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); Richard Hays, The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel's Scripture (Eerdmans, 2005).
4-7 Corinthians?!? Literary (Dis)unity in Biblical Texts Like no other Pauline letter, 2 Corinthians is discontinuous at several points.
6:14-7:1 looks like a digression, and has a less Pauline style.
10:1ff has a different attitude toward its audience.
8-9 seem duplicative.
Such discontinuities lead some scholars to read the letter as a compilation (Brown 548):
A. An earlier letter would precede 1 Corinthians (see 1 Cor. 5:9).
B. 1 Corinthians would be next.
C. Paul's "tearful letter" (see 2 Cor. 2:3-4, 7:8-9) would follow.
D. All, or chapters 1-9, of 2 Corinthians
(perhaps without 6:14-7:1) would follow.
E. If the harsher 2 Corinthians
10-13 is a letter, it would follow a new disturbance. (Or is it C? See 2 Cor. 13:1-2's threat of a third visit.)
(F. Then 8:1-24, to Corinth? Or does this one come before D?)
(G. Then 9:1-15, to Achaia?)
There is no independent evidence for 2 Cor. as a compilation.
Canonical criticism asks whether these hypotheses really help readers.
They are supposed to clarify our understanding of the texts.
At what point do they take our focus off the texts themselves?
Scholars tend to find the (dis)unity they expect to see.
Is the canonical form of the text important, even determinative?
How should readers handle interpretive uncertainties and probabilities?
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?