The Body For the Lord (Journal For The Study Of The New Testament Supplement Series)
Alistair May explores the part played by sexual ethics and the rhetoric of sexual morality in the formation of Christian identity by focusing on the longest discussion of sex in the New Testament - 1Corinthians 5-7. Viewing this passage as...
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Alistair May explores the part played by sexual ethics and the rhetoric of sexual morality in the formation of Christian identity by focusing on the longest discussion of sex in the New Testament - 1Corinthians 5-7. Viewing this passage as a unified discourse, he considers how Paul's ethics serve to give his converts a distinct identity. Although tools from the social sciences are used, the major focus of the work is in careful exegesis of the text.As the study progresses through the text of 1Corinthians 5-7, May argues that Paul strives to maintain an absolute distinction between insider and outsider in regard to morality. Immorality belongs exclusively to the outside and to the pre-conversion identity of the Corinthians. Hence those labelled immoral can no longer remain in the community.1 Corinthians 6.12-20 reveals that, for Paul, sexual sin is unique in its destruction of Christian identity and that any sexual participation is a potential conflict with participation in Christ. Thus, chapter 6 is directly connected with the discussion of the legitimacy of marriage in 1Corinthians 7. Rejecting the scholarly consensus that Paul is reacting to ascetics, May controversially argues that chapter 7 should be read as Paul's commendation of singleness to a reluctant Corinthian audience.This is volume 278 in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement series.
Rev.Dr.Alistair S. May earned his Ph.D. at Glasgow University in 2001. He now serves as a Church of Scotland parish minister in Rutherglen.
- Chapter One 'identity In Theory' Explores The Concept Of Identity. It Argues That Identity Is Largely Dependent On The Subjective Perception And Evaluation Of Difference. The Work Of Anthropologist Frederik Barth And Social Psychologist Henri Tajfel Are Used To Reflect Upon How Social Identities Interact, Both At The Psychological Level Of The Individual And At The Sociological Level Of The Group, And To Provide Resources For The Study Of 1cor. Chapter Two 'sex And Self-definition Among The Roman Elite (a Case Study)' Examines The Lessons Learned With A Brief Consideration Of The Discourses Of Some Roman Writers. It Investigates How They Used Sexual Ethics And Rhetoric In The Maintenance Of Group Identity And The Process Of Group Control. Chapter Three 'social Dynamics And Rhetoric In 1corinthians' Then Takes An Overview Of 1cor, Considering The Context Into Which Paul Writes And The Objectives He Has In Writing. In Particular It Explores Paul's Rhetoric In 1cor 1-4, And How His Description And Evaluation Of Insider And Outsider Serves To Construct Identity And Control Behaviour. The Remaining Chapters Scrutinise 1cor 5-7 In Depth. Chapter Four 'putting The Pornol In Their Place' Looks At 1cor 5, Examining How Paul Deals With A Case Of Deviance. It Argues That Paul Maintains An Absolute Distinction Between Insider And Outsider In Regard To Morality. Thus The Immoral Man Is Regarded As An Outsider, And It Is From This That His Expulsion Follows. Attention Is Also Paid To The Use Paul Makes Of The Distinction Between Moral Community And Immoral World In Ensuring That The Corinthians Comply With His Instruction To Expel The Man. Chapter Five 'lawsuits Before The A0dikoi' Examines The Lawsuits (6:1-11) As An Instance Of The Regulation Of Behaviour On The Basis Of The Differing Identities Of Insider And Outsider. It Argues That The Ethical Difference Between These Identities Is Crucial To Paul's Objection To Outside Judges. It Also Argues That Believers Are Warned That Unethical Behaviour Can Endanger Christian Identity. Chapter Six 'the Pornh And The Pornei/a' Examines 6:12-20, And What This Teaches About The Nature Of Pornei/a And Sexual Relations With A Po/rnh. It Argues That Paul Views Sexual Sin As A Unique In Its Destruction Of Christian Identity. It Maintains That Paul Sees The Believer As Participating Bodily In Christ Through The Indwelling Spirit, And That As Such Bodily Participation In The Po/rnh, Through Sex, Destroys This Participation. It Contends That Logically Such Should Render All Sexual Unions Incompatible With Christian Identity, And That Paul's Logic Here Is Connected To His Reservations About Marriage In 7:1-40. The Final Three Chapters Deal With 1cor 7. This Chapter Is Usually Read With The Assumption That Paul Is Reacting To Ascetics, An Assumption Which Separates Its Concerns From Those Of 1cor 5 And 6. This Thesis Disputes This Reconstruction And Argues That 1cor 7 Should Be Read As Paul's Commendation Of Singleness To A Reluctant Corinthian Audience. Chapter Seven 'reading 1corinthians 7' Demonstrates The Weaknesses Of Various Articulations Of The Ascetic Hypothesis, And Calls For Reconsideration. Chapter Eight 'marriage, Renunciation And Social Context' Develops This By Arguing That Renunciation Of Marriage Was A Deeply Anti-social Stance In Antiquity, And That A Wider Consideration Of 1corinthians Does Not Support The View That The Corinthian Community Was Anti-social. Chapter Nine 'rereading 1corinthians 7' Examines The Text Of 1cor 7 In Depth. It Contends That It Connects With Paul's Thought 1cor 5-6, Arguing That Paul's Understanding Of The 'body For The Lord' Makes Even Marital Sexual Relations Problematic. It Postulates That 1cor 7 Is Intended To Refute Corinthians Allegations That Paul Forbids Marriage, Whilst At The Same Time Strongly Commending Singleness, And Presenting The Corinthian Attachment To Marriage As An Inappropriate Response To The World. Paul, Unlike The Corinthians, Is Seen To Have A Radical Understanding Of The Sexual Implications Of Christian Identity.