In my forthcoming monograph, Paul and the Citizen Body, I introduce my thesis that Paul champions a vision of universal citizenship by engaging in political theology in the authentic Pauline epistles. Paul was a founder of only some of the communities. It is in those communities that we see Paul’s call of imitation of his own example appearing. Yet, though Paul frequently presents himself in roles in which his social status has been abased or challenged (e.g., condemned politician, beleaguered rhetorician), he exhorts his audiences to attain prizes that traditionally brought their recipients prestige and honor (e.g., crowns). Unlike previous scholarship that has argued that Paul “backslides” from his strident egalitarian program of Galatians, I will suggest that Paul’s political thought, that is, his implements of statecraft, become more sophisticated and variegated. Instead of a straightforward “neither male nor female” being practicable by new members, received status markers associated with benefaction, civic competition, and gender must be recast into Christian terms by Christian teachers such as Paul. The methodology Paul employs is to retain status markers such as crowns and gymnasia. He opens access to these elite structures to all, regardless of class or nationality. By this mechanism, he at once ratifies the practical political theological elements of the polis and exhorts Christians to seek those honors instead in the heavenly politeuma.
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