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Achaia. The name of the Roman province which included Greece. Its headquarters was at Corinth. See map.
agora. A public gathering place or forum; especially an ancient Greek marketplace, such as the ones in Corinth and Athens. See a photograph and more information.
already come, not yet. A description of the tension between the present and future reality of God's reign. The New Creation has already happened in Christ, but it is not yet fully completed (1 Cor. 7:29-31).
analogy. A comparison between two things that are alike in some aspects, inferring that they will therefore be similar in other ways.
androgynous. Having characteristics of both male (and-) and female (gyn-). The Greek philosopher Plato (c. 410-340 B.C.E.) and others taught that the human being was originally an androgynous whole, separated later into male and female but yearning to be complete again.
apocrypha. The word "apocrypha," which comes from the Greek word for "secret or hidden," is often confused with the word "apocalypse." In Christianity, apocryphal books are a body of early Jewish and Christian texts that are noncanonical-- not a part of the Bible. They may be orthodox or heterodox; some almost became a part of the canon whereas others never had a chance. For example, the Acts of Paul and Thecla is an apocryphal book which was included in some early canons of the eastern church. It clearly is composed of legends but provides orthodox teachings. More information...
Apollos. A convert, instructed additionally by Prisca and Aquila, who helped Paul in the churches. He was known for his knowledge of scripture and his eloquence (1 Cor. 1:12).
apology. A style of writing or rhetoric used by Paul that is a reasoned defense of particular beliefs or behavior. (See "rhetoric.")
Aquila and Prisca. The couple who joined Paul in the founding of the Corinthian church, and shared the same occupation of tent-making with Paul (Acts 18:1-21; Cor. 16:19).
asceticism. A lifestyle pursuing spiritual disciplines, including self-denial like fasting and celibacy, in order to strengthen the spiritual life. Purifying the body is seen as essential for drawing closer to God, especially in times of crisis (like the expected return of Christ). Ascetics tend to separate themselves from society, either as solitaries or in communities.
baptismal formula. The phrase "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" which some Western churches require during the sacrament of baptism (Mt. 28: 19-20). This "requirement" is only about four hundred years old. The New Testament offers several different versions (Gal. 3:26-28; 2 Cor. 13:13).
bema. Platform. The bema in Corinth was located in the center of the agora. It was a high, broad platform made of blue and white marble. The bema was the place where Paul was brought before the tribunal (Acts 18:12-17). See a photograph and more information.
body of Christ. A metaphor used by Paul to describe the way members of the church are united to the risen and spiritual body of Christ through baptism in the Spirit, and participation in the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 12:12-13; 11:17-33).
C.E. Initials meaning "Common Era," formerly A.D., "Anno Domini," dating the year 0001 as the birth of Christ. C.E. is used to include persons of all faiths in the dating of history. B.C.E. indicates "Before Common Era," the dating of years prior to the birth of Christ (formerly B.C.).
celibate. Abstaining from sexual relationships. Many early Christians sought celibacy as a gift from God to help them focus their full attention on service to God.
Cephas. Simon Peter's name before he was called "Peter" by Jesus (Mark 3:16). From the Aramaic word for "rock" (in Greek, "petros").
chignon. A roll or knot of hair. A common hairstyle for Roman and Greek women in the first century was long hair parted in the middle and wound into a knot in the back of the head. See a sculpture of a Roman woman showing this hairstyle.
charismatic. A Christian who shows signs of immediate inspiration by the Holy Spirit in worship, such as speaking in tongues, prophesying, and healing. Based on the Greek words "charis" or "grace", and "charisma" or "gift of grace". Paul describes many charismatic gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. Modern "charismatics" may or may not experience the same gifts.
contextualize. To consider an event or writing in relation to the social, historical, and literary environment (or context) in which it occurs or is written, rather than as an absolute set apart from any setting. The reader's own situation also forms a context from which he or she does interpretation.
continence. Abstinence or self-control related to sexual activity.
Corinth. Commercial city on the Greek coast. Paul met Prisca and Aquila there and remained for eighteen months preaching and teaching (Acts 18: 1-3; 1 Cor. 16: 19).
culina.The kitchen in a domus (Roman house).
