Monday, September 25, 2006

The Unity of II Corinthians

I've finally come across an impressive argument for II Corinthians as a single letter. For years I've favored the following the reconstruction:

Letter #1: II Cor 2:14-6:13, 7:2-4 (written before the dispute)
Letter #2: II Cor 10:1-13:14 (written during the dispute)
Letter #3: II Cor 1:1-2:13, 7:5-16 (written after the dispute)

Later inserts: II Cor 8:1-24 and 9:1-15
Fragment not written by Paul: II Cor 6:14-7:1

But in "Revisiting II Corinthians: Rhetoric and the Case for Unity", J.D.H. Amador explains why II Cor 10:1-13:13 should not be identified with the "painful" letter mentioned in II Cor 1:1-2:13, 7:5-16:
"The argumentative situation of II Cor 10-13 and that reported in II Cor 1:23-2:11, 2:5-13 are quite distinctive. In the former, Paul is defending his ethos in the community as a result of a perceived threat by outsiders. In the latter, Paul's ethos is not under question. Instead, it is respect to the ethos of someone in the community as a result of Paul's previous deliberative advice that he is concerned. These are two radically different argumentative sections. Therefore, chapters 10-13 have simply been misidentified as 'the tearful/painful' letter."
Read the whole thing. It's a first-rate essay and devoid of apologetics. I'll have to revisit my ideas about II Corinthians.

(Hat-tip to Stephen Carlson for the reference.)


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