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Saturday, October 06, 2007

SBL meeting next month: Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds

(search for keyword "papyrology")

Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Maggie - GH
David Martinez, University of Chicago, Presiding

Don Barker, Macquarie University-Sydney
How Big and How Old is Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1353? (30 min)

P.Oxy. 1353 is a fragment of a page of 1 Peter from a parchment codex. The ed. princ.(Grenfell and Hunt) misread the page number that appears on the left hand top corner of the back of the page. In the light of a rereading of the page number this paper will explore the length and possible contents of the codex as well as its date and the socio- historical implications it has for early Christianity.

Peter Arzt-Grabner, Universitaet Salzburg
“I Was Intending to Visit You, but …:” Clauses Explaining Delayed Visits and Their Importance in Papyrus Letters and in Paul (30 min)

As many senders of private papyrus letters, also Paul several times emphasizes that he intended to visit his addressees earlier but for some reason could not or did not do so (cf. especially Rom., 1Cor., 2Cor., and 1Thess.). The large number of papyrus letters from Graeco-Roman antiquity, covering clauses that explain such delayed visits, provides us with the opportunity to study such clauses extensively and in detail, also because these letters are much shorter than most of Paul’s letters, and less sophisticated in style and contents, but nevertheless written according to the same principles of communication and letter writing. The first important result of the study is that such clauses are not mere phrases explaining simply that the letter writer could not visit his addressee and nothing else (or, in other words: these clauses are not just philophronetic), but that, in a direct combination with such clauses, the letter writer informs the addressee, more or less clearly, about the original and primary intention of the letter. Sometimes, this intention is to express via a letter exactly what the writer had wished to express on the occasion of a visit. But, there are also examples, where a writer obviously explains something different, and deals with informations, queries or expectations in a way that is different from what she or he would have done when visiting the addressee in person. And sometimes, of course, a letter merely functions to ease the writer’s personal desire for the addressee, or to confirm the ongoing good relationship between both of them. A comparison with the relevant clauses in Paul proves that these results are very well applicable, and that these clauses in Paul provide us with important clues to the primary intentions of some of his letters (i.e. most of all 1Thess., 1 and 2Cor., and Rom.).

Annette Bourland Huizenga, University of Chicago
Advice to the Bride: Moral Exhortation for Young Wives in Two Ancient Letters (30 min)

This paper compares moral exhortation for women in two letters: from the Pythagorean Melissa to Kleareta, and the NT Pastoral Letter to Titus. In Melissa’s letter, an older woman gives advice to a younger woman about wifely decorum. This letter, found in P. Hauniensis II.13, dates to the 3rd century CE. The papyrus is a Koiné version of the Doric text found in twenty-two Renaissance manuscripts. (The Doric text seems to be more original.) The papyrus provides the earliest documentation for the letter’s transmission and its social functions. In Titus, the author gives gender- and age-specific “sound teachings,” paying particular attention to the older women instructing younger women in virtuous behavior (2:3-5, found in the earliest ms. for Titus, P 32, ca. 200). The goal of the teaching evokes a philosophical way of life within a Christian context. I argue that both letters presume a common philosophical-educational process for women, in that: (1) they share literary characteristics of the philosophical letter genre (being pseudepigraphic, paraenetic, and using classical rhetorical stylistic features); (2) they utilize authoritative (and pseudepigraphical) names to reinforce the teaching; (3) older women are thought to be the appropriate teachers of and models for younger women, and (4) the content of women’s instruction is different from that for men, i.e., exemplified in “feminine” topoi. On the other hand, the letters differ in their “theological” basis for virtuous living, which is seen in Titus in the “Christianization” (and especially, “Paulinization”) of the teaching. Also, while the letter of Titus explicitly anticipates an audience of men and women, Melissa’s letter to Kleareta imagines an all-female readership.

Christina M. Kreinecker, Universität Salzburg
Papyrological Commentary on 2 Thessalonians: Outline and First Results (30 min)

One of the next volumes of the Papyrologische Kommentare zum Neuen Testament will be on 2 Thessalonians. In addition to the analysis of the Greek vocabulary according to its papyrological daily background, use and meaning, it will contain oberservations on pseudepigraphy and comments on the themes of parousia and imminentism . In documentary and also magical papyri we find ideas of a kind of doomsday, or of some pessimism when being confronted with riots, war or insecurity. Thus, the papyrus texts provide us with a clear impression how easily common people could be infected by such pessimism, and that the writer of 2 Thess had a good reason to address it. The presentation gives a short overview of the Commentary and the results of the research thus far.