Jewish Pilgrim Festivals And Calendar In Paul’s Ministry With The Gentile Churches -- By: Jin K. Hwang

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 64:1 (NA 2013)
Article: Jewish Pilgrim Festivals And Calendar In Paul’s Ministry With The Gentile Churches
Author: Jin K. Hwang


Jewish Pilgrim Festivals And Calendar In Paul’s Ministry With The Gentile Churches

Jin K. Hwang

Summary

It is quite remarkable that Paul explicitly mentions two of the Jewish pilgrim festivals, namely, the Passover and Pentecost in 1 Corinthians (5:7-8; 16:8). This study argues that such festivals played a key role not only in providing Paul with the biblical foundations for his exhortations in 1 Corinthians (as indicated in ch. 5) but also in shaping his ministry with the Gentile churches at Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, and Macedonia, and his collection project in particular, which entails the pilgrimage to Jerusalem by representatives from his Gentile churches, most likely during a Jewish festival (as indicated in ch. 16).

1. Introduction

In 1 Corinthians, Paul mentions two of the Jewish pilgrim festivals,1 namely, the Passover and Pentecost. In chapter 5 he identifies Christ with the paschal lamb and asks the Corinthian believers to celebrate the festival with unleavened bread. In chapter 16 he makes it clear that he will have to stay at Ephesus until Pentecost. These references are quite remarkable as he mentions no such Jewish festivals by name elsewhere in his letters (cf. Rom. 14:5; Gal. 4:10; Col. 2:16; Acts 20:6). Why then did Paul specifically mention the Passover and Pentecost in 1 Corinthians? How did such Jewish festivals shape his ministry for the Gentile churches at Corinth and Ephesus and his argumentation in

1 Corinthians? The present paper will attempt to answer these questions and consider the implications for the study of early Jewish-Christian relations.

2. Calendars, Festivals, And Jewish Identity In The First-Century Hellenistic World

As Sacha Stern suggests,2 calendar reckoning can be one of the important indicators of the self-identity of a religious group. Hence, it is important to consider the distinctiveness of the Jewish calendar reckoning in the first-century Graeco-Roman world, which also appears to have had a profound influence on the early Christians’ beliefs and practices.

The official calendar of the Roman Em...

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