutting yourself for Hades turns pity aside)

Lattimore: Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs – mainly a sceptical, if any, belief in afterlife. A couple, like Plato and Plutarch, believe in survival of souls.

Ouk e^men, genome^n, ouk esometha melei, ho bios tauta.
I was not, I came into existence, I will not be in the future. Such is life.”

“Oh dear heart, what is down there?” “Much darkness.” “What’s up there?” “It’s a lie.” “What about Pluto?” “Myth.” “We are destroyed.”

“Suns set, and are able to rise, but our brief light, when it goes under: night is perpetual. One sleep.”

Most frequently occurring genre in Greek/Roman literature is the letter of consolation.

1 Thess. 1:2: “remembering you” is like memorial – funeral.

Adialeipto^s – not at all leaving/left behind (constantly) – three times.

Kai ho Heracles apethanon. Even Hercules died. (2nd most common tombstone inscription.)

Hoti ie^sous apethanen: If then Jesus died… But Paul adds Kai Aneste^: and rose! Revolution!

Harpazo^ - “snatched up” = death euphemism in tombstones, but Paul makes it metaphor for snatched up to heaven with God and loved ones.

1 Thess. 4:17 – Hama sun – “together with with,” opposing separation images – not survival of individual, but communion of saints. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Modules 4 & 5: Class Notes

Here's my next set of unedited class notes - lots of them!:

Module 4: Managing Conflict

In voluntary association, the provider of the food, the householder, feels to have power over portion control, who gets what, best portions, dining customs.

1 Cor. 11:17-34 – In the house of Gaius – the haves and the have nots
Contrast between private supper and the Lord’s supper – you’ve made the Lord’s supper into a private supper.

Other Greeks complained about tendency to privatize public feasts. (ie Plutarch) Meant for community, being privatized.

Bread – part of supper – later the cup – part of whole meal.

v. 21: Prolambein – either eating before others (slaves and working poor) arrive, or “in front of” others, while others had to look on, literally wealthy eating while others are watching, also different quantities of food are being served (as would be in ‘regular’ club/association), and perhaps different quality of food as well.

Corinth – dearth of domestic archaeology – only 5 houses from time of Paul excavated – mostly public places.

Dining Room – Triclinium – room with three sided couches. Places for 9-12 people at most. The wealthy get seats. The rest have to go in atrium. So it heightens sense of class divisions.

This describes. But Paul expresses social intentions.

v. 20: When you come together like this, it isn’t actually the Lord’s supper. If it is private, not the Lord’s supper!

v. 30: Some people actually getting sick and dying when they are shut out of meal

Paul is trying to discern the body of Christ that we are.

Since Gaius is still host of ekklesia later, in Romans, then it seems like Paul’s message hit home. This would have been almost unheard of in Paul’s time, social situation.


11:5 Women are praying and prophesying – that’s not the problem.
v. 6: “For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil.” Reduction ad adsurdum. Greek/Roman women did not wear veils. Wearing veils was a custom for Jewish/Persian women. Potential shame of women who had cut their hair: prostitutes.

(The Acts of Paul and Thecla)

At issue: “In Christ no male or female” – women are shaving head, which is one of gender markers? (Antoinette Wire: The Corinthian Women Prophets)

Weakest argument of Paul. Falls apart in his hands.
“because of the angels.” (Genesis 6, nephalim) Paul knows his argument is lame, comes to his senses in verses 11 & 12.

Ple^n: Cancel what I just said

Any attempt, even by Paul himself, to erect a barrier that would maintain the old self, over against the new identity in the Lord, falls totally flat.

Paul leave it in to allow his struggle with this whole “new creation” thing to be seen.


Urbanization. Cosmopolitan. Greek citizens of Asia Minor complain about the privileges of the Jews: “If they’re our fellow citizens, they should worship the Ionian gods.”

Philo’s writings. Philo’s nephew is commander who is there at sacking of Jerusalem. Philo’s works are allegorical interpretations of Hebrew Bible
Against Flaccus, Delegation to Gaius (Caligula). Alexandrian (as is big segment – 2/5? of city) like Apollos.

Greeks in Alexandria become anxious about growing presence/power of Jews in city. “Acts of the Pagan Martyrs” defending Greeks, anti-Semitic. Time of growing tension between Jews and Greeks – happening in Alex. mostly, but in other places as well. Benefits: citizenship. Wealthy Jews can put sons in gymnasium.

