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University of South Carolina
Department of Religious Studies
Prof. Erin Roberts
Office: Rutledge 331
Off. Hrs by Appointment
Spring 2013
MW 4:00-5:15pm
HU 215
RELG 310: Paul and the Philosophers
The course provides an in-depth look at the ways that using various ancient philosophical
schools and concepts as comparanda for the writings, social formations, and ideas associated
with the Apostle Paul can help create a historically plausible picture of the formation of early
Christian groups. During the first part of the course, students will engage in close readings of
Paul’s letters with an eye toward identifying themes, concepts, and practices central to the texts.
The second part of the course will be a comparative analysis of aspects of Paul’s letters with
Greek and Roman philosophy. The third part of the semester provides students with an
opportunity to share and discuss their own research projects while also seeing how the course fits
within the broader academic fields of Pauline studies, ancient philosophy, and Christian origins.
Requirements
Participation (25% of the final grade)
Several factors contribute to the participation grade. Students should attend class* prepared to
discuss the assigned Discussion Questions (DQs), which will be available on Blackboard. It is
recommended that students write out answers (or at least notes) to the questions and bring them
to class so that the discussion can be informed and constructive. Four times throughout the
semester, each student must type up thorough answers to the DQs and submit them to the
professor for evaluation. Further details to be distributed and discussed during the first class
meeting.
* Please make every effort to attend all class meetings. If you miss a class, it is your
responsibility to get any and all relevant notes and/or handouts and to keep up with
announcements. Please do not simply ask, “Did I miss anything in class?” because the answer
will undoubtedly be, “Yes.”
Research Presentation (25% of the final grade)
Each student will be responsible for preparing and delivering a brief (10 minutes) presentation of
her or his chosen research topic and for helping to facilitate a brief discussion of the paper topic
(20 minutes). The presentation and discussion are designed to help students focus their
arguments and receive feedback before submitting the paper for evaluation. Specific criteria for
the presentation will be distributed and discussed during class.
Research Paper (25% of the final grade)
Students will submit a 10-12 page paper on the last day of class. Paper topics and research plans
must be discussed ahead of time with the professor. Possible topics could include: the passions;
moral progress; living according to nature; sin; self-mastery; natural law; bodily resurrection;
pneuma (Stoic physics); sex, marriage, divorce, family; divination, magic, miracles; group
formation/recruitment; or any number of other topics relating to Paul and philosophy. Specific
criteria for preparing the paper will be distributed and discussed during class.
Final exam (25% of the final grade)
The final examination will be an in-class exam containing questions created through
collaboration between students and the professor. Specific details will be distributed and
discussed during class.
Required Texts
Any translation of Paul’s letters (NRSV preferred, but not required; the NRSV version will be
available on Blackboard, but you need to have a hard copy of his letters with you at each class
meeting)
Abraham J. Malherbe. Paul and the Popular Philosophers (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2006)
Magnus Zetterholm. Approaches to Paul: A Student’s Guide the Recent Scholarship
(Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2009)
All other required readings will either be available on Blackboard or will be distributed in class
ahead of time.
Schedule of Topics, Readings, and Assignments
January 14
Topic: Introduction to the Course; Who was Paul?
Part One: The Apostle Paul
January 16
Topic: 1-2 Thessalonians
Read: 1 & 2 Thessalonians
Prepare: DQs
January 21
MLK Day, no class
January 23
Topic: Galatians
Read: Galatians
Prepare: DQs
January 28
Topic: 1 Corinthians
Read: 1 Corinthians
Prepare: DQs
January 30
Topic: 2 Corinthians
Read: 2 Corinthians
Prepare: DQs
February 4
Topic: Romans
Read: Romans
Prepare: DQs
February 6
Topic: Philippians & Philemon
Read: Philippians & Philemon
Prepare: DQs
Part Two: Paul in the Context of Greek and Roman Philosophy
February 11
Topics: (1) Who was Paul? (2) Cynics
Read: Stanley K. Stowers, “Paul the Apostle,” in Graham Oppy and Nick
Trakakis, eds., The History of Western Philosophy of Religion Volume 1 (Oxford
