Desire in Paul in light of the semantics of Epithymia and of Greco-Roman concepts of desire
Förderungsbeginn: November 2015
This study seeks to analyze the semantics of ἐπιθυμία and cognates to see how the lexemes function in the various Hellenistic conceptions of desire. The goal is to understand how the Hellenistic usage compared, contrasted, and possibly served as the contextual backdrop for the use of the terminology in Paul and its potential reception in antiquity. My analysis begins with a thorough analysis of Hellenistic concepts of desire as reflected in the philosophical writings and moral discourse (especially in Stoic, Epicurean, and Cynic thought). Attention is then given to the Jewish Scriptures, Hellenistic Jewish literature, and early Christian writings. Once ancient cultural conceptions of ἐπιθυμία and cognates have been established, Paul’s use of the terminology and his understanding of desire will be examined, with the goal of analyzing his arguments in the light of the map of cultural frames rendered by the analysis of the use of the terminology in Hellenistic literature. Such a study of desire has the potential to shed valuable insights in the construction of ethical norms and anthropology of Greco-Roman culture, ancient Judaism, and early Christianity.