Paul’s Language of Ζῆλος

Monosemy and the Rhetoric of Identity and Practice


In Paul’s Language of Ζῆλος, Benjamin Lappenga harnesses linguistic insights recently formulated within the framework of relevance theory to argue that within the letters of Paul (specifically Galatians, 1-2 Corinthians, and Romans), the ζῆλος word group is monosemic. Linking the responsible treatment of lexemes in the interpretive process with new insight into Paul’s rhetorical and theological task, Lappenga demonstrates that the mental encyclopedia activated by the term ζῆλος is 'shaped' within Paul’s discourse and thus transforms the meaning of ζῆλος for attentive ('model') readers. Such identity-forming strategies promote a series of practices that may be grouped under the rubric of 'rightly-directed ζῆλος'; specifically, emulation of 'weak' people and things, eager pursuit of community-building gifts, and the avoidance of jealous rivalry.

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Benjamin J. Lappenga, Ph.D. (2014), Fuller Theological Seminary, is Assistant Professor of Theology at Dordt College. He has published articles on the Pauline epistles in journals including Catholic Biblical Quarterly and Journal of Biblical Literature.
Academic libraries, specialists, post-graduate students, and advanced undergraduates interested in Pauline theology and rhetoric in the New Testament, as well as specialists in Greek language and linguistics.
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