Jump to Content Jump to Main Navigation

Biblical Studies 2 Corinthians
by
Thomas D. Stegman

Introduction

Paul’s second (canonical) letter to the Corinthians is one of the undisputed Pauline epistles (i.e., scholars are in agreement that it derives from Paul and not from a later author writing in his name). This letter has intrigued scholars for several reasons. Here Paul reveals much about his self-understanding as an apostle and about what constitutes the authentic exercise of ministry. He reflects on the significance of suffering and on the paradox that God’s power is revealed in what many see as weakness. This letter contains some of Paul’s most profound theological reflections, such as God’s work of reconciliation, the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection, and the gift and empowerment of the Spirit. Scholars mine 2 Corinthians for information about Paul’s dealings with the Church in Corinth, the Christian community about which we have the most knowledge. This letter contains several clues concerning the interactions between Paul and the community after his founding visit and the writing of 1 Corinthians. Some scholars have detected the presence of literary “seams,” places in the text where juxtaposed materials create various tensions. These tensions include strange mood swings, unusual ordering of materials, and confusing internal references to people and events. Thus, the letter’s literary integrity has been questioned. Scholars debate whether to partition the letter into two or more letters (or parts of letters) and how to reconstruct the various events that led Paul to write the text now known as “2 Corinthians.” No matter what their position on these questions, there is general agreement among scholars that, of the twenty-seven New Testament writings, 2 Corinthians is the most difficult of them all to interpret coherently.

Text and Translations

Second Corinthians was originally written in Greek, which is available in several editions, Greek-English translations, and annotated study Bibles.

Greek Text

The standard edition of the Greek text of 2 Corinthians (as well as of the entire New Testament) is the 27th edition of Nestle-Aland (Nestle, et al. 1993). This text is also available in United Bible Society 1998. Metzger 1993 provides helpful commentary on scholarly decisions involved in reconstructing the text.

Annotated Study Bibles

Two of the principal English translations of 2 Corinthians (and of the entire New Testament) are found in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and The New American Bible (NAB) Revised New Testament. Both employ the translation principle of formal equivalence. That is, they offer as literal a translation as possible, especially as pertains to syntax and vocabulary. Annotated study bibles provide introductions to and brief explanatory notes on the biblical texts by known and reliable scholars. Fitzgerald 2006, Osiek 2006, and Wan 2007 offer helpful introductions and comments on 2 Corinthians, especially for beginners.

Greek-English Translations

Resources exist that provide both the Greek text and an English translation in the same volume. Nestle, et al. 1994 presents the Greek on one page and the English on the facing page. Brown and Comfort 1993 inserts a literal translation directly underneath each line of the Greek text.

  • Brown, Robert K., and Philip W. Comfort, trans. The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament. 4th ed. Edited by J. D. Douglas. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1993.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers, immediately beneath the Greek text (United Biblical Society, 4th ed.), a literal English translation of each word. Also provides the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) text in a parallel column.

    Find this resource:

  • Nestle, Eberhard, Erwin Nestle, Kurt Aland, and Barbara Aland, eds. The Greek-English New Testament. 8th rev. ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents on facing pages the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek text and the Revised Standard Version (RSV).

    Find this resource:

Essay Collections

These volumes can serve as a good entrée into some of key interpretive issues. Bierienger and Lambrecht 1994 provides a generous offering of the authors’ own work on 2 Corinthians. Hay, et al. 1993 and Burke and Elliot 2003 offer access to a number of major scholars whose work on this text is important.

  • Bieringer, Reimund, and Jan Lambrecht. Studies on 2 Corinthians. Louvain, Belgium: Louvain University Press, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Essays in English and German by two distinguished scholars of 2 Corinthians. The authors discuss both overarching questions and particular passages. The volume also has an extensive bibliography on secondary materials on the text.

    Find this resource:

  • Burke, Trevor J., and J. Keith Elliott, eds. Paul and the Corinthians: Studies on a Community in Conflict: Essays in Honour of Margaret Thrall. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Essays by Nina L. Collins (on the Jewish background of 2 Corinthians 3:7–11), Morna D. Hooker (on the issue of God’s faithfulness), Jan Lambrecht (on anthropological considerations in 4:6–5:10), A. J. M. Wedderburn (on 5:14 as a key text for soteriology), C. K. Barrett (on sectarian diversity in Corinth), Michael D. Goulder (on visions and revelations in 12:1–10), and Paul Barnett (on Paul as apologist).

    Find this resource:

  • Hay, David M., Bassler, Jouette M., and Johnson, E. Elizabeth, eds. Pauline Theology. Vol. 2, 1 and 2 Corinthians. Symposium Series 22. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Features essays by David M. Hay (on how Paul shapes theology in 2 Corinthians), Stephen J. Kraftchick (on the metaphoric structure of the language of life and death), Beverly Roberts Gaventa (on Paul and the Church), and N. T. Wright (on 5:21 and the righteousness of God). Bibliography compiled by Victor Paul Furnish.

    Find this resource:

Bibliography

In addition to the bibliographies referred to in other sections here, Bieringer, et al. 2008 is a comprehensive, up-to-date bibliography on 2 Corinthians.

  • Bieringer, Reimund, Emmanuel Nathan, and Dominika Kurek-Chomycz. 2 Corinthians: A Bibliography. Biblical Tools and Studies 5. Louvain, Belgium, and Dudley, MA: Peeters, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This valuable resource lists nearly 1,900 monographs and articles on 2 Corinthians, through 2007. Following a list of commentaries, works are ordered according to particular passages and themes.

