The Phenomenon of Social Presence in the Pauline Epistles and Its Implication for Practices of Online Education
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SubjectPaul, the Apostle, Saint
Bible. Epistles of Paul
Theology--Study and teaching
Many theological institutions have adopted online educational formats. Proponents of online formats in theological education have typically given pragmatic justifications for the use of online formats while the most vocal detractors of online formats base their objections on theological concerns. This thesis gives a greater theological foundation for the use of online formats in theological education by demonstrating that Paul believed that Christian formation could be effected from a distance via the epistle. Specifically, this thesis shows that Paul held beliefs about the capability of the epistle to act as a personal proxy. Paul therefore displays an educational strategy that utilizes the strengths of both face-to-face education and distance education via the epistle while compensating for weaknesses in each format. Paul's practice would suggest that theological institutions might have the opportunity to do the same: take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of both face-to-face and online formats, utilize the strengths of each, and compensate for the weaknesses of each.