A Spiritual Economy Gift Exchange in the Letters of Paul of Tarsus Thomas R. Blanton, Larry L Welborn

Publication date:
07 Mar 2017
Yale University Press
240 pages: 235 x 156 x 22mm
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Thomas Blanton sheds light on the philosophy surrounding gift giving in Paul’s letters and on modern theories of gift exchange through the lens of religion.

The exchange of gifts is a fundamental part of society and a foundational element in Greco-Roman religions. Combining theories of gift exchange, both modern and Greco-Roman, Thomas Blanton reveals how religious discourse—in the guise of “spiritual gifts” believed to come from Israel’s god—is instrumental in the formation of sociopolitical hierarchies and the assignment of honor and prestige. Blanton uses an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates religion, classics, sociology, and anthropology to investigate the economy of gift exchange shown in Paul’s letters.

Thomas R. Blanton, IV, is auxiliary faculty in New Testament Studies at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Blanton’s articles have appeared in the Journal of Biblical Literature and New Testament Studies, and he is the author of Constructing a New Covenant.

"If you think you know what ‘grace’ means in the theology of Paul, read this book and think again.  Deploying an awe-inspiring array of disparate disciplines, Blanton shows us, with precision and clarity, how the language of giving and receiving would have worked in the social world that Paul inhabited."—Wayne A. Meeks, Yale University

“In this pioneering work, Blanton elevates the discussion of gift exchange in Pauline Christianity to a new level with its remarkable approach to ancient texts and cultural practices of the Greco-Roman world and use of modern theory.”— John T. Fitzgerald, University of Notre Dame