SBL International 2012 Abstracts

The International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Amsterdam this summer included about 20 papers related to Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and the early Christian community at Corinth. I have copied the titles below and trimmed the abstracts to their main ideas (You can find full abstracts at the SBL website). For Corinthiaka in the 2011 SBL international meeting in London, check out this post. Judging from the 2012 abstracts, it looks like most of the papers explored the social, cultural, and literary contexts of Paul’s letters rather than the context of Corinth in particular. The first paper is an obvious exception.

Fighting Beasts and Conquering Death: Reading Paul’s Beast Fight Before and After the Arrival of the Arena in Corinth
Program Unit: Graeco-Roman Society and the New Testament (EABS)
Philip Erwin, Graduate Theological Union

In this paper I interpret 1 Cor. 15:32 before and after the arrival of the arenas and amphitheater in Roman Corinth….

“‘No One Is Able to Tell’: 1 Corinthians 2:9 and the Apostolic Fathers
Program Unit: Apostolic Fathers and Related Early Christian Literature
Paul A. Hartog, Faith Baptist Seminary

The complexities and ambiguities of ascertaining the use of texts found in the “New Testament” (NT) within the “Apostolic Fathers” (AF) are well known. Most studies have explored the reception of the NT within a specific AF (i.e., the reception of the NT within 1 Clement, etc.). This paper will take a different approach by tracing the possible use of one NT text (1 Corinthians 2:9) within the various works among the AF, exploring the relevant materials in 1 Clement 34.8; 2 Clement 11.7; and Martyrdom of Polycarp 2.3….

Christ as a Critique of Culture–a Counter-cultural Reading of 1 Cor 7:17-35
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Sin Pan Daniel Ho, University of Sheffield

Scholars generally interpret 1 Cor 7:17-35 as Paul’s negative stance against the social institutions of slavery and marriage and his advocate for manumission and celibacy. In this paper, I propose that Paul does not attack these two existing social institutions (slavery and marriage); Paul subverts the cultural values towards work and mixed marriage…

The adelphoi at the Ritual of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:17-34): A Key Element in Paul’s Meal Theology in the Making?
Program Unit: Pauline Literature (EABS)
Ma. Marilou S. Ibita, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Adelphoi is Paul’s favorite relational term in the homologoumena particularly in 1 Corinthians (Banks, 1994; Aasgaard, 2004). In this paper, I propose that Paul’s use of the vocative adelphoi in 1 Cor 11:33 is one of the key elements to Paul’s meal theology in the making in the context of the problematic Lord’s Supper celebration at Corinth…

Paul’s understanding of the pneumatika as charisma, diakonia and energêma: A re-reading of 1 Cor 12:4-6 within the context of 1 Cor 12-14
Program Unit: Pauline Literature (EABS)
Soeng Yu Li, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Scholars have argued correctly that in 1 Cor 12:4-6 Paul stresses the common divine source of the various spiritual gifts in order to correct the Corinthian self-centered and status-seeking understanding of the spiritual gifts. Practically all the studies limit themselves to the gifts….we will argue that pneumatika needs to be understood in its literal meaning “spiritual things” (cf. Tibbs, Religious Experience of the Pneuma, 2007, 46-47). This reading highlights that vv.4-6 serve as Paul’s understanding of pneumatika within Christian worship.

The Two Tables of the Law and Paul’s Ethical Methodology in 1 Corinthians 6:12–20 and 10:23–11:1
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Scott D. Mackie, Venice, CA

In two passages in 1 Corinthians, 6:12–20 and 10:23–11:1, Paul affords us a unique opportunity to observe the reasoning process whereby his ethical principles are ascertained and practically applied. Both texts begin with what appears to be a quotation of a community slogan, “all things are permitted for me,” which was seemingly proffered in defense of an antinomian, libertine lifestyle (6:12; 10:23)…

Freedom and Love in Contradiction? An Assessment of 1 Corinthians 8:9
Program Unit: Pauline Literature (EABS)
Cosmin-Constantin Murariu, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

In the scholarly debate, exousia in 8:9 is taken to denote the ‘right’ that some ‘knowledgeable’ Corinthian Christians had claimed to have towards idol food because of the fact that they had the knowledge that an idol was ‘nothing.’…The paper analyses Paul’s argumentation and rhetorical strategy in 8:1-13 from the perspective of the clarification of the elusive character of gnôsis and especially that of exousia in this pericope.

