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The unity of 2 Corinthians

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  • Richard Fellows
    I used to partition 2 Corinthians, but I would like now to offer the following explanation for the difference in mood between chapters 1-9 and 10-13. In 2
    Message 1 of 25 , May 14, 2009
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      I used to partition 2 Corinthians, but I would like now to offer the
      following explanation for the difference in mood between chapters 1-9
      and 10-13.

      In 2 Corinthians Titus (also known as Timothy) is sent back to Corinth
      to finish the collection there, with the aim of bringing it to
      completion (2 Cor 8:6) by delivering it to Judea (Acts 20:4). It is
      therefore important that the Corinthians should trust him. Paul
      therefore wants the Corinthians to believe that Titus had reported
      only good things about them. This is why Paul reserves all his harsh
      criticism of the Corinthians for the final four chapters, which occur
      after Paul has completed his response to information that he is happy
      to concede has come from Titus-Timothy. Titus-Timothy is a co-sender
      of the letter (2 Cor 1:1), so Paul must make it clear that chapters
      10-13 are his alone, and he does so by using mostly the first person
      singular and by opening the section with the words, "AUTOS DE EGW
      PAULOS" (I myself Paul) (10:1). 2 Corinthians is therefore a unity
      that is made up of two parts: chapters 1-9 are from Paul and Titus-
      Timothy, and chapters 10-13 are from Paul alone (to avoid any backlash
      against Titus-Timothy).

      Does this make sense?

      Richard Fellows
      Vancouver
    • John E Staton
      Gordon, Of course Jesus was being a good Jew! The same could be said of most of the radical Jewish groups around at the same time: the Qumran group, the
      Message 2 of 25 , May 19, 2009
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        Gordon,
        Of course Jesus was being a good Jew! The same could be said of most of
        the radical Jewish groups around at the same time: the Qumran group, the
        Pharisees etc, all recalling Judaism to its roots and all doing it in a
        different manner. All these groups (including the Jesus movement)
        thought their co-religionists had lost their way and were recalling them
        to the "right path" - though they all had different views of what the
        right path was!

        I don't see the point in getting into a debate about preaching and
        teaching, You seem to be working with a very formal defintion, whereas I
        would include the kind of conversations you are talking about under
        the same heading. And I am not interested in the "what if" question
        because, as far as I am concerned, it never was going to happen

        Best Wishes

        --
        JOHN E STATON (BA Sheffield; DipTheol. Bristol)
        Hull, UK
        www.christianreflection.org.uk

        ----------


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      • Gordon Raynal
        Hi John, ... In like fashion with the term, ideology, I don t want to now get stuck in our, perhaps, differing understandings of radical. But are you
        Message 3 of 25 , May 19, 2009
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          Hi John,

          On May 19, 2009, at 4:29 AM, John E Staton wrote:

          > Gordon,
          > Of course Jesus was being a good Jew! The same could be said of
          > most of
          > the radical Jewish groups around at the same time: the Qumran
          > group, the
          > Pharisees etc, all recalling Judaism to its roots and all doing it
          > in a
          > different manner. All these groups (including the Jesus movement)
          > thought their co-religionists had lost their way and were recalling
          > them
          > to the "right path" - though they all had different views of what the
          > right path was!

          In like fashion with the term, "ideology," I don't want to now get
          stuck in our, perhaps, differing understandings of "radical." But
          are you saying the Qumran group, the Pharisees, and whoever else
          included in "etc." were "radicals?" Who wasn't then? Who/ what the
          standard of normative Judaism in the era which radicalism (degree,
          kind, extent) can be assessed? Help me with this? On your scale of
          "radicalism" who was more radical and who was less radical and why?
          >
          > I don't see the point in getting into a debate about preaching and
          > teaching, You seem to be working with a very formal defintion,
          > whereas I
          > would include the kind of conversations you are talking about under
          > the same heading.