From 36-37 – 40-41, Caligula – emperor, smothered Tiberius adopted father with pillow. Megalomaniac. Caligula crisis: Barricades went up between Greek and Jewish neighbourhoods in Alexandria. Jews gradually pushed back into original quarter, and then out of the city altogether. Camped outside of city. Caligula assassinated, and family. Claudius becomes emperor. In such a context, Paul begins his work! 40/41 is when Paul writes Thessalonians. Claudius writes letter with solution: “Separate but equal” – stay away from each other.

Novel: Joseph and Asenath

Paul’s answer is not separation, but reconciliation. Katallasso – other-making.

Galatians 3:28 – “Baptism liturgy”

Boyarin: A Radical Jew

New identity by erasure: Not Jew, Not Greek, identity to be determined, one in Christ. This is primary conflict Paul faces.

Galatians 3:2 & 5, 4:21 – Jewish Christians are trying to sway Galatians. Call Paul’s gospel incomplete form of Christianity. More is required. Be part of covenant. Baptism is just ritual washing. The norm of a right life is the law of God, the Torah. The Judaizers has apparently been very successful.

Experimental quality to identity in Christ. Who are we?
One of the consequences of the gospel of freedom is experimentation – bordering on chaos and moral confusion. Thin border!

Judaizers offer order out of moral chaos.

By their desire for something more, Galatians are denying own spiritual experience. Backsliding. Paul argues: you were like people who were healthy, breathing fine in the spirit, and now you want to hook yourself up to an artificial respirator! An appeal to experience – his own, and theirs.

Norm of identity that brings order: Torah. (Judaizers)
*Norm of identity: faith in or of (debate of translation, prefer OF) Jesus Christ. Debate. (Paul)

Sam K. Williams, The Saving Significance of Jesus’ Death, Richard Hayes, The Faith of Jesus Christ

The only thing wrong for Paul with the Jewish law is that even if you keep it, you don’t show yourself to be as radically faithful to God as Jesus was in his giving of his life. Faith of Jesus Christ.

Badiou – Saint Paul and the Foundation of Universalism – Pauline gospel is the primal truth event! (Badiou is a Maoist Marxist)

Romans 9-11 – most of the Jews, by this time, have rejected Jesus. Judaizers have already been to Rome.
9:4-5 – they have everything but the faith of Jesus Christ. If Israelites don’t have this, can we believe in new promises of God?

Three answers:
1) Romans 9:6-29 – Spiritual Israel will be saved (those Jews that have already joined the “Pauline experiment”
2) Remnant – 9:30-11:10 – Israel didn’t pursue righteousness through faith but through dependence on works, but God has kept promise to a remnant (Jewish Christians, faithful to law are saved too)
3) Romans 11:13-14, 15 – Ministry to Gentiles causes jealousy in Israel, that’s a purpose.
Unbelieving Jews as a theological problem, confronted here for the first time, by using holy name Israel to them, 5 times. Romans 11:25 – the mystery: why the hardening of Israel? After all Gentiles have come in, at end of history, Israel will come in.

Lessons for us? Romans 9-11 tells us Jews won’t have faith of Jesus throughout historical time. So his “Jews and Greeks” project won’t be realized until the end of history. But Paul won’t give up on his vision of reconciliation between the races: all Israel will be saved.

15:30-31 – Knew his life would be in danger among the Israelites, but went anyway. In the end, Paul lost all his Galatian churches probably.

Author of Acts is silent about fate of collection to Jerusalem and Paul.


Module 5: Decision Making

We Decide Together – book: Donelson and Campbell – contemporary church decision-making

Some group decisions – some made by individual members, but actions of individuals can also threaten groups. Groups have a fragile hold on existent and identity – depend on commitment of members.

Have limited tolerance for conflict and diversity. When tolerance is overstepped, group either will begin to resolve, or make a decision about which way to go.

Groups, small or large, must have structure/mechanism for decision-making.
Two types of decisions:
1) Task – functions performed by group. Maintenance: how can we keep this machine going, or of mission/vocation variety.

When groups are defined by single task, task/identity decisions are almost the same. Ie Cave Exploring Group

2) Identity – more volatile and explosive. Required of all groups. Membership. Discipline. Boundaries. Who is in and who is out. Where is boundary of group? Those decisions about boundaries implicate identity of group. How do you measure success or failure? What does it mean if someone is expelled? Who are we?
In conflicts, both task and identity decisions are involved. Some groups more defined by tasks, others by “quality of their being.” Groups defined by doing, tasks might be more critical.

