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Title: Pain and paradox : the transformative function of strength in weakness in 2 Corinthians
Author: White, Benjamin Grant
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 8480
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis first outlines the consensus that 2 Corinthians is a defense or an exposition of Paul's apostleship, in which Paul confronts a rebellious community with his experience of strength in weakness (e.g. 4.7a; 12.9-10). However, this major motif is rarely analyzed as a theological paradox despite being presented as two opposed but simultaneously true realities. More importantly, interpreters have not considered its relevance to the most immediate context of 2 Corinthians: a pained community (2.1-7; 7.5-16). This thesis considers the purpose of 2 Corinthians in light of Paul's paradox of strength in weakness, especially the extent to which Paul actively ministers to the Corinthians: consoling, instructing, and explaining how Christ redeems their brokenness. An investigation of the Corinthian situation explores the use of λύπη (pain) in antiquity and considers whether the community's pains in 2.1-7 are distinct from their short-lived 'godly grief' (7.5-16). It is argued that these pains are ongoing and that the Corinthians understand weakness merely in opposition to strength, thus embodying a polarity of strength or weakness. An analysis of texts concerning strength in weakness (1.3-11; 4.7-15; 6.1-13) clarifies the nature of Paul's paradox, distinguishes it from a polarity, relates these dynamics to the literary integrity debate, and demonstrates how experiencing the paradox would enable the Corinthians' reconciliation with Paul. Finally, an analysis of the theological climax, 12.1-10, distinguishes the proposed transformative function of the paradox from ontological and revelatory interpretations. The central thesis is that Paul presents his experience as a paradigm by which the community learns how Christ can transform their experience of pains through the strength in weakness paradox. This suggests that 2 Corinthians is neither primarily nor generally concerned with Paul's apostleship; rather, it is a pastoral document that aims to increase human potential through weakness, without rendering that weakness inherently redemptive.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available