Kindness, Courage, and Integrity in Biblical Texts and in the Politics of Biblical Interpretation: Festschrift Reimund Bieringer 9789042950481, 904295048X

This volume is intended to honour Reimund Bieringerat at the occasion of his retirement from the position of Professor o

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Louis-Léon Christians – Henri Derroitte – Wim François – Éric Gaziaux Joris Geldhof – Arnaud Join-Lambert – Johan Leemans Olivier Riaudel – Matthieu Richelle (secretary) Joseph Verheyden (general editor)


Rita Corstjens – Claire Timmermans








A catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN 978-90-429-5048-1 eISBN 978-90-429-5049-8 D/2023/0602/3 All rights reserved. Except in those cases expressly determined by law, no part of this publication may be multiplied, saved in an automated data file or made public in any way whatsoever without the express prior written consent of the publishers. © 2023 – Peeters, Bondgenotenlaan 153, B-3000 Leuven (Belgium)


The Cover: The Pflügender Bauer and the Wisdom of the Exegete (Barbara BAERT) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Reimund Bieringer – The Exegete as a Planter (Ma. Marilou S. IBITA – Dominika KUREK-CHOMYCZ – Bénédicte LEMMELIJN – Sarah WHITEAR) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Academic Curriculum Vitae of Reimund Bieringer (°2 May 1957) Bibliography of Reimund Bieringer Academic Bibliography (1979-2022) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scholarly Publications for a Wider Audience and Interviews (1985-2023) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reimund Bieringer Online. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Doctoral Dissertations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Master’s Dissertations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scriptures, Virtues, and Hermeneutics (Ma. Marilou S. IBITA – Dominika KUREK-CHOMYCZ – Bénédicte LEMMELIJN – Sarah WHITEAR). .





Adele REINHARTZ (Ottawa) Complicating Kindness in the Book of Ruth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Amy-Jill LEVINE (Hartford, CT) Kindness, Integrity, Courage, and Shamelessness: Recovering Human Behavior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Ruben ZIMMERMANN (Mainz) Frank and Free Speech (Παρρησία) as a Virtue in John, Antiquity, and Current Ethical Debate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


John L. GILLMAN (San Diego, CA) Παρρησία in the Pauline Corpus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




Toan DO (Louisville, KY) “The Teaching of Christ” in 2 John 9-10: Reconsidering the Ground for Hospitality in the Johannine Church . . . . . . . . . . . .



Cilliers BREYTENBACH (Berlin – Stellenbosch) Der unreine Aussätzige und der mitleidende, gereizte Jesus: Zu σπλαγχνισθείς und ἐμβριμησάμενος αὐτῷ in Mk 1,41 und 1,43 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Laura TACK (Leuven) The Courage to Look Forward: The Double Mention of στρέφω in John 20,14.16 in Light of the Future-Oriented Vision of John 20,11-18 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 Christina M. KREINECKER (Leuven) Mutig anders: Griechisch-lateinische Beobachtungen zur Darstellung von Gruppenzugehörigkeit, (un)typischem Verhalten und Gruppenwechsel im Johannesevangelium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 Ma. Marilou S. IBITA (Manila, Philippines – Leuven) Dinner and Dissent in 1 Cor 11,17-34 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149 Thomas SCHMELLER (Frankfurt am Main) Die Integrität des Paulus: Ein anderer Blick auf sein apostolisches Ethos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167 Andreas LINDEMANN (Bielefeld) „… Zur Auferbauung und nicht zur Zerstörung“: Zu den Argumentationsweisen des Paulus in 2 Kor 10–13 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 Jan LAMBRECHT † (Leuven) Planning the Third Visit: 2 Cor 13,1-10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207 Victor S. NICDAO (City of San Fernando, Philippines) Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh” and the Inconsequential Nature of a Riddle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219




Joseph VERHEYDEN (Leuven) Fierce Claims and False Truths: Justin Martyr’s (Mis)Handling of the Argument of Scriptural Corruption. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239 Tobias NICKLAS (Regensburg) Denk- und Kommunikationsräume jenseits und diesseits des Kanons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261 David G. HORRELL (Exeter) Generosity and Epistemology: What Might It Mean to Decolonise New Testament Studies? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277 Didier POLLEFEYT (Leuven) Giving the Bible a Future: An Encounter between Biblical Studies and Moral Theology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299 Ma. Maricel S. IBITA (Quezon City, Philippines) “Be It Done for You as You Desire”: Synodality, the UNSDGs, and the Politics of Biblical Interpretation for a Post-Pandemic Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 315 Fernando F. SEGOVIA (Nashville, TN) Criticism in End-Times: Addressing Climate Change . . . . . . . . 335 INDEXES

ABBREVIATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 363 INDEX AUCTORUM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 365 INDEX LOCORUM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 371


Just as plowing represents humankind’s wresting of the soil from its primal state for civilized cultivation, so does it evoke the wresting of consciousness from primordial psychic ground to be at the disposal of human endeavor1.

As soon as spring arrives, the landscape colourfully lights up in Mathias Bieringer’s Saarland. The pigment yields generously to the blue of the sky and the green of the valley. At the top of the rolling hillside, the Pflügender Bauer approaches – concentrated and diligent. But for the thoroughbred horses leading the way, tapping the unworked land with their hooves, the furrows are made in the ground in silence. Soon the soil will be churned up. The field is already tender and soft, ready for a new cycle of seed. The exuberant colours, precision sought after in the articulation of the blades of grass, as well as the theme of everyday life, are in keeping with the twentieth-century stylistic movement of naïve painting. The so-called Naïvists, such as the German painter Max Raffler (19021988) and the Austrian painter and author Regina Dapra (1929-2012), advocated for a return to spontaneous painting that was unhindered by the technique of linear perspective, optical illusions and other academic laws2. Mathias Bieringer chose a relatively large format for his work, monumentally placing the ploughing farmer in the foreground. No raw realism here, rather a romanticised representation. After all, around the time that the work was created in 1982, agricultural labour had been industrialised in the vicinity of Saarbrücken. With its anachronistic return to the simplicity of “farmer and horse”, the Pflügender Bauer carries the weight of iconographic tradition, and the painting attaches itself to an archetypal spectrum of symbols.

1. A. RONNBERG, art. Plow, in The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images, Köln, Taschen, 502-503, p. 502. 2. E. ZIMMER – W. ZIMMER, Galerie-Geschichten zur Naiven Kunst, Norderstedt, Books on Demand, 2013, pp. 64-69.



