SBL/AAR San Francisco

I have just finished provisional booking of flights (Air New Zealand via Auckland) and accommodation (anyone else staying in the Parc 55 Wyndham?) for SBL in November. It looks like there is a large contingent going from Melbourne (my colleagues Dorothy Lee, Catherine Playoust, Meg Warner, David Runia, Andrew McGowan and, for AAR, Chris Mostert). A little foolishly, I proposed 2 papers because I wanted to make sure I didn't miss out. Both were accepted, so I expect to see the following on the Conference Programme in due course:

Who and What are ‘Ambassadors for Christ’?: The Identity and Role of Paul’s Audience in 2 Corinthians 5.16–21 (Pauline Theology in the Making: Second Corinthians)

In this paper I argue that Paul’s use of the 1st person plural in 2 Corinthians 5.16–21 is inclusive and, when understood in relation to the surrounding material in 5.11–15 and 6.1–13, is intended to locate the Corinthian audience within the ambit of Paul’s apostolic ministry. A survey of the likely conceptual resources that shape Paul’s description of the ‘ministry of reconciliation’ leads us to conclude that the Corinthians, along with Paul, must view themselves in Isaianic terms as ‘servants of the Servant’, thus extending the insights of Mark Gignilliat’s treatment of this topic. The exegesis of 5.16-21 shows that the majority interpretation ­ which relates each component of the argument primarily to Paul and his co-workers ­ suffers from major problems. Crucially, 2 Corinthians 5.20 has suffered in translation from the insertion of an additional pronoun which serves to identify the Corinthians as the object of Paul’s ‘entreaty’ for reconciliation. By contrast, the background to and context for this verse supports the view that the Corinthians are, with Paul, the subject of the implied actions of 5.20. In short, the Corinthians are to understand themselves as ‘ambassadors for Christ’.

The Significance of ‘The Same’: Reassessing Paul’s Ethical Exhortations in 1 Corinthians and Philippians (Pauline Epistles)

On several occasions in his letters Paul exhorts his audience to think (phronein: see Philippians 2.2; 4.2; 2 Corinthians 13.11; Romans 12.16; 15.5) or speak (lego: see 1 Corinthians 1.10) ‘the same thing’ (to auto). The majority of exegetes understand the phrases used in 1 Corinthians and Philippians as a response to problems of disunity within these Pauline congregations that thereby constitute an exhortation to agreement within and among members of the community.

In this paper I survey the usage of this exhortatory formula in the Pauline epistles and identify the distinctive nature of the phrases in Philippians and 1 Corinthians, letters that are often understood as responses to churches scarred by internal dissension. I then challenge the standard reading and argue that the unqualified phrase is best read as signifying a call for agreement with Paul. I argue that the ambiguity inherent within the to auto phrases requires the exegete to draw on the wider epistolary context in order to understand its specific force. In the case of 1 Corinthians and Philippians the evidence for church disunity is less persuasive than many believe, and the rhetorical focus of these letters seems clearly to be directed towards the relationship between apostle and congregation. It is within this contextual framework that the expression must be understood.  Paul’s language of ‘the same’, in these instances, is an alternative rendering of his call for apostolic imitation.


See you there!