    Find this resource:

Commentaries

Commentaries on 2 Corinthians range from lengthy, technical treatments to more accessible monographs to brief expositions that can be read in one sitting. All the resources listed here also provide abundant bibliographical materials.

New Testament Introductions

These volumes, authored by distinguished scholars, are often written to be used as textbooks, offering basic historical and literary background information, as well as overviews of the twenty-seven writings of the New Testament. Brown 1997 excels at synthesizing mainstream scholarly positions. Koester 2000 is good on the Greco-Roman context of the New Testament. Ehrman 2008 offers a historical and comparative emphasis. Johnson 2002, Holladay 2005, and Schnelle 1998 highlight literary, historical, and theological matters.

  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Sets forth in an even-handed manner the various critical issues and debated points on 2 Corinthians.

    Find this resource:

  • Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. 4th ed. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Focuses on the history of Paul’s relationship with the Corinthian community; proposes that 2 Corinthians consists of fragments from several letters. See especially pp. 326–331.

    Find this resource:

  • Holladay, Carl R. A Critical Introduction to the New Testament: Interpreting the Message and Meaning of Jesus Christ. Nashville: Abingdon, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers a reading of 2 Corinthians focused on Paul’s beliefs about ministry.

    Find this resource:

  • Johnson, Luke Timothy, with Todd C. Penner. The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation. Rev. ed. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses the literary complexity of 2 Corinthians and the theme of apostleship, defined negatively and positively.

    Find this resource:

  • Koester, Helmut. Introduction to the New Testament. Vol. 2, History and Literature of Early Christianity. 2d ed. New York and Berlin: de Gruyter, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Stresses the role of “opponents”—other Jewish-Christian missionaries who came to Corinth—as the key historical background of 2 Corinthians.

    Find this resource:

  • Schnelle, Udo. The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings. Translated by M. Eugene Boring. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Treats the literary complexity of 2 Corinthians in conjunction with a careful reconstruction of events that preceded it. Originally published in German: Einleitung in das Neue Testament (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1994).

    Find this resource:

Short Commentaries

Single-volume commentaries on and dictionaries of the Bible offer more detailed exposition of the biblical texts than New Testament introductions can do. In addition to providing background information and the literary structure of the texts, these resources usually include passage-by-passage commentary. The following can be read easily in a single setting. Barclay 2003, Betz 1992, Furnish 2000, and Murphy-O’Connor 1990 focus on historical and literary features of the letter. Bassler 1998 and Matthews 1993–1994 offer feminist evaluations of the text.

  • Barclay, John. “2 Corinthians.” In Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Edited by James D. G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson, 1353–1373. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A sequential reading of 2 Corinthians, although Barclay maintains that the text actually consists of three letters written in the following historical order: “the collection letter” (chapters 8–9), “the tearful letter” (chapters 10–13), and “the reconciliation letter” (chapters 1–7).

    Find this resource:

  • Bassler, Jouette M. “2 Corinthians.” In Women’s Bible Commentary. Edited by Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe, 420–422. Exp. ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A short commentary that offers balanced reflections on Paul’s reference to the deception of Eve (11:2–3) and on his theology of the cross. Places Paul’s teaching in context while also offering comments from a feminist perspective.

    Find this resource:

  • Betz, Hans Dieter. “Corinthians, Second Epistle to the.” In Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 1. Edited by David Noel Freedman, 1148–1154. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The most complex reconstruction of 2 Corinthians, into five letter fragments and an interpolated passage. Betz presents the parts of the text in the historical order of his reconstruction of Paul’s dealings with the Corinthians. His interest is largely in the history of the early Church.

    Find this resource:

  • Furnish, Victor Paul. “2 Corinthians.” In HarperCollins Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. Edited by James L. Mays, 1093–1104. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A condensed, simplified presentation of Furnish’s commentary in the Anchor Bible series (Furnish 1984, cited under Technical and Comprehensive Commentaries). Interprets 2 Corinthians as consisting of two letters: chapters 1–9, and then chapters 10–13, written after relations deteriorated between Paul and the community.

    Find this resource:

  • Matthews, Shelly. “Second Corinthians.” In Searching the Scriptures. Vol. 2, A Feminist Commentary. Edited by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza with the assistance of Ann Brock and Shelly Matthews, 196–217. New York: Crossroad, 1993–1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers a feminist evaluation of 2 Corinthians in which the author raises problematic aspects of Paul’s teaching about authority and suffering.

    Find this resource:

  • Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome. “The Second Letter to the Corinthians.” In New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Ronald E. Murphy, and Roland Edward Murphy, 816–829. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Focuses on keywords and phrases in the text. The author’s work has largely focused on Corinth and the Corinthian correspondence; this brief treatment is filled with learning and insight. Like Furnish, Murphy-O’Connor treats 2 Corinthians as a composite of two letters.

    Find this resource:

Technical and Comprehensive Commentaries

These volumes presuppose substantive knowledge of biblical Greek and interest in technical philological issues. The authors of these works offer their own translation of the text. They delve deeply into historical and literary matters, providing in-depth analysis of every verse of the text of 2 Corinthians. The selections here offer a range of widely respected scholarship both in terms of time and location. Plummer 1915, Allo 1937, and Bultmann 1985 are influential commentaries from Europe. Furnish 1984 has become a classic, whereas Martin 1986 is reliable. Harris 2005 and Thrall 1994–2000 contain massive commentaries that take into account an impressive array of scholarship.

