Keeping up with the Corinthians: a second letter to Corinth

This post is in the series Rite Reading.

Paul wrote more than two letters to the Corinthians: it’s the only way of making sense of the letters he mentions in his correspondence with them. It’s just that we don’t have any more than two collected in our scriptures, and don’t know what happened to the other(s). We have no way of knowing exactly how many there were. Some scholars, observing that the letter in the Bible called Second Corinthians seems a bit of a patchwork, suggest that it could have been stitched together from at least two, and perhaps three original letters.

There’s no real evidence to say so. The changes of mood and direction could just as well come down to getting interrupted mid-dictation by some event or news which caused a swerve in the argument. Since no-one has ever found a fragment of manuscript that shows a version of the letter with a different beginning, middle or ending, I think I prefer the simplicity of an interruption causing Paul to alter course. Either way, it’s a reminder that there are simply gaps in our knowledge, and not everything Paul wrote ended up as scripture.

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When the church doesn’t do “Christian”: pastoral care case by case in First Corinthians

This post is in the series Rite Reading.

From looking at Paul’s most carefully and tightly argued letter, we turn to one that is almost a ragbag of collected problems, First Corinthians. These problems are either ones that the Corinthians have written to Paul about, or ones he has heard of from others. Here, even more than usual, we are aware as readers that we only have half a conversation.

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