1 Cor 14:21 – Paul’s reflection on ??wssa in 1 Cor 14
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Peter Nagel, University of Pretoria

Paul’s reflection on ‘speaking in tongues’ has been widely discussed and debated, both in the public and academic domain. Adequate attention has not been given to the explicit citation in 1 Cor 14:21, representing content from Isaiah 28:11-13a, in addressing this particular issue…

Integrating Cognitive and Social Approaches: 2 Cor 3:18 as a Test-Case
Program Unit: Mind, Society, and Tradition
Emmanuel Nathan, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

In my paper I intend to look at one passage, 2 Cor 3:18, which has benefitted from recent cognitive and social approaches…What has not so far been done is to examine whether integrating these three independent theories might offer a new perspective, in this case on Paul’s theology (for want of a better term). I will argue that such integration, done carefully, leads to an intriguing discovery: that the image of a suffering God was cast in the image of a suffering apostle rather than the reverse.

Betwixt and Between Old and New: The Glorified Moses at Sinai and Corinth
Program Unit: Canonical Approaches to the Bible (EABS)
Emmanuel Nathan, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Exod 34:29-34 recounts the curious episode of Moses having descended from the mountain with the second tablets of the Law unaware that his face was shining on account of having seen the divine glory. Other than these six verses, Moses’ veil does not recur in the rest of Exodus or, indeed, the Hebrew Bible. However, in the New Testament, Paul has his own account of Moses’ veil in 2 Cor 3:7-18. This paper will use three anthropological frameworks with which to look at the glorified Moses in Exodus and then Paul’s portrayal of this same Moses in 2 Corinthians….

The Earliest Piece of Evidence of Christian Accounting? The significance of the phrase eis logon doseos kai lempseos (Phil 4:15).
Program Unit: Early Christianity and the Ancient Economy
Julien Ogereau, Macquarie University

Judging by the various ways in which the phrase eis logon doseos kai lempseos (Phil 4:15) is usually translated in modern versions of the Bible as well as in commentaries, it would appear that no strong scholarly consensus has been reached yet as to its exact meaning. This paper endeavours to examine the significance of this expression and its implications for an understanding of the early church’s earliest forms of financial administration….

Contextual Biblical Studies: Assessing Approaches and Methods.
Program Unit: Contextual Interpretation of the Bible (Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and New Testament)
Daniel Patte, Vanderbilt University

This paper/essay proposes an analysis of existing contextual biblical interpretations, especially those of the Global Bible Commentary, those of published volumes of the “Text@Context” (Fortress Press), and those of the forthcoming volume on 1 Corinthians. The goal of this analysis is twofold. A) To recognize and appreciate the diversity of approaches in contextual biblical interpretation. B) To examine how this diversity can be methodologically and theoretically justified and explained….

Who are ‘we’ in 1 Cor 8:6: An Investigation of the First-Person Plural in Light of the Lordship of Jesus Christ
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Andrey Romanov, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

When Paul recites in 1Cor 8:6 the functions of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, he uses twice the emphatic hemeis. In this paper I suggest to understand the meaning of ‘we’ through the lens of the lordship of Jesus Christ…I suggest that the ‘we’ in 1Cor 8:6 designates not the members of the Christian communities as such but only those of them who recognize the determinative role of Jesus Christ as the only true Lord and behave according to this recognition.

An examination of metarepresentation as an essential feature of written and oral communication
Program Unit: Hellenistic Greek Language and Linguistics
Margaret Sim, SIL International

This paper deals with a speaker’s use of the words or thoughts of others in communication. This principle which is widespread but frequently unrecognised underlies our use of metaphor and irony as well as being prominent in creating humour…Recognising the part representation plays, we will deal with the following issues in this paper: Speech boundaries, representation marked by the article “to”, representation not morphologically marked, echoing speech with a distancing attitude, ironic utterance. Examples of these will be draw from Mark, Matthew and the Corinthian correspondence

Paul’s Educational Imagery in His Conflict with the Corinthians
Program Unit: Graeco-Roman Society and the New Testament (EABS)
Adam White, Macquarie University

Centuries of scholarly discussion have sought to identify the cause of the divisions found in 1 Cor. 1.10. In the wake of this discussion, the present paper seeks to investigate some of the imagery used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1-4, suggesting that it has been shaped by an encounter with the values of Graeco-Roman paideia….

“Imitate Me”: Interpreting imitation in 1 Corinthians in relation to Ignatius of Antioch
Program Unit: Biblical Interpretation in Early Christianity
Drake Williams, Tyndale Theological Seminary (Amsterdam)

Several times within 1 Corinthians Paul encourages the Corinthians to imitate him. These are found at critical junctures in the epistle in 1 Cor 4:16 and 11:1. The meaning of these sections is in question from the perspective of scholars on Corinthians…Pauline ideas, specifically those from 1 Corinthians, are known to have influenced Ignatius of Antioch’s writing, and thus Ignatius’ ideas about imitation could well reflect the meaning that Paul intended. Ignatius’ view of imitation would contradict the opinions of some scholars who see Paul’s injunction for imitation as a claim for power.

