The Rhetoric of PIETAS: The Pastoral Epistles and Claims to Piety in the Roman Empire
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CitationHoklotubbe, Thomas Christopher. 2015. The Rhetoric of PIETAS: The Pastoral Epistles and Claims to Piety in the Roman Empire. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Divinity School.
AbstractThis dissertation reads the Pastoral Epistles alongside imperial propaganda, monumental inscriptions, and philosophical writings of the Roman period to determine how claims to piety (Greek: εὐσέβεια, Latin: pietas) advanced socio-political aims and reinforced cultural values and ideological assumptions among its audiences. Coins celebrating the pietas of the imperial households of Trajan and Hadrian, the honorary inscription of Salutaris in Ephesus, and the writings of Philo and Plutarch evidence that appeals to piety functioned rhetorically to naturalize hierarchies of power and social orders, recognize the honorable status of citizens, signal expertise in knowledge about the divine, and delineate insiders from outsiders. Moreover, the prevalence of appeals to piety indicates the virtue’s broad cultural currency and prestige, which was traded upon for legitimating authority. This dissertation argues that the author of the Pastorals strategically deploys piety in his attempt to negotiate an imperial situation marked by prejudicial perceptions of Christians as a foreign and seditious superstitio, to reinforce (gendered) social values, to intervene in Christian debates over the status and authority of benefactors in the ekklēsia, to build confidence in and solidarity around the legitimacy of his vision of the ideal ekklēsia, and to denigrate the beliefs and practices of rival teachers.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:15821958