Tuesday, August 01, 2006

2 Cor 3:3, and some helpful commentaries

Commenting on 2 Cor 3:3, particularly on the ‘written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God’ part, Bultmann wrote the following:
‘Das pneu,mati qeou/ zw/ntoj als die wunderbar wirkende Kraft Gottes wird in dieser Wendung den mit Tinte geschriebenen menschlichen Empfehlungsbrief entgegngestellt’ (Zweiter Korintherbrief, 75)
A ray of light shone upon me today as I read Bultmann’s comments on this and the previous verse. Lovely stuff.

2 Cor 3:3 is a fascinating verse, and its exegetical mysteries shall be keeping me busy for a number of days still, especially as so much literature has been written on it. But gladly I have access to pretty much everything I want in Tübingen library. Incidentally, my copy of Bultmann’s 2 Cor commentary belongs to the library, so I wonder what great scholars and theologians have drawn wisdom from, found critical points in, and wrestled with Paul’s texts together with Bultmann from this very same and well worn book I hold in my hands?

I’m finding Garland’s commentary very helpful, as well as Thrall’s, in fact the latter more than any other. Though on grammatical and textual issues, the new volume by Harris is the best. Not one that many would expect, but I’d also recommend the NIBC volume by James Scott. In terms of thoroughness, it doesn’t match the big volumes at all, but what is included I have continually found very helpful.


At 8/01/2006 12:58 PM, Anonymous Shane Clifton said...

This is what i dont understand about exegetes. I know that it is a terrible admission for a Christian to make (and you better not tell my pentecostal bretheren), but i simply dont have the patience to spend more than a couple of days on 1 verse! Admittedly, if i was going to do so - contemplating what it means to be an epistle of Christ might be a verse worth the time.

At 8/01/2006 5:25 PM, Anonymous J. B. Hood said...

Thanks for the recs, CT. I'll have to check these out.

Assuming a slight misspelling, here's my guess at the translation: "The 'Spirit of the Living God' as the miraculous agent of God was set against
a letter of recommendation written in ink by humans."

Let's say you set academic records for publishing undergraduate research at a newly established college, effectively putting them on the map. Then you take an extended leave of absence, studying with other institutions in part on the strength of your research from the first institution. After which you try to return to said first institution. Only impertinence would cause the college to say, "Sorry, kid, we need to know what you're worth before you return. Do you have any letters of recommendation?" That's less spiritual than Bultmann's comment, perhaps...

Once you're done laughing your way through my translation, question--
What make you of the proposed 'famine' background to 1 Corinthians 11 and table fellowship?

At 8/02/2006 12:06 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Shane,
I know, I admit, us exegetes can be a bit pitiful. I once spent weeks, perhaps months, on just a few verses in 1 Cor 7. Thing is, the more one gets into it, the more fascinating it becomes (psychologists call it OCD!). But that did get to be bit of a drag in the end, as the passage wasn't half as enjoyable as 2 Cor 3 - and I could take my findings in 2 Cor 3 straight into my ‘home-group’ tonight.
What was your doctoral topic, btw?

Hi JB,
I wasn't laughing. I read your comments with more of a snarled and disgusted upper lip.

I’m kidding of course, and I thought you were spot on. Actually, I found your way of putting it real helpful.

“What make you of the proposed 'famine' background to 1 Corinthians 11 and table fellowship?”

Whether the social problem was aggravated by an actual famine or not, the best exegesis, and I believe almost all modern exegetes, find in the text the inequality that a famine would have aggravated. Although I think the proposed famine is speculative, it is entirely plausible. It’s not the sort of thing one can be sure about, but historical probabilities at least point in that direction. For an excellent recent discussion do have a look at Konradt’s superb Gericht und Gemeinde (the German is easier than most, too!). Garland’s commentary was helpful on this (if I remember rightly, I’m pretty sure he buys into the famine theory).


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