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Title: In Messiah : Messiah discourse in Ancient Judaism and 'In Christ' language in Paul
Author: Hewitt, Jay Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 6543
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
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Modern interpreters of Paul, confronted with the ubiquitous and enigmatic phrase “in Christ,” have generally ignored “messiah” as a determinative category for explaining the idiom. This is due in part to a scholarly tradition which holds that Paul did not use χριστός with its conventional sense of “messiah.” However, recent scholarship on early messianology, emphasizing the creative interpretation of scripture in the production of messiah texts, has found that Paul’s usage follows the conventions of ancient Jewish messiah language. Drawing upon this revisionist model, I argue that Paul’s use of the phrase ἐν χριστῷ and its variants is explicable in terms of his messianic re-appropriation of authoritative literary traditions. Put differently, Paul’s “in Christ” language is an innovation that nevertheless follows the customs of ancient Jewish messiah speculation. Chapter one, recounting modern treatments of “participationism” and associated language in Paul, illustrates a virtually uniform neglect of messiahship in describing his “in Christ” language. Chapter two reviews the rise of revisionist accounts of ancient Jewish messiah language which eschew the totalizing concept of “the messianic idea” and emphasize instead linguistic conventions common to messiah texts: the creative re-appropriation of scripture, the reuse of messiah syntagms in new literary contexts, and the frequent recourse to a relatively small pool of literary sources to generate conceptions of messiahship. Chapter three, a study of Paul’s messianic interpretation of the promises concerning Abraham’s seed, concludes that the phraseology “in Christ” derives from the Jewish scriptural words “in your seed,” and that the use of the idiom to denote Christ’s instrumentality in God’s actions and the identification of people as believers arises from this tradition. Chapter four, a study of Paul’s messianic interpretation of the victory of the Danielic heavenly man, concludes that Paul’s concept of solidarity with the messiah is based on that between Daniel’s “one like a son of man” and the people of God and is often expressed with the phrase “in Christ.” Finally, chapter five is a two-part catalog of “in Christ” language in Paul’s letters, part one consisting of a syntactical analysis of every instance and part two a conceptual analysis of every instance in light of the findings of chapters three and four. In sum, Paul’s “in Christ” language, like ancient Jewish messiah language generally, is the product of its author’s creative interpretative enterprise to understand and explain his messiah.
Supervisor: Novenson, Matthew ; Bond, Helen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: New Testament ; Pauline epistles ; Apostle Paul ; messianism ; early Christianity ; early Judaism ; scriptural interpretation ; messiah discourse