Friday, February 27, 2009

Book Review: 2 Corinthians

Ok, it's not like I'm padding my book review list by counting books of the Bible as books now, but I did just finish the NT Wright Paul for Everyone commentary on 2 Corinthians, so I thought I'd make a blog post to record my finishing it, and to put down a few impressions. It's strange how 2 Corinthians seems patchwork in tone, up one second, down the next, reconciling one second, and berating the next, but the commentary pointed out some important clues I had never seen before: Titus visits Paul at about halfway through the letter, and the tone shifts, then shifts again as Paul's visit becomes imminent. The letter was not written all at once, although it was probably read all at once. This finally makes sense to me. One other big observation is how the entire thrust of the letter is that the Christian life isn't supposed to be perfect -- it's supposed to be a sacrifice.* Paul is arguing against a strain of triumphalist, proto-prosperity gospel that hasn't gone away. One particular challenge to me is how "rough" Paul is. As someone who likes the flourishes of rhetoric and a well-turned argument, it seems he's turning to me and pointing the finger when he reminds us, the power of the gospel is that it needs none of that. This theme comes up in both 1 and 2 Corinthians. I guess I'm a Corinthian at heart. Well, at least it means Paul would've loved me ... even when I exasperated him.

* Yes, that is a reference to the recent happenings on Lost, at least as much as they relate back to the original Christian story ...

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