Date Presented

Spring 4-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Access Type

1

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Annette Evans, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Stephen Dawson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Delane Karalow

Abstract

The Apostle Paul is a fundamental figure in the history, traditions, and beliefs of Christianity, yet his thoughts are sometimes viewed as controversial. Through his letters, Christians for centuries have learned about early Christianity and have been guided by Paul’s writings into following the ways of Jesus as he is interpreted by Paul. However, Paul did not begin as a crusader for Christ; initially Paul was extremely opposed to this reform of Judaism and made his stance known through aligning himself with the Jewish Pharisees during the persecutions of Christians during the early years of Christianity. While Paul’s letters and works have undoubtedly influenced Christianity, they have also influenced history through the actions of Christians citing his writings as apologetics to defend their actions. For example, many of Paul’s letters that address women or pertain to women and their roles in both church and society; such as, 1 Timothy 2:9-15, Ephesians 5:21-30, 1 Corinthians 11:4-12 Galatians 3:28 and Romans 16:1-2 have been viewed as controversial in 20th/21st century societies. My thesis is that if one understands Paul and his writings on the subject of women within the original/ proper context these controversial verses and ideas many not be, in actuality, as controversial, offensive, or relevant to modern society or modern women as has been previously thought. Given his influence on both Christianity and history; understanding Paul and the specific context (time, place, to whom, purpose for writing, etc.) in which he is writing is paramount to understanding these complex writings and the true message behind Paul and his letters.

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