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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Corinthian Democracy: Democratic Discourse in 1 Corinthians
Miller, Anna C.

Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2015 pp. xii + 230. $27.00

Series Information
Princeton Theological Monograph Series, 220


Description: In this innovative study, Anna Miller challenges prevailing New Testament scholarship that has largely dismissed the democratic civic assembly--the ekklēsia--as an institution that retained real authority in the first century CE. Using an interdisciplinary approach, she examines a range of classical and early imperial sources to demonstrate that ekklēsia democracy continued to saturate the eastern Roman Empire, widely impacting debates over authority, gender, and speech. In the first letter to the Corinthians, she demonstrates that Paul's persuasive rhetoric is itself shaped and constrained by the democratic discourse he shares with his Corinthian audience. Miller argues that these first-century Corinthians understood their community as an authoritative democratic assembly in which leadership and "citizenship" cohered with the public speech and discernment open to each. This Corinthian identity illuminates struggles and debates throughout the letter, including those centered on leadership, community dynamics, and gender. Ultimately, Miller's study offers new insights into the tensions that inform Paul's letter. In turn, these insights have critical implications for the dialogue between early Judaism and Hellenism, the study of ancient politics and early Christianity, and the place of gender in ancient political discourse.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Pauline Epistles, 1 Corinthians, Greco-Roman Literature, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, Literary Approaches

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Review by Joseph A. Marchal
Published 10/30/2016
Citation: Joseph A. Marchal, review of Anna C. Miller, Corinthian Democracy: Democratic Discourse in 1 Corinthians, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2016).


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