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acts of admonition and rebuke



University of British Columbia

Introduction If one measure of the greatness of a work of literature is its ability to support many interpretations, then certainly the letters of Paul must rank among the very greatest of literature, for they have spawned and continue to spawnanew every morningnot only new interpretations of particular passages but entirely new constructions of their complete thought world.1 Daniel Boyarin exaggerates the number of interpretations generated daily of particular Pauline passages, but there is little doubt that new interpretations continue to be spawned at a furious rate. The interpretation of 1 Cor. 6:1-11 offered here is generated primarily by insights from speech act theory. As A.C. Thiselton has demonstrated, the application of certain aspects of speech act theory to texts holds hermeneutical promise.2 The rhetorical expressions in 1 Cor. 6:1-11 are to be taken as particular kinds of speech acts designed to challenge the behaviour of the Corinthians not in accord with Pauls code of expected social behaviour. As Paul sees it, lawsuits in secular courts are aggressive public challenges put to him that imply a refusal to acknowledge his claim to honorable standing in the community as their founding father. Paul cannot ignore the challenge because he would incur a public loss of facea riposte must be given. He accepts the challenge and responds in kind by rebuking and admonishing the congregants. Speech act theory provides a means of examining what happens when Paul rebukes and admonishes.3 Clarity about the historical situation will help to
1 Daniel Boyarin, A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), p. 1. 2 Anthony C. Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992); Stephen E. Fowl, The Story of Christ in the Ethics of Paul: An Analysis of the Function of the Hymnic Material in the Pauline Corpus (JSNTS, 36; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990). 3 For example, what are the basic characteristics of the judicial process in

Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2000

Biblical Interpretation 8, 4


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locate the conventions and circumstances that determine the illocutionary force of rebuke and admonition. Linguistic communication is governed by extratextual rules, often unspoken and conventional, that speech act theory examines to determine the conditions that lead to the success or failure of the communication of meaning. Furthermore, speech act theory supplies the language and analytic concepts needed to explain when admonition and rebuke fail in their intended result, conditions more complicated than simply determining the nature of the problem that required admonition and rebuke. Before proceeding with such a reading it will be helpful to deal with a few preliminary issues. The Literary Environment of 1 Corinthians: Language and Genre It is common to introduce 1 Corinthians by reconstructing the historical situation that prompted its writing. While that kind of reconstruction is extremely important for our understanding of 1 Corinthians generally or 1 Corinthians 6 specifically, here is a case where the question of genre and language use must precede the questions of history, though they are, of course, intimately intertwined. Although the force of Pauls speech acts is determined specifically by the literary/linguistic and historical context in which they occur, it will be helpful to begin with the literary question, namely, identifying the epistolary type of 1 Corinthians according to the literary conventions of antiquity. Many studies of the letter-writing conventions of antiquity have been undertaken. 4 These studies show that letters are written as substitutes for oral, face-to-face conversation and presence,

Rome? Is Paul condemning a wave of sexual libertinism in 1 Cor. 5-6, or is he simply responding to a single case of sexual misconduct? Is the nature of the conflict in Corinth the result of secular practices and attitudes of leadership infiltrating the community and provoking members to use secular courts to promote their aspirations to power and influence? Why does Pauls authoritative status in the community decline so quickly after his first visit? Do his ways of speaking not measure up to standards of Greek and Roman eloquence? 4 See for example, F.X.J. Exler, The Form of the Ancient Greek Letter (Chicago: Ares, 1976); A. Malherbe, Ancient Epistolary Theorists (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988); W.J. Doty, Letter Writing in Primitive Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973); S.K. Stowers, Letter Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity (Philadelphia: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1986); David E. Aune (ed.), Greco-Roman Literature and the New Testament (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988); John L. White, Light from Ancient Letters (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986).

acts of admonition and rebuke


something for which Paul longs.5 Moreover, while letters are written for a variety of reasons, Greek and Roman rhetoricians regard the letter that attempts to maintain family ties and friendship as the most authentic form of correspondence. 6 For the most part, Paul, writing as the respected leader to the communities he had founded, does not deviate from this pattern. The emotional tone of his correspondence to the various communities scattered across Asia Minor is familial and friendly. He addresses the members of these communities not only as his equals but also as ones over whom he has influence. He refers to the recipients of his letters with the egalitarian designation of brethren, signifying that he has familial ties with them through a common spiritual source. When he refers to his status as apostle, Paul designates the recipients with such terms as saints, called, sanctified, and beloved. He also refers to himself before his recipients as spiritual father, as steward of the household, as mother in labour, and as nurse. These designations are indicative of the responsibility that Paul feels for the spiritual welfare and maturation of his fellow congregants. While this friendly, familial tone characterises almost all of the Pauline letters, from time to time it is severe. In Galatians and 2 Corinthians, for example, Paul harshly condemns the respective communities for abandoning his gospel and questioning his credentials. Generally, most of Pauls letters combine healthy doses of praise, criticism and blame if the situation warrants it. 1 Corinthians follows this pattern by combining praise ( ), exhortation/dissuasion, with blame/threat ( ), admonition ( ) and rebuke ( ), a common feature of letter writing in antiquity. Praise and blame are often utilised to maintain and legitimise the social structures of the ancient world. For example, Paul makes use of blame to challenge the acquired social standing of certain members of the congregation.7 Praise and blame are employed to point out what is honorable and shameful and are combined with exhortation/dissuasion when habits of behaviour are the focus. Laudable behaviour is encouraged through praise, and shameful habits of behaviour are
5 Cicero describes a letter as a conversation with a friend and as mediating the presence of an absent friend (Ad Att. 8. 14. 1; Ad Fam . 3. 11. 2). 6 John L. White, Ancient Greek Letters in Aune (ed.), Greco-Roman Literature , p. 86. 7 Stowers, Letter Writing , p. 77.


