Sources: I. Howard Marshall et al., Exploring the New Testament: A Guide to the Letters and Revelation (IVP, 2002); Raymond E. Brown, The New Testament: an Introduction (Doubleday, 1997); Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 3d ed. (Oxford, 2004).
A Roman Banquet ... 1 and 2 Corinthians display a church with now familiar social features and problems:
Greco-Roman family structures (7:1-16, 7:25-8:40),
gender relations (5:1-13, 6:15-7:9, 11:1-16, 14:33-36),
class structures (1:26, 9:1-18, 11:17-34, 2 Cor. 12:13),
civil/political relations (6:1-11),
spiritual hierarchies and factions (12-14, 1:10-17, 3:1-4:21, 10:23-33),
the exhilaration and uprootedness of newly gained freedom and power (1:5-7, 4:8),
cultural, philosophical, and religious legacies and plausibility structures (8-10, 6:12-20, 8:1-13), and
ethnic identities and interrelationships (7:17-24, 12:2; cf. Acts 18:4-11)
in a chaotic, problem-ridden community of believers.
Greco-Roman social history (as well as contemporary social theory) fills in many interpretive gaps.
Paul responds by applying the resources of
Israel's Scriptures, read Paul's way (9:8-12, 10:1-13, 11:2-16, 14:20-25, 15:20-57),
Christian liturgy (10:14-22, 11:17-34, 16:1-4, 16:22),
theology (especially Christology [1:17-31, 15:1-58], eschatology [10:11, 13:1-13, 15:1-58], pneumatology [2:6-16, 12:1-31], ecclesiology [12-14])
(what about justification by grace through faith?!? see 1:30, 6:11),
and appeals to his own history with them, life, missions, and personality (2:1-5, 9:19-27, 16:1-24).
The hermeneutical result is an interdisciplinary banquet of linguistics, history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, literary theory, and theology.
All these factors overlap and interplay in ways that require mature judgments of readers.
... and a Lord's Supper Paul addresses each of these dynamics through the cross above all (1 Cor. 1:18-31). This judgment alone, "the mind of Christ" (2:16) judges rightly.
Passage by passage, "Christ crucified" re-narrates all these social, theological, historical, cultural, personal factors in Corinth.
(... Where shall we focus our attention? Requests?)
Looking to the rules without respecting their warrant leads to legalism and moral disintegration;
appealing to the warrant without following it to the transformed life it provides leads to libertinism and cultural assimilation.
What cruciform relationships does 1 Corinthians display?
What qualities in us today does Christ crucified transform?
The Cross Is Still the Criterion of All Things: 2 Corinthians As in 1 Cor., so here Paul centers readers on the cross. Suffering is the true sign of apostleship (11:30, 12:5, 12:10).
Trust in Christ waits for rather than assumes eschatological transformation (4:1-18).
That which assumes it rather than waits is false "super-" apostleship (11:5, 11:12-15).
What vision of the Church is displayed here (cf. Hays 147-148)? How do our visions of the Church compare?