Overview Yung Suk Kim takes up the language of "body" that infuses 1 Corinthians, Paul's most complicated letter, and the letter that provides us the most information, and poses the sharpest questions, about social realities in the early church. Kim argues against the view that in speaking of the church as Christ's body Paul seeks to emphasize unity and the social boundary. Against the conventional rhetoric of the "body politic" in Greco-Roman philosophy, Kim argues that Paul seeks rather to nourish the vitality of a diverse community and to criticize the ideology of a powerful in-group in Corinth, a message of particular importance for contemporary global Christianity.
ISBN 13: 9780800662851
Product Details Table of Contents. Show More. Average Review. Write a Review. Some scholars insist that Paul addressed all three issues of gender and sex, race and class together in order to avoid any simplistic handling of these matters. Thiselton agreeing with Bartchy, Cartlidge and Deming But this comment does not explain the differences in approach to gender and sex concerns on the one hand, and ethnic and social status concerns on the other hand.
According to Braxton : [T]he force of the argument [of 1 Cor —24] may be to enjoin the Corinthians to remain as they are. Since, in the divine scheme, people have different gifts, acceptable concessions are suggested by Paul. What would the implications have been in the first century, and what are contemporary readers to make of it in the 21st century? Such questions are important when on the one hand Paul is perceived not to have been a quietist intent on preserving the status quo but rather consciously and constantly challenging it.
On the other hand Paul appears to have strived to establish his authority in the Corinthian community with its different groups and aspiring leaders? Ambiguity is maintained throughout 1 Corinthians 7 and 1 Corintians —24 in particular Braxton ; following Wire The notions in 1 Corinthians are paradoxical, as this verse holds that being called in Christ, whilst a slave, changes such a person into a freed person belonging to the Lord, whilst, called in Christ as a free person changes free status into being a slave of Christ.
The status of a freed person, in any case, hovered between truly and really free and enslavement, given the indissoluble bond between the former owner and the freed slave, perpetuated through the uneven relationship built upon the patronage system of the day.
Given the careful literary construction of the text, it can be concluded that the ambiguity in 1 Corinthians 7, including 1 Corinthians —24, is deliberate as it invited engagement and interpretation Braxton —; cf. Kim In this way, Paul can be read as challenging social conservatism and nullifying human constructions of power. The ambiguity of 1 Corinthians 7 is operative on a larger scale as well, as becomes evident when this chapter is read as part of the letter as a whole.
In fact, the ambiguity can be traced to the author and his claims to power. Why not rather be defrauded? As mentioned earlier, in the past, the eschatological edge in Corinthians was made into an interpretative grid for reading the letter. Martin ; Slavery in the 1st century could not be disconnected from the structural, social system and complex set of convictions regarding hierarchical notions of human beings accompanied by ideas about exercising power and related expectations of submission, corporeal availability for sexual purposes, and punishment.
This, at least, raises the question, why was Paul not at equally great pains to qualify and nuance his argument when it came to slavery, as he was with his instructions to various versions of married, unmarried and previously married people? Slavery in the 1st century may not have entailed a life-sentence of enslavement, because both informal and formal manumission was the order of the day.
However, his letters provide no indication that Paul experienced slavery as a socio-political concern, in the way that he understood the inclusion of Gentiles in a faith or convictional system, derived from and adhering to its Jewish origins. In the case of the latter, he was willing to formulate different paradigms of understanding such as a different theological notion, with God embodied in crucified, corporeal form and systems of praxis such as those beyond sacrificial notions, even beyond legal requirements with potential legalistic, static tendencies. On the one hand, 1 Corinthians —24, like other Pauline texts, could be understood in terms of his belief about the relativisation of all things in Christ Campbell — On the other hand, in this text Paul is caught up in identity and power issues, and the flickering of emancipatory light happens amidst an all too human response.
Braxton , 1 Corinthians 7 with its ambiguity is also an attempt by Paul to establish his control and authority in a fluid, liminal context. Thiselton ; emphasis in original A crucial factor to a contextual interpretation of 1 Corinthians —24 is how notions, such as freedom and obedience, as well as social circumstances and divine calling are understood, and the scope and implications of such notions.
Whilst previous privilege, whether or not it was racial, political, economic or social, was grounded in an appeal to divine providence bestowed on the White rulers.
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But, also the ambiguity of 1 Corinthians —24 lives on, however, in its appropriation in South Africa today. On the one hand, the primary importance of the calling of God, without invoking notions of providence, which were historically so harmful in the South African context, emphasises the initiative of God towards people without consideration of their contested identities or liminal position on the one hand, and without requiring of Christ followers to take leave of their initiatives and designs.
Indeed marginality through race, sex or gender and social status are all too real in South Africa today. With many communities of faith dented by erstwhile support for apartheid and with the realisation about lingering racist and even stronger patriarchal and homophobic attitudes, to name a few, moral leadership has become problematic. Brett ed. Brill, Leiden. Bartchy, S. Braxton, B. Brett, M. Briggs, S.
Ekklesia, Israel, Imperium, Interpretation. Essays in Honor of Krister Stendahl , in R. Horsley ed. Buell, D. Campbell, W. Dawes, G. Deming, W. Elliott, N. Hollingshead, J. Horsley, R. Keener, C. Kelley, S.
Kim, Y. Martin, D. Meeks, W. A, , The First Urban Christians.
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Orr, W. A New Translation. Osiek, C. Patterson, O. Payne, P.
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Punt, J. Tolmie ed. Runesson, A. Holmberg ed. Schweitzer, A. Montgomery, MacMillan, New York. Thiselton, A. Vena, O. Wire, A. These are words he has been reproached for speaking by many, as they are taken to suggest a withdrawal of organised religion from the public sphere, and even hint at the privatisation of religion.
This is a programme unit of the Society of Biblical Literature intent on exploring the contextual reading and interpretation of biblical texts in various contemporary contexts. The bibliography refers to a number of detailed studies, variously focussed.
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