Pauline Theology Coursework Assignment

Assessment 1 [Formative] (no more than 1,000 words in total)
A formative assessment task does not count towards your final assessment mark for this
module, although you are required to gain a passing grade for this task. The principal purpose
of a formative task is to develop your academic skills, in this case of undertaking a close
study (“exegesis”) of a short scriptural passage.
Comment on the literary and historical context and theological meaning of ONE of the
following short passages: (‘pericope’ or ‘gobbet’):
a) Rom 5:1-5 (NRSV)
1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we
boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our
sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been
poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
b) 1 Cor 15:12-19 (NRSV)
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no
resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been
raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your
faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified
of God that he raised Christ– whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised,
your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died in Christ
have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be
c) 2 Cor 12:1-5 (NRSV)
1 It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and
revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to
the third heaven– whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. 3 And I
know that such a person– whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows–
4 was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is
permitted to repeat. 5 On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not
boast, except of my weaknesses.
d) Gal 5:13-18 (NRSV)
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an
opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the
whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as
yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not
consumed by one another. 16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the
flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is
opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.
e) Phil 1:18b-26 (NRSV)
18… Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. 20 It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23 I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26 so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
f) 1 Thess 5:4-10 (NRSV)
4vBut you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5 for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6 So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7 for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.
g) Col 3:12-17 (NRSV)
12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
h) Eph 1:3-8 (NRSV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. …
Guidance: What the Task Requires
For more detail on how to approach an exegetical task consult the Powerpoint ‘Exegesis: An Introductory Guide’ on the Moodle page.
In essence, what you are being asked to do is offer your own theological interpretation of your chosen passage. In order to do this you will need to think about the following aspects.
● Historical context of the specific Pauline letter you have chosen – In order to begin to understand what your passage is about you need to have some understanding of the original context of the particular letter you have selected. When was it written? To whom was it addressed? What were some of the major reasons that Paul wrote this letter to this community at this time?
● Literary context of your chosen passage – In order to begin to understand your chosen passage you need to understand where it fits-in in the overall argument of this particular letter. Paul’s letters are crafted, flowing arguments which run from beginning to end. So in order to understand a little piece of one such letter, you need to have some sense of where your selected passage occurs in the letter and the role it is playing in the overall argument.
● Theological content and meaning of the passage itself – Once you have a sense of the historical and literary context in which your passage is situated, the main thing to focus upon is the passage itself. What is this passage about? More specifically, what do you consider to be the leading theological ideas that Paul develops in this passage? Be attentive to some of the key theological terms that are present in the passage, and pick-out what you think are the key aspects of Pauline theology that are expounded in this passage.
Note: The bulk of your exegetical essay should be focused on this latter aspect – the theology of the passage itself – once you have situated it in its historical and literary context. Exegesis of a short passage offers a window into the broader theology of your chosen letter as a whole.
First step: Always begin by reading the text itself! This point cannot be stressed enough. Begin by reading the whole of your chosen Pauline letter, to get a sense of where your passage fits into the flow of the argument. Make some notes for yourself at this stage on what seem to be some of the leading ideas in your chosen passage, and how they relate to the broader context of the letter. Do this before you go off and read other scholarly commentaries, studies and articles.
Second step: Consult at least TWO Commentaries on your chosen letter. Supplement this with at least one other study or journal article from ATLA (we will discuss this in the class).
Third step: Having read the passage in its context a few times and made some notes, and having then read some other commentaries and articles, start to reflect upon the passage. What do you think, having done such reading, are the main theological aspects that you would like to pick-out and focus upon in this assessment task?
Remember, the word count for this task is very short – only 1,000 words. So you can’t say everything. The task requires you to select what you think are the most important points of
theology in your chosen passage. If you could only say two or three things about this passage, what would you say?
For this very short task, the following simple structure may be a helpful guide (but don’t feel restricted by this):
1) Introduction – In which you discuss the historical and literary context of your chosen passage. (c.150-200 words)
2) Main Body – In which you select two or three of the most important theological aspects that are contained in your passage to discuss in more detail. (c.600-700 words)
3) Evaluation/conclusion – In which you draw the threads of your argument together, and reflect upon the theology of this passage within the overall flow of argument of this letter. (c.150-200 words)
Note: The word count totals above are just indicative of the approximate weighting of each component – ie. the main bulk of your essay should be focused on the close exegesis of the passage itself in the main body.

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