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"The One Who Sows Bountifully"

"The One Who Sows Bountifully": Essays in Honor of Stanley K. Stowers

Caroline Johnson Hodge
Saul M. Olyan
Daniel Ullucci
Emma Wasserman
  • Book Info
    "The One Who Sows Bountifully"
    Book Description:

    This festschrift honors the work of Stanley K. Stowers, a renowned specialist in the field of Pauline studies and early Christianity, on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday and retirement from Brown University. The collection includes twenty-eight essays on theory and history of interpretation, Israelite religion and ancient Judaism, the Greco-Roman world, and early Christinity, a preface honoring Stowers, and a select bibliography of his publications.

    Contributors include: Adriana Destro, John T. Fitzgerald, John G. Gager, Caroline Johnson Hodge, Ross S. Kraemer, Saul M. Olyan, Mauro Pesce, Daniel Ullucci, Debra Scoggins Ballentine, William K. Gilders, David Konstan, Nathaniel B. Levtow, Jordan D. Rosenblum, Michael L. Satlow, Karen B. Stern, Emma Wasserman, Nathaniel DesRosiers, John S. Kloppenborg, Luther H. Martin, Arthur P. Urbano, L. Michael White, William Arnal, Pamela Eisenbaum, Troels Engberg-Pedersen, Karen L. King, Christopher R. Matthews, Erin Roberts, and Richard Wright.

    eISBN: 978-1-930675-88-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  2. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. PREFACE: Historian, Theorist, Teacher, Colleague
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Stanley K. Stowers
  4. Selected Publications of Stanley K. Stowers
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. I. Theory and History of Interpretation

    • Reassessing “Religious Practices”: A Reflection on Sociological Notions and Vocabulary
      (pp. 3-16)

      Why investigate “religious practices”? A first answer might be that they are crucial phenomena in human existence and suggest many reflections. A second consideration is that such terms prove important but problematic when used as critical scholarly categories. For scholars and practitioners, in any case, it is difficult to conceptualize religious activities because they are fluid and subject to contrasting definitions and evaluations. Thus, language about “the religious” appears as an open-ended designation that tends to escape our grasp.

      Many scholars of religion share the view that the term “religious practices” does not distinguish between ordinary human activities and habits...

    • Fixed Texts, Sociohistorical Contexts, and Hermeneutical Implications
      (pp. 17-28)

      Texts and traditions from the ancient world, including biblical texts and traditions, were generated in a daunting variety of different sociohistorical contexts. Some of those texts were fixed at the outset, whereas others were originally fluid and evolved over time, only subsequently acquiring a fixed form. In either case, once a text or tradition (especially those of a legal nature) acquired a fixed form, this fixity established its potential for becoming hermeneutically problematic at some future time. Some ancient writers recognized that interpretive problems might arise as a result of changing circumstances and customs, but the problem has become acute...

    • The Rehabilitation of Paul in Jewish Tradition
      (pp. 29-42)

      Modern Jewish efforts to rehabilitate Paul departed from unpromising beginnings. The dominant view of Paul in Jewish circles of the nineteenth century took shape around two poles. The first pole is Lloyd Gaston’s observation that “it is Paul who has provided the theoretical structure of anti-Judaism from Marcion through Luther and F. C. Baur down to Bultmann.”¹ For most Christians this was a good thing. Paul had properly described Judaism as a religion of desiccated legalism. He had abandoned Judaism and established Christianity in its place as the true heir of God’s promises. But for Jews this was not a...

    • Daily Devotions: Stowers’s Modes of Religion Meet Tertullian’s ad Uxorem
      (pp. 43-54)

      Stan Stowers has recently proposed a theoretical model that rearranges the way we think about religion in the ancient Mediterranean world.¹ Instead of focusing on beliefs, singular traditions, or institutions, Stowers suggests that we think in terms of multiple religious modes that are organized around different practices. What I have found particularly useful in this proposal is the notion that within what we think of as one religion, such as Christianity, there can be multiple modes operating and interacting.

      In this volume honoring Stan, I will explore how his proposal helps us think about the situation of “mixed marriages” in...

    • “Normally Non-Observable”: Some Thoughts on Cognitive Science, Theory of Religion, Practice Theory, and Gender
      (pp. 55-68)

      Since I came to Brown in 2000, Stan Stowers has had a significant impact on my thinking. He has pushed his students and colleagues, including myself, to consider the utility of practice theorists, especially Pierre Bourdieu, and has promoted discussion of the emerging field of cognitive science for theorizing religion. It is easy to see why these have played such a substantial role in Stan’s work. Cognitive science offers a potentially compelling explanation for the near universality of religion. Practice theory offers a potentially compelling explanation for historical and social specificity, especially useful for explaining the religious practices that fascinate...

