Paul's exposition "About the Idol Offerings" in chapters 8-10 of his 'First Letter to the Corinthians' is a fascinating text. Rhetoric is the first reason for this. Sustained attention to the disposition of this apparently rambling text reveals a coherent and persuasive discourse. It comes as a surprise and a pleasure, then, to see an able communicator at work and to find oneself as a partner in the discussion. The social context is the second reason why Paul's exposition is such an interesting subject. The real point at issue is the position which the nascent Christian community should take within the urban society of the city of Corinth. Paul and the believers at Corinth are engaged in a dispute concerning social seclusion or integration. We hear their different voices and listen in to their discussion. Theology forms the third clue to the interest of this text. Here we encounter an unmistakably Jewish Paul, for whom the Shema is his basic rule of faith: Hear Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. In the same breath, however, he adds to this the confession of Jesus Christ as the One Lord. The resulting tension between Jews and Christians has brought about a tragic history.
We still have to learn how to live this relationship in a positive way.
Publisher: Peeters Publishers