  • Allo, E.-B. Seconde Épître aux Corinthiens. Études Bibliques 45. Paris: J. Gabalda, 1937.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A classic French commentary by one of the leading Catholic exegetes of the 1920s and 30s. Allo reads the text as a single letter. Reprinted in 1956.

    Find this resource:

  • Bultmann, Rudolf. The Second Letter to the Corinthians. Translated by Roy A. Harrisville. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1985.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Second Corinthians is one of only two New Testament writings on which Bultmann wrote a commentary (the Gospel of John was the other). As with much German scholarship on 2 Corinthians, he partitions the letter into several fragments of letters. Translated from the German original: Der Zweite Brief an die Korinther, edited by Erich Dinkler (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1976).

    Find this resource:

  • Furnish, Victor Paul. II Corinthians: Translated with Introduction, Notes and Commentary. Anchor Bible 32A. New York: Doubleday, 1984.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    More than a generation old, this commentary remains one of the most frequently cited in more recent works. Furnish excels in providing a window into the 1st-century context. He interprets 2 Corinthians as a composite of two letters (chapters 1–9 and 10–13).

    Find this resource:

  • Harris, Murray J. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Learned and comprehensive, this commentary also engages pastoral and theological themes. Murray offers a reading of 2 Corinthians as a literary unity, a trend among more recent commentaries.

    Find this resource:

  • Martin, Ralph P. 2 Corinthians. Word Biblical Commentary 40. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1986.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thorough commentary that reflects the best of evangelical critical scholarship. Martin pays close attention to the form, structure, and setting of every passage. He reads the text, as Furnish does, as comprised of two consecutive letters.

    Find this resource:

  • Plummer, Alfred. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. International Critical Commentary (ICC). Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1915.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of few works still consulted a century after its first publication. Along with other early-20th-century scholars, Plummer interpreted 2 Corinthians as a composite of two works, but in reverse order (chapters 10–13 were written earlier than chapters 1–9). Reprinted in 1985.

    Find this resource:

  • Thrall, Margaret E. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. 2 vols. International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1994–2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Long-time research project on 2 Corinthians, this commentary follows in the learned footsteps of its predecessor in the ICC series. Extremely thorough, this work excels in setting forth interpretive possibilities and in offering useful excurses. Thrall offers a slightly more complex reconstruction of the letter than in Furnish 1984 and Martin 1986.

    Find this resource:

Mid-Level Commentaries

These works require less background and knowledge on the part of the reader, although they still set forth considerable learning and detail. Barnett 1997, Barrett 1973, Lambrecht 1999, and Matera 2003 offer their own translations of the text, followed by reliable commentary marked by solid scholarship; in addition to addressing historical and literary issues, they offer theological insights. Murphy-O’Connor 1991 is strong on the theological content and significance of 2 Corinthians. Roetzel 2007 is particularly sensitive to ethics.

  • Barnett, Paul. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Evangelical interpretation of 2 Corinthians as a single, unified letter. Scholarly conversations confined to footnotes.

    Find this resource:

  • Barrett, C. K. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Black’s New Testament Commentary 8. London: A. & C. Black, 1973.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Written by an eminent scholar, this commentary is both accessible and learned. Barrett provides both historical and theological insights. He reads 2 Corinthians as comprised of two letters (chapters 1–9 and 10–13). Reprinted in 1997.

    Find this resource:

  • Lambrecht, Jan. Second Corinthians. Sacra Pagina 8. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Authored by a scholar who has written dozens of articles on 2 Corinthians. Interpreting the text as a single letter, this commentary is marked by its conciseness and its offering some applications for the life of the Church today.

    Find this resource:

  • Matera, Frank J. II Corinthians: A Commentary. New Testament Theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Like other more recent commentators, Matera argues for the literary integrity of 2 Corinthians. He is particularly adept at highlighting the rhetorical features of the text and its theological richness.

    Find this resource:

  • Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome. The Theology of the Second Letter to the Corinthians. New Testament Theology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    As the title suggests, Murphy-O’Connor offers a reading with an eye on the theological implications of the text. Reprinted in 1996.

    Find this resource:

  • Roetzel, Calvin J. 2 Corinthians. Abingdon New Testament Commentaries. Nashville: Abingdon, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An accessible treatment of 2 Corinthians. Roetzel offers a complex partitioning of the letter and interprets it according to his historical reconstruction. He is sensitive to both ethical and theological implications of the text.

    Find this resource:

Commentaries for a General Audience

These books make 2 Corinthians accessible to non-experts and to those without a theological background. They also strive to bring out the text’s contemporary significance. Hafemann 2000 and Stegman 2009 provide both analysis of the text and commentary on how the text can be appropriated. Minor 2009 explains the 1st-century world in easily understandable terms. Wright 2004 interprets 2 Corinthians via stories and anecdotes.

Corinth and the Christian Community

All of the citations listed under Commentaries contain, in their introductions, valuable information about the city of Corinth at the time of Paul and about the early Christian community there. Murphy-O’Connor 2002 provides valuable background information on Corinth. Theissen 1982 and Meeks 2003 discuss the makeup of the early Christian community there. Marshall 1987 describes important social conventions at work in 1st-century Corinth.

