Paul's Endangered Benefactor: Galatians in Its Benefaction Context
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Paul’s use of the word χάρις (“generosity,” “benefaction,” “gratitude”) in Galatians (Gal 1:3, 6, 15; 2:9, 21; 5:4; 6:18; cf. χαρίζεσθαι in 3:18) opens the possibility for understanding his interaction with the wider cultural encyclopedia of benefaction. This dissertation argues that in Galatians Paul operates in continuity with the wider corpus of benefaction-events by using language, motifs, concepts, and social scripts from the cultural domain of benefaction, but he exhibits differences in his specific configuration and combination of those various elements. To contextualize and understand Paul’s benefaction language this dissertation examines documentary (epigraphical and papyrological) and literary sources from ca. 350 BC to AD 150. Chapter 1 introduces the word χάρις as well as civic benefaction, and surveys important scholarship on benefaction in relation to Galatians since 1980. Chapter 2 overviews the basic operations of benefaction and several social scripts associated with it. Chapter 3 examines a variety of topics related to benefaction: civic freedom, promises, starting and completing a benefaction, word-deed congruence on the part of a benefactor, how benefits were expected to be dispensed to worthy recipients but also how clemency and pardon were highly valued, how people represented prototypical and abundant generosity, certain temporal themes of benefaction, ingratitude, fidelity and disloyalty, benefaction within kinship diplomacy, memory, imitation, and community survival. Chapter 4 shows how many of the previously examined benefaction social scripts and motifs cohere and belong together by briefly examining parts of the First Mithridatic War (89–85 BC). Chapters 5 and 6 describe and analyze in detail the phenomenon of endangered benefaction as attested in epigraphical and literary sources, including 1 Maccabees and the Life of Josephus. Chapter 7 then situates Paul’s use of benefaction language in Galatians within the wider cultural encyclopedia of benefaction. Chapter 8 summarizes, draws conclusions, and offers suggestions for further research.