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Human beings are embedded in a set of social relations. A social network is one way of conceiving that set of relations in terms of a number of persons connected to one another by varying degrees of relatedness. In the early Jesus group documents featuring Paul and coworkers, it takes little effort to envision the apostle's collection of friends and friends of friends that is the Pauline network. The persons who constituted that network are the focus of this set of brief books. For Christians of the Western tradition, these persons are significant ancestors in faith. While each of them is worth knowing by themselves, it is largely because of their standing within that web of social relations woven about and around Paul that they are of lasting interest. Through this series we hope to come to know those persons in ways befitting their first-century Mediterranean culture. It is difficult to appreciate how Stephen qualifies as a friend of someone who attended and approved of his murder (Acts 7: 58; 22: 20). Yet Stephen belonged to the very group of Israelites to whom Paul later brought the Good News: the Hellenists. These Israelites lived mainly outside of Palestine, thoroughly acculturated in the Greek language and culture of their habitat, and they practiced their traditions in a very modified way. These modifications created great difficulty for Stephen and other Hellenists who resumed residence in Jerusalem, as we read in Acts 6-7. In this account we learn who Stephen was, what he said, and how he died--all things that made a huge impression on Paul. That experience set the stage for Paul's commissioning by the risen Jesus to evangelize Hellenists (Acts 9). In Stephen: Paul and theHellenist Israelites, John J. Pilch reflects on Stephen as a Hellenist Israelite, a collectivistic person, a "deacon" (the word does not appear in Acts), and one who true to his tradition communicates with the world of God in alternate states of consciousness. Paul has much in common with Stephen, so to know Stephen is to gain a better understanding of Paul.
Buy Stephen: Paul and the Hellenist Israelites (Paul's Social Network - Brothers and Sisters in Faith series) by John J. Pilch from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780814652299 & 0814652298
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