  • Marshall, Peter. Enmity in Corinth: Social Conventions in Paul’s Relations with the Corinthians. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2.23. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr, 1987.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explains several Greco-Roman social conventions, such as friendship and reciprocity, honor-shame dynamics, benefaction, and boasting. Provides a helpful cultural background for the study of 2 Corinthians.

    Find this resource:

  • Meeks, Wayne A. The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul. 2d ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A landmark study that addresses the biblical texts from a social-historical vantage point. Although Meeks works with texts beyond the Corinthian correspondence, the latter provides much of the data with which he reconstructs the social level of Pauline Christians.

    Find this resource:

  • Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome. St. Paul’s Corinth: Texts and Archaeology. Good News Studies 6. 3d rev. and exp. ed. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The standard work on Corinth at the time of Paul. Sets forth a number of literary texts pertaining to Corinth as well as archaeological discoveries from there and relates how both intersect with features of Paul’s writings.

    Find this resource:

  • Theissen, Gerd. The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity. Edited and translated by John H. Schütz. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Five influential essays study Paul’s letters from sociological perspectives. The second, third, and fourth essays deal specifically with the community in Corinth. From the German original: Studien zur Soziologie des Urchristentums (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1979).

    Find this resource:

Literary Issues

The annotations under Commentaries indicate that scholars are divided on the question of the literary integrity of 2 Corinthians. Although the scholarly pendulum has swung so that a majority now argue for the letter’s unity, some prominent scholars still propose various ways of dividing the text into letters or fragments of letters. Since the 1980s rhetorical analyses have focused on the argumentative thrust of the text (or parts thereof). The introductions to the major commentaries provide extensive coverage of the key issues and of the interpretive options (again, see Commentaries).

Partition Theories

Partition theories range from the simple to the complex. Fitzgerald 1990 and Kennedy 1900 advocate simple partition theories (involving only one partition, between chapters 9 and 10). Bornkamm 1961–1962, Betz 1973, Betz 1985, and Welborn 1996 present more complex theories. In addition to offering a range of theories, the selections here give an idea of the history of interpretation of 2 Corinthians.

  • Betz, Hans Dieter. “2 Cor 6:14–7:1: An Anti-Pauline Fragment?” Journal of Biblical Literature 92 (1973): 88–108.

    DOI: 10.2307/3262757Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that 6:14–7:1 does not derive from Paul (and thus was later added to the various letter fragments); moreover, its content contradicts what Paul says elsewhere.

    Find this resource:

  • Betz, Hans Dieter. 2 Corinthians 8 and 9: Commentary on Two Administrative Letters of the Apostle Paul. Hermeneia. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues for reading chapters 8 and 9 as two separate administrative letters. Also provides a succinct history of partition theories (pp. 3–36).

    Find this resource:

  • Bornkamm, Günther. “The History of the Origin of the So-Called Second Letter to the Corinthians.” New Testament Studies 8 (1961–1962): 258–264.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0028688500004690Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The classic argument for pulling at all the literary “seams” of 2 Corinthians and dividing the text into several fragments. Bornkamm was followed, among others, by Dieter Georgi and Hans Dieter Betz. Second edition printed in 1965. Resumé of Die Vorgeschichte des sogenannten Zweiten Korintherbriefes (Heidelberg, Germany: C. Winter, 1961).

    Find this resource:

  • Fitzgerald, John T. “Paul, the Ancient Epistolary Theorists, and 2 Corinthians 10–13: The Purpose and Literary Genre of a Pauline Letter.” In Greeks, Romans, and Christians: Essays in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbe. Edited by David L. Balch, Everett Ferguson, and Wayne A. Meeks, 190–200. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1990.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Appeals to ancient epistolary theory to argue that chapters 10–13 form a separate, integral letter.

    Find this resource:

  • Kennedy, James Houghton. The Second and Third Epistles of St. Paul to the Corinthians. London: Methuen, 1900.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Influential argument for dividing 2 Corinthians between chapters 9 and 10 and for claiming that chapters 10–13 were written prior to chapters 1–9. Contends that chapters 10–13 constitute the earlier “tearful letter” to which Paul refers in 2 Corinthians 2:4. Reprinted in 1962.

    Find this resource:

  • Welborn, L. L. “Like Broken Pieces of a Ring: 2 Cor 1.1–2.13; 7:5–16.” New Testament Studies 42 (1996): 559–583.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0028688500021421Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Takes up the hypothesis first set forth by Johannes Weiss and pulls at two “seams” in the text. Employing criteria from ancient literary theorists, Welborn argues for reading 1:1–2:13 and 7:5–16 as a single letter (without 2:14–7:4 and chapters 10–13).

    Find this resource:

Literary Integrity

Arguments for literary unity, whether of the whole letter or of sections that have been partitioned (see Partition Theories), take two basic (albeit related) forms. Thrall 1977–1978 argues for the authenticity of the most disputed passage in 2 Corinthians (6:14–7:1), as well as for its present placement in the text. Amador 2000 and DeSilva 1996 focus on the basis of Paul’s use of rhetorical conventions.

  • Amador, J. D. H. “Revisiting 2 Corinthians: Rhetoric and the Case for Unity.” New Testament Studies 46 (2000): 92–111.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0028688500000060Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An argument for the unity of the entire letter, stressing that the letter’s complexity reflects Paul’s complex argumentative strategy in dealing with several issues in Corinth.

