By David Jasper (eds.)
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Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, exploring the rhetoric of Paul in 1 Corinthians, concludes that Paul has duped the interpreter into believing that there actually were opponents and divisions, when the real problem was the fail- Interpreting the Language of St Paul 39 ure of the Corinthians to enrol in the Pauline School and submit to the patriarchal headmaster, PauL69 Is not 2 Corinthians historical testimony that the rhetoric of 1 Corinthians failed? It took a number of other letters and apostolic visits before the Corinthian Church bought the Pauline rhetoric.
On every page a reader encounters the distant past - a different thought-world, a different culture, a different way of daily life. In these writings the author, Paul, recounts visions and revelations. There are discussions about meat offered to idols, runaway slaves and slave-owners. The world centres around Rome and Jerusalem and is divided between Jews and Gentiles. Any translation, any interpretation, any reading of these texts must deal with the historical distance that exists between the world and life referred to in these writings and the world and life of a modern interpreter.
Scholars debate how much Paul's writings show evidence of a deliberate use of the ancient art of Classical rhetoric. 45 But few interpreters of Paul are unimpressed by the rhetoric of argumentation in evidence of these writings, whatever their degree of Classical rhetoric. In terms of self-presentation,46 Paul shows himself as a heavyhanded authority figure, at times claiming divine authority as an apostle and protector of the true Gospel (Romans 1: 1-5, 1 Corinthians 4: 1-21; 9: 1-23; Galatians 1: 6-10).