          Fine not to get into any debates you don't want to. But what I'm
          trying to stick up for is a careful understanding of the ways and
          purposes of differing forms of human communication. Wisdom words
          and stories have a different modus operandi than does prophetic
          speech, didactic speech, juridical speech, etc. Regarding wisdom
          speech specifically there are both "common (ordinary) sense" and
          "uncommon (extra-ordinary) sense" forms of it. The primary use of
          wisdom speech has to do with sense making. Secondary usage of such
          speech is used to teach, admonish, proclaim. With wisdom language it
          is important to pay close attention to the transitions between the
          primary and secondary uses. A non- Biblical example first:

          "Look both ways before you cross the street" is an proverb that as
          wisdom speech parents tell children when they are at the roadside.
          The immediate point of such speech is to do what? Look! Wait if
          cars are coming, then go when it is safe to do so. Then and there
          and amidst modern roads and vehicles which weigh tons it is unwise to
          not do this. Duh? Right? Actually not a lot of high level knowledge
          in such a little expression. On the level of information/ idea
          sharing... upon reflection, it seems all rather banal. But... if
          you're with your 5 year old in the front yard and the ball you're
          throwing goes out in the road, it is extremely wise to say this to
          your child! Correct? Such speech points the hearer to engage their
          senses and really pay attention to "what's happening" and respond
          with their whole being accordingly (use senses, pay attention, be of
          clear mind, fully feel, plan accordingly and act accordingly). To be
          silly you don't say such to then and there get your child to give you
          a dissertation on the mass of objects moving through the space-time
          continuum and their, (pardon the pun) impact on flesh and bones:)!

          The second use of the above comes when such is written down with
          other rules and publishes in an article, say "10 rules for safety
          while playing ball in the yard." Same words used, but now collected,
          meant as didactic and juridical speech. For your now 7 year old who
          is in school reading, then such would make a fine piece of literature
          for school age kids to remember and fully know. Same words, now
          different use. Now gathered with the other 9 rules such a little
          list, once learned, can be the whole basis for years of more advanced
          safety education.

          I trust this example isn't too laborious. It is much easier to
          actually show this in present company than it is to explain it via
          written communication. But to Jesus and friends, we have access to
          the wisdom words through later written collections of them.
          Originally, of course, this was speech and what I want to maintain is
          that one needs to start with the individual sayings and stories on
          their own, as spoken words, functioning as primary wisdom speech.
          From there, then it is important to pay close heed to a.) what
          sayings are gathered together, by whom and what contexts they are
          presented in, b.) how the authors are framing the didactic and
          juridical lessons, and so c.) the particular emendations that are
          added to such speech forms (whether changing, expanding, and/ or
          recontextualizing the sayings/ stories, and so also d.) what other
          kinds of OT traditions are being drawn around the sayings, and e.)
          what of the early communal theological ideas, ethical ideas, praxis
          ideas are in play in the framing of the speech, and f.) what tracing
          across time may be done that might tell us about development in
          didactics, affirmations, juridical pronouncements. So, for just one
          example of this:

          1."love your enemies" is an aphorism. as wisdom speech it is a
          little word bomb!
          2. earliest I can tell, from Q1 this is drawn together with a whole
          series of other sayings that are kept together across the redactions
          Q and preserved in Luke as a unit.
          3. this unit from Q is placed in what is known as "the Q sermon" (so
          now we've moved from orality to written collection/ from prime wisdom
          usage to didactic and juridical usage)
          4. Matthew frames this unit in terms of a very elaborate Sermon on
          the Mount with much Torah talk.
          5. Luke frames the unit as the Sermon on the Plain
          6. We find this unit also forwarded in the Didache with some
          expansions as being, "the Way of Life."


          And then one can talk about associated beliefs, values, practices and
          make a case for the relationship to the original words and the
          earliest written formulations and how these develop over time/ across
          literature... for instance the pericopes where Jesus is show to talk
          about the greatest commandments and such as Thomas 25.

          What I am after in this is careful attention to listening to the
          words at the level or orality and in terms of the overall context of
          (most especially) table fellowship in order to try to pay close heed
          to wisdom words in their primary usage. If one only starts with the
          secondary usage, then one has lopped off an essential part, indeed
          the most essential part, of understanding the speech and how it
          functioned. Said, the simplest way I know how, the power of wisdom
          speech is that it is language aimed at making sense. "Making sense"
          is something we pretty much take for granted in "normal times." But
          when times are hostile, divisive, unjust, frightening, etc. such is
          incredibly powerful speech ***as wisdom speech***.