University Press, 2009) 145-157; Malherbe 1-24; Cynic sources TBD
Prepare: DQs
February 13
Topic: Paul and the Cynics
Read: Malherbe 35-48; Dio Chysostom, selections from Discourses 12, 32, 33, 35
Re-read: 1 Thessalonians, with attention to sections discussed by Malherbe
Prepare: DQs
February 18
Topic: Paul and Moral Exhortation
Read: Malherbe 49-77; Abraham J. Malherbe, Moral Exhortation: A GrecoRoman Sourcebook (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986) 30-47
Re-read: 1 Thessalonians, with attention to sections discussed by Malherbe
Prepare: DQs
February 20
Topic: Epicureans
Read: Epicurus, Letter to Menoecus; Diogenes Laertius, PD
Prepare: DQs
February 25
Topic: Paul and the Epicureans
Read: Graham Tomlin, “Christians and Epicureans in 1 Corinthians” Journal for
the Study of the New Testament 68 (1997) 51-72
Re-read: 1 Corinthians, with attention to sections discussed by Tomlin
Prepare: DQs
February 27
Topic: Stoics
Read: TBD
Prepare: DQs
March 1
Julia Annas Lecture (details TBD)
March 4
Topic: Paul and the Stoics
Read: Stanley K. Stowers, “Matter and Spirit, or What is Pauline Participation in
Christ?” in Eugene F. Rogers, Jr., ed., The Holy Spirit: Classic and Contemporary
Readings (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) 92-105
Re-read: sections of Paul’s letters discussed by Stowers
Prepare: DQs
March 6
Topic: Paul and the Stoics
Read: James Ware, “Moral Progress and Divine Power in Seneca and Paul,” in
John T. Fitzgerald, ed., Passions and Moral Progress in Greco-Roman Thought
(London; New York: Routledge, 2008) 267-283; Seneca Ep. 41
Re-read: sections of Paul’s letters discussed by Ware
Prepare: DQs
March 11
March 13
Spring recess, no class
Spring recess, no class
March 15-17 SECSOR Annual Meeting, Greenville, SC
March 18
Topic: Paul, the Passions, and Self-Mastery
Read: David Charles Aune, “Passions in the Pauline Epistles: The Current State
of Research,” in John T. Fitzgerald, ed., Passions and Moral Progress in GrecoRoman Thought (London; New York: Routledge, 2008) 221-237; Dale B. Martin,
“Paul Without Passion: On Paul’s Rejection of Sex and Desire in Marriage,” in
idem., Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation
(Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006) 65-76
Re-read: 1 Corinthians 7
Prepare: DQs
March 20
Topic: Paul and “Sin” part 1
Read: Stowers, Discourses of Sin; philosophical stuff TBD
Re-read: Selections from Romans 1
Prepare: DQs
March 25
Topic: Paul and “Sin” part 2
Read: Roberts; philosophical stuff TBD
Re-read: Sections from 1 Corinthians discussed by Roberts
Prepare: DQs
March 27
Topic: Paul and “Sin” Part 3
Read: Stowers, “Romans 7.7-25 as a Speech-in-Character (prosōpopoiia)” in
Troels Engberg-Pedersen, ed., Paul in his Hellenistic Context (Fortress Press,
1995) 180-202; Emma Wasserman, “Paul Among the Philosophers: The Case of
Sin in Romans 6-8” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 30.4 (2008) 387415; idem., “The Death of the Soul in Romans 7,” Journal of Biblical Literature 7
(2007) 793-816
Re-read: Romans 6-8
Prepare: DQs
Part Three: The Field of Pauline Studies; Student Research Projects
April 1
Topic: The Traditional Western Paul
Read: Zetterholm 33-67
Prepare: DQs
Student presentation and discussion
April 3
Topic: The Traditional Western Paul
Read: Zetterholm 69-93
Prepare: DQs
Student presentation and discussion
April 8
Topic: Critiquing the Tradition
Read: Zetterholm 95-126; Krister Stendahl, “The Apostle Paul and the
Introspective Conscience of the West” in Wayne A. Meeks and John T.
Fitzgerald, eds., The Writings of St. Paul Second Edition (New York; London:
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2007) 501-510
Prepare: DQs
Student presentation and discussion
April 10
Topic: Critiquing the Tradition
Read: Zetterholm 127-163
Prepare: DQs
Student presentation and discussion
David Konstan lecture in the evening (details TBD)
April 15
Topic: Resent Research
Read: Zetterholm 195-240
Prepare: DQs
Student presentation and discussion
April 17
Judaism and Hellenism
Read: Paul Beyond the Judaism /Hellenism Divide, 1-27
Prepare: DQs
Student presentation and discussion
April 18/19
Annual Religious Studies Lecture & Workshop (details TBD)
April 22
Topic: Judaism and Hellenism
Read: Paul Beyond the Divide, 29-61
Prepare: DQs
Student presentation and discussion
April 24
Topic: Pauline Christianity and Hellenistic Philosophy
Read: Stanley K. Stowers, “Does Pauline Christianity Resemble a Hellenistic
Philosophy?” in Ron Cameron and Merrill P. Miller, eds., Redescribing Paul and
the Corinthians (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011) 219-243
Prepare: DQs
Student presentation and discussion
April 29
Course Wrap-up
April 30
Reading Day
Final exam, date TBD