Friday, May 29, 2009

Be imitators of me...

That's how Paul began the 11th chapter of 1 Corinthians. I'm currently in Dr. Clint Arnold's class that's going to work through all 89 verses of 1 Thessalonians, and in 1:6a, Paul echoes a similar statement:

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord (ESV)
Καὶ ὑμεῖς μιμηταὶ ἡμῶν ἐγενήθητε καὶ τοῦ κυρίου (Greek)

The word I'm focusing on here is "imitators" or mimētai. Sometimes I think that Paul was either very arrogant or just ridiculously blessed to be able to say, 'imitate me,' as if his life was some perfect model to follow. However, here's a few quotes that I think really helped me understand this idea.

"Unlike many modern students, the ancients deeply appreciated the value of imitating model lives as a means of moral education, whether those models were parents, heroes, or teachers. Xenophon, for example, described the role of the teacher, saying, 'Now the professors of other subjects try to make their pupils copy their teachers."1

"The individualism so characteristic of modernity might well lead us to accuse anyone urging us to imitate them of being extremely arrogant... We must first recognize that the notion of imitating some sort of moral exemplar was quite common in the ancient world. Further, new converts cannot expected to have mastered the demands of their new faith and the practices needed to live in accord with these demands in their day-to-day lives. Such converts will need both instruction in their new faith and concrete examples of how to embody their faith in the various contexts in which they find themselves... For example, in the initial stages of an apprenticeship in silversmithing the apprentice sits directly opposite the master silversmith in order to imitate the master's movements... No amount of abstract verbal instruction can bring about mastery of a craft without the concrete example of a master to imitate. It would have been futile for Paul simply to repeat... the abstract command, 'Live a cruciform life.' Without giving this phrase some concrete content by pointing to his own life and practice [they] would have been unclear about how to embody such a command."2

1Gene L. Green, The Letters to the Thessalonians, Pillar Series (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 97.

2Gerald F. Hawthrone, Martin, and Reid, eds. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1993), 430.

Who do you want to imitate?


Ben said...

bonzi wells.. like the citations at the bottom...keepin it real phD stylez

Ben said...

the online ESV is pretty cool. I just listened to 1 thess online

Janice said...

bethany dillon!!!

ahahhah and just as a side note... my word verification to post this comment is "urfat". lol thanks blogger!

Mike S. said...

Ben: You need to find a new ball player to imitate! And ESV online is awesome!

Janice: HAHA. Can't believe they did that.