Jan Lambrecht, «The Fool’s Speech and Its Context: Paul’s Particular Way of Arguing in 2 Cor 10–13», Vol. 82 (2001) 305-324
Paul’s particular way of arguing in 2 Cor 10–13 is visible in the Fool’s Speech (11,22–12,10) as well as in its context. The speech is interrupted more than once and there are shifts regarding the object of boasting. The introduction to the speech (11,1-21) is not straightforward and two brief retrospections (12,11a and 19a) should not go unnoticed. The major topic in this study, however, consists in the indication of three rings within the context of the Fool’s Speech: (1) 10,1 and 13,11 (moral exhortation); (2) 10,2-18 and 13,1-10 (Paul’s defense of his authority); (3) 11,5-12 and 12,11b-18 (Paul denies inferiority). Yet from the presence of these enveloping rings a strict concentric structure of 2 Cor 11–13 cannot be deduced. Special attention must also be given to 10,8.12-18 and 11,3-4.12-15.18-20. In these passages Paul, by comparing and attacking, seems to prepare his boasting as a fool in a more direct way.
1 Cor 1,1010. The last three verses are very similar (see, e.g., the vocative address and the infinitive construction or i#na-clause)11. Of course, the content of the appeal differs: in 1 Cor 1,10 Paul exhorts the Christians to be united; in Rom 12,1-2 he urges them to conduct a Christian ethical life; and in Rom 15,30-32 he makes the more specific appeal to strive together with him in prayer for the good outcome of his plans for the future. Now, as far as 2 Cor 10,1 is concerned, the parallelism is obvious, but only to a certain extent. The absence of ‘brothers’ or the presence of the emphatic au)to_j... e)gw_ Pau=loj should not disturb us but at the end of v. 1a there is the brusque interruption: no infinitive construction, no indication of the content of the appeal. It would seem, therefore, that at the beginning of 2 Cor 10,1 Paul intends to do what he does in the three other passages, namely to formulate an exhortation to moral Christian life. But while writing ‘by the meekness and gentleness of Christ’ his attention seems to be diverted; he remembers the slanders against his person which his opponents and critics are spreading. The ‘humble’ Paul of v. 1b, as well as the Paul ‘walking according to the flesh’ of v. 2b, was their misrepresentation of him. He must have realized that their way of portraying him was, perhaps against their own intention, but, as a matter of fact, a caricature of Christ being meek and gentle.
What Paul asks of his Christians in Corinth in v. 2 is certainly a change of attitude and behavior. They should conduct themselves in such a way that he is not forced to show against them the same boldness which he counts on showing against the intruders. But is this the content of the appeal which he had in mind when he wrote v. 1a? Hardly! One cannot but assume that what is actually requested from the Corinthians in v. 2 has a narrower scope; it becomes focused on the struggle between Paul and the opponents, and, of course, also on the sides which some Corinthians are taking. The specific aim is the removal of all disobedience and the completion of the Corinthians’ obedience to Christ. It is no longer the