Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chronic Illness and Identity Formation in Paul

Audrey Dawson. Healing, Weakness and Power: Perspectives on Healing in the Writings of Mark, Luke and Paul. Milton Keynes, U.K.: Paternoster, 2008. Pp. xvii + 302. ISBN 978-1-84227-524-5. $38.00 paper.

Here is an excerpt from a book review I just completed:

...Dawson argues, in chapter five, that Paul’s presentation of Jesus’ healing ministry is quite different in comparison to Mark and Luke. The source of this difference is Paul’s experience with personal illness in which he developed his theology of suffering and mission (2 Cor 12:7-10). Dramatic physical healings were thus not a central part of Paul’s ministry. Furthermore, Dawson understands Paul’s message of spiritual salvation to the gentiles to be an extension and his re-contextualization of the earthly ministry of Jesus which had emphasized physical healing...
My interest in this is thinking about Paul's social identity in the context of a person with a chronic illness. Paul is often presented as a domineering, power-hungry, authoritarian leader within the Christ-movement. However, does the image of Paul as a Chronically ill leader change that perspective? Furthermore, Kathy Ehrensperger has argued something quite similar concerning Paul's asymmetrical position within the Christ-movement. Paul, the apostle to the nations, one who is a servant of Christ and chronically suffering. Talk about an ongoing identity forming factor.

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