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Philosophy and Power in the Graeco-Roman WorldEssays in Honour of Miriam Griffin$
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Gillian Clark and Tessa Rajak

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198299905

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299905.001.0001

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‘Foolishness to the Greeks’: Jews and Christians in the Public Life of the Empire

‘Foolishness to the Greeks’: Jews and Christians in the Public Life of the Empire

(p.229) ‘Foolishness to the Greeks’: Jews and Christians in the Public Life of the Empire
Philosophy and Power in the Graeco-Roman World

Loveday Alexander

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the hypothesis that the multifarious activities of philosophers created a philosophy-shaped hole, a template within the structures of imperial public life, ready to be exploited by Jews and Christians who were themselves excluded from the normal channels that facilitated exercise of power within those structures. Advising rulers, seeking to attract the interest of elite citizens, inspiring resistance, and discoursing on the nature, forms, and exercise of power: all of these modes of connection between philosophy and power can be paralleled within the discourses of self-presentation constructed by Jews and Christians. The chapter considers the narrative of Paul's mission in the Acts of the Apostles, particularly at the way in which it constructs the task of evangelizing the cities of the Empire through the use of public and private space, and at some of the contested ways in which the paradigm of the resistant philosopher is used to explore the limitations of power.

Keywords:   Jews, Christians, Paul, Acts of the Apostles, power

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