Queen's University

Paul, Synagogues, and Associations: Reframing the Question of Models for Pauline Christ Groups

Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish SettingIn the continuing and growing discourse on how best to understand the social organization of Pauline Christ groups some approaches continue to advocate for a separation of categories such as “synagogue” and “association” while attempting to place the Pauline groups into one or the other of these. This article argues that the question should not be whether Christ groups are “synagogues” or “associations” as if these two categories are separate and distinct. In fact, the overlap among Judean groups, Christ groups, and associations breaks down such falsely rigid dichotomies. Scholars must drop the dichotomous either/or categorization and re-frame the discussion around the comparative exploration of similarities and differences across all types of Greco-Roman associations, including synagogues and Christ groups, in order to move forward in our understanding of the complex interactions reflected in all of our texts, sacred or otherwise. (Read More)