Reframing Paul’s sibling language in light of Jewish epistolary forms of address
Recent scholars focus mainly on Paul’s use of ‘brothers (and sisters)’ or ‘brother (and sister)’ in Greco-Roman epistolary conventions and cultural backdrops. However, Jewish dimensions (particularly ethnic dimensions) of Paul’s sibling language still remain unexplored in current scholarship. Furthermore, scholars have not drawn much attention to how Jewish letter writers use sibling terms in their letters. This article offers a new interpretation on Paul’s sibling language in light of its Jewish usage. We should note that Jewish letter writers did not address their Gentile letter recipients as ‘brother(s)’. However, Paul did call his recipients ‘brothers’. It is unlikely that Paul employed sibling language without being aware of its common Jewish usage. The author proposes that Paul’s sibling language is used in the context of an ethnic insider designation (shared ethnicity), and that ascribing the title of brother to believers including Gentiles signals the re-definition of the family of Abraham.
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