JBL 97/4 (1978) 555�64
PAUL'S TENTMAKING AND THE PROBLEM OF HIS SOCIAL CLASS RONALD F. HOCK UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES, CA 90007
IVEN the current interest in sociological studies of early Christianity, a concern for Paul's social class is timely. The present study, however, also has roots in an earlier period of NT studies and especially in the writings of Adolf Deissmann.1 Deissmann deserves special mention, for he not only gave more than perfunctory attention to this problem but he also recognized the importance of Paul's tentmaking2 for determining his social class. This study, therefore, will follow Deissmann in its focus on Paul's plying a trade, but its conclusion regarding his social class will differ from Deissmann's. Whereas he considered only the fact that Paul had a trade, this study devotes special attention to the language Paul used in referring to his trade. As we shall see, this language provides surer clues for ascertaining Paul's social class than does the simple fact of his having plied a trade. The method pursued here will involve exegetical analyses of several of Paul's statements about work for what they tell us about his attitudes toward work; comparison of these texts with others from Greco�Roman sources will permit us to determine whether Paul's attitudes corresponded more closely to those of the upper classes or to those of the lower. I
A review of scholarship serves to clarify the issues regarding Paul's social class and to orient the discussion. As already indicated, Deissmann was especially interested in "the traces which hint at the social class to which Paul
l See especially A. Deissmann, Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History (New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1926) 48�51. 2 That Paul was a tentmaker (σκηροποώς) we learn only from Luke (cf. Acts 18:3). Although there is no reason to doubt Luke at this point (cf. E. Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971] 538), the nature of Paul's trade is still not clear. Of the two options—weaving tentcloth from goat's hair (cilicium) or cutting and sewing leather to make tents—the latter is to be preferred (cf. T. Zahn, Die Apostelgeschichte des Lucas [KNT 5; Leipzig/ Erlangen: Deichen, 1919�21] 632�34, and W. Michaelis, "skënopoios," TDNT1  393-94. (The writer is preparing a full-length study of this and other issues related to Paul's working at a trade.)
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belonged."3 Deissmann identified three: Paul's occupation, his citizenship, and his language. Deissmann admitted that on the basis of Paul's citizenship and language one would have to assign Paul to the upper classes, if not to the select upper class of philosophers and other men of letters.4 For Deissmann, however, Paul's occupation claimed "a special importance"5 and led him in the end to the opposite conclusion. For him Paul was "Paul the tent maker," the one who had "worked at his trade for wages which were the economic basis of his existence."6 Consequently, Deissmann assigned Paul to "the artisan class of the Imperial age."7 Deissmann's portrayal of Paul was of one distanced from men of culture, power, and birth; of one whose travels went largely unnoticed by the leading men of his time; of one whose trade was the means of gaining his first acquaintance in a strange city; of one whose ethics could be described as workshop morality.8 Finally, Deissmann chided previous scholars for having turned Paul into a theologian and man of letters. "The tentmaker of Tarsus," Deissmann protested, "ought not to be classed along with Origen, Thomas Aquinas, and Schleiermacher"9 but should be placed "among the simple people of his own social class."10 Deissmann's view, of course, is not new. Many centuries earlier church fathers like John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, and Theodoret had expressed a similar view regarding Paul's social class.11 Moreover, Deissmann's "Paul the tentmaker" has been congenial to the views of those scholars, before and after Deissmann, who comment on the social composition of early Christianity.12 Nevertheless, Deissmann has persuaded 3