The origins of the plough are sacred and apotropaic. Its mechanism serves the interests of the community. To this day, we still recognise the frills of ancient customs in the Low Countries and Germany’s folklore. “Bei den alten Balkan Völkern”, writes Kurt Heckscher, “wurde der Pflugschar apotropäische Bedeutung zugesprochen, ähnlich zu werten ist der aus Deutschland bekannte Volksbrauch des Umpflügens eines Dorfes oder Flurteils, manchmal auch abgeändert in ein Umfahren mit dem Pflug”3. Heckscher elaborates that no land was allowed to be worked – “opened up” – on Good Friday and Silent Saturday. Much like the child who was not allowed to be weaned while the plough worked the field, as this brought bad luck4. I. THE PLOUGH AND THE SCRIPT It is widely held that the introduction of the plough as an agricultural tool marked the transition between nomadic and sedentary existence around 9,000 years ago5. The plough shows a new provision of care for the local, fertile soil. The interdependence of humans and natural sites makes the plough an indispensable and primordial tool: it cultivates and renews the land. Again and again, sharply and relentlessly, the ploughshare initiates a new cycle. The furrows drawn in the land are lines, connections, signs, circles6. The ploughshare scratches winding and spiralling marks, which as a whole inscribe onto the land a beautiful script. It is hypothesised that the so-called ox plough script (βουστροφηδόν, turning like a ploughing ox) arose from the furrows of the plough. The lines of this archaic script on rock walls and stones are to be read sequentially from left to right and right to left. The plough is a tool akin to the beginning of written language and, thus, it engages in a graphic dialogue in and with nature. The ploughshare is a pen, nature is its bearer and the “field drawing” is a message between human and God. 3. M. LURKER, art. Pflug, in Wörterbuch der Symbolik, Stuttgart, Alfred Kröner, 1991, 570-571, p. 571. 4. K. HECKSCHER, art. Pflügen, in E. HOFFMANN-KRAYER – H. BÄCHTOLD-STÄUBLI (eds.), Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens, Band 7, Berlin – Leipzig, De Gruyter, 19351936, col. 2. 5. RONNBERG, Plow (n. 1), p. 502. 6. A. MARSHACK, On the Dangers of Serpents in the Mind, in Current Anthropology 26/1 (1985) 139-152.






A copy of “The Fall of Icarus” (ca. 1595) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525-1569), kept in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, also shows the ploughing man as a protagonist7. Here, too, the farm worker with his draft horse appear in the foreground. The background is not the Saarland, but an imaginative panorama that connects a seascape with jagged mountain formations and a distant port city. The ploughman is concentrating on his physical labour; the furrows rhythmically mark the sleeping ground. The land soon wakes up under the hooves and shears. Spring still reluctantly presents itself, but the sun is already gaining strength. A shepherd looks up and sees the insurmountable. Possibly, he heard the thin and far cry of Daedalus above him, witnessing the fatal death of his son Icarus. He wanted to fly too close to the sun and the wax-stitched wings that made their ecstatic flight possible melted away. In Bruegel’s painting, the integration of the hubris myth is subtly woven into the delusion of the day. One discerns the drowning Icarus near a fisherman on the far right of the scene, almost as a fait divers. Fortuna’s ship sails on. The farmer, he did not take notice, and the fisherman was too caught up in his own nets. Swift and indifferent is the fall of a haughty man, Bruegel seems to want to teach us. Fate is sealed in the shadows. At the edge. Behind the ploughman’s back. No one looks back. It is already over.

III. THE WISDOM OF THE EXEGETE Today the Pflügender Bauer graces the cover of Reimund Bieringer’s stellar Festschrift. In the heart of Reimund lives no hubris. And in Reimund’s environment there is no room for indifference. One brother lives for the other brother, as the two draft horses become one in the wood and metal of the plough: the two natures of Christ8.

7. For the image, see: (accessed 11 December 2022). 8. M. CAZENAVE, art. Charrue, in Encyclopédie des Symboles, Paris, Le livre de poche, 1993, 122-123; J. CHEVALIER – A. GHEERBRANT, art. Charrue, in Dictionnaire des Symboles, Paris, Robert Lafont/Jupiter, 1969, 212-213, after Irenaeus of Lyon (ca. 140-202).



I have been lucky enough to learn from Reimund Bieringer’s many qualities. They are actually more than qualities. They are the wisdom we read in the book of Sirach 38,25-26: How can one become wise who handles the plow and who glories in the shaft of a goad, who drives oxen and is occupied with their work, and whose talk is about the offspring of bulls? He sets his heart on plowing furrows.

Such is the pursuit of wisdom of the exegete. Reimund Bieringer treats texts like fertile soil. And with his astute wit, he seeds them with new meanings. For the Pflügender Bauer does not look back. The line is always drawn forward, as in Luke 9,62: Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”.

Wisdom lies in the straightforwardness; in the purposeful gaze. Not in the petrification of the irreversible past. The ploughman must move forward on the solid ground of life and time. Such is the tremendous courage of the exegete. Reimund Bieringer dares to plough over existing land. Over and over again. Drastically if necessary. After all, knowledge has to renew itself. Reimund does not tolerate stagnation in scholarship. And certainly not with himself. Like the shepherd, Reimund Bieringer looks upwards and with gentle and tender amazement his gaze crosses with God’s as the boustrophedon is slowly drawn out between them. For where the soil is turned over and scripture becomes visible, a new era begins – authentic, graceful and nimble. The ploughman must advance on the solid ground of life and time. Thanks to him, the past with all its wounds can rest and heal. Look, a new idea is already presenting itself. This Festschrift honours a magnanimous human being and a resilient scholar. Barbara BAERT Sunday 11 December 2022

REIMUND BIERINGER – THE EXEGETE AS A PLANTER ἐγὼ ἐφύτευσα, Ἀπολλῶς ἐπότισεν, ἀλλ̓ ὁ θεὸς ηὔξανεν I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth 1 Cor 3,6

Mathias Bieringer’s Pflügender Bauer (Saarland, 1982), which graces the cover of this Festschrift, symbolically represents the contribution of Prof. Dr. Reimund Bieringer to New Testament studies and the future of the discipline, as the opening piece by Barbara Baert demonstrates. Given the many branches of this academic area, a metaphor from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians comes to mind: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Cor 3,6). As an accomplished exegete and minister of the biblical text, the revelatory Word of God for many, Bieringer has been a faithful planter just like St. Paul. Bieringer’s substantial contribution to biblical studies cannot be fully encompassed by the modest attempts that we have provided in the following pages. Bieringer’s long academic career, spanning more than thirty years, can be described as a markedly fecund series of planting and harvesting seasons both for the flourishing of his own scholarly endeavours and for nurturing the growth of future generations of biblical scholars with a global reach. These two components of supporting New Testament studies are just like the two draft horses that help the planter to prepare the soil, as shown in the cover image. I. THE PLANTER AND THE FIRST DRAFT HORSE: PERSONAL FLOURISHING First, Bieringer’s task of planting is dependent on ensuring that he himself is prepared for the task just like the first draft horse. In this section, we shall focus on how he prepared himself and flourished (and continues to do so) in his scholarship through various means of support. 1. Education and Academic Career Bieringer’s theological academic preparation began in the PhilosophischTheologische Hochschule St. Georgen in Frankfurt a.M., Germany in 1977. In 1979, he completed his “Vordiplom” there with a “philosophische