          To my first example to make the point. If you as parent don't yell,
          "Look both ways before you cross the street," when your child is all
          excited about getting her ball back, that child will probably never
          live to go to school to study about "10 Rules of Safety!" Learning
          is fine, but sense is always more important! Wisdom and knowledge
          are ever related, but they ***are not*** the same thing.

          Jesus, by my estimation, was the speaker of a very large collection
          of these sayings. Often they are only talked about in their
          secondary usage. Related to this whole thread about "original and
          originating" Good News, I very much thing the meat of the matter is
          in trying to listen to these words as what they primarily are... wisdom.

          > And I am not interested in the "what if" question
          > because, as far as I am concerned, it never was going to happen

          Interesting. As a thought exercise, I think it is an interesting
          one. (Not the purpose of this list), but it is also an interesting
          theological exercise. That said, I'm still interested to hear you
          elaborate on the issue you raised, the "who Jesus was" question and
          my question about "what essentially defines" that answer for you.

          take care,
          Gordon Raynal
          Inman, SC
          >
        • Richard Fellows
          The Judean church leaders wrote a letter affirming Gentile liberty (Acts 15:19-29). Paul delivered this letter to the south Galatian churches and
          Message 4 of 25 , Jun 15, 2009
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            The Judean church leaders wrote a letter affirming Gentile liberty
            (Acts 15:19-29). Paul delivered this letter to the south Galatian
            churches and simultaneously circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3-4). I
            suggest that this made the Galatian believers confused about what Paul
            actually believed and that Paul's letter to them is his response to
            this confusion. Paul circumcised Timothy to help him gain an audience
            with Jews, but Paul could not explain that that was his motive, for
            the Jews whom he hoped to bring to Christ would not have responded
            favorably. At some point after Paul left Galatia some there said,
            "Paul circumcised Timothy, so he must believe in circumcision, so it's
            OK for other Gentile believers to be circumcised. It is true that he
            preached Gentile liberty, but he must have done so only to please the
            Jerusalem church leaders who had written that letter. The real Paul
            believes in circumcision."

            These rumors in Galatia explain the letter:

            5:11 reads, "why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching
            circumcision?". The believers thought Paul supported circumcision.
            Does the second "still" (ETI) in this verse indicate that Paul is
            admitting here that he had recommended circumcision to Timothy?

            6:17 reads, "From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry
            the marks of Jesus branded on my body". Paul is saying here, "Let no-
            one question my commitment, for I have the wounds to prove it".
            Chrysostom understood this: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/23106.htm

            5:2 reads, "Listen, I ,Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves
            be circumcised, Christ will be on no benefit to you." This is a strong
            statement. Here Paul over-states his position to correct the rumor
            that he believed in circumcision. Paul writes, "I, Paul" to make it
            clear that these are his own beliefs: he is not writing these things
            to please the Jerusalem church leaders. With the "I, Paul" he detaches
            himself from Silas and other Jerusalem church leaders, just as he
            detaches himself from Timothy with the "I, Paul" in 2 Cor 10:1.

            5:10 says, "But whoever it is that is confusing (TARASSWN) you will
            pay the penalty". 5:11 shows that the confusion was the rumor that
            Paul supported circumcision. The same word appears in 1:7, "there are
            some who are confusing you". 1:8 read, "But even if we or an angel
            from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we
            proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed!". Paul, then, is here
            refuting the view that he had endorsed circumcision. The charge that
            he supported circumcision therefore lies behind 1:8-9 as well as 5:11.

            1:8-9 in turn provides the background to 1:10-24, where Paul explains
            (overstates?) that he was not an underling of the Jerusalem church
            leaders. He does this to refute the view that he preached Gentile
            liberty with the sole purpose of pleasing them. He makes it clear that
            he had preached his gospel even before he had had much contact with
            the Jerusalem leaders. Paul does this to prove that his preaching was
            not done out of obedience to the Jerusalem leaders.

            Gal 2:6 reads, "And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged
            leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me: God shows
            no partiality)". Paul here asserts again that he was not an underling
            of the apostles: his preaching and writing derived from the
            revelation that he had received from God, and were not done
            insincerely to please the Jerusalem apostles.

