αὐτάρκης in Stoicism and Phil 4:11

Challenging Individualist Readings of Stoicism

In: Novum Testamentum
Bradley Arnold University of Exeter, UK

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This article contends that many nt scholars have read the Stoics and their view of αὐτάρκης through a post-Enlightenment (specifically Kantian) ethical framework, which assumes notions like individualism and detachment are fundamental to the ethical subject. When Stoicism is not distorted with these modernist assumptions about the ethical subject, a fairer comparison can be made between the Stoics and Paul. This article demonstrates this by providing an outline of Stoicism in such a manner, emphasizing how their ethical theory is grounded in a teleological and communitarian framework and maintains a psychologically holistic view of the self, which then sets up an exploration of the Stoic understanding of αὐτάρκης not clouded by individualist strands of thinking. This provides material for a more equitable comparison with Paul’s use of this term in Phil 4:11, where it can be seen that the scope, sources, and basis of Stoic and Pauline contentment are similar.

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