Deissmann, Paul, 48. Deissmann, Paul, 50 and 74. 5 Deissmann, Paul, 48. 6 Deissmann, Paul, 48. 7 Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East (New York: Harper, 1927) 314. 8 Deissmann, Paul, 75, 224-25, 237, and Light, 313-14. 9 Deissmann, Paul, 6. I0 Deissmann, Paul, 4. Cf. Deissmann, Light, 314 n. 6. 1 Chrysostom concluded from Acts 18:3 that Paul "was not from a distinguished family. For how is that possible, if he had such an occupation?" Rather, Paul was just a "common man" (ày ópalos) (De laud. S. Pauli 4.494 [PG 50:491]). (Translations, unless otherwise noted, are my own.) Cf. also Chrysostom, In Ep. 1 ad Cor, Horn. 20,5-6 (PG 61:168); In Ep. 2 ad Tim, Horn. 4,2 (PG 62:622); Gregory, Ep. 17 (PG 46:106IB); and Theodoret, De graec. off curat. 5 and 9 (PG 83.-945B, 948C, and 1053B). 12 For a convenient summary of a century of scholarship on the social composition of early Christianity, see H. Kreissig, "Zur sozialen Zusammensetzung der frühchristlichen Gemeinden im ersten Jahrhundert u. Z.," Eirene 6 (1967) 91-100, esp. 93-96. Kreissig summarizes these scholars as claiming that Christianity spread primarily "unter den Armen, Elenden, Unterdrückten, Versklavten oder, womit das gleiche gemeint ist, unter kleinen Handwerken, kleinen Händlern, Kleinbauern, Sklaven" (p. 96), the view also of Deissmann (New Light on the New Testament from Records of the Greco-Roman Period [Edinburgh: Clark, 1907] 103-4): Paul the tentmaker and Jesus the carpenter typify Christianity, which started and continued to be a movement rooted in the lower social strata. Kreissig himself ("Zusammensetzung," 99) rejects this view and, after reviewing the evidence, concludes that Christianity spread "nicht so sehr unter 'Proletariern' oder allein arbeitenden Kleinsthandwerkern oder gar Kleinbauern, sondern 4
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few students of Paul, so that the majority of them still holds the opposite view. For example, William Ramsay looked not to Paul's trade but to his Roman citizenship (cf. Acts 16:37; 22:25-29), which, Ramsay said, would have "placed Paul amid the aristocracy of any provincial town."13 Indeed, for Ramsay Paul's Roman citizenship was "proof that his family was one of distinction and at least moderate wealth."14 Ramsay's position has been reiterated up to the present day by students of Paul.15 Yet many of these same scholars are also aware that Paul's having had a trade is somehow problematic for their view, as is clear from the following statements: Paul "was by birth no obscure mechanic, but a man of some importance; "I6 and "it is generally assumed that Paul came from a family of some wealth and position. That he had a trade of 'tentmaker' or 'leatherworker' would not be inconsistent with this assumption."17 The problem of Paul's trade is usually resolved by appeal to an alleged practice among rabbis of his day who combined study of Torah with learning a trade. Thus Dibelius is typical: "Paul. . . must not be regarded as having the social status of a manual worker; the Jew who intended to devote himself to the service of the law learnt a trade for the sake of his independence."18 Not only is the connection between Paul's trade and this rabbinic background problematic, but also the very practice itself is difficult to establish before the mid-second century.19 This brief review of the history of scholarship has shown that Paul's tentmaking has frequently been brought into discussions of Paul's social class. Nevertheless, precisely how Paul's trade should be assessed when deciding his vielmehr in den städtischen Kreisen wohlsituierter Handwerker, Händler und Angehöriger freier Berufe." Kreissig is not alone in his view. See E. A. Judge, The Social Pattern of the Christian Groups in the First Century (London: Tyndale, 1960) 52-61; G. Theissen, "Soziale Schichtung in der korinthischen Gemeinde: Ein Beitrag zur Soziologie des hellenistischen Urchristentums," ZNW 65 (1974) 231-72; and esp. A. J. Malherbe, Social Aspects of Early Christianity (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1977) 29-59. 13 See W. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen (New York: Putnam's Sons, 1896) 31. 14 Ramsay, St. Paul, 31. 15 See, e.g., F. J. Foakes-Jackson, The Life of St. Paul, the Man and the Apostle (London: Cape, 1933) 71-73; A. D. Nock, St. Paul (London: Butterworth, 1938) 21; G. Bornkamm, Paul (New York: Harper & Row, 1971) 6-7; and F. F. Bruce, Paul. Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977) 37-38. ,6 Foakes-Jackson, Life of St. Paul, 73. 17 A. C. Purdy, "Paul the Apostle," IDB 3 (1962) 684. 18 M. Dibelius—W. G. Kümmel, Paul (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1953) 37. Note also Haenchen's comment on Acts 18:3 (Acts, 534 n. 3): "At this juncture it is usually pointed out that the Rabbis were in the habit of learning a trade." ,9 See, e.g., E. E. Urbach, "Class-Status and Leadership in the World of the Palestinian Sages," Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Jerusalem: Central, 1968) 2.3874, esp. 68: "The question of the livelihood and maintenance of scholars was decisive. . . . Poverty and need were the portion of the leading scholars in the Usha period [i.e., 140-170 CE.]. This situation resulted in many combining their Torah-study with work or a craft." Cf. E. E. Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1975) 1.606 and 2.964 nn. 81 and 82.
