Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Imago Pauli: Memory, Tradition, and Discourses on the “Real” Paul in the Second Century
by White, Benjamin Lee, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011, 386; 3456306
Abstract (Summary)

The following dissertation is a theoretical and methodological examination of the legacy of the Apostle Paul in the second century. It explores the way he was remembered in the century after his death, as well as the discursive practices that accompanied claims about the “real” Paul in a period in which apostolic memory was highly contested. Five questions drive the inquiry: (1) How do we measure Pauline influence in the second century? (methodology); (2) How did various second-century writers imagine Paul and what resources were employed to produce a given interpretation of the Apostle? (exegesis); (3) What is meant, from a theoretical standpoint, by the language of tradition and memory, concepts often invoked by Pauline scholars, but hardly ever defined or explored? (theory); (4) What interests stand behind ancient discourses on the “real” Paul? (ideology); and (5) How did Paul become “ the Apostle” for so many different kinds of Christian communities in the second century? (history). The connection between these questions is not ultimately logical or sequential. Each is part of a larger hermeneutical conversation. Chapters One through Three provide the methodological and theoretical foundation for the exegesis of Chapters Four and Five, which work through the Pauline tradition of 3 Corinthians and Irenaeus’ Adversus haereses, respectively.

The latter texts serve as test-cases for the thesis that Christians of the second century had no access to the “real” Paul. Rather, they possessed mediations of Paul as a persona. These idealized images were transmitted in the context of communal memories of “the Apostle.” Through the selection, combination, and interpretation of pieces of a diverse earlier layer of the Pauline tradition, Christians defended images of the Apostle that were particularly constitutive of their collective cultures. As products of tradition and memory, each imago Pauli exhibits a unique mixture of continuity with and change from the past. Consequently, ancient discourses on the “real” Paul, like their modern counterparts, are problematic. Through a whole host of exclusionary practices, the “real” Paul, whose authoritative persona possessed a certain delegated authority, was and is invoked as a wedge to gain traction for the conservation of ideology.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ehrman, Bart D.
Commitee: Boyarin, Jonathan, Campbell, Douglas, Hays, Richard B., Plese, Zlatko
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: Religious Studies
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Religion, Biblical studies, Religious history
Keywords: Corinthians 3, Early Christianity, Irenaeus, Saint, Bishop of Lyon, Paul the Apostle, Saint, Social memory, Tradition
Publication Number: 3456306
ISBN: 9781124656496
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