Hausarbeit” on the problem of human suffering (a comparison between C.S. Lewis and H.R. Schlette). His critical theological formation was fully nurtured in the Faculty of Theology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, where he received both state and theological degrees. He finished his Bachelor of Arts in 1980. In the following year, he obtained both his Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus (1981) and his Master of Arts in Theology (1981). Two years later, he received his degree of Sacrae Theologiae Licentiatus (1983). Continuing with Prof. Dr. Jan Lambrecht, SJ as his Doktorvater, Bieringer received his PhD (1986) and the title of Sacrae Theologiae Doctor (1988) with his dissertation entitled “Lasst euch mit Gott versöhnen”: Eine exegetische Untersuchung zu 2 Kor 5,14-21 in seinem Kontext, consisting of four volumes (722 pages of text and 400 pages of endnotes). In his dissertation, partially published in Studies on 2 Corinthians (BETL, 112; 1994), Bieringer focused on the meaning of “reconciliation” within the epistolary context of 2 Corinthians. He argued that the foundation of Paul’s use of the concept of reconciliation in the divine-human relationship in 2 Cor 5,14-21 is tightly linked to Paul’s theological reflection on the apostle’s personal experience of an initial reconciliation with the Corinthians. Moreover, instead of the traditional passive interpretation (“be reconciled to God”), Bieringer defended a reflexive meaning of the verb form καταλλάγητε in 2 Cor 5,20d (“reconcile yourselves to God”). After finishing his doctorate and the pastoral preparation for his diaconate (1987) and priesthood ordination (1988), Bieringer spent the subsequent two years as an assistant pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Rodalben, Germany (1988-1990). Soon after, in 1990, he returned to Leuven and began his academic career at the Faculty of Theology (now Theology and Religious Studies), first as assistant professor or “hoofddocent” (19901996), then as associate professor or “hoogleraar” (1996-2002). From 1994 until 2002, he also served as the faculty’s Director of Undergraduate, Graduate and Postgraduate Programmes. In 2002, he was promoted to full professor or “gewoon hoogleraar”, a position which he held until September 2022. In October 2022 he was appointed Professor Emeritus with formal duties at the same faculty. 2. Contribution to Biblical Scholarship Bieringer’s efforts to advance New Testament biblical scholarship are manifold. He is well-known for his contribution to Pauline and Johannine scholarship with an exegetical training that was strongly rooted in the historical-critical method addressing the world behind the text, but with



an openness to other methodologies and approaches that address the world of the text and the world before the text. This was already evident in the fact that the earliest research project grant which he was awarded by the Belgian Research Foundation focused on “Methodological Pluralism and 2 Corinthians” (1993-1996). His interest in the world of, and in front of the text, would subsequently be developed in various projects and publications in relation to biblical hermeneutics, theology, and social justice and would also become a strong feature of his pedagogy. In what follows, we summarise briefly the main areas and themes of biblical studies and theology to which the honouree has contributed with his academic work. In this selective overview, we are only able to give a limited insight into the breadth and depth of his scholarship. We have thus attempted to provide in brackets references to key publications related to specific themes should the readers wish to explore these further. Broad areas of interest are listed as sub-headings below, but as will become clear, there are significant overlaps between these. Biblical Theology Bieringer’s interest in key theological concepts in the New Testament is evident in his doctoral dissertation. Following his seminal insights on the influence of Paul’s experience of human reconciliation with the Corinthians in view of divine-human reconciliation, he continued to develop his understanding of Paul’s way of theologising in the context of the research project “St. Paul’s Theological Method” (2003-2006). Subsequently, in a paper presented at the 2008 Annual SBL Meeting entitled “Looking over Paul’s Shoulder: 2 Corinthians Evidence for Paul’s Theology in the Making”, Bieringer coined the phrase “Pauline theology in the making”. This paper and this phrase underline the developmental process of Paul’s deep theological insights as rooted in his everyday life experiences with the early Christ-followers in the Pauline communities. The paper provided a foundational statement for the programme of the SBL Seminar on Second Corinthians: “Pauline Theology in the Making”, which Bieringer co-founded in 2008 and co-chaired for six years. His desire to understand the notion of reconciliation not only as a Christian theological concept, but also in other religious traditions, led to an international conference on “Reconciliation in Interfaith Perspective” (2007), papers from which were also subsequently published (2011a). Besides reconciliation (1983a; 1987a; 1994η; 2008g; 2009c; 2011d; 2013e), other theological concepts and issues which Bieringer has studied include justification (1983; 1994ϑ; 2021), consolation (2008d; 2011b), hope (1995a; 1995b; 2010f), parrhēsia (2005e), the interpretation of the



death of Jesus on the cross in the gospel of John (1995c; 2018d) and the letters of Paul (1992d; 2010e) as well as Christology and theo-logy in the gospel of John (2007c; 2012c; 2014e). Literarkritik and Redaktionskritik Bieringer is one of the long-standing defenders of the unity and integrity of 2 Corinthians. He began discussing the question of the various compilation and unity theories in detail in his doctoral work, with the results subsequently published in the aforementioned Studies on 2 Corinthians volume (1994βγδ). He has continued to study the issue throughout his career, always approaching it from fresh perspectives, as in an SBL paper (subsequently published in 2014f), in which he revisited the unity of 2 Corinthians in light of ἀγαπ-terminology. He has also offered space for the proponents of various partition theories, as in the context of the SNTS Seminar on “Reconsidering Literarkritik of the Pauline Letters and Its Impact on Their Interpretation”, which he co-chaired with Eve-Marie Becker (2011-2018). Bieringer’s interest in the world behind the text and the text’s history is not limited to 2 Corinthians. In keeping with Louvain tradition, he supports the position that the Gospel of John is directly dependent on the Synoptics, as his study of the motifs of resurrection and ascension in John most clearly illustrates (2008f), but as is also evident in his other essays devoted to Johannine themes. Social Justice and Biblical Hermeneutics Passion for justice has impacted Bieringer’s scholarship in multiple regards. Reflected in his publications and in his research projects is his distinct interest in justice theory, Catholic social teaching, poverty, dialogue, inclusion and exclusion, and contributive justice. His concern for justice and indignation at the exclusionary tendencies in Christian theology, biblical writings and their interpretation, the Church, and society, have led him to feminist theology, but have also given him the courage to tackle the thorny questions of anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John and the apostle Paul’s relationship to Judaism. Furthermore, they have resulted in fruitful involvement in projects on sustainability and topics such as the signs of the times and ecology. Bieringer’s support for feminist approaches to biblical scholarship in particular and theologising in general is manifested not only in his publications and conference papers, but also in his dedicated support as co-founder and liaison professor for the Centre for Women’s Studies in Theology (CWST) at the faculty since 1994. His research on women in