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discouraged through blame or useful criticism. The relationship of the letter writer to the recipient when bestowing praise is one either of superiority, inferiority or equality, depending on whether praise is intended to flatter, ingratiate, or encourage.8 Blame ( ) functions negatively in evaluative speech and frequently performs an important role in a letter of exhortation that includes admonition and rebuke. In a letter of blame, the affiliation between the writer and the recipient is a positive one in which blame is intended to establish reciprocity in a relationship. This is especially the case when the recipients benefit from a generous donation. While the Corinthians do not benefit from Pauline munificence, they nevertheless benefit from Pauls establishment of them; a fact that should have elicited an acknowledgment of his standing among them. They continue to be recipients of the good will and wisdom of Paulthey are the benefaction of his boundless energy. The expressions of admonition and rebuke remind them of Pauls role in their establishment and the requisite standing such establishment entails.9 The word blame is not found in the New Testament, but sections of 1 Corinthians fall into the types of hortatory blaming found in paraenetic and protreptic hortatory literature. S.K. Stowers demonstrates that protreptic hortatory literature calls the addressees to a new and different way of life, and paraenesis advises and exhorts the recipients to continue in a certain way of life. 10 Paraenetic literature attempts both to persuade members of a community to conform to a course of action and to dissuade them from pursuing habits of behaviour not in accord with the lifestyle envisioned by the author.11 The rhetoric of exhortation presupposes a certain model of behaviour and character that is designed to convince members of a community to exhibit habits of behaviour congruent with the model.12 In order for hortatory blame to be effective, the relationship between the author and
Stowers, Letter Writing , p. 79. See 1 Cor. 2:1-4; 4:8-15. Stowers, Letter Writing , p. 87. 10 Stowers, Letter Writing , p. 92. As Stowers points out, these distinctions do not always hold up and have perplexed theoreticians in antiquity. See also Abraham J. Malherbe, Moral Exhortation: A Greco-Roman Sourcebook (Philadelphia: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1986), pp. 122-29. 11 For example, using contrasting or antithetical statements, contrasting virtues and vices, and by providing examples of appropriate character and behaviour. See Stowers, Letter Writing , pp. 94-96. 12 Stowers, Letter Writing , p. 94.
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the recipients must generally be a positive one. The writer, therefore, assumes the persona of a wise person, friend, morally superior person, or of a concerned father exhorting a child about his or her habits of behaviour and character. While most commentators agree that 1 Corinthians represents a complex mix of paraenesis and advice (1 Cor. 4:1-4; 6:1-11) it is nevertheless also an apologia in which Paul fends off false impressions of him that have damaged his reputation. In order to vindicate his name, Paul employs a mild form of hortatory blame known as admonition. In 1 Cor. 4:14 Paul reminds the Corinthian community that they are his beloved children and then mildly admonishes them for their disunity and divisive behaviour so as not to shame them. He is constructive in his criticism so that the recipients are encouraged to behave in conformity with his example. Paul, however, does not shy away from rebuking, a harsher form of criticism, when the milder or gentler form fails to achieve its end. Expressions of disapproval or criticism of abhorrent behaviour or fundamental flaws of character are essential to rebuke. Indeed, both admonition and rebuke are based on carefully weighed opinions about what is proper or improper. While shame is not essential to admonition, it is to rebuke. Honor and shame are pivotal values of the Mediterranean society in which Paul and the Corinthian congregation lived and moved. Both are used as a means of social control. Halvor Moxnes states that honor is fundamentally the public recognition of ones social standing.13 Honor is the value, prestige, and reputation that an individual claims and that is acknowledged by others. 14 Honor and shame have currency when the group to which one belongs has clearly defined standards and values of honor. Those who uphold the values and standards deemed valuable to the welfare of community or society are rewarded for the degree to which they embody those values and standards and disapproved of when they do not.15 Honor serves as an indicator of social standing, which, if
13 Halvor Moxnes, Honor and Shame, in Richard Rohrbaugh (ed.), The Social Sciences and New Testament Interpretation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996) p. 20. 14 Bruce J. Malina, Biblical Social Values and Their Meanings: A Handbook (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1993), pp.30-33. 15 David A. de Silva, Worthy of His Kingdom: Honor Discourse and Social Engineering in I Thessalonians, JSNT 64 (1996), pp. 49-79.


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lost, has serious consequences for the way in which social superiors, equals, or inferiors interact. Honor can be challenged both positively and negatively. Not to acknowledge the official status of a leader (institutional status) is a challenge, which cannot be ignored, and requires reciprocation. As founding father, Paul has acquired honor in the Corinthian community that by its very nature may be gained or lost in the struggle for public recognition. 16 Acquired honor is the result of skill in the neverending game of challenge and response.17 Acquired status is fragile, contingent upon the acknowledgement and recognition of that standing by the congregation, and so members of a community who are conscious of social class and reputation can take steps to boost their rank in the community at the expense of the other members and of Paul. Paul is fully aware of the fickle nature of power and authority derived from acquired status and, therefore, cannot ignore challenges to his rank in the community. Moreover, the community at Corinth embodies for Paul a court of reputation, defined by certain group values from which grants of honor and censure are bestowed. During Pauls absence, however, the dominant values of the surrounding culture appear to have infiltrated the community to affect the communitys values and ideals, including a shift in attitude towards Paul.18 In Pauls bid to defend his acquired position in the congregation, he appeals to a higher court of reputation to challenge the honor of the community and of individual persons who seek to damage his honor.19 He argues that the values, attitudes, and commitments that count as valuable status indicators in the old court of reputation (wisdom/eloquence, power, status, wealth, freedom, etc.) no longer count in the new court of reputation. According to Paul, the spirits demonstrations of power and the wisdom of the cross serve not only to invalidate the old values, attitudes and commitments but also to redefine them. Rebuke and admonition are ripostes calculated to shame the community. Shame functions as a social sanction that ensures a
Moxnes, Honor and Shame, pp. 19-40. Bruce J. Malina and R. Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), p. 188; Saul M. Olyan, Honor, Shame, and Covenant Relations in Ancient Israel and its Environment, JBL 115 (1996), pp. 210-18. Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993) pp.28-62. 18 de Silva, Worthy of His Kingdom, p. 54. 19 de Silva, Worthy of His Kingdom, p. 54.
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certain level of performance in accord with a groups (or Pauls) norms; it serves as an element of social control.20 Shame, hopefully, will become the incentive for members of the community to reconsider what is of significance in the court of Pauls values.21 Shaming is effective when the congregants have a basic awareness of Pauls opinions, show deferential regard for him, and fear his censure. The congregants at Corinth, however, appear to be shameless because they disregard Pauls code of expected behaviour and do not fear his reproach. This, in turn, disgraces Paul he incurs dishonor with the incremental loss of status it implies. The Nature of the Relationship between Paul and the Corinthians Commentators note that the Corinthian congregation is beset by a number of serious problems about which Paul hears. How Paul learns of the situation in Corinth is difficult to establish. Perhaps a letter from Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, the Corinthians response to Pauls earlier letter, and the reception of some oral communication from Chloes people (1 Cor. 1:11) give Paul disturbing information about the difficulties facing the congregation. 22 Paul is compelled to address this situation, but ultimately to what end is difficult to determine. Commentators, therefore, offer up a number of different explanations of the epistles purpose. For example, 1 Corinthians is understood as Paul taking the opportunity to inform or correct his readers because of their deficient understanding,23 or to engage in polemics with opponents disturbing the community, or to write a paraenesis resembling 1 Thessalonians, 24 or to quell a wave of sexual libertinism,25 or to reconcile warring factions within the congregation. 26 There is little doubt that the community is
Jerome H. Neyrey, Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998), p. 30. 21 Malina and Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary, pp. 188, 213. 22 Gordon O. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), p. 9. 23 F.W. Grosheide, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1953). Gerd Luedemann, Opposition to Paul in Jewish Christianity (trans. M. Eugene Boring; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989). 24 Helmut Koester, Introduction to the New Testament: History and Literature of Early Christianity (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1980), p. 121. 25 Walter Schmithals, Gnosticism in Corinth: An Investigation of the Letters to the Corinthians (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1971) pp. 233, 237. 26 If factionalism is the problem in the Corinthian congregation then Paul is


