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Paul, the Oikonomos of God: Paul's Apostolic Metaphor in 1 Corinthians and its Graeco-Roman Context

GOODRICH, JOHN,KENNETH (2010) Paul, the Oikonomos of God: Paul's Apostolic Metaphor in 1 Corinthians and its Graeco-Roman Context. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis seeks to elucidate the nature of Paul’s apostleship and apostolic authority by investigating how Paul portrays himself as an oikonomos of God in 1 Corinthians (4.1-5; 9.16-23). Modern studies on the metaphor have failed to ascertain what apostolic attributes are implied by the image and how Paul utilised the metaphor to meet his rhetorical and theological objectives, largely because they neither identify the appropriate source domain of Paul’s metaphor nor conduct the necessary socio-historical research to illumine its application. Utilising a host of ancient sources to reconstruct the characteristics of the regal, municipal, and private administrators bearing this title, this study seeks to identify the metaphor’s source domain and to interpret the relevant Pauline discourses accordingly.

Part 1 surveys the three administrative contexts from Graeco-Roman antiquity in which oikonomoi are most frequently attested: Hellenistic kingdoms (Chapter 2), Graeco-Roman cities (Chapter 3), and private estates and enterprises (Chapter 4). While minor variations existed within these administrative contexts, a general profile is discernable in and constructed for each. Moreover, although the profiles of the oikonomoi serving in these contexts share certain similar social, structural, and disciplinary characteristics, these administrators are also shown to have significant differences.

Part 2 engages 1 Corinthians 4 and 9 seeking to identify and interpret Paul’s metaphor in both discourses. Chapter 5 demonstrates that, of the three source domains examined in Part 1, private commercial administration functions as the most plausible context in which to interpret Paul’s metaphor. Chapters 6 and 7 then utilise the profile of the private commercial administrator as a model to illumine Paul’s apostleship in 1 Cor 4.1-5 and 9.16-23 respectively and explains how Paul employs the image to meet his rhetorical and theological objectives in both passages.

Chapter 8 summarises the argument of the thesis and draws out the implications of Paul’s metaphor for understanding Paul’s theology of apostolic authority.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Paul, Corinth, Apostleship, Authority, Slavery
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2010
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Jun 2010 09:55

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