the letters of Paul and on Mary Magdalene is to a large extent linked to his involvement in the CWST and collaboration with individual researchers who have also been part of it. Concerning women in Pauline letters, his article on women and leadership in Romans 16 has been especially influential. Originally published in Dutch (2004a), it was later translated into English, and subsequently also into Hungarian. While Bieringer’s interest in women in the Pauline letters is reflected also in other publications (2019b; 2020b), it is his studies on the figure of Mary Magdalene, emphasising her role as a disciple, first and foremost in her post-resurrection encounter with Jesus in John 20, that feature more prominently in Bieringer’s bibliography (2005d; 2006g; 2007d; 2007h; 2013f; 2016c; 2022c). Much of his work on Mary Magdalene is rooted in his participation in the interdisciplinary project “Mary Magdalene and the Touching of Jesus: An Intra- and Interdisciplinary Investigation of the Interpretation of John 20,17 in Exegesis, Iconography and Pastoral Care”, in which he worked together with colleagues associated with the CWST. The research results of this project were distributed through several articles and three edited volumes on the topic (2006a; 2013b and 2016a) as found in Bieringer’s bibliography. Moreover, there were also radio interviews, lectures, debates and an exhibition of images of Mary Magdalene and the iconography of the Noli me tangere. Bieringer has cultivated a link between biblical studies and the work towards sustainability through knowledge sharing and development of skills. This brought him to an international, inter-university and inter- and multi-disciplinary cooperation that promotes the role of the higher institutes of learning in helping to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to uphold human rights for all. As indicated in the academic CV, since 2018 Bieringer has been involved as the Principal Investigator in three Global Minds-Open Faculty Projects, as well as in an academic researchers and grassroots community-based research project entitled “Urban Poor Women and Children with Academics for Reaching and Delivering on UNSDGs in the Philippines – (UPWARD-UP)”. Influenced by his reflection on how biblical interpretation relates to questions of justice, and in an attempt to move beyond the simple distinction between exegesis and application, very early on in his academic work Bieringer began grappling with hermeneutical issues and with the questions pertaining to the status of the Bible not only as an object of study in academia, but also with respect to its authoritative status for those who consider it to be Scripture. This included the relationship between the biblical text and revelation. He has repeatedly returned to the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation



Dei Verbum, studying not only its final form, but also its pre-history and reception (2002c; 2013c; 2013d; 2013g; 2014g). As demonstrated by Bieringer, both diachronic and synchronic analyses of Dei Verbum bring to the fore the tension between monological and dialogical ways of understanding revelation, with the final form showing far more openness to conceptualising revelation in a dialogical manner. Bieringer’s concern with exclusive and often highly disturbing dimensions of the Bible, on the one hand, and an awareness of its life-giving, hopeful potential on the other, coupled with a sophisticated hermeneutical awareness, have led him to the development of an approach to the Bible with wide-ranging implications. Beginning with the way in which the relationship between Scripture and theology, but also exegesis and theology, is portrayed in Dei Verbum 24, in a 1996 paper, “The Normativity of the Future: The Authority of the Bible for Theology”, delivered for the joint meeting of the Flemish and Dutch chapters of the European Association for Catholic Theology held in Tilburg, Netherlands, and subsequently published, Bieringer analysed the “question in which way the Bible, a text of the past, can be meaningful, relevant, maybe even normative and authoritative for people who live today and in the future” (1997b). Inspired by the insights of Sandra Schneiders in The Revelatory Text and the hermeneutical theories of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur, Bieringer continued the research with social ethicists Mary Elsbernd (1946-2010) of Loyola University Chicago and Didier Pollefeyt of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. The new approach, for which he coined the phrase “the Normativity of the Future”, recognises a dialogical understanding of revelation, analyses the visions of God’s dream for the world found explicitly or implicitly in the biblical text, scrutinises its inclusive and exclusive dimensions, discerns the pneumatological and ethical dimensions, and engages the meta-questions that deal with the biblical interpreters’ presuppositions and contexts as well as the impact of their interpretation on communities to which they must be held accountable. Bieringer and Elsbernd’s dialogue later included the work of their respective students and other scholars resulting in an edited volume (2010c) which applied the approach to the Bible, other authoritative texts like the Catholic Social Teaching, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and narratives. He has continued to develop and further refine the Normativity of the Future approach, as more recent publications show (2020c). Furthermore, in 2018, in cooperation with the Australian Catholic University, an International Expert Seminar “Contextualizing Normativity of the Future: Future Directions” was held in Leuven, with the papers collected in a forthcoming volume.



The germination of the ideas and challenges discovered in the Normativity of the Future hermeneutics also influenced Bieringer’s other collaborative works in the realm of Pauline and Johannine studies. In collaboration with Didier Pollefeyt, Bieringer further developed the Normativity of the Future approach in the context of Jewish-Christian dialogue. Their joint project on the alleged anti-Jewish tendencies in the Fourth Gospel (esp. in John 8,31-59) resulted in the Leuven interdisciplinary seminar on “Anti-Judaism in the Fourth Gospel and Jewish-Christian Dialogue” (2000) and anti-Judaism in John has remained one of Bieringer’s main research foci (2001f; 2004b; 2014e; 2017a). More recently, another project, “New Hermeneutics for Renewed Dialogues: A Catholic Perspective on Crucial Theological Issues in Jewish-Christian and Ecumenical Dialogues in the Perspective of a Future-Oriented Interpretation of Key Johannine Texts”, in addition to doctoral and post-doctoral funding, also included an international expert seminar, resulting in an edited book (2019a). Bieringer’s and Pollefeyt’s research also delves into the question of continuity and discontinuity between Judaism and Christianity in Paul’s time (2011f; 2012a; 2012d). One of the Pauline interdisciplinary projects which they have co-led, the “New Perspectives on Paul and the Jews: A Critical Investigation into the Significance of the Letters of Paul in Light of the Historical Parting of the Ways between Judaism and Christianity with Particular Attention Paid to 2 Cor 3,6.7-18 in Light of Jewish-Christian Dialogue”, investigated the role of Pauline theology in the dynamic process of Christian self-definition vis-à-vis the Judaism(s) of its time and dealt with the implications for present day Jewish-Christian dialogue. Bieringer’s work on future-oriented hermeneutics has also led him to an appreciation of visual exegesis, sparking his interest in New Testament iconography, with a particular focus on the Noli me tangere scene, as reflected in, among others, his long-time collaboration with art historian, Barbara Baert. His hermeneutical awareness and openness to other disciplines facilitated involvement in his interdisciplinary projects, such as the aforementioned project on Mary Magdalene. Hermeneutics and commitment to justice have taken Bieringer well beyond the limitations of the historical-critical method in which he was originally schooled. Recognising the validity and significance of contextual approaches to biblical interpretation, in his own work he has been influenced in particular by those approaches which emphasise ethical dimensions and responsibility in the use and interpretation of biblical texts. Hence, his involvement in the abovementioned projects promoting the role of the higher institutes in relation to achieving the United Nations



