I’ve recently noticed two pieces about 1-2 Corinthians from Australian scholars, which are worth noticing:
Firstly, here, in a description of the “New College Lectures” at the University of New South Wales, David Starling suggests that 1 Corinthians may be thought of as setting a trajectory that validates the systematic codification of Christian theology.
Secondly, in the September newsletter for the Society for the Study of Early Christianity at MacQuarie University, Paul Barnett considers “chronology and the Corinthians.” Drawing on Paul’s letters, Acts, and documentary evidence (e.g. the Gallio inscription), Barnett develops the following timeline:
- 33 1st Easter
- 34 Damascus event
- 47 Jerusalem meeting
- 48 First missionary journey
- 50 Arrival in Corinth
He then focuses on the “Corinthian years,” suggesting the following timeline:
- Visit 1: Acts 18:1-18
- Letter 1 (‘previous’) 1 Cor 5:9
- Letter 2 (First Corinthians)
- Visit 2 (‘painful’) 2 Cor 2:1
- Letter 3 (‘tearful’) 2 Cor 2:3-4; 7:8, 12; 10:8-11
- Letter 4 (Second Corinthians)
- Visit 3: Acts 20:2-3
Barnett goes on to argue for the unity of 2 Corinthians, suggesting that Paul’s pastoral approach to the complex situation in Corinth explains the perplexing nature of the letter’s structure. He concludes:
In any discussion of the tone and content of the letter we should note: (a) the trying circumstances that Paul had faced prior to his eventual meeting with Titus, (b) the (mostly) grim news Titus brought about the Corinthian response to the ‘tearful’ letter and their welcome to the new ministers, and (c) the unexpected readiness of the Macedonian congregations in contributing to the Collection that Paul encountered as he travelled from Neapolis to Berea.
The full version of the paper is available on request from the SSEC office.
Matthew, I don’t see anything in Barnett’s reconstruction that is new (and much of it is problematic). Are we talking about him merely because he is famous?
Yes, the reconstruction itself is nothing new – I think the distinctive thing is the way in which he thinks that Paul’s pastoral reaction to this series of events might help explain the movement of 2 Corinthians. But also, this is just the first instalment. The second instalment (in a future SSEC newsletter) will be by LL Welborn – another Macquarie 1 Corinthians scholar – and Welborn will take issue with Barnett, arguing against his position. So although Barnett’s reconstruction above is not new in itself, it could be the beginning of an interesting interchange.
We don’t mind a little ‘old hat’ around here — if that is what Barnett’s view really represents — as most of the readers of this blog will not be trained in New Testament scholarship.