Criticism of the Pauline Epistles
The Origin of the First Corinthians Letter
If it were really Paul who wrote to his Corinthians, he would not have addressed the church, which he could consider as his own work, with a phrase that points to a community that is personally unfamiliar to the author of the letter and refers to a long-established and independent church. “The church of God located *) in Corinth,” as such, had already existed for a long time, was fully established, and had surpassed the time when it consisted of individual believers who were won and gathered.
If Paul had really been personally involved with the Corinthians, he would not have addressed his letter to “all” believers, to believers in all places – had the author of the letter been confident in his cause, he would not have formed this address to all communities outside of Corinth so vague, unclear, and uncertain that he added the Corinthians to this new and distinct class of readers with the formula: “from them and from us.” The expression “from us” – (“in our place”) **) – is so comprehensive that the Corinthians cannot be excluded from it.
*) V. 2 τη εκκλησια του θεου τη ουση εν κορινθω.
**) εν παντι τοπω αυτων τε και ημων
The author, therefore, falls into the contradiction that he is writing a letter that is only concerned with the Corinthians and their affairs, but at the same time he addresses it to all believers in the church and with the poorly formed formula that is meant to include readers outside Corinth, he also includes the Corinthians in this new class of readers.
He knew very well that he was actually writing to all Christians, to all the churches, and that the matters he discusses in the following text are the affairs of the whole church. He wanted his readers to feel the general significance of his work from the outset, but the fear that he might deviate too far from the fictitious assumption determined him to include the Corinthians in the formula that was meant to extend beyond them.
In a detailed description, with a thanksgiving to God for such great grace, in a positive and negative statement, he praises the perfection of the Corinthians: they are rich in everything, they have no lack of any gift, they are so perfect that they only need to await the final revelation of the Lord. The testimony of Christ is unshakeably established among them, and there can be no doubt that God will keep them blameless until the day of the Lord.
They have everything that a Christian can have before the final revelation of the Lord – what a contradiction, then, with all the assumptions of the following letter – what a contradiction with the constant reprimand that the author gives them, especially with his assumption (chapter 3, verse 3) that they are still so fleshly that he has only been able to impart to them the rudiments of Christian teaching thus far! He is perfectly serious in his praise, he does not want to win them over temporarily, to secretly introduce the following criticism with flattery – he does not want to be ironic towards his readers – he rather thanks God for the flawless perfection that he has granted them.
In this praise at the beginning, the author does not simply let go of the criticisms that he will make later on, but rather he excludes them outright through this all-encompassing praise.
He does not praise what is praiseworthy about the Corinthians, but this unrestricted praise was impossible if the following reproach, which relates to all aspects of Christian life and thought that the author considered essential, is to be justified.
For what the Corinthians have, the author could not thank God and at the same time reserve the right to complain and punish their shortcomings in the following text. These shortcomings would be impossible if they were already perfected in all things and only waiting for the final revelation of the Lord.
In short, the author made a mistake and was unable to maintain the unity of his assumptions. After portraying the Corinthians as the ideal of true Christians, albeit at an inopportune time, he could only make the transition to his theme and the first criticism with an awkward “but” *) “But I exhort you”.
*) Verse 10. In this great dissonance, the smaller ones disappear, namely that the author connects the relative clause of verse 8, “who will keep you steadfast,” whose subject is God, in contrast to the Lord, to the Lord in verse 7, and in verse 9 designates God, who would have to be the one calling, as the instrumental cause of the calling: “through whom you were called.”
1: 10 – 4: 21.
He already knows the unity and catholicity of doctrine and wants to designate dogmatic divisions as the scourge of the church when he exhorts his Corinthians (v. 10) to “all speak the same thing” **), not to allow divisions to arise among them, and to preserve the unity of thought and opinion. But he cannot yet represent dogmatic unity in reality; it was still in the process of becoming at his time, and instead of actually describing dogmatic oppositions in the following, he can only speak of the preference for individual party leaders and lose himself in antitheses that have nothing to do with the oppositions of dogmatic interpretation.
**) το αυτο λεγειν
He wants to have very precise and authentic information about the disputes and divisions of the Corinthians, because – what a guarantee! – he received it from Chloe’s household (v. 11) – how sharp and certain, then, will his descriptions be, how striking will his admonition be! – How weak and vague is his transition to the actual description in v. 12, which leaves it uncertain whether he refers to what has gone before: “Now I mean this, that…” – or whether he refers to what follows: “What I mean is…” . . . *).
*) λεγω δε τουτο, οτι . . .
Enough though! He is now on the topic. The Corinthians were divided – one said, “I am of Paul,” another, “I am of Apollos,” another, “I am of Peter,” and another, “I am of Christ!”
But that is all we learn about these factions among the Corinthians. So it seems that Chloe’s household was not particularly well-informed.
When Peter or any faction is mentioned that opposed Paul’s name, we are entitled to expect something about the great controversy over the validity of the law – but there is no further mention of the law and its relationship to grace. Or perhaps the faction that put Peter’s name at its head wanted to achieve its goal by a circuitous route? First, undermine Paul’s reputation? Substitute another authority for his? Claim that one of those who heard Christ himself was the only true apostle? Expose Paul as an unauthorized intruder?
But that could only have been accomplished by immediately attacking his teachings; the dispute over the difference in doctrine could not have been avoided – it would even have had to be the beginning. However, the letter does not discuss the law and its various interpretations and evaluations.
Does the letter really lead to such a lively fight over the significance of Paul’s personality as the statements from Chloe’s household suggest? Rather, the second Corinthians letter – a letter whose origin has yet to be investigated and which at this moment exists for us as little as it did for the Corinthians when they received the first letter – defends Paul’s authority only in the second letter.
Or was the apostle, when he wrote the first letter, not yet as well informed about his opponents as he was when he wrote the second? Had the people from Chloe’s household not been able to tell him everything yet?
But if he once speaks of the Corinthian situation in which he mentions a faction for Peter, he should have described it as well. A matter that he touches upon must be justified and exhausted.
Or should we really admire the skill with which Dr. Baur*) allegedly applied his polemic in the second Corinthians letter (10-13) against Peter’s faction, giving it “its full force”, and admire the art with which he combined the exposition of both letters “into a harmonious unity”?
*) Paulus p. 324, 325
However, even if we assume the impossible, that part of the second letter was dedicated to the fight against Peter’s faction in the first letter and that the second letter has the same author as the first, would not the work of the same author, instead of coming together in unity, rather fall apart? Would he not leave the readers of the first letter waiting in uncertainty for an absolutely necessary exposition before he knew that he would have a second occasion and opportunity for it?
However, according to Dr. Baur’s view, even in the first letter, the author explicitly addresses the party of Peter – in the discussion that immediately follows the beginning of the ninth chapter.
So in this passage about the marriage of the other apostles and the pay of the clergy? In this confusion of the most diverse discussions? In this confusion of expressions, none of which are thoroughly searched?
Regarding the party of Christ, according to the author, it is supposed to be a separate one, *) not only the party of Peter, insofar as it is directly connected with Christ through its leader – a separate party that wants to be connected with Christ directly, not through its teacher – but the author does not know anything about how they thought about this direct relationship with Christ.
*) like Mr. Baur wants, ibid. p. 278
As Dr. Baur wants it to be, it should be a condemnable party like the others, which it would not have been if it wanted to belong to Christ alone in contrast to the other parties that had their particular leaders – but the author does not say what made their character reprehensible.
It is supposed to be a sect, but the author does not know anything about what made them a sect – he fights against them as little as against the party of Peter.
Even the party of Paul is supposed to be a sect, reprehensible like the others – but the author has nothing more to say about them later.
He soon initiates a polemic against Apollos, but cannot shape it because the contrast between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of this world, in which he moves in the course of this polemic, remains highly indefinite – we will even see that when he elaborates on this contrast, he forgets Apollos with all the other nuances of the Corinthian sect as much that he presupposes worldly wisdom as a demand of the Corinthians in general, even of the Gentiles – in short, as everything else, except as the peculiar demand of a particular sect.
In the end, we would therefore have to praise the author, i.e., the real apostle, with Dr. Baur*) again for “skipping everything obvious to immediately grasp his subject at the highest and most extreme point” – i.e., for giving his readers indefinite generalities instead of real configurations and refutations – or would we have to admire his method that he “knows how to gain an absolute standpoint of contemplation in a rapid ascent over all subordinate elements, from which the subject in question can be brought into a contrast against which no further contradiction is possible due to its clearly evident evidence” – i.e., we would have to admire in the polemics of the author as their peculiar “concise, striking and compelling” power that he immediately places the assumed contrasts, occasions, and phenomena under a supreme contrast, in whose indefinite and meaningless generality they all disappear.
*) ibid p. 356
Or could it perhaps also be described as a particular skill of the author that he leaves it completely unspecified how the various factions he criticizes in the later sections of the letter related to them?
Rather, he forgets these factions in the course of the letter, after he had unfortunately formed them, when, in order to remind the pagans of the necessary Catholic unity, he placed the apostle among sects that he did not yet know and – (if we disregard the faction of Peter, which the author himself does not describe) – could not know.
It was not the factional spirit of the Corinthians that pleased itself*) in multiplying sect names and establishing names that “indicated various colors and shades, but not necessarily different factions” – but the author piles up names and differences to put the apostle into a chasm similar to the division of his later time, but he was not a free enough poet to create the images of the sects of his time in real forms.
*) like Mr. Baur says, ibid. p. 273
After the author, in verse 13, has reproached the division of the community with the question of whether Christ is divided, and the veneration of the party leaders with the question of whether Paul has been crucified for them or whether they were baptized in Paul’s name, this keyword of baptism leads him to an exclamation in which he expresses his joy and gratitude to God that he has not baptized anyone among the Corinthians. He is glad that no one can claim to have been baptized in his name.
But were those whom he might have baptized his creations? Was the assumption, which is now impossible and causes his joy, even possible if he baptized specifically in the name of Christ, as it would have been necessary? Could anyone, given the general assumption of the meaning and purpose of baptism, even entertain the idea that they were not baptized in the name of Christ, but in the name of the man who baptized them?