Deutero-Pauline. A group of epistles or letters, probably written by Paul's followers: Colossians, Ephesians, and 2 Thessalonians. In the ancient world it was accepted practice to increase the authority of a writing by attributing it to a well-accepted leader known for similar teachings. Read more...
domus. A Roman house.
ecclesia. Latin spelling of the Greek word meaning church or community of the people of God, called together by Jesus Christ.
ecclesial. Refers to the church, from the Greek "ekklesia" meaning "assembly".
ecstatic prophecy. A charismatic gift through which a person praying aloud utters messages of comfort or exhortation believed to be from God to the worshiping community. "Ecstatic" here means being in a state outside normal speech, like a trance.
epiphany. From the Greek epiphania "manifestation," often referring to the appearance of a divine being. Christ's appearance to Paul on the Damascus road was an epiphany. The word is used to describe the first appearance of Christ to the Gentiles in the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Mt. 2:1-12), an event celebrated January 6. The date originates from an Egyptian solstice celebration, which recognized time of overflow of the waters of the Nile, and ancient mystery cults' rituals connected with the virgin goddess Kore, daughter of Demeter. The word is also used to refer to the appearance of Christ after the resurrection and the final appearing of Christ at the end of time.
ethos. The distinguishing character, beliefs or moral nature of a person, group, or institution.
exhortation. A strong urging or warning; an urgent appeal for action or change.
Gnostics. Christian and non-Christian groups of the second and third centuries. Although there were many types, they all seemed to think that the individual can obtain spiritual liberation from the bodily world of ignorance and illusion through gnosis or insight and identification with the divine. Their ideas challenged the unity of the church because they denied the goodness of creation and the humanity of Jesus Christ.
hegemony. Domination over others.
heretical. Against the doctrine or official teaching of the church. The early church held many passionate debates to clarify true and false doctrine about the nature of Christ and salvation. The term is from the Greek "hairesis," meaning party or sect. Paul uses the term both for schism or separation, and for heresy or false doctrine. (See "schism".)
Holiness Code. A section of the book of Leviticus (chapters 17-26) devoted to instructions and practices to ensure holiness.
infanticide. The practice of killing an unwanted or defective infant, used in the first and second century to limit the number of girls. Unfortunately, it is still practiced today in some cultures.
Isis. A mother goddess who, with her husband Osiris and son Horus, formed a trinity. Her religion included theology of death, mourning, and resurrection connected with a mythic story about Isis' search for the fourteen body parts of her murdered husband Osiris, who then was restored to life. The cult of Isis was one of Christianity's major religious competitors. Corinth was a major center for the worship of Isis.
justification. Paul's term for the way God's action in Jesus Christ offers us forgiveness and brings us into right relationship with God. Justification is a gift of God's gracious love, received by us through faith and faithfulness in the Christian community.
Maenads (or Bacchae). Female worshipers of Dionysus (Bacchus) who were depicted in Greek and Roman myth as madwomen (The English word "maniac" has roots similar to "Maenad" in Latin and Greek). During their ecstatic rituals, the maenads their hair flow loose and uncovered. Paul did not want the Christian female prophets wearing unrestrained hair.
marginal gloss. Additional notes or words first written alongside a text, but later blended in by a scribe or someone copying a biblical manuscript by hand.
metaphor. Figurative language in which something unknown or imperfectly known is described in terms of something known. Frequently used biblical metaphors for God include father, king, rock, bridegroom; others are midwife and mother hen. God has some attributes of each of these figures, but is not limited to them. They are not intended literally: God may be nurturing like a mother hen, but that doesn't mean God has feathers.
misogyny. Hatred of, or hostility toward, women.
