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Abortion and the Apostolate


A Study in Pauline Conversion, Rhetoric, and Scholarship


This book argues that it is the rejection of Paul’s claims to be an apostle in the same sense as the other apostles that ultimately underlies his “mission to the Gentiles.” This argument is advanced through a careful analysis of Paul’s references to his “conversion” in Galatians 1:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:8, paying particular attention to Paul’s evocative use of the language of abortion. The contextualization of this curious self-description in 1 Corinthians 15:8 draws upon a growing body of work concerning an area of ancient life that continues to fascinate and perplex moderns; the exposure of unwanted infants.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-60724-057-0
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Sep 15,2009
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 263
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-60724-057-0
$148.00
$88.80

The subjects of Paul’s Gentile mission and his so-called “conversion” have occupied biblical scholars since the pioneering work of F. C. Baur in the nineteenth century. As most scholars credit Paul’s decision to preach to non-Jews with the eventual transformation of Christianity from a Jewish sect into a separate religion, and given the dramatic portrayal of his conversion in Acts, this attention is unsurprising. This book examines the origins of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles through a close study of his claims to have been personally commissioned to undertake such a mission by Jesus.

However, this book argues that it is the rejection of Paul’s claims to be an apostle in the same sense as the other apostles that ultimately underlies his “mission to the Gentiles.” This argument is advanced through a careful analysis of Paul’s references to his “conversion” in Galatians 1:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:8, paying particular attention to Paul’s evocative use of the language of abortion. The contextualization of this curious self-description in 1 Corinthians 15:8 draws upon a growing body of work concerning an area of ancient life that continues to fascinate and perplex moderns; the exposure of unwanted infants.

The subjects of Paul’s Gentile mission and his so-called “conversion” have occupied biblical scholars since the pioneering work of F. C. Baur in the nineteenth century. As most scholars credit Paul’s decision to preach to non-Jews with the eventual transformation of Christianity from a Jewish sect into a separate religion, and given the dramatic portrayal of his conversion in Acts, this attention is unsurprising. This book examines the origins of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles through a close study of his claims to have been personally commissioned to undertake such a mission by Jesus.

However, this book argues that it is the rejection of Paul’s claims to be an apostle in the same sense as the other apostles that ultimately underlies his “mission to the Gentiles.” This argument is advanced through a careful analysis of Paul’s references to his “conversion” in Galatians 1:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:8, paying particular attention to Paul’s evocative use of the language of abortion. The contextualization of this curious self-description in 1 Corinthians 15:8 draws upon a growing body of work concerning an area of ancient life that continues to fascinate and perplex moderns; the exposure of unwanted infants.

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Contributor Biography

Matthew Mitchell

Matthew W. Mitchell is Assistant Professor at Canisius College, Buffalo, New York. Previously he served as the Chair of the Department of Comparative Religion at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. He holds an MA in Religious Studies from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and a PhD in Religion from Temple University, where he was a Russell Conwell Fellow. His articles have appeared in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vetus Testamentum, Novum Testamentum, and the Journal of Early Christian Studies.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Preface (page 9)
  • Acknowledgments (page 11)
    • Formal Acknowledgments (page 12)
  • Abbreviations (page 15)
  • Introduction (page 19)
    • Approaching Paul, his Conversion, and Pauline Scholarship (page 19)
  • 1 Rhetorical Criticism and Paul (page 39)
    • 1) Paul the Letter-writer and Greco-Roman (page 40)
    • Rhetorician (page 41)
    • 2) The New Rhetoric (page 51)
    • Overview: Rhetoric, Paul the Converted Apostle, and the Gentile Mission (page 56)
  • 2 Galatians 1:15-17, Conversion, and the Gentiles (page 63)
    • Damascus: Its Connection to Paul's Mission and Theology (page 64)
    • Is Paul's Account in Galatians Reliable? Call Or Conversion? (page 70)
    • Paul's Conversion, and the Meaning(s) of Gal. 1:15 (page 74)
    • Summary: The Reliability of Gal. 1:15-17, Paul's Call/conversion, and the Gentile Mission (page 84)
  • 3 Galatians 1-2: Apostleship & Authority in Conflict (page 91)
    • Conversion, Apostleship, and Vision in Galatians 1:15-17 (page 91)
    • The Meaning of Apostle (page 93)
    • Scholarly Rhetoric on Damascus, Apostolicity, and the Gentile Mission (page 103)
    • Brief Excursus: Paul's Logic, Authority and the Other Apostles in Galatians 1-2 (page 108)
  • 4 Contextualizing 1 Corinthians 15:8 (page 115)
    • Abortion in the Ancient Mediterranean (page 115)
    • Abortion in Biblical Tradition and Beyond: Reading Exodus 21:22 (page 118)
    • Summary: Abortion in Biblical, Jewish, and Christian Tradition (page 129)
    • The Exposure of Infants and Abortion: Philo and Exodus 21:22 (page 131)
    • Metaphorical Use (page 141)
    • Excursus: Gnostic Imagery and Abortion Metaphors (page 142)
    • Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Tertullian (page 144)
  • 5 Paul the Abortion (page 151)
    • Conflict and 1 Corinthians 15 (page 151)
    • "Ektroma" in the Bible and New Testament Scholarship (page 156)
    • The Context and Intertext (page 163)
    • Pauline and Prophetic Parallels (page 168)
    • Reading 1 Corinthians 15 (page 172)
    • Paul the Abortion from the Apostolate (page 174)
    • Conclusion (page 177)
  • 6 F. C. Baur, Conflict, and Therhetoric of Reputation (page 181)
    • The New Rhetoric, Scholarly Rhetoric, and the Postmodern (page 182)
    • The New Rhetoric: Reputation and "Just Reading" the Text (page 201)
    • Another Recent Example: Reputation and Reading the Text (page 205)
  • 7 Conclusion: Scholarly Rhetoric (page 209)
    • Universality and the Gentile Mission (page 209)
    • The Gentile Mission and Conversion: Pragmatic Readings, Baur, Donaldson (page 219)
    • Donaldson and Baur on Persecution and the Gentile Mission (page 222)
    • Conclusion: Baur's Legacy, the Gentile Mission and Scholarly Rhetoric (page 227)
    • Paul's Apostolic Rejection and Biblical Scholarship (page 231)
    • Closing Thoughts on Method (page 234)
  • Bibliography (page 239)
  • Index (page 261)
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