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A Corinthians Bibliography

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   I. General Commentaries on Corinthians
   II. Studies of Paul
   III. The Ancient World of the New Testament
   IV. Specific Issues in Corinthians

   This annotated bibliography for the study Paul's letters to the Corinthians has been compiled by Ernest Rubinstein, librarian for Ecumenical Library, The Interchurch Center in New York City. Entries followed by [JAS] have been added by Judith A. Stevens, Ph.D. in New Testament, Union Theological Seminary, New York City.


I. General Commentaries on Corinthians in Series

   There are dozens of series of biblical commentaries that include volumes on Paul's letters to the Corinthians. The commentaries range from heavily footnoted, scholarly tomes to popular, devotional aids. The originating communities of the series also span a broad spectrum, from biblical inerrantists to mainline Protestants. Generally, the publisher of a series is an indication of its theological tendency: Baker, Word, Zondervan and Eerdmans are publishers in the evangelical community; Abingdon, Fortress, and Westminster belong to the mainline Protestant community. Trade publishers, like Harper's and Doubleday, offer commentaries in series (like the Anchor Bible series) that are less denominationally grounded. Two useful guides to New Testament commentaries are Ralph Martin's New Testament Books for Pastor and Teacher (Westminster, 1984, out of print) and D.A. Carson's New Testament Commentary Survey (Baker, 1993, $6.99) which are sometimes quoted in this bibliography. Listed here are only a sampling of the better known series.

Abingdon New Testament Commentaries, Abingdon Press
   Horsley, Richard. 1 Corinthians. 1998. 240 p. $20.95
   Fitzgerald, John T. 2 Corinthians. $20.95

   These commentaries are written with pastors and theological students in mind. Like the New Interpreter's Bible, also published by Abingdon, they combine close, literary exegesis with broader reflections on meaning. The New Testament verses (which are cited for comment, but not reproduced), are divided into thematic sections. Horsley is professor of religion at the University of Massachusetts (Boston). The publisher observes about his commentary that it focuses on relations between individual spirituality and communal obligation.

Anchor Bible Commentary, Doubleday
   Orr, William F. 1 Corinthians. 1976. 391 p. $34.00
   Furnish, Victor Paul. II Corinthians. 1984. 619 p. $42.50

   These are the premier academic, ecumenical commentaries. Each commentator offers his own, new translation of the text, with very detailed comment on the original Greek, as well as thoughts on the larger literary, social, and historical, contexts of the verses. The commentaries are especially useful for individual word studies.

Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament, Augsburg
   Harrisville, Roy. 1 Corinthians. 1987. 304 p. $22.00
   Danker, Frederick. II Corinthians. 1989. 256 p. $22.00

   These commentaries, based on the RSV translation, are geared towards lay people. An introduction and outline provide context for understanding the letters. There are no scholarly references. Both commentators are ordained Lutheran ministers associated with Lutheran seminaries.

Believers' Church Bible Commentary. Herald Press
   Schillington, V. George. 2 Corinthians. 1998. 336 p. $19.99
   [No volume on 1 Corinthians has been published yet]

   This series, which originates in the Mennonite faith community, is intended for both clergy and lay teachers and students of the Bible. The author sees the two main parts of the second letter to the Corinthians--chapters 1-9, in which Paul works to reconcile the divided Corinthians, and chapters 10-13, in which he proclaims the gospel--united under a single idea: that ministers of Christ, far from elevating themselves, must see themselves as afflicted for Christ's sake.

The Bible Speaks Today. InterVarsity
   Barnett, Paul. The Message of 2 Corinthians: Power in Weakness. 1988. 188 p. $12.99    Prior, David. The Message of 1 Corinthians: Life in the Local Church. 1985. 285 p. $12.99

   Acknowledging the contribution of such massive commentaries on Corinthians as Martin's and Furnish's (cited here as part of the Word and Anchor series, respectively), this series aims to offer a more easily digested understanding of the biblical books in their relation to modern life. Each of the Corinthian letters is divided up into small, topical units, such as Opposition in Corinth (2 Cor 2:14-3:6), Cliques at Corinth (1 Cor 1:10-17), Ministry of Reconciliation (2 Cor 5:11-21), and Freedom and Sensitivity to Others (1 Cor 8:1-13).

Black's New Testament Commentaries. Hendrickson
   Barrett, C. K. First Epistle to the Corinthians. 1992. 416 p. $24.95
   Barrett, C. K. Second Epistle to the Corinthians. 1999. 416 p. $24.95

   Originally published in England over twenty years ago, these commentaries by C.K. Barrett, professor of divinity at Durham University, are still considered the best single commentaries on the books of Corinthians. To help explain the letters, Barrett locates them in the larger literary context of the ancient world, and in the unique social situation of Corinth. He freshly translates the Greek, and comments in an eloquent English accessible to lay readers. Martin calls the First Corinthians commentary a "model commentary ... renowned for its lucidity and comprehensiveness."

Chalice Press
   Beardslee, William A. First Corinthians: A Commentary for Today. 1994. 184 p. $14.99

   Intended for the general reader, this commentary offers section-by-section analysis, with a view to modern faith issues. It highlights some of the tensions in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, as between a world-removed church and a socially engaged one, between self and other, inner certainty and proof, spirituality and politics. On the basis of this letter, the author argues that the church is an open-ended institution that can tolerate dissension.

Collegeville Bible Commentary. Liturgical Press
   Getty, Mary Ann. First and Second Corinthians. 1991. 128 p. $3.95

   Geared to the New American Bible translation, this very reasonably priced Roman Catholic commentary offers concise introductions to and outlines of the books of the Bible. Commentary is printed beneath the corresponding biblical text. Maps, photos of archeological sites in Corinth, and aids for review and discussion are included.

Communicators' Commentary Series. Word.
   Ogilvie, Lloyd and Kenneth Chafin. 1 and 2 Corinthians. 1985. 298 p. $22.99

   This personal, sermonic commentary written out of a Southern Baptist perspective relates Paul's problems with the Corinthians to such modern-day concerns as local church government, Christian life in a secular world, and personal suffering. The commentary is geared towards the New King James translation of the Bible.

