Koinonia: the genesis of the Pauline construct

Corry, Norma Anne
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The term koinonia, as found in the New Testament, is used predominantly by Paul, who does so with reference to several contexts within the so-called Pauline communities of the Mediterranean area. In order to make the research into such a broad subject more workable, the focus of the dissertation is on the most significant context in which Paul uses the word koinonia, the Christian common meal (1 Corinthians 10:16). There are several possible interpretations of koinonia, and what has emerged from past research is that the meaning of koinonia cannot be determined without reference to the social context. In this dissertation we conduct a sociohistorical investigation of the context of the Christian community in Corinth, and show that the Christian community was a social group, which like other social groups, was tied into the social organisation of Roman Corinth. Insights from the social context shed light on the Christian meal and contribute to our understanding of the divisions in the Corinthian community, and why Paul uses the term koinonia in that context. The Greek concept of koinonia carried a sense of equality and friendship expressed especially in meal traditions, and Paul relies on this ideal in applying koinonia to the Christian meal. He uses the term as part of his challenge to the socially powerful in the Christian community in Corinth, who were tied into a patron-client ideology that was threatening the life of the community. Paul formulates an understanding of koinonia that relies on the Greek heritage of the term, but he adds his own unique aspects drawn from his Christology, and as such Paul's koinonia, as he uses it in the Christian meal, has a rich and broad meaning, possibly more so than has been imputed by scholars thus far.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of the Witwatersrand, Faculty of Arts, 1997.