Epistles of Paul


Program Masters
Field of Study Bible
Class# B 439
Instructor Langford, Andrew
Location 353
Offered Fall 2014
Time 6:00-8:50p.m.
Day Thu

The Epistles of Paul (B 439) 

Course Description

A lone Pharisee from Tarsus, inspired by a dramatic revelation, inaugurated the mission to the Gentiles and birthed an epistolary tradition that would serve as a guide or at least a reference point for all subsequent early Christian writers. The communities Paul founded and his correspondences with them are the focus of attention, analysis, and inquiry for this class. In this course we will take as our primary objects of study the letters of Paul deemed authentic by a majority of scholars, namely 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans, Philemon, and Philippians. We will also look at how Paul was received in the following three centuries of the Christian era and how this reception influenced Paul’s legacy until this very day. How did Paul combine theology, rhetoric, philosophy, and poetry to exhort, admonish and cajole his new converts to become his imitators, as he in turn was an imitator of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 4:16, 11:1)? What kinds of problems did Paul’s communities (ekklesiai) run into as they sought to negotiate competing allegiances to family, God, and culture? Should we read Paul’s letter collection as a foundational document, the Magna Carta of early Christianity, or is it more akin to ancient archaeological ruins, the pieces of which we must sift through carefully so as to reconstruct, interpret, and understand them today? How might these letters be used for good and not ill in our contemporary political and eccesial conversations? These questions and more will guide this seminar-style course as we grapple with the writings of “the” apostle: Paul.