Daily Study Bible, by William Barclay. Westminster
   Letters to the Corinthians, rev'd ed. 1975. 268 p. $10.00

   This series was written by one man: William Barclay (1907-1978), an ordained minister in the Church of Scotland. His commentary on the New Testament, book by book, was very popular in its time; intended for lay readers, it sold over 5 million copies by the time of his death. Barclay was a lively, sometimes controversial interpreter. Though his ideas betray the insights and limitations of 1950s liberal Christian scholarship, his books were deemed timeless enough to be reprinted in the 1970s.

Doubleday Bible Commentary. Doubleday
   O'Connor-Murphy, Jerome. 1 Corinthians. 1998. 185 p. $11.95

   This practical commentary, oriented towards our everyday lives, divides Paul's letters into topical units--for example: sex in marriage, women as equal, attacks on women--and offers a short prayer at the close of each.

Epworth Commentary. Trinity
   Watson, Nigel. First Epistle to the Corinthians. 1992. 224 p. $15.95
   Watson, Nigel. Second Epistle to the Corinthians. 1993. 192 p. $13.00

   Geared to the Revised English Bible (the revision of the New English Bible), this verse-by-verse commentary offers scholarly interpretation for a nonspecialized audience. Problematic Greek terms are cited and discussed readibly in English. The commentaries aim to address problems of everyday Christian life, and to be usable in ecumenical, multi-faith settings.

Hermenia Series. Fortress
   Conzelmann, Hans. 1 Corinthians. 1975. 328 p. $48.00
   Betz, Hans Dieter. 2 Corinthians 8 and 9: A Commentary on Two Administrative Letters of the Apostle Paul. 1985. 179 p. $38.00

   These are scholarly commentaries by two noted German New Testament interpreters, each of whom offers his own, new translation. Martin says of Conzelmann's commentary that its "amazingly full treatment make it indispensable for serious study." Betz's commentary builds on an older scholarly view of 2 Corinthians as an anthology of letters. Chapters 8 and 9 of the letter provide the focus for that argument. The author says of these chapters that they show Paul, "deeply embroiled in church administration, fiscal problems and ecumenical strategizing": a situation that rings true to many modern-day congregants.

Interpreter's Bible. Abingdon
   Volume 10: Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, 1953. $44.95

   This standard work has been in pastors' libraries for decades. It offers verse-by-verse commentary as well as exposition on larger Christian meanings. The biblical text is given in two versions: King James and Revised Standard. Helpful introductions and outlines, intended for a broad range of readers, contextualize and schematize the letters. The collaborators on the Corinthians commentary were an ecumenical committee of Protestant ministers and New Testament scholars. With its New Interpreter's Bible, Abingdon is updating this series, but the volume for Corinthians is not yet published.

Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Westminster
   Hays, Richard B. 1st Corinthians. 1997. 299 p. $24.00
   Best, Ernest. 2d Corinthians. 1987. 142 p. $17.00

   What distinguishes this series is the principle it follows in dividing up biblical text for comment: sections are arranged topically, for ease of presentation in preaching or classroom settings. For example, 1 Corinthians 7 is apportioned out under the heading "Sex and Marriage at the Turn of the Ages," with "Reflections for Teachers and Preachers." Learners and listeners can also read these nontechnical commentaries with profit. Both authors are professional scholars of New Testament.

New International Commentary on the New Testament. Eerdmans
   Fee, Gordon D. 1 Corinthians. 1994. 904 p. $45.00
   Barnett, Paul. 2d Epistle to the Corinthians. 1997. 696 p. $45.00

   These mammoth commentaries are geared to the New International Version of the Bible, long a favorite translation in the evangelical community. The writing is scholarly and heavily footnoted. Carson observes that the commentaries show a "developed evangelical pastoral dimension." Fee has taught at several evangelical Christian seminaries; Barnett is Anglican bishop of North Sydney, Australia. [Barnett's book updates an older commentary of 2 Corinthians in the same series, by Philip Hughes, which is also available from Eerdmans, for $30.00]

New Testament Message: A Biblical-Theological Commentary. Liturgical Press
   Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome. First Corinthians. 1980. 168 p. $11.95
   Fallon, Francis T. Second Corinthians. Liturgical Press. 1980. 117 p. Out of Print

   These short commentaries by distinguished Bible critics are intended for a wide range of readers. Chapters are written as topical essays on sequential blocks of verses. The two Corinthian commentaries are each divided into 5 chapters, treating such topics as divisions and reconciliation within the community, the importance of the body, and the role of affliction.

New Testament Theology Series. Cambridge University Press.
   Furnish, Victor P. The Theology of the First Letter to the Corinthians. 1999. 160 p. $14.95
   Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome. The Theology of the 2d Letter to the Corinthians. 1991. 168 p. $16.95

   This British series tries to steer a middle course between the scholarly and popular, devoting more attention to the theological aspects of the New Testament books than other series can accommodate. Both Corinthians commentators are esteemed New Testament scholars. Issues addressed in Murphy-O'Connor's book include suffering, ministry, and the nature of Christ. One reviewer calls it, "a model of clarity and good sense."

Snyder, Graydon. First Corinthians: A Faith Community Commentary, Mercer University Press. 1992. 266 p.

   The commentary seeks to understand 1 Corinthians in its context, that is, in terms of the community life of the Corinthian Christians, and emphasizes the way in which Paul encouraged the faith community in its life and mission. The author uses his skills in the archaeological and cultural studies of early Christianity to understand problems of community life encountered by Christians in Corinth. [JAS]

Tyndale New Testament Commentary. Eerdmans
   Morris, Leon. 1 Corinthians, 1986. 224 p. $13.00
   Kruse, Colin. 2 Corinthians, 1987. 224 p. $9.95

   These short commentaries, originally published in the 1950s, are here updated for the 1980s. Intended for the lay reader, they offer introductions, textual outlines, and verse-by-verse commentary. There are no scholarly references or homiletical elaborations. Both authors were, at the time of writing these books, lecturers at the University of Melbourne (Australia). Martin especially appreciates in Morris' book, the "apposite comments and applications."