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social class has not been determined. If Deissmann's "Paul the tentmaker" has not been accepted by students of Paul, neither has it been persuasively 20 rejected. What, therefore, do we do with Paul's tentmaking when considering his social class? As indicated above, the approach taken here is to examine the relevant texts, an approach which both sides of the debate have failed to do. Deissmann preferred to understand the fact of Paul's trade in terms of his general thesis regarding the social origin and composition of earliest Christianity,21 whereas the followers of Ramsay prefer to explain away Paul's trade by appeal to an alleged rabbinic background.22 II The fact that the apostle Paul worked at a trade is clear from 1 Cor 4:12 and 1 Thess 2:9.23 More important for our purposes, however, are two other passages, both of which, it will be argued, are indirect references to his working at a trade (1 Cor 9:19 and 2 Cor 11:7). These passages are important because their language provides clues about Paul's attitude toward his working as a tentmaker. The first passage (1 Cor 9:19) reads: "Therefore, although I am free from all persons, I have enslaved myself to all, in order that I might gain more converts." This passage is beset by many problems of exegesis, one of which is whether this verse does indeed provide an indirect reference to Paul's working at a trade. In fact, only one commentator has ever suggested that in this verse, and specifically in the words "I have enslaved myself" (έµαντορ έδονλωσα), Paul was referring to his plying a trade.24 The reason why commentators have so often failed to see a reference here to Paul's working is because they understand this verse in terms of the following verses ( w 20�23) rather than in terms of those that precede. Thus ν 19 is seen as a general missionary principle that is exemplified by what is said in vv 20�23. 25 The consequence of reading this verse in this way is that the key 20 Nor can it be ignored, as is the case in the otherwise fine essay by E. A. Judge, "St. Paul and Classical Society," J AC 15 (1972) 19�36. 2 'See Deissmann, New Light, 103�4. 22 In addition to most commentators of Acts and students of Paul, note that scholars who deal in any way with work in antiquity usually place Paul's tentmaking against a rabbinic background: F. Delitzsch, Jewish Artisan Life in the Time of Our Lord (London: Bagster, 1877) 112�13; F. Hauck, Die Stellung des Urchristentums zu Arbeit und Geld (BFCT 3; Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1921) 102-3; A. T. Geoghegan, The Attitudes towards Labor in Early Christianity and Ancient Culture (Washington: Catholic University of America, 1945) 108-9; W. Bienert, Die Arbeit nach der Lehre der Bibel (Stuttgart: Evangelisches Verlagswerk, 1954) 304; and J. Jeremías, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1969) 112-13, 234. 23Cf. also Acts 18:3; 20:33-35; and 2 Thes 3:6-10. 24 See A. Stanley, 77i* Epistles of St. Paul to the Corinthians (2nd ed.; London: Murray, 1858) 156. 25 In addition to virtually all commentaries, see G. Bornkamm, "The Missionary Stance of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 and in Acts," Studies in Luke-Acts: Essays presented in honor of Paul Schubert (eds. L. E. Keck and J. L. Martyn; Nashville: Abingdon, 1966) 194-207.