    Find this resource:

  • DeSilva, David A. “Meeting the Exigency of a Complex Rhetorical Situation: Paul’s Strategy in 2 Corinthians 1 through 7.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 34 (1996): 5–22.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Makes a case for reading chapters 1–7 as a rhetorical unit, an argument that cuts against the more complex partition theories.

    Find this resource:

  • Thrall, Margaret E. “The Problem of II Cor. vi.14–vii.1 in Some Recent Discussion.” New Testament Studies 24 (1977–78), pp. 132–148.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0028688500003829Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A review of the issues and an argument for the integrity of 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1, both in terms of its authorship (by Paul) and its placement in the text as it presently stands.

    Find this resource:

Rhetorical Analyses

Many monographs and journal articles have appeared that appeal to ancient rhetorical theory and practice in order to set forth Paul’s persuasive and argumentative strategies in 2 Corinthians. Works such as Young 1987 and Long 2004 employ rhetorical analysis to argue for the unity of the letter as it presently stands (or, in the case of Danker 1989, to call for caution before resorting to partition theories). Others, such as Betz 1985, Hughes 1991, and DiCicco 1995, do so to make the case for dividing the text into several letters. Betz’s influential commentary has evoked counterarguments, such as those in Stowers 1990 and O’Mahony 2000.

  • Betz, Hans Dieter. 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. Hermeneia. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Betz’s Hermeneia commentary on Galatians (1979) was an important catalyst in the use of rhetorical analysis to study Paul’s letters. In his brief commentary on 2 Corinthians 8–9, he proposes a highly detailed rhetorical schema for both chapters in order to claim that these are separate administrative letters that a later editor compiled and included in the text as it presently stands.

    Find this resource:

  • Danker, Frederick W. II Corinthians. Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1989.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This commentary is sensitive to the Greco-Roman context of 2 Corinthians (e.g., the dynamics of benefaction and reciprocity), with special emphasis on Paul’s use of rhetorical conventions. Danker argues that awareness of these conventions mitigates the need to resort to partition theories.

    Find this resource:

  • DiCicco, Mario M. Paul’s Use of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in 2 Corinthians 10–13. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1995.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analysis of chapters 10–13 in light of Aristotle’s three-fold strategy of persuasion, using ancient rhetorical handbooks as well as ancient speeches and letters to illuminate Paul’s presentation.

    Find this resource:

  • Hughes, Frank Witt. “The Rhetoric of Reconciliation: 2 Corinthians 1:1–2:13 and 7:5–8:24.” In Persuasive Artistry: Studies in New Testament Rhetoric in Honor of George A. Kennedy. Edited by Duane F. Watson, 246–261. Sheffield, UK: JSOT Press, 1991.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contends, on the basis of thematic unity and unity of rhetorical structure, that these verses originally formed an integral letter written to foster reconciliation between Paul and the Corinthians.

    Find this resource:

  • Long, Frederick W. Ancient Rhetoric and Paul’s Apology: The Compositional Unity of 2 Corinthians. Society for New Testament Studies 131. New York and Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that 2 Corinthians is a unified letter of self-apology that conforms to forensic (judicial) oratory of the time. Long makes ample use of ancient rhetorical manuals for his interpretation.

    Find this resource:

  • O’Mahony, Kieran J. Pauline Persuasion: A Sounding in 2 Corinthians 8–9. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A short monograph that offers a rhetorical schema of chapters 8–9 as a coherent rhetorical argument. O’Mahony contrasts his work with that of Betz (see Betz 1985).

    Find this resource:

  • Stowers, Stanley K. “PERI MEN GAR and the Integrity of 2 Cor. 8 and 9.” Novum Testamentum 32 (1990): 340–348.

    DOI: 10.1163/156853690X00142Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A critique of Betz 1985. Stowers argues for the linking function of 9:1, and thus for reading these chapters as a unity.

    Find this resource:

  • Young, Frances, and David F. Ford. Meaning and Truth in 2 Corinthians. London: SPCK, 1987.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers an interpretation of the whole of 2 Corinthians as an apologetic speech in epistolary form, exhibiting the four-part rhetorical structure of exordium, narrative, proof, and peroratio.

    Find this resource:

Historical Issues

Second Corinthians has several references and allusions to situations and events that are important for reconstructing Paul’s life and ministry. Among these are things that happened between the writing of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, the collection for the church in Jerusalem, and the arrival of other missionaries who called Paul’s ministry into question. The introductions to the major commentaries (see Commentaries) offer explanations and reconstructions of the key historical issues.

Interim Events

After writing 1 Corinthians, Paul paid a visit to the community that ended abruptly after an incident with a person referred to in 2 Corinthians 7:12 as “the one who did wrong.” Shortly thereafter, Paul wrote a letter to the community, a letter he describes as written with tears and anguish of heart (2:4). Some scholars argue that this letter is contained in the present text of 2 Corinthians, in chapters 10–13 (see Partition Theories). Barrett 1982 and Thrall 1987 reconstruct what the authors think happened during the visit that led to the writing of the “tearful letter.”

  • Barrett, C. K. “‘Ο ΑΔΙΚΗΣΑΣ’ (‘The Offender’).” In Essays on Paul. By C. K. Barrett, 108–117. London: SPCK, 1982.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Identifies “the offender” as one of the visitors to Corinth who challenged and belittled Paul’s authority. Initially, the community did not come to Paul’s defense.

