“Letter Carriers and Paul’s Use of Scripture” Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters

The most recent issue of the Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters contains an article I wrote entitled “Letter Carriers and Paul’s Use of Scripture.” Here is the abstract:

Within the discussion of Paul’s use of Scripture, scholars have frequently wondered how his predominantly Gentile congregations would have recognized his often subtle allusions to and echoes of the Old Testament, let alone their broader context. One solution has been to suggest that the carrier of the letter played a role in further explaining its contents. In order to assess the validity of this possibility, this article begins by exploring the role of letter carriers in the ancient world. A survey of the Pauline epistles indicates that his letter carriers performed a similar range of tasks; they were more than merely couriers. They were similar to Greco-Roman envoys, sent as a manifestation of Paul’s παρουσία and authorized to act on his behalf. As a result of this survey, two implications emerge for the study of Paul’s use of Scripture and the audience’s competency to recognize it: (1) Paul’s use of envoys suggests they were authorized to explain the contents of the letter further, including his use of Scripture. (2) Given the letter’s role to mediate the very presence of Paul himself, it is reasonable to conclude that his envoys engaged in teaching, a central component of his own ministry. Thus, there are solid grounds for suggesting that Paul’s letter carriers played a role in helping the audience to recognize Old Testament allusions and echoes, as well as their original context.

If you are interested in the study of the how the NT authors use the OT, this article is for you.

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