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experiencing internal strife perhaps due to divisive factionalism, but the overriding issue in Corinth is one of tension between members of the congregation and Paul.27 The combative tone of Pauls response suggests general dissension and strife that is precipitated by negative impressions of him. Some within the community have convinced certain members to accept antiPauline views. These anti-Pauline views affect, in Pauls perception, not only his reputation but also the gospel as a whole. 28 What may have precipitated the tensions between Paul and the community are far from clear. Recent studies assessing the social and rhetorical situation in Corinth, though arriving at different conclusions, shed light on the development of this decidedly antiPauline sentiment. After a brief overview of some of these studies, several issues that contributed to the difficulties in Corinth will be distilled from them and applied. John K. Chow asserts that the conflict in the Corinthian church is due to opposition from the wealthy and powerful patrons who seek to maintain patron-client relationships in the community. While commentators have put forward a number of options that explain the causes of the lawsuits between members of the community (incest/adultery/divorce; financial or mercantile matters; fraud or business, etc.), Chow is of the opinion that contests over inheritance settlements are at the bottom of the litigation. The litigants, more interested in material gain than in seeking spiritual maturity, are the socially powerful in the church, the elite patrons who are taking action against clients without their permission. 29 They are engaged in redressing damage and making
responding to their divisions into parties. See William F. Orr and James Arthur Walther , 1 Corinthians (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981), pp. 148-49. Gordon Fee states that the range of scholarly opinion is far broader and more diverse here than for any other issue in the letter. Much of how one views the whole letter is determined by ones approach to this issue (The First Epistle to the Corinthians , p. 47). Witherington is not convinced that problems between Paul and the Corinthian congregation is the major tension dictating Pauls response. Siding with C.K. Barrett and F.C. Baur, Witherington opts for parties in Corinth (Conflict and Community in Corinth , p. 28). See also J. Munck, Paul and the Salvation of Mankind (ET; London: SCM Press, 1959), especially Chapter 5, The Church without Factions: Studies in 1 Cor. 1-4; also J.C. Hurd, The Origin of 1 Corinthians (2nd edn; Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1983). 27 Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians , pp. 8-10. 28 This is more or less the position that Fee takes in his commentary, although I shall expand the view somewhat beyond Fees. 29 John K. Chow, Patronage and Power: A Study of Social Networks in Corinth (JSNTSup, 75; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1992), pp. 125-27.

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personal gain through litigation. 30 Paul counters these ambitions for gain by protecting the weak and challenging the powerful, while, at the same time, fending off adverse evaluations of his conduct. 31 In addition, tensions between Paul and the patrons of the community is heightened because of his refusal to take money from them. This constitutes a violation of the conventions of friendship or patronage and shames the wealthy patrons of the community. They, in turn, impugn Pauls reputation by shaming him.32 In a similar vein, Peter Marshalls study plays on the themes of patronage, power, friendship and enmity. 33 He reconstructs the situation in Corinth based on the conventions of friendship, patronage, and enmity of Greco-Roman social life, where the wealthy and powerful do not receive payment for services rendered by social equals, but rather receive gifts, permits and honorsall the marks of the benefits of friendship. Without the benefits of friendship one cannot take full part in society. Patrons offer friendship to social inferiors and provide them with gifts that store up honor for them, if the recipients are unable to repay them. Enmity arises when the mutual reciprocity of friendship and patronage begins to break down if expectations are not met, which ultimately leads the two parties to try to shame each other. Marshall proposes that certain wealthy members of the community offer Paul friendship along with a gift. Paul, however, refuses to accept the gift and their offer of friendship because it implies that he is their social inferior, whereas he sees them as recipients of his benefaction he has established them and brought the gospel to them. 34 In the words of Marshall, the refusal of gifts and services was a refusal of friendship and dishonored the donor.35 When Paul declines their offer of a gift, they insult him by noting
Chow, Patronage and Power, p. 189. Chow, Patronage and Power, pp. 167-87; E.A. Judge, The Social Identity of the First Christians, Journal of Religious History 1 (1960), pp. 210-17; Judge, Cultural Conformity and Innovation in Paul: Some Clues from Contemporary Documents, TynB 35 (1984), pp. 3-24; Judge, The Social Pattern of Early Christian Groups in the First Century (London: Tyndale House, 1960); Alan C. Mitchell, Rich and Poor in the Courts of Corinth: Litigiousness and Status in 1 Corinthians 6:111, NTS 39 (1993), pp. 563-64. 32 Chow, Patronage and Power, p. 189. 33 Peter Marshall, Enmity in Corinth: Social Conventions in Pauls Relations with the Corinthians (Tbingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1987), pp. 1-69. 34 Marshall, Enmity in Corinth, pp. 396-404. 35 Marshall, Enmity in Corinth , p. 397.
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his physical appearance, his lack of status and eloquence, and his standing as lowly wage earner. Paul responds by charging them with empty boasts. 36 In such a charged context, patrons of the community launch challenges in the secular courts of law. In a fascinating assessment of the social and rhetorical situation of Corinth, S.M. Pogoloff argues that Paul is responding to an exigence of division that is the result of the Corinthians competition for status.37 The Corinthians are behaving in the manner of the disciples of ancient sophists by indulging in boasting and preening as part of their status-seeking conduct.38 Their relationship to Paul is shaped by the social norms of the ancient sophists, and, perhaps initially awed by his sophistication and eloquence, they provide Paul the patronage he requires to establish himself among them. He may have been invited to speak in the homes of these patrons, an invitation designed to bring honor to them. But when Pauls eloquence and wisdom do not measure up, they use comparative rhetoric to enhance their status and denigrate that of Pauls. Some of these status conscious members of the community accuse Paul of being an in oral performance (2 Cor. 11:6). Aware of social standing, seeking to gain honor through boasting, and desirous of recognition as cultured, wise, well born and powerful, some members of the Corinthian community are led straight into the courts of law. Antoinette Clark Wires interest in social status and the Corinthian women prophets prompts a close analysis of Pauline rhetoric in order to reconstruct the opposition in Corinth. She eschews the attempt to classify as diverse a text as 1 Corinthians according to the different types of discourse of classical rhetoric (forensic speech, deliberative speech, and epideictic speech), claiming that to classify 1 Corinthians thus may not be fruitful. 39
Marshall, Enmity in Corinth , pp. 165-237. S.M. Pogoloff, Logos and Sophia: The Rhetorical Situation of First Corinthians (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992), p. 273. 38 Pogoloff, Logos and Sophia , pp. 273. 39 Antoinette Clark Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets: A Reconstructi on Through Pauls Rhetoric (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990), p. 4. In her desire to evaluate the data and reconstruct the views of the women prophets at Corinth, she focuses on the so-called New Rhetoric of C. Perelmann and L. Olbrecht and uses social models such as Mary Douglass study of trance states and group/ grid structure, Victor Turners studies of initiation rituals, and Bruce Malinas work on challenge/reposte. These models permit her to reconstruct a group by paying particular attention to the question of how the Corinthians would have
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Wire is sensitive to the key role of the rhetorical situation in which the speaker and audience are related as that which shapes the argument at each point.40 While this is the audience as seen by the speaker, the rhetorical situation does nevertheless reveal Pauls desire to move the audience at Corinth by force of argument to a course of action. 41 In order to persuade the audience, however, Paul must first engage in a careful assessment of the audiences needs, desires, and attitudes. Indeed, the greater the desire to persuade, the more critical it is for Paul not to misjudge the audience, especially when the audience may stand in opposition to him. This suggests for Wire that whatever betrays clear disagreement with Paul probably reflects the views of the opponents. Moreover, whatever Paul says and the way says it is a function of persuasion. Whatever Paul says about human beings, Corinthians, believers in Christ, women, and prophets is a possible resource for understanding the women prophets in Corinth.42 At whatever points Paul is insistent and intense, showing that he is not merely confirming their agreement but struggling for their assent, one can assume some different and opposite point of view in Corinth from the one Paul is stating.43 The rhetoric of disagreement allows Wire to engage in a rather extensive mirror reading to conclude that Paul is probably repressing an earlier form of egalitarian and pneumatic Christianity. Wire also concludes that the battle in Corinth is about social status, its loss and gain. Three status indicators, Jew, free, and male, favor Paul, but his call to preach Christ to the Gentiles has a definite impact on his social status.44 His former past guarantees that in wisdom, power, rank, ethnic security, caste, and sex he had status. 45 But now that he preaches Christ crucified as exemplar of Gods paradoxical wisdom, which it appears the Corinthians regard as nonsense, his power, honor and rank have been severely compromised. To be without wisdom in the Corinthian church meant to be without power, which also mean[t] his honor in his adopted community of identification was
perceived their social status and Pauls. Community in Corinth , pp. 43-48; 55-61. 40 Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets , 41 Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets , 42 Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets , 43 Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets , 44 Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets , 45 Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets , See also Witherington, Conflict and p. p. p. p. p. p. 4. 4. 8. 9. 67. 67.


