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New in the Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies: Troels Engberg-Pedersen on Paul the Philosopher

“We have seen that Paul’s philosophizing, as we now understand it, should not be identified with the picture of Paul’s thought that came to be given in the later, systematic, ‘theological’ reading of him. Instead, Paul was fundamentally working at the same level as other philosophers in the ancient world, arguing his case in as many ways as possible in the hope that he might convince others of the truth of his claims. It is entirely correct to say that Paul does ‘theology’. But he does theology as philosophy, not as some intellectual discipline different from philosophy.

We have also seen that Paul’s philosophizing does more in terms of articulating a coherent set of ideas than merely arguing ad hoc for the immediate purposes of his letter writing. Thus while it is quite right to focus emphatically on Paul’s rhetorical strategy and the practical purposes of his writing, there is more to it than just rhetoric and practical purpose. Paul, it seems, did have a more systematic urge, which led him to construct a (more or less) coherent world view that might then also serve as a warrant for his practical aims. Indeed, we have seen examples of texts where Paul philosophizes in order to make points that are of central importance to his overall aims in the letter.”

–Troels Engberg-Pedersen, “Paul the Philosopher,” in Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies

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  • CSCO Team,
  • 23rd July 2020

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