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terms of ν 19—eXetfôépoç ("free"), δουλοϋρ ("to enslave"), Kepòotiptip ("to gain")—lose the specific meanings that they have from the preceding context and become merely general Christian concepts. For example, δουλοϋρ is no longer explained in terms of its immediate context but is explained by reference to Paul's use of this term elsewhere in his letters,26 or even by 27 reference to the teaching of Jesus. Briefly, the context of ν 19 is Paul's defense (cf. ν 3: anokoyía) of his working to support himself, even though, as an apostle, he had the right to be supported (v 6), a right, he pointed out, that was clearly justified by experience (v 7), by Scripture (vv 8-10), by religious practice (v 13), and even by the teaching of Jesus (v 14). Nevertheless, Paul did not make use of this right (vv 12,15). His refusal to do so is grounded in his apostolic self-understanding (vv 16-18), which draws upon a number of traditions. Central is the philosophical problem of fate and free will, expressed here in Paul's realization that in the matter of his being an apostle he could exercise no freedom, for his apostleship was a necessity (apayw) laid upon him by God; indeed, woe to him if he did otherwise (v 16). He could exercise freedom only in the manner in which he discharged his apostleship, which he did by deciding to carry out his commission to preach in Socratic fashion, i.e., to offer the gospel free of charge (άδάπαρος) (ν 18). We are back now at ν 19. Paul, even though compelled to preach, can still assert his freedom because his preaching the gospel free of charge has made him independent of all men (ekevdepos . . . έκ πάρτωρ). As Socrates could boast: "Who among men is more free (έλίνθερίώτερος) than I, who accepts 28 neither gifts nor fee from anyone?" So also Paul could claim a similar economic freedom and one that was highly valued.29 Paul's freedom, however, was costly. He paid for it paradoxically by enslaving himself. In other words, Paul's working at a trade had, on the one hand, allowed him to be self�supporting and so free, but his yery trade had, on the other hand, also made him appear slavish. By entering the workshop he had brought about a considerable loss of status, since, as Cicero put it, a workshop can in no way be
See, e.g., F. W. Grosheide, Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953) 211, and C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (HNTC; New York: Harper & Row, 1968) 211, who both understand Paul's enslaving himself by reference to 2 Cor 4:5. 27 See, e.g., J. Weiss, Der erste Korint herbrief (Meyer Κ; 10th ed.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck& Ruprecht, 1910) 243. 28 Xenophon, Apol. 16. Note also a similar Socratic stance taken by a younger contemporary of Paul, the Stoic Musonius Rufus: "Is not the one who procures for himself the necessities of life more free (ékevdepiéTtpos) than the one who receives them from others?" (frag. 11 p. 59, 9-11 Hense). 29 Paul's insistence on freedom through refusing to be supported by the households in which he stayed on his missionary journeys should also be read in light of Lucian's De mercede conductis, which details the loss of freedom entailed by philosophers who enter wealthy households and accept support in return for their teaching.