Word Biblical Commentary. Word Publishing
   Gundry-Volf, Judith. 1 Corinthians, 1999. $29.99
   Martin, Ralph P. 2 Corinthians, 1986. 527 p. $29.99

   According to Carson, these substantial, scholarly commentaries fall only loosely under the umbrella term "evangelical," and can appeal to a broad range of readers. In sections titled Form, Comment, and Explanation, the commentary moves from exegetical specifics to the broad meaning of the texts. The writers offer their own translations of the Greek. Carson calls the interpretations "thoughtful and original."

Top Index


II. Biographical and Theological Studies of Paul

Barrett, C.K. Essays on Paul. Westminster, 1982, 170 p.

   New insights into some of the most consequential events in the apostle Paul's life and a clear understanding of central aspects of his thought are presented in this work by a leading New Testament scholar. Seven of the essays deal with themes of special importance and difficulty stemming from Paul's relationship with the church of Corinth, one essay concerns Romans, and one discusses Galatians. The opposition Paul faced is identified and the ground is cleared for a systematic presentation of Christian origins. Of special significance is the author's commentary on the relationship of early Christianity to Judaism. [JAS]

Barrett, C. K. Paul: An Introduction to His Thought. Westminster, 1994. 180 p. $13.00

   The eminent commentator on Paul's letters, C. K. Barrett, here offers a popular introduction to the major themes in Paul's thought. A chapter on Paul's controversies includes a section on his specific debates with the Corinthian Christians. A larger chapter on Paul's theology addresses such issues as: evil, law, grace, Christ, the Church, the Holy Spirit, and Paul's significance for today.

Beker, J. Christian. Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought. Augsburg. 480 p. $25.00

   This demanding book examines in part one Paul's methods of reading Hebrew scripture, and in part two, his systematic theology. In the second part, readers will find extensive discussion of the Corinthian letters. Beker subsumes Paul's theology under the larger rubric of apocalyptic. In the context of Paul's expectation of imminent ends, Beker lays out his teachings on: resurrection, suffering, sin, death, salvation, practical ethics, community, and the church's life in the world.

Bornkamm, Gunther. Paul. Fortress, 1994. 288 p. $17.00

   This eminent German scholar, a student of Rudolf Bultmann, uses biblical and some nonbiblical sources to reconstruct Paul's life, travels, and theological development. The book is intended for general readers. A separate chapter addresses Paul's work in Corinth. One scholar calls this the "standard introductory text to Paul."

Bruce, F. F. Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free. Eerdmans, 1978. 491 p. $30.00

   The prolific British Bible scholar, F. F. Bruce, offers in this comprehensive work the fruits of his many years researching Paul's life and thought. He integrates Paul's theology, as contained in his letters, with the account of his life in the book of Acts. Two chapters are devoted to Corinth and the Corinthians. At least one reviewer wishes for less literalism and more imagination in Bruce's exposition of Paul's theology, but concludes that "few readers will fail to profit" from reading this book.

Castelli, Elizabeth. Imitating Paul: A Discourse of Power. Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991, 176 p. $15.95

   Author reviews the ideology of imitation in Greco-Roman antiquity and analyzes Paul's language of imitation, using the insights of Micheal Foucault and the post modern school of thought.[JAS]

Chamblin, J. Knox. Paul and the Self: Apostolic Teaching for Personal Wholeness. Baker, 1993. 285 p. Out of Print.

   This unique book translates Paul's theological categories into psychological ones that can help modern day readers cope with the stresses of personal and social life. The Corinthian letters are heavily cited. Specific sections on Corinthians address such topics as: pride, slavery, freedom, love, weakness, authenticity, community, and conflict.

Fee, Gordon D. Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God. Hendrickson, 1996. 208 p. $19.50

   This book focuses on Paul's understanding of the Holy Spirit, especially as it shows itself in spiritual gifts, such as glossolalia (speaking in tongues). The author argues that Paul takes "charismatic" worship for a normal element of Christian life and "an important part of the glorification of God."

Furnish, Victor Paul. The Moral Teaching of Paul: Selected Issues. rev'd ed. Abingdon, 1985. 142 p. $14.95

   Furnish offers a nontechnical treatment for lay readers, of Paul's social ethics. Topics addressed include marriage, sex, divorce, homosexuality, women in the church, and relations to government authorities. 1 Corinthians is an important source for Furnish's study.

Horsley, Richard and Neil Asher Silberman. The Message and the Kingdom: How Jesus and Paul Ignited a Revolution that Transformed the Ancient World. Grosset/Putnam, 1997. 290 p. $27.50

   A Christian and Jewish scholar collaborate on this social history of early Christianity. In a chapter entitled, "Spirits in Conflict," the authors examine Paul's response to the Corinthian Christians who challenged his authority.

Keck, Leander E. and Victor Paul Furnish. The Pauline Letters. Abingdon, 1984. 156 p. $12.95

   The authors' opening comment--that the "history of the interpretation of Paul is a history of conflict"--mirrors the theme of conflict that weaves through the Corinthian letters. This well-written introduction to Paul analyzes the complexity of his character and writing, as well as the different ways he has been interpreted by the public, scholars, and the church.

Marrow, Stanley. Paul, His Letters and His Theology. Paulist. 278 p. 1986. $19.95

   This accessible introduction to Paul discusses his life, conversion and social setting, as well as each of his authentic letters. The largest chapter is devoted to the First letter to the Corinthians, where the topics addressed include freedom, sexual ethics, Lord's Supper, spiritual gifts, and resurrection.

Martini, Carlo. In the Thick of His Ministry. Liturgical Pr, 1991. 91 p. $6.95

   Written by a Catholic cardinal for young priests, this engaging reflection on Paul's ministry is accessible to a wide range of readers. It concentrates on the verses in 2d Corinthians where Paul discusses his ministry: 1:3-5, 1:6-2:11, 3:3-11, 5:18-20. The author presents issues of conflict in community and means of resolving it through attention to "temperament, psychology, communion, and communication."

Martyn, L. Louis. Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul. Abingdon, 1997. 334 p. $40.00

   Martyn relates Paul's apocalyptic theology to ancient Judaism, issues of scriptural interpretation, and the everyday life of the early church. The last chapter reflects on problems of communal and social discord such as Paul encountered in Corinth.

Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome. Paul: A Critical Life. Oxford University Press, 1998. 432 p.$18.95

   The author presents Paul's life as it unfolded chronologically. By a "critical" biography, he means one that newly assesses the sources (Paul's letters and the book of Acts) for authenticity, integrity and historical reliability. Murphy-O'Connor emphasizes that Paul's theology was not ready-made in his mind, but arose in response to the challenges the churches he founded put to him. Two chapters address the specific challenges posed by the Corinthian Christians.

Neyrey, Jerome. Paul, In Other Words: A Cultural Reading of His Letters. Westminster/John Knox, 1990, 263 p.

   Neyrey's book will provide the biblical interpreter, professional and nonprofessional, with a set of anthropological tools for analyzing all of the apostle's writings and other biblical documents as well. This analysis will unearth meanings that will nurture better understanding of Paul and clearer insight into the theological content of his Christian witness. [JAS]

Roetzel, Calvin J. The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context. 4th ed. Westminster, 1998. 248 p. $20.00

   This easily read introduction is intended for the general reader. Roetzel discusses Paul's first century social world, the general structure of his letters, and his use of the religious traditions (both Jewish and early Christian) that he inherited. The chapter on Corinthians presents the two letters as, in fact, four. A final chapter examines controversial themes in two millennia of interpreting Paul's letters: gnosticism, sin, Jesus, Jews, and the role of women.

Rosenblatt, Marie-Eloise. Paul the Accused: His Portrait in the Acts of the Apostles. Liturgical Press, 1995. 118 p. $8.95

   Readers may find this book on the Lukan Paul (Paul in Acts) helpful backdrop to their Corinthian studies. Rosenblatt's picture of Paul, as increasingly subject to persecution on his journeys, complements Paul's own self-portrait of affliction in Corinthians. The author suggests that Luke uses Paul to model ways for Christians to react to oppressive secular authorities. A reviewer says of the author that her "style is attractive and her explanations lucid."

Sanders, E.P. Paul and Palestinian Judaism. Fortress Press, 1983, 623 p. $19.95

   This is an important book for understanding Paul's relationship to early Judaism. Sanders shifts the question about Paul's relation to that of Judaism into a perspective different from that of traditional New Testament scholarship prior to 1980. He focuses on the way early Christianity emerged from early Judaism by studying the basic patterns of each religion. He believes religious patterns are revealed chiefly in how early Christians and Jews became and continued as a member of their own community. An extensive index at the end of the book allows this work to be useful as a reference for specific questions concerning the Jewish roots of Paul's theological thoughts. [JAS]

Scroggs, Robin. Paul for a New Day. Fortress, 1977. 96 p. $11.00

   This little book originated as lectures for United Church of Christ ministers on retreat. Scroggs wants to counter the customary emphasis on Paul's otherworldliness, by celebrating "the affirmations Paul makes about the believer's life in the present." He does this in four chapters on justification, faith, the church, and ethics. The Corinthian correspondence is amply cited.

Soards, Marion J. The Apostle Paul. Paulist, 1987. 224 p. $12.95

   This well-written introduction seeks to present Paul's life, letters, and theology as an inter-related whole. A substantial chapter discusses the Corinthian correspondence. Soards, who is professor of New Testament at United Theological Seminary, sees his book as an update and development on Bornkamm's book, cited above. Active nationally in adult Bible study, Soards offers the more accessible introduction to Paul.

Segal, Alan. Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee. Yale University Press, 1990. 368 p. $19.00

   Segal reads Paul in the context of his Jewish background, tracing the influence of his conversion on his letters to the churches he founded. Though this study draws heavily from Galatians and Romans, topics in Corinthians addressed include: the use of mystical vocabulary, the Eucharistic meal, ritual purity, and the relation of law to spirit.

Stendahl, Krister. Paul Among Jews and Gentiles. Fortress Press, 1976, 133 p.

   Krister Stendahl proposes new ways of exploring Paul's speech: Paul must be heard as one who speaks of his call rather than conversion, of justification rather than forgiveness, of weakness rather than sin, of love rather than integrity, and in unique rather than universal language. Krister Stendahl is Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden and former Dean of Harvard Divinity School. [JAS]

Talbert, Charles H. Reading Corinthians: Literary and Theological Commentary on I and II Corinthians. Crossroad, 1989. 188 p. Out of print.

   Like the Interpretation series, published by Westminster Press, this commentary examines the epistles according to thought units in them, and is intended for broad church use, especially Bible study groups. Examples of blocks of verses treated are 1 Cor. 7:1-24, discussed under the heading "Christians are not angels," and 1 Cor. 11:2-16, under the heading, "Different though equal in the Lord."

Theology and Ethics in Paul and his Interpreters: Essays in Honor of Victor PaulFurnish, ed. by Eugene Lovering. Abingdon, 1996. 333 p. $19.95

   These essays honoring the distinguished New Testament scholar, Victor Paul Furnish, contain essays by several of the authors cited elsewhere on this bibliography: Robin Scroggs, J Louis Martyn, C K Barrett, and Wayne Meeks. Issues addressed that are especially relevant to Corinthians include ministry, love, law and spirit, and resurrection. Additional essays relate Paul to such modern concerns as missions in a pluralistic context. A chapter of Corinthians is treated in depth in the article by Beverly Gaventa, "Mother's milk and ministry in 1 Cor. 3.

Tambasco, Anthony. In the Days of Paul: The Social World andTeaching of the Apostle. Paulist, 1991. 125 p. $6.95

   This is an accessible introduction to such issues in the life of Paul as social class, Greek philosophy and the ancient mystery religions. Two chapters are given to Corinth and the Corinthian correspondence.

Wayne, Williams and Richard Wallace. The Three Worlds of Paul of Tarsus. Routledge,1998. 256 p. $20.99

   The three worlds of the title are the ancient "native" cultures of the middle east (especially the Jewish world of first century Palestine), Hellenistic, Greek-speaking culture, and the imperium of Rome. These cultures, inter-layered with each other, provide the backdrop for understanding Paul. The authors discuss ancient travel, city life, religion and philosophy, as well as each of the cities Paul visited, including Corinth.

