Collationes: Vlaams tijdschrift voor theologie en pastoraal vol:39 pages:57-72
Social forces play a role in how people relate to culture and construct identity. Recent studies into Pauline literature focus on the interface between Paul’s thought and the socio-cultural environment around him, especially into what is perceived as an undercurrent of protest against the Roman Empire. Contra the Roman imperial claim of the Caesars as gods stands Paul, who replaces imperial theology with that of the Christ event. In addition, Paul questions the claim of the “golden age” of Augustan culture whereby the Caesars eradicate the suffering of the present order. Paul writes to a Roman church and community impacted by imperial decrees of expulsion, military impressment and forced servitude inflicted upon the Jewish community during the first century of the Common Era. Whereas the Roman world espoused the notion of a world filled with peace and the just rule of the Roman Caesars, Paul hears the groans of a world suppressed and afflicted with suffering. Paul posits an alternative to the Roman system, where the glorification of creation and Christ followers comes from his God and not through the political system of the day. For Paul, God will inaugurate the true golden age where all suffering will end and as a result the world will be liberated from its present bondage.