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bankrupt.46 Paul perceives himself to have lost status because his rights as a free person have been curtailed by the Christians slave freedom in Christ, while the flexible freedom of the Corinthian women (eating at temples, putting off head covering, supporting a young couple whom Paul considers incestuous, ecstatic speech) are all signals of their new-found status and power. In the words of Wire, the Corinthian woman prophet has experienced a surge of status in wisdom, power, and honor and has reshaped her ethnic identity, caste, and gender in ways that give her more scope, all at the expense of Paul who has experienced a downward plunge of status.47 In a recent book, Andrew D. Clarke argues that secular modes and models of leadership in the city of Corinth had influenced the perceptions and practices of leadership in the Corinthian community. Using epigraphic, numismatic, and literary and secondary sources, Clarke reconstructs what he regards as the organisational structure of Corinth, demonstrating that status, patronage and benefaction, political enmity and oratory were crucial to a successful profile of secular, political leadership. 48 Moving up in status and the ranks of society was dependent upon benefaction and the cultivation and maintenance of friendships were based on such benefactions. 49 Christian leaders, such as Crispus, Gaius, Stephanus, and Erastus, had perhaps bought into secular practices and notions of leadership and under their influence these views had infiltrated the Corinthian congregation.50 As a consequence, those of high social standing, the wealthy and powerful members of the community, were using the secular legal system to elevate their own status and reputation in the community at the expense of Paul.51 Moreover, others were boasting in the liberty of incest
Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets , p. 67. Wire, The Corinthian Women Prophets , pp. 65, 75-76. Wire argues that the matters being adjudicated are probably sexual and would have major implications for women and men. Both women and men are experiencing significant changes in their sexual relationships that lead to disputes within the church. Women did not normally go to court, but their actions may in fact have sparked the dispute, and they may also have played a crucial role in settling the dispute out of court. 48 Andrew D. Clarke, Secular and Christian Leadership in Corinth: A Socio-Historical and Exegetical Study of 1 Corinthians 1-6 (AGJU, 18; Leiden: Brill, 1993), p. 129. 49 Clarke, Secular and Christian Leadership in Corinth , p. 166. See also Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians (San Francisco: Harper, 1988). 50 Clarke, Secular and Christian Leadership in Corinth , pp. 41-57. 51 Clarke, Secular and Christian Leadership in Corinth , pp. 89-106; Review by
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or an incestuous relationship, while still others remained silent about a sexually immoral relationship because they were bound to the conventions of clients to patron. 52 In his consideration of rhetoric during the first century CE, Duane Liftin observes that Athens was a litigious society where power ful eloquent speakers gained reputation by having the capacity to move an audience. Powerful speakers increased in reputation while weak ones suffered defeat and ridicule.53 Interesting in this respect is that a grandstanding style of oratory and rhetorical ability often played a critical role in determining the outcome of a court case. Liftin is of the opinion that some of the grandstanding associated with powerful oratory in the courtroom had permeated the Corinthian congregation. Paul criticises the congregations preoccupation with the eloquence of powerful speakers, secular sophia , and prestige and counters these secular aspirations and practices with his own example. He eschews the techniques of persuasion, artful adaptation, and the shrewd and ingenious modulations of the rhetor to induce belief in Christ. For Paul the Spirit-powered creation of faith in the saving efficacy of the crucified Christ ... was the persuasive dynamic of the cross.54 To avoid usurping the power of the cross, Paul proclaims the message, not to persuade but to announce. In the words of Liftin, Paul does not engage in artful adaptation with a view to engendering belief by rendering the message somehow impressive and compelling, indeed, irresistible. 55 Paul is simply the messenger who presents a message that is fixed and unchanged, a conduit through which the message flows.56
Victor Paul Furnish, JBL 114 (1995), pp. 344-46. See also B. Rosner, Corporate Responsibility in 1 Corinthians 5, NTS 38 (1992), pp. 470-73. S.C. Barton, Pauls Sense of Place: An Anthropological Approach to Community Formation in Corinth, NTS 32 (1986), pp. 225-46. D.B. Martin, Tongues of Angels and Other Status Indicators, JAAR 59 (1991), pp. 563-69. 52 Clarke, Secular and Christian Leadership in Corinth , pp. 80-88. 53 Duane Liftin, St. Pauls Theology of Proclamation: 1 Corinthians 1-4 and GrecoRoman Rhetoric (SNTSMS, 79; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). 54 Liftin, St. Pauls Theology of Proclamation , p. 247. 55 Liftin, St. Pauls Theology of Proclamation , p. 248. 56 Liftin, St. Pauls Theology of Proclamation , pp. 247-48. Is Paul simply a pipeline through which his proclamation passes? Paul appears to be aware of the power of language to sway the minds of those in Corinth and frames his discourse in such a manner as to shape the social reality and behaviour of the community. As Elizabeth A. Castelli shows, acts of proclamation are not neutral, self explanatory, or self evident, but active constructors of reality. Paul is not the innocent agent of the Spirit engaging in a simple, straightforward placarding of the cross, as


