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Individual and Community in Paul's Letter to the Romans

DUNSON, BEN,CLARK (2011) Individual and Community in Paul's Letter to the Romans. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The aim of this thesis is to determine the relationship between the individual and the community in Pauline theology, focusing the investigation specifically on these motifs in Romans. Previous Pauline scholarship has for most of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries failed to recognize the integral connection between these two dimensions of Paul’s thought, wrongly pitting either the individual or the community against the other. This investigation will present a typology of individuals in Romans in order to highlight the diversity of ways in which Paul thinks of individuals, as well as the necessarily communal location of these individuals.
Chapter one surveys recent Pauline scholarship on the question of individuals and community, noting that the dominant tone of this research is anti-individual in its fundamental orientation. This chapter concludes with an outline of the entire dissertation.
Chapter two provides a detailed analysis of the debate that developed between Rudolf Bultmann and Ernst Käsemann over the role of the individual in Paul’s letters. This debate set the agenda for the scholarship surveyed in Chapter one, and thus warrants a thorough treatment.
Chapter three brings the Stoic philosopher Epictetus into the conversation in order to provide a contemporary example of a thinker who, like Paul, attempted to do justice to both individual and communal/societal themes in his philosophical output. While Epictetus’ way of relating the individual and the community is different from Paul’s, it shows clearly that this is not an anachronistic question in antiquity, contrary to the claims of much Pauline scholarship. The comparison between Epictetus and Paul illuminates our understanding of Paul’s theology even (perhaps especially) when it shows the different ways in which the two thinkers answered the same basic question, that of how to relate individuals and community/society.
Chapter four is the first half of the typology of individuals in Romans. It looks at four different types of individuals as they are found in Romans 2, 3 and 4: characteristic, generic, binary and exemplary individuals. Definitions of each type are offered as they are discussed.
Chapter five presents the second half of the typology of individuals in Romans, looking at four other types of individuals in Romans 5, 7, 12 and 16: representative, negative exemplary, somatic and particular individuals. While the communal nature of Pauline theology is evident in Chapter four, it becomes especially clear in Chapter five.
Finally, Chapter six summarizes the findings of the entire investigation, while also pointing to other Pauline texts that could be used to fill out the typology of individuals. Two main conclusions are enumerated. First, that both Paul and Epictetus place great emphasis on the individual and the individual’s place within community or society, although Epictetus’ concern for emotional invulnerability (seen in his prioritizing of individual, cognitive action) is in marked tension with Paul’s more foundationally communal way of thinking. Second, filling out the second part of the point just mentioned, it is maintained that although Paul’s theology must be understood as retaining a vital place for individuals, these are necessarily individuals-within-community, and that the prevalent scholarly antitheses between these two categories (on either side of the debate) are fundamentally misleading.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:"Apostle Paul;" "Pauline Theology;" "Individual;" "Community;" "Epictetus and Paul;" "Epictetus;" "Paul and Stoicism;" "Paul's Letter to the Romans;" "Individualism;" "Corporate;" "Rudolf Bultmann;" "Ernst Käsemann;" "Bultmann vs. Käsemann;" "Krister Stendahl;" "N.T. Wright;" "New Perspective on Paul;"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Dec 2011 13:42

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