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an appropriate place for a free man.30 Yet Paul went on to say that his enslavement was for the purpose of gaining more converts. By entering the workshop and plying a slavish trade he had made himself available to all people, rich and poor, more in any case than had he accepted support and stayed in a household.31 The personal loss of status in the eyes of others was worth the gain in converts. Thus ν 19 and vv 20�23 demonstrate the lengths to which Paul would go for the sake of the gospel. The consequence of reading ν 19 in this way, i.e., in terms of the preceding apology for Paul's working at a trade, is that there now emerges a new understanding of what his trade meant to him. Formerly, scholars have assumed that Paul's attitude toward his work was positive and thus far different from the negative view found among upper class Greeks and Romans.32 Now it appears that Paul in fact shared their view. Like a Cicero or a Plutarch, Paul preferred self�sufficiency to economic dependence, he reflected on work in terms of status, and he regarded the status of work as slavish.33 Therefore, Paul's use of the word δουλοϋρ to refer to his working at a trade gives us a clue to his social class, for the word reflects a common upper class prejudice against just such work.34 This conclusion, finally, makes good
Cicero, De off. 1.150. The importance of the workshop as a social setting for Paul's missionary activity is a subject that the writer will develop in the study announced above in n. 2. Suffice it to say that the workshop was a social setting for intellectual discourse since Socrates frequented the shop of Simon the shoemaker (see Diogenes Laertius, 2.122) and that this social setting was still used in Paul's day (see Plutarch, Maxime cumprinc.phil. diss. 776B), especially by some Cynics who had turned Simon into an ideal philosopher (see my article, "Simon the Shoemaker as an Ideal Cynic," GRBS17  41�53). On the rich and poor in the workshop discussing philosophy, see Ps.�Socrates, Ep. 13.1 (p. 26, 3�7 Köhler). Finally, note that according to Dio, Orat. 8.4-5 Diogenes, on arriving in Corinth, could have rented a house or stayed with a friend but preferred to live in the Craneion because there he would meet the most people. 32 All too typical is the statement in A. Robertson and A. Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (ICC; 2nd ed.; Edinburgh: Clark, 1914) 87: "Greeks despised manual labor; St. Paul glories in it." 33 See, e.g., Cicero, De off. 1.150-151, and Plutarch, De vit. aere al. 829F-831 A. On the value of self-sufficiency and the tendency to think of work in terms of status, see M. I. Finley, The Ancient Economy (Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California, 1973) 35-94. See also P. Brunt, "Aspects of the Social Thought of Dio Chrysostom and of the Stoics," Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 19 (1973) 9-34, and R. MacMullen, Roman Social Relations 50 B.C. to A.D. 284 (New Haven: Yale, 1974) 59-60, 70, 114-20, and 138^1. 34 There is some debate about how far down the social scale the attitude of work being slavish went. A. Burford (Craftsmen in Greek and Roman Society [London: Thames & Hudson, 1972] 25-26) says that this upper class attitude, especially as articulated by philosophers, "to a very large extent set the tone of public opinion," which can be seen in Lucian's comment (Fugit. 13) that many artisans left their despised workbenches because they perceived their trades to be slavery. Elsewhere, however, Lucían can present the artisan's view of his work far more favorably (so Somn. 7-8), a view which is often found on artisans' tombstones (cf. MacMullen, Roman Social Relations, 202 n. 105, and J. P. V. D. Balsdon, Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969] 135). Thus Paul's use of the word δονλοϋν would appear to have been more of an upper class attitude than a lower class one. 31
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sense in light of the recent work of G. Theissen, whose study of the social composition of the Corinthian community has shown that, in addition to the celebrated majority of Christians who were drawn from the lower classes (cf. 1:26�29), there was a small but significant group, drawn from the upper classes, that is in the foreground of Paul's discussions throughout 1 Corinthians.35 This socially prominent group would have readily understood and shared Paul's view of working at a trade as slavish. The second passage that deserves our attention is 2 Cor 11:7, which reads: "Did I commit a sin by demeaning myself, in order that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel to you free of charge?" The context of this passage (vv 7�15) is once again the matter of Paul's financial support, and here, too, we have an indirect reference to Paul's working at a trade, though this time in the words "by demeaning myself" (ξµαυτορ ταπει,ρώρ). This indirect reference, however, has been recognized by many commentators,36 and so it is unnecessary to establish it. It must be granted, though, that since Paul referred in the following verses to support received from the Macedonian churches ( w 8�9; cf. Acts 18:5), his acceptance of gifts as well as his support from tentmaking must be included in what was demeaning to