Wilson, A. N. Paul: The Mind of the Apostle. Norton, 1998. 288 p. $13.95

   Wilson is a journalistic writer who deals popularly and frequently with religious themes. This lively, if sometimes opinionated biography, based on scripture and secondary literature, will hold any reader's attention. A chapter is devoted to Paul's travels in Corinth and his ongoing relations with the Christians there.

Wimbush, Vincent L. Paul The Worldly Ascetic: Response to the World and Self-Understanding according to 1 Corinthians 7. Mercer University Press, 1987, 115 p. $18.95

   In writing to the Corinthians, Paul was grappling with fundamental issues concerning the life-style of Christians, and, specifically, with questions about marriage, interracial marriage, and remarriage. The so-call "as if" passiage in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 has been identified as a key passage for understanding Paul's expressed understanding of an appropriate model of Christian existence in the world. This one pastoral-counseling passage has had significant influence on the development of Western social orientation (not limited to issues of marriage) and of Christian piety. Wimbush begins with a rigorous exegesis of the passage in the contextx of the Corinthian correspondence, the New Testament, and first-century Greco-Roman thought patterns. Wimbush concludes that the model of ascetic behavior articulated in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 was respected by a significant segment of early Christianity. [JAS]

Ziesler, John. Pauline Christianity. Oxford University Press, 1983, 166 p.

   In his broad yet detailed overview of Paul's thought, Dr. Ziesler's starting point is Paul's view of Jesus Christ as marking the end of an era and the beginning of a new world and a new humanity. Throughout, the emphasis is on theology, but matters of authorship and dating are discussed briefly where relevant. [JAS]

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III. Background Studies on the Ancient World of the New Testament

Ascough, Richard S. What Are They Saying about the Formation of the Pauline Churches? Paulist, 1995. 133 p. $9.95

   This is an accessible overview of scholarly opinion on the roots of Paul's churches in four principal sources: the synagogue, ancient schools of philosophy, mystery religions, and voluntary associations usually structured around the worship of a pagan deity. References to the Corinthian correspondence occur primarily in the chapters on mystery cults and voluntary associations. Includes extensive bibliography.

Bell, Roy. Biblical Models of Handling Conflict. Regent College, 1994. 115 p. $15.50

   Readers seeking a biblical framework for the issues of communal conflict that the Corinthians correspondence raises may find this collection of ten sermons helpful. Bell is senior minister at First Baptist Church, Calgary, Canada. The New Testament passages he cites come from Matthew, Acts, and Galatians and the topics addressed include power struggle and conflict in the local church. He also discusses such contemporary divisions within the church as that between "evangelicals" and "liberals".

Bristow, John T. What the Bible Really Says about Love, Marriage, and Family. Chalice, 1994. 152 p. $12.99

   Though not centered on Paul, this introductory work provides helpful biblical background to his discussions of women, marriage and sexual relations. The author challenges the common assumption that the Bible is pro-family in the modern, polemical sense of that term. He distinguishes seven different biblical models of marriage. Questions for discussion conclude each chapter. One reviewer calls it, "user friendly material for pastor and laity."

Cantarella, Eva. Pandora's Daughter: The Role and Status of Women in the Greek and Roman Antiquity. Johns Hopkins, 1987. 256 p. $15.95

   This scholarly work analyzes ancient myth, law, literature, and philosophy to uncover the status of women in Greece and Rome. Cantarella assesses claims for matriarchal societies in the ancient world and tries to pinpoint the origins of misogyny in the West. Paul and Christianity--which are treated only marginally in this book--appear as bequeathing to western culture a highly ambivalent attitude towards women.

Clark, Gillian. Women in Late Antiquity: Pagan and Christian Lifestyles. Oxford Univ Pr, 1994. 188 p. $17.95

   Though this book treats the post-biblical time period between the 3rd and 6th centuries, it helpfully synthesizes the different ways Christianity changed the status of women in the ancient world. Theological, legal, and medical texts are represented among the sources consulted. Topics addressed include law and morality, tolerance and prohibition, health, domesticity and asceticism, and changing concepts of being female.

Collins, Raymond. Divorce in the New Testament. (Good News Studies). Liturgical Pr, 1992. 405 p. $19.95

   This book relates Paul's prohibition on divorce, in I Cor 7:10-11, to Jesus' statements on that topic in the gospels. The author argues that what Jesus meant as a prophetic utterance, was interpreted by others (including Paul) as regulatory for the Christian community. The book is written with the general reader in mind.

Constructing Early Christian Families: Families as Social Reality and Metaphor, ed. by Halvor Moxnes. Routledge, 1997. 267 p. $24.99

   These scholarly papers address a host of issues: concepts of marriage, kinship, household, honor and shame in ancient Palestine and the surrounding Hellenistic culture; anti-familial tendencies in the early church; alternative living arrangements (such as communes) in the ancient world; asceticism and the rejection of sexual desire in Paul; family and brotherhood as metaphors in the ancient church. For Corinthians, see especially the papers by Reidar Aasgaard ("Brotherhood in Plutarch and Paul) and Dale Martin ("Paul without Passion".)

Greeks, Romans, and Christians: Essays in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbe. Fortress, 1990. 404 p. Out of Print

   Ambitious readers might enjoy plunging into this collection of scholarly essays, especially since it contains one by S Barrett, who contributed also to this year's Spiritual Growth study. The book sets the New Testament in context of ancient Hellenistic philosophy and literature. It includes several articles on Corinthians, treating among other topics, apostolate, suffering, and passion.

Images of Women in Antiquity, rev'd ed. Wayne State University Press, 1993. 352 p. $21.95

   These scholarly essays explore women's role across a broad range of ancient cultures and settings, including the early church. Topics addressed include home life, the female body, men's perceptions of women, and women's role in politics, economic life, and religion. In general, ancient cultures saw women as "dangerously borderline," and needing to be controlled. An essay on early Syriac Christianity finds women enjoying an unaccustomed independence there, but in general, the editors conclude, the great changes Christianity brought to the Roman empire had ambivalent consequences for women.

MacMullen, Ramsay. Roman Social Relations: 50 BCE to 284 CE. Yale University Press, 1974, 212 p.

