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.
super-apostles; sin and wrong; to humble oneself and to spend (or be spent); to be exalted; churches; not to burden; brother(s); to love23.
Again, in view of all these correspondences, both in theme and wording, it would seem that in Paul’s composing procedure pure coincidence must be excluded.
Sequence. In this third ring there is even more than motifs and vocabulary. A remarkable identical order, a parallel sequence of data is present in 11,5-15 and 12,11b-18. We mention five consecutive elements: First, notwithstanding apparent weaknesses (although unskilled in speech, 11,5; even though being nothing, 12,11) Paul is not inferior to the super-apostles; second, Paul has proved his ‘equality’ by wisdom (11,6) or signs (12,12); third, refusing support is extensively dealt with immediately after this; fourth, Paul makes known his intention not to burden the Corinthians in the future; fifth, not burdening them should be interpreted as loving them.
Of course, differences in length and wording must be allowed in such compositions. Moreover, the parallelism is not carried through until the end. Each of the two passages has its own surplus. In 11,9 Paul explains how Macedonia has helped him while in 11,12-15 he expansively and bitterly deals with the opponents, those deceitful workers who apparently receive support and want Paul to