When the author used his own keyword from D. 1 in this misguided way, he certainly remembered that Paul must have also baptized. Therefore, he adds the clause immediately after his solemn statement, accompanied by thanks to God, that he had not baptized anyone, “except Crispus and Gaius”. But his conscience still doesn’t leave him alone, and in verse 16 he must add, “I also baptized the household of Stephanas”, and his inner uncertainty finally forces him to make the evasive remark that he “did not know whether he had baptized anyone else” – that is, it forces him to render the entire excursus unnecessary and take away all reason for his joy.
Instead, in verse 17, he presents the general fact that Jesus had sent him to preach the gospel, not to baptize.
But he did baptize, didn’t he? So is he only speaking in the heat of the moment when he does not count baptism as part of his mission? Perhaps – but then he is certainly speaking without calculation and falsely! Should he not express the matter strongly, not exaggerate it to present it falsely? How can exaggeration be allowed to portray a matter inaccurately and falsely?
And why shouldn’t Paul baptize? Wasn’t baptism necessary? Or should he have it done by disciples and assistants?
He had always done it himself, even through people who were nothing but his organs and means.
None of this concerns the author – nor does he care about the difficulty that is no longer relevant to him, that by not baptizing, Paul did not make the formation of a separate party impossible, as he did have his own teachings. Instead, the author rushes ahead and, with the incidental addition of “not with wisdom of words” in verse 17, he brings up the theme of his first treatise, the contrast between worldly wisdom and divine foolishness.
Rather than taking his theme from reality, he brings it about with the help of an incidental remark! Instead of preparing and naturally bringing about the various modulations of his theme through a presentation of the actual conditions in Corinth, he makes the first execution of his theme an incidental addition to a casually thrown-out determination.
This is indeed how a historical hero must write, defending his work against the jealousy and aberrations of the parties!
The author couldn’t have introduced the theme more skillfully, after the news from Chloe’s household alone had prompted the Apostle to write the letter.
If the transition to the theme is shaky, the keyword that mediates this transition is also unclear and left hanging. The wisdom of speech in which the apostle should not preach the gospel *) could only refer to the form of preaching, yet it must also be a demonstrative development that touches on the content, since the frustration of the cross is described as its consequence.
*) V. 17 ουκ εν σοφια λογου.
If this rejection of the wisdom of speech with its corrupting effects was not to be meaningless and purposeless, it had to have the opponents of the apostle in mind, who thus frustrated the cross of Christ. But why does he not really fight against them? Directly? Why does he only give them a blow in passing?
But who were these opponents? It would most likely be Apollos – so was Apollos frustrating the cross with his wisdom of speech? Why does he not destroy him? Was the blessing of the death – the salvation work in death – in danger? Why does he not fight against the danger?
But he does not even say what the danger was for the cross – he overlooks the main thing. Does he fear that the brilliance of the presentation would push the fact itself into the background? But the power of the arguments would rather benefit the fact itself! He does not even hint that it is a matter of concealment, omission, denial of the fact – he only speaks of the art of presentation – so why should the fact suffer from it?
And what is the contrast between the wisdom of speech?
This contrast is missing the main point. Only later in verse 21 does he speak of the foolishness of preaching, but he also does not explain what it consists of, and even places it in a contrast that has nothing to do with the wisdom of speech, which he introduced with this back-and-forth about uncertain and constantly shifting contrasts.
None of these contrasts can hold up – none of them stand on a firm foundation. After excluding the wisdom of speech in verse 47 without setting up its contrast, he suddenly introduces the contrast that the word of the cross is foolishness to the lost, but to us, the redeemed, it is the power of God in verse 48 – instead of speaking of the factions in Corinth, instead of describing and toppling their contrast to the correct understanding of salvation, he suddenly comes to a contrast in which the outsiders, the lost, stand opposed to him and the Corinthians – to us, that is, him and all believers, including the Corinthians – at the same time he is making arrangements in verse 47 to set up and justify his method in opposition to the Corinthian factions, he gets lost in a contrast in which the Corinthians, along with him and all believers, stand opposed to those who reject the word of the cross as foolishness.
Yes, at the same time he sets up this contrast between the lost and the redeemed, and while still thinking he is moving within it, he has already slipped into the new contrast between Hellenic wisdom and the foolishness of the evangelical sermon in verses 19-21. That wisdom has been refuted and made foolish by God, it was not the means to grasp God in His wisdom – God punished it through the contrast, contradiction, mockery, irony of linking the wisdom of the world to the foolishness of the sermon.
But he doesn’t hold onto this opposition either, he doesn’t carry it through clearly and completely. The foolishness of the preaching was supposed to form a double opposition: to the wisdom of the world and to the wisdom of God; it was supposed to be the punishing and mocking refutation of worldly wisdom and at the same time the ironically inverted path that God took to himself after worldly wisdom had proven its inability to grasp him in an adequate way in the element of his wisdom; but this latter opposition recedes, and the author confines himself to the opposition that the foolishness of preaching forms with worldly wisdom, and reinforces it even more by developing it, in verses 22-23, as the natural opposition to the demands of the Jews and Greeks – the Jews and Greeks who suddenly replace the lost ones and completely suppress the thought of the Corinthian factions.
However, he does not develop the opposition – he only laboriously circles around it. At first, the Corinthians and all the redeemed stood opposite the lost ones – now, in verse 24, the called ones themselves*) stand opposite the Jews and Greeks with their inappropriate demands, but the called ones, to whom the Jews and Greeks belong in the same way – after he finally set verse 25, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength,” infinitely above all human wisdom and strength, and as he wants to derive the proof for this relationship from experience, he turns back to the Corinthians in verse 26, urging them to consider their calling and to deduce from it that God has chosen the lowly, the ignoble, and the foolish to shame and refute the wise, strong, and prominent.
*) αυτοις δε τοις κλητοις ιουδαιοις τε και ελλησιν – a floating and ineffective self and an inappropriate adoption of the given catchphrase that “the Jews and Greeks have an equal share in salvation!”
So a new thought, a new contrast – rather a new assumption – a given assumption – the assumption that in the election of the weak and foolish, the wisdom of God is revealed!
But an original creator would first have to prove that divine wisdom is demonstrated in this calling. For our author, however, the assumption, the proof, is given – but where? To the gospel text that the author of the Gospel of Luke used and for whose use by the author of our letter we will provide numerous and the most convincing evidence.
But let us accept the author’s appeal to a statement for which he would have had to provide proof, and let us instead receive as a gift the consequential evidence for his use of a gospel text! Let us also allow him to draw the divinely intended conclusion from the calling of the weak and the shaming of the strong, namely that in God’s sight no flesh should boast, and that whoever boasts should boast in the Lord (v. 29-31). Let us allow him in v. 30 to point to God as the source of all being and of the called ones with an unmotivated, perhaps even artificial and contrived turn of phrase *) – let us also allow him there, when he calls Christ the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption destined for believers, to establish the complete content of Christian wisdom – let us not burden him with the question of the relationship between his righteousness and the dialectically determined righteousness of the Romans letter – (for he could not answer the question anyway) – rather, let us follow him to clarify his appearance among the Corinthians, which he wants to describe as being in accordance with the nature of Christianity.
*) Artificially brought about, insofar as he could only connect it with V.28, according to which God chooses his chosen ones from the non-existent.
His testimony about God did not come (C. 2, 1) in lofty speech or wisdom — he believed among the Corinthians that he should know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (V. 2) — but how did he suddenly come (V. 3) to his states of weakness, fear, and trembling among them? He does not say.
Where did his weakness, fear, and trembling come from? Perhaps from feeling that his own strength was inadequate in the face of the greatness and sublimity of the subject he was preaching? Did he feel oppressed in the face of the great task? He does not say. Or did he feel fear in front of the audience he was addressing? Was he embarrassed in front of the listeners? He does not say. Did the thought of the Greek education of the Corinthians make him uncomfortable? There is no word to justify this assumption. Did the obstacles that stood in the way of his work fill him with fear? What kind of apostle would that be? Or was it the aftershocks of the fear that recent persecutions had caused him?
He does not say — he says nothing explanatory — the image of the apostle that has come down to the author and which he assumes his readers are familiar with, contained among other things the element of suffering, and he lets the apostle refer to it without bothering to provide real motivation, or even being able to.
Similarly, when he now proceeds to describe the teaching of the apostle (v. 4), he fails to really describe it. First, he repeats the negation that his preaching did not come in persuasive words of human wisdom, and when he then sets up the positive contrast that it came in demonstration of the Spirit and power, he must leave it indefinite as to how this demonstration was shown, what the Spirit and power consisted of, or is everything settled with the purpose (v. 5) that it happened so that the faith of the Corinthians should not rest on human wisdom but on God’s power? Impossible!
All the less so, since nothing is settled and decided, was he entitled to suddenly attribute the category of wisdom to his preaching, and to do so in the form of appealing to how he had also revealed this hidden wisdom before the Corinthians, while later (ch. 3, 1) he presents to them the circumstance that he had not yet been able to communicate to them the true, inner, spiritual core as a rebuke of their low standpoint.
The author now already comes to the idea of a special doctrine — that idea which he sets forth with prosaic precision in ch. 3, 1-2 — he speaks of a wisdom that is intended for the mature, that is, for those who, with their spiritual maturity, stand in contrast to the first beginners, the immature, against whom those who, according to ch. 3, 1 and ch. 14, 20, are still in childhood stand. However, in the Montanism, he only tentatively expresses it in the beginning and does not continue the completed differentiation towards its proper direction. Instead, he only presents the wisdom of the mature as such that remains a mystery to those outside, the rulers of this world – rulers of this world, to whom the Jews (Luke 8) belong in the same way as the Gentiles (heathens).
All of these contrasts of a particular wisdom that belongs only to the perfect and the immature, the spiritually mature and the spiritually immature, were given to the author by the zeitgeist. He even knows and uses the Gnostic distinction between pneumatic and psychical people and refers to the Corinthians as the carnal ones (C. 2, 14. E. 3, 1), using the buzzwords of the sects of his time and hoping to subject them to Catholicism and make them useful. However, he himself has frustrated this hope, as at the beginning of his writing, with a great deal of effort and strength, he had made the attempt to oppose the worldly demand for wisdom with the folly of the gospel as a divinely intended antithesis. That which is characteristic of him, this antithesis of worldly wisdom and divine folly, he cannot hold onto and carry through, losing it within the community through the antithesis of male and pneumatic perfection and the fleshly weakness of childhood, and within the community itself, he brings this antithesis back into disorder through that antithesis of voluntary renunciation of divine revelation to all wisdom of this world.
