Run that you may win it: Contingency and emotional connectedness in the soteriological language of Paul

Michael Godfrey
"Since the work of J.C. Beker in the 1970s, emphasis has been given to the importance of contingent circumstances, rather than any chronological development, as a hermeneutical key to Paul's letters. Given each of Paul's letters is topical, addressing specific pastoral circumstances, I explore in this study the possibility of a statistical analysis of Paul's use of key words and phrases as a means to calibrate the emotional distance between Paul and his various audiences. After locating each
more » ... stle within a framework particularly of text-critical and sociological scholarship, I evaluate Paul's audiences in terms of their soteriological 'state'. For Paul, the optimum state is 'being in', that is being obedient to the kerygma he has proclaimed, and remaining within behavioural parameters that he has established. It is the responsibility of each audience to adhere to his teachings and remain in that state. Not all are doing so. This influences Paul's relationship to the audience, an influence revealed primarily through his changing language: when Paul is content with the state of his audience, including their behaviour, he experiences greater emotional connection with them. This 'connection' is a quantifiable contingency, measurable by the frequency with which Paul uses key terms of address and addresses essential topics. A favourable or unfavourable level of connection in turn affects the way in which Paul focuses on soteriological questions of being 'in' or 'out', or in transition from 'in' to 'out' of Christ. By ascertaining the extent to which Paul feels comfortable with his audiences, his 'emotional connectedness', it is possible to 'weigh' the value of the soteriological statements that Paul makes throughout his letters."
doi:10.4226/66/5a960767c683d fatcat:dc36hpnmwrbpbbrhncpqioc2sa