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‘Not Even Among The Pagans’ (1 Cor 5:1): Paul And Seneca On Incest

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Chapter Summary

Paul asserts that such sexual immorality was not even found (or tolerated) among the pagans. Some scholars note the prohibitions of incest in Roman law, citing regulations found in the Augustan lex Julia and Gaius' Institutes. Others refer to various incestuous examples in Greco-Roma literature, especially Cicero's Pro Cluentio. Furthermore, no scholar mentions an interesting parallel found in Seneca's Phaedra, 165-173. This Senecan parallel illustrates Paul's technique of rhetorical 'boundary maintenance' (rather than an emphasis on precise illegality). A. C. Thiselton notes that 'modern writers unanimously cite' passages from the Torah that illustrates 1 Corinthians 5:1. Paul himself closes this section (5:13) with a citation of Deuteronomy. The author believes Seneca's Phaedra can provide some interpretive help in the case of 1 Corinthians 5:1.

Keywords: 1 Corinthians 5:1; Greco-Roma literature; Paul; Roman law; Seneca's Phaedra



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