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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Reading Ephesians: Exploring Social Entrepreneurship in the Text
Shkul, Minna

New York: T&T Clark, 2009 pp. xiii + 279. $120.00

Series Information
Library of New Testament Studies, 408


Description: Minna Shkul examines how Ephesians engages in social entrepreneurship (the deliberate shaping of emerging Christian Identity through provision of ideological and social paradigms for the fledgling Christian community). Shkul uses social entrepreneurship as an umbrella for a variety of social processes reflected in the text. This eclectic theoretical framework and deutero-Pauline reading position has two key aims. The first is to offer a theoretically informed social-scientific reading which demonstrates the extensive socio-ideological shaping within the text, and displays the writer's negotiation of different group processes throughout the letter. The second is to examine emerging Christian identity in the text, testing its ideological and social contours and its reforms upon Jewish traditions. Crucially this is done without the theological presupposition that something was wrong with the Judaism practiced at the time, but rather by focusing upon the divine 'legitimating' of the Christian group and its culture. These readings of Ephesians examine how the writer engages in a self-enhancing discourse that reinforces basic components of communality. These include the construction of a positive in-group identity and the provision of ideological and social legitimating for the community. Shkul also discusses the textual reflection of communal relations in other groups in Greco-Roman antiquity. She examines how Christ-followers are positioned in a Jewish symbolic universe, which is forced to make room for Christ and his non-Israelite followers. Finally, she explores the attitude toward non-Israelites within Ephesians, and their need for re-socialization. Formerly the "Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement", a book series that explores the many aspects of New Testament study including historical perspectives, social-scientific and literary theory, and theological, cultural and contextual approaches. "The Early Christianity in Context" series, a part of JSNTS, examines the birth and development of early Christianity up to the end of the third century CE. The series places Christianity in its social, cultural, political and economic context. European Seminar on Christian Origins and Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus Supplement are also part of JSNTS.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Deutero-Pauline Epistles, Ephesians, Literature

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Review by Daniel Darko
Published 9/25/2010
Citation: Daniel Darko, review of Minna Shkul, Reading Ephesians: Exploring Social Entrepreneurship in the Text, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2010).


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