Sustainable Development Goals, and his courage to address anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John, instead of relegating it to the sphere of the gospel’s reception. This fertile background would also be influential in his teaching of contextual hermeneutics as we will show below. The Greek Language and Textual Criticism While cognisant of the growing number of methodologies and the diversifying approaches to the biblical text which attempt to respond to the signs of the times, and willing to engage with them, Bieringer has not abandoned classical exegetical methods. His scholarship is marked by a unique combination of an ability to read texts closely, paying attention to detail, on the one hand, and a forward-looking hermeneutical awareness, on the other. Even in his most detailed grammatical-philological studies, he does not lose sight of broader theological and ethical questions. His interest in philology, reflected in a number of publications (see esp. 2005f; 2008d; 2008g; 2010e; 2011b) is partly related to his enthusiasm for ancient Greek and its pedagogy. Having originally translated into Dutch and revised J.W. Wenham’s Elements of New Testament Greek under the title Inleiding tot het Grieks van het Nieuwe Testament (1998), he has subsequently developed his own set of course notes. These course notes are currently being revised in preparation for a new Biblical Greek textbook, which Bieringer is working on with Ma. Marilou Ibita and Dominika Kurek-Chomycz. Bieringer’s solid exegetical training is also manifest in his appreciation for text-critical matters. While only a few of his studies are specifically devoted to text critical problems (2002h; 2022c), strong grounding in textual criticism and familiarity with recent developments are also evident when he discusses other exegetical matters, as well as in his guiding of students in their groundwork for the master’s degree studies and in preparing their doctoral projects, as will be shown below. Furthermore, Bieringer is also currently co-investigator in a major research project led by Christina Kreinecker, on “1 Cor-Text, Transmission and Translation of 1 Corinthians in the First Millennium”. 3. Publications To date, the fruits of Bieringer’s personal scholarly achievements and contributions to scholarship are also manifested through his various publications as book author, co-author and co-editor, translator and revisor as well as author or co-author of around one hundred fifty academic articles and book chapters. He has also published academic works for a



wider audience in view of public theologising and adult catechesis. Moreover, along with the signs of the times, Bieringer is also very visible in online audio-visual publications. Select academic publications have already been mentioned above, and more details can be found in the academic bibliography. Nonetheless, the editors deem it important to name his sole authorship books, namely, Dialoog en participatie: Over hedendaagse uitdagingen van het christelijk geloof (2010a) and Geld en genade: Het christelijk geloof in de hedendaagse economische context (2018a, second revised and augmented version 2020a). We also want to highlight the honouree’s cooperation with colleagues which has yielded co-authored books, indicative of his preference for a dialogical mode of doing research. The first of these, Studies on 2 Corinthians (1994), which included parts of his four-volume dissertation, was co-authored with Jan Lambrecht. He continued to be his Doktorvater’s conversation partner for the decades to come (see Johan Van der Vloet, “Exegese als martelaarschap”, Tertio (18 January 2023): 13, available at, until Professor Lambrecht’s passing on 4 March 2023. Additionally, there are two important works which are the result of Bieringer’s collaboration with Mary Elsbernd. The first is the Catholic Press Association Award Winner, When Love Is Not Enough: A TheoEthic of Justice (2002a). With Elsbernd, he also co-wrote the first part of the seminal work, Normativity of the Future: Reading Biblical and Other Authoritative Texts in an Eschatological Perspective which details the beginnings and basic presuppositions of this unique hermeneutical contribution (2010c). Yet an earlier co-authored book was produced together with Barbara Baert, Karlijn Demasure and Sabine Van Den Eynde, entitled Noli me tangere. Mary Magdalene: One Person, Many Images. Exhibition Maurits Sabbebibliotheek 23 February – 30 April 2006 (2006a). Finally, he was also behind the important bibliographical tool which he compiled with Emmanuel Nathan and Dominika Kurek-Chomycz entitled 2 Corinthians: A Bibliography (2008b). 4. Service to Academia The list of Bieringer’s personal accomplishments to date would not be complete without noting his membership and active participation in a number of professional associations, listed in the academic CV. This includes several leadership positions (president: EABS, COP, CBL, SNTC; long-time secretary: CBL, COP). In this capacity, he was the main organiser of the various associations’ annual conferences on site



and then online, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, as listed in his CV. These memberships and roles, while supporting Bieringer’s life-long flourishing as a scholar, simultaneously show the important feature of his academic career: openness to a collaborative mode of working and scholarship pursued in dialogue with other researchers, enabling both established and emerging scholars to share insights and provide feedback to one another. The same attitude and motivation have characterised the manner in which Bieringer has served biblical scholarship by his involvement in peer review, including his membership of several editorial boards (see academic CV). II. THE PLANTER AND THE SECOND DRAFT HORSE: OTHER-FOCUSED FLOURISHING The first section showing Bieringer’s personal accomplishments is more than enough to recognise his invaluable contribution to scholarship. Nevertheless, just as the planter with the two draft horses in the Pflügender Bauer photo cover, he was not solely focused on what he can do on his own and with his established colleagues. Bieringer has also ensured, and continues to ensure, that the biblical field in general and the New Testament field in particular is vitally prepared for the future by focusing on how new generations of theologians and, especially biblical scholars in the global setting, can develop and flourish, too. Thus, the second part of this biographical note will delve into the academic contribution of Bieringer as a researcher intensely involved in teaching and supervising numerous master’s theses and doctoral dissertations in Leuven and beyond, remarkably characterised by kindness, courage, and integrity as these students grow and thrive fruitfully in the field of biblical interpretation. 1. Contribution to Teaching and Pedagogy With more than three decades of his teaching career, Bieringer has been one of the teachers with the most effective pedagogy in the Faculty of Theology in Leuven and he was the winner of the best teacher award of the theology students of KU Leuven in 2015-2016. His outstanding teaching skills and kindness towards students and his courage and integrity in exploring exegetical and hermeneutical approaches covering the three worlds of the text have influenced the lives of many, leading them to stay in Leuven longer than planned and bringing them to New



