Paul and Political Critique: Liberalism, Ontology, and the Pauline Community

In: Biblical Interpretation
Taylor Weaver University of Kent, UK

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While Paul has been used as a source for philosophy and politics in recent decades, his thoughts on community have not been well represented; nor has there been a sustained effort to bring together sophisticated debates on the community-individualism problem with Pauline communitarian thought. In light of the recent history of Paul in philosophy, the intention of this essay is to test the waters of interactivity through exploring how Paul’s communal activity and writing allows for thinking through contemporary political philosophical problems inherent in the concept of community, a problem that forms partially around notions of individuality and how communitarian or collectivistic sensibilities arrange the individual. The essay first points to a form of community found in Thomas Hobbes that is fraught with conceptual problems, before moving to an obverse conception of community found in Paul. The final section points to contemporary theorisations of community found in the work of Roberto Esposito and Jean-Luc Nancy, showing how they connect and help provide conceptual vocabulary to the Pauline motifs shown earlier, while also borrowing from the work of Paul. This points to the possibility for using Paulinist motifs in the current debate about community.

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