HONR-330 Honors Capstone Project

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Student Paper

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Biblical Studies | Other Classics

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

In this paper, I use the scholarship surrounding Philippians 2:6-11 to identify it as a pre-Pauline hymn influenced by Greek culture. I use Dr. Arnold Levin’s essay “Paul’s Victory Song” as a springboard, investigating his arguments as well as other more well-known scholarship covering the passage. Dr. Levin argues that Philippians 2:6-11 is a Greek ode in the Aeolic style written in imitation of Pindar, with a clearly established meter. Although I disagree with Dr. Levin's methods and conclusion, I do not completely reject all of his argument. Philippians 2:6-11 does not have a clear meter as one might find in Pindar; nevertheless, this does not eliminate the possibility of metrical influences. In addition to an in-depth analysis of the passage itself, I include background on Paul, Philippians, and the historical and geographical context. In this way, I ensure a thorough investigation of not only the passage, but also the author and the audience. As a final segment of my paper, I discuss the theological implications of my conclusions. The character of Jesus’ divinity takes on a different cast when one acknowledges that the growing Christian church was also competing with the Greco-Roman gods, and that both Jews and Gentiles lived and were educated in an environment steeped in ancient Greek culture and theology. In this way, my paper both supports Philippians 2:6-11 as a hymn and provides a more complete picture of its context.


This project was a combination of my senior inquiries for Classics and Religion and my Honors Capstone. In addition to the paper, it includes a reworking of Philippians 2:6-11 as a Shakespearean sonnet and a brief reflection on my research experience.

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