Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Religion, New Testament PhD
W. Larry Richards
P. Richard Choi
Problem . In 1 Cor 8:1-10:29a, Paul has been consistently on the side of the brother in 8:11 whose conscience is weak to eat food offered to idols. But, in 10:29b-30, he seems to reverse himself, here suggesting that one should be able to eat anything, regardless of its provenance or the effect such eating may have on others. Or, what should be made of the two questions asked in the text that appear neither fitted to the context nor directly answered by what precedes and follows in the discussion of εἰδωλόθυτα in 8:1-11:17?
Approach . Scholars have employed various methodological interpretations in search for the contextual meaning of the two questions asked in 1 Cor 10:29b-30 without a solution. However, no one has treated the two questions asked in the passage as an argumentative device intended to resolve theproblem of eating idol food discussed throughout 8:1-11:1. In order to understand the function of 10:29b-30 in Paul's argumentation, my research agenda is laid out in the following manner.
First, following the introductory chapter, the four broader issues where no consensus exists are discussed in chapter 2 because they in no small measure impact the understanding of the two questions asked in 1 Cor 10:29b-30. For example, the view that Paul intervened in two different ways has led to the partitioning of chaps. 8 and 10 into 8:1-13 + 10:23-11:1 where it is argued Paul allows the eating of idol food, and 10:1-22 where the same food is denounced, is informed by the content of 10:29b-30. Because Paul defends a position of not eating an account of the weak brother, the view is found inadequate upon examination of 10:29b-30 in its context.
Second, the examination of 1 Cor 10:29b-30 in the larger context of 8:1-10:22 (chapter 3) and the narrower context of 10:23-11:1 (chapter 4) suggests a unified deliberative rhetorical argumentation that characterizes 1 Corinthians. Paul's deliberative rhetoric reveals that the two rhetorical questions in 10:29b-30 function in two ways. First, they are asked to dissuade the "strong" from setting a bad example for the "weak" by participating in idol feasts. Second, they help to persuade the strong to adopt Paul's own behavioral patterns following their wrong use of knowledge (chap. 8), exercised in thename of authority or "rights" (chap. 9), and freedom (chap. 10). Thus, the two questions asked in the passage belong to one of the three proofs (πίστεις) Paul used to persuade the strong to consider the weak brother (vss.29b-33) before his final appeal in 11:1.
Conclusion . My investigation of the function of the two rhetorical questions asked in 1 Cor 10:29b-30 reveals some of the problems in the interpretation of 1 Corinthians in general, and 8:1-11:1, in particular. However, Paul's use of the deliberative rhetorical device provides insights to resolve the problems of understanding the passage against other rhetorical species and methods. The device helps to account for 10:29b-30 as Paul's means of disarming the strong in their wrong use of freedom, and his reason for choosing not to eat idol food because of his concerns for the weak brother.
Bible. Corinthians, 1st, 10:29B-30--Criticism, interpretation, etc
Taiwo, Moses Oladele, "Paul's Apparent Reversal of Concern for the Weak Brother in l Corinthians 10:29B-30: an Examination of the Text in Light of Greco-Roman Rhetoric" (2002). Dissertations. 151.
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