Paul. Accepting gifts was hard for Paul, who was proud of his self�sufficiency (cf. Phil 4:10� 20). Still, the lack (το υστέρηµα) (ν 9) made up by the Macedonians means "what was wanting, after Paul had plied his trade."37 Paul's plight is not unusual; wages for artisans were low,38 and outside help was thought to be necessary.39 But if commentators have recognized in ν 7 a reference to Paul's working at a trade, they have usually missed the significance of his use of ταπειροϋρ for his attitude toward his work and thus have missed another clue to his social class. The reason is once again a penchant for understanding a word in a narrowly religious sense. Thus, Paul's choice of ταπβίροϋρ is often understood against the background of the teaching of Jesus.40 A word like ταπειροϋρ can also be used in a social sense, and this is likely to be the case here. Indeed, ταπειροϋρ was also used to express upper class attitudes toward work. An especially significant example is provided by 35
See Theissen, "Soziale Schichtung," 233�61. See, e.g., A. Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (ICC; Edinburgh: Clark, 1915) 302; H. Windisch, Der zweite Korintherbrief (Meyer Κ; 9th ed.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1924) 334; and P. Hughes, Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962) 384. 37 So J. B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of Paul (London: Macmillan, 1904) 27. 38 On wages, see Burford, Craftsmen, 135-44. 39 Note, e.g., that Dio Chrysostom (Orat. 7.105) assumes that since money is needed for rent, food, clothes, household items, even wood, artisans and other urban workers require income beyond that provided by their jobs. 40 See, e.g., Plummer, Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 303, and C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (HNTC; New York: Harper & Row, 1974) 282. Windisch (Der zweite Korintherbrief, 334-35) rejects this approach and hints at the social connotation of this word. 36
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Lucian's Somnium, in which Paideia, speaking from the perspective of the upper classes, tries to dissuade a youthful Lucian from becoming a sculptor: (If you choose sculpture,) you will put on a filthy tunic, assume a slavish appearance, and hold bars and graves and sledges and chisels in your hands, with your back bent over your work; you will be a groundling, with groundling ambitions, altogether demeaned AX (ταπεινός).
Paul's choice of this word to refer to his having taken up a trade thus has a decidedly social meaning. For Paul working at a trade had meant demeaning himself, taking on the lowly status of a common laborer. Therefore, in both 1 Cor 9:19 and 2 Cor 11:7 Paul's choice of language to refer to his work reflects not the attitude of the typical artisan, as Deissmann would have us believe, or of the working rabbi who was taught to "love labor,"42 as many scholars would lead us to expect, but rather the snobbish and scornful attitude so typical of upper class Greeks and Romans. Further, once we see that Paul regarded his work as a tentmaker as slavish and demeaning, we can appreciate more his inclusion of his working with his hands in theperátáíw-catalogue of 1 Cor. 4:11-13, which functions to exemplify how foolish, powerless, and despised (cf. ν 10) he was in the eyes of many, including his own. And thus, far from being a problem for those who, like Ramsay, would like to place Paul among the provincial aristocracy, Paul's working at a trade actually confirms their view, for Paul experienced his working as we should expect an aristocrat to have done, namely, as something slavish and demeaning.43 Ill Given the picture of Paul drawn above, namely, of a Paul who was socially from the upper classes but who nevertheless worked at a trade to support himself, we need, finally, to ask whether this picture has any historical credibility. Can we point to others from Paul's society who, for whatever reasons, worked to support themselves? It must be admitted that Paul's 41
See Lucian, Somn. 13 (Harmon's LCL translation) (cf. 9). Similar usages are found in Aristotle, Pol. 1337b 14�15; Athenaeus, 12.512B; and Plutarch, De poet. aud. 28D; Quom. adul. ab amico internóse. 68E; De fort. Rom. 318C. vAboth 1.10 43 One other passage from the Corinthian letters should be noted. P. Bachmann (Der zweite Brief des Paulus an die Korinther [KNT 8; 4th ed.; Leipzig/ Erlangen: Deichert, 1922] 369-70) rightly points out that Paul's practice of preaching the gospel free of charge is to be contrasted with that of his Corinthian opponents, who are pejoratively described as "retailing" (καπηλβνοντες) the word of God (2 Cor 2:17). To be sure, the immediate background of Paul's choice of καπηΚβύειρ is the traditional philosophical polemic against sophists, as best described by Windisch (Der zweite Korintherbrief, 100�101). Nevertheless, Paul's description of his opponents is pejorative precisely because retailers (κάπηλοι) generally were widely scorned (see, e.g., Cicero, De off. 1.150; Plutarch, De poet. aud. 34D; Dio, Orat. 4.98; Philostratus, V. Apoll. 7.23; and MacMullen, Roman Social Relations, 139). Thus, Paul's use of this word, to the extent that it depends on the scorn for retailers themselves, further underscores Paul's snobbish attitude toward work.
