Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians


This unprecedented commentary applies an exegetical method informed by both sociological insight and rhetorical analysis to the study of 1 and 2 Corinthians. In addition to using traditional exegetical and historical methods, this unique study also analyzes the two letters of Paul in terms of Greco-Roman rhetoric and ancient social conditions and customs to shed fresh light on the context and content of Paul's message. Includes 21 black-and-white photos and illustrations. ...
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This unprecedented commentary applies an exegetical method informed by both sociological insight and rhetorical analysis to the study of 1 and 2 Corinthians. In addition to using traditional exegetical and historical methods, this unique study also analyzes the two letters of Paul in terms of Greco-Roman rhetoric and ancient social conditions and customs to shed fresh light on the context and content of Paul's message. Includes 21 black-and-white photos and illustrations.
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Editorial Reviews

Andrews University Seminary Studies
"A unique and invaluable commentary on the Corinthian correspondence. This work brings together insights from rhetorical, socio-scientific, and cultural-anthropological criticism under one cover with the fruits of these burgeoning disciples.... A very fine commentary and essential reading for any study of or sermon on the Corinthian letters. Pastors and seminarians will especially appreciate the very thoughtful hermeneutical suggestions appearing in concluding paragraphs or, more often, in footnotes, which challenge us in the church to weigh our ministers and ourselves to God's standards rather than by worldly criteria, and to examine how we, like the Corinthians, continue to function with the mindset of our society rather than the mind of Christ."
Anthony C. Thiselton in Anvil
Ben Witherington is to be congratulated on an excellent volume. No reader can fail to profit from using it.... This latest volume will further enhance his growing reputation as a competent, sane, but imaginative NT scholar, who also writes with pastoral sensitivity. There is much to learn from this volume.
A virtual commentary on these two major Pauline letters from the perspective of the social-rhetorical discipline that the author throws light on many dark exegetical conundrums and problem topics and texts.... Students of Paul's dealings with Corinth as well as those interested to see how this newer hermeneutical tool functions will find here much to stimulate reflection as well as proposals to challenge current thinking.
Catholic Biblical Quarterly
This reader recommends Witherington's book for several things: its rich collection of social and historical materials, its author's informed rhetorical reading of the documents, the ample and current bibliography for pursuing topics and issues in depth, a sociorhetorical focus which contextualizes conflict and keeps it from becoming too theological in content and tone. This is a serious and worthy study of the Corinthian letters.
Homileticians of many persuasions will find Witherington's commentary helpful. The socio-rhetorical orientation lends itself well to the preaching task. For those preachers who like to fill in the blanks with historical-critical data. Witherington will also be of assistance. To all, Witherington offers pastoral-theological reflections at the end of many sections.
Librarians World
An impressive and innovative commentary that larger and more educated congregations will find highly useful.
Expository Times
"A commentary with a difference.... There is hardly a section in the two letters about which the book does not have something new and valuable to say.... A rich and accessible resource which marks a definite step forward in the study of 1 and 2 Corinthians."
An interesting, well-written and up-to-date piece of work. The author regularly introduces judicious comments relating the theology and method of the letters to the modern church. Here is a commentary with its eyes firmly on the ancient context and with the occasional perceptive glance into the modern. Well worth the money.
Trinity Journal
"A small breath of fresh air in the otherwise largely stale atmosphere of the world of biblical commentaries.... Witherington's commentary has much to recommend it. In terms of presentation, his writing style is engaging, faithfully fulfilling his aim to produce a commentary for a more general readership.... This commentary stands as both an exemplar of socio-rhetorical study of NT documents and as a call for further application of the methodology.... A valuable source of information for those who would read Paul's Corinthian letters with regard for the situations that gave them birth."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802801449
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/24/1995
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 988,407
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Ben Witherington III is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky, and is on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University, Scotland. Witherington has twice won the Christianity Today best Biblical Studies book-of-the-year award, and his many books include We Have Seen His Glory: A Vision of Kingdom Worship and socio-rhetorical commentaries on Mark, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians. He writes a blog at and can also be found on the web at
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Paul the Greco-Roman Jew and Jewish Christian 1
Roman Corinth 5
The City and Its People 5
Trade and Manufacturing 9
Tourism 12
Religion 12
The Social Level of Paul and His Converts 19
Paul's Position and Presence 19
The Corinthian Christians 22
The Literary World of Paul and His Converts 35
1 and 2 Corinthians as Letters 36
1 and 2 Corinthians as Rhetoric 39
Socio-Rhetorical Resources on 1 and 2 Corinthians: An Annotated Bibliography 48
Archaeology 48
Classical Studies 52
Greco-Roman Rhetoric 55
Sociology and Anthropology 61
Paul and Ancient Philosophy 66
Paul the Sage and Ancient Wisdom Movements 66
1 Corinthians 69
The Background and Structure of the Letter 71
Chronology and Composition 71
Rhetorical Setting 73
Epistolary Prescript: 1:1-3 78
Epistolary Thanksgiving and Exordium: 1:4-9 82
Propositio: 1:10 94
Narratio: 1:11-17 98
Probatio: 1:18-16:12 106
Argument I: 1:18-4:21 106
Argument II: 5:1-6:20 151
Argument III: 7:1-40 170
Argument IV: 8:1-11:1 186
Argument V: 11:2-16 231
Argument VI: 11:17-34 241
Argument VII 253
Argument VIII: 15:1-58 291
Argument IX: 16:1-12 313
Peroratio: 16:13-18 318
Closing Epistolary Greetings and Remarks 322
2 Corinthians 325
The Background and Foreground of the Letter 327
Setting, Literary History, and Rhetorical Structure 327
The Need for Reconciliation 339
The Opponents 343
Composition and Chronology 351
Epistolary Prescript: 1:1-2 353
Epistolary Thanksgiving and Exordium: 1:3-7 356
Narratio: 1:8-2:16 360
Propositio: 2:17 371
Probatio (refutatio): 3:1-13:4 375
Argument I: 3:1-6:13 375
Argument II: Digression (Egressio): 6:14-7:1 402
Argument III (with Amplificatio): 7:2-16 407
Argument IV: Chapters 8-9 411
Argument V: 10:1-13:4 429
Peroratio: 13:5-10 471
Closing Epistolary Greetings and Remarks: 13:11-13 474
Index of Modern Authors 477
Index of Scripture and Other Ancient Writings 484
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