How can the antithesis that should belong to the wisdom that is determined for the perfect actually form and be securely established if the simplicity of the preaching of the crucified as the highest was described before and the folly of God was placed above all the wisdom of this world? What good could all of these developments and great revelations about the knowledge and revelation of the Spirit given in the second half of the second chapter do for the Corinthians if, as the carnal ones, they are unable to understand spiritual things? Just before the author excludes the Corinthians (C. 3, 1) from the knowledge of spiritual relationships, he does indeed assume that they belong to the pneumatics. He speaks generally, including all of his readers, that is, the members of the community in his “we” from verse 7 to 12: “God has destined us for his glory, which none of the rulers of this world knew; we have received the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (V. 12). Finally, at the end of the development (N-16), it is us, all of us, all pneumatic people, who have the Spirit of Christ, and therefore also as pneumatics, the supreme authority of the world – how can he then immediately exclude the Corinthians from this “we” and oppose himself to them as the carnal ones?
Let us rather ask whether he is capable of holding onto and truly following through with this new opposition, which he has arrived at in a wondrous, i.e. unmotivated, way.
(We should also note beforehand that the Spirit who searches all things, even the depths of God, is thus distinct from the depths of God that are its object, and yet remains divine Spirit and the power of revelation. This is a figure that assumes the Gnostic distinction, according to which the limit and determination lie in the Absolute itself, but in divine form, and in its divine power and essence possess the drive and ability to overcome its limitations.)
So the Corinthians are carnal? Uneducated children to whom he (C. 3, 1-2) could only give milk, not solid food?
What a self-deprecation, speaking with two tongues! What a diminution of the universality of the new doctrine, that he could not come forward with it openly and boldly! How unfortunate, rather, this transfer of gnostic and Montanist distinctions to the ground of Catholicism, which he nevertheless wants to occupy and maintain!
So the crucified Christ, with whom he (C. 2, 2) appeared before them and as a true Christian teacher was the only one who could appear, was milk – children’s food?
What did he hide and withhold from them? He does not even hint at it – he does not know it himself.
And if they (V. 2) “still cannot” do it now, why does he write to them? Why does he go into everything he can find in the letter itself in detail? If he allows the letter to have been intended for two different races of people at the same time, it is clear that he nowhere distinguishes between two classes of readers – does he let himself be carried away into more difficult discussions only because once he did not ask whether they would not be too high for his readers? On the contrary! What he gives, he gives with careful consideration, with full intention – his intention was directed at nothing more and nothing less than a complete presentation of true Christian thinking and acting – as it were, a system of the whole, which then had to be included with a detailed description of the last things.
And in what have the Corinthians shown that, as fleshly people and as children, they are still unresponsive to the richness of the Pneumatikos? In their divisions (V. 3) – in their subordination to party leaders (V. 4) – thus he wanted to take up again the beginning of his writing, the news that Chloe’s household had brought to him – for this he had to use the category of fleshliness and childhood in Christ. But once he has achieved this goal, and once he has come to his intended topic through the questioning remark (V. 5) about who Paul and Apollos really are, once they are no longer considered as authorities, the contrast against the childishness of the Corinthians is completely forgotten, and instead of the judging, punishing and excluding Pneumatikos, the syncretist stands there, who assigns everything that the individual factions contain as common property to the universal Church until the final judgment decides (V. 5-45).
The syncretist, the indifferentist – the Catholic stands there, who recognizes the individual faction leaders as servants of the One Lord and makes their peculiar work the common property of the Church through the reflection that they all serve and are accountable to the same Lord.
A true Paul, a shaken one who is aware of the uniqueness of his work achieved in heroic strength, will not be so indifferent to his work that he leaves it to itself as his own planting and comforts himself with the thought that someone else will come and water and nurture the plants (V. 6).
A true hero does not believe he acts as a wise master builder when he only lays the foundation and consoles himself that someone else will build some structure on it according to their own wishes (v.10).
Only the syncretist is capable, in the lethargy and confusion of his consciousness, of the thought that a wise master builder only lays the foundation and thereby preserves himself *) as a wise master builder. The real master builder, however, cannot even think that he has nothing more to do than just laying the foundation; he knows that he has to preserve his art in the structure, solidity, and appropriateness of the building.
*) v. 1. ὡς . . .
A real fighter, a discoverer, to whom his discovery is dear and to whom it is impossible to leave it to chance, even if he is convinced that the same is under the guidance of his God, also appreciates the weapons of details and will use them to carry out his new way in detail, to ensure his principle against the detail of the existing. A real trailblazer, who is in the multifaceted fight against tradition, does not initially relinquish his new principle to the extent that he believes he acts as a wise master builder when he leaves it at the foundation and lets others build whatever they want and however they want on it.
If the real Paul had been only a part of what he was supposed to have been according to the assumption of the letters named after him, it would have been impossible for him to speak of his work with such indifference and to make this indifference the hallmark of the wise master builder.
But after Paul’s time, others have emerged and done their own part in the founding and development of the church – these others also matter to the late author of the letter – the syncretist wanted to bring them all to recognition. Bringing all of them to the fore as co-workers in building the church is one thing – but he had to overstep and create a skewed image when he made Paul speak of these later individuals as if they were contemporaneous co-workers, and when he allowed Paul to express the same significance and insignificance of all of them.
It was already a mistake from the beginning that he praised the mere foundation layer as a wise builder – the cornerstone is already there *), laid by someone else, and no one can lay another foundation. Only with the superstructure (v. 12) does the possibility of one’s own work and the question of its worth or worthlessness begin – but if that is the case, why so much praise for the wisdom of the builder who lays the foundation?
*) V. 11. κείμενον.
Finally, the syncretist’s leniency drives him so far that even in the last judgment, where he entrusts the judgment of the fitness of the buildings, he still distinguishes between the building and the builders, allowing the latter to suffer their punishment only through the burning of their work, while saving themselves “as through fire” (v.15), leaving this expression in suspense and unexplained as to whether they are purified by the fire of their work or escape through the fire of their work.
Very little corresponds to this syncretistic leniency in the tone of severity with which the author immediately punishes the corruption of the temple of God with the same corruption (V. 16-17) – he does not even say what this corruption of the temple consists of – he also leaves it uncertain whether each individual, “you are the temple of God”, or whether the whole in all, the community as such, is the temple of God – the key words of this saying were given to him, but the saying itself is only suggested by the preceding, not motivated, not really brought about.
It was already inappropriate that in V. 16 with this severe turn of phrase, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God,” he addressed the Corinthians, the believers, instead of the teachers, and the following warning (V. 18-20) not to consider oneself wise, in a context where the relationship of teachers and their teachings to each other is being discussed, even less so in their place.
He thinks he is bringing the previous discussion to a conclusion and final result and gets into a new turn, for which he uses the earlier catchwords of wisdom and foolishness. After he has explained the indifferent nature of the different teachings and subjects, spoken of the position and significance of the teachers, he considers it appropriate and timely to take up the earlier contrast of wisdom and foolishness and does so in such an inappropriate way that he warns the believers against self-deception as if he had just explained the injustice of the wisdom of this world.
This warning against worldly and human wisdom and the syncretist principle that claims all human work as its own, finally confuses him (v. 21-22), as if both were the same, as if the one who cannot boast about any human being could also have the freedom to extend his ownership right to all human work, be it Paul, Apollos, Peter, or the world, and consider it all his own. Whoever belongs to Christ alone (v. 23) has nothing to do with people anymore and no longer values human work to the extent that he considers it his own. But if the thoughts of the wise are futile (v. 20), it would even be a sin to claim ownership rights over them.
However, even if the confusion into which the previous development leads him is so destructive and has detrimental consequences for the author, it is enough for us to draw a certain conclusion from his statement, “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Peter or the world” that the author who wrote this statement stands at a point where the history of Paul, Apollos, and Peter belonged, long since concluded.
The author does not completely misinterpret the last ramifications of this development when he immediately connects the new turn, “So *) let us consider ourselves as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries,” as if nothing had happened in between, to the earlier statement (v. 10, 14) that individual teachers are only servants and workers of God. However, he has no right to completely ignore what happened in between and to anchor himself so confidently to the distant past. However, even if he does so, he will soon destroy his work again in the course of his progress. After he has given the criterion (v. 1-2) by which a teacher is to be judged as a steward of God – (it only depends on whether he is found faithful) – he immediately rejects it (v. 3) for himself (“for me it is a very small matter that I should be judged by you”). Why does he then present it?*) The criterion applies generally, to God and people – why does he reject it for his relationship with the Corinthians? The criterion applies universally to all teachers – why does he make an exception for himself? The concession was universal – why does he withdraw from it?
*) C. 4:1 οὕτως.
*) εμοι δε.
He then assures that he does not even judge himself, but in the next moment (V. 4), that he is not aware of anything against himself, yet this does not justify him, and that the Lord will judge him. But what does he have to discuss his justification with the Corinthians if he rejects their judgment altogether? And have the Corinthians already judged him? Did they want to judge him? If the Corinthian factions were of a doctrinal nature, did the Apostle’s opponents have to rely on allegations of official misconduct? Finally, he outright forbids premature condemnation (V. 5), but is the judgment that he thus forbids as hasty and as an intrusion into the divine privilege, the same as the assessment that was indifferent to him before (V. 3)?
What disjointed and ultimately exaggerated turns! Instead of overthrowing the sects, he protects the work of their leaders with his syncretistic principle. Instead of dissolving the parties, he submits the judgment of their leaders to the Last Judgment. By deferring to that judgment, he believes he can secure his recognition. Finally, he believes he stands elevated by simply despising the Corinthians’ judgment as an intrusion into the divine prerogative.
The contradictions are significant enough, but their secure solution is found in the fact that the author is not only a syncretist but also a hierarch. The hierarch will soon stand in his full greatness.
Before this, he attempts to bring the previous development to a conclusion through a summarizing turn of phrase.
“I have done this,” he says, “with a special reference to myself and Apollos” (V. 6)*), but he does not say at the same time where this execution begins – whether from E. 1, 14, where he speaks of himself after the reproach against the factions, or from C. 3, 5, where he occasionally compares Apollos with himself – but an occasional comparison, in a context that deals with the teachers in general and their significance, is this the implementation of a general idea with consistent, special reference to Paul and Apollos? Or if he wants to say that although the factions extended further and other leaders could have been considered, he only spoke and acted on himself and Apollos – where does he then speak of Apollos at all? – where does he even mention his name other than in that occasional comparison (C. 3, 5) with himself and later (C. 3, 22) with himself and Peter?
