Leveling the Playing Field: Egalitarian Veils and Athletic Metaphors in 1 Corinthians Open Access

Peters, Janelle Lynne (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/qr46r105v?locale=en


In this dissertation, I argue that Paul's use of citizenship motifs throughout 1 Corinthians indicates the apostle's attempt to provide an egalitarian apparatus that deconstructs Corinthian concern with socioeconomic status. Part One contends that Paul fashions a citizen body in both civic and individual aspects in 1 Corinthians. Building off the legacy of the Jewish politeuma, Paul envisions the "churches of God" as a polity distinct from those of the cities in which the house-churches found themselves. He accomplishes this by means of references to paideia, law courts, and Greek athletic games. Just as Jewish gymnasia replicated the features of the Greek gymnasium while maintaining Jewish regulations such as halakhic oil, Paul presents the Christian gymnasium as one that reproduces the features of the Greek games but with results more durable than those of the temporally bound and perishable polis. This political construction of citizenship serves as Paul's response to the schisms in the community that are reproducing social inequalities in Roman Corinth. Part Two explores Paul's construction of the Christian politeuma and the Christian citizen through his athletic imagery in 1 Corinthians. Part Three of the work addresses the manner in which Paul's veiling instructions intersected with Roman imperial ideology concerned with the visual display of status. In Chapter Six, I discuss how Paul's justification for Christian veiling practices by means of the Genesis creation accounts parallels the imperial ideology that supported veiling customs with the creation accounts. Chapter Seven situates Paul's concluding appeal to the social customs of the "churches of God" within the context of veiling customs in the early imperial period.

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