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Before your very eyes: Roman imperial ideology, gender constructs and Paul's inter-nationalism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines three examples of how the Roman Empire communicated an ideology of world rule through the use of gendered imagery in personifications of conquered έθνη: a Judaea Capta coin, the Prima Porta cuirassed statue of Augustus and reliefs from the “Sebasteion” (the Roman imperial cult complex) at Aphrodisias. It then focuses on how a view of gendered power relations in Roman imperial visual representation can deepen, even radicalize, an interpretation of Paul’s gendered rhetoric and “mission to the Gentiles” as having a political orientation and transformative agenda. While attention to Roman visual representation has wide-reaching implications for the study of the New Testament, the chapter concentrates on Paul’s letter to the Galatians, since found here are the bulk of Paul’s autobiographical comments, including his articulation of his call to proclaim Christ among “the nations” and some lucid gender-based suggestions related to his sense of community construction.

Keywords: Augustus; Galatians; gendered power relations; Judaea Capta coin; New Testament; Paul’s letter; Roman imperial visual representation; Sebasteion



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