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Lecture 1.docx

Course Code
John Kloppenborg

of 5
Lecture 1 04/02/2014
Most documents written in the Mediterranean culture, where there were different values e.g. honor/ shame/
patronage/ slavery – documents of and with history (1st and 2nd century C.E.)
Documents intended to address certain issues earlier Jesus followers had
Composed on the basis of information the author received—oral or written documents—pre-history of
documents and how they travelled from point of composition to being included in the Bible
1. Literary
What kind of literature?
What is the perspective?
Biography or history?—e.g. Acts is history – genre is important
What are the differences?—dependent on genre, editorial tendency, characteristics
What is the function
2. Historical
Historical placement, date, authorship
Way to connect something they say to knowable history
Names sometimes added/ common names hard to trace
Location—how they talk about geography e.g. Mark not written in Palestine  not from Israel
Social register (for whom are the documents written for), social world (debt forgiveness, confrontation in
public space where men argue w/ men)
Transmission, historicity
E.g. “family”—Mediterranean families had many children (high mortality rate) + servants
High bar for who qualifies as a friend in the Mediterranean
3. Anthropological
Who is speaking?
The Mediterranean is not our world
Non-bureaucratized culture and patronage – relationships not anonymous but personal and enduring for life
What cultural codes are needed to interpret texts?
Stephen Biko (1946-1977)
South African activist advocating against apartheid
“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”
Point of view
Who is speaking?
What perspective does each writer take?
What is the issue for each writer?
Who is the intended audience?
How does the writer present an argument (what is the appeal to evidence?)
What education level is assumed?
Who is the writer?
Tutorial # 1
Imagine: in antiquity with many gods, and somebody makes the claim he is a god
What is the issue at stake (why is he discussing these guys in the first place)?
Plutarch writing 180 years later and from what he says, figure out what Alexander actually said and says
certain things that make him appear like a god.
Alexander’s intentions unclear—whether Alexander tried to portray himself as a god. In antiquity, it could be
considered hubris to declare yourself a god.
Matters whether you’re a god or related to a god—if Caesar is a god, Augustus is the son of a god.
How do people show power?
Temples built in your honor
Symbols and gestures preserved for gods but where the boundaries become loosened
Alexander’s deification related to Jesus/ Christianity and how he was deified –Jesus deified himself/later
people did it for him (possibilities)
Different explanations on how Alexander was deified
Idea of kingship
Alexander’s own plans was well-suited for the position of a godlike supreme ruler—politics and power
Disputed points:
Birth and childhood—different accounts of how his birth (similar to Jesus’ conception)
Magicians/ prophets (3 wise men)
That was when the writings of Jesus started taking place – leading up to the birth and writings of Jesus
What are the topics relevant to this issue (what points is he discussing that will settle this question)?
Alexander’s birth (how his mother conceived of him)