http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/m ... an-empire/Thus, Paul’s missionizing activities and rhetorical demeanor are entirely ordinary tactics to cultivate authority when set alongside other similar figures. Moreover, situating him among this class of freelance figures helps explain why Paul, whose ideas about his revered deity were by no means unique in the ancient context, appealed to Gentile audiences. His behaviors tapped into their cultural expectations for how a religious specialist would appear.
The question raised by Wendt according to this review of the his book:
(my bold)While I am both intrigued and impressed by Wendt’s meticulous social theorizing, I remain uncomfortable with the language of self-authorized experts. The “self-authorized” detail seems potentially problematic because anyone could, in theory, authorize themselves to do anything. Indeed, what kind of author is not, in some way or another, a self-authorized expert? What Wendt seems to mean with the idea of “self-authorized” is that the individual is acting outside of an organized civic or institutional network. At the same time, though, the distinction between individual and institutional religion is often more discursive than real: she readily admits that such “freelance” figures are themselves the products of social structures and conditions.
As Wendt herself notes, once her framework is taken seriously, “the seemingly intractable dichotomy of mainstream versus sectarian groups dissolves into a sea of individual agents.” This model loosely resembles Max Weber’s ideas of charismatic religious leaders and their subsequent taming into “institutions.” Where Wendt differs and improves upon the Weberian model is by her close attention to social conditions that make the authority of freelance specialists possible in the ancient context.
This remembers the controversial passage of Tacitus about the ''Christ'' crucified by Pilate. If Tacitus despised the Christians as individual agents being intent on spreading their ''superstition'' in Rome, then also their presumed founder had to be, in the eyes of Tacitus, an individual agent already intent on spreading his superstition in the only Judea.Unlike others who struggled to figure out why early Christian ideas were appealing, Wendt shows that it was the teacher’s behaviors and discursive strategies were often the real attraction for people. In other words, individuals in the Roman Empire would have been socially conditioned to look for certain signals in the rhetorical posturing of people such as Paul, which would lead them to recognize their legitimacy as religious experts. Therefore, when Paul appeared in a city and proffered his teachings about the miracle-working Judean, his strategies would not have seemed out of place at all