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On the basis of these studies, the fractious behaviour, litigious attitudes, and anti-Pauline sentiments and conduct in Corinth are due to variety of factors. Secular models of leadership that value status, patronage, benefaction, and oratory have infiltrated the church. Patron-client relationships and the conventions of friendship and enmity have determined how the Corinthians regard each other and Paul. Contests between the eloquent of Corinth and Paul, with his amateurish rhetoric, have contributed to his loss of status. Moreover, the new found status in wisdom, power and honor of the Corinthian women has led directly to Pauls decline in reputation. In 1 Cor. 1:26, Paul states rhetorically, Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise ( ) by human standards; not many were influential ( ); not many were of noble birth ( ). Some within the Corinthian congregation came no doubt from well-to-do bourgeois circles and sought to maintain social boundaries; others, conscious of the inconsistency of status sought to improve their standing in areas where they had none, while still others, from very poor circles sought to improve their social standing. Perhaps also keenly aware of the standards of rhetoric and Pauls amateurish attempt at it, they felt that they had the right to evaluate Paul and his message by the same criteria by which popular orators and teachers were judged. Paul disputed this right and engaged in a vigorous effort to rebuff their judgements of him.57 He promised to visit the community in Corinth as soon as possible in order to find out how these arrogant people were talking and what power they had (1 Cor. 4:19). In the interim, however, he admonished and rebuked them hoping that the challenge would stimulate a change in their behaviour and attitude towards him (1 Cor. 56).58
Liftin claims. Proclamation is about power and privilege, its gain and its loss, and the power of proclamation plays a constructive role in defining the contours of social experience. Proclamation, even if viewed as a value-neutral act, is nevertheless about the attempt to influence, and influence is about power, the power of persuasion, not necessarily to manipulate or coerce, but to change attitudes, perceptions and behaviours to match that of the proclaimer (Elizabeth A. Castelli, Imitating Paul: A Discourse of Power [Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991], p. 16). 57 Ben Witherington III, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), p. 94. 58 Witherington, Conflict and Community in Corinth , pp. 35-36; Paul J. Achtemeier, Omne Verbum Sonat: The New Testament and the Oral Environment of Late Western Antiquity, JBL 109 (1990), pp. 3-27.

acts of admonition and rebuke Speech Acts of Blame: Rebuke/Judgement and Admonition


Rebuke and admonition serve a useful function here because they guard against the propensity of the Corinthians to continue in unacceptable practices for which they should be held accountable. Implicit within rebuke and admonition is the belief that some particular behaviour, practice, or attitude is unacceptable and requires change. 59 They are effective acts intended to change situations in the public domain. 60 As such, expressions of admonition and rebuke belong to the category of speech known as the performative utterance. These are utterances that do not describe something but rather do something, or, as J.L. Austin puts it, they have illocutionary force.61 Austin explains that in issuing [a]... performative utterance we are not stating what act it is, we are showing or making explicit what act it is.62 Admonition and rebuke are operative speech acts that make explicit the act of judgement. They reveal that the behaviour of the Corinthians has been judged inappropriate, that it must cease immediately and be replaced with an appropriate one. Hence, these acts of speech are not merely descriptive of the actions on which Paul is standing in judgement but also transformative of the states of affairs they represent. 63 Speech acts are also subject to what Austin calls infelicities:
59 The language of the Greek text of 1 Cor. abounds with a number of explicit performative speech acts ( , 1:4, 14; , 1:10; 4:16; , 2:1; , 1:17; , 1:23) but, as Donald Evans has argued, a performative need not be self labelling and explicit. It is possible to admonish, rebuke/judge without using self-labelling verbs. Evans observes that once we grant that utterances have a performative force even though they do not contain an explicit performative verb, it is reasonable to assume that every utterance is a performative (The Logic of Self-Involvement: A Philosophical Study of Everyday Language with Special Reference to the Christian Use of Language about God as Creator [New York: Herder and Herder, 1969], pp. 44-45). Paul discloses through his attitude and action that his rebuke and admonition function as operative and authentic speech acts to transform the relationship between him and the community (A. Thiselton, Christology in Luke, SpeechAct Theory, and the Problem of Dualism in Christology after Kant, in Joel B. Green and Max Turner (eds.), Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], pp. 453-72). 60 Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics , p. 17. 61 J.L. Austin, Performative Utterances, in A.P. Martinich (ed.), The Philosophy of Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 115-24. 62 Austin, Performative Utterances, p. 121. See also Austin, How to Do things with Words (2nd edn; eds. J.O. Urmson and Marina Sbis; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975), pp. 1-24. 63 Austin, How to do Things with Words , p. 5.


