oa Conspectus : The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary - Vehicles of divine mystery : Paul's Danielic self-understanding in Ephesians 3
Recent applications of social identity theories in Pauline studies have highlighted the importance of considering Paul's self-understanding as a window through which to interpret his letters. Though this insight has proved fruitful with regard to Paul's earlier letters, its application in the later prison letters has been inconsistent. This article examines the precedence for Paul's self-characterization in Ephesians 3 as Christ's prisoner "for the sake of you Gentiles", and as one of the "holy apostles and prophets" who have received God's mystery by revelation and for which he "kneels" in prayer. It is argued that aspects of the language resonate with the characterization of Daniel in Babylonian exile and that Paul portrays himself as a vehicle of God's revelation in the mold of Daniel. External evidence is also adduced in support of this interpretation, which if correct, may have some implications for interpreting the later prison letters.
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