Paul's non-violent Gospel : the theological politics of peace in Paul's life and letters
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This thesis advances a claim for the centrality of a politics of peace in early Christianity, with particular focus given to the letters of Paul and the Gospel of Matthew. In brief, I argue that Paul’s task of announcing the gospel to the nations involved calling and equipping assemblies of people whose common life was ordered by a politics (by which I mean, chiefly, a mode of corporate conduct) characterised by peaceableness, and this theological politics was a deliberate participation in the political order announced and inaugurated by Jesus of Nazareth. To this end, there are three main components of the thesis. Chapter Two is focused on the Gospel of Matthew, particularly the way in which violence (and peace) are constructed by the evangelist. Chapter Three bridges the first and third components of the thesis, attending to the important question of the continuity between Jesus and Paul on the issue of non-violence. The third component involves two chapters. Chapter Four attempts to identify the trajectory of violence and peace in Paul’s biography and in the “biography” of his Galatian converts (as he portrays it), and the fifth chapter traces the presence of this non-violent gospel in (arguably) Paul’s earliest letter. The intended effect is to show that a politics of non-violence was an early, central, non-negotiable component of the gospel, that its presence can be detected in a variety of geographical expressions of early Christianity, that this (normally) “ethical” dimension of the gospel has a political aspect as well, and that this political dimension of the gospel stands in stark contrast to the politics of both the contemporary imperial power and those who would seek to replace it through violence.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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