John Barclay on Social-Scientific Methods in Biblical Studies and the Anthropology of Gifting

Professor John Barclay delivers the guest lecture at the inauguration of St Mary’s Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible, on May 3, 2013: “Paul and the Gift: Gift-theory, Grace and Critical Issues in the Interpretation of Paul.”

John Barclay speaks on the anthropology of the term gift for understanding the nature of grace or charis in the New Testament and especially in Paul’s letters.

This lecture attempts three tasks: first, to use the anthropology of gift and historical studies of gift-giving in the Graeco-Roman world (including ancient Judaism) to raise appropriate questions about Pauline and early Christian discourses concerning  gift; second, to outline ways in which gift-giving can be and has been ‘perfected’, that is, drawn out to an absolute or extreme form for the sake of definition or polemical advantage; and third, on this basis, to outline some of the key configurations of grace  in the history of reception of Paul, and thus to clarify central issues currently mired in conceptual confusion.

The lecture begins at 6:10 in the video.

John Barclay is Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University.

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