As I noted yesterday, the Fellowship for Biblical Studies Conference is taking place here in Melbourne on September 24–25. I am giving a paper. The details as as follows:
Dung as Idolatry: The Meaning of skubala in Philippians 3:8
Why does Paul choose the term skubala by way of retrospective assessment of his former ‘gains’ in Judaism (Philippians 3:8)? This paper proposes a new interpretation by exploring the relationship in certain Jewish texts between ‘dung’ (the most likely translation of Paul’s term) and idolatry. It will be argued that the rhetorical construal of these former ‘gains’ as idolatry is consistent with the polemical and rhetorical strategy of the surrounding material in Philippians 3. Now that Paul has gained Christ, all other forms of allegiance or achievement are deemed idolatrous. The paper ends with some suggestions as to how this reading of Philippians 3 contributes to wider debates about Paul’s understanding of Judaism.