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Letters and CommunitiesStudies in the Socio-Political Dimensions of Ancient Epistolography$
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Paola Ceccarelli, Lutz Doering, Thorsten Fögen, and Ingo Gildenhard

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198804208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198804208.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 March 2021

The Letters of Paul and the Construction of Early Christian Networks

The Letters of Paul and the Construction of Early Christian Networks

(p.289) 11 The Letters of Paul and the Construction of Early Christian Networks
Letters and Communities

John M. G. Barclay

Oxford University Press

The chapter argues that, contrary to what might be expected, in Paul’s network of early Christian communities, letters were subsidiary to non-literary, and thus non-epistolary, forms of face-to-face communication during meetings, by messengers, and through conversation and gossip. As Barclay shows in a close reading of 2 Cor 8:16–24, there was a lot going on orally before, behind, and in the wake of Paul’s letter(s) to the Corinthians. Nevertheless, Paul’s letters had a threefold managerial import: they managed perceptions as well as reputations, and they fulfilled a controlling function in that they affirmed his authority over his churches. Barclay claims that practice and physical presence were ultimately deemed superior to words and letters, and that Paul’s letters acquired the dominant role that we assign to them only in the subsequent rereading by different Christian communities.

Keywords:   Paul, 2 Corinthians, Corinth, face-to-face communication, the functions of letters, reception, social management

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