Academic Programs 
      

 Studies in Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence (SC-646)
Fall 2004

After a brief introduction to Pauline studies and the place of the Corinthian correspondence in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul, this course will undertake an analysis of the main units of 1-2 Corinthians.  Attention will be paid to the occasion and purpose for the writing of the letters, the history of Paul’s relationship to this urban congregation, and the various problems encountered between the church and its founder.  Recent sociological, rhetorical and imperial studies of the Corinthian letters will inform our reading of the texts.  Focus will be given to the ministerial issues found in the text and implications for ministry and faithful living today.  Pre-requisite: Survey of the New Testament, Paul and His Urban Churches, or permission of the instructor.

 

Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:50 p.m.

Efrain Agosto
Professor of New Testament

 

Contact Information:
phone: 

email:

 

Course Syllabus



  Course Description - After a brief introduction to Pauline studies and the place of the Corinthian correspondence in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul, this course will undertake an analysis of the main units of 1-2 Corinthians.  Attention will be paid to the occasion and purpose for the writing of the letters, the history of Paul's relationship to this urban congregation, and the various problems encountered between the church and its founder.  Recent sociological, rhetorical and imperial studies of the Corinthian letters will inform our reading of the texts.  Discussion of the ministerial issues encountered in the text and its implications for faithful living and ministry today will be part of class sessions and assignments.

Course Objectives - The student (and professor) will:

1. Gain a greater understanding for Pauline epistolary literature as exemplified by one of the most researched of Paul's letters.

2. Practice English language exegesis by the unit-by-unit study of 1-2 Corinthians, including explorations of sociological, rhetorical and imperial readings of the text.

3. Enhance hermeneutical vision by appropriating learning from the historical encounter of the Apostle Paul with one of his congregations for the current practice of faith and ministry today.

4. And – inverting the order of (3)--learn how our understanding and practice of faithful living and ministry in the world today helps or hinders our reading of a first century document like Paul's Letters to the Corinthians.

Course Requirements

A. Attendance at all sessions and informed participation in class discussions.  More than two absences will affect final grade.  

B. Reading - Required

Thorough reading and re-readings of 1-2 Corinthians in a modern translation (e.g., NRSV, RSV, NIV, NEB or JB).  The professor will use the NRSV as basis for class presentations.  Recommended for purchase--a study bible, such as Wayne A. Meeks, ed.  The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books.  1st Ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 1993) or Bruce M. Metzger, ed.  The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).

Richard Horsley, 1 Corinthians, Abingdon New Testament Commentaries (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998).

Charles Talbert, Reading Corinthians: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Revised Edition (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2002).

Gerd Theissen, The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity:  Essays on Corinth, ed. & trans. John H. Schütz (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1999, originally published by Fortress Press, 1982).

Sze-kar Wan, Power in Weakness: Conflict and Rhetoric in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (Harrisburg, PA:  Trinity Press, 2000).


C. Reading – Recommended

Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians.  New International Commentary on the New Testament.  (Grand Rapids, MI:  Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1987).

Victor Paul Furnish, II Corinthians, The Anchor Bible, Vol. 32A (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1984)

David M. Hay, ed., Pauline Theology, Volume II: 1 & 2 Corinthians (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993).

Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1983).

Antoinette Clark Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets: A Reconstruction through Paul’s Rhetoric (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990).

Ben Witherington III, Conflict & Community in Corinth:  A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1995).
 

D. Written Assignments

1. Historical Exercise – Among the interpretative conundrums of 1 Corinthians are the several references to sexual practices of the Corinthian believers that Paul decries.  Traditionally, interpreters have suggested that Corinth was a particularly sexually immoral place so much so that a verb was invented “corinthiaze” – to engage in sexually immoral practices. Do a little research on this question starting with our main readings and branching out into the commentaries and related articles and come up with a three-page (typed, double-spaced) statement on the possible historical background for these problems in 1 Corinthians.  Be sure to suggest what you think is the best understanding of the sexual issues from your reading of the historical background of these matters in Corinth. Due Date: Oct 5.

2. Exegetical Exercise - Several of our readings (e.g., Horsley, Theissen) disagree with regard to the meaning of 1 Cor 1:26.  Do these categories represent actual social classes within the Corinthian community (Theissen, Meeks) or are they symbolic of some kind of “spiritual status” sought within the faith community (Horsley)?  Research the question yourself by reading beyond the assigned texts (in commentaries, articles) and in particular determining, in a preliminary way, what makes the most sense within the literary argument of the rest of 1 Corinthians (see Talbert).  Are there other problems within 1 Corinthians that might be explained by issues of actual social stratification (Theissen) and not just symbolic (Horsley)?  Try to make up your own mind about this, using the text of 1 Corinthians, although always in a preliminary or penultimate way.  A five-page essay (typed, double-spaced) should suffice for your conclusions. Due Date: Nov. 9.

