Paulus und die christliche Gemeinde in Korinth: Historisch-kulturelle und theologische Aspekte

Die Beiträge im vorliegenden Band befassen sich mit dem kulturellen Kontext der christlichen Gemeinde in Korinth im 1. Jh. n. Chr. und mit der Reaktion des Paulus auf kontextuell bedingte Spannungen.

Benjamin Schliesser macht eine Fülle neuerer Untersuchungen über das antike Korinth fruchtbar für die Frage nach der soziokulturellen Situation der Gemeinde.

Harald Seubert macht plausibel, dass sich eine Reihe von polemischen Aussagen des Paulus in den Korintherbriefen auf Phänomene beziehen, welche enge Parallelen mit der Zweiten Sophistik aufweisen.

Jacob Thiessen legt dar, dass die von Paulus in 1. Korinther 14 kritisierte Art und Weise, wie die Korinther das „Zungenreden“ praktizieren, auffällige Parallelen zum Dionysoskult aufzeigt.

Christian Stettler zeigt auf, dass Paulus sich mit seiner Rede von der „Ohnmacht“ und “Torheit” Gottes gegen in Korinth gängige kulturelle Massstäbe wendet und diese mit der wahren Macht und Weisheit konterkariert.

Jörg Frey analysiert die Strategie, mit der Paulus in den Argumentationsgängen des 1. Korintherbriefs um die Einheit der korinthischen Gemeinde ringt, und leitet daraus Empfehlungen für analoge heutige Situationen in der Kirche ab.

North American folk can acquire the volume from V&R’s excellent distributor ISD.  The publisher has supplied a review copy.

Pauline studies have been ramping up for a few decades (when the fascination with the quest of the historical Jesus cooled) and they show no sign of slowing down.  The issue for historical Jesus studies, of course, was the absolute paucity of actual evidence which resulted in all manner of wild speculations eventually resulting in the insanity of the ‘Jesus Mythicists’, a cadre of persons (not scholars) who denied the very existence of Jesus himself.

The same, I fear, will be the case with Paul and pauline studies if scholars don’t come to a point where they reject all the wild speculation presently festooning the field and instead stick to the facts.

The contributions in the present volume seek to affirm and enunciate historical details about the Corinthian community.  So the essayists examine the identity of the Christians in Paul’s community, the Sophist’s philosophical school (since it played such a significant role in the Corinthian community), the cult of Dionysius and the ‘phenomenon of speaking in tongues’ in that city and among those Christians, God’s ‘powerlessness’ in the light of Auschwitz and the role of God’s powerlessness in Paul’s theology, and finally the Pauline community and the unity of the Corinthian church.  Five authors presenting five chapters on issues central to any authentic understanding of the Corinthian church and the letters they received from Paul.

To be sure, this is not a collection of essays centered on Paul the man.  These essays are centered on the city of Corinth and its inhabitants.  In particular, its Christian inhabitants.  The papers here gathered stemmed from a conference on the topic held in Basel in 2018 (on the 28th of April that year to be exact).

The forward of the collection summarizes each of the contributions, giving readers a sense of where each essay is headed and how it gets there.  Each essay is meticulously constructed with the as usual for the Germans and Swiss attention to detail and evidence for facts presented.  Readers may wish to discover speculative guesses concerning this or that notion, but such speculations are absent.  Facts, and facts alone, are followed.  Each contribution also includes a useful bibliography.

There are no indices.  There is, however, a list of contributors with a brief bio for each.  And as each chapter is thoroughly outlined in the table of contents, an index of scripture or subject really isn’t necessary at all.

Each essay is instructive, but for myself, the outstanding contribution is that of Jacob Thiessen.  He investigates the cult of Dionysius and those speaking in tongues in Corinth and his is a model of scholarly presentation.  Not only is the essay informative, it is utterly engaging.  I won’t ruin the surprise for potential readers of this volume, but Thiessen’s work is the best on the subject of ‘speaking in tongues’ in the Corinthian context I have yet seen.

My hope is that the trajectory modeled so well by this collection will be followed and adopted by continuing pauline studies.  Speculation is good for no one.  Especially for the pursuit of truth.  Facts, on the other hand, enlighten us all.

This is one enlightening book.