Monday, 30 January 2012

The Concept of Worship and its Relation to the Risen Jesus in the Pauline Letters – Tony Costa’s successful defence in Nijmegen

I thought it quite appropriate to congratulate Tony Costa from Canada with the successful defence of his dissertation today in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. His supervisor was Prof. Jan van der Watt and the examination committee included the likes of Prof. Thomas Söding and Prof. Georg Essen. Dr Costa also holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Toronto. The title of his dissertation is: The Concept of Worship and its Relation to the Risen Jesus in the Pauline Letters.

Here is the summery:

The very essence of the existential relationship between the human and the divine is communicated by our English word ―worship. While the word ‘worship’ appears to carry a univocal meaning in English, no such word per se exists in the Greek New Testament. The English word ‘worship’ at best explains but does not adequately and fully define the dynamics involved in the relationship between the human and God. There is no one word for ‘worship’ in the New Testament. This study approaches the subject of Christian worship in respect to its origins from the perspective of the earliest New Testament writer: the apostle Paul. It remains an ironic and at the same time interesting point that the earliest known Christian writer to deal with Christian worship was not one of the immediate disciples of Jesus, but rather a persecutor of the Christian movement, who later joined the Christian faith community after claiming to have seen the risen Jesus (1 Cor 9:1; 15:8). Any study on the origins of Christian worship must begin with Paul.

The present work seeks to addresses the issue of the relative absence in the scholarly field of a full treatment of worship in the Pauline letters. Closely related to the theme of Christian worship in the Pauline letters is the person of the risen Jesus and the place he occupies in the faith community. This work proposes a proper working definition including criteria for worship. There has been a tendency in scholarship to explain worship rather than define it. The use of various metaphors to express the dynamics of worship are brought forward in this study as well as a study of the Greek words and expressions employed by Paul in his letters to communicate worship. Paul employed an array of Greek words as descriptors to communicate the various nuances and dimensions related to one‘s relationship with God. Worship also functioned for Paul as an identity boundary marker between believers and unbelievers especially in terms of baptism and the Eucharist. The eschatological and teleological aspect of worship is also examined principally through a study of the Carmen Christi (Phil 2:6-11). It is the position of this study that worship in Paul is not defined or described by any one word. It is rather a composite and comprehensive personal religious relationship between the worshipper and God. It can be realized either in an individualistic or communal context, having both an internal and external aspect, all of which is mediated through the risen Jesus.

1 comment:

Joseph Mizzi said...

Congratulations Tony.