Testament studies. This includes one of the co-editors of the present volume, who thanks to the honouree, changed her original area of specialisation, and stayed in Leuven well beyond her initial exchange programme, continuing with a master’s, PhD, and post-doctoral research. As the list in his Academic CV shows, he has taught both introductory and advanced courses on biblical exegesis, both at master’s and doctoral levels. Besides modules concentrating on specific New Testament corpora, the Pauline letters and Johannine literature in particular, he has also offered lectures and seminars with a focus on methodology, biblical theology, hermeneutics and biblical anthropology. To ensure a solid preparation of students, he instructed them in Biblical Greek (now: Hellenistic Greek) courses in both the Dutch and English sections. Furthermore, he has contributed to expanding students’ horizons by being one of the professors in the team-taught course on Women’s Studies, both in English and in Dutch. In a course that is required for all the master’s students, Contextual Hermeneutical Approaches to the Bible, Bieringer’s expertise continues to provide robust biblical grounding and inspiration to students from all the different theological branches. This course is co-taught with Prof. Dr. Brian Doyle (for the Hebrew Scriptures) and with Dr. Ma. Marilou Ibita (for the New Testament). In addition to theology students, Bieringer also served the KU Leuven by instructing the bachelor economics students in the Studium generale course “Religie, zingeving, levensbeschouwing” in the Faculty of Economics (now: Economie en Bedrijfswetenschappen – Economy and Business Sciences) for 20 years (2002-2020). Bieringer’s openness to life-long learning and varied methodologies led him, along with Dominika Kurek-Chomycz and Ma. Marilou Ibita, to join the Colloquium on Material Culture and Ancient Religion (COMCAR) Seminar in June 2011 (Archaeology and Identity in Roman Achaia) and 2014 (Urban Spaces of Early Christianity: The Cities of Southwest Asia Minor). Dan Schowalter from Carthage College, Christine Thomas from the University of California – Santa Barbara, James Walters from Boston University and Steve Friesen from the University of Texas at Austin spearheaded these meetings and archaeological visits. Learning from these special onsite courses benefitted the students of Leuven when Bieringer led the team-teaching of the course Studiereis Griekenland/ Turkije (BA) with Kurek-Chomycz and Ibita. The four study tours that they conducted were focused on different areas: Southern Greece (February 2011), First Century Macedonia and Christian History (April 2013), Urban Centers of Early Christianity in Western Asia Minor (April 2015) and Ancient Macedonia and Christian History (April 2017). The trips to Greece involved excellent co-operation with Greek colleagues, first and



foremost Prof. Ekaterini Tsalampouni of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. In addition, in the 2017 tour, participants had the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of Prof. Peter Oakes, University of Manchester. Bieringer’s teaching ministry went far beyond Leuven and he has been a very important ambassador of KU Leuven and the faculty, attracting partner institutions and colleagues for collaboration. Of the international students who joined the faculty’s theological formation, many who were interested in biblical studies requested to be mentored by him. As listed in the Academic CV, he has taught abroad under the various schemes of staff exchanges and mobility. Through the ERASMUS exchange, he was a visiting professor in Dublin, Berlin, Oslo, Thessaloniki, Athens, and Liverpool. He also shared his pedagogical expertise through courses and lectures in Edmonton and Chicago. He was a repeatedly invited lecturer and/or speaker in Metro Manila, Philippines. Upon his return from his first trip in Manila, Prof. Mathijs Lamberigts, the dean of the Faculty of Theology in Leuven at that time, said “I did not know you can talk about so many topics!” Bieringer has also been one of the faculty’s ambassadors by being a guest professor in higher educational institutions in India and Australia. His visits could not be stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and Bieringer continued to be invited as sought-after online speaker in the Philippines and in India. 2. Contribution to Student Supervision and Promotion Apart from the foregoing efforts to help ensure the future of biblical studies worldwide, Bieringer also has a nonpareil dedication to the students under his supervision. As of January 2023, Bieringer has supervised 153 master’s theses and thirty-nine PhD and/or STD dissertations to completion. As Professor Emeritus with formal duties, he continues to supervise fifteen PhD students and one master student whose work is still in progress. Of the master’s theses which he directed, one hundred and twelve were written in English, thirty-nine were in Dutch, while three were in French. Sixty-four of these works include various themes from the Proto-Pauline letters distributed as follows: 1 Corinthians (19), Romans (14), 2 Corinthians (11), Galatians (11), Philippians (3), 1 Thessalonians (3) and Philemon (1). One work is on 2 Thessalonians and another is on Colossians. Other theses on Pauline themes focused on Pauline theology in general, and Jewish-Christian Dialogue in Paul. Fifty-two theses were devoted to the Johannine literature. A few of the theses dealt with Luke (2), Matthew (1) and another work compared Matthew and Mark (1). Others dealt



with the character of Mary Magdalene in the Gospels, the portrayal of Jesus in films, the use of various kinds of biblical hermeneutics, rabbinics, children’s Bible or children and the Bible, as well as the issue of homosexuality. There are also student works which included theological discussion of the catechumenates as well as religious groups or Christian spiritualities such as Franciscan, Benedictine, Sacred Heart, and Taizé spirituality. Master’s paper themes also included interreligious dialogue between Christianity-Judaism as well as Christianity and Buddhism. The ongoing master’s thesis in English focuses on the seminal contribution of Steven J. Friesen on the economic stratification of the early Christian communities. The great majority of the students used historical-critical and exegetical approaches (98), demonstrating that this method has underpinned their formation as biblical scholars. In addition, many also followed Bieringer’s openness to new methods of interpretation. A good number took theological (15) and hermeneutical (13) approaches. At least five used feminist approaches, among whom one combined it with disability studies. Some others took narrative (5) and literary (2) approaches. Four master’s students directly engaged and critically employed Bieringer’s eschatological-oriented hermeneutics, while two utilised an intertextual approach between the Old and New Testaments. Others engaged the biblical text utilising visual exegesis (1), a contextual approach (1), trauma hermeneutics (1), and a combination of exegetical, hermeneutical, empirical-homiletical interpretation (1). Of the thirty-nine doctoral dissertations defended up until the time of this writing, the earliest was defended in 1995 and the latest was in 2022. The details can be found in a separate list in this volume, but an overview of these completed doctorates demonstrates his dedication and the breadth of his expert supervision of the next generation of biblical scholars. There are twenty-seven dissertations that were solely supervised by Bieringer. He was the main supervisor of an additional seven and he co-supervised a further five. Among the completed doctoral projects, seventeen were devoted to the Pauline corpus and are distributed as follows: 1 Corinthians (5), 2 Corinthians (5), Romans (4), Galatians (2), and Colossians (1). Sixteen completed doctoral projects dealt with Johannine literature, focusing mainly on the gospel, with one dedicated to 1 John. One dissertation with a co-supervisor dealt with a sixteenth-century translation issue on the resurrection and another focused on the Galilean women in Luke 8. Another co-supervised dissertation dealt with the Filioque debate, while one concentrated on spirituality of flourishing. Bieringer also served as a co-supervisor of international dissertations in cooperation with Leuven such as a theological discussion of C.S. Lewis’ presentation