*) ταυτα μετεσχηματισα.
However, it is clear that he means at least the exposition from 1 Cor. 3:5 onwards, as indicated by the purpose statement: for your sakes, that ye might learn in us not to think above that which is written. The verb “think” *) was probably originally missing, which is now the common reading, he could not find a verb that was specific and general enough at the same time. But it would have been very difficult for him to find an appropriate verb for this sentence. At the end of the verse he can be more confident and say: “that ye be not puffed up one against another,” but one may ask what gave him the right to say “in us” as if Apollos had agreed and given his approval, did not the Corinthians rise up against each other and did they not rather support their party leaders?
In the beginning of his purpose clause, when he avoided and omitted the verb, his adventurous composition “that ye might learn in us, not to think above that which is written”**) was his way of avoiding specificity and providing the necessary generality. But if one asks which positive Scripture he had in mind with this elaborate phrase (for he must have had a positive Scripture in mind), it would be difficult, even impossible, to indicate a specific passage in the Old Testament that he had in mind. Rather, it is most likely that the late writer, from the standpoint of his readers and time, in which the writing of the heathen apostle was considered positive divine word, designated the written exposition of it as the norm for the believers – even at the risk of creating a weak tautology: “I have written this, that ye might not think above that which is written…”
**) το μη υπερ ο γεγραπτα.
From the confusion of this sentence, it can be seen that the author intended to indicate that with the supposed previous digression on Paul and Apollos, he had something further in mind, something general that went beyond the time of Paul. However, as little as he carried out that parallel, or could even necessarily carry it out, he failed to develop this indication of general interest and to shape it.
As the syncretistic and hierarchical interests crossed in his mind and as he made arrangements in verse 7 to punish the self-exaltation of those who resisted putting their particular treasure at the disposal of the larger whole, the church organism, he reminded the people who showed by their subordination to the party leaders that they did not claim their own creative power of the fact that they had received everything they possessed. The hierarch, who wanted to be seen as the sole mediator of all church property, took the place of the syncretist and poured his scorn on those who wanted to be something and mean something without him: “Yes, you are already satisfied, you have become rich, you reign without us – yes, you are autonomous, you are sufficient for yourselves, you do not need us – you are the true rulers and destined to rule – aren’t you? You want to rule? You would like that – yes, I wish you ruled”, the hierarch concludes, driving his irony to the extreme and being sure that his wish could not come true – “then we could at least come to power with you, because without you we would never be able to do so.”
His authority and high dignity, however, are completely secure: both are the reward for his martyrdoms, and he holds this guarantee for his high significance mockingly and ironically against the rebellious laypeople in verses 9-11 as something certainly trivial and insignificant, even something degrading.
“But God has made us apostles as the last of all and exposed us as such” (v. 9) – us apostles, that is, all apostles who form a holy choir in connection with Paul, and whose tragic fate is known to the whole world.
But what does the mention in this description of the martyr’s state of verse 12, that he provides for his livelihood and works with his own hands? What is the meaning of this free renunciation of the reward from the communities – a renunciation that cannot be counted among the sufferings and is rather the well-calculated means of asserting one’s own independence? It is a reminiscence that has arisen from the tradition of the behavior of the apostle to the Gentiles, but here it is least in its place.
Furthermore, what is the antithesis between the treatment the apostle receives and his behavior towards his persecutors in the same verse? “When we are cursed, we bless,” etc. It does not belong in a context that deals purely and solely with the persecutions and sufferings that the apostle and his peers experience – it is again a reminiscence, taken from a foreign context, a free adaptation of the gospel commandment according to which (Luke 6:28) the curse of people should be repaid with blessing. The more inappropriate this self-praise is in the present context, the stronger it testifies that the author had already been given a gospel with that commandment of the Lord.
In short, the hierarchy already existed when the author wrote, and it sought after the titles of its authority against the resistance of the laity – there were already multiple Gospels, for the scripture that commanded blessing as a weapon against curse was not the original Gospel – and there was already, as the author immediately proves, a norm of catholicity.
After portraying himself and his group (v.13) with exaggerated humility as the scum and refuse of the world, he (v.14) turns around and explains that he (v.15) is still their father, reminds them (v.16) without saying what of, and after that, following his own example, he reports to them that he sent Timothy to them for that reason – but he doesn’t say why. He forgets that Timothy would have had to arrive before the letter and finally comes to the point that all these convoluted phrases were aiming for, the revelation that Timothy will remind them of the way he teaches everywhere, in every community.
What kind of a shallow teacher would he have to be if his long stay with the Corinthians wasn’t long enough to acquaint them with his teachings!
However, the author is not concerned with Paul’s teachings, but rather wants to refer to the one and universal, everywhere applicable norm of the Church – Timothy doesn’t even need to come – he was not sent, as the author later realizes (chapter 16, verse 10), he will come later and is unnecessary, since the author himself in this letter already summarizes everything he considers to be the embodiment of catholicity.
He only wanted to refer to the ecclesiastical-legal ground on which the hierarchy stands invincible, and in the clumsily intertwined phrases with which he (v. 18-21) concludes this entire exposition and threatens with his imminent personal arrival, he presents himself as the all-powerful hierarch who can hold war and peace in both hands.
The hierarch will soon prove himself as a miraculous judge.
5: 1 – 6: 20.
The author was well aware that, as he moved on to another chapter and wanted to link this part of the discussion to another offense of the Corinthians based on the basic assumption of the letter, he could no longer rely on the reports of Chloe’s household but had to form a new transition. This time he calls the general talk of people his “source” and qualifies it by adding “in general” *): “In general, it is reported that there is immorality among you”, using the following admonition as a justification and further confirmation of the severity with which he has been addressing the Corinthians.
*) 5: 1 ὅλως.
The adultery he has heard of is the relationship that a member of the community has with his father’s wife. However, he does not say anything about whether the offender is living with his father’s wife as a husband or lover, whether his father is dead or not, whether the latter still has the woman as a wife in the latter case, or whether he is divorced from her – the talk of the people had not told him anything about it. Instead, he willingly avoids going into this detail and does not need to delve into it because he only wanted to enforce a rule that was particularly close to his heart regarding prohibited degrees of kinship, to present marriage with a stepmother as an abomination and to demonstrate his hierarchical omnipotence in the destruction of the abomination.
He sees himself presently in the Corinthian community – the entire community with his spirit gathered in the name of him who had already referred to the gathering of two or three who come together in his name as fully empowered and possessing unlimited power (Matthew 18:19-20) – and thus he speaks as a judicial chairman in pronouncing judgment on the offender, according to which the latter is to be handed over to Satan.
At that moment, he believes, the judgment takes place as he writes and the Corinthians read his letter*) – as if it were the same moment.
*) an assumption that is only unwittingly contradicted by the perfect tense: I have judged, i.e., by a perfect tense that arose from the reflection that he has already brought the matter to a decision before he comes to them himself.
How dangerous it would have been if the apostle had actually dared not only to immediately resort to the extreme measure and hold a supreme court based solely on the talk of the people, but also to rely on the fact that a community that did not unconditionally recognize his authority, and of which a large part was even in open rebellion against him, would immediately agree with his opinion.
However, the danger disappears for the apostle because his name only serves the hierarchical fiction.
Only the singular Paul, only an imaginary person, was able to dictate such a colossal punishment – to a real person in relation and conflict with his peers, this adventurous “consciousness of miraculous power”, which the apologists*) attribute to Paul and his apostolic co-workers based on this passage, whose Pauline origin they first have to prove, is not given.
*) so also Dr. Baur, a. a. O. p. 329.
After this miraculous exertion of power, the hierarch now turns to the accusations he has against the Corinthians – admittedly at a very inconvenient time, since he had just established them as the supreme court he now has to reprimand.
Based on the context, his call to eliminate the old leaven must refer rather inappropriately to the criminal who has long been eliminated, expelled, and given over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, while his spirit, without anyone knowing how that is possible, remains reserved for salvation on the day of the Lord.
If this reference to a matter that had already been resolved is inappropriate, then it is even more inappropriate that the exhortations in verses 6-7 are so general that the offender is no longer, at least not solely, to be considered. However, they also stand as a figurative elaboration on the necessity for Christians to remove the leaven of old impurity from themselves in their Easter life (v. 8) – for it is always their Easter.
Let us accept his figurative play as evidence that he wrote at a time when the Jewish Passover festival had long been Christianized and already stood as a Christian festival, which could be used as an image for the purity of Christian life in general.
Let us not demand coherence from him now when he comes to a new matter in verses 9-13 and immediately intertwines it with the previous discussion on the adulterer, although the latter had already been pushed far back by the Easter image.
He wants to correct the misunderstanding that his warning in the earlier letter against associating with fornicators had caused by reminding them of what he actually wrote. But how can he conclude this correction, which concerns a completely different subject in verse 13, with the demand: “Expel the wicked one – the wicked one who, in this determination, can only be that long-since dealt-with adulterer – from among you!”
And what a misunderstanding! If he warns against associating with fornicators, did people take it to mean that they had to leave the world? Is it possible for anyone to interpret this warning as referring to anything other than spiritual community?
And isn’t his interpretation of a common rule of life rather false when he explains that he only meant the association with sinful brothers, i.e. members of the congregation, and he did not think of those outside? That is, isn’t this interpretation of a common and self-explanatory rule of life trivial?
And really? Did he present this, inappropriately interpreted rule of life in the letter? As if a special letter from him was needed for that norm of humanity to be given, and an impossible misunderstanding of his readers for him to make a baseless interpretation of it!
If a real Paul were the author of the present letter, and he had already written a letter to the Corinthians before, and felt compelled to bring it up again, he would have done so in a more natural way.
If now a polemic against submission to pagan jurisdiction follows (c. 6, 1-6), then any thought of connection with the preceding must be abandoned. An allusion had indeed been given to the writer in the fact that mention had been made before of those outside, but the relation in which they are now and before considered is essentially different in both cases. The writer, who would like to pretend that he has command over a multitude of relations that lie in his relation to the Corinthians, is restricted and forced to set dogmas and statutes of his time side by side – or rather his real intention was only directed towards the concatenation of dogmas of his time, and the assumption that Paul writes should only give this dogmatic theory the sanctity of apostolic authority.
