Paul's gospel and the rhetoric of apostolic rejection: A study of Galatians 1:15–17, 1 Corinthians 15:8, F. C. Baur, and the origins of Paul's Gentile mission

2005 2005

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Abstract (summary)

This dissertation proposes a new understanding of Paul's Gentile mission and its relationship to his so-called “conversion.” This dissertation examines the origins of Paul's mission to the Gentiles, and locates it in his claims to have been personally commissioned to undertake such a mission by Jesus. Specifically, I argue that it is the rejection of Paul's claim to be an apostle, a claim founded upon his “conversion” experience, that precipitates his mission to the Gentiles. In arguing this view, I draw upon Ferdinand Christian Baur's nineteenth century theories concerning both the unreliability of Acts as a historical source, and his proposal of a clear division between Paul and the other apostles.

In establishing the methodological and theoretical framework of the dissertation, I discuss the “New Perspective on Paul” that has dominated New Testament scholarship over the past thirty years. My study is also informed methodologically by the growing interest in rhetorical criticism among biblical scholars, although the emphasis of this dissertation bears more of a resemblance to the approach of the New Rhetoric than the categories of classical, Greco-Roman rhetoric.

The textual component of this work falls into two stages. The first contains a full examination of Paul's “conversion passages” in Galatians 1:15–17 and 1 Corinthians 15:8, attempting to situate these seemingly unusual self-descriptions in their cultural contexts. The second involves an examination of F. C. Baur's presentation of Paul, and the reception of Baur's views among biblical scholars throughout the years following his scholarly activity.

This dissertation makes two claims, each of which can stand on its own as an important contribution to scholarship. My first claim is that components of Baur's work support my proposal concerning Paul's Gentile mission and his experience of apostolic rejection, and that this proposal has much to commend it as an explanation of a perennial scholarly puzzle. My second claim is methodological, as I demonstrate that scholarly writings about Paul and his modern interpreters are themselves exercises in argumentation, and thus are not to be accepted uncritically, or without close attention to the rhetorical practices they utilize.

Indexing (details)

Science education;
0321: Bible
0714: Science education
0469: Theology
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Education; Apostolic rejection; Baur, Ferdinand Christian; Corinthians 1; Galatians; Gentile mission; Gospel; Paul the Apostle, Saint; Rhetoric; Saint Paul the Apostle
Paul's gospel and the rhetoric of apostolic rejection: A study of Galatians 1:15–17, 1 Corinthians 15:8, F. C. Baur, and the origins of Paul's Gentile mission
Mitchell, Matthew Wesley
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780542161421, 0542161427
Limberis, Vasiliki
Temple University
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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