The Pauline Church and the Corinthian Ekklēsia: Greco-Roman Associations in Comparative Context

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 18, 2015 - Religion
Moving past earlier descriptions of first-century Christ groups that were based on examining the New Testament in isolation from extant sources produced by analogous cult groups throughout Mediterranean antiquity, this book engages with underexplored epigraphic and papyrological records and situates the behaviour of Paul's Corinthian ekklēsia within broader patterns of behaviour practised by Greco-Roman associations. Richard Last's comparative analysis generates highly original contributions to our understanding of the social history of the Jesus movement: he shows that the Corinthians were a small group who had no fixed meeting place, who depended on financial contributions from all ten members in order to survive, and who attracted recruits by offering social benefits such as crowns and office-holding that made other ancient cult groups successful. This volume provides a much-needed robust alternative to the traditional portrayal of Pauline Christ groups as ecclesiastically egalitarian, devoid of normative honorific practices, and free for the poor.

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List of Tables
GrecoRoman Associations as an Analytic Category
House and Ekklēsia
Two Economically Modest Associations
The Costs of Ekklēsia Survival
Keeping Up with the θιασῶται
Strengthening the Weak
The Election and Crowning of Officers
A Reply to Timothy Brookins
Index of Ancient Sources
Index of Subjects

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About the author (2015)

Richard Last is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Humanities at York University, Toronto. His articles have appeared in journals such as the Harvard Theological Review, New Testament Studies, and the Journal for the Study of Judaism.