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6 Social Level and Literary Culture of Early Christianity

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Chapter Summary

New Testament language and literature formed part of Adolf Deissmann's understanding of the social character of early Christianity. This chapter shows what research since Deissmann has taught us about the linguistic and literary character of the New Testament (NT). Deissmann's major contribution was in the field of lexicography. The contact between Paul and popular philosophy is most evident in the field of ethics. For a proper perspective, one must have a more realistic understanding of both the unity and the diversity among philosophers of the day. An immediate background to the NT use of the lists is provided by Hellenistic Judaism. Conversion to Judaism created tension between proselytes and their pagan associates and relatives. Deissmann believed that the newly discovered papyrus letters represented the literary culture of the common people and contributed by far the most important parallels to Paul's letters.

Keywords: Adolf Deissmann; early Christianity; literary culture; New Testament (NT)



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