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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Paul’s Political Strategy in I Corinthians 1–4: Constitution and Covenant
Bitner, Bradley J.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015 pp. 365. $99.99

Series Information
Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series, 163


Description: This volume examines 1 Corinthians 1–4 within first-century politics, demonstrating the significance of Corinth's constitution to the interpretation of Paul's letter. Bradley J. Bitner shows that Paul carefully considered the Roman colonial context of Corinth, which underlay numerous ecclesial conflicts. Roman politics, however, cannot account for the entire shape of Paul's response. Bridging the Hellenism-Judaism divide that has characterized much of Pauline scholarship, Bitner argues that Paul also appropriated Jewish-biblical notions of covenant. Epigraphical and papyrological evidence indicates that his chosen content and manner are best understood with reference to an ecclesial politeia informed by a distinctively Christ-centered political theology. This emerges as a “politics of thanksgiving” in 1 Corinthians 1:4–9 and as a “politics of construction” in 3:5–4:5, where Paul redirects gratitude and glory to God in Christ. This innovative account of Paul's political theology offers fresh insight into his pastoral strategy among nascent Gentile-Jewish assemblies.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Pauline Epistles, 1 Corinthians, Greco-Roman Literature, Literature, Methods, Social-Scientific Approaches, Ideological Critique, Postcolonial Approaches

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Review by Wendell Willis
Published 12/27/2018
Citation: Wendell Willis, review of Bradley J. Bitner, Paul’s Political Strategy in I Corinthians 1–4: Constitution and Covenant, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2018).


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