Lessons from Paul: first educator of the first millennium

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Victory, Michael (2018) Lessons from Paul: first educator of the first millennium. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This study is a narrative inquiry (Clandinin and Connelly 2000) into ten letters written by Paul of Tarsus to four communities in the Mediterranean Basin between 50 and 55 CE. The inquiry offers new insights into the education encounter, claims that Paul’s teaching practices are universalisable, and concludes that Paul’s pedagogy is an enactment of what Biesta (2013) has theorised as a pedagogy of the event. Saint Paul is the fulcrum for new conversations between philosophers, historians, theologians and social theorists (Milbank, Žižek, & Davis, 2010). This inquiry, prompted by the declaration that Paul is ‘our contemporary’ and ‘the universal subject’ (Badiou 2003, 2009), joins that conversation, with a materialist interpretation of Paul as the first educator of the first millennium. Paul experienced an event (Badiou 2003) on the road to Damascus. This event introduced a new ontological belief into the world, resurrection, which Paul translated into a new way of living, described in this study as agapē. Paul formed communities, known as ekklēsia, that were unique social groups (Meeks 2003, Horsley 1997, 2000), and education communities (Judge in Harrison 2008; Smith 2012). These ekklēsia became a social system in which new structures and social practices (Giddens 1984) supported the emancipation of people from the restrictions of their identity and increased their agency through social learning. Members of the ekklēsia engaged in education encounters with a commitment to agapē relationships. Paul’s approach, revolutionary for its time and place, introduced reflexivity (Giddens 1984) and intersubjectivity (Mead 1934, 2002) into the education encounter. This new narrative of Paul foreshadows the education philosophy of Dewey (1975, 1997, 1998, 2011), Biesta (2006, 2010, 2013, 2017), Freire (1985) and Noddings (2010, 2011, 2013). The inquiry concludes with the claim that Paul enacted a pedagogy of the event from which there are lessons for contemporary educators.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/42233
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Historical > FOR Classification > 2204 Religion and Religious Traditions
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords narrative inquiry; Paul of Tarsus; education; pedagogy
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