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1 SBL Annual Congress San Diego 2007 S19-110 Disputed Paulines Contested Reputations and God’s Eternal Plans: Communal Legitimation in Ephesians SBL Annual.

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Presentation on theme: "1 SBL Annual Congress San Diego 2007 S19-110 Disputed Paulines Contested Reputations and God’s Eternal Plans: Communal Legitimation in Ephesians SBL Annual."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 SBL Annual Congress San Diego 2007 S Disputed Paulines Contested Reputations and God’s Eternal Plans: Communal Legitimation in Ephesians SBL Annual Congress San Diego 2007 S Disputed Paulines Contested Reputations and God’s Eternal Plans: Communal Legitimation in Ephesians Minna Shkul

2 2 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  In recent years Ephesians’ scholarship has been enriched by a discussion of various aspects of Jewishness of the letter and its author.  This paper seeks to contribute to such a discussion by offering a fresh methodological perspective that draws from literature on social memory in exploring how the writer shapes and adapts Jewishness in the light of the Christ- event

3 3 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  Reading Ephesians as Post-Pauline social entrepreneurship: the deliberate shaping of ideology and social orientation, beliefs and values of the non- Israelite Christ-followers addressed  The textual world - the social world of the community  The writer’s worldview - the audience’s worldview  The writing offered a vehicle for social influencing that project its author’s views upon its audience.  What kind of socio-ideological resources the text provides for the belief and social life of its recipients?

4 4 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  ‘Collective memory not only reflects the past, but also shapes present reality by providing people with understandings and symbolic frameworks that enable them to make sense of the world’ (Misztal 2003:13)

5 5 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  Selective remembering of Jesus in Ephesians 2  Jesus transformed the alienation of non-Israelites: 2.13 ‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the Law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.  Inventing traditions and transforming existing stories to provide the community with suitable ideological resources to bolster identity and communality

6 6 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  Selective remembering of Paul in Ephesians 3  I Paul am the prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you non-Israelites – 2 for surely you have heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above... 4 a reading of which will be enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6 that is, the non-Israelites have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. 7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the non-Israelites the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord...

7 7 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  The task of reputational entrepreneurship is ‘to make an ordinary person great – or - to bring the person’s greatness to public attention’ (Schwartz 2000:67).  Both Jesus’ and Paul’s reputations are representations of the past, based on 1) historical events and 2) commemoration, which attaches the values of the non-Israelite Christ-followers to the selected stories

8 8 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  Paul’s assumed character, interest and achievements resonated with the concerns of the later Christianness seeking for further legitimacy in building social and ideological distance to other groupings and social networks.

9 9 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  The reputational constructions in Ephesians 2 & 3 engage with and challenge the following aspects of Jewish heritage: 1) Israel’s election; 2) her identity as Yhwh’s covenant people; 3) Israel’s God-sanctioned distance from ‘others’ and 4) her history as a community who benefits from God’s providence and revelation.

10 10 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  The way Ephesians remembers Jesus and Paul deals with those discursive manoeuvres that distance the community from Jewishness, given that its ideological filters result in challenging Israel’s election, the law, what constitutes the people of God, and who is a divinely commissioned prophet of God.

11 11 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  Ephesians historicises non-Israelite Christianness by creating a ‘collectively imagined past’ (cf. Misztal 2003:50, 69)  Remembering has a communally legitimating function, as it provides an explanation and justification for the communal ideology that hails Jesus as the Messiah and sanctions a culture that disvalues Torah observance.

12 12 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  Communal legitimation is especially important when a reform movement departs from its wider cultural matrix and seeks to establish itself independently (Esler 1994:13-14)  The leaders of a reform movement need to legitimate the group by providing a compelling explanation for 1) the distinctiveness of the new group and 2) the distance it takes from the parent group

13 13 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  Ephesians’ language of divine legitimation functions as an ideological resource and repository of meaning for social discourse  Non-Israelite past received no positive value  This controls communal discourse, eliminates disputes and provides coherence to group values and beliefs that derive from Israelite heritage.  The only references to non-Israelite life before Christ are negative stereotypes of an insufficient non-Israelite past that condemn the ethnic other as ‘uncircumcised’, ‘alien’, ‘stranger’, ‘atheist’ (2.11, 12, 19) thus creating a deficient identity.

14 14 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  Therefore Ephesians demonstrates a number of typical functions of communal remembering from self-enhancement to controlling communal remembering and decomposing existing memories that do not conform to the ideology or values of the group.

15 15 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  Ephesians’ ‘adapted Jewishness’ is an example of ‘resistance memory’, which transforms stigmatised memories of condemned and executed Jews to heroes of God using the language of divine legitimation.  Their reputations have been shaped through socio- ideological filters when the legitimacy of non- Israelite inclusion, freedom from the law and distance from non-Israelite cultures were formative motivations for social entrepreneurship.

16 16 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  As a result, ‘the past matches and articulates present feelings’ (Misztal 2003:70).  Ephesians imagines that Christ-followers from other nations are transformed in Christ into God’s people, which involves both ideological re-anchoring as well as re-socialisation, given that the writer maintains the ideal of God’s holy and separated people, although Jewish cultural performances are devalued.

17 17 Mark Chagall, The Exodus  As a result, ‘the past matches and articulates present feelings’ (Misztal 2003:70).  Ephesians provides alternative frames of meaning which relate to social shifts that affect the mnemonic community and develops early Christianness with the language of divine legitimating that justifies communal values & beliefs.


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