The prohibition of the pagan jurisdiction was already established as a statute when the author attempted to theoretically justify it, and he immediately juxtaposed essentially different commandments with it as proof that he did not create independently, but rather compiled given material (verse 7). The author took the punishing remark, phrased as a question, about the use of pagan jurisdiction from the same gospel text which the author of the Gospel of Luke used to borrow the isolated question in chapter 12, verse 57: “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”
Incidentally, in his theoretical justification of the prohibition, the author assumes that the saints will be the judges of the world, and that they will also judge the angels (although he himself does not know exactly how this latter judgment will be carried out). Thus, verse 3, which asks whether they should not also judge earthly matters, is logically valid, but the conclusion in verse 2, whether they are not worthy of lesser legal matters, is somewhat confused and confuses two phrases: whether they are not equal to the lesser matters, and whether the lesser matters are not worthy of them.
Furthermore, while the question in verse 5, whether there is not even one wise man among them who can judge between brother and brother, is properly phrased, verse 4 is awkward and somewhat new, completely disconnected from the context, as he instructs to select the despised from the community and set them aside as unworthy.
Verse 6 confuses two prohibitions, that of submitting to pagan jurisdiction and that of any kind of legal dispute altogether, immediately blending them into one another — a clear indication that the material of this exposition was given to him, but he himself was not its master.
In verse 7, he believes he is correctly continuing the prohibition of legal disputes by stating that the believer should rather suffer injustice and be taken advantage of — thus he has given too narrow a meaning to the evangelical commandment, which recommends submission to secular authority in general (Luke 6:29), by turning it into a prohibition of legal disputes between brothers, i.e., between believers.
It is very weak when he accuses them in verse 8 of doing wrong in general and even more so to their brothers — taking advantage of and even oppressing them; it is very far-fetched, after this digression on pagan jurisdiction, to state in verses 9-10 that the unjust — enumerating all possible types of them at length — will not inherit the Kingdom of God; and finally, it is very affected when he reminds the Corinthians in verse 11 that some of them were also such people — as if he had any reason to speak of the past when he is only talking about the present and its flaws — as if he had the right to touch on the past when his readers, as he himself notes, have been cleansed of its filth.
He then leaves this reminder of the past without any further consequence, just as it was without reason, and immediately turns to a phrase (v. 12) that has no connection whatsoever with this whole section (chapters 5-6). “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful” only echoes the following discussion in chapter 8 on the consumption of pagan sacrificial meat, and perhaps also with the beginning of v. 13, in which it is stated that food is for the stomach and the stomach for food. However, with the end of this verse and of the entire sixth chapter, it has nothing more to do – the author deals with adultery from v. 13 to v. 20, for which the absurdity of “All things are lawful for me” is impossible – so impossible that it cannot have been in the supposed letter of the Corinthians, to which the author is supposed to refer according to some interpreters.
No! The author had it in his head – he brings it up here at the wrong time, drops it afterwards, after having connected it with the equally inconsequential phrase “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything” in v. 12.
Anyway, he now deals with adultery from v. 13-20 and demonstrates its wrongness by showing how it gives the body to the prostitute, which belongs to the Lord, and that it is a sin against one’s own body, which is intended to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, and especially against the body that man has not even given to himself.
Just as the author has forgotten about Chloe’s household and no longer thinks to take the occasion for his teachings from the gossip of her servants, we too shall do likewise and not burden him with the question of whether the teachings he now gives about marriage contradict specific views that were held by the factions that Chloe’s household was talking about, and whether these views were related to the direction and assumptions of those factions. He himself no longer knows anything about those factions–he gives the Christian view on marriage and the casuistry of marriage legislation as it had developed in his time. Let us not demand more from him than he could give.
Since he has no longer to deal with specific abuses in this chapter, as he did in the previous section, he could not take occasion from the general talk of the people for his treatise. No! The Corinthians have written to him about marriage (7:1) and he answers them–but on what? On their questions? Does he give the slightest indication at the beginning about what their questions were? Does he really take up their questions? Does he make even one reference to specific questions later on? Is there even a hint about whether all the points in the following treatise relate to corresponding questions, or whether he once goes into detail about his views without regard to specific questions?
None of all that. The assumed reason is a superficial construct and, once it is stated in verse 1, it is immediately and forever forgotten.
When the author wrote, the preference for celibacy over marriage, which was only permitted because of fornication (verse 2), was already a moral dogma. This preference was so self-evident that he did not even think of justifying it in the introduction.
Marriage, which was only allowed as a concession to the weakness of the flesh according to Christian principles, had already been regulated according to the needs of spiritual life, and the mutual obligation of the spouses to each other was temporarily lifted if they agreed to do so for the purposes of fasting and praying (verses 3-6). Then, at the end of his digression on this temporary suspension of obligation, the author gives a floating instruction in verse 5 that they should come together again so that Satan would not tempt them for their uncleanness (as if the prospect of resuming sexual activity would console them during their current abstinence!). At least this shows that he is writing in a time when the later views and language of ascetics were already emerging.
We say “at least” because what his instruction actually aims to achieve, whether it is intended to console only for the momentary renunciation, whether he wants to limit the time of renunciation as much as possible, or whether he wants to prevent the danger that the married couple might fall into sin during their fasting, he himself would not be able to say, since all these expressions did not come to his mind at once.
After describing marriage once again as a mere concession, as a weakness that can be permitted as a means of avoiding the worse consequences of passion, in verses 10-11 he moves on to divorce. He forbids it, tracing the prohibition back to an explicit command of the Lord (v. 10), and yet he immediately proceeds without interruption to specify what should be done if divorce has already occurred (v. 11), and at the end of this instruction he lags behind with a feeble “and” returning to the prohibition of divorce.
This is a consequential confusion! First, an absolute prohibition, then an unprejudiced acceptance of the exceptional case, which is not even characterized as such, and finally a relapse into the assumption of the prohibition.
To put it in a reasonable way, the situation is as follows: the author knows the absolute prohibition of the original gospel, but he could not hold onto it strictly, as he wanted to give rules for real life, which often contradicted it – but he also did not yet know the casuistry that explicitly specifies the case in which the absoluteness of the prohibition should yield, as in the Gospel of Matthew.
If he then explicitly states that he has no command of the Lord for his exaltation of celibate life (v. 25), the result just obtained is confirmed: he knew neither the Gospel of Matthew nor the Gospel source from which its author (in Matthew 19:10-12) took the praise of those who have renounced marriage.
As for his instruction regarding mixed marriages (between Christians and non-Christians), it is firstly flawed when he concludes his command to uphold these as real, valid marriages, and his argument that the non-believing partner is sanctified by the believing partner, with the remark (v.14) that otherwise your children would be unclean – as if it were possible that all of his readers were living in mixed marriages, or as if he were only speaking to such people! His instruction is also highly incoherent: after bringing mixed marriages to the point of recognition as valid marriages through the reflection that the believing partner sanctifies the other, he nevertheless disapproves of them (v.16), rebukes the hope with which the believing partner trusts in the salvation of the unbelieving partner as presumptuous, and only reluctantly agrees to recognize such marriages in the case *) that God has destined a certain couple for a mixed marriage.
*) V. 17 ει μη
“So I ordain in all the churches,” he adds, which means, to put it in plain terms, that he must conform to the common Catholic practice of allowing these mixed marriages.
“I!” – as if a man who puts yes and no side by side in his instructions for this case could be an organizer and legislator for the entire church!
What kind of legislator is he, who in a section on marriage suddenly and even in the belief that he is still in the best context, speaks about the indifference with which God looks upon the difference between circumcision and uncircumcision (v.18-19)!
“What kind of lawmaker is he who, prompted by the mere hint of indifference, speaks out against indifference regarding the difference between free and slave status (V. 20-22), advises the slave to guard his status as indifferent, commands him with a very affected and deficient phrase to use even his slavery for the case*) that he could become free (!)**) – who finally comforts the slave with the statement that he is a freedman of Christ, while the called master is a servant of Christ!”
*) V. 21 ἀλλ’ εἰ καὶ
**) use! The phrase he had in mind was: Don’t make use of the opportunity to become free!
As if the slave, as a freedman of Christ, were not freed from him, and the master, even though he becomes a servant of Christ through his calling, ceased to be the master of his civil slave!
What a lawgiver, furthermore, who immediately links the commandment for the slave in verse 23 to the prohibition “do not become slaves of men” – as if there were even the slightest reason to warn against the slavery of men, which here is spiritual and theoretical, after the Corinthian party strife and their subordination to party leaders have long been forgotten!
What a letter writer, finally, who, when he speaks again about the infinite superiority of the celibate life and explains the reasons why marriage is infinitely inferior to abstinence, acts and speaks***), as if he had not yet said a word about this matter, and finally gives behavioral guidelines regarding the godly conduct of widows (V. 39-40), as if he had not already fully dealt with this matter (V. 8-9)!
***) V. 25 περι δε των παρθενων
We highlight one argument from his reasoning because it is again important for determining his relationship to the Gospels.
In the context where he presents marriage as unnecessary and superfluous due to the brevity of time remaining until the final crisis (v. 29-31), he adds a warning that those who have wives should live as if they had none, and he immediately extends this statement to everyone, advising those who weep to live as if they were not weeping, those who rejoice as if they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as if they had no possessions.
Having wives, rejoicing, and buying are positive determinations and pleasures, which are all valid in their place when it comes to renunciation and abstaining. Crying, on the other hand, does not belong here, it is not introduced by anything in context and could not have occurred to anyone who originally creates and follows a driving interest – it has come to the author by chance, from outside, through foreign force – but from where? From those beatitudes that the author of the Gospel of Luke has taken from the same source text as our author.
On Idol Sacrifice.
8 – 11: 1
Instead of starting with the occasion that brought him to the discussion of the consumption of meat sacrificed to idols, as a real letter writer would do, he immediately begins his treatise with an excursus on knowledge – on knowledge in all possible forms, relationships, and oppositions (verse 1-3). First (verse 1), when he concedes to knowledge and acknowledges to the Corinthians: yes, we all have knowledge, and you too have it, he limits this knowledge through love. Immediately after that, knowledge (verse 2) is the disapproved apparent knowledge, and after the unmotivated, inexplicable digression on it, it suddenly appears as a passive, being recognized by God, and as a consequence of love for God (verse 3). Three turns are overhurried and none of them come to fruition. The last one is especially empty since the author immediately proceeds to discuss the true knowledge of the nature of idol sacrifice – that is, the knowledge he referred to in verse 1 and the only knowledge that could be relevant here.
