Monday, March 4, 2013

Is that really necessary?

Mystic or Sarcastic? Visions and Revelations in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Part 3
Paul introduces his vision narrative by writing
It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it,
but I will go on to visions and revelations in the Lord.
- 2 Cor 12:1
This introduction is peculiar. Paul who has in the past exhorted the Corinthians to do only what is beneficial (e.g. 1 Cor 6:12) is here doing something which he has prejudged as non-beneficial. Martin dubs this an "opening irony" (Word, p391) and that we should not take it literally as it is “most likely a polemical statement against his opponents, who have boasted to aid their own cause.” (p395). The problems with this verse do not end here. The expression "visions and revelations in the Lord" is also curious, Barnett suggests that "this expression is offhand, and perhaps dismissive in intent.” (NICNT, p558). Others have remarked that it sounds like a stock phrase or slogan of the false apostles. It certainly isn't a phrase Paul uses elsewhere.

Altogether we enter this pericope via an awkward introductory sentence and it is necessary to find irony somewhere. Either we find irony in this introductory sentence or as I am arguing the irony should be found in the following verses. Indeed, nothing will be gained, because Paul is recounting the following vision to cut the ground from under those "super apostles" (2 Cor 11:12 NIV). It is not for their benefit but for the silencing of those ministers of Satan (11:15).

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