In making decisions of any kind, a group reveals something about itself and becomes whatever self it is. It is a fundamental articulation of a group’s life. And the process by which decision is reached will tell us a lot about the group – maybe even more than the group’s rituals.

If someone makes all decisions, or everyone votes – that is revealing.

What are the qualifications for participating in a decision-making process? Age, gender, property, etc.

Decision-making process of a group can be camouflaged – take effort to discover underlying process.
Groups often have myths about themselves, that hide identity, make them resistant to change. Many group decisions are made implicitly, via path of least resistance, “we’ve never done it any other way.”
In absence of crisis, process of group may never change. ie Men’s group, if women never apply to be part of it. Practices become explicit when ideology is challenged. Threat of changes force group to make explicit. Has to identify challenge, and its nature as a group.

Making decisions always involves a process of interpretation.
Why did we just do that? Because we are ____ kind of group.
The demand for group interpretation evokes other dynamics in the group.
Who in this group is responsible for interpretation? One person? On what basis? By vote? If there’s more than one interpreter, whose voice is listened to? On what basis? What about outsiders we want to bring in? Are they interviewed?

Important to identify norms. By-laws. Constitution. Mission statement. In oral tradition, customs. Where do we find the measure for our identity? Finding the normative expression of group’s identity is a crucial moment.
We must consider what roles norms will play in a situation of crisis or change. Does it address, and clearly, circumstances?

Acts 1: Decision of replacing Judas is pre-Holy Spirit, by decision, will articulate identity as new/true Israel. Defection of Judas is a threat to the identity of group as true Israel. “scripture had to be fulfilled” = a norm. Peter narrates what happened, uses scripture, places criteria. Pray, then cast lots. (Handing process over to Higher Power.) God decides.

What is the role of the assembly in decision-making?
Listening. (Problem when people skip this step.)
Cast lots.
Enrolled Mathias: confirmed him in God’s calling.
(Steps 1 & 2 require discernment.)

What is the role of the leader in decision-making?
Narrating. Showing, with fidelity, what has happened (with God) here. (Luke believes in Providential history. Luke has lengthy narrative here to show how God is at work in what has happened. When do refuse to tell the story because we are covering up or embarrassed?
Interpreted by scripture. Scriptural memory of the community. Luke suggests scripture has a role in decision-making – not as a proof-text, but as an interpreter of experience.
Proposes the action to be taken.

Acts 14:27 – 15 Debate, consensus, openness to Holy Spirit – is a search for God’s will.

Can we name aspects of discernment that belong to decision-making? How do humans discern God’s purposes?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Module 1, 2, & 3: Class Notes

Here are my unedited notes from class today at MTSO, with Dr. Welborn (Happy Reading!)

DMIN 901

Continuity and Change
The Methodist Theological School in Ohio
Summer Semester 2010
L. L. Welborn, Visiting Professor

Discover point of correlation between my point of ministry and ministry of first century Christians.

Ekklesia is formal name for voting place in community – when Paul uses as ‘church’, is making comparison.


Module 1 –

Sociological – insight into the social realities that helped to shape the NT can make the NT intelligible, but more importantly, applicable.

Paul uses this model himself. (1 Cor 1:26) These are the same three decisions Aristotle uses in his divisions in the Greek city in his politics. Wise = educated. Powerful = wealth (dynatoi). Nobly-born = birth. So in Corinth, some were, some weren’t – not many, but a few. Paul is making a social description of the Christian community – not individuals, but the group. That makes is sociological.

Celsus – anti-Christian writer, late first century. Ho alethes logos (the true story) he wrote. Was destroyed by Christian, but have large portions retained by Origen in his contra-Celsus. Celsus: “These Christians are all just a bunch of washer-women/day-laborers/mule-drivers.”

We’re dependent on survival of sources. The interests that shaped our sources weren’t always seeking to give us the information we now want. Speaking about God’s activity, HS, instead of describing sociological nature of groups.

We ask: how do we obtain information about the social circumstances of the early Christians from the religious expressions in our sources? There are very few explicit social statements. Mostly Paul is proclaiming, exhorting, poetic, etc.

How do we recover social reality, including practice of ministry, from these religious texts?

What is a sociological statement? It seeks to describe and ultimately explain interpersonal behaviour with reference to those characteristics that transcend the personal.

Implies that a sociological question is less concerned with what is individual, more concerned with what is general.
Sociological questions are less concerned with singular conditions of specific situation than with structural relationships that apply to several situations.