of the goodness of a dying God (from the Institut catholique de Paris and Leuven) and a historical-hermeneutical study of παροιμία and παρρησία (from Groningen). The international character of those who were mentored, supervised and co-supervised by Bieringer represents biblical scholars from India (13), Belgium (6), Philippines (5), United States (5), Germany (1), Hungary (1), Poland (1), Taiwan (1), Singapore (1), United Kingdom (1), Nigeria (1), Ireland (1), Russia (1), and Romania (1). Moreover, of the thirty-nine promoted to the doctorate so far, fourteen are female, highlighting Bieringer’s promotion of women biblical scholars. Twenty-one of these dissertations have already been published as monographs (for details, see the list of PhD dissertations). As for the dissertations which are ongoing, six focus on themes in the Pauline letters (including identity formation, perfection, πνεῦμα, imperial perspectives, power, and reconciliation), and eight on the Gospel of John (with themes as diverse as family, peace, power, gender difference, flesh, water, and the Paraclete sayings). One of the dissertations that he co-supervises studies the early Christian Wirkungsgeschichte of Levitical menstrual regulations and the New Testament story of the haemorrhaging woman. Besides supervising individual students, in 2009, in order to nourish the exegetical, hermeneutical and theological abilities of the PhD researchers and early career scholars working with him, and also to promote collaboration between them, Bieringer started the research group “Exegesis, Hermeneutics and Theology of the Corpus Paulinum and Corpus Johanneum”. The research group has provided emerging scholars with an invaluable fertile and supportive environment, conducive to their research being fostered, facilitated, and strengthened in manifold ways. 3. Administrative and Pastoral Service to the Faculty and the University Bieringer’s support for the new generation of exegetes and theologians became more structural when he was the Deputy Dean for Research at the Faculty of Theology (2008-2012), and later when he served as the Chair of the Department of Biblical Studies (2014-2017). Bieringer’s service has always extended well beyond his administrative responsibilities at the Faculty of Theology. Bieringer is not only a rigorous and committed academic, but also a Catholic priest. His fecund priestly ministry, similarly marked by integrity, courage, kindness, inclusivity, and passion for justice, complements his scholarly work. In several positions to which he has been appointed, he has combined his leadership and organisational skills with remarkable pastoral talents. These include serving as



the president of three student halls that provide a home away from home for Belgian and international students in Leuven: Justus Lipsius College, Holy Spirit College, and Leo XIII Seminary. In addition, since 2014, he has been the Spiritual Director of the faculty’s International Sisters’ Community, following a shorter period when he was the professor assigned by the faculty to oversee the St. Damian community at the Hollands College (2011-2014). 4. Service to the Church The above leadership roles have benefited both the university and the Catholic Church more broadly, but there are also other ways in which Bieringer has contributed to the Belgian Catholic Church as an exegete and engaged theologian with strong commitment to adult catechesis. Since 2005, he has served as president of the Flemish Bible Society. Among the different ways in which he has attempted to bring the world of the New Testament alive to non-academic audiences is a series of conversations in Dutch, available online, on “Travels with St Paul” (Reizen met Paulus), as well as those on 1 Corinthians and Galatians which are supplied with English subtitles (see Reimund Bieringer Online for the links). In addition, Bieringer has a particular interest in issues pertaining to the catechumenate, which he views in a holistic manner, not only as a rite enabling the preparation of adults for baptism, rooted in ancient Christian tradition, but also as an opportunity for further theological reflection, re-thinking catechesis, involving entire communities, and challenging the boundaries between the clergy and laity. He has been involved in working on adult initiation with the Flemish bishops since 2008, when he first delivered a keynote lecture on this topic. This was followed by pastoral study sessions and published articles (2009a; 2010g). To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the document Ordo initiationis christianae adultorum, Bieringer has again been invited by the Flemish bishops to present a keynote address at an academic session on 21 March 2023 on the ordo’s past, present, and future. The text of the lecture, entitled “‘… we hebben gehoord dat God met u is’ (Zach 8,23): Het Catechumenaat: verleden, heden en toekomst”, is to be published by Halewijn in the same year. Bieringer’s growing interest in adult catechesis extends beyond the catechumenate. Several of his projects of the last decade pertain to Bible didactics for adults as well as religious education in partnership with Didier Pollefeyt (ToBiAS and Zin in Bijbel). In these projects, his



hermeneutical perspectives, as developed in the Normativity of the Future model, have been utilised to propose a new approach to reading the Bible which can be practiced in a variety of settings such as parishes, schools, hospitals, grassroot communities, and other venues where groups gather to read the Bible. This approach is used in Leuven and beyond, even as far as Australia, where he has been invited to give lectures on these topics. The Normativity of the Future approach is also included in the KU Leuven project called “Enhancing Catholic School Identity”, spearheaded by Prof. Didier Pollefeyt and conducted in partnership with dioceses in Australia. The approach to biblical hermeneutics is presented by Bieringer to participants from Australia during their time in Leuven. The Normativity of the Future approach presupposes that the world of the text offers the vision of a future of a new world that God has intended for humanity and all of creation. This offers an attractive way of relating to the Bible, making the biblical text relevant and appealing for present day readers, who during group meetings are then invited to discover the vision of the future together. The use of the Normativity of the Future approach in such settings provides an excellent example of how the honouree’s research and rich but complex hermeneutical insights have the potential to form future readers and interpreters of biblical texts well beyond academia. III. WHAT THE WORLD ITSELF COULD NOT CONTAIN Our overview has highlighted that Prof. Dr. Reimund Bieringer’s career at the KU Leuven has been marked by the side-by-side development of his own scholarship alongside his peers on the one hand, and his support for the flourishing of the new global generation of biblical scholars and theologians, and also non-academics with an interest in the Bible, on the other, both of which have been structurally supported by his manifold leadership roles. This demonstrates his untiring and tremendous efforts as a kind and courageous planter who is filled with integrity and immense hope that, ultimately, God will indeed give the growth. The editors would like to express heartfelt thanks to Mathias Bieringer for the opportunity to use his Pflügender Bauer, which is serendipitously apt as a symbolic representation of his older brother’s scholarly efforts as a planter in God’s field, where one can hope for a bountiful harvest. We are grateful to the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies in Leuven for the photograph of Professor Bieringer used in this Festschrift, with such a hopeful smile, taken in front of the main entrance to the Holy Spirit College. The editors would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to



