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The Catholic Biblical Quarterly


This article challenges the use o f I Corinthians as the starting point of a popular devolutionary narrative whereby the charismatic historical Paul gave way over time to the ecclesiastical “Paul” of the canonical tradition. I draw attention to the numerous ways in which the Paul of 1 Corinthians appeals to tradition and to wider ecclesial practices as a way of constraining the practices and beliefs of the Corinthians, and I argue that this devolutionary narrative is being undergirded not by a close reading of the primary sources, or by a careful application of Max Weber’s nuanced work on authority, but by the theologically tendentious Protestant framework established in Rudolph Sohrn’s Kirchenrecht.