hours: Wednesdays 3:15 to 4:15 PM Or by appointment
course will explore the letters of the Apostle Paul from the
perspective of power and politics, in particular how Paul and his
congregations engaged the Roman imperial order of his day.
Particular attention will be focused on Paul’s letters to
important urban centers of the Roman Empire, namely Thessalonica,
Philippi, Corinth, Rome and the various cities in the Roman province
of Galatia. A case study will be undertaken in how Paul addressed a
critical institution of the Roman order - slavery - in his Letter to
Philemon. Differences in resistance or accommodation to the politics
of empire will be discussed in light of what many consider to be
post-Pauline correspondence, including Colossians, Ephesians and
especially the Pastoral Epistles (1-2 Timothy and Titus). The course
will include readings and discussions both of Paul’s letters and
some relevant Roman and Greek literature, and how a political
reading of these ancient writings can inform our own engagement in
matters of power and politics from the perspective of faith today.
the end of this course the student will have:
the Pauline letters in light of the political reality
surrounding the Pauline mission – the Roman Empire.
each Pauline letter taking into account the historical and
cultural context in which it was written, namely the urban
centers of the Roman Empire, and the immediate concerns of the
congregations that received the letters.
various theological, ethical and ministerial themes that emerge
from these contexts, both inside and outside the Pauline
assemblies, and how Paul addresses the way in which the needs of
his congregations relates to the world of the Roman Empire.
the various connections between Paul’s “political
theology” and similar concerns that have emerged in the
practice of faith today, that is, how people of faith relate to
the political realities that surround us today.
& informed participation in all classes.
Reading (Available for Purchase)
Horsley, ed., Paul and Empire: Religion and Power in Roman
Imperial Society (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International,
ed., Paul and
Politics: Ekklesia, Israel, Imperium, Interpretation
(Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000).
ed., Paul and the Roman Imperial Order (Harrisburg, PA:
Trinity Press International, 2004).
Religion and Empire: People, Power and the Life of the Spirit
(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003).
Jewett, Paul the Apostle to America: Cultural Trends &
Pauline Scholarship (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox
Meeks, ed., The Writings of St. Paul, Norton Critical Edition
(New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1972).
Reading (Copies in Library)
Acts of Paul and Thecla” in Bart D. Ehrman, ed., The New
Testament and Other Early Christian Writings: A Reader (New
York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, 2004), 177-182.
Agosto, “A Postcolonial Commentary on Philippians,” in Fernando
Segovia & R.S. Sugirtharajah, Postcolonial Commentary on the
New Testament (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, forthcoming),
manuscript copy of chapter in library reserve.
Barrett, ed., The New Testament Background: Writings from Ancient
Greece and the Roman Empire that Illuminate Christian Origins,
Revised Edition (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989).
D. Callahan, Embassy of Onesimus: The Letter of Paul to Philemon
(Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997).
O. Francis & J. Paul Sampley, eds., Pauline Parallels
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984).
Briggs Kittredge, Community and Authority: The Rhetoric of
Obedience in the Pauline Tradition (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity
Press International, 1998).
Ronald MacDonald, The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul
in Story and Cannon (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983).
Hack Polaski, Paul and the Discourse of Power (Sheffield,
England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999).
Paul Sampley, ed., Paul in the Greco-Roman World (Harrisburg,
PA: Trinity Press International, 2003).
student will make at least four oral presentations in class
from assigned readings followed by a one to two page
(single-spaced) written summary and review of that reading.
The class presentation will be ten to fifteen minutes long and
will be the preamble to a class discussion about that reading
in light of the topic of the day.
student will write a 15-page to 20-page (double-spaced)
research paper on a topic of interest to the student related
to the themes of the course.
The topic should be discussed with and cleared by the
professor by the 8th class session (November 2).
The paper is due one week after the end of classes
Introduction to the Course & the Study of Paul & His
Politics & Faith in the Ancient World
Horsley, Religion & Empire; Barrett, 1-23.
Reading Paul through the Eyes of Politics & Empire
Paul & Empire, 1-35; Paul & Politics, 1-39; Roman
Imperial Order, 1-23.
The Case of Thessalonica: Paul’s First Letter to the
Meeks, 3-10; Paul & Empire, 158-166; 215-223; Roman
Imperial Order, 47-66.
Corinth & the Corinthians: Internal Politics in 1
Meeks, 22-28; Paul & Empire, 104-125; 242-252; Paul
and Politics, 72-109; Roman Imperial Order, 89-101;
Strabo, Geography 8.6.20-23 (on Corinth) – copies handed
out in class.
Reconciliation & Collection: The Politics of 2
Meeks, 48-66; Paul & Politics, 191-215; Imperial Order,
Galatians: Internal Polemics & Pauline Principles
Meeks, 10-22; Paul & Empire, 224-241; Paul
& Politics, 130-159; Polaski, 73-103.
Romans: A Missionary Theology in Imperial Terms
Meeks, 66-94; Paul & Empire, 140-157; Paul &
Politics, 160-190; Imperial Order, 25-46; Jewett, 32-44.
Cooperation with Rome? Interpretation, Romans 13 and Other
Paul & Empire, 184-204; Paul & Politics,
Citizenship” Over Roman Citizenship
Meeks, 94-101; Paul & Politics, 173-183; Imperial
Order, 125-153; Kittredge, 53-110; Agosto, “A Postcolonial
Commentary on Philippians.”
No Class – Reading Week/Thanksgiving Break
A Case Study in Dealing with an Imperial Practice: Paul &
Meeks, 101-104; Paul and Politics, 110-129; 216-223; Roman
Imperial Order, 155-173; Jewett, 59-69; Sampley, Handbook,
575-607; Callahan, Embassy of Onesimus, 1-70; Polaski, 52-72.
Accommodation to Empire?
Meeks, 107-148; 199-207; Paul & Empire, 167-183;
Jewett, 45-58; Kittredge, 111-174; McDonald, 13-103; “The Acts of
Paul & Thecla” in Ehrman, Reader, 177-182.
Conclusion of Course: Pauline
Faith & Politics Today
Jewett, 3-31; 98-127.
Final paper due at professor’s office by 5PM–
either in person, by email or regular mail.