3. Theological or Exegetical Paper - Toward the conclusion of the course, the student will research and write a twelve to fifteen page (12-pt. font, double-spaced) research paper dealing with either a critical theological or ministerial issue that can be traced throughout 1-2 Corinthians or an exegetical analysis of one passage in the letters (a coherent unit of 6 to 10 verses within the larger sections one of the letters, but not 1 Cor 1:26-31).  More detail on the methodology for these essays will be discussed in class, but either case will entail careful analysis of Paul's arguments in 1-2 Cor, relevant statements elsewhere in his letters, as well as other parts of the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible, and research in secondary literature.  The student is advised to select her or his topic as early in the course as possible so that focus in reading can begin early.  The professor should be informed of your topic selection no later than Nov 2.  Due Date: Dec. 21 (one week after conclusion of course) in the professor’s office. 

 

Course Schedule

I. Introductory Matters

Sept 14 - Introduction to Course and the Study of Paul  

Sept 21 - Historical Background and Outline of 1-2 Corinthians

Read:   1-2 Corinthians; Horsley, 21-38; Talbert, 1-11; Theissen, 1-20.

Recommended: Meeks, 1-50 (on reserve).


II. I Corinthians--Problems in the Church

Sept 28 - The Problem of Leadership:  1 Cor 1-4

Read:     1 Cor 1-4; Horsley, 39-76; Talbert, 15-23; Theissen, 27-59.

Recommended: Nils Dahl, “Paul & the Church at Corinth According to 1 Corinthians 1:10-4:21,” in Studies in Paul (Augsburg, 1977) - On reserve.

Oct. 5 - Problems with Church Discipline, Marriage & Morality:  1 Cor 5-7

Read:            1 Cor 5-7; Horsley, 77-114; 25-71; Theissen, 69-119.

Recommended: Wire, 72-97

Due:  Historical Exercise

Oct. 12 - The Problem of Food Offered to Idols:  1 Cor 8-10

Read:   1 Cor 8-10; Horsley, 115-152; Talbert, 73-83; Theissen, 121-140.

 

III. Problems with Worship

Oct. 19 - Women Wearing Veils: 1 Cor 11.2-16; Abuse of the Lord's Supper: 1 Cor 11.17-34

Read:            1 Cor 11.2-34; Horsley, 152-165; Talbert, 85-101; Theissen, 145-168.

Recommended: Wire, 116-134; Meeks, 140-163

Oct. 26 - Abuse of Spiritual Gifts:  1 Cor 12-14

Read:            1 Cor 12-14; Horsley, 165-197; Talbert, 103-119.

Recommended: Wire, 135-158


IV. A Theological Problem & Final Greetings

Nov. 2 - The Resurrection (1 Cor 15); Concluding Matters (1 Cor 16)

Read:            1 Cor 15-16; Horsley, 197-227; Talbert, 121-133.

Recommended: Meeks, 164-192

Due: Final Paper Topic

V. II Corinthians

Nov. 9 - Introduction to the Letter: 2 Cor 1-2

Read:            2 Corinthians; Wan, 1-56; Talbert, 163-170.

Due:  Exegetical Exercise

Nov. 16 - Pauline Self-Commendation: 2 Cor 3-6

Read:            2 Cor 3-6; Wan, 57-98; Talbert, 171-212.

Nov. 23 - No Class (Reading Week)

Nov 30   - Reconciliation & Collection: 2 Cor 7-9

Read:         2 Cor 7-9; Wan, 99-124; Talbert, 215-224.

Recommended: Dieter Georgi, Remembering the Poor: The History of Paul’s Collection for Jerusalem (Abingdon, 1992), 80-109.

Dec. 7 - Problems with Leaders (Again): 2 Cor 10-13

Read:            2 Cor 10-13; Wan, 125-154; Talbert, 137-159.

Dec. 14 - Conclusion of Course: Understanding Pauline Theology & Ministry through Corinth

Read:            Theissen, 175-195

Recommended: Wire, 181-196

Dec. 21 – Final paper due at Professor’s office by 5PM

 

(Please note:  Coverage of units may shift from above dates depending on class discussion and interests in issues of particular passages.  Flow of argument and Paul's overall purposes are goals rather than detailed exegesis.)  

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