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Self-presentation and community construction in Philippians

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Chapter Summary

Given its brevity compared to Paul?s other epistles, Philippians poses more than its fair share of interpretive problems. Determining its origin, its date of composition, and its literary integrity still remain open questions. Questions also arise when one considers the letter?s contents. This chapter offers one overarching task for the letter, but ties it to more than one verse or idea from the epistle. It argues that, among other things, Paul was writing to correct the Philippians? communal self-understanding. He wrote to remind them of their distinct identity and to help them maintain this identity in the face of social pressures that put their identity at risk. The Philippians were struggling to maintain their distinction as a Christian community. Paul?s self-presentation along with his sharp observations about those outside the Christian association were intended to help them develop strategies for negotiating their relationships to one another.

Keywords: Christian community; epistles; Paul; Philippians; self-presentation; social pressures



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