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A Tale of Two Churches:
Distinctive Social and Economic Dynamics at Thessalonica and Corinth

JUNG, UN,CHAN (2020) A Tale of Two Churches:
Distinctive Social and Economic Dynamics at Thessalonica and Corinth.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 17 May 2023.

Abstract

In this thesis, I argue that the Thessalonian and Corinthian congregations were similar yet strikingly different, while extrapolating their differences through socio-economic and social-scientific lenses: though founded and taught by Paul, they attracted different kinds of people and developed distinctive social relationships within church and with non-believers in strong or weak social identity. In other words, four criteria - socio-economic status, intergroup and intragroup relationships, and social identity - were inextricably entangled with each other, creating idiosyncratic socio-economic dynamics at Thessalonica and Corinth.
In the first chapter, I develop a social-scientific criticism through which the historical and logical connections between biblical snapshots of the Thessalonian and Corinthian congregations can be clarified. Through this approach, I link seemingly unconnected biblical descriptions of the two: how socio-economic status influenced social relationships, how intergroup relationship was intertwined with intragroup relationship, and what role social identity played in building the dynamic of social relationships.
In the second and third chapters, I examine the Thessalonians’ distinctive socio-economic status and social relationships. While the Thessalonian congregation attracted poor free(d) occasional workers, its members suffered from conflicts with outsiders and their consequential economic predicaments, but enjoyed solidarity and economic reciprocity. I argue that their low socio-economic status affected their broken relationships with outsiders and in turn their spiritual and economic mutualism within the church, forming their strong social identity.
In the fourth and fifth chapters, I explore the Corinthians’ socio-economic dynamics. Their church embraced the poor, the well-born, and upwardly mobile people. Certain wealthy believers contributed to social harmony with their wider society, but caused internal tensions. I claim that certain Corinthians’ high economic status played a critical role in building the social relationships, while their social harmony with outsiders weakened internal cohesion and social identity.
In the sixth chapter, I conclude that Paul’s teachings of grace, ethics, and community were manifested and modified in different communities in different ways due to their different socio-economic contexts.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 May 2020 13:17

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