The issue at hand was the correct theory, which had to lead to the correct practice.
Let us now explain how it happened that the author, in that introduction, quickly jumped from the correct theory to the apparent knowledge and then lost himself in the vagueness of his being recognized by God. He cannot truly present the correct theory – his own consciousness about the subject is unclear – hence, after his concession (verse 1), he immediately retreats into the antithesis against apparent knowledge – finally, to the height, but not really described by him, of being recognized by God.
His lack of clarity regarding the correct theory is immediately revealed.
In verse 4, he sets about justifying the more liberal view, wanting to give it recognition and explain its legitimacy. In verse 7, he intends to follow it up with the limitation that consideration for weaker brothers requires, but this restriction takes effect before and without any real acknowledgment of the validity of the freer view – the practice corresponding to the correct theory must give way to the practice that denies the theory before it is recognized as legitimate.
He wants to develop the theory of free practice in verse 4 and recognize its legitimacy – (yes, there are no idols in the world) – but the second half of this sentence already brings a glaring disharmony into the whole – a disharmony that is immediately and thereafter (verses 5 and 6) maintained alone, as the author now assumes the existence and essence of idols and only denies the belief of others that they are also gods.
This stark contradiction proves that the author himself is still unclear on the theory. He does not possess the free, correct, and self-assured theory – no wonder, then, that he could not see the corresponding free practice! His anxious and convoluted expressions presuppose the free theory and practice as an acquisition of his time, but he does not dare to assert both. And when he recommends self-denial from verse 7 onwards as if this indulgence towards the weak is the free work of love, he needs expressions that even require condescension towards the idolatrous consciousness of the weak.
By leaving the screaming dissonance of his presentation, according to which the weak ones—(who, according to V. 9.13, are only annoyed by the free theory and practice and want nothing to do with it)—would be exposed to the danger of contamination and complete ruin by the enjoyment (V. 7 and 10), in which they can easily participate or to which they can be tempted, we point out the fundamental and baseless nature of this assumption. We also note how the author, in V. 7, bases the danger to which the weak are exposed on their presupposition of the actual essential nature of the idols, in short, on their idolatrous consciousness, and recommends that they be treated with care for the sake of this consciousness.
Where such contradictions exist, it is not surprising that, from V. 7 onwards, no sentence is carried out correctly, but is rather permeated by corresponding minor contradictions. And in essence, the author cannot be blamed if he wants to quell the entire dispute and label the decision as indifferent with the phrase in V. 8: the exercise of freedom does not help, the omission does not rob, the decision is called indifferent.
However, he himself has recognized this indifference the least—he has not led with any particular example—he is not impartial—he protects the weak instead of teaching them about the baselessness of their idolatrous consciousness and raising them to freedom. He only addresses the strong and free and tries to persuade them to give up their right as something indifferent instead of defending the theory that makes the corresponding practice important. He does not address the weak; he only protects them, but by doing so, he makes them an authority for the educated.
Throughout the entire ninth chapter, the apostle presents himself as an example of one who voluntarily relinquishes his rightful claim and accommodates himself to the weak to the extent that he becomes weak with them.
So one can roughly see what the author intended, but he introduced his digression abruptly and without motivation—he did not properly develop the main category that was at stake here. The lengthy discussion of one of the rights that the apostle has relinquished, namely the right that belongs to the clergy over the laity, betrays the hierarch who is using this digression untimely to justify his own right theoretically. If he were to finally explain in what way and form the apostle became weak with the weak, he himself would be unable to answer the question.
If he introduces the digression abruptly with the question “Am I not an apostle?” it would be correct if his argumentation were consistent and he assumed the recognition of his apostleship from the outset, and then showed that he had relinquished all the rights that his character as an apostle entitled him to. But he does not argue in this way—he does not argue correctly and spends too much time in verses 1 and 2 proving his apostolic character by claiming to have seen the Lord and that the Corinthians are his work in the Lord—as if they alone were his work—as if he had not founded other communities as well!
Here, where the rigorous argumentation depended on the secure assumption of his privilege and its unconditional recognition, the anxious argumentation for the actual justification of his privilege was least appropriate.
And what freedom can be meant by the question, “Am I not free?” Clearly only the freedom that he himself renounced – whatever freedom that may be. His question in verses 4-5, “Do we not have the right to eat and drink? The right to take a sister as a wife, as do the other apostles?” can at most be used as a basis for such freedom – even the discussion of the right of the clergy, from which he did not benefit (verse 15), can still be related to it. But all connection finally disappears when he describes his unconditional freedom (verse 19) as his independence from everyone.
Moreover, how vague is the first characterization of his freedom in verse 4 – how uncertain the author moves when he describes it as the power to eat and drink, leaving it indefinite whether it is the freedom of consumption that he dealt with in the previous chapter, or the right to maintenance that he only mentions later.
What a notion, furthermore, that Peter was wandering around, that the twelve (verse 5) were wandering apostles who were well known to the Corinthians. Only later, in the second century, were they known to everyone as such!
Finally, how inappropriate it is to associate Barnabas with Paul’s person and present him to the Corinthians as coordinated with Paul when asking whether they did not have the same right to marriage as the other apostles! As if he had come to Corinth with the Gentile apostle!
All these anachronisms lead to the same period, as does the elaborated theory of the right of the clergy to be supported by the laity in verses 7-13: the clerics are the army, the military power of the struggling church and have the right to demand their pay as such – they are the planters and shepherds who must live off the fruits of their labor – even the law that prohibits the ox that treads the corn from having its mouth muzzled, supports their right – their pay is just, even if it is a disproportionately insignificant consequence of their spiritual endeavors as something purely bodily – they finally take the place of the Old Testament priests who also enjoyed the sacrifices they offered and the altar they tended.
Finally, any doubt that this theory about the legitimacy of the claims of the clergy could belong to a time other than the second century is dispelled by the application appended to the last argument (verse 14), that the Lord also decreed that those who proclaim the Gospel should live by the Gospel. The author knows of this provision of the Lord from the instruction He gave the Twelve at the first sending out (Mark 6:6 and Luke 10:7), only here the instruction originally intended for the Twelve is transformed into an instruction for the seventy.
Now let us see how the apostle positions himself towards this theory – that is, whether the author succeeded in harmoniously combining his interest in the hierarchical theory with his intention of setting the apostle as an example of self-denial.
However, he did not succeed! When the apostle intervenes in the midst of that theoretical discussion (v. 12), he assures that he did not make use of this unshakable right, which is guaranteed by all possible authorities, by analogy, by the law, by the greatness of the priestly gift, by the privilege of the old priests, and by the corresponding arrangement of the Lord. He uses a sentimental expression that immediately puts an end to the seriousness of the whole thing.
“We endure everything,” he says – so is the fact that he earned a living with his own hands the result of being robbed by others? But he resigned voluntarily, did not want to make use of his right – so there cannot be talk of endurance; or if the Corinthians did not want to give him anything, his whole reputation would crumble.
As the reason for enduring everything, he refers to his intention to avoid any obstacle to the gospel – but what if it was rather a matter of right? Could he harm the gospel by accepting the legally determined support? Could one suspect selfishness in a capable man who accepted support? Could he even tolerate the insult of suspicion against his right in the first place?
All of this is as disjointed and fragile as the excursus he develops in verses 15-18 about his glorious exceptional position, which he obtained through renunciation of that priestly right, but cannot bring to its conclusion. He would rather die, he says in verse 45, than give up his glory. In verses 16 and 17, he now sets about describing the exceptional position that establishes that glory: first, he argues that when he preaches the gospel, that is, even without any special distinguishing circumstance, he is doing nothing special – he must do it, willingly or by force, he must obey the necessity. But he is wrong – it is also wrong in this preparatory discourse that he speaks of the reward for the service under this necessity; it is wrong that he transitions in verse 18 to satisfy the expectation that the reader has harbored: to finally have a precise description of his name and an explanation of its relationship to the necessity of the evangelical sermon – instead he attaches himself to the inappropriately inserted keyword of the reward, asking what his reward is – instead of describing his exceptional behavior, he asks about the reward for that behavior and what it consists of. The author has become completely entangled in the confused knot of his disconnected ideas.
The freedom and independence towards everyone, which he speaks of in verse 49, is something completely new, even though the author speaks as if it is still the freedom of self-renunciation that he has spoken of before, as noted above. But let us allow him to come to the intended execution and see if he can succeed in creating a specific notion of the apostle’s renunciation of his self-reliance. So how did the apostle do it when he became a Jew to the Jews? Well, since the author lists the Jews twice to give the appearance of many classes to which the apostle is equal, first as Jews, then as those who are under the law (in order to later designate the Gentiles as those who are without law) – how did the apostle go about making himself equal to those who are under the law? Did he subject himself, to please the Jews, to the law? Did he assert, for the sake of the Jews, the necessity of the law? What nonsense! Even his assurance of love would not have helped him, as the Jews knew him as an opponent of the law.
The whole thing is a phrasal antithesis, for which the author himself could have provided the least substantiated explanation and formation.
What an inappropriate turn it is when he suddenly, in verse 23, after just describing the bliss and salvation of others as the purpose of his condescension, refers to his intention to partake in the Gospel as the reason for his behavior. But he already has the Gospel! As a chosen apostle, he is already intertwined with the Gospel from the outset! He lives in the Gospel, so how could his pursuit be to partake in it?
Hence the contradiction! He wanted to give a depiction of the struggle (verses 24-27) required to win the Gospel – he wanted to use the gymnasium and its struggle as a broad image in the style of the rhetoricians of his time, and particularly by suddenly giving the image a new, unprocessed turn, and presenting the asceticism, the numbness, and the imprisonment of the body as the true Christian form of struggle.
With a very detailed introduction, in which the author (1 Corinthians 10:1-13) presents the example of the Israelites in the Old Testament who, although having enjoyed the same benefits as the church, such as baptism, spiritual drink, and spiritual food, had lost the heavenly blessing, as a warning to the church as a divinely ordained example, he finally proceeds to give the decision which he had not yet dared to give regarding the question of eating meat sacrificed to idols.
