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Worship and the Risen Jesus in the Pauline Letters

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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 Five: Practical Expressions of Worship in the Pauline Letters

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C H A P T E R F I V E Practical Expressions of Worship in the Pauline Letters In the preceding chapter, I examined the various words and language Paul utilized for worship. In this chapter, I will proceed to examine the practical expressions and actions that Paul uses to denote the act of worship. These expressions are also in- dicative of the levels of action (point 2 of the worship criteria) which are exercised by the worshipper to God. Louw and Nida refer to these as “worship expressed in an idiomatic manner.”1 I will refer to practical expressions and idioms of worship as synonymous in this chapter. In this regard, I am moving now to actions and not spe- cific concepts associated with worship. While still dealing with words in this chapter that are associated with worship, these words are not generally translated in English as “worship” as the words latreu,w, latrei,a, seba,zomai, proskune,w, and qrhskei,a are. There is an overlap between the specific concepts and words meaning “worship,” and the actions which will be surveyed. At the same time while I am treating practical expressions and actions in this chapter, I also acknowledge that some of the words for “worship” above, which have been examined, also denote actions as some of those words are verbs (latreu,w, seba,zomai, proskune,w). An overlap between a concept or word for worship and a practical expression or action that denotes worship can be...

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