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What Others Think: The Importance of Outsiders to Pauline Communities

PARKER, EMMA,LOUISE (2021) What Others Think: The Importance of Outsiders to Pauline Communities. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Despite the negative depiction that ‘outsiders’ are often given throughout the Pauline corpus, there is a remarkable concern for what they think of the believers. This concern is woven through these letters with a gravity that demands acknowledgement in order to understand what inspires and provokes instructions on how believers should behave among unbelievers. This thesis reveals in the Pauline corpus a critical sensitivity to the presence and opinion of outsiders, and it explores the pragmatic and theological impact of outsiders upon believers.

The thesis firstly considers Social Identity Theory (SIT), specifically its analysis of boundary-making between ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ and the importance of difference between groups. SIT is then critically employed to explore instructions for believers to love outsiders, to walk honourably among them and do good to them (1 Thess 3:12; 4:11–12; 5:15), and for believers to transform public opinion so that it leads to praise rather than persecution (Rom 12–13). Attention then turns to how believers are to lay aside their own preferences for the benefit of outsiders (1 Cor 7; 10; 14), and to the importance of reputation (1 Tim and Titus).

The thesis concludes that what others think influences how each faith community responds to their neighbours so as to protect, develop or grow their community, and how believers understand their identity and discipleship. It concludes that similarity between believers and outsiders is important, for it is in the public revealing of shared values that positive intergroup relations can be nurtured in order to harvest positive outsider opinion, leading to hope for fruitful mission. The role of SIT is therefore heuristic for it offers the tools to examine boundaries, but its bias towards difference means it fails to notice sufficiently the importance of similarity and the significance of the outsider to the Pauline communities.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Paul; Outsiders; Insiders; Pauline Communities; 1 Thessalonians; 1 Corinthians; Romans; Pastoral Epistles; Social Identity Theory; Mission
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 May 2022 12:42

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