Taylor M. Weaver offers a provocative reading of Pauline community, focusing on social and historical readings of the Pauline collection, body metaphors, and socio-politics of the gift, through models and methods developed by critical theorists. Weaver pays attention to conceptual apparatuses revolving around gifting, community, and immunity found in the writings of Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito, augmenting common readings of the historical Paul, while also enriching philosophical co-optations of Paul. Using critical theories (revolving around munus/gift), Weaver unveils different gifting types, showing how these expand one’s understanding of early Christian community. The study ends with a new exegesis of 2 Corinthians 8:1–15, illuminating the text through effective theoretical avenues. This book expands methodological borders, providing innovative models of Pauline Christianity, and developing new readings of community profitable to both New Testament studies and theory.
Taylor M. Weaver (PhD, University of Kent, UK) is a Pauline scholar who has published in the areas of New Testament, political theology, the reception of Paul, and continental philosophy.
Part 1: The Espositoan Community
1. Esposito and the Contours of Communitas
2. Contemporary Orientations of Community
3. Neoliberal Communities: The Hobbesian Spectre
Part 2: Delegating a Space
4. Reading Paul through Distorted Optics
5. Pauline Community: Approximations
6. The Pauline Communitas: New Possibilities, Speculative Futures
In this elegantly written volume Taylor M. Weaver develops a critical engagement with Paul’s notion of community, specifically with 2 Corinthians 8 and the Collection, which is as richly philosophical as it is rooted in the field of Pauline studies. Weaver’s wider challenge to the field of New Testament studies is to embrace and engage with contemporary philosophical discourse, just as some of the early pioneers of New Testament studies did. Rather than be suspicious of its potentially “distorting” effects on exegesis, such engagement, Weaver strongly argues, is key to allowing the New Testament to inform critical thinking about community today.
Taylor M. Weaver’s new book marks an important moment in biblical studies. Readings of Paul in critical theory and philosophy have typically come from outside the field but Taylor belongs to an innovative and growing tradition of New Testament scholars who are now able to make serious contributions to these high-profile cross-disciplinary debates. Anyone interested in the "philosophical Paul," as well as political readings of biblical texts and Pauline studies generally, will have to engage seriously and carefully with this impressive contribution.
The Scandal of Community is an Espositoian reading of Paul through which one learns much about this continental philosopher and his interlocutors and how they are reading Paul. Along the way, Weaver has some great turns of phrase (e.g. “playing with Paul’s cadaver” ) and the book holds up well alongside other critical philosophical readings of Paul and should be read by those whose interests and research areas find their focus there.