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Archaeology and the letters of Paul - Laura Salah Nasrallah

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Archaeology and the letters of Paul
Laura Salah Nasrallah
Oxford University Press
UK Publication Date

Archaeology and the Letters of Paul illuminates the social, political, economic, and religious lives of those to whom the apostle Paul wrote. Roman Ephesos provides evidence of slave traders and the regulation of slaves; it is a likely setting for household of Philemon, to whom a letter about the slave Onesimus is addressed. In Galatia, an inscription seeks to restrain the demands of travelling Roman officials, illuminating how the apostolic travels of Paul,Cephas, and others disrupted communities. At Philippi, a list of donations from the cult of Silvanus demonstrates the benefactions of a community that, like those in Christ, sought to share abundance in the midst of economic limitations. In Corinth, a landscape of grief extends from monuments to the bones ofthe dead, and provides a context in which to understand Corinthian practices of baptism on behalf of the dead and the provocative idea that one could live"as if not" mourning or rejoicing. Rome and the Letter to the Romans are the grounds for an investigation of ideas of time and race not only in the first century, when we find an Egyptian obelisk inserted as a timepiece into the mausoleum complex of Augustus, but also of a new Rome under Mussolini that claimed the continuity of Roman racialidentity from antiquity to his time and sought to excise Jews. Thessalonike and the early Christian literature associated with the city demonstrates what is done out of love for Paul-invention of letters, legends, and cult in his name. The book articulates a method for bringing together biblicaltexts with archaeological remains. This method reconstructs the lives of the many adelphoi-brothers and sisters-whom Paul and his co-writers address. Its project is informed by feminist historiography and gains inspiration from thinkers such as Claudia Rankine, Judith Butler, Giorgio Agamben, Wendy Brown, and Katie Lofton.

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Laura Nasrallah's research and teaching bring together New Testament and early Christian literature with the archaeological remains of the Mediterranean world, and often engage issues of colonialism, gender, status, and power. Her publications include An Ecstasy of Folly: Prophecy and Authority in Early Christianity (2004) and Christian Responses to Roman Art and Architecture: The Second-Century Church Amid the Spaces of Empire


J.R. Asher, CHOICE

There is much more to all the chapters than a review can present.

Carolyn Osiek, Brite Divinity School, Biblical Theology Bulletin

The author's voice is poetic and reflective, making this work delightfully more than a typical "archaeology book."...In addition to Nasrallah's erudite presentation of archaeological data, her methodology makes Archaeology of the Letters of Paul recommended and essential reading for people interested in the material and social history of early Christ-beievers.

Jason Borges, Durham University

...this is now the best book I know of on this topic. I expect to use it soon and often in the study and in the classroom, and I would encourage interested others to do likewise.

Matthew V. Novenson, Strata

N[asrallah] writes as a biblical scholar, writing for biblical students and scholars...Overall, N[asrallah] raises good questions that are rarely asked in the way she does

Thomas W. Davis, Tandy Institute of Archaeology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly

[An] ... interesting, erudite, and distinctive book.

Bruce W. Longenecker, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

First edition
Country of Publication
Number of Pages
xvii, 310

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