Paul's Letter Rhetorical Analysis

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Already in the beginning of the letter, Paul focuses on the problems of divisions and fractions within the assembly of Corinth. The Corinthians are depicted as potentially disloyal toward Paul, although they are “enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge” (1 Cor. 1.5). To Paul’s knowledge, no specific doctrinal problem avails in Corinth. Paul depicts the character of the Christ-believer as similar to the steward who is faithful (πιστός) to his master (3.10–4.2). Those who will be saved by God are described as those who are faithful (τοὺς πιστεύοντας; 1.21).1 Moreover, the lack of manners in the assembly of Corinth is lack of faithfulness toward the have-nots, and by implication toward the true host of the supper. Thus, the problem is not the lack of belief in certain wisdoms or teachings, but the unwillingness to wait and share (11.33; 11.21). As John Chrysostom comments on the passage, “if schisms were…show more content…
There was therefore no risk for misunderstanding on this matter. On the other hand, there may have been rhetorical reasons for Paul to tread carefully in his exhortation. Especially if he had the welfare of the poor before his eyes as an issue of outmost importance, he would not want the rich to feel insulted and abandon the poor altogether, which may have been the outcome if Paul unintendedly offended some of them. In the societies around the Mediterranean basin with slavery as a present institution, to tell someone what to do was generally perceived as extremely insensitive and often offensive in regard to high-ranking persons. This may have been Paul’s reason to resume the resources of religious narrative—in this case, the institution of the Lord’s Supper.—to create in his addressees the emontional response that would secure the situation of the have-nots. Paul’s mentioning of the commemoration of Jesus’ death draws attention to the innocent
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