Reconstructing the Historical Background of Paul’s Rhetoric in the Letter to the Colossians

Adam Copenhaver

Reconstructing the Historical Background of Paul’s Rhetoric in the Letter to the Colossians
Reconstructing the Historical Background of Paul’s Rhetoric in the Letter to the Colossians

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Copenhaver approaches the debate surrounding the opponents in Colossians from a methodological standpoint and contends that Paul was not actually confronting active opponents when he wrote the letter. Developing this argument Copenhaver demonstrates that the challenge of reconstructing a singular opponent arises not only from the limitations of textual and historical evidence but also from the assumptions and methodologies inherent to historical approaches to the text. By modifying these assumptions and adjusting the methodology Copenhaver is able to show how Paul's letter takes on a new relationship to its historical context.

Copenhaver views the letter as having been written by Paul to the churches in the Lycus Valley in a desire to develop their identity as a new people in Christ and to appeal to them to live a new kind of life in Christ. His warnings in Colossians 2 function as oppositional rhetoric contrasting the religious practices of the Lycus Valley with this new life in Christ. Paul's warnings are therefore broadly representative of the ancient world while at the same time focused especially on two threads of historical referents, Judaism and pagan religions.

  • Table of contents
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abbreviations
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. History of Scholarship
  • 3. Epistolary Analysis of Audience in Colossians
  • 4. Rhetorical Analysis of Colossians and the Rhetorical Situation
  • 5. Historical Analysis of the Religious Atmosphere in the Lycus Valley
  • 6. Reconstruction of Two Threads of Opposition
  • 7. Conclusion
  • 8. Bibliography
  • Index


Pages: 272
Publisher: T&T Clark
Published: 2018
ISBN-10: 0567678814
ISBN-13: 9780567678812

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