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The Problem Of Paul’s Social Class: Further Reflections

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Chapter Summary

The author's renewed interest in the problem of Paul's social class arose as a sort of parergon to his recent labor on the parables. Scholars have usually accepted the evidence of Acts that Paul's trade was tentmaking but have gone on to debate whether Paul's trade involved making tents from goats' hair, linen, or leather. That Paul worked as a tentmaker is not sufficient to indicate his social class. More important are his attitudes toward his practicing this trade, for those attitudes, as we shall see, were not those of fellow craftsmen but rather those of aristocrats. The fact of working as a tentmaker is not the key to his social class, but what are his attitudes toward that work-its being toilsome, slavish, and humiliating.

Keywords:aristocrats; leather; Paul's social class; Paul's trade; tentmaker



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