those who offered their contributions. We also acknowledge the immense support given by Mrs. Rita Corstjens, the BETL editors, and the colleagues at Peeters for the timely publication of this tribute to the honouree. And finally, we remain thankful to Prof. Jan Lambrecht†, for his support throughout the process of our work on this Festschrift, from its planning stage to near completion. We started this note with a planting metaphor in relation to the cover image and 1 Cor 3,6. However, since the honouree is very well-known in both Pauline and Johannine circles, we conclude with a Johannine ending. To paraphrase John 20,30 and 21,24-25, Bieringer likewise did many other things that we cannot include in this book and many others also wished to be part of this endeavour, but the time and page limits could not accommodate all of them. Albeit limited, these words, the articles in this book as well as the other surprises planned for the presentation of this Festschrift are written and will take place so that we may express our sincere thanksgiving, admiration, respect, and love for all that Reimund has done and will continue to do. Ma. Marilou S. IBITA Dominika KUREK-CHOMYCZ Bénédicte LEMMELIJN Sarah WHITEAR

ACADEMIC CURRICULUM VITAE OF REIMUND BIERINGER (°2 MAY 1957) UNIVERSITY EDUCATION Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium Sacrae Theologiae Doctor (1988) Ph.D. (1986) Doctoral dissertation: “Lasst euch mit Gott versöhnen”: Eine exegetische Untersuchung zu 2 Kor 5,14-21 in seinem Kontext, 4 vols., Leuven, 1986, text: pp. i-cxxviii + 1-722; endnotes: pp. 1-400. Sacrae Theologiae Licentiatus (1983) Master of Arts (1981) Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus (1981) Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies (1980) Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule St. Georgen, Frankfurt/Main, Germany Examen philosophicum (1979) EMPLOYMENT Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium Since October 2022 Professor Emeritus of New Testament Exegesis with formal duties 2002-2022 Full Professor (gewoon hoogleraar) 1996-2002 Associate Professor (hoogleraar) 1990-1996 Assistant Professor (hoofddocent) Roman Catholic Diocese of Speyer, Germany 1988-1990 Assistant Pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish, Rodalben, Germany 1986-1988 Deacon internship LEADERSHIP, ADMINISTRATION AND OTHER SERVICE ❍

Co-chair (with Veronika Burz-Tropper and Catrin Williams) of the EABS Research Group “Johannine Literature” (2022-present)

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President of Leo XIII Seminary (2021-present) President of Holy Spirit College (2021-present) Co-chair (with Tavis A. Bohlinger) of the EABS Research Group “Comparative Methodology” (2018-2019) Coordinator of the Department of Biblical Studies, KU Leuven (20142017, 2017-2020) Member of the KU Leuven Peer review Committee (2017-2022) Co-chair (with Antje Labahn and Danilo Verde) of the EABS Research Group “Metaphor in the Bible” (2015-2019) Secretary of the Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum (2014-present) Chair of the EABS Workshop “Johannine Literature and Docetism” (2014) Spiritual director of the International Sisters’ Community (appointed by Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, Malines-Brussels) (2014present) President of the European Association of Biblical Studies (2012-2015) Secretary of the Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense (2011-2021) Co-chair (with Eve-Marie Becker) of the SNTS Seminar “Reconsidering Literarkritik of the Pauline Letters and Its Impact on Their Interpretation” (2011-2018) President of the Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum (2010) Co-founder and chair of the Research Group “Exegesis, Hermeneutics and Theology of the Corpus Paulinum and Corpus Johanneum” (2009-present) Co-founder and co-chair (with Ma. Marilou Ibita and Dominika Kurek-Chomycz) of the EABS Research Group “Pauline Literature” (2009-2018) Deputy Dean for Research, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven (2008-2012) Co-founder and co-chair (with Edith Humphrey and Thomas Schmeller) of the SBL Seminar “Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making” (2008-2013) Chair of the EABS Seminar “The Theology of 2 Corinthians” (20062008) President of Justus Lipsius College (2005-present) President of Vlaamse Bijbelstichting (2005-present) Co-founder and coordinator of the Centre for Women’s Studies Theology, KU Leuven (1994-2022) Director of Undergraduate, Graduate and Postgraduate Programs, KU Leuven (1994-2002) President of the Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense (1994)



RESEARCH PROJECTS “1 Cor-Text, Transmission and Translation of 1 Corinthians in the First Millennium”, Research Foundation Flanders – Odysseus programme, 2022-2027. Principal Investigator: Christina Kreinecker; Co-Investigator: Reimund Bieringer.

Global Minds-Open Faculty Projects: “Well-being, Inclusivity and Sustainability: Exchanges between North and South (WISE)”, 2020-2022. Research Team: Belgium – KU Leuven: Reimund Bieringer (Principal Investigator), Annemie Dillen (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies), Christophe Matthys (Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology, Faculty of Medicine); Philippines – Ateneo de Manila University: Ma. Maricel Ibita, Rachel Marie Joyce Sanchez, Justin Joseph Badion (Department of Theology), Norman Dennis E. Marquez (Health Sciences Program), Dino Carlo A. Saplala, M.A. (Department of Economics); De La Salle University: Ma. Marilou Ibita (Department of Theology and Religious Education / Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven).

“Memory and Visions, Conversations and Actions: Mainstreaming Multi-disciplinary Gender Perspectives on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Belgium and in the Philippines”, 2019. Research Team: Belgium – KU Leuven: Reimund Bieringer (Principal Investigator), Annemie Dillen, Anne Vandenhoeck (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies), Leen d’Haenens (Institute for Media Studies; Faculty of Social Sciences), Constanza Parra Novoa (Faculty of Geography and Tourism), Henry Otgaar (Faculty of Law); Philippines – Ateneo de Manila University: Ma. Maricel Ibita, Rachel Marie Joyce Sanchez (Department of Theology), Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology and Anthropology), Luz Rimban (Asian Center for Journalism), Jaymie Ann Reyes (Ateneo Human Rights Center), Ditsi Carolino (Ateneo Institute of Social Order Complex); De La Salle University: Ma. Marilou Ibita (Department of Theology and Religious Education / Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven).

“Strengthening Human Dignity and Human Rights for Sustainable Development in the Philippines: An Explorative Mission”, 2018. Research Team: Belgium – KU Leuven: Reimund Bieringer (Principal Investigator), Ma. Marilou Ibita, Johan De Tavernier, Annemie Dillen, Thomas Knieps (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies), Stephan Parmentier (Faculty of Law), Leen d’Haenens (Faculