Order and (Dis)order in the First Christian Century

A General Survey of Attitudes


Articulate first century Mediterranean society, Jewish and Christian included, expressly favoured harmonious order in society, in individuals, in communication, and in thought. Its common basis was the patriarchal family, the rule of law, rational self-control, and rational thought. Yet there was also resistance to oppressive and unjust order in all spheres; and while law could be held educative, yet there were substantial first century critiques of law, not just Paul’s, and awareness that judicial procedures could be chaotic and biassed. Strands of such dissidence appear in Jesus and in Paul, with significant relevance for any understanding of the early Christian movement(s) and contemporary Judaism(s) in Graeco-Roman context, but also with important implications for any practical reflections and application.

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F. Gerald Downing, M.A. (Oxford), Hon. Research Fellow, University of Manchester, has taught Biblical Studies to ordinands (mostly Anglican), between times as parish priest, but is now retired. He has contributed to many international journals and essay collections, and produced a dozen books, six in series, most recently, God with Everything. The Divine in the Discourse of the First Christian Century (SWBA 2/2; Sheffield Phoenix, 2008).
1. “Let everything be done decently and in order (εὐσχημόνος καὶ κατὰ τάξιν)” (1 Cor 14.40). Unity, Order and Problems of Diversity. A. Greeks, Romans, Jews
2. “Let everything be done decently and in order (εὐσχημόνος καὶ κατὰ τάξιν)” (1 Cor 14.40). Unity, Order and Problems of Diversity. B. The New Testament Authors
3. Order within: Passions, Divine and Human. A. In the Wider Graeco-Roman World
4. Order within: Passions, Divine and Human. B. Among late Second Temple Jews and the first Christians
5. Order in Composition : ‘καθεξης σοι γράψαι’ (Luke 1.3)
6. Order in Thought: Ambiguity, Ancient Semantics, and Faith
7. “All things to All People”, τοις πασιν πάντα (1 Cor 9.22). (Dis)order in Thought: Free-range Reflections to engage Dio of Prusa’s and Paul’s Implied Audiences
8. Legislation as Social Engineering in the New Testament World
9. “What, then, of the Law?”, “ΤΙ ΟΥΝ Ο ΝΟΜΟΣ;” Gal 3.19. Appraisals of Law in Paul and other New Testament Writers, and in the wider Graeco-Roman World
10. Justification as Acquittal? A Critical Examination of Judicial Parlance in Paul’s World
11. Disorderly Court Procedure: Pliny’s Prosecutions of Christians
12. The Baptist’s New Order
13. Dissident Jesus
14. Disorderly Paul
All interested in early Christianity, Second Temple Judaism, and their Graeco-Roman world: academics, their students, and teachers and practitioners concerned with sources for Christian ethical, political and theological reflection.
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