   MacMullen draws upon unorganized and scattered information to present a picture of social relations among the poorer classes, both urban and rural, of the Roman empire. He develops a unique picture of their conditions, attitudes, and aims. [JAS]

Meeks, Wayne A. The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul. Yale University Pr. 300 p. $17.00

   Meeks constructs the everyday life and faith of ordinary Christians in the Pauline church. Borrowing from anthropological research methods, he studies the role of symbol in the early church's life for what it can teach about the early popular appeal of Christianity, the social class of the church members, their urbanization and self-government. One reviewer calls the book, "a paradigm of careful but provocative research."

Meeks, Wayne A. The Moral World of the First Christians. Westminster/John Knox, 1986. 180 p. $22.00

   Meeks seeks the underlying moral principles that guided early Christian life, especially the church community's role in fashioning them. A specifically Corinthian topic Meeks addresses is Paul's attitude towards food sacrificed to idols, and its implications for "weak" and "strong" Christians. A reviewer recommends this book to "Christians feeling their way toward new means of appropriating the ethical and moral heritage of their own origins."

Osiek, Cynthia and David Balch, Families in the New Testament World: Households and House Churches. Westminster, 1997. 328 p. $25.00

   Beginning with archeological findings and anthropological reasoning, the authors reconstruct ancient family life. Topics addressed include honor, shame, gender roles, education, slavery, marriage, celibacy, and family religion (especially in households that included pagan and Christian worshippers). For discussions of Corinthians, see especially the chapters, "Gender Roles, Marriage and Celibacy," and "Family Life, Meals, and Hospitality."

Pomeroy, Sarah. Families in Classical and Hellenistic Greece. Oxford University Press, 1998. 272 p. $24.95

   Though this book offers little information about the early church, it may provide helpful context for understanding Paul's attitudes towards women and family. Pomeroy discusses ancient households and private life, property rights, heredity, death rites, shame and honor. A chapter on livelihood considers a range of ancient professions: doctor, musician, artist, philosopher, poet, priest, priestess, and prostitute.

Pomeroy, Sarah. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. Schocken, 1995. 265 p. $16.00

   In this book, Pomeroy uses mythology, Homer, archeology, sculpture, and literature to uncover what women's lives must have been like in ancient Athens, Sparta, and Rome. Among the topics addressed are sexuality, work, seclusion, marriage, childbirth, public life, and virginity.

Pomeroy, Sarah P., ed. Women's History & Ancient History. The University of North Carolina Press, 1991, 315 p.

   This collection of essays explores the lives and roles of women in antiquity. A recurring theme is the relationship between private and public, and many of the essays find that women's public roles developed as a result of their private lives, specifically their family relationships. [JAS]

Sawyer, Deborah. Women and Religion in the First Christian Centuries. Routledge, 1996. 208 p. $19.99

   The time frame of this book is 200 BC to 200 AD. Sawyer argues that, before the onset of Christian tradition, in the first two centuries of the church, gender roles were fluid and women had more independence than they enjoyed in subsequent centuries. She relates this independence to ancient philosophical teachings about women, and to "postmodern" currents in our own times.

Theissen, Gerd. The Social Setting Of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth. Fortress Press, 1975, 210 p.

   Gerd Theissen was one of the first New Testament scholars to present a model for understanding the link between the religious literature of the early Christian movement and the social conditions from which it was born. This collection of essays construct the kind of society in which the first Christians in Corinth lived and the new kinds of social relationships they invented in order to practice their faith. [JAS]

Women in Antiquity: New Assessments, ed. by Richard Hawley and Barbara Levick. Routledge, 1995. 296 p. $19.95.

   This book gathers papers from a conference entitled, "Women in the Ancient World," held at Oxford, England in 1993. The papers discuss the social and political life of women in ancient Greece and Rome, their part in pagan ritual and cult, and their treatment in ancient literature. Only the last essay addresses Christian women specifically: women saints in the liturgical calendar of the Byzantine church of Constantinople.

Women in the Classical World, by Sarah Pomeroy and others. Oxford University Press, 1995. 448 p. $26.95

   This careful combination of pictures and text is meant to complement Pomeroy's book cited above. The pictures, say the authors, tell as much about women's life in the ancient world, as the texts. Though the authors ignore Christianity, they do address issues that appear in Paul's letters, such as: virginity, chastity, social status, worship, and slavery. For background, readers may be interested in the discussions on civic religion in Greece and Rome, and the roles of women as priestesses, empresses, and goddesses.

Women's Life in Greece and Rome: A Source Book in Translation, ed. by Mary Lefkowitz and Maureen B. Fant. Johns Hopkins, 1992. 376 p. $16.95

   Short excerpts from a wide range of ancient texts--poetic, philosophical, legal, political, social, medical, and pagan religious--build a picture of women's life and varying social status in the ancient world. The last section assembles a range Christian texts on women, selected from Paul, the apocryphal New Testament, and early martyrologies.

Top Index


IV. Studies of Specific Issues in Corinthians

Specific issues and verses in Corinthians, as topics for full-length books, are, with some exceptions, very much a scholar's domain. Still, the interested, nonacademic reader can profit from the books listed here. Local public libraries can obtain the more expensive ones (or those out of print) through interlibrary loan.

Baumert, Norbert. Woman and Man in Paul: Overcoming a Misunderstanding. Liturgical Pr, 1996. 498 p. $34.95

   This doctoral dissertation translated from the German--with the complex syntax of the German preserved in English translation--will discourage many readers. But those bold enough to open it, will find lengthy discussions of such rich passages in 1 Corinthians as 7:1-16 and 11:3-16, where Paul presents his views on women's role in home and church. Baumert hopes to free these passages from the taint of any misogyny. Topics addressed include Paul's attitudes towards marriage, divorce, celibacy, and sexual abstinence.

Byrne, Brendan. Paul and the Christian Woman. Liturgical Press, 1988. 109 p. Out of print from Liturgical Pr [but available from State Mutual Book and Periodical Service for $60.00]

   This popularly written work examines the most troubling passages on women in first Corinthians, from chapters 7, 11, and 14, and considers as well Paul's relation with his female coworkers, and whether or not he was married.

