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.
vocabularies. A third, noteworthy feature here will be the consideration of the sequence of the motifs.
Motifs. No less than nine recurring motifs can be listed.
(1) Both in 11,5 and 12,11b Paul emphasizes that he is in no way inferior to the super-apostles22.
(2) Twice, be it rather differently, he also admits that something was lacking in his appearance during his stay at Corinth: ‘Even if I am unskilled in speech’ (11,6a; cf. 10,10); ‘even though I was nothing’ (end of 12,11; probably in a more fundamental sense).
(3) His reference to ‘knowledge’ and the fact that he has ‘made that clear’ to the Corinthians ‘in every way and in all things’ (11,6) can be compared, it would seem, with the reference to ‘the signs of the apostle’ which were done among the Corinthians (12,12): in both cases Paul wants thus to deny his so-called inferiority.
(4) It strikes the reader that immediately after this emphasis on not being inferior Paul speaks of his refusal of support (11,7-12 and 12,13-18).
(5) Within that context of preaching the gospel free of charge the mention of ‘sin’ (a(marti/a) and ‘wrong’ (a)diki/a) appears unexpectedly in the two passages: ‘Did I commit a sin...?’ (11,7), and: ‘Forgive me this wrong’ (12,13).
(6) In both passages, too, Paul emphasizes that he did not burden the Corinthians: see 11,7.9 and 12,13.
(7) He admits, however, of having received support from elsewhere: see 11,8-9 (Macedonia) and 12,13 (other churches).
(8) In both contexts Paul also stresses his firm intention not to burden Corinth in the future, i.e., not to change his way of acting in this matter: see 11,9-10.12 and, in a less pronounced but still clear way, 12,14 (‘I will not burden you’).
(9) Twice he explains his specific behavior of refusing sup-port as a sign of genuine love of the Corinthians: see 11,11 and 12,15.
Vocabulary. One should not only look for the identical grammatical forms nor, necessarily, for the same nuances of meaning. The fact that the same or similar — or oppositional — wording appears is in itself significant: to be inferior; the