Chapter Two: The Problem of Defining Worship
C H A P T E R T W O The Problem of Defining Worship One of the difficulties and problems in canvassing the theme of worship in the Pauline letters is the paucity of complete descriptions of the worship setting in the Pauline communities. This may be due to the literary genre of Paul’s writings as “letters” or “epistles” that makes it difficult to arrange the materials related to worship into a structured schema.1 Paul did not write or compose worship manu- als or an order of service as we know them today in modern ecclesiastical circles. There was no clear and set order of service in Paul.2 Christian worship in terms of an order of service developed later and came to take a more substantial and forma- tive structure by the end of the second century CE.3 References to worship in the Pauline letters are rather scattered and at times fragmentary as we shall see. The difficulty is further exacerbated by the problem that there appears to be no formal definition of what worship is in Paul’s letters. I am not suggesting that a study of early Christian worship in Paul is absolutely impossible without a precise defini- tion for worship. I recognize that some scholars view worship along experiential or phenomenological lines.4 This study suggests that a definition for worship would be advantageous to obtain a deeper understanding of what Paul understood and saw as the basic essence and meaning of the relationship between the human and...
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