            In Gal 2:11-14 Paul selects an incident that must have been very
            atypical, since Acts and Gal 2:1-10 indicate that Paul and Peter were
            in agreement that Gentile liberty was important. Paul here asserts his
            own commitment to the cause of Gentile liberty: he opposed Peter "to
            his face" and "before them all", and he stood alone even after the
            other Jews fell away. Paul stresses here that his commitment to
            Gentile liberty is sincere. He had taken a stand against Peter himself
            on this very issue. He selects this incident because it shows that his
            support for Gentile liberty was not motived by a desire to please Peter.

            This understanding of Galatians seems to reconcile the letter with Acts.

            Does this work?

            Richard Fellows
            Vancouver.


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Kenneth Litwak
            Richard,    That s an interesting idea, but I m not quite convinced.  I see no way that Gal 2:1-10 and Acts 15 could refer to the same event.  Rather, I am
            Message 5 of 25 , Jun 24, 2009
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              Richard,

                 That's an interesting idea, but I'm not quite convinced.  I see no way that Gal 2:1-10 and Acts 15 could refer to the same event.  Rather, I am in the company of those who think that Galatians was written before the events in Acts 15.  Otherwise, it would be clear to Gentiles that, no matter what Paul did with Timothy, they did not need to keep the Law.  I would quickly add that those who take the view that Paul's autobiographical info is von Rankean history, wie es eigentlich gewesen, have adopted an invalid view of how history is written, no matter who wrote it.  To assume that Luke was stupid or invented the story out of thin air and that Paul's account must refer to the same encounter is gratuitous and disingenuous at the very least.  I don't see any way to match Galatians 2 with Acts 15.  Galatians 2 must recount a previous event, IMHO. 

              Ken Litwak

              --- On Mon, 6/15/09, Richard Fellows <rfellows@...> wrote:

              From: Richard Fellows <rfellows@...>
              Subject: [XTalk] The background to Galatians
              To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Monday, June 15, 2009, 9:19 PM

















              The Judean church leaders wrote a letter affirming Gentile liberty

              (Acts 15:19-29). Paul delivered this letter to the south Galatian

              churches and simultaneously circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3-4). I

              suggest that this made the Galatian believers confused about what Paul

              actually believed and that Paul's letter to them is his response to

              this confusion. Paul circumcised Timothy to help him gain an audience

              with Jews, but Paul could not explain that that was his motive, for

              the Jews whom he hoped to bring to Christ would not have responded

              favorably. At some point after Paul left Galatia some there said,

              "Paul circumcised Timothy, so he must believe in circumcision, so it's

              OK for other Gentile believers to be circumcised. It is true that he

              preached Gentile liberty, but he must have done so only to please the

              Jerusalem church leaders who had written that letter. The real Paul

              believes in circumcision. "



              These rumors in Galatia explain the letter:



              5:11 reads, "why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching

              circumcision? ". The believers thought Paul supported circumcision.

              Does the second "still" (ETI) in this verse indicate that Paul is

              admitting here that he had recommended circumcision to Timothy?



              6:17 reads, "From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry

              the marks of Jesus branded on my body". Paul is saying here, "Let no-

              one question my commitment, for I have the wounds to prove it".

              Chrysostom understood this: http://www.newadven t.org/fathers/ 23106.htm



              5:2 reads, "Listen, I ,Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves

              be circumcised, Christ will be on no benefit to you." This is a strong

              statement. Here Paul over-states his position to correct the rumor

              that he believed in circumcision. Paul writes, "I, Paul" to make it

              clear that these are his own beliefs: he is not writing these things

              to please the Jerusalem church leaders. With the "I, Paul" he detaches

              himself from Silas and other Jerusalem church leaders, just as he

              detaches himself from Timothy with the "I, Paul" in 2 Cor 10:1.



              5:10 says, "But whoever it is that is confusing (TARASSWN) you will

              pay the penalty". 5:11 shows that the confusion was the rumor that

              Paul supported circumcision. The same word appears in 1:7, "there are

              some who are confusing you". 1:8 read, "But even if we or an angel

              from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we

              proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed!". Paul, then, is here

              refuting the view that he had endorsed circumcision. The charge that

              he supported circumcision therefore lies behind 1:8-9 as well as 5:11.



