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Offering of the Gentiles
Paul's Collection for Jerusalem in its Chronological,
Cultural & Cultic Contexts

Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament Series No. 2, Vol. 248

By David J. Downs
December 2008
Mohr Siebeck
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9783161496073
204 pages, 9 1/8 x 6 1/8"
$102.00 Paper Original

Money mattered to the apostle Paul. One economic endeavor of signal importance for Paul was the monetary fund that he organized among the largely Gentile congregations of his mission for the Jewish-Christian community in Jerusalem.

David J. Downs investigates this offering from a variety of angles. He begins with an attempt to piece together a relative chronological account, based primarily on information from Paul’s epistles, of the apostle’s fundraising efforts on behalf of the Jerusalem church. After reconstructing this complex story, Downs examines the socio-cultural context of the collection, focusing on analogous forms of giving among ancient pagan and Jewish voluntary associations, including practices of benefaction, common funds, care for the poor, and translocal economic links among these associations.

With this chronological and socio-cultural context in mind, the author then explores Paul’s use of several cultic metaphors to frame the contribution as a religious offering consecrated to God. Drawing on recent work in the field of metaphor theory, Downs contends that Paul metaphorically frames his readers’ responsive participation in the collection as an act of cultic worship, thus underscoring the point that the fulfillment of mutual obligations within the community of believers results in praise, not human benefactors, but to God, the one from whom all benefactions come. This rhetorical strategy suggests that even the very human action of raising money for those in material need originates in "the grace (charis) of God" and will eventuate in "thanksgiving (charis) to God" (2 Cor 9:14-15).