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March 19.docx

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Sol Goldberg

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March 19, 12
The Development of Early Christian Community
- Reading the New Testament is an exercise in reading other people’s
mail: 21 of 27 NT texts are letters; Acts contains letters; Revelation
is presented as a circular letter to the seven churches (epistolary
genre [episle = letter])
- “letterness” very important: written by people about whom we
know very little to people about whom we know even less, without
a date on them.
- Exercise in approaching the letter: Dickens, “Pickwick Papers”;
Kafka, “Briefe an Milena”.
- Letter is a substitute for a conversation with the purpose of a
dialogical exchange, but the dialogue is mediated by spatial and
temporal distance.
- This understanding of letters is in line with ancient conceptions
Demetrius, On Style (handout).
- Exercise in interpreting letters: interpretation and interrogation.
Practicalities: Letter Structure, Letter Writing and Delivery
- Letter Greeting - Si vales, bene est, ego valeo (SVBEEV) (Tripartite:
Sender’s name, Addressee’s name, greeting or salutation)
- Letter Body
- Letter Closing
- Galatians 6:11 “see what large letters I make when I am writing
in my own hand!”
- Use of scribes and secretaries: secretary as “recorder” (writes down
text by dictation); “editor” (takes down notes, uses notes for draft);
“co-author” (given main line of argument, converts it into letter);
“composer” (this letter has to be answered in this manner).
- Romans 16:22 I Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the
- 1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by
the will of G-d, and our brother Sosthenes…
- cursus publicus emperor, military
- Most people had to rely on travellers.
- Test Case: how the letter “worked” in the development of early
- Paul wrote letters to address specific problems within early
Christian communities letters as “immediate literature”
- Paul was first in Galatia, had founded a group of Jesus followers
among Gentiles (non-Jews) there, they had adopted belief in Paul’s
- Since Paul left, other leaders of the Jewish Christian movement
came to the community, advocated something different than Paul
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