This article proposes a methodological shift away from setting Paul’s usage of the group designator ἐκκλησία against the backdrop of the LXX corpus and the Greek δῆμος assemblies and toward understanding Christ-followers’ adoption of the title in light of naming conventions in Greco-Roman associations. Assessing naming patterns in associations and exploring possible connections between titles and behaviors leads to the new possibility that association titles, including Paul’s, generally connote little more than the ideal of cohesiveness among members and corporate identity. Previous arguments that ἐκκλησία represented for Paul political subversion, continuity with Judean ethnicity, or conscious modeling on civic ἐκκλησίαι are deemed especially unlikely. Paul did not explicitly attribute such connotations to the title nor did association titles generally reflect political orientation or ethnic identity. The possibility of Pauline innovation necessarily remains, but it should not be assumed a priori.

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