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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 1. From this point onward I will refer to the New Testament by the abbreviation NT. 2. On Paul and first-century writing and letter composition, see Randolph E. Richards, Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition and Collection (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004); M. Luther Stirewalt, Paul: The Letter Writer (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003). 3. For a brief listing, see Oscar Cullmann, Early Christian Worship (Studies in Biblical Theology 10; London: SCM, 1953); C. F. D. Moule, Worship in the New Testament (Ecumenical Studies in Worship  9; London: Lutterworth Press, 1961); D.  Gerhard Delling, Worship in the New Testament (trans. Percy Scott; London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1962); C. C. Richardson, “Worship in New Testament Times, Christian,” in Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 4:883–94; Ralph P. Martin, Worship in the Early Church (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1964); Ferdinand Hahn, The Worship of the Early Church (trans. David E. Green and John Reumann; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1973); Allen Cabaniss, Pattern in Early Christian Worship (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1989); David E. Aune, “Worship, Early Christian,” in Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 6:973–89. Aune provides a good and comprehensive bib- liography in 6:987–89; Paul F. Bradshaw, The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship (London: SPCK, 1992); Paul  F. Bradshaw, Reconstructing Early Christian Worship 280 | WORSHIP AND THE RISEN JESUS IN THE PAULINE LETTERS (London: SPCK, 2009); Larry W. Hurtado, At the Origins...

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