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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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Chapter One: Introduction to Worship in the Pauline Communities


C H A P T E R O N E Introduction to Worship in the Pauline Communities The intent and purpose of this book is to examine the subject of Christian wor- ship within the Pauline letters and its relation to the risen Jesus. This book is also interested in the question of whether the risen Jesus was a recipient of worship in the Pauline faith communities. Paul’s letters are the earliest written documents in the New Testament.1 They are therefore the first written documents dealing with the subject of Christian worship and the risen Jesus.2 There is a need as this work seeks to show, to investigate further the subject of worship and its dynamics within Paul and his communities. 1.1. The Research Problem While there have been scholarly works on the theme of early Christian worship,3 they have often approached this area of study from a broad and general perspec- tive by viewing it through the lenses of the entire text of the NT.4 This meth- odology typically blends various passages of the NT that deal with worship and merges them to create a unified whole. This practice tends to ignore the unique- ness of the various texts that emphasize different themes and social settings (including worship) to their respective audiences. I will argue in this study that little consideration has been given to the topic of worship within Paul’s letters.5 2 | WORSHIP AND THE RISEN JESUS IN THE PAULINE LETTERS While some work exists, I feel...

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