McMaster Divinity College Linguistics Circle – Monthly Meeting
Presenter: Vinh Nguyen, Ph.D Candidate at MDC
Title: Power and Authority as Apostolic Strategy: An Assessment of Pauline Ideology in 1 Corinthians 4
In 1 Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul addresses those in Corinth who have imbibed the Roman imperial ideology—seeking to thrive on their display of power. The power language and rhetoric used in such a context was intended to control everything, including the system of justice. This essay implements the ideological component of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), a social theory of discourse espoused by Norman Fairclough, with Halliday’s theory of register. First, we will explain the methodology of CDA and argue the usefulness of Foucault’s paradigm for analyzing the notion of power in discourse. Second, we will perform a full register analysis of 1 Corinthians 4 and demonstrate how Paul’s discourse of power not only reveals his kingdom ideology but begins to reshape and change the imperial ideology in the situation at Corinth. Third, we will draw conclusions and argue that Paul’s rhetorical strategy overturns the cultural understanding of imperial power by instituting a new dominant register—one that opposes arrogance and embodies servanthood.