Three-fold method, for NT, but also applicable to my analysis of my context.

1) constructive – concerned with interpretation of those texts which have explicit (even if pre-scientific) sociological content. Gather all texts of that nature. (ie Church history documents)
2) analytical – seeks to infer the underlying the social reality from kerygmatic, ethical, ritualistic religious expressions
3) comparative – considers text and other evidence that come from the environment of early Christian groups – what’s happening alongside text. We can figure out what is unique about Christian group. Highlights similarities, but differences.

Constructive: a few NT statements with explicit sociological content. Acts 4:32-37. Is it idealism? Romanticized? Sure.

Every statement has to be subjected to three tests: (Example: Acts 13:1)
            Reliability – Do we know if Manaen was a member of the court? Luke as name-dropper. Points out lots of wealthy folks, of status. Gives information to us about what a later generation believed was possible.
            Validity – What can we infer from reliable evidence. Manaen would have lost status/power because of Herod’s exile. He at one time belonged to upper class.
            Representativeness – not the biography of Manaen, but the question of whether on the basis of Luke’s statement, we can refer anything about Christian teachers generally. Does Luke mention status because he was only one with background? Or other reason? If others, this is representative statement.

We get information about content, and who reported content.

Analytical – most fascinating? Focusing on unusual helps us look at background, usual. Ie Acts 11:26: We infer that before this, weren’t called Christians, weren’t seen as totally separate from Jews. We also look for events that recur. Ie Mark: Jesus comes into ‘region’ of a city, not polis itself. Early Jesus movement isn’t a city movement, but countryside. Conflict: exposes to view the structures which are ordinarily hidden – like a lightening flash. In most cases, entire groups are parties to conflicts, not just individuals, who might be spark plugs. Extraordinary lights up terrain of ordinary. Ie 1 Corinthians 8 & 10. We may also draw inferences from articulated norms. Social rules by which we live in groups. Primitive Christian norms come to us by explicit direction (Thou shalt not: Laws/commandments) or implicit by regularly exhibited behaviour. Ethical/judicial norms. Non-observance is punished. 1 Cor. 5. Didache. Norms come to us in ethical conflict. Inferences from symbols.
Symbols in our religious life are the result of a metaphorical process. Images in daily life transferred to spiritual themes. Image/object or object/image. Ie “Body of Christ.” Fostering sense of community over individuality. Ebionites – “the poor” – not social condition, but radical/totally dependence on God.
Poetic symbols. Parables. Rural persons. Parables compress normal experiences into penetrating scenes of social life.
Mythical symbols – don’t open window directly on social reality, but making something ‘other’ their scene. Like actions of gods, angels, or demons. Ie Symbol of possession by demons: intensification of earthly oppression.
Relationship between mythological and sociological that is most important to us.
Comparative – Christianity has parallels in pagan and Jewish sources.

As pastors, we have to move beyond descriptive to prescriptive. Sometimes have to go against the grain!


Module 2 – Types of Leaders

Question between Paul and other leaders: who was an apostle?

Factor: Means of financial support. Who is worthy of it? Who can gather it? What are the marks of a true leader?

Commissioning speeches of Jesus, of 12, of 70. Didache (not a true prophet if ask for more than one night’s supply.)

Two types of Christians leadership had emerged in early Gentile mission.

* Itinerant charismatics. Legitimizes themselves ‘vertically’ by appealing to relationship with God. A “divine charisma.”

* Community organizer. Invests himself/herself completely in new group of people and derives legitimacy from that group. (Paul: you are my letter of recommendation.)

Jesus’ first followers are best described as a renewal movement. (So is Pharisaism, Essenes.) Presuppose small-town Galilean milieu. Confidence of charismatic itinerants in finding support has a religious basis.

When Jesus movement leaves Galilee, can’t count on legitimacy of Jewish piety (as instructed by Jesus), apostles need additional legitimization.  (2 Cor. 3:1) Letters of recommendation from Jerusalem. (1 Cor. 9) Rights of apostle, which Paul is not claiming. Gives his arguments more weight?

Jews in Diaspora. World into which Jesus movement is born. “Foxes have holes…Son of Man has no place to lay head.” Eating food out of field – hungry!

1 Cor. 1:12

Corinth and other colonies are stable and booming economically.

Romans 16:23 Duovir (Magistrate) then aedile (city treasurer).

Charismatic begging is not received well in big cities. The cynic philosophers did this, the ancient ‘hippies’, and it didn’t go well! Patron-client relationship. Patronage. The glue that held the Roman economy together.

