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The Beginning and Before: Interpreting Creation in Paul and Philo

WORTHINGTON, JONATHAN,DAVID (2010) The Beginning and Before: Interpreting Creation in Paul and Philo. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



God’s creative activity in the beginning is important to Paul. Yet Paul’s care for and interpretation of it is often unrecognized, occasionally denied, typically left underdeveloped, and sometimes interpreted wrongly. This thesis approaches Paul as an interpreter of his sacred scriptural texts concerning creation. It compares his reading of creation in 1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans with those more detailed treatments of the same texts by Philo of Alexandria in his commentary on Genesis 1-2, De Opificio Mundi. The central thesis is this: Paul’s interpretation of creation, like Philo’s in his commentary, contains three interwoven aspects: the beginning of the world, the beginning of humanity, and God’s intentions before the beginning. Chapter 1, “Before the Beginning?,” explores Philo’s view that God’s pre-creational plan involves an architectural blueprint of the universe which enables goodness and beauty and Paul’s view that it involves a crucified Christ and a glory to which God-lovers are redeemed through conformity with this Christ’s image. There we will demonstrate that for Paul, as for Philo, the Before both affects and is affected by his reading of Genesis’ creation texts. Chapter 2, “The Beginning of the World,” establishes how Philo and Paul consider the ontological nature of heaven, earth, and their inhabitants to be beautiful and glorious due to perfect accord with God’s word, intentions, and desires—i.e., an implicit Before. Chapter 3, “The Beginning of Humanity,” investigates how Philo and Paul set the more particular creation of humanity within the larger context of the creation of the world, and how recognizing this aids in our own interpretation of some often misunderstood aspects of their views of Adam. God’s pre-creational “purpose” and “desire” is also an integral aspect of both interpreters’ treatments of the creation of humanity. Paul, like Philo, displays three tightly woven strands within his interpretation of the Beginning.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Creation, Paul, Philo, Genesis, Adam, Hermeneutic, Pauline Theology
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:08 Sep 2010 15:21

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