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.
exhortation to an authentic life as Christians which he originally intended to give when he composed v. 1a.
Parakalo4 in 13,11. At the end of the letter, in 13,11, Paul employs the verb in the passive: parakalei=sqe12. It must be translated by a paraphrase such as ‘heed my appeal, listen to my appeal, take my appeal to heart’. The verb itself does not indicate the content of that appeal, but the other imperatives in the same verse provide very clearly what is requested from the Corinthians: ‘rejoice, mend your ways ... be of the same mind, live in peace’. Is this not the kind of moral exhortation which we were entitled to expect at 10,1a? More indications are present in the verses which precede 13,11.
Moral references in 12,19–13,10. Paul’s return to exhortation in 13,11 is not unprepared. At the end of 12,19, after the solemn declaration ‘In God’s sight we speak in Christ’, he adds: ‘beloved, all [is done] for your upbuilding’ (cf. 13,10). Then, in a rather unexpected way, in 12,20-21, Paul gives a list of numerous sins still existing in Corinth (cf. 13,2). He announces his intention ‘not to refrain’ from severe action when he will come to them for the third time (cf. 13,1-4 and 13,10). The injunction of 13,5 is most probably not without a note of moral insistence: ‘Examine yourselves [to see] whether you are in the faith; test yourselves’. An ethical urgency is evident in Paul’s prayer of 13,7: ‘We pray God that you may do no wrong ... that you may do what is good’, and also in the statement at the end 13,9: ‘What we pray for is this, your improvement’. God gave him authority ‘for building up and not for destroying’ (13,10).
Content. The first elements which point to a ring composition are small to the extreme: 10,1a and 13,11. Yet both verses certainly contain moral exhortation; they as it were ‘frame’ the whole of chapters 10–13 (and thus also the Fool’s Speech). As ethical admonition, verses such as 10,1a and 13,11 are typical of a Pauline letter. The explicit exhortation of 13,11 is being prepared in 12,19–13,10. Since Paul’s self-defense is not without a call to obedience; a more or less hidden warning and hortatory tone is present in the whole of chapters 10–1313. Yet one should