Spirit and the Cross, wisdom and communal discernment: a critical exploration of 1 Corinthians 2.1–3.4

Sweatman, Carl S (2013) Spirit and the Cross, wisdom and communal discernment: a critical exploration of 1 Corinthians 2.1–3.4. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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This study explores Paul’s teaching on the role of the Spirit in 1 Cor 2.1– 3.4, and how that role relates to the themes of the cross, wisdom and discernment in that passage and the immediate context of 1 Cor 1–4. By providing a close reading of 1 Cor 2.1–3.4, this dissertation focuses on the reasons why Paul articulates and emphasises the Spirit’s essential role in the proclamation of the cross, in the mediation of divine wisdom and the exercise of communal discernment. This study also investigates how this pneumatological teaching applies to Paul’s further assessment of the Corinthian situation, as articulated in 1 Cor 5–15, and thus why the textual unit in which it appears occurs at such an early stage in Paul’s argument. After an introductory chapter surveying previous scholarship and situating a study of 1 Cor 2.1–3.4, chapter 2 shows how Paul is addressing a situation in Corinth which emerged after his initial sojourn and in which the Corinthians employ what he sees as faulty criteria of judgment, drawn from the conventions and styles of Graeco-Roman rhetoric, in assessing the apostles as heralds of God’s wisdom and themselves as wise, spiritual people. Paul counters these by arguing that the Corinthians’ original acceptance of the gospel came not through persuasive speech but by the Spirit working powerfully in the message he proclaimed. Chapter 3 explores Paul’s perception that the Corinthians have misconstrued the notion of revelation by defining it as a process by which one comes to know and receive divine wisdom through human ability or effort. This chapter then examines Paul’s corrective response and its assertion that divine wisdom can only be know and received through divine mediation, and that the Spirit is the means by which this occurs. Chapter 4 focuses on the topic of discernment. It investigates Paul’s perception that the Corinthians form their assessments by relying on human wisdom, why he holds this to be inappropriate for those who are in Christ and recipients of God’s wisdom, and why he underlines that Spirit-guided discernment is the only appropriate means for judging divine wisdom and those who proclaim it. A final chapter asks whether and how the issues examined in 1 Cor 2.1– 3.4 play out in 1 Cor 1–4 as a whole and then in the rest of the letter. The Corinthians’ failure to rely on God’s wisdom and Spirit-guided discernment and an internal stratification based on their own perceptions of wisdom and spirituality are seen as contributing to the social and ecclesial problems discussed later in the letter. At the same time what Paul has argued in 1 Cor 2.1–3.4 continues to inform his response, as he appeals for lives shaped by the wisdom of the gospel of the cross and for a community united in its discernment, both made possible by the Spirit.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Lincoln, Andrewalincoln1@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Pietersen, Lloydlpietersen@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bible, Corinthians; Spirit-guided discernment
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2015 16:01
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:56
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/2363

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