Journal of Early Christian Studies
The Johns Hopkins University Press
This article pursues an alternative approach to situating the historical circumstances and rhetorical strategies of the author of 3 Corinthians. Whereas most scholarship on 3 Corinthians has set out to ascertain the specific opponents lurking behind the polemic of the text (Simon Magus, Saturnilus, Marcion, Valentinus, etc.), I believe that this task is futile and that a close reading of the “Paul” constructed by the text’s author pays more fruitful dividends in situating the text. Specifically, I will argue that 3 Corinthians is a late secondcentury proto-orthodox invocation of the “Pastoral” Paul (i.e. the Paul of the Pastoral Epistles), who stands as the defender of apostolic teaching in the face of “deviant views” of a generally “gnostic” variety. Its closest rhetorical analogue is Irenaeus of Lyons. Both the author of 3 Corinthians and Irenaeus participate in a broad, late second-century move to reclaim Paul from the “heretics.” Yet in each of these cases, the reclamation projects involve a tacit reconfiguration of the “historical” Paul. Among other things, Paul ironically becomes a defender of σάρξ.
White, Benjamin L., "Reclaiming Paul? Reconfiguration as Reclamation in 3 Corinthians" (2009). Publications. 32.