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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Paul is a central, even paradigmatic, character in both popular and scholarly versions of Christian origins and the development of Christian thought. However, the result is not a singular Paul; indeed, the history of interpretation suggests the opposite: Pauls abound. This chapter explores the historical, ethical, and theological value of the multiplicity of stories within and around the Pauline letters. Considering how characters, plots, and intertexts become local and translocal places for diverse identifications and significations opens up an alternative approach to the largely orthodox and universalizing Paul that predominates among both Christian and nontheist narrations of the mind of Paul. The narrative character of social identity and values engenders a theological and philosophical orientation to biblical text—even letters—that embraces multiplicity and calls for an articulation and adjudication of complex, intersecting, and competing values and ideals.

Keywords: Paul, multiplicity, Onesimus, Philemon, Corinthian women, kenosis, Romans 1:18–32, relationality, universalism, embodiment

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