New Creation. Terms used to describe the fulfillment of God's intention to make Creation new. This event of "The End," "Second Coming" or "Great Day," when Christ would return in glory, was expected very soon by Paul and the early church (1 Cor. 15:20-28).
nihilism. the belief that there is no universal truth or underlying reality that undergirds moral values; that ultimately existence is meaningless. From the Latin "nihil" or "nothing".
normative. Refers to a standard or set of norms that are understood as the correct (or at least the majority) way of interpreting the world in which we live.
pagan. In Corinth, non-Jews were called Gentiles or pagans. The Latin word indicated a "country dweller," or someone outside the culture of the city.
paradox. A statement or situation which seems contradictory, as in, "One who loses her life shall find it."
Pastoral Epistles. First and Second Timothy and Titus are called "pastoral epistles" because they contain instructions for pastors of congregations. Their opening verses claim Paul as author but they address situations that developed later in the first-century church, so scholars believe they were written by followers of Paul a generation later.
patriarchy. A hierarchical social system and way of thinking where "fathers" or "patriarchs" rule which has become a model for every form of domination and subordination. Paul contradicts this system when he asserts that within marriage, women and men are equal sex partners (1 Cor. 7:1-7).
powers and principalities. Words used by Paul to refer to angelic beings or unseen powers at work in the world. Today we would call them the social, political, economic, cultural and biological structures that guide world history. Paul maintains that Christ rules as head over the "principalities and powers." Although they are still around, their power has been broken, and they can not separate Christ's followers from the love of God (Rom. 8: 38).
prescriptive texts. Texts which direct readers and listeners how to act rather than simply describing events (descriptive texts).
Prisca and Aquila. The couple who joined Paul in the founding of the Corinthian church, and shared the same occupation of tent-making with Paul (Acts 18:1-21; Cor. 16:19).
rhetoric. The art of speaking or writing effectively and convincingly. Paul uses forms of Greco-Roman rhetoric to persuade his Corinthian readers. For instance, 2 Cor. 8-9 has the form of an apology or a defense. Paul is the defendant, the Corinthians are the jury, and Paul's opponents are the accusers.
rhetorical analysis. A way of understanding and interpreting texts by examining the rhetorical devices used (composition and persuasion), the context of the text, and the audience, both historical and contemporary.
rhetorical criticism. A discipline used in the study of the Bible that focuses on the structure, substance, and style of writing in detailed exploration of particular texts.
salvation. Restoration of our relationship with God through God's actions of reconciliation so that we can be assured of God's love and care now and beyond death.
Satan. A personification of the powers of evil. One of the names used by Paul for demonic forces at work in the world (2 Cor. 11: 14). From the Hebrew word for "adversary".
schism. A division in the Christian community based on disagreement on theological points. (See "heresy".)
spirituals. A group among the early Christians who perceived themselves as possessing the gifts of the Spirit to an extent that they were more advanced or blessed than others. Some of them seemed to believe they were exempt from rules of everyday life, for which Paul reproves them. The same English word also means African American slave songs that used biblical language to lament their life in slavery ("Go Down, Moses"; "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", etc.), and often served as code to disguise efforts at escape ( e.g., "Promised Land" stood for the north).
stoa. Stoas were covered colonnaded buildings that varied in size. They could be a place for council meetings, law courts, offices, shops, storerooms, or informal meetings. The word "Stoic"" derives from stoa. Stoicism was the most influential philosophy in the Roman Empire before the rise of Christianity. Zeno (335-263 B.C.E.), the founder of Stoicism, met his students in the Stoa Poikile ("Painted Porch") in Athens. The name of the philosophy was inspired by the place where it began.
tablinum. The office or study in a domus (Roman house). This is the room where Christian house churches met for worship.
Tertullian. An early church father (160-230) from North Africa known for his misogynistic statements. In his interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:5-16, he commented, "If 'the man is head of the woman,' of course (he is) of the virgin too, from whom comes the woman who has married; unless the virgin is a third generic class, some monstrosity with a head of its own." Ironically, Tertullian later joined the heretical Montanist sect, which included women in leadership positions. If he wrote any Montanist documents, they are no longer extant.
triclinium. The dining room in a domus (Roman house). This is the room where Christian house churches gathered for the meal.
undisputed letters. The letters in the New Testament which scholars consider to be written by Paul: 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans.
Western text. A medieval copy of the New Testament, with several textual variants not found in other old manuscripts.
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