Sie sind hier: Startseite Abstracts Christ in the Eye of the Beholder: A Re-reading of Pauline Charis in the Autobiographical Conversion Narratives of Galatians 1 and 1 Corinthians 15

Christ in the Eye of the Beholder: A Re-reading of Pauline Charis in the Autobiographical Conversion Narratives of Galatians 1 and 1 Corinthians 15

In her JQR article, ‘Eyeing Idols: Rabbinic Viewing Practices in Late Antiquity’, Rachel Neis remarks that the apostle Paul shared with many of his contemporaries an intromissive theory of vision (the understanding that sight is made possible by the physical entrance of a light-borne image emitted from the object of vision into the eye of the beholder). In this paper, I apply the lens of intromissive visual theory to Paul’s rich visual descriptions of his own conversion narrative in Galatians 1 and 1 Corinthians 15. In particular, I argue that Paul encodes his understanding of intromissive visuality in his language of charis (‘grace’). In light of its marked visual overtones in Hellenistic Jewish ‘conversion’ narratives such as those of Philo’s Hannah and Josephus’ Moses, I argue that the charis lexicon offers Paul a crucial means for expressing his understanding of the ongoing ramifications of a visual encounter with the divine.

In their respective descriptions of conversion, or a turning to the divine, Philo and Josephus use the language of charis to refer to a radiant emission from the divine that ‘strikes’ the eyes of its beholders and implants its image in them, turning them towards itself and simultaneously shining out from them in miniature, making them in turn the converting objects of others’ spiritual vision. In this paper, I argue that this Hellenistic Jewish intromissive model of divine charis offers a fresh lens for reading Paul’s highly contested visual descriptions of his own conversion narrative (including, for instance, his well-known assertion in Galatians 1.16 that Christ was revealed ‘ἐν ἐμοὶ’).

While the ‘gift’ aspects of divine charis have recently been explored at length by John Barclay and others, this reconsideration of the visual side of charis brings Paul further into conversation with his Hellenistic Jewish contemporaries.

Artikelaktionen