Monday, 11th February 2019* CANCELLED * Seminar Thursday 14 February 2019:
Diagnosing Paul: A Methodology
for Understanding the Impairment and Disability
of the Apostle to the Gentiles

Unfortunately, the speaker had, for health reasons, to cancel the seminar scheduled on Thursday 14 February 2019, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room C
(D/TH107, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Mr Isaac Soon, PhD Student, New Testament (BCM, MTh, MPhil [Oxon.]), Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University; Research Assistant to Prof. Francis Watson

Past interpreters of Paul the Apostle attempted to diagnose Paul’s various weaknesses (e.g. the thorn in his flesh [2 Cor 12:1-10], cf. Gal 4:13-15) purely through medical conjecture. Until recently scholars did not have the means to speak about physical impairment beyond medical diagnosis. The advent of disability theory, however, has provided a way of moving beyond Paul’s impairment(s) as medical conditions in order to conceive of them also as social and cultural realities. This paper gives a brief overview of some recent short studies on Paul and disability in the last twenty years, and as an alternative proposes a socio-cultural method for analysing disability in an ancient Jewish and Graeco-Roman context (I draw in particular on the work of foremost German disability scholar Anne Waldschmidt). The aim is to demonstrate a critical method for analysing disability in antiquity without anachronistic retrojection in order to make Paul a fruitful dialogue partner for contemporary analyses and applications of disability theory and disability theology.


His previous training in Biblical Studies took place in Sydney, Australia where he earned a BCM (2010) from Alphacrucis and an MTh (2013) from Excelsia College (then Wesley Institute). From 2015-2017 he read for an MPhil in Theology (New Testament) at the University of Oxford, where he worked on a project about Paul’s somatic rhetoric in 1-2 Corinthians in conversation with ancient ideals of visual appearance. In 2017 he joined the University of Durham as a recipient of a Durham Doctoral Studentship, working alongside Dr. Jane Heath and Dr. Jan Dochhorn on his PhD project entitled: “Paul, the Disabled Apostle.”