Paul's Corporate Christophany: An Evaluation of Paul's Christophanic References in Their Epistolary Contexts

  • Robbie Fringer

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis investigates references to Paul's Christophany in the undisputed Pauline letters. Paul's Christophanic experience has been the subject of much scholarly analysis. However, treatments of this phenomenon, while widely varied, have primarily concentrated on reconstruction of the cause, event, and effects of this phenomenon, discovery of the foundation of Paul's Christology and/or reconstruction of his Christology, and on conversion/call in general. Few have focused on the purpose behind Paul's employment of his Christophanic references in their particular literary and socio-historical contexts and none have undertaken a full-length study of each Pauline Christophanic references seeking to discover the extent to which Paul uses these references in context to shape his various communities. This is the task of this thesis. It begins by setting criteria for establishing which of the many proposed references can be deemed a Christophanic reference and based on these criteria confirms five pericopae for further evaluation: Gal 1:11-17; 1 Cor 9:1-2, 16-17; 1 Cor 15:1-11; Phil 3:4-14; and 2 Cor 3:1-4:6. Each of these confirmed references is then evaluated within their specific literary and socio-historical contexts. Special attention is given to possible intertextual links which aid in interpreting Paul's larger purposes within the epistles as well as more specific purposes behind his employment of the Christophanic reference. A significant reliance on Isaiah, especially Isa 40-66, is highlighted. Through this assessment, the importance of Paul's Christophanic references as part of his larger arguments is established. It is shown how Paul uniquely shapes the various Christophanic references to fit the needs of his argument and through it, the needs of the community. Furthermore, it evidences that Paul's Christophanic references are not primarily used to establish his apostolic status or to assert his apostolic authority. Through this study, the corporate nature of Paul's Christophanic references becomes increasingly evident and multiple general conclusions are drawn, which provide a possible glimpse into Paul's understanding of his Christophanic experience. Specifically, it is argued that Paul's Christophanic references primarily functioned in three ways. They functioned didactically, providing an avenue for instruction within Paul's overall argument. They functioned paradigmatically, offering the various communities a model of correct identity and action that should be imitated. Lastly, a few of the references also functioned analogously, illustrating Paul's understanding of the shared elements of their conversion, calling, and identity, which are made possible through a revelation of Christ/Spirit to all believers.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKent Brower (Supervisor)


  • Damascus Road Experience
  • Isaiah
  • Christophany
  • Conversion/Call
  • Pauline Studies
  • New Testament
  • Intertexuality

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