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Title: Bowing before Christ, nodding to the State? : reading Paul politically with Oliver O'Donovan and John Howard Yoder
Author: Bertschmann, Dorothea Helene
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 7888
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis offers a close reading of two Pauline texts, Philippians 2:5-11 and Romans 13:1-7. Inspired by recent scholarship it asks whether Paul can be read in a politically relevant way. An interaction with the works of political ethicists O’Donovan and Yoder precedes the exegetical part to focus more sharply on relevant issues. In all their distinctive emphases both ethicists hold that the primary result of Christ’s Lordship is the church, which is (socio) political in a broad sense and governed by Christ. Christ’s Lordship is reflected but not mediated by the church and even less so by the state. Political authority with its use of temporal power is still needed by the church. The Christ-event indirectly affects political authority, re-locating and re-enlisting it. The church is both to grant the state some autonomy and to engage it with its evangelical ethos. Like O’Donovan and Yoder, Paul uses the metaphor of Christ’s Lordship with all its variable potential in a resolutely ecclesial way. He portrays the church as a socio-political body constituted and sustained by Christ’s Lordship, which nevertheless does not strive to be fully politicized and still needs structures of political authority. Unlike O’Donovan and Yoder, Paul sees political rule to be unaffected by the Christ event. While Paul’s narrative arguably shifts the center of hope and loyalty to Christ, this is not used to engage political rulers either positively or negatively. The latter’s task is unchanged and given approval as an abiding aspect of the divine work. While it does not match the height of God’s deed in Christ as embodied by the church, it shows the Christ believers that their ‘good’ is perfectly compatible with the demands of political rulers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available