B.J. Oropeza, «Laying to Rest the Midrash: Pauls Message on Meat Sacrificed to Idols in Light of the Deuteronomistic Tradition », Vol. 79 (1998) 57-68
Some scholars have suggested that Paul's discussion on meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 8, 111,1 is composed of two separate documents: 8,19,23 and 10,2311,1 form letter B, and 10, 1-22, forms letter A. Unit A is often regarded as an early midrash which was written prior to its present form in 1 Corinthians. This article argues that the Deuteronomic tradition which Paul echoes in 8, 111,1 posits another reason why the literary integrity of his entire discussion on idol meats may be maintained. In this section of his letter Paul adopts the Deuteronomic motif of apostasy through idolatry which is prevalent in the Song of Moses (Deut 32). The language and ideas derived from this theme are integrated throughout the apostle's discourse.
pericope rebuking the strong's high-mindedness about the issue of idol meats and offers a0ga/ph as the alternative to gnw=sij (8,1-3). If love were to dominate their fellowship, the strong would not insist on their right to eat meat sacrificed to idols; they would refrain for the sake of the weak.
For Paul, then, the potential apostasy connected with idol meats is relational in scope: through the strong's knowledge that idols are not gods (8,1,4-6) they were defiling the sunei/dhsij of the weak and destroying their faith as a result (8,7-13). He reformulates this problem again in 10,2311,1 26. If the strong insisted on their liberty and knowledge rather than love, they would be sinning against the weak and against Christ (8,11-12). In 10,1-22, Paul could not refrain from being concerned about another potential sin the strong were in danger of committing. No matter how knowledgeable or spiritual they may be, they could still fall into idolatry or some other vice just as Israel did in the wilderness. By having fellowship with idolaters in an idolatrous setting, there is always the risk of being unified with them in their worship and practices (10,1-22).
It therefore seems consistent to affirm that in 1 Corinthians 810 Paul is describing various ways congregation members could fall away. In essence, Paul stresses four potential apostasies in the situation, one committed by the weak as a result of the strong's error, two committed by the strong, and one by Paul himself: 1) the error of the weak who may be defiled and perish because they eat meat as if to an idol (8,7.9-13); 2) the error of the strong who sin against the weak and thereby sin against Christ (8,11-12); 3) the error of idolatry or related vices committed by the strong (10,1-22); and 4) the hypothetical error of Paul who may not finish his own apostolic mission if he loses self-control (9,24-27). Here Paul uses himself as an example with the implicit intention of deflating the over-confidence of the strong - even an apostle can be rejected if he is not careful. A brief outline of the range of overlapping problems and solutions to apostasy in 1 Corinthians 810 might be depicted in the outline below: