From self-praise to self-boasting : Paul's unmasking of the conflicting rhetorico-linguistic phenomena in 1 Corinthians
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The thesis, entitled “From Self-Praise to Self-Boasting: Paul’s Unmasking of the Conflicting Rhetorico-Linguistic Phenomena in 1 Corinthians,” examines the rhetorical conventions of “boasting” and self-praise among those vying for social status and honor within the Greco-Roman world. While the terminological options for “boasting” and self-praise frequently overlap, a survey of these conventions demonstrates that the ancients possessed a categorical distinction between “boasting” and self-praise, which oftentimes conflicted with Paul’s distinction. Clear examples of this conflict appear in 1 Cor 1:10-4:21; 5:1-13; 9:1-27; 13:1-13; and 15:30-32, where Paul addresses the Corinthians’ overestimation of wisdom and eloquence, redirects the Corinthians’ attention away from loyalties to specific leaders to loyalty to Christ, redefines the standards by which the Corinthians should view themselves and their leaders, counters the Corinthians’ tendency to engage in anthropocentric “boasting,” and affirms his own apostolic ministry. It is the Corinthian community’s inability to grasp the application of theocentric “boasting” which leads Paul to address certain aspects and values of secular Corinth that have penetrated the Corinthian community. Thus, operating from an eschatological perspective, Paul critiques both the Corinthians’ attitudes and the Greco-Roman cultural values upon which their attitudes are based. Through irony, self-presentation, imitation, differentiating between theocentric and anthropocentric “boasting,” and distinguishing between personality and gospel rhetoric, Paul challenges the secular notions of social status, power, wisdom, leadership, and patronage and exhorts the Corinthians to focus their attention on their relationship with the Lord rather than on improving their social status or on increasing their honor.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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