              1:8-9 in turn provides the background to 1:10-24, where Paul explains

              (overstates? ) that he was not an underling of the Jerusalem church

              leaders. He does this to refute the view that he preached Gentile

              liberty with the sole purpose of pleasing them. He makes it clear that

              he had preached his gospel even before he had had much contact with

              the Jerusalem leaders. Paul does this to prove that his preaching was

              not done out of obedience to the Jerusalem leaders.



              Gal 2:6 reads, "And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged

              leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me: God shows

              no partiality)" . Paul here asserts again that he was not an underling

              of the apostles: his preaching and writing derived from the

              revelation that he had received from God, and were not done

              insincerely to please the Jerusalem apostles.



              In Gal 2:11-14 Paul selects an incident that must have been very

              atypical, since Acts and Gal 2:1-10 indicate that Paul and Peter were

              in agreement that Gentile liberty was important. Paul here asserts his

              own commitment to the cause of Gentile liberty: he opposed Peter "to

              his face" and "before them all", and he stood alone even after the

              other Jews fell away. Paul stresses here that his commitment to

              Gentile liberty is sincere. He had taken a stand against Peter himself

              on this very issue. He selects this incident because it shows that his

              support for Gentile liberty was not motived by a desire to please Peter.



              This understanding of Galatians seems to reconcile the letter with Acts.



              Does this work?



              Richard Fellows

              Vancouver.



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]































              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Richard Fellows
              Thanks, Ken, I agree with much of what you write. Also, I take Acts to be historical, and it is precisely for that reason that I equate Gal 2 with Acts 15
              Message 6 of 25 , Jul 23 4:22 PM
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                Thanks, Ken,

                I agree with much of what you write. Also, I take Acts to be historical, and it is precisely for that reason that I equate Gal 2 with Acts 15 (see, for example, my recent email on chronology).

                You assume (I think) that the outcome of the Acts 15 meeting would have prevented the circumcision issue from arising in (south) Galatia. But is this really a safe assumption? Following the delivery of the decree the south Galatians would know that the Judean church leaders did not support circumcision, but why must we assume that the authority of the Judean church leaders held sway in south Galatia? The decree does not make its case by appealing to any words of Jesus, so the agitators in Galatia would surely wish to question its validity. Peter, James, and the elders had never been to Galatia, so why should the Galatians accept their authority as absolute?

                The scenario may have been something like this:
                1. The decree was delivered to south Galatia
                2. The agitators argued, "The doctrine of Gentile liberty is a mistaken inference from a single vision of Peter (whom you do not recognize). Paul (your 'father') circumcised Timothy so he actually supports circumcision, so you should be circumcised too. Paul's verbal support for Gentile liberty was just to please Peter and the others, so it does not represent an independent second witness to the will of God.
                3. Paul wrote the letter in response, arguing that his revelation was independent; that he was no underling of Peter and the others on this issue; and that they should not believe the rumor that he supports circumcision.

                Ken, does this answer your objection to equating Gal 2 with Acts 15? Do you see any other difficulties with the equation, or indeed with my reconstruction of the background to the letter?

                I have made my proposal available on the web here:

                http://members.shaw.ca/rfellows/Site/T-T_Galatians_background.html

                Richard Fellows
                Vancouver.

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: Kenneth Litwak <javajedi2@...>
                Date: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 3:22 pm
                Subject: Re: [XTalk] The background to Galatians
                To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com

                > Richard,
                >
                >    That's an interesting idea, but I'm not quite convinced.  I
                > see no way that Gal 2:1-10 and Acts 15 could refer to the same
                > event.  Rather, I am in the company of those who think that
                > Galatians was written before the events in Acts 15.  Otherwise,
                > it would be clear to Gentiles that, no matter what Paul did with
                > Timothy, they did not need to keep the Law.  I would quickly add
                > that those who take the view that Paul's autobiographical info
                > is von Rankean history, wie es eigentlich gewesen, have adopted
                > an invalid view of how history is written, no matter who wrote
                > it.  To assume that Luke was stupid or invented the story out of
                > thin air and that Paul's account must refer to the same
                > encounter is gratuitous and disingenuous at the very least.  I
                > don't see any way to match Galatians 2 with Acts 15.  Galatians
                > 2 must recount a previous event, IMHO. 
                >
                > Ken Litwak


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