    • Theorizing Circumstantially Dependent Rites In and Out of War Contexts
      (pp. 69-76)

      In this essay, I examine the wartime and non-wartime functions of a number of rites whose meaning is entirely dependent on circumstance. Such rites can be used by an agent to physically harm and/or humiliate an established foe or to create a new enemy and initiate war. But many texts suggest that they may also have beneficial functions for both the agents and those upon whom they act under certain circumstances, including in war contexts. Such rites include shaving and other forms of hair manipulation; disinterment and the movement of the remains of the dead; the burning of corpses or...

    • The Beginning of Historical Research on Jesus in the Modern Age
      (pp. 77-88)

      It is generally affirmed that the history of the research on the historical Jesus begins with H. S. Reimarus on the influence of Deism and the Enlightenment (an idea that rests on a book published more than a century ago by Albert Schweitzer)¹ and that it is characterized by a series of phases or stages that culminate in the “last quest.” The aim of these pages is to present a critique of both of these opinions. In fact, the attempt to reconstruct an image of Jesus independently of the theological interpretations of the churches is already attested at the beginning...

    • Toward a Typology of Religious Experts in the Ancient Mediterranean
      (pp. 89-104)

      This essay attempts to bring together two strands of theorizing about religion in general and ancient Mediterranean religion in particular.¹ The first is the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu, which theorizes human social behavior using the general metaphor of capital.² As Stanley Stowers has shown, Bourdieu’s approach can be valuable in theorizing the work of ancient religious specialists.³ The second theoretical strand is cognitive theory of religion, particularly that of Harvey Whitehouse. Whitehouse draws a distinction between intuitive religious ideas and nonintuitive (complicated and hard to remember) ideas. He shows that nonintuitive religious ideas require mnemonic support in order to...

  6. II. Israelite Religion and Ancient Judaism

    • Revising a Myth: The Targum of Psalm 74 and the Exodus Tradition
      (pp. 107-118)

      Psalm 74:12–17 is a hymn that interweaves themes of authority, combat, and creation. Elohim is described as a divine king who has divided Sea, shattered the heads of dragons, and crushed the heads of Leviathan (Ps 74:13–14). The Targum of Ps 74:13–14, however, states that the deity has drowned the Egyptians at the Reed Sea and crushed the heads of Pharaoh’s warriors. We see that the targumic reading adds several details that indicate a layering of exodus tradition. This essay explores how the inclusion of narrative details from the exodus story transforms the meaning of this psalm...

    • חטאת as “Sin Offering”: A Reconsideration
      (pp. 119-128)

      All major modern English translations of the Hebrew Bible render the Hebrew sacrificial term חטאת as “sin offering” in all (or all but a very few) instances of its occurrence.¹ Likewise, one finds “Sündopfer” in German translations.² This translational approach is at least as old as the Septuagint (LXX) Pentateuch, where we find Greek formulations built around ἁμαρτία (“sin”) in most instances where חטאת appears in the Hebrew text as the name of the sacrificial offering.³ The identification of the חטאת as a “sin offering” can have important consequences for understanding the purpose and function of the sacrificial complex. This...

    • Biblical Beauty: Hebrew, Greek, and Latin
      (pp. 129-140)

      Any rich cultural concept is bound to have a broad range of meanings, and beauty is no exception. In English, the term is commonly applied to people, to landscapes, to works of art (whether or not the figures represented in them would likewise be described as beautiful), and even to such things as a well-executed move in sports, a witty riposte, or an elegant mathematical demonstration. Just what these various uses have in common is not easy to specify, and we may suspect that some are related in the loose manner that Ludwig Wittgenstein labeled “family resemblance.” But despite this...

    • Artifact Burial in the Ancient Near East
      (pp. 141-152)

      The strategic burial of artifacts is an ancient practice of which modern scholars are grateful (if unintended) beneficiaries. Unlike fragmentary artifacts found embedded in archaeological destruction layers, which were accidentally preserved through the very events that almost destroyed them, intentionally buried objects are more likely to be unearthed intact. For this reason, artifact interment is often understood as an ancient form of “witness protection” meant to honorably safeguard culturally valued objects. Many Mesopotamian royal monuments, however, are inscribed with curses that specifically prohibit their burial. Thus, while the strategic burial of artifacts in nonmortuary contexts is explicitly identified in ancient...

    • Home Is Where the Hearth Is? A Consideration of Jewish Household Sacrifice in Antiquity
      (pp. 153-164)

      Household sacrifice is a common feature of the ancient Mediterranean. While offerings are made in temples, a home altar is a frequent sacrificial site.¹ This raises an intriguing question for scholars of Judaism in antiquity: Do Jews also sacrifice on household altars? While Judaism in antiquity is riotously diverse, it often looks very much like other ancient Mediterranean religions.² It would therefore seem reasonable to expect to find at least some Jews offering household sacrifices.³ In fact, we do—though the evidence is slender and sometimes cryptic. In this essay, I will survey the extant literary evidence for Jewish household...