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the things that can go wrong when speech acts are uttered. Awareness of the rules integral to the successful performance of a speech act is important. The truth of an illocutionary act, Austin observes, is dependent upon the presence of certain conditions in the social context of their utterance. 64 The condition of infelicity refers to rules governing a speech act that, if violated, would lead to the failure of a speech act. In addition to the condition of infelicities, Austin isolates two other important factors that are helpful in our analysis of 1 Corinthians: convention and circumstance. 65 Convention is defined by Austin as the existence of an accepted conventional procedure having a certain effect, that procedure to include the uttering of certain words by certain people in circumstances appropriate for the invocation of the particular procedure invoked.66 Circumstance is defined as a situation where the circumstance in a given case must be appropriate for the invocation of the particular procedure involved.67 A speech act must conform to a particular convention and circumstance in order to be what Austin calls happy, that is, for the speech act to come off successfully. An interesting case in this connection is Pauls urgent entreaty that the people imitate him ( , (1 Cor.4:16); (1 Cor. 11:1); cf. 1 Thess. 1:6, 2:14; Phil. 3:17). The Corinthian passages, in particular, enjoin the congregation to enter into a mimetic relationship with him [Paul] as the model.68 The rhetoric of mimesis is usually taken to represent Pauls desire that the community emulate some laudable ethical standard, or that the Corinthians mimic the behaviour of Paul and his associates. As such, mimesis is situated in the piety of imitatio Christi and spiritualized, therefore making it a spiritual exercise that elides the issues of social relations and power. Issues of power are reinscribed in the notions of authority and of a unifying tradition. Paul attempts to protect the tradition from the incursions of false teachers within the community by appealing to apostolic authority and an emerging orthodoxy with which he has aligned himself. The call to imitation, then, does not arise out of self aggrandise64 65 66 67 68

See Austin, Performative Utterances, pp. 122-24. Austin, Performative Utterances, pp. 115-124. Austin, How to do Things with Words , pp. 14-15, 26. Austin, How to do Things with Words , p. 34. Castelli, Imitating Paul , p. 16.

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ment, but out of humility and self sacrifice for the community and Christ. Castelli maintains, however, that the rhetoric of mimesis is a coercive strategy of power designed as a call to sameness which erases differences and, at the same time, reinforces the authoritative status of the model.69 Mimesis is about power, ideology and identity. This powerful rhetorical strategy renders Paul immune to criticism and requires the self-policing of the hearer; it also ascribes to Paul a power of authority that is unassailable and puts him forward as the patriarch and founder of the community.70 The patriarchal image is commonly thought to evoke relationships of mutual reciprocity based on gentleness, deep concern and special responsibility. Castelli avers, however, that a paternal figure need not necessarily evoke images of kindness and gentleness. It may also call to mind images of power and privilege that are the result of coercion and manipulation. In short, the invocation to mimesis is a deliberate strategy on Pauls part to enforce a type of sameness, unity and harmony that erases differences and reinforces the authority of the model.71 While I find Castellis contention that Pauls discourse camouflages a power- bid as a truth claim attractive, is his bid for power/ honor successful? The question is how the community would have received his request. The request draws its currency from his standing as founding father and the reputation it was to have garnered him. A complex of mutual obligations and responsibilities defines Pauls social standing as founding father. Paul is obliged to assume the rights, status, privilege, and duties of the founding father and the community, in turn, is obliged to treat him as such.72 As founding father, his utterance imitate me should have counted as a request for the hearers in Corinth. It institutes a way of acquiring rights and responsibilities and maintaining them on the basis of mutual obligations and responsibilities.73 Moreover, when
Castelli, Imitating Paul , p. 103. Castelli, Imitating Paul , p. 32. 71 Castelli, Imitating Paul , pp. 97-111. 72 Nicholas Wolterstorff, Divine Discourse: Philosophical Reflections on the Claim that God Speaks (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 83. 73 In the words of Wolterstorff, the relation is that the speaker [Paul] and audience [Corinthian community] ought to count it [the request] as thatought to acknowledge it [the request] as that in their relations with each other. (Divine Discourse , p. 84).
69 70


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Paul issues the invitation to mimesis, the standing implied by the invitation is ascribed to him; that is, the summons endorses Pauls standing as a figure of honor in the Corinthian congregation. Part of that standing entails, if the Corinthians comprehend his request, an obligation to imitate him. With the utterance of that request Paul attempts to alter the moral relationship between himself and his fellow Corinthians. But if the community refuses to submit to his request, they issue a challenge that implies that they no longer recognize his standing of honor among them. The congregants feel themselves free from the obligations imposed upon them by the speech act; even though Paul takes himself at his word, they do not require of themselves that Paul be taken at his word.74 In such a situation, the request imitate me would not be successful in its uptake.75 The speech act would also fail if, for example, those who heard the exhortation to imitate Paul decided, for whatever reason, not to act upon the request. There is no convention in place that would compel listeners to imitate when they choose not to.76 Imitate me presupposes that Paul has the required honor and the acknowledgement of that honor to demand emulation. Thus, he reminds them of the honorable standing he once had; they are his beloved children, and that, though they do not have many fathers or examples from the past to imitate, they now have a father in Paul through the gospel (1 Cor. 4:15).77 Paul is acutely aware that the success of his utterance is contingent upon the community continuing to grant him the prestige he claims once to have had. But the arrogant attitude of some members of the community towards Paul implies that they refuse to accept the conventional procedure implicit in his call to imitate me (1 Cor.
Wolterstorff, Divine Discourse , p. 94. Austin, Performative Utterances, p. 117. See Witherington, A Closer Look: Rhetors, Teachers and Imitation, in Conflict and Community in Corinth , pp. 144-150; G.A. Kennedy, Classical Rhetoric and its Christian and Secular Tradition from Ancient to Modern Times (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), pp. 116-19; E. Fantham, Imitation and Evolution: The Discussion of Rhetorical Imitation in Cicero De Oratore 2:87-97 and Some Related Problems of Ciceronian Theory; Fantham, Imitation and Decline: Rhetorical Theory and Practice in the First Century after Christ, Classical Philology 73 (1978), pp. 1-16, 102-16). B. Sanders, Imitating Paul: 1 Corinthians 4:16 HTR 74 (1981), pp. 353-63. 76 Austin, Performative Utterances, pp. 117-18. See also Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics , p. 292. Dietmar Neufeld, Reconceiving Texts as Speech Acts: An Analysis of I John (Leiden: Brill, 1994), pp. 37-49. 77 Thiselton, Christology in Luke, pp. 460-61.
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4:18). A drill sergeant may order a civilian to give me ten but would not succeed in gaining obedience because the civilian would not recognise the conventional procedure implicit within the armys chain of command. Similarly, Paul may invite the members of the community to imitate him but would not succeed in gaining compliance if they reject the conventional procedure implicit within Pauls status as founding father.78 Given the Corinthians conduct, the invitation appears to have failed and Pauls bid to regain his status is dealt a serious blow. Paul, however, desires to continue as apostle and founding father of the congregation because he believes that, in the long run, it is best for them. This desire is especially evident when Paul tackles the thorny issue of secular courts (1 Cor. 6:1). Going to secular courts is detrimental to community life, and it undercuts Pauls honorable standing in the community. For these reasons, Paul begins with the rebuke, dare ( ) anyone take a dispute to the secular courts when there are brothers and sisters in the congregation perfectly capable of dealing with disputes?79 Dare functions as a rebuke with the illocutionary force of a directive . The illocutionary point consists in the fact that Paul undertakes to transform the hearers world of lawsuits in secular courts. As Searle points out, the attempt to transform the hearers world may be modest or severe. In 1 Cor. 4:14, for example, Paul admonishes the congregation, but reminds them that they are his beloved children and that, therefore, he has no desire to shame them. Paul advises the congregation to do something while presupposing that it would be bad for them not to do it.80 His admonition is a gentle reminder of what is proper. Dare, on the other hand, represents a severe attempt to transform the Corinthians world of lawsuits. Dare as a directive
78 Many scholars point out that the situation between Paul and the Corinthian congregation had seriously deteriorated since the writing of 1 Corinthians. Witherington states that Paul must resort to defence and attack in regard to his own ministry to the Corinthians, (Conflict and Community in Corinth , p. 328). See also Margaret M. Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation: An Exegetical Investigation of the Language and Composition of 1 Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press, 1992). 79 Greek (BAGD, dare, have courage, be brave enough, effrontery). 80 Daniel Vanderveken, Meaning and Speech Acts. Vol. 1. Principles of Language Use (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 197. Also Vanderveken, Meaning and Speech Acts. Vol. 2. Formal Semantics of Success and Satisfaction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).


