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A Pauline Theology of Church Leadership

ISBN: 9780567045607

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Scholarly studies considering Paul’s views on leadership tend to fall into one of three camps: 1) the historical development view, which in large measure identifies developments in church practice with developments in Pauline and deutero-Pauline ecclesiology; 2) the synchronic, historical reconstruction, typically making use of Greco-Roman, social context sources, or social-scientific modeling, focusing on a single congregation, and sometimes distinguishing between the situation to which Paul was responding and the pattern he sought to impose; and 3) the theological/hermeneutical analysis, identifying Paul’s particular approach to power and authority, often independently of any detailed reconstruction of the situations to which Paul was responding. Andrew Clarke has explored in an earlier work, Serve the Community of the Church, the distinctive, local, and historical situations in the various Pauline communities and concluded that there is no evidence that they organized themselves according to a common set of governmental structures which clearly developed with the passage of time. Rather each community was influenced by its own localized, social, and cultural context. The present project builds on this and focuses on leadership style rather than church order. It seeks to recover from Paul’s critical responses and his generic ethos of church leadership the characteristics, ideal qualities, and task of leaders and the nature of appropriate interaction and engagement with church members. In the light of current, theoretical discussions about power and gender, this study focuses particularly on Paul’s attitude towards hierarchy, egalitarianism, authority, responsibility, and privilege.

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“This approach has two significant, but questionable, assumptions. First, a consistent, or at least a dominant, blueprint of church order exists within the pages of the New Testament. In other words, the structures of church leadership that existed in Corinth in the mid-first century are assumed to have been largely identical to or in continuity with those that were being implemented in Ephesus, or even Jerusalem, twenty years later or ten years earlier. Secondly, the New Testament churches were themselves both ‘orthodox’ in their understanding of the nature of the church, and were also faithful in their implementation of these principles.” (Page 13)

“Nonetheless, if we combine these passages, there are clearly two skill sets required of the overseer: knowing, appropriately applying, and teaching the word of God; and, secondly, being able to lead and care for at least a small community of people.” (Page 52)

“This limited element of overlap suggests that the list was neither formalized nor exhaustive; rather it painted a broad set of appropriate qualities.” (Page 50)

“Of all the functions of leaders, however, Paul gives greatest focus to their responsibilities in regard to teaching the gospel.” (Page 155)

“Paul has not left a systematic consideration of his understanding of church leadership.” (Page 5)

  • Title: A Pauline Theology of Church Leadership
  • Author: Andrew D. Clarke
  • Series: Library of New Testament Studies
  • Volume: 362
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Print Publication Date: 2012
  • Logos Release Date: 2016
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible. N.T. Epistles of Paul › Theology; Christian leadership
  • ISBNs: 9780567045607, 9780567060136, 0567045609, 0567060136
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T02:15:05Z

Andrew D. Clarke is Senior Lecturer in New Testament, Department of Divinity with Religious Studies at University of Aberdeen in Scotland, UK.


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