Transition from begging into patron-client relationship. Apollos, a charismatic.
Paul: 1 Cor. 1:17 “not with eloquent wisdom” – not like Apollos.

18:1-3 Not tent-maker but set-designer! Paul removes himself from both systems – not a beggar, but not part of patronage system either. Wealthy Corinthians don’t understand it. How could Paul refuse their gift?! They saw it as a system of friendship/love. Paul is rejecting friendship. Eloquent wisdom = patronage, Apollos. Not Paul! Not corrupt the gospel, emphasis on messy cross of Jesus.

Others are arguing that Paul is not living by means of gospel as commanded. Jewish Christian apostles seeing him as not obeying – he’s evading requirement of charismatic poverty – he doesn’t trust God enough to supply all needs. They argue Paul is not free, but a slave of his work.

Paul is trying to show that charismatic poverty in context of Corinth is no longer functional, just a privilege, that can be let go. Paul has to reinterpret the words of Jesus to do so. He can relinquish it, and boast of it, that it’s a necessity that God has laid upon him. Renouncing the privilege keeps in spirit, if not letter, of Jesus’ commands. Charismatics need secondary legitimization.

2 Cor. 11:4 Someone is preaching a different Jesus to you. Different spirit, different gospel. Paul doesn’t say what he means by this. (But must not emphasize the cross like Paul does.)

Biblical historians are reluctant to think that theology influences/determines social factors, but in this case, how does say, Apollos’ Christology work? Wisdom Christology?

Book: The Opponents of Paul in 2 Cor.

10:7 – Greek: tis – someone – saying that, implying that Paul does not belong to Christ, or at least so confident that he/someone does belong to Christ. From Apollos’ point of view, Paul’s gospel looks like a needless impoverishment of the gospel. Where has the pride/joy/confidence gone? Style of leadership corresponds with his Christology. Did Apollos’ way appeal particularly to more elite, and Paul’s emphasis on cross appeal more to lower classes?

Paul’s understanding of who he believed God had revealed God’s self to be. 2 Cor. 13:3-4 – Christ, crucified in weakness, is the place where God’s power is revealed to be.

Paul, the Fool of Christ. Paul is the fool, like in theatre. (1 Cor. 3:18) Aesop the slave, Socrates the stone maker.


Module 3 – Models of the Church

Are models from society informing church?

1) Households as basic units – oikos/okia Prisca/Aquilla, Philemon, household of Stephanos, Lydia, Philippian jailor, Crispus.  (Don Barker, book on households, containing 30+ people)

(Aristotle describes this in Politics)

Paul’s adaptation had implications, both for internal structure, and group as it relates to larger society. Paul inserts Christian movement into existing structure of relationships. Head of household does business at home, but provides some privacy, intimacy. Paul puts himself in role of some members of the household.

- But also creates potential for emergence of factions. Do factions represent different households? Also conflicts over distribution of household. Head of household had such absolute power. Hierarchical structure. Complicates with church. Maintenance of hierarchy is considered as essential by society. Neither male or female, slave free, etc: what does that do to household that baptized in Christ none of that goes? Women, slaves, get chance or inclination to new identity.
- Does everyone in household really share belief to same degree?
- But advantages of intimacy, etc.

2) Voluntary association - the club, the guild, the cultic association. We know a lot about them because of inscriptions of rules and regulations that have survived. Household would host club, become basis of cultic association. It is voluntary. It is a social organization. To outsiders, church must look like this. Celsus draws parallel: what is going on is secret, uncontrolled, and therefore, is a seed-bed of immorality and social unrest. Because clubs provided wining, dining, and sexualizing J Unlike household, free decision, not birth, determined membership. Relationships other than blood/kinship were important. Had a place for common meals and cultic rituals, like church. Depended to some extent on patronage of wealthy individuals.
Differences with church: Entry into church requires baptism/conversion. Difference in motivation or needs. Christian groups are for salvation and righteousness. Ecclesia is more socially inclusive than clubs and guilds. No clubs were cross-racial. More homogenous ethnically. Paul did not consciously model on clubs – no similar terminology.

3) Democratic Voting Assembly (ekklesia)  - Closest parallel to Gal. 3:28 is pseudo-Aristotle tract “De Mundo.” Also 1 Cor. 12:13, which is not neither/nor but both/and. Decisions are made, debate occurs, and future is determined.

4) Not included is synagogue – ekklesia is group apart from synagogue. Different.