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behavior was not typical of the well�to�do who found themselves short of money and faced real or imagined needs. From Plutarch, for example, we learn that such people tended to borrow the needed money rather than to go to 44 work. Lucian could point to others who entered households of the wealthy to become resident philosophers, rhetoricians, or educators.45 Neither Plutarch nor Lucian approved of these alternatives. Indeed, Plutarch held up as an example to those in financial straits the Stoic philosopher Cleanthes, who, when a student, supported himself by grinding corn in a mill;46 consequently, instead of borrowing, Plutarch recommended teaching letters, escorting boys to and from school, being a doorkeeper, or 47 working as a sailor. Epictetus also advised his students, most of whom were persons of substance and status, that if circumstances required it, they should work; his recommendations were similar: drawing water, escorting boys to and from school, and being a doorkeeper.48 Lucian, moreover, provides us with examples of socially prominent persons who took such advice: Agathocles of Samos, on following his friend Deinias into exile on Gyara, worked as a purple�fisher to support himself and Deinias, whereas Demetrius of Sunium, when his friend Antiphilus was imprisoned in Alexandria, supported himself and his friend by working as a porter on the docks.49 Two more familiar examples are Musonius Rufus and Dio Chrysostom. Both belonged to the upper classes—Dio to the provincial aristocracy of 50 Prusa in Bithynia and Musonius to the Roman equestrian order. Both were exiled—Musonius by Nero and Dio by Domitian—and both supported themselves during their exiles by working with their hands. Dio worked at all sorts of menial jobs, such as planting, digging, and drawing water;51 Musonius 52 worked on a farm. The case of Dio is especially significant, for his exile meant years of wandering from city to city and from province to province, during the course of which he adopted the role of Cynic missionary; his combining missionary 53 activity and self�support is thus a close parallel to the case of Paul. And so our picture of Paul, of one from the socially privileged classes who when faced with finding support turned to a trade, is historically credible. His behavior ^See Plutarch, De vit. aere al., passim. See Lucian, Mere. cond. 1�6. 46 See Plutarch, De vit. aere al. 830C�D. Note here that Plutarch's juxtaposition ofikevdepos ("free") and δουλικά ("slavish"), which are used in a socio�economic sense, is a close parallel to 1 Cor 9:19. 47 See Plutarch, De vit. aere al. 830A�B. 48 See Epictetus, Diss. 3.26.7. 49 See Lucian, Tox. 17�18 and 31. 50 For Dio, see Brunt, "Social Thought of Dio Chrysostom," 10�14; for Musonius, see C. Lutz, "Musonius Rufus: The Roman Socrates," Yale Classical Studies 10 (1947) 14. 51 See Philostratus, V. Soph. 488, and H. von Arnim, Leben und Werke des Dio von Prusa (Berlin: Weidmannsche, 1898) 246�48. 52 See Musonius, frag. 11 (pp. 57�63 Hense). 53 For Dio's developing self�understanding as a missionary, see Dio, Orat. 13.10�13. 45
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was not typical, but it was advocated by moralists and chosen by at least several individuals. CONCLUSION In summary, then, we can say that Deissmann was right in sensing the importance of Paul's working at a trade for ascertaining his social class. But he was wrong in considering only the fact of Paul's having plied the trade of tentmaking; the language that he used to refer to his trade provides a better indicator of his social class. For when Paul's use of status terms is taken into consideration, it becomes clear that the attitude toward work expressed in those terms corresponds more closely to that of the upper classes than to that of the lower. Therefore, Ramsay's view of Paul's aristocratic origin is confirmed—indeed, strengthened—because Paul's tentmaking is no longer problematic for that view. By working at a slavish and demeaning trade Paul sensed a considerable loss of status, a loss that makes sense only if he were from a relatively high social class.
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Published on Oct 2, 2009