Paul’s Map and Territory: Rethinking the Work of the Apostle in Light of Ancient Cartography

Paul had a clear understanding of how his calling and his work mapped onto geography. In contexts where he felt that others were encroaching on his territory, as in Galatians and 2 Corinthians, Paul could be very angry and defensive. Likewise, when Paul was writing to people in territories that he d...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Horizons in biblical theology
Main Author: Smith, Eric C. 1977-
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Brill [2020]
In: Horizons in biblical theology
Standardized Subjects / Keyword chains:B Paul Apostle / Geography / Map / Missionary journey / Romans
RelBib Classification:HC New Testament
HH Archaeology
TB Antiquity
Further subjects:B Geography
B Space
B Maps
B Region
B Romans
B Mapping
B Paul
B Place
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Summary:Paul had a clear understanding of how his calling and his work mapped onto geography. In contexts where he felt that others were encroaching on his territory, as in Galatians and 2 Corinthians, Paul could be very angry and defensive. Likewise, when Paul was writing to people in territories that he did not consider part of his purview, such as in Romans, he was deferential and submissive. In all three cases—in Galatians and 2 Corinthians when Paul was being defensive about his territory, and in Romans when he was being deferential—Paul used a particular word, κλίµα, to designate geography—a word he never used in any other context. This article puts this observation in conversation with ancient mapping, which relied on “process descriptions” of space and place rather than “state descriptions.” That is, ancient cartography privileged the process of movement or travel, and in contrast to most modern mapping, ancient maps didn’t usually make use of any external system of reference. One particular map, the Peutinger Map, helps illustrate this phenomenon. Understanding how ancient maps organized space, we can begin to understand Paul’s notions of territory and the way they determined which places he felt compelled to visit. By knowing something about Paul’s maps and geographies, we can make sense of his language in Romans 15, where territory played a pivotal role in his self-understanding as an apostle and in his trajectory across the Roman world, “from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum,” but also onward to Spain and to the end of the world.
ISSN:1871-2207
Contains:Enthalten in: Horizons in biblical theology
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1163/18712207-12341404