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Worship and the Risen Jesus in the Pauline Letters


Tony Costa

The very essence of the existential relationship between the human and the divine is communicated by the English word, ‘worship’. Although the word appears to carry a univocal meaning in English, no such word per se exists in the Greek New Testament. The English word at best explains but does not adequately and completely define the dynamics involved in the relationship between humanity and God. Worship and the Risen Jesus in the Pauline Letters approaches the subject of Christian worship in respect to its origins from the perspective of the earliest New Testament writer: Paul. This book seeks to address the relative absence in scholarship of a full treatment of worship in the Pauline Letters. Closely related to the theme of Christian worship in the Pauline Letters is the person of the risen Jesus and the place he occupies in the faith community. This work proposes a proper working definition of, including criteria for, ‘worship’. Paul employed an array of Greek words as descriptors to communicate the various nuances and dimensions related to one’s relationship with God. ‘Worship’ also functioned for Paul as a boundary marker between believers and unbelievers vis-à-vis baptism and the Eucharist. The eschatological and teleological aspects of worship are also examined through a study of the Carmen Christi (Phil 2: 6–11). This study maintains that worship in Paul is not defined by any one word but is rather a composite and comprehensive personal religious relationship between the worshipper and God.


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This work is first and foremost dedicated to the glory and praise of the Triune God who has given me the grace, strength, and stamina to complete it. I would also like to thank my beloved wife R.Vida Ulbikas who has been my faithful and constant companion in my educational work and pursuits. Her love, dedication, assistance, and support through the years and to the present has been my source of encourage- ment and endurance. This work would never have been completed without her by my side. I would also like to thank my doctoral supervisor Prof. Dr. Jan van der Watt who has been to me not only a distinguished scholar but a dear friend. He is indeed “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). His indefati- gable support and guidance in my research served as a compass for my work. I will always be grateful for his influence in my academic work. I am also very grateful to Prof. Dr. David P. Moessner of the Texas Christian University who has assisted in my research as my co-supervisor and external examiner. His recommendations resulted in improving the quality my research. Last but not least, I dedicate this work in loving memory of my dear mother, Maria Donaria Costa, who would have been proud to witness this achievement.

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