Original Research

Song and music in the Pauline epistles: Paul’s utilisation of Jewish, Roman and Greek musical traditions to encourage the early Christian communities to praise God

F.P. Viljoen
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 35, No 3 | a567 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v35i3.567 | © 2001 F.P. Viljoen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 August 2001 | Published: 08 August 2001

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F.P. Viljoen, School for Biblical Studies & Bible Languages, Potchefstroomse Universiteit vir CHO, South Africa

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This article presents an exegetical investigation of several Pauline texts in which he encourages early Christian communities to praise God with song and music. Paul encourages the congregation in Rome to praise God in unity. The Colossians and Ephesians are exhorted to sing in order to instruct and to admonish one another to glorify God. Furthermore Paul remarks on hymn singing in the Corinthian congregation. In this article it is indicated that influences from Jewish, Roman and Greek cultures in these different communities are probable. Each of these three cultures had a long musical tradition and thus the content and typical features of their musical traditions are investigated. Furthermore, the issue whether Paul utilised features from these musical traditions to encourage the early Christians to praise God with song and music is also explored. The article concludes that insight in these features results in a better understanding of Paul’s teaching with regard to the use of song and music in Christian worship – also for today.


Greek Musical Tradition; Jewish Musical Tradition; Pauline Epistles; Role Of Song And Music; Roman Jewish Musical Tradition


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