aspect, conversion

From: Lynn A Kauppi (
Date: Wed Apr 09 1997 - 15:00:34 EDT

I completely agree with S. M. Baugh. I had a college English professor
who said that a linguist is so busy listening to how you say something
that the linguist never hears what you are saying. The recent discussions
on b-greek have reached this level. I have no time to spend in my
professional life on comparative linguistics (this is not a value
judgement, comparative linguistics is not my field) so endless
comparisons between Greek, Latin, Hebrew, etc. at the theoretical (the
"meta-discursive") level do not help me one whit to understand biblical
texts, early Christian literature, Hellenistic texts, or classical texts.
Pure theory without attempting to comprehend meaning is pointless. But
then I'm more interested in cultural and social history anyway. (grin) I
guess that what I'm really trying to say is: Please use examples from the
Greek text and show what difference theory makes in understanding the
text. (I hope I haven't offended anyone. If so I apologize in advance).

Regarding conversion: Beverly Roberts Gaventa wrote Aspects of
Conversions in the New Testament which deals specifically with these
issues (Overtures to Biblical Theology; Philadelphia: Fortress, 198?).
Unfortunately, it is now out of print but should be available at a local
theological library or by inter-library loan.
You must also remember that "conversion" was essentially an alien concept
in the ancient Mediterranean world. One could proclaim allegiance to
multiple gods, mystery cults, etc. simultaneously. Becoming a Jew or a
Christian did require a "conversion" in the sense of totally abandoning
allegiance to one's former gods. (As 1 Corinthians shows, this produced a
wide variety of pastoral and ethical concerns for early Christian
communities). However, I would argue that the relationship between
"Judaism" (a convenient label for a group in antiquity that had
self-imposed religious and cultural self-definitions) and early
Christianity was so varied and complex, that "conversion" is applicable
only on a case by case basis.

Lynn Kauppi
PhD cand.
New Testament
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

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