Regarding the remarkable details of that introduction, such as Christ following the Israelites in the desert as a rock providing water, the cloud that shielded the people and the sea they crossed containing the water of their baptism, and the fact that the baptism happened to Moses, as well as the otherwise insignificant and hardly worth discussing differences between individual historical assumptions about the way in which the disobedience of the Jewish people was expressed and the statements in the Old Testament, we readily and willingly leave them to the author for further clarification. What interests us now is whether he actually dares to bring the question of eating meat sacrificed to idols to a decision.
Furthermore, we leave all further inconsistencies, such as the unmotivated admonition in verse 10 that the Corinthians should not murmur like the people in the desert, the sudden talk of temptations when there was no mention of them before and no mention of them afterward, the convoluted phrase that God had only sent them bearable temptations so far (verse 13) and would not burden them with temptations of which the end was not foreseeable, whereas one would expect a turn of phrase that greater vigilance was needed now, since infinitely greater temptations were coming because of the previous mention of the approaching wave (verse 11), to its own diffuse nature and let it be. We focus instead on what the author actually dares to do.
After he has been twisting around the subject, trying to forbid the consumption of sacrificial meat, even though he lacked the courage to express the ban outright – after he has half-heartedly conceded that consuming such meat is not necessarily sinful but also not advisable, without daring to retract it altogether, he now (V. 14) suddenly assumes that such consumption is idolatry.
As he proceeds to justify and explain this assumption, especially by showing that just as partaking of the blessed bread and cup of Christ’s body and blood creates a communion with Christ, so too does consuming the meat of idol sacrifices create a communion with the idols themselves (v. 16), he suddenly changes course to accommodate his earlier statement that idols are nothing, stating that the consumption of meat offered to idols results in communion with the demons (the same demons to which the Gentiles offer sacrifices) – without specifying the relationship between the idols revered by the Gentiles and these demons.
He would like to completely prohibit the consumption of this meat. According to the assumption that it creates a communion with the demons, he should completely prohibit it. However, he cannot. The freedom that he is essentially opposed to had become too powerful during his time for him to be able to completely destroy it – the circumstances of daily life and the inevitable intimacy with related or friendly Gentiles made it impossible for Christians to completely avoid this consumption.
So the author, after that argumentation that should have led to a completely different result, suddenly returns to that old expression (IV. 23-24) that freedom is indeed valid, but must be sacrificed for the sake of others. Thus, he finally resorts only to that last resort that already served him well above: he quashes the question, advises those who shop at the meat market not to inquire whether the meat offered is sacrificial meat, and in the event of an invitation to a pagan banquet, he advises them to eat what is offered without asking whether the meat comes from a sacrifice. Only in the event that someone – (of course, a pagan, he means) – explicitly draws attention to it as “sacrificial meat,” does he command (V. 28-29) not to eat, but with an endless confusion of expressions when he proceeds to give the reason for this abstinence. If he starts with “for the sake of him who pointed it out,” one would think that he does not want anyone to please him by eating meat that he explicitly identified as sacrificial meat – but he continues rather: “and for conscience’s sake” – so one would think for one’s own conscience, whose preservation he explicitly intended when he forbade it the moment before (V. 25-27) to inquire at the market or at the banquet whether the meat available is sacrificial meat – but no! He explicitly states (V. 29) that it is not one’s own, but the conscience of the other, namely the one who dropped the hint, that is meant – he cannot admit that one’s own freedom would be judged by someone else’s conscience – if this expression stood alone, one would expect it to lead to the explicit instruction not to deny one’s own freedom for the sake of someone else’s conscience, namely the weak – but it really refers to the one who drops the hint – so because the first one who comes up with the fact, freedom should come to an end? It can only exist in secrecy, in the hiding place of forcibly induced unconsciousness – as soon as a light falls into the hiding place, no matter who it is, it should be withdrawn? For the sake of him who drops the hint, should it suddenly come to an end? On what petty chance does it depend! What punishment is the loss of Christian freedom for the pagan who dropped the hint!
And how petty is all his previous concern for his own conscience when he immediately (v. 30) declares the consumption to be allowed in any case, as long as thanks are given for what is consumed! That is to say, how little success could his restrictions have had when freedom was already so firmly established that he had to insert its principles – as in v. 26, the principle that the earth and everything in it belong to the Lord – into his anxious clauses?
The only result the author unwittingly achieved was the total confusion of his presentation – a confusion in which we must also include the juxtaposition of the aphorisms (v. 31-32), one of which states that everything, including eating and drinking, should be done for the glory of God, while the other advises avoiding causing offense to Jews, Greeks, or the Church of God.
However, if he did not consider it necessary to connect the command to avoid all offense with the preceding concession of full freedom, if he did not find it necessary to tell us what kind of offense he was referring to, how different groups, such as Jews, Gentiles, and Christians, understood this offense, and why it was to be avoided in a particular way and for specific reasons, then we do not expect him to provide us with any further details regarding Christ’s demonstration of this condescension when he encourages the Corinthians to follow his example as a follower of Christ in 1 Corinthians 11:1. Before we, like many interpreters, accuse the author of relying on his readers to extract the details on this matter from that unclear and confused passage of the epistle to the Corinthians (15:3), we must first prove that the epistle’s appendix was already added to it when the author wrote it and that the epistle itself existed at that time.
On the other hand, we can add a new detail to our discovery concerning the author’s relationship with the gospel accounts. There is nothing more natural than the instruction regarding the pagan feast in verse 27, “Eat anything sold in the meat market,” while the instruction in Luke 10:8 to the seventy disciples, “Eat what is set before you,” interrupts the flow of thought, is unnecessary repetition since the subject was already fully addressed in verse 7, and, if, as is highly likely, it also refers to the question of meat sacrificed to idols, this reference is not emphasized and, in itself, is quite elegant and, in the present context, is an ostentatious addition.
In short, only in the first Corinthians letter is this passage a natural and original part of the whole. However, Luke, who had the same Gospel text in mind as the author of this letter, borrowed that phrase for his instruction of the Seventy.
The Lord’s Supper.
If the main questions that needed to be asked have been resolved so securely that there can be no doubt about the composition of our letter based on the gospel source text that underlies Luke’s gospel, which itself is already a later version of the original gospel, it would be completely pointless for us to go into detail about the discussion of women’s head coverings (verses 2-16) and to show the same labored and contrived character of our author’s presentation that is now firmly established as the consistent characteristic of his exposition.
We only note that the author, who now brings together everything he knows about worship, starts with the attire of both sexes, not only talking about the head covering of women but also about the necessity for men to appear with uncovered heads while women should cover their heads with a veil.
We leave him to his dogmatic proof, in which the fact that Christ is the head of man plays a major role, without detailing his argumentative power.
He may also justify that he does not notice the contradiction between his current assumption that women pray or prophesy publicly in the congregation (v. 5) and his later prohibition that women should not appear in public in the congregation (1 Cor. 14:34). At best, we can only suggest how he came to ignore this contradiction. He has just spoken (1 Cor. 11:4) of the man who appears in public in the congregation being uncovered, and immediately afterward, when he wants to speak about women in the congregation, he uses the same categories that he had just used for men.
He may also remain in possession of the mystery that lies in the reference to the female head covering as a “power” (v. 10), as well as the mystery of why the angel requires the covering of the female head.
Indeed, after putting the head of both sexes in order, he may well (v. 16) terminate the whole dispute *) with the blunt remark: “But if anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God” — namely, the practice that women appear with uncovered heads. We may be indifferent to this bluntness in itself, but this entire passage serves as evidence for the assertion that the author knows a well-established church custom and could speak (v. 2) of a long-established tradition regarding worship in general.
*) The introductory phrase is also improperly constructed, as he intended to say “if anyone should seek to argue,” but used the inappropriate verb form “sehte.”
The author has long accustomed us to his frugality. When he now moves on to the proper celebration of the Lord’s Supper and wants to eliminate the disruptive influence of sects and divisions (V. 17-18), we do not demand from him anymore that he really show us how this influence manifested itself, whether it had a theoretical discord or practical divisions at its core, since he knows himself what he means later on when he gets to the point. He speaks nothing more of party divisions and only criticizes the separation of the rich from the poor.
The meal he refers to is the love feast known as the last supper of Jesus. When he acts as if he only wants to describe the disturbing influence of sects and heresies on this feast in V. 20, he criticizes in V. 21-22 that one person takes their food first, so that one goes hungry and another gets drunk – he means that nothing is left for the poor, but he does not say it clearly – he relies on everyone knowing roughly what he means. The underlying arrangement is well known enough to the readers of his time – the arrangement he speaks of has long been established.
He now describes the event in the life of Jesus on which the institution he is discussing is based – he says (v. 23) that he received it from the Lord, but the truth of the matter is that he is simply copying it from that Gospel source, which Luke has combined with the accounts of his other sources in a clumsy way.*)
*) Hence, the disruptive repetitions in Luke’s account.
After this description, he applies it and makes self-examination a duty so that unworthy consumption does not result in judgment and death (v. 27-30). He has forgotten his sects and factions, and it is only a necessary recourse to at least address some of the previous accusations when he commands at the end that no one should partake prematurely, but rather wait for those who have not yet arrived (v. 33). He has even forgotten the contrast between rich and poor.
On Speaking in Tongues.
12 – 14.
As mentioned earlier, it is not of interest to us to demonstrate the author’s helpless ineptitude in new cases after our previous characterization. Therefore, we have no interest in showing how, in the general introduction to the section on spiritual gifts, in which he explains the unity of principle and the equal dependence of all individual abilities and gifts on the One Giver, he attempts to create a futile entrance. By reminding his readers in verse 2 how they were irresistibly drawn when they went to their idols, he wants to conclude that now, all the more, since they no longer have to deal with dumb idols, they are under the guidance of a Spirit who is the source of all their gifts and who retains supreme control over them. Instead, in verse 2, he comes to the negative determination that no one who speaks in the Spirit of God can curse Jesus. He then comes to the positive determination that no one can call Jesus Lord except in the Holy Spirit, and only then, in verse 4, does he arrive at the statement of the unity of the Spirit and the diversity of gifts.
