Podcast 1.4: Paul and the followers of Jesus at Corinth, part 1

This fourth episode begins to look at the followers of Jesus at Corinth through Paul’s letter known as 1 Corinthians in the New Testament. After discussing the city of Corinth, I go on to consider the history of Paul’s interactions with these Christians, which was characterized by rocky relations. Then we delve into the situation among the Corinthians that led Paul to write his letter, primarily the issue of social and spiritual divisions within the Jesus groups at Corinth (in 1 Corinthians, chapters 1-4). This is the first of three episodes on 1 Corinthians (approx. 25 minutes).

This episode is part of series one (“Paul and his Communities”) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 1.4: Paul and the followers of Jesus at Corinth, part 1 (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

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7 thoughts on “Podcast 1.4: Paul and the followers of Jesus at Corinth, part 1

  1. Murray

    I’m very much enjoying your podcasts Phil! May I ask what text your students are using!
    Murray Wilcox

  2. Phil Harland Post author

    Hello Murray. I’m glad you’re enjoying them. The text I am using is Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 3rd edition, 2004. You’ll find that the podcasts (lectures) take their own direction, though, and that the text is preparatory and supplementary. You can also see the course outline and point form discussion notes for the in-class lectures here (in case you hadn’t noticed):
    http://www.philipharland.com/courses.html
    Phil H.

  3. Richard Fellows

    Phil,

    I have benefited from your work on patrons and it is good to hear that you are making use of it in this presentation.

    I have four quibles and a question:

    1. It is not true that most scholars place 2 Cor 10-13 before 2 Cor 1-9. Even those who do so, admit that they are in a minority nowadays.

    2. Rather few hold the view that 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 is part of the previous letter. I am persuaded by Michael Goulder this it is integral to 2 Corinthians (see Novum Testamentum 36, 1 (1994).

    3. Like many, you are cautious in using Acts. However, this oft repeated word of caution is overdone, in my view. Those who are sceptical of Acts need to present evidence to justify their view, rather than simply take their position as axiomatic. I am tired of hearing the unsubstantiated “Acts should only be used with caution” mantra.

    4. By the way, it is probable that Crispus was a Jew, but it is not certain. Not all archisynagogoi were Jews. However, this is too detailed a point for an introductory lecture.

    Given the importance of house owners, do you think that in 1 Cor 16:15-16 Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to abandon their rival patrons and unite under the roof of Stephanas?

    I’m looking forward to your next pod cast.

    Richard Fellows

  4. Phil H.

    Hello Richard,

    Thanks for your comments. I can appreciate your opinion on these matters. On some of the points you raise (e.g. 2 Cor 6:14-7:1), I hope I was clear that the opinion was just a theory rather than a statement of fact.  I’m not too concerned about whether an opinion is in the majority or the minority among scholars in assessing its value (but perhaps I did mention something about such things in the podcast — I haven’t made a recent poll of scholars on any issue).

    On other issues, I simply disagree with your legitimate alternate take. On the order of 2 Cor, I wonder how you account for the drastic change in tone from 7 to 10 and the fact that things begin positively and end so negatively in terms of Paul’s relations with the Corinthians in one letter (or do you propose multiple letters in a different order?).  On Acts, it is not that I would say that it is historically inaccurate on the whole, but simply that I have no way of assessing its historical accuracy in cases where I have no other primary sources (e.g. Paul himself) contemporary with the events in question or alternate histories to compare and assess.  Similar problems are there in using Livy, Josephus, Herodotus, and you name the ancient historian as historical sources.  What is clear is that ancient history-writing was something quite different than modern history-writing, and, for example, ancient historians do not feel troubled by the idea of making things up that fit the narrative and situation (e.g. speeches).  We can use such historians’ writings as a window into their perspectives, rhetorical skills and cultural contexts, which is the consolation.
    I’m glad you find the podcasts enjoyable, and thanks for putting me to the test (which is part of what’s fun about making accessible to the public introductory lectures that were developed to keep the interest of second year students — one does not engage in quite the same level of (over?)simplification in academic articles or books).

    All the best.
    Phil

  5. Richard Fellows

    Hi Phil,

    (my technical problems are solved now). Thanks for the comments.

    I have no strong arguments for placing 2 Cor 10-13 in any location. My point was that you are not correct to say that the majority of scholars place it before 2 Cor 1-9. By the way, I appreciate your point about being bothered what the majority think: often the majority is wrong and an appeal to a consensus is not a legitamate form of argument.

    You write, “On Acts, it is not that I would say that it is historically inaccurate on the whole, but simply that I have no way of assessing its historical accuracy in cases where I have no other primary sources (e.g. Paul himself) contemporary with the events in question or alternate histories to compare and assess”

    But the accuracy (or otherwise) of Acts CAN be assessed. Its data can be compared against those in Paul’s undisputed letters and other sources. I believe that the fit is remarkably good and have provided some new arguments here: http://members.shaw.ca/rfellows/My_Homepage_Files/Page59.html
    If Acts is inaccurate, as some suppose, then we would expect to see historical blunders, just as we see the authors of the psuedo-Paulines make blunders. Such blunders in Acts are few or non-existant. It baffles me that so many scholars (and I am not picking on you here) are so comfortable to leave the question of the reliability of Acts unassessed, or feel that the question can be answered without actually looking at the data in Acts.

    Richard.

  6. Phil H.

    Thanks for these further comments, Richard. I forgot to answer one of your original questions about whether Paul is “encouraging the Corinthians to abandon their rival patrons and unite under the roof of Stephanas”. I had never quite thought of it that way. Let’s hope he has a large enough living room;)

    Phil H.

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