Carson, D. A. Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14. Baker, 1996. 229 p. $12.99

   This accessibly written revision of public lectures examines the passages in 1 Corinthians on spiritual gifts for their bearing on the modern charismatic movement in the church. Issues addressed include: the meaning of spirituality, the importance of mutual support among Christians, the role of love, prophecy, and the gift of tongues.

Chow, John K. Patronage and Power: Studies on Social Networks in Corinth. Sheffield Academic Press, 1997. 230 p. $55.00

   This scholarly study examines First Corinthians through the lens of the ancient institution of patronage. Issues addressed include the role of financial support in patron-style relations in the church, the figure of Apollos as rival teacher to Paul, and the suit brought by the Corinthian church to a pagan magistrate, referred to in 1 Cor 6:1-11.

Crafton, J. A. The Agency of the Apostle: A Dramatic Analysis of Paul's Response to Conflict in 2 Corinthians. Sheffield Academic Press, 1991. 188 p. $45.00

   This revised dissertation applies techniques of communication theory and rhetorical criticism to the emotional highs and lows of 2 Corinthians. Dramatism is a method of analysis that takes all speaking as a kind of acting that can be analyzed along theatrical lines: agency, setting, and purpose work together towards a dramatic resolution of conflict. The conflictual backdrop to Paul's Corinthian correspondence provides ample ground for applying the theory.

Deming, Will. Paul on Marriage and Celibacy: the Hellenistic Background of First Corinthians. Cambridge Univ Pr, 1995. 279 p. $69.95

   Based on a PhD dissertation, this book places Paul's comments on marriage and celibacy in the context of ancient debates on sexual ethics between the Stoic and Cynic philosophical schools. The author also aims to show that Paul's sexual ethics was not primarily ascetical in motive, and should not be subsumed under the Christian ascetic tradition.

Gardner, Paul Douglas. The Gifts of God and the Authentification of a Christian: An Exegetical Study of 1 Corinthians 8-11:1. University Press of America, 1994. 217 p. $42.50

   This narrowly focused treatise illuminates Paul's discussions in 1 Corinthians of weak. vs. strong Christians, and his emphasis on the role of love and grace in Christian life (over knowledge and status). The book also raises questions about the security of the individual believer's place in the larger Christian community.

Georgi, Dieter. The Opponents of Paul in 2d Corinthians: A Study of Religious Propaganda in Late Antiquity. Books International, 1997. 464 p. $39.95.

   This academic study focuses on 2 Cor 2:14-7:4 and 10-13. Georgi proposes that Paul's opponents in his second letter to the Corinthians were newcomers to the church in Corinth, whose preaching undermined Paul's authority. Paul had opposed the Gnostic tendency he sensed in the first Corinthian Christians: their inclination to divorce spirit from body. The newcomers, trained in the Jewish mission, were, as Judaism was generally, also anti-gnostic. To counter their influence, Paul now endorses antagonistic arguments that he know will appeal to the original, still gnostically inclined church members.

Gordon, J. Dorcas. Sister of Wife? 1 Corinthians 7 and Cultural Anthropology. Sheffield Academic Pr, 1997. 220 p. $53.50.

   Gordon reconstructs the conflict at Corinth that lies behind 1Cor. 7: a divorce within the community stimulated debate between 2 groups that had different understandings of social order in the church. According to one group, the model for church order was the patrilineal kinship system that subordinates wives to husbands; according to the other, the model was sibling relations between men and women as equals. Gordon examines Paul's response to the conflict.

Hafemann, Scott. Suffering and Ministry in the Spirit: Paul's Defense of His Ministry in II Corinthians 2:14-3:3. Eerdmans, 1990. 261 p. Available through Books on Demand for $78.40

   This doctoral dissertation examines Paul's use of his sufferings as positive credentials for his ministry. According to Paul, his afflictions qualify him to mediate the Spirit to the churches, so that, when the Corinthians reject Paul, they reject God himself. Topics addressed include the distinction between letter and spirit, metaphors of sacrifice, and the "sufficiency" of Paul to his ministerial task.

Harvey, A. E. Renewal through Suffering: A Study of 2 Corinthians. Books International, 1996. 248 p. $39.95

   This book suggests that elements of suffering in Paul's biography can help explain parts of his theology. The starting point is 2 Cor. 1:8, where Paul "despaired of remaining alive." Harvey suggests that an experience of serious illness lay behind those words, and that this experience first opened Paul to the idea that innocent suffering could have positive spiritual value. Suffering becomes a means of identifying with Christ.

Hunt, Allen R. The Inspired Body: Paul, the Corinthians, and Divine Inspiration. Mercer, 1996. 168 p. $19.95

   This book focuses on 1 Cor 2:6-16, interpreting it in the context of ancient Greek and Jewish longings to know the divine mind. Paul's first person plural claim in 1 Cor 2:6, that "we speak wisdom," refers not to himself but to the communal body of the church, whose inter-factional strife at Corinth he is trying to ease. According to Hunt, Paul builds up the church by transforming the individual quest for divine wisdom into a communal, ecclesiastical enterprise. Hunt is an ordained Methodist minister in Rome, Georgia.

Hurd, John Coolidge. The Origin of I Corinthians, rev'd ed. Mercer University Press, 1983. 355 p. Out of Print

   This very academic, heavily footnoted book attempts to reconstruct what Paul's ministry to the Corinthians must have been like at its very beginnings. Critical in the argument is that the "first" letter to the Corinthians actually represents a relatively late stage in the correspondence back and forth between Paul and Corinth.

Lanci, John R. A New Temple for Corinth: Rhetorical and Archaeological Approaches to Pauline Imagery. Peter Lang, 1997. 155 p. $39.95

   Focusing on 1 Cor 3:16-17, this academic study draws on archeology and ancient Greek and Roman attitudes towards temples to suggest that Paul used the image of temple (both Jewish and pagan) to symbolize for the fractious Corinthian Christians a peaceful, centered community.

Martin, Dale. The Corinthian Body. Yale University Press, 1995. $35.00

   This very scholarly study will interest readers who have caught wind of the debates that rage in some academic circles today over the philosophical and theological significance of the human body. Martin's thesis is that the disputes in Corinth "sprang from different assumptions regarding both the individual human body and the social body" (which for early Christians was the body of Christ: the church). These different assumptions were in turn tied to social class distinctions between Paul and the Corinthian Christians, and among the Corinthians themselves.

