Is Jesus king? A critical examination of Paul's thought in the context of the Hellenistic kingship topos

More, Jonathan (2017-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Ancient philosophers employed the topos of ideal kingship as a way to think about monarchy and the superior person who could ascend to this office. Following those modern scholars who have used topoi from Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman moral philosophy to study the apostle Paul’s writings as part of the intellectual milieu of the first century, I compare the Hellenistic topos of ideal kingship with Pauline Christology. This comparison is achieved by examining the origins of the ideal kingship topos in fourth-century texts by Isocrates (To Nicocles) and Xenophon (Cyropaedia). These two classical writers emphasize the superiority of the king and the virtues that establish this superiority. The king’s care for his subjects forms the core of this construction of ideal kingship. With the exception of three Neopythagorean tracts entitled On Kingship, no kingship treatises produced by the Hellenistic philosophical schools have survived. Nevertheless, by studying how Cynic, Stoic, and Epicurean thinkers deal with kingship in other contexts, I am able to postulate the silhouette of the ideal king as he might have been conceived of in each of these schools. The portrait that emerges from the Neopythagorean writings contributes further to the Hellenistic topos of ideal kingship. Selected texts from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible are also studied in order to determine what Paul might have learned about ideal kingship from them. Next, three Hellenistic Jewish texts (the Letter of Aristeas, Philo’s Life of Moses, and Wisdom of Solomon) are discussed in order to demonstrate the fusion between Jewish and Greek constructions of ideal kingship. Finally, the undisputed Pauline letters are examined alongside the various configurations of ideal kingship found in the preceding chapters. I conclude that Paul has drawn on both Hellenistic and Jewish traditions in order to write about Jesus the Messiah to nascent groups of Graeco-Roman believers.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Antieke filosowe het die topos van ideale koningskap gebruik as ’n manier om oor monargie en die mees ideale persoon wat hierdie amp kon beklee, na te dink. Na aanleiding van die werk van onlangse geleerdes wat topoi van die Hellenistiese en Grieks-Romeinse morele filosofie gebruik om die apostel Paulus se briewe as deel van die intellektuele milieu van die eerste eeu te bestudeer, vergelyk ek die Hellenistiese topos van ideale koningskap met die Pauliniese Christologie. Hierdie vergelyking word gemaak deur die oorsprong van die ideale koning topos in vierde-eeuse tekste deur Isokrates (Aan Nikokles) en Xenophon (Cyropaedia) te ondersoek. Hierdie twee klassieke skrywers beklemtoon die meerderwaardigheid van die koning en die deugde wat sy meerderwaardigheid bevestig. Die koning se sorg vir sy onderdane vorm die kern van hierdie konstruksie van ideale koningskap. Met die uitsondering van drie Neopythagerese geskrifte met die titel Oor koningskap, is daar geen oorblywende koningskap verhandelinge van die Hellenistiese filosofiese skole nie. Nietemin, deur na te gaan hoe Siniese, Stoïsynse en Epikurese denkers in ander kontekste met die idee van koningskap omgegaan het, kan ek postuleer hoe die silhoeët van die ideale koning, volgens die opvatting daaroor in elkeen van hierdie skole, daar uitgesien het. Die beeld wat uit die Neopythagorese geskrifte na vore kom, dra verder by tot die Hellenistiese topos van ideale koningskap. Geselekteerde tekste uit die Griekse vertaling van die Hebreeuse Bybel word ook bestudeer om vas te stel wat Paulus moontlik by hulle oor die ideale koningskap geleer het. Vervolgens bespreek ek drie Hellenisties-Joodse tekste (die Aristeasbrief, Philo se Lewe van Moses en die Wysheid van Salomo) om die samesmelting tussen Joodse en Griekse konstruksies van ideale koningskap aan te toon. Ten slotte word die onbestrede briewe van Paulus naas die onderskeie konfigurasies van ideale koningskap wat in die voorafgaande hoofstukke aan die orde gekom het, ondersoek. Ek kom tot die slotsom dat Paulus beide uit Hellenistiese en Joodse tradisies put om oor Jesus die Messias aan die ontluikende groepe van Grieks-Romeinse gelowiges te skryf .

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102715
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