    Find this resource:

  • Thrall, Margaret E. “The Offender and the Offence: A Problem of Detection in 2 Corinthians.” In Scripture: Meaning and Method; Essays Presented to Anthony Tyrrell Hanson for His Seventieth Birthday. Edited by Barry P. Thompson, 65–78. Hull, UK: Hull University Press, 1987.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A reconstruction that argues the issue revolved around money given to Paul for the collection—money that was then stolen by another community member. These circumstances led to the painful dispute.

    Find this resource:

Collection

In 2 Corinthians 8–9, Paul offers a lengthy exhortation to the community to contribute to the needs of the Church in Jerusalem. This collection represented more than a relief mission for Paul. He collected funds from his (mostly) Gentile foundations as a symbol of the unity of the churches and of God’s work of reconciling Jews and Gentiles. Georgi 1991 remains highly consulted. See also Betz 1985 and O’Mahony 2000 (both cited under Rhetorical Analyses) for Paul’s rhetorical strategies for persuading the Corinthians to participate generously in the collection.

  • Georgi, Dieter. Remembering the Poor: The History of Paul’s Collection for Jerusalem. Nashville: Abingdon, 1991.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A classic study of the collection, both its historical roots and Paul’s theological rationale for it. Translation of Die Geschichte der Kollekte des Paulus für Jerusalem (Hamburg-Bergstedt, Germany: Reich, 1965).

    Find this resource:

Opponents

A great deal of scholarship has been dedicated to the identity and ideology of the missionaries who followed Paul into Corinth. These missionaries are often dubbed Paul’s “opponents,” as he responds with passion and anger to their practices and their criticism of him. Käsemann 1942, Oostendorp 1967, Schmithals 1971, and Georgi 1986 set forth the major proposals. Sumney 1990 offers a critical evaluation of them.

  • Georgi, Dieter. The Opponents of Paul in Second Corinthians. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Influential study that reconstructs the 1st-century CE Hellenistic-Jewish mission. Georgi argues that the missionaries were Hellenistic-Jewish propangandists who were greatly influenced by a “divine man” Christology. Translation of Die Gegner des Paulus im 2. Korintherbrief (Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany: Neukirchener, 1964).

    Find this resource:

  • Käsemann, Ernst. “Die Legitimät des Apostels: Eine Untersuchung zu II Korinther 10–13.” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 41 (1942): 33–71.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A lengthy essay that makes a case for identifying the missionaries with a delegation sent from the Jerusalem church of which Peter and James were leaders. (Translated, The legitimacy of the apostle: An investigation of 2 Corinthians 10–13.)

    Find this resource:

  • Oostendorp, Derk. Another Jesus: A Gospel of Jewish-Christian Superiority in II Corinthians. Kampen, The Netherlands: J.H. Kok, 1967.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Claims that the missionaries were “Judaizers,” Jewish Christians who insisted that the Mosaic law was still the supreme manifestation of God’s will.

    Find this resource:

  • Schmithals, Walter. Gnosticism in Corinth: An Investigation of the Letters to the Corinthians. Translated by John E. Steely. Nashville: Abingdon, 1971.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based on passages from 1 and 2 Corinthians, Schmithals reconstructs a system of pre-Christian Gnosticism that undergirded the theology of the rival missionaries. From the German original: Die Gnosis in Korinth: Eine Intersuchung zu den Korintherbriefen (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1965).

    Find this resource:

  • Sumney, Jerry L. Identifying Paul’s Opponents: The Question of Method in 2 Corinthians. Sheffield, UK: JSOT Press, 1990.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides a critique of the various methodologies employed to reconstruct the identity and ideology of the missionaries. Sumney then offers his own hypothesis, namely, that they were “pneumatics,” that is, Spirit-filled people.

    Find this resource:

Christology

Second Corinthians is a valuable resource for analyzing Pauline theology, especially the role of Christ in God’s work of salvation. Christological issues raised in 2 Corinthians include the significance of Jesus’ death, the effects of his resurrection, Jesus as the new Adam, and the story of Jesus as narrative substructure of the letter. Stegman 2005 and Fee 2007 analyze all the Christological references in 2 Corinthians, whereas Wright 1992 and Campbell 2009 each focus on one particular passage. Thrall 1973 argues that different Christological emphases became a source of controversy in the community at Corinth.

  • Campbell, Douglas S. “2 Corinthians 4:13: Evidence in Paul That Jesus Believes.” Journal of Biblical Literature 128.2 (2009): 337–356.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Brings 2 Corinthians to bear on the pistis Christou debate: whether the phrase refers to “faith in Christ” or to “Christ’s faith.” Campbell argues for the latter.

    Find this resource:

  • Fee, Gordon D. Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive analysis of all pertinent passages in Paul’s writings that refer to Christ. Concludes with a helpful synthesis of Christological titles and roles. Pages 160–206 pertain to 2 Corinthians.

    Find this resource:

  • Stegman, Thomas D. The Character of Jesus: The Linchpin to Paul’s Argument in 2 Corinthians. Analecta Biblica 158. Rome: Pontifical Institute, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Thorough study of the Christological narrative substructure of 2 Corinthians, which undergirds Paul’s self-defense and his exhortations to the community.