Re-examining the Last Supper Sayings from a 21st-Century Perspective
Program Unit: Study of the Historical Jesus (EABS)
Mary J. Marshall, Murdoch University

The study draws partly on Colin Humphreys’ recent work, The Mystery of the Last Supper, which provides valuable insights in that the Synoptic accounts of the Last Supper as a Passover meal are shown to be credible, while the Johannine tradition that Jesus died while the Passover lambs were being slain, is also upheld. The main thrust of the paper is an exploration of the Last Supper sayings concerning the bread, cup, and kingdom…

How to Find Meaning in a Ritual? Paul, Rituals, and the Making of “Pauline Theology”
Program Unit: Pauline Literature (EABS)
Peter-Ben Smit, VU University Amsterdam

The “rediscovery” of ritual in early Christian studies, often by sociologically and anthropologically informed scholarship, has rightly foregrounded the importance of rituals, such as baptism, (Eucharistic) meal fellowship, circumcision, etc. Simultaneously, there is an ongoing debate as to the meaning of early Christian rituals, also for contemporary theological discussions. In the context of these two discourses, a recurring issue is how a “theology” or a “meaning” can be found in or deduced from a ritual….As a test-case, the framework and methodology that will be developed in the paper will be applied to the meal traditions occuring in 1 Cor. 11:17-34….

The Meaning of Nekrosis in 2 Cor 4:10
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Jose Joseph Kollemkunnel, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

In 2 Cor 4:10 Paul uses nekrosis to refer to the death of Jesus instead of the more common Greek word thanatos. Scholarly opinion is divided on the precise meaning of the term nekrosis….This paper examines the use of the terminology and analyses the immediate context of 2 Cor 4:10 where Paul uses the word nekrosis.

Paul In Bonds: Humiliation, Abandonment And The Portrait Of An Apostle Who Does Not Cry
Program Unit: Biblical Masculinities
Kyriaki Meletsi, Universty of Athens

In both the undisputed letters and in one of the Pastorals there are references of the sufferings and experiences of persecutions Paul has been through. In 2 Cor., 11.23-33, Paul describes the harshness and counts the frequency of the fustigations, canings and the incarcerations he suffered for being a minister of Christ. In 2. Tim. 1.8; 12, 2.9-10, 3.10-11, 4.6-8; 16 we learn about a new imprisonment and the abandonment by some of his former co-associates…The paradox he introduces, is that of a man who does not try to throw his social disgrace in oblivion, but on the contrary boasts about his passions…

Christly Possession and Weakened Bodies: A Reconsideration of the Function of Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
Program Unit: Healthcare and Disability in the Ancient World
Candida R. Moss, University of Notre Dame

This paper examines the function of the thorn in Paul’s flesh (2 Cor. 12:710) in light of ancient theories of possession and medical anthropology. It argues that Paul uses the ancient view of punctured and porous bodies as vulnerable to possession, disease, and invasion to undergird his theory of bodily perfection in Christ. This theory, in turn, is used to support Paul’s claims to authority and to trump those of his opponents.

Tears on My Papyrus: Paul as a Self-Made Man
Program Unit: Biblical Masculinities
Karin Neutel, University of Groningen

It has become a truism in recent scholarship that ancient men were not born, but made. Being a man was no mean feat, and required constant vigilance and upkeep. Self-control should be seen as an important part of this vigilance and showing strong emotions as a man was consequently a risky venture. How are we to understand Paul’s references to his tears (2 Cor 2,4; Phil 3,18) in the context of the precarious nature of ancient masculinity?…

A Face that Mirrors Proclamation: On the Significance of 2 Cor 3:18 for its Broader Literary Context (2 Cor 3:1-4:15)
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Laura Tack, University of Leuven

Presenting an adequate exegesis of 2 Cor 3:18 is a puzzling task. It has to account for many interacting variables, such as the particular understanding of transformation, the exact meaning of hemeis pantes, and the significance of the unveiled face. Moreover, a clear understanding of 2 Cor 2:14-4:6 cannot do without a lucid treatment of 2 Cor 3:18 that is central to the argumentation of this text unit. This paper maintains that anakekalymmeno prosopo ten doxan kyriou katoptrizomenoi has to be understood as the unveiled face that reflects the glory of the Lord….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: