Having made the switch, and admitted that if he boasted in visions he would do so truthfully (implying that the SA were not being truthful) he then describes the thorn in his flesh necessitated by the visions he has not shared and a subsequent revelation of Christ’s power and grace. It is this revelation of Christ's power made perfect in Paul's own bodily weakness that resonates well with the somatic emphasis of the earlier letter to the Corinthians. It is in Paul's body that Christ is glorified and experienced, even and especially in bodily weakness, and it is in suffering for the gospel that Paul's apostolic credentials are asserted. This final spiritual insight contrasts dramatically with the meaningless and vague vision of vs1-4, here is a message of grace that Paul can share, and has in fact been providing inspiration to Christians for the last 2000 year or so.
Summary of suggested reading of 2 Cor 12:1-10
• V1: introduction to theme of visions
• V2-4: parody of super-apostle vision
• V5-6: switch from “a man” to Paul
• V7-10: contrast of revelations so great they required a thorn in the flesh to prevent elation/conceit, and an actual communicable revelation of Christ’s power and grace
What we have in 2 Cor 12:1-10 is not one vision leading to a thorn leading to a revelation of God’s grace, but two contrasting accounts of spiritual experience, the first of which Paul mocks, the second of which he owns and celebrates.
Benefits of this view.
- Exchange a deceitful and incoherently mystic Paul, for a sarcastic and amusing one
- No longer required to make sense of numerous exegetical issues with vision in v2-4 as it is not supposed to make sense!
- Eliminate 2 Cor 12:2-4 as data for Pauline mysticism, cosmology and anthropology, where it may have been functioning as a red herring for some time.
- Problems with text of 2 cor 12:1-4 solved as idiosyncrasies of a parody of a super apostles
Let me know what you think!