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If Sons, Then HeirsA Study of Kinship and Ethnicity in the Letters of Paul$
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Caroline Johnson Hodge

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182163

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182163.001.0001

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 Reconstructing Gentile Origins: Adoption by the Spirit

 Reconstructing Gentile Origins: Adoption by the Spirit

(p.67) 3 Reconstructing Gentile Origins: Adoption by the Spirit
If Sons, Then Heirs

Caroline Johnson Hodge (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Paul's use of the concept of adoption, which was an integral part of the patrilineal cultures of the ancient Mediterranean. As a tool for perpetuating and shaping lineages and maintaining households, adoption was widely accepted as a means of creating kinship. For Paul, adoption provides the perfect way to describe the change that occurs when gentiles are baptized into Christ: they become adopted sons of God and heirs to the promises. By presenting baptism as new kinship (via adoption), Paul crafts a myth of collective identity for gentiles; they can trace their beginnings not only to their baptism into Christ but also to their ancestor, Abraham, in whose seed they were blessed. Baptism into Christ creates an aggregative connection between gentiles and Jews. Thus, if oppositional ethnic construction (Jews/non-Jews) defines the problem (as outlined in Chapter Two), aggregative ethnic construction (gentiles-in-Christ linked to Israel) defines the solution.

Keywords:   aggregative, kinship, adoption, baptism, households, sons, heirs, lineage, myth of collective identity, solution

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