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John Barclay

Professor John Barclay, Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University (United Kingdom), famed New Testament scholar, and occasional Dunedin resident, will give (if you will pardon the pun) two lectures in the De Carle Open Lecture series, on Tuesday 30 March and Wednesday 31 March:

1. Paul and the Subversive Power of the Unconditional Gift
Tuesday 30 March, 5:10pm
Archway 1 Lecture Theatre, University of Otago

Working from the anthropology of gift, and the practice of gifts in Paul’s first-century context, a critical question emerges concerning who is qualified or worthy to receive the gift; answers on the gift’s proper distribution reveal foundational social norms. Paul’s mission to non-Jews broke Jewish ethnic and legal norms, and was the social corollary of his conviction that a divine gift (of Christ) had been given and distributed without qualificatory conditions. This conviction represents a highly unsettling perception of the world, at odds with the normal categories of hierarchy, quality and significance, and capable of creating irregular, socially creative communities. Paul emerges as one of the most subversive thinkers of the ancient world.

2. Paul, Reciprocity and the Modern Myth of the Pure Gift
Wednesday 31 March, 5:10pm
Archway 1 Lecture Theatre, University of Otago

The modern ideology of the pure, unilateral and utterly disinterested gift is the product of social and economic developments in Western history, strengthened by Protestant polemics and modern individualism. In Paul’s context, as in most traditional societies, gifts create obligations, are bilateral in exchange, and are a key mechanism for social integration. Paul’s ideology of gift-reciprocity in a community bound together by gift and need indicates that he is not a modern – and all the better for that! Special features of Paul’s notion of community-construction will be explored, with suggestions concerning their relevance to contemporary social and economic problematics.

All Welcome
And it’s free!

Derrida receives a crap Christmas present and contemplates his obligation to give one back.