Adoption and the Formation of Eschatological Identity: An Exegetical Study of Huiothesia
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ABSTRACT ADOPTION AND THE FORMATION OF ESCHATOLOGICAL IDENTITY: AN EXEGETICAL STUDY OF HUIOTHESIA Christopher Frederick Wehrle, PhD The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2016 Chair: Dr. Mark A. Seifrid Paul used divine adoption (υἱοθεσία) as a religious metaphor in a rich and diverse way. The variety of approaches to this theme in scholarship attests to this depth and richness. This study argues that the most important purpose of υἱοθεσία within the Pauline correspondence was to help create, define, and ground the identity of believers in Jesus Christ in the early church, especially in the face of difficult and disconcerting questions regarding the role of ethnicity within the eschatological people of God. To this end, this study combines the modern tool of Social Identity Theory with detailed exegesis of key texts in Galatians in order to demonstrate that υἱοθεσία is an eschatological event which creates a new identity for believers in Jesus Christ and functions as a resolution to difficult questions regarding ethnicity and membership in the people of God. Chapter 1 provides a summary and critique of the most important recent studies of υἱοθεσία, followed by a brief outline of the contours of Social Identity Theory. Chapter 2 gives an introduction to the historical and theological background to Paul's letter to the Galatians. This includes an exegetical overview of Galatians 2:15-21, along with an introductory summary of how Social Identity Theory relates to Paul's rhetorical strategy in the epistle. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 supply detailed exegesis of key passages within Galatians, with specific reference to how they contribute to the theme of adoption within the epistle, and noting how Paul follows patterns recognizable to the categories of modern sociology. Chapter 6 addresses the four other occurrences of υἱοθεσία within the Pauline corpus (Rom 8:15, 23; 9:4; Eph 1:5). It offers a brief analysis of the background and purpose of these epistles, and supply an introductory foray into the adoption pericopae. Finally, it will give a synopsis of primary conclusions from each of the texts, and attempt a synthesis of these results.