    Find this resource:

  • Thrall, Margaret E. “Christ Crucified or Second Adam? A Christological Debate Between Paul and the Corinthians.” In Christ and Spirit in the New Testament. Edited by Barnabas Linders and Stephen S. Smalley, 143–156. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1973.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Makes the case for different emphases on Christology as an underlying point of contention between Paul and the Corinthian community. Thrall contends that the Corinthians misunderstood Paul’s original presentation of Christ—a misunderstanding he strove to correct by highlighting “Christ crucified.”

    Find this resource:

  • Wright, N. T. The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Several essays on key Christological issues in Paul’s writings. Chapter 9 (pp. 175–192) sets forth the importance of 2 Corinthians 3:18.

    Find this resource:

Spirit

Second Corinthians is an important text for setting forth a Pauline pneumatology (i.e., his understanding of the role and significance of the Holy Spirit). Fee 1994 and Belleville 1996 provide comprehensive treatments, while Dunn 1998 analyzes one of the most discussed texts in the letter.

  • Belleville, Linda L. “Paul’s Polemic and Theology of the Spirit in Second Corinthians.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 58 (1996): 281–304.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes the twelve references to the Spirit in 2 Corinthians by using three categories: the Spirit in Christian life, the Spirit’s “credentialing work” (i.e., what the Spirit empowers), and the Spirit in salvation history.

    Find this resource:

  • Dunn, James D. G. “2 Corinthians 3:17: ‘The Lord Is the Spirit’” In The Christ and the Spirit. Vol. 1, Christology. By James D. G. Dunn, 115–125. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reviews the debate about whether Paul identifies the risen Christ with the Spirit in 2 Corinthians 3:17. Contends, against the majority, that this verse is an exegetical gloss in which Paul refers to God (= Lord) as “Spirit.”

    Find this resource:

  • Fee, Gordon D. God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive investigation of all the pertinent passages in Paul’s writings that refer to the Holy Spirit. Fee concludes with a synthesis of pneumatological roles and functions. Pages 282–366 relate specifically to 2 Corinthians.

    Find this resource:

Ministry and Suffering

One of the main issues in 2 Corinthians is the shape and exercise of ministry. Paul defends his mode of exercising his apostolic ministry, one that was marked by suffering after the likeness of Jesus’ suffering. The analysis in Schütz 1975 of Paul’s self-understanding of authority and ministry remains a classic. Fitzgerald 1988 studies Paul’s employment of hardship lists, a unique feature of the Corinthian correspondence. Hafemann 1986 and Kraftchick 1993 examine Paul’s use of metaphor in setting forth his apostolic sufferings and their significance.

  • Fitzgerald, John T. Cracks in an Earthen Vessel: An Examination of the Catalogues of Hardships in the Corinthian Correspondence. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 99. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A seminal study on Paul’s use and adaptation of the Stoic hardship catalogs in setting forth the role that suffering plays in his ministry.

    Find this resource:

  • Hafemann, Scott J. Suffering and the Spirit: An Exegetical Study of II Cor. 2:14–3:3 Within the Context of the Corinthian Correspondence. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr, 1986.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A thorough investigation of one of Paul’s more striking self-depictions of suffering. Hafemann contends that Paul’s weakness and suffering embody the cross and are the means by which God’s power and Spirit are manifested and poured out on the Corinthians.

    Find this resource:

  • Kraftchick, Stephen J. “Death in Us, Life in You: The Apostolic Medium.” In Pauline Theology. Vol. 2. Edited by David M. Hay, 156–181. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Works with a theory of conceptual metaphor. Argues that metaphor helps to explain how Paul translates his conviction that Jesus died and was raised, into a structure for his own apostolic self-understanding and for challenging the Corinthians to rethink their criteria in evaluating him.

    Find this resource:

  • Schütz, John Howard. Paul and the Anatomy of Apostolic Authority. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 26. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1975.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Influential work that argues apostolic authority is an interpretation of the dynamic power of the gospel—the power manifested in Christ’s death and resurrection. As such, Schütz argues that communities of faith share in this “authority.” Pages 165–186 deal with the relevant passages from 2 Corinthians. Reprinted under the same title in the New Testament Library (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2007).

    Find this resource:

Power in Weakness

This theme is, in actuality, a subset of the theme “ministry and suffering.” Paul famously remarks, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. Suffering plays a significant aspect of Paul’s life and ministry because of the paradox of divine power manifested in weakness. Barnett 1988 and Wan 2000 offer readable monographs on how the theme plays out throughout the text of 2 Corinthians. Savage 1996 provides extensive treatment of several key passages, whereas O’Collins 1971 focuses on one passage (12:9).

  • Barnett, Paul. The Message of Second Corinthians: Power in Weakness. Leicester, UK, and Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An accessible treatment of the theme as it is set forth throughout the text of 2 Corinthians.

    Find this resource:

  • O’Collins, Gerald G. “Power Made Perfect in Weakness: 2 Cor 12:9–10.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 33 (1971): 528–537.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    After reviewing a number of interpretations of this critical passage, O’Collins offers his own extensive exegetical treatment.

    Find this resource:

  • Savage, Timothy B. Power through Weakness: Paul’s Understanding of the Christian Ministry in 2 Corinthians. Society for New Testament Studies 86. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Technical analysis of key passages in 2 Corinthians pertaining to the paradox of divine power manifested through weakness.

    Find this resource:

  • Wan, Sze-Kar. Power in Weakness: Conflict and Rhetoric in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. New Testament in Context. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Emphasizes how Paul identifies his personal sufferings and weaknesses with those of the crucified Christ and thus becomes a conduit of God’s power working through weakness.

