Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2 Cor 12:5-7: The Switch

Mystic or Sarcastic? Visions and Revelations in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Part 6

The sticking point for many scholars with the idea that 12:1-4 is not Paul's own vision, including the ones I have run this idea past, has been vs5-7 where Paul is clearly talking about himself. However, as we've already noted, attributing the previous vision to Paul is not without its problems because Paul once again distances himself from the vision account, which he had already done so by his unusual (unique in extant literature) use of the third person.






vs 5a "on behalf of such a man I will boast" i.e. I will ‘boast’ about a man like that [and I just have]
 v5b "but on my own behalf I will not boast except of my own weaknesses" - once again denying that he would boast about himself in such a way, is this deception, sarcasm or the truth? Instead he asserts that he will  only boast about his own weaknesses.
Then in vs6 he admits he could boast about himself because he has had "exceptional revelations", but if he did boast about them he would at least be speaking the truth and not being a fool, implying that the visions of the super-apostles are false and foolish.

So I would assert that there are two spiritual experiences being presented in vs1-7
in verses 1-4 a false, foolish and boastful one attributed to a man Paul (vaguely) knows, and a genuine, exceptional and private one that Paul owns but refuses to go into out of humility "so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard in me." Thus Paul switches in verse 5 from ironic boasting about the first category of spiritual experience to earnest description of his experience of God's power in weakness.

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