The idea he now elaborates on until verse 30 – (the members cannot be anything more than members and must submit themselves to the One Spirit and the Whole) – is too clear for us to discuss it at length here. We only note that when he speaks of the faith in verse 9, he is not referring to the faith of the Romans letter; that the catchphrases in verse 13, “whether Greeks or Jews, slaves or free,” are borrowed from a context that has nothing to do with the present one; that the sentence in verse 28, “God has placed first apostles in the church,” presupposes the historical conclusion of the apostolic circle, and finally, that the continuation of this sentence, “then prophets,” echoes the Montanist superordination of the prophets over the apostles.
The transition to the digression on love, which the author wants to present in chapter 13 over all spiritual gifts and everything that can be related to it (1 Corinthians 12:32), “But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way,” can only be called unsuccessful.
Regarding the entire course on love, the following can be said: regarding faith in verse 2, we should once again not think of anything less than the faith in the Nömerbrief. The author could only mention the martyrdom by burning if this type of martyrdom was already known to his readers. In verse 8, he begins to present love as the enduring power that surpasses all other gifts and strengths, but he does not actually complete this idea. He suddenly returns to the present and says that now faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of these is love. He says as little about why love is the greatest as he did about why it endures over everything else. He is content with being able to find an unfinished phrase at least in a new, similar one.
The author now returns (1 Corinthians 14:1) to the spiritual gifts, particularly wanting to speak about speaking in tongues.
But how can we expect real clarification on this topic from a writer who, after just placing love above everything else, immediately connects the call to seek love (1 Corinthians 14:1) with the command to strive for spiritual gifts, and so confusedly that he commands both with the mere comparative and the particle of opposition, “but even more” the pursuit of prophecy in the same breath?
It is as if prophecy does not also belong to the gifts of the Spirit!
We can certainly explain how the author came to this confusion: when he wrote the exhortation “seek after the spiritual gifts*)”, he already had in mind the particular gift of speaking in tongues, knowing that he would immediately address it and subsume it under prophecy – but an author whose intentions and expressions are so confusedly intertwined cannot give us a real picture of speaking in tongues.
*) denn das kennen die πνευματικα, diese — an sich schon haltlos ausgedrückte Allgemeinheit nur seyn.
Certainly, no one could describe speaking in tongues more clearly as a silent conversation with God, inaccessible to anyone else, than the author does when he says in verse 2 with the most unequivocal terms that the speaker in tongues speaks not to people, but to God alone, and when he justifies this statement with the fact that no one hears him – (hears, not understands, because hearing, if it does not have the opposite of that hearing as a presupposition, which is only the physical affection of the ear by the sound of the spoken word, never means understanding). Then, after setting up this opposition in verse 3, that the prophet, while speaking in tongues, speaks of excessive mysteries, consolation and encouragement to others, thus contributing to the practical benefit of others, even with this opposition in mind, the author still uses the simple formula in verse 4 that the speaker in tongues builds only himself up, while the prophet builds up the congregation, so that the opposition assumed earlier still stands, that the former speaks in silence with God, while the latter speaks aloud to the congregation. The author does not even step out of this opposition when he only allows the speaker in tongues to be valid alongside the prophet in verse 5, if he interprets his conversation with God for the edification of the congregation.
However, in the next moment, the author falls out of this assumption, even though he acts as if he still moves within it. His metaphors (v. 7-10) that musical instruments are only recognizable to the listener when they maintain their distinctive sound in their playing, that the trumpet can only call to battle when it gives the clear, conventional sound that is immediately recognizable as a signal for battle, that every language in the world, no matter how many there are, has its own particular sound* — all these metaphors are based on the assumption that the speech of the tongue speaker is outwardly audible, but not understandable, and lead the author to demand that at least interpretation be added.
*) Here, the various languages are only a metaphor. The author knows nothing yet about the Pentecost miracle of the Acts of the Apostles, in which the speaking of the apostles in all the languages of the world is the miracle itself.
But even with this demand, which is based on a premise that is fundamentally opposed to the initial assumption, the author is not consistent. When he first proposes it (v. 13), he asks that the speaker of tongues himself provide the interpretation, but later on (v. 27-28) he assumes that the speaker of tongues is different from the interpreter by nature and from an existing ecclesiastical institution.
Both contradictions, regarding the nature of speaking in tongues and the relationship of interpretation to it, make it impossible to form a clear and specific idea. And if we want to draw a conclusion, it can only be that the author had no clear idea of an ecstatic phenomenon, which, if it ever really existed, was already in decline at his time.
As the author transitions to the proof of the necessity of resurrection and wants to introduce a proof, the fact that Jesus really rose from the dead, he leads the reference and reminder of this proof (verse 1) with the words, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you” – as if he could still make known to them what he has already preached to them, what they have even accepted and are to hold fast to!
One thing was certainly already firmly established when the author wrote – very firmly! namely, the report of the appearances of the risen one, to which he later refers to let the denial of the resurrection of the believers shatter against the actual resurrection of the Lord – this report was already given to him: in that gospel that the author of this letter used together with him from the original source of the present Luke Gospel. Our long-established discovery is now receiving new confirmation, namely that when the author of this letter makes the specific statement that the risen one first appeared to Peter, only in the Gospel of Luke (24:34) is this appearance assumed as the first in a very confusing way, but not described itself. This confusion proves that the original Luke used a foreign text – but he used it briefly. On the other hand, our author has reproduced the assumption of this text in a simple positivity, and only one thing has not succeeded for him – namely, to integrate the reference to something known, established, into a harmonious relationship with his Corinthians.
When the author then speaks of the appearance that was also granted to him, without saying anything about the place of it, we will leave him the tasteless and affected designation “untimely born,” which he gives himself to indicate his own worthlessness, and we only point out how the further characterization he gives of himself (v. 9) – “I am the least of the apostles” – refers to the apostles as a closed historical phenomenon, and his statement (v. 10) that he worked more than all of them, even presupposes the long-completed conclusion of his own historical activity.
As the author now transitions to his argumentation, he expresses his astonishment (v. 12) at how, despite preaching about the resurrected, there could be people among the Corinthians who deny the resurrection of the dead – but he has not fulfilled his obligation to characterize or even make conceivable these deniers any further. Of course, he could not accomplish the impossible, as such people did not exist in the Catholic communities of his time.
Moving on to his argumentation, in verse 13, “if there is no resurrection, then Christ has not been raised,” he assumes that there are real Christians among those who deny the resurrection, as his argument is a direct threat to them and announces that if they do not accept it, they will not have the resurrection of Christ either.
As if it were even possible for confessors of the resurrection of Jesus to deny the resurrection of the dead.
The author has made a serious mistake and made it impossible for all interpreters who held to his assumption to explain this argumentation. His assumption is simply false, wrongly formed, and this enormous error is due to the fact that in a letter to the Corinthians, when he finally wanted to secure faith in the resurrection and refute doubt, he believed he had to assume doubters and deniers among the Corinthians themselves.
Furthermore, this confusion arises because he argues for Christians, in the interest of Christians against pagan doubt, and appeals to the Christian assumption and asserts that under the assumption of pagan denial, there would be nothing in the Christian acceptance of the resurrection of Christ.
The whole is a general treatise from a later time when Christians were affected by the pagan view of the end of all things and were freed from this affection by looking to the steadfastness of their fundamental assumptions.
In this way, i.e. correctly understood, the whole is perfectly clear. However, it was to be expected from the author’s previous statements that he does not prove himself a master even in this exposition, and that he starts again from the beginning when he has already come to the conclusion (e.g. V. 29).
We will leave the reflection on his assumption that the reign of Christ comes to an end when it has achieved its purpose and goal, the submission of death (V. 24-28), as well as the reflection on the mode of the resurrection that is to be expected shortly, in which a wonderful new body replaces the corruptible one, and those who live at the time of the end are transformed.
Here we only note that when the author (V. 29) cites the practice of members of the community being baptized for beloved relatives who had already died to prove the senselessness of denying the resurrection of the dead, this reference to the practice of substitute baptism once again takes us into the late period from which this letter can never be removed.
Furthermore, when the author (V. 32) refers to a fight with wild beasts that he claims to have experienced in Ephesus, the silence of the Acts of the Apostles has nothing to do with it – at least not according to the certain results of our criticism. However, the author himself has done everything to destroy his own reputation. He himself realizes how impossible it is that he could have escaped from the wild beasts he claims to have faced, and therefore adds the qualifying phrase that he “fought with beasts after the manner of men” – that it was only a human semblance when he was in the power of the wild beasts. He also speaks of Ephesus as if it were a foreign city that belonged to his (completed) history – thus forgetting that he himself is in Ephesus at this moment (c.f. 16:8-9).
The late writer, rather, who already knew the many kinds of martyrdom, allowed the apostle to fight with animals “according to human judgment” in this danger, of course, the apostle could not have perished.
Most of what the author touches upon in conclusion: the matter of the collection for Jerusalem, his intention to come to Corinth himself, Timothy’s impending arrival, will only be able to be understood in its true light through the criticism of the Second Corinthian Epistle.
For now, we only note that he suddenly mentions three Corinthians who are present with him at the moment, without thinking that their presence could have made the intervention of Chloe’s household unnecessary for his instruction about the Corinthian condition, without even saying a word about how the three came to him and what they want from him.
However, he knew very well what they were meant for. He created them to finally present true hierarchs in them and to recommend obedience and submission to their leaders to the communities.
They are true hierarchs because in them, the imperfection of the community is overcome to perfection. What is lacking in the community (v. 17) is contained in their person and activity. They are the complement of the community, which fills the community’s lack.
Therefore, the author rightfully says (v. 18): they have refreshed my spirit, *) and he knows what he wants when he adds: “acknowledge such men!” that is, “be subject to them” (v. 16) – because they – they have ordained themselves as deacons (v. 15) – (in any case, the author has the other two, who are with Stephanas about Paul’s person, already in mind when he observed in verse 15 that the house of the same has ordained itself for the service) – they are the leaders and the community must obey them.
*) Inappropriately, he adds: and yours.
Finally, the author himself appears once again as an enthusiastic, threatening hierarch. He pretends that the letter so far has been dictated by another, but finally (v. 21) the apostle himself writes the greeting with his own hand, and he believes it is necessary to use this opportunity for a key statement. If the apostle himself sets his hand in motion at the end, a powerful, shattering statement must follow – and the curse over the one who does not love the Lord follows (v. 22)!
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