I took a class on Paul this summer. (Thirty hours of lecture in five days!)
Our professor frequently contrasted other types of Greco-Roman literature with Paul’s letters, in order that we understand the context in which he wrote.
It was a struggle not to visibly fangirl when he compared the Christ Hymn of Philippians 2 with Fragment 31 by Sappho of Lesbos:
He appears to me, that one, equal to the gods,
the man who, facing you,
is seated and, up close, that sweet voice of yours
he listens to
And how you laugh your charming laugh. Why it
makes my heart flutter within my breast,
because the moment I look at you, right then, for me,
to make any sound at all won’t work any more.
My tongue has a breakdown and a delicate
— all of a sudden — fire rushes under my skin.
With my eyes I see not a thing, and there is a roar
that my ears make.
Sweat pours down me and a trembling
seizes all of me; paler than grass
am I, and a little short of death
do I appear to me.
(I think a book called “The New Testament and Xena” would have sold like hotcakes a decade ago. Sadly, that ship has probably sailed. ”The Catholic Church: A Game of Thrones”, however, has potential.)