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intends to bring about the state of affairs the words imply.81 With the words Do you have the audacity to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints? Paul attempts to commit the hearers to an act of judgement in its appropriate context. Paul endeavours to transform the hearers behaviour by declaring that true effrontery in dealing with grievances lies not in secular courts but in the court of the community and the wisdom within it. It is to their shame and to his detriment that they settle their differences by appointing as judges those who have no standing in the church.82 Is it perhaps also Pauls hope that his audacious riposte might provoke the wise in the community to reverse their attitudes towards him and once more acknowledge publicly his claim to honor? With this dare, Paul endeavours to destroy the honor game of the Corinthians and to reform the honor markers associated with the game, such as wisdom, eloquence, value, and prestige, in his own interests. Searle takes issue with Austin for placing dare in the class of the behabitives or expressives, but here is a case where dare belongs to this class. According to Austin, behabitives carry with them the notion of reaction to other peoples behaviour and fortunes and of attitudes and expressions of attitudes to someone elses past conduct or imminent conduct.83 Austin also points out that there are obvious connections between describing what ones feelings are and expressing those feelings. 84 Expressives imply strong disapproval of something with the preparatory condition that it is bad.85 Indeed, Pauls rebuke of the community is an expression of strong disapproval of their conduct with the condition that their behaviour is harmful both for him and the community. Most commentators argue that expressions of disapproval are dependent on persuasion or rhetorical argumentation for their success. For example, Margaret M. Mitchell and Ben Witherington III classify 1 Corinthians as a species of deliberative rhetoric, a
Thiselton states, the speaking of words constitutes an act which shapes a state of affairs, provided that certain inter-personal or institutional states of affairs also hold (New Horizons in Hermeneutics , p. 298). 82 J.R. Searle, Expression and Meaning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 13-14. 83 Austin, How to do Things with Words , p. 160. 84 Austin, How to do Things with Words , p. 160. 85 Vanderveken, Meaning and Speech Acts, vol. 2, p. 165.

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type of argumentation that urges an audience, either public or private, to pursue a particular course of action in the future. 86 Mitchell views the entire epistle as expressing of the central rhetorical argument stated in 1 Cor. 1:10:
The epistle throughout is an argument for ecclesial unity, as centred in the , or thesis statement of the argument, in 1:10: I urge you, brothers and sisters, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to all say the same thing, and to let there be no factions among you, but to be reconciled in the same mind and in the same opinion. 87

Likewise, Witherington calls 1:10 the thesis statement (propositio) of the entire discourse, the statement of the rhetor, followed by arguments to persuade the audience to follow the course of action that the rhetor recommends. 88 This raises the question of the relationship of rhetoric and persuasion to the illocutionary and perlocutionary act and of a potential confusion between illocutions and perlocutions in rhetorical approaches. Wolterstorff points out that persuasion is not an illocutionary act but the effect or consequence of that act. Success in persuading someone is out of the hands of the rhetor in a way in which requesting, asking, admonishing, or rebuking is not. 89 Acts of community persuasion, when brought about by illocutionary acts, are perlocutionary acts. The success of Pauls admonition and rebuke does not rest upon his ability to convince the congregants at Corinth that their behaviour is inconsistent with his vision. Indeed, Pauls acts do not institute the insuring of this effect. 90 All that Paul can hope for is that rebuke and admonition will in and of themselves be effective speech acts and once so apprehended by the audience persuade them that a change of behaviour is necessary. Wolterstorff comments that perlocutionary actions occur only if ones auditor apprehends or thinks he or she apprehends an illocutionary action that one has performed, and only if that apprehension evokes the effect in question.91 Rebuke and admonition advocate a specific course of action that Paul considers important, but ultimately, a course of action upon which the congregants may not embark. If they
86 87 88 89 90 91

Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation , p. 24. Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation , p. 1. Witherington, Conflict and Community in Corinth , p. 94. Wolterstorff, Divine Discourse , p. 33. Wolterstorff, Divine Discourse , p. 33. Wolterstorff, Divine Discourse , p. 76.