    Find this resource:

Reconciliation

One of Paul’s major contributions to theology is his use of the language of reconciliation to describe God’s offer of salvation through Christ. Paul also insists that a major aspect of the new covenant ministry is “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18), one that also entails reconciliation among peoples. Martin 1989 is the classic treatment of this theme in Paul’s writings. Breytenbach 2005 provides cultural and historical context. Porter 1996 analyzes the key pertinent text in 2 Corinthians.

  • Breytenbach, Cilliers. “Salvation of the Reconciled (With a Note on the Background of Paul’s Metaphor of Reconciliation).” In Salvation in the New Testament: Perspectives on Soteriology. Edited by Jan G. van der Watt, 271–286. Novum Testamentum, Supplements 121. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers helpful lexical and cultural background information on the metaphor of reconciliation. Also treats the theme of Paul as the “ambassador of reconciliation.”

    Find this resource:

  • Martin, Ralph P. Reconciliation: A Study of Paul’s Theology. Rev. ed. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1989.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The standard treatment of the topic. Pages 90–110 focus on reconciliation at Corinth.

    Find this resource:

  • Porter, S. E. “Reconciliation and 2 Corinthians 5, 18–21.” In The Corinthian Correspondence. Edited by Reimund Bieringer, 693–705. Biblica Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 125. Louvain, Belgium: Louvain University Press and Peeters, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A close exegetical analysis of 2 Corinthians 5:18–21, focusing on the grammar of reconciliation.

    Find this resource:

Paul’s Use of Scripture

In the aftermath of his encounter with the risen Christ, Paul reread the Jewish Scriptures and offered an interpretation in which the sacred writings have found their fulfillment in Christ and the gift of the Spirit. Chapter 3 of Second Corinthians in particular illustrates the peculiar way in which Paul reinterpreted the Scriptures of Israel. Stegman 2009 looks at Paul’s interpretation of passages about the placing of God’s Spirit in hearts of flesh and the story of Moses’ veil. Belleville 1991 offers an extensive treatment of Paul’s use of tradition pertaining to the divine glory radiating from Moses’ face. Hays 1989 analyzes Paul’s hermeneutical principles.

  • Belleville, Linda L. Reflections of Glory: Paul’s Polemical Use of the Moses-Doxa Tradition in 2 Corinthians 3.1–18. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 52. Sheffield, UK: JSOT Press, 1991.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contends that, in 2 Corinthians 3:12–18, Paul does not offer his own interpretation of Exodus 34:28–35; rather, he employs the biblical text, various traditional interpretations of it, and his own haggadic expansions to defend his way of being an apostle.

    Find this resource:

  • Hays, Richard B. “A Letter from Christ.” In Echoes from Scripture in the Letters of Paul. By Richard B. Hays, 122–153. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that, in 2 Corinthians 3, Paul’s “new covenant hermeneutic” is that the only true reading of Scripture is one that results in the moral transformation of the Christian community.

    Find this resource:

  • Stegman, Thomas D. “‘Lifting the Veil’: The Challenges Posed by 2 Corinthians 3.” Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 4.1 (2009): 3/1–15.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reviews Paul’s interpretation of prophetic texts in light of the outpouring of the Spirit and his ambiguous use of the story of Moses’ veil. Contends that 2 Corinthians 3 is largely a product of Paul’s defensiveness in the face of criticism of his life and ministry. Available online.

    Find this resource:

“Rapture”

Paul’s opaque, third-person reference to his being “caught up” to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2–4) has elicited much scholarly historical interest concerning Jewish mysticism and cosmology. Lincoln 1978–1979 regards Paul’s experience as authentic, while Goulder 2003 denies that Paul ever had such a vision. Gooder 2006 takes a middle position, providing helpful background and context.

  • Gooder, Paula R. Only the Third Heaven? 2 Corinthians 2.1–10 and Heavenly Ascent. Library of New Testament Studies 313. London: T. & T. Clark, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Interprets Paul’s account of his ascent as a subversion of the typical usage of the heavenly ascent genre. Argues that the climax of Paul’s account is not 12:4 (his hearing “unspeakable utterances”); instead, the climax is found in 12:9, where the Lord responds to Paul’s prayer about the thorn.

    Find this resource:

  • Goulder, Michael D. “Visions and Revelations of the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:1–10).” In Paul and the Corinthians: Studies on a Community in Conflict: Essays in Honour of Margaret Thrall. Edited by Trevor J. Burke and J. Keith Elliott, 303–312. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 109. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Claims that Paul never had a heavenly vision of God’s glory. Rather, Paul refers in 12:2–4 to the experience of a friend’s rapture, doing so in a way that downplays the importance of such experiences.

    Find this resource:

  • Lincoln, Andrew T. “‘Paul the Visionary’: The Setting and Significance of the Rapture to Paradise in II Corinthians XII.1–10” New Testament Studies 25 (1978–1979): 204–220.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0028688500004288Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contends that Paul refers in this passage to an actual experience of a heavenly vision he has had (something other Christians have similarly experienced). However, Paul’s treatment of it here makes clear that such experiences do not preclude the reality of suffering and the call to bear the cross in this life.

    Find this resource:

LAST MODIFIED: 09/13/2010

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195393361-0024

back to top

Article

Up

Down