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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?


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