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fail to apprehended the force of Pauls reprimands they will not have been convinced to subscribe to his views.92 Rebuke and admonition, therefore, do not derive their currency from rhetorical spectacle and artifice as techniques of persuasion but from Pauls continued honorable standing among the Corinthians. A similar case may be made for typically translated as appeal (1Cor. 1:10; 4:13, 16; 14:31; 16:12, 15). Most commentators place in the context of the rhetoric of persuasion or logical argument and regard it as Paul putting forward an urgent appeal to persuade the audience of something. As Thiselton shows, however, is almost always used to convey a request based on a personal, social, or official relationship between the writer and the addressees.93 Request is a directive that derives its currency from the official relationship between Paul and the congregation and not from the rhetoric of persuasion and logical argument. Since the success of Pauls reprimands is not dependent upon his abilities to induce the congregation to a course of action by means of argument, reasoning, or entreaty, he fashions an intralinguistic contexta speech act circumstance. Paul turns to his views of the church as an eschatological community and picks up motifs from Jewish apocalyptic eschatology. Using these motifs, he creates a speech-act context apocalyptically defined in which both a convention and an appropriate circumstance permit speech acts of judgement to come off successfully. The utterance, the saints will judge the world, cannot succeed unless it is spoken in such a setting. A convention exists in an eschatological context that would permit someone to utter, I judge the world, and succeed in doing sosentence would have been passed on the world. In light of such responsibility, continues Paul, Are you not competent to judge trivial cases?94 Do you not know that we will judge
Vanderveken, Meaning and Speech Acts, vol. 1, pp. 190-91. Thiselton, Speech-Act Theory and 1 Corinthians, unpublished paper presented for the SBL Biblical Greek Language and Linguistic Section, Philadelphia, 1995, p. 7. Carl J. Bjerkelund, Form, Funktion und Sinn der parakal-Stze in den paulinischen Briefen (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1967), pp. 188-90; cf. pp. 34-58, 109-11; Stowers, Letter Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity , p.78. 94 The apodosis of the conditional in v. 2 reads literally are you not worthy of the most trifling tribunals? Most commentators translate the sentence as are you not competent to deal with the pettiest cases? (translation from Hans Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians [trans. James W. Leitch; Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975], p. 103).
92 93

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angelsthen how much more the things of this life (1 Cor. 6:3).95 So once again, Paul issues a riposte that challenges members of the congregation to weigh carefully the validity of sentences passed in the secular courts of law. With this shift from the saints participation in the final eschatological judgement to the mundane affairs of the community, Paul comes back to the issue at hand. The communitys litigious behaviour has immediate consequences for Paul. Taking each other to court functions as an act of defiance that undermines his honorable standing among them. They are, in effect, using the standards of society to pass judgement on his views. Paul argues, however, that because they are an eschatological community, judging him in the secular courts will not succeed.96 When grievances about him arise, the community is to seek out the wise ones among them to make the suitable judgement. With these words, Paul enacts the proper procedure the community is to invoke when trying cases. Pauls attitudes and actions, implied in the words of admonition and rebuke, demonstrate how the members of the community are to judge each other and the suitable context in which such judgement is to take place. Indeed, the members of the community cannot use the decisions of the unrighteous to pass judgement on each other since neither an appropriate circumstance nor convention exists in the present age that would permit these acts of judgement to have validity within an eschatological community. As Paul reminds them, these are temporal events and not eschatological ones, therefore the convention to judge saints successfully in the unbelievers world does not exist (1 Cor. 6:5-6). The rhetorical force of the rebuke is how can you proceed seeking judgements in secular courts since such lawsuits become
95 The punctuation up to this point is agreed upon, but with the phrase, not to mention everyday affairs, commentators begin to differ. The NIV, NRSV separate the phrase from the previous question and make it an exclamation to say nothing of ordinary matters (NRSV). Grammatically the phrase belongs to the question itself. With the phrase Paul begins to move to the more mundane affairs of the congregationon these grounds most commentators make the separation. 96 Wayne Meeks argues that apocalyptic beliefs lent themselves to a wide variety of epistolary uses, two of which were (1) to resist deviant behaviour that led to disruptions of Christian community, and, (2) to legitimate the leadership of Paul and his associates against challenges (Social Functions of Apocalyptic Language, in David Helholm (ed.), Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East [Tbingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1989], pp. 687-705).


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trivial when seen in the context of eschatological judgement? That is why Paul asserts that for him it is a small thing that they, or any human court, should judge him, since the judgement cannot stand or be accepted as legitimate. He does not even judge himself because he is not aware of anything against him that requires judgement, although he acknowledges that this does not acquit him from the verdict of the final court. In the ongoing struggle to defend his achieved standing and its public recognition, Paul uses speech acts that function in a setting where institutional roles and situational contexts render them performative speech acts.97 In other words, rebuke becomes performative when the person doing the rebuking has the requisite communal status to do so.98 In the interminable game of push and shove, the rebuke is intended to shame the members of the community ( , 1 Cor. 6:5).99 No doubt, Paul expects that the shame engendered by the rebuke will provoke the Corinthians to accept his challenge and respond to him favourably. The tone of 1 Corinthians and especially that of 2 Corinthians suggests, however, that the community had not apprehended the force of Pauls reprimands and thus, had not abandoned conventional definitions of honor, typical ways of achieving it, and the public forum for gaining it.100 Conclusions I have argued throughout this essay that the main problem facing Paul in Corinth was his relationship to the community. The issue was a crisis of authority on account of his loss of status. He wrote to the community not as their respected and revered leaderperhaps the acquired status he had as their founding fatherbut as one whose reputation had taken a beating. Paul was aware that without first dealing with the issue of reputation, the community would not acknowledge that he be taken at his word. Paul could not begin addressing the problems about which he had heard if they refused to acknowledge his status as founding father. Faced with the question of how best to address the problem of his institutional status and resolve it, Paul used speech acts of
97 98 99 1 00

Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics , p. 299. Thiselton, Christology in Luke, pp. 460-61. Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics , p. 291. Neyrey, Honor and Shame , p. 227.

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admonition and rebuke with the illocutionary force of the directive and expressive to provoke a transformation of conduct. 101 Abstract
This paper attempts a reading of 1 Cor. 6:1-11 primarily from the perspective of speech act theory. The approach, however, will be augmented by insights from a variety of methodological perspectives. The conclusions of social scientists about honor-shame and patron-client relationships will permit conclusions about Pauls loss of institutional status. Determining the language and genre of 1 Corinthians and locating it in the context of exhortation, paraenesis and apologia is also useful. Ascertaining the social structure of the congregation in Corinth, as based on various sociological studies, permits the conclusion that secular models of leadership had infiltrated the congregation. Status-conscious members of the congregation were seeking to enhance their reputation in the community by taking each other to secular courts. Lawsuits were, in effect, social competitions for incremental increases in prestige through the game of challenge and riposte. Collectively, the litigious behaviour of the congregants also represented an aggressive public challenge that damaged Pauls achieved honor as founding father. In order to regain his status in the community and have it publicly recognised, Paul engaged in retaliatory verbal sallieshe rebuked and admonished them.
101 Alexandra R. Brown, Seized by the Cross: The Death of Jesus in Pauls Transformative Discourse (SBL Seminar Papers Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993), pp. 740-55.