Martin, Dale. Slavery as Salvation: The Metaphor of Slavery in Pauline Christianity. Yale, 1990. 292 p., $30.00

   This study focuses on 1 Cor. 9, where Paul presents himself as the slave of Christ. Against the backdrop of slavery as a social convention in the ancient world, Martin examines Paul's startling transformation of the concept into a metaphor for freedom and salvation. By presenting himself as the slave of all, Paul hopes to mediate the conflicts that are rending the church at Corinth.

Marshall, Peter. Enmity in Corinth: Social Conventions in Paul's Relations with the Corinthians. Coronet Books, 1987. 460 p. $78.50

   Marshall believes that ancient rhetorical conventions of friendship and enmity illuminate the conflict between Paul and the Corinthians. He analyzes the conflict according to such ancient social practices of gift-giving, shaming, and flattering. A revised PhD dissertation, the book is a challenging read.

Martin, Ralph P. The Spirit and the Congregation: Studies in I Cor. 12-15. Wipf & Stock, 1997. $16.00

   This book, which grew out of discussions with church groups, is intended for a general audience. Martin isolates the problem of the Corinthian church as one of "exuberance and enthusiasm," which are incorrectly taken as ends in themselves. In his response to the Corinthian Christians' claim to be endowed with exceptional spiritual gifts, Paul develops his theology of the body and resurrection, love, prophecy, the kingdom, and the role of men and women in the church.

Mitchell, Margaret M. Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation: An Exegetical Investigation of the Language and Composition of 1 Corinthians. Coronet Books, 1991. 380 p. $115.00

   This revised PhD dissertation takes the central theme of 1 Corinthians to be the superiority of concord over factionalism. The author sets Paul's own pleas for concord in the context of ancient rhetorical devices for quelling conflict, such as appeal to the common good (over individual preference), and analyzes Paul's skillful use of praise and blame to negotiate peace.

One Loaf, One Cup: Ecumenical Studies of 1 Corinthians 11 and other Eucharistic Texts. Mercer Univ Pr, 1992. 180 p. $25.00

   This book models the search for consensus that so engaged Paul in his letters to Corinth. It gathers essays from an ecumenical conference on the Eucharist, held in Cambridge, England in Aug. 1988. Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox scholars reflect on the real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper, and try to reconstruct the liturgical practices of the ancient Corinthian church. The key passage discussed is 1 Cor 11:23-26. The title of the book is taken from 1 Cor 10:17.

Quast, Kevin. Reading the Corinthian Correspondence. Paulist, 1994. 225 p. $14.95

   Rich in charts and maps, this book discusses the Corinthian letters under general themes, such as "The church and its leaders." The chapter on Corinth in Paul's own time is especially helpful. One reviewer calls this book, "a reasonable length, readable, textually-based, well-apportioned guide to the Corinthian correspondence."

Ramsaran, Rollin A. Liberating Words: Paul's Use of Rhetorical Maxims in 1st Corinthians 1-10. Trinity, 1996. 176 p. $17.00

   This book examines Paul's use of epigrammatic sayings he inherited from the Greco-Roman world around him: what the Greeks called gnomai, and the Romans, sententiae. An example is, "All things are permissible." The author argues that a common inheritance of such sayings lies behind much of Paul's communication with the Corinthians.

Rosner, Brian. Paul, Scripture, and Ethics: A Study of 1 Corinthians 5-7. Baker, 1994. 264 p. $19.99

   This demanding work is a revision of a doctoral thesis (Hebrew, Greek, and German are not translated.) The author argues on behalf of Paul's debt to ancient Jewish ethics, despite the paucity of explicit Old Testament references in his letters. Rosner uncovers Jewish values behind Paul's teachings in Corinthians on sin, conflict, marriage, and sexual relations.

Savage, Timothy B. Power Through Weakness: Paul's Understanding of the Christian Ministry in 2 Corinthians. Cambridge Univ Pr, 1996. 251 p. $39.95

   Originally a doctoral study, this book examines the backdrop to Paul's paradoxical vision of Christian life: that its strength is in its weakness, its glory in its shame. Savage looks at the identity of Paul's opponents in 2 Corinthians and their critiques of his appearance, poverty, and speech; the social and religious history of Corinth; and the rhetoric of boasting.

Welborn, Laurence. Politics and Rhetoric in the Corinthian Epistles. Mercer Univ Pr, 1997. 238 p. $29.95

   This is a readable, academic study of rhetorical conventions in the Greco-Roman political world, and their bearing on Paul's language in his letters to Corinth. The author applies ancient secular understandings of political and social conflict (and means of resolving them) to Paul. Passages discussed include 1 Cor 1-4; 1 Cor 4:6; 2 Cor 2:4; 2 Cor 1:1-2:13; and 2 Cor 7:5-16.

Wire, Antoinette Clark. Corinthian Women Prophets: A Reconstruction through Paul's Rhetoric. Fortress, 1990. 328 p. $25.00

   Enthusiasts for Wire's contribution to this year's Spiritual Growth study, will want to consult this, her book-length study of the Corinthian women prophets. She systematically combs Paul's first letter to the Corinthians for hidden meanings that illuminate the women prophets' lives and their contributions to the early church.

Witherington, Ben. Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Eerdmans, 1995. 600 p. $35.00

   This scholarly work places Paul's letters in the context of social life and customs of the early Roman empire. There are detailed discussions of ancient conventions governing slavery, pagan worship, dining, head coverings, honor, and association, and how these illuminate Paul's Corinthian letters. One reviewer calls it "a serious and worthy study."

Young, Frances and David Ford. Meaning and Truth in II Corinthians. Eerdmans, 1987. 289 p. Out of print.

   This book combines methods from exegesis and theology to analyze Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. The authors isolate its principal themes as: the glory of God and the reputation of Paul. They also consider Paul's use of the Old Testament, issues of church and society, authority, and God. The book includes a sustained discussion of the problems of reading the New Testament texts, such as the complex, sometimes untranslatable meanings of the Greek words, and the historical and cultural gaps that separate us from the ancient world.

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