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Outline the key elements in Paul’s theology of the cross of Jesus, making careful reference to the text of his letters.

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Introduction

Outline the key elements in Paul's theology of the cross of Jesus, making careful reference to the text of his letters. Paul was one of the earliest and most influential Christian theologians, therefore it is very important that readers of the Bible scrutinize the words and implications of his writings if they wish to grasp a clear understanding of the key elements of his theology. Paul's writings and letters make up a significant part of the New Testament, providing plenty of evidence from which to gain insights. Despite the fact that academics continue to argue over whether or not a valid understanding of Paul's theology can be gained from what is essentially a collection of letters crafted for specific situations, through a close reading of the texts the most important and significant elements of his theology cannot fail to be noticed. It is evident from Paul's writings that he believes the cross of Jesus to be of integral importance to the Christian message he preaches. On one hand the cross acts as a symbol with which to inspire and teach the new followers of Christianity, and on the other hand, as an essential element in the fulfilment of Jesus' destiny, the reality of God's sacrifice and proof of the love he feels towards his people. Paul emphasises the symbolic and practical importance of the cross throughout his letters, one example of this being in Philippians, when Paul implies by corollary that the cross is a Christian symbol around which the followers of Christ can gather and seek redemption: "For many...live as enemies of the cross of Christ. ...read more.

Middle

"...Christ Jesus...And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him..." (Philippians 2:6-9) This sacrificial interpretation is obviously an important element of Paul's theology. Firstly because Paul saw it as his mission to convert non-believers to Christianity, secondly as an apostle and preacher he felt it necessary to glorify Jesus and the sacrifice endured by him. This was especially important in Paul's own lifetime when Christianity was a fledgling religion. Paul referred to the cross as a way for others to understand his conversion experience or "call" and in this way, the sacrificial interpretation of Jesus' crucifixion is one of the key elements in Paul's theology. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul also refers to the sacrificial importance of the cross in an attempt to heal rifts which have developed between different factions in the church at Corinth. Thus, Paul emphasises once again how Jesus' death on the cross is important symbolically and a necessary tool in his futile efforts to unite the Christian Church. These two Pauline interpretations of the cross may seem to be conflicting but they are both important elements of Paul's theology and essential to the understanding of how Paul understands and preaches his gospel message. The participationist interpretation allows Paul to craft the Christian message in a manner which will appeal to and include each individual Christian. In the passages supporting the theory that Paul's theology is based on a sacrificial interpretation, the emphasis placed on the symbolic importance of Jesus' cross aids Paul in his efforts to unite the Christian movement under a recognisable and meaningful emblem. ...read more.

Conclusion

Bibliography "The Bible" (Revised Standard Version), American Bible Society, New York, 1946 Raymond E. Brown "An Introduction To The New Testament" ABRL, Doubleday (1997) Mehrdad Fatehi "The Spirit's Relation to the Risen Lord in Paul" Mohr Seibeck (2000) Robert G. Hamerton-Kelly "Sacred Violence - Paul's Hermeneutic of the Cross" Fortress Press, Minneapolis (1992) David M. Hay (ed) "Pauline Theology, Volume II" Fortress Press, Minneapolis (1993) David M. Hay and E. Elizabeth Johnson (eds.) "Pauline Theology, Volume III" Fortress Press, Minneapolis (1995) David M. Hay and E. Elizabeth Johnson (eds.) "Pauline Theology, Volume IV" Scholars Press, Atlanta, Georgia (1997) David Horrell "An Introduction To The Study Of Paul" Continuum, London, New York (2000) A. M. Hunter "Interpreting Paul's Gospel" SCM Press, London (1954) Robert Jewett "Saint Paul Returns to the Movies - Triumph over Shame" William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan/ Cambridge, UK (1999) Brice L. Martin "Christ and the Law in Paul" E. J. Brill, Leiden New York Kobenhaun Koln (1989) Sven Millert "Limited and Universal Salvation - A text oriented and Hermeneutical Study of Two Perspectives in Paul" CB, New Testament Series 31, Almqvist and Wiksell International (1999) C. E. D. Moule "Essays in New Testament Interpretation" Cambridge University Press (1982) Carey C. Newman "Paul's Glory - Christology - Tradition and Rhetoric" E. J. Brill, leiden New York Kobenhaun Koln (1992) John A. T. Robinson "The Body - A Study in Pauline Theology" SCM Press, London (1952) E. P. Sanders "Paul" Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York (1992) A. J. M. ...read more.

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