    • Jew or Judaean?
      (pp. 165-179)

      What’s in a name? The question of how best to translate the ancient Greek term ἰουδαῖος and its cognates is hardly new, although it has recently sustained renewed attention.¹ Some scholars, most notably Steve Mason, insist that, when used prior to the third century C.E. the term always connotes geographic origin or “ethnicity” and thus should best be translated as “Judaean.”² Others, though, while not denying that such a translation is appropriate at times, point to other instances where the term has a “religious” rather than “ethnic” or “ethnic-geographic” sense, and thus they prefer the translation “Jew.”³

      There are two...

    • Vandals or Pilgrims? Jews, Travel Culture, and Devotional Practice in the Pan Temple of Egyptian El-Kanais
      (pp. 177-188)

      Under a blinding desert sky, a man carved a graffito into the rock face along the Wadi Mia in Egyptian El-Kanais to proclaim: “Bless God. Theodotos son of Dorion the Ιουδαῖος, returned safely from the sea.”¹ Contrary to modern expectations about graffiti and their irreverent artists, Theodotos was no rebel. For three thousand years, kings and travelers alike had scratched messages into temple buildings and rocks surrounding El-Kanais, a way station in the eastern desert between the Red Sea and the Nile valley, fewer than sixty kilometers from Edfu on the route to Berenice.² Water along such routes was scarce,...

    • Beyond Apocalyptic Dualism: Ranks of Divinities in 1 Enoch and Daniel
      (pp. 189-200)

      Stan Stowers inspired my earliest interests in the study of religion, and his ongoing support and criticism helped me to find my way as a scholar. In fact, much of my research has developed as a response to some argument of his that struck me as interesting or opaque. This essay develops his critique of “apocalyptic powers” theories and also draws on his work on ancient Mediterranean and West Asian cosmologies.¹

      Scholars have often made angels, demons, rebellion, and dualism cen tral to the discussion of texts such as1 Enoch,Jubilees, Daniel, and texts from Qumran such as the...

  7. III. Greco-Roman World

    • Wine and Spirits: Observations on the Athenian Anthesteria
      (pp. 203-214)

      The Anthesteria, or “festival of flowers,” was perhaps the oldest of the Athenian celebrations held in honor of Dionysus.¹ While this three day festival was ostensibly dedicated to the opening of the new wine and the god who produced these bountiful gifts, it is the collection of obscure if not unusual rituals and social contraventions associated with the festival that makes the Anthesteria so striking. The festival was marked by drinking competitions and a period of ritual impurity over the entire populace, as the spirits of the dead (κᾶρες) (zenobius,Par. 4.33; Photius 27) freely roamed throughout the city. Because...

    • The Moralizing of Discourse in Greco-Roman Associations
      (pp. 215-228)

      Commenting on the differences between ancient associations and early Christ groups, Wayne Meeks noted that associations were mainly unconcerned to regulate or prescribe the moral conduct of their members.¹ After citing the regulations of a domestic cult of zeus located in a house in Philadelphia (Lydia) as a possible exception,² he concluded: Comparison of Pauline Christ groups with Hellenisticphilosophiaeindeed produces important knowledge, even though few would argue that Christ groupswere philosophiae. In this essay I will argue that Greco-Roman asso ciations are also “good to think with,”⁴ not necessarily because we should assume that Christ groupswere...

    • When Size Matters: Social Formations in the Early Roman Empire
      (pp. 229-242)

      From 1995 to 1997, a consultation to “redescribe Christian origins” was organized in the context of the annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature.¹ The aim of this discussion was to map the diversity of Christian beginnings by adopting “the standards, perspectives, and questions of a thorough-going social anthropology,”² and to understand this diversity as “junctures of mythmaking and social formation.”³ despite the ground-breaking work of these discussions, Stanley Stowers concluded, in a selection of “metareflections” on the work of the consultation, that “the Seminar is at a point where it needs to sharpen its social theory with more...

    • Tailoring Rhetoric: Verbalizing Philosophical Dress in the Second Sophistic
      (pp. 243-254)

      Clothing constitutes a visual, nonverbal form of communication with its own vocabulary and grammar.¹ This visual “vestimentary code” can also be outfitted with a verbal code, which through speech and literature, can convey, suggest, and impose meaning on material that covers and adorns the body. InThe Fashion System, Roland Barthes distinguished a “real vestimentary code” from a “written vestimentary code” through a semiotic analysis of French fashion magazines that transformed garments into words. As the visual, unwritten vestimentary code is not unlimited, but is itself bound by cultural and social assumptions, it leaves open the risk of a multiplicity...

    • “Thus the Sage constantly reminds himself”: Personal Epistolary Paraenesis in Galen and Paul
      (pp. 255-268)

      A number of years ago—more than any of us might like to count—I was fortunate enough to be in graduate seminars at Yale with Stan Stowers and a few other budding scholars whose place in the several fields of New Testament and Christian Origins is now well established. It is a great joy to reflect on the “impeccable nourishing-up together that was ours,”¹ and the many fruitful collaborations that have ensued over the years. I offer this study as a gesture of friendship and a token of thanks for Stan’s many gifts to us all through his scholarship....

  8. IV. Early Christianity

    • Blessed Are the Solitary: Textual Practices and the Mirage of a Thomas “Community”
      (pp. 271-282)

      Stan Stowers has made an enormous range of contributions to the study of religion and specifically to the study of Christian origins, but none of these is more important, in my view, than his unceasing insistence on the need to beconcreteandrealisticin our descriptions and explanations. A current throughout his work, but especially pronounced and explicit in more recent articles, is Stowers’s rejection of both the reifying obsession with the theologicalcontentof our documentary artifacts and the mystify ing construct of “communities” as imaginary agents behind literary and ideological developments in ancient religions.¹ The rejection of...

    • Redescribing the Religion of Hebrews
      (pp. 283-294)

      In my work on Paul, I have been influenced by Stan Stowers’s scholar ship to an almost embarrassing degree. But I did not realize—until I was in the last stages of editing this essay—that my work in this essay, which is on Hebrews, overlapped with some recent work of his in terms of its use of the categories of locative and utopian religion developed by Jonathan z. Smith.¹ Thus, I once again find sympatico with Prof. Stowers, only this time unwittingly. I regard this serendipity as evidence of my admiration not just for his specific contributions to the...

    • Philosophy and Ideology in John 9–10
      (pp. 295-306)

      Stan Stowers has opened up a number of new fields in the study of earliest Christianity. His knowledge of the many different dimensions of Greco-Roman culture (from literary traditions to ritual practices) has allowed him to bring in a range of material that has not hitherto been put to use to elucidate the religious life of the early Christians. And his keen interest in modern theory (from theories of practice to theories of religion) has made him use the new material in novel ways that have drastically removed the study of early Christianity as a religion from its traditional, more...

    • Christians Who Sacrifice and Those Who Do Not? Discursive Practices, Polemics, and Ritualizing
      (pp. 307-318)

      In his distinguished article “Greeks Who Sacrifice and Those Who Do Not,” Stanley K. Stowers demonstrates how ancient Mediterranean sac rifices were “powerful means of organizing all kinds of social relations”—so much so that “[e]ven a superficial look at non-sacrificers in Greco-Roman society shows that withdrawing from sacrificial practice meant also forming alternative societies.” So much was at stake, he emphasizes, that “one of the bitterest conflicts in antiquity could be attributed to improper sacrifice.”¹ It is no surprise, then, that early Christians drew heavily on the discursive elaborations of sacrifice not onlypolemicallyagainst “idolatrous” practices but also...

    • Peter’s Daughter—Daddy Dearest?
      (pp. 319-328)

      As I am writing this short piece in honor of Stan, the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” has not yet had a full week in the news cycle. Already, only a few days after the original announcement, several posts have appeared on the web trumpeting Francis Watson’s warning that even if the papyrus is genuine, the ink on it may be a modern forgery. The results of a scientific analysis of the ink still lie in the future at this moment, an important proviso that Karen King attached to her initial commentary on this papyrus fragment. Time will tell, and you,...

    • History Writing, Paul’s “Opponents,” and 1 Corinthians 4:8
      (pp. 329-340)

      This essay argues that the language of wealth and kingship in 1 Cor 4:8 may be viewed as paradoxical moral teaching that reflects Paul’s beliefs about the integral benefits of living in Christ. Through an examination of the Stoic paradoxes “the sage alone is free,” “the sage alone is rich,” and “the sage alone is king,” it will be shown that paradoxical language about wealth and kingship was an identifiable form of moral discourse, and that 1 Cor 4:8 may be read in this vein. Recognizing the presence of paradox in Paul’s teaching not only supports an interpretation that fits...

    • The Sounds of Silence: Hearing the Music in Pauline Assemblies
      (pp. 341-350)

      In 1 Cor 14:26, Paul encourages the Corinthians (or at least one Corin thian) to sing a hymn when they assemble together. He writes, “When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.”¹ For the person interested in early Christian assemblies and their musical practices, this statement raises a number of questions: (1) Was this hymn (ψαλμόν) to be drawn from one of the biblical psalms? Was it to be an original composition prepared in advance? Or was it perhaps inspired by the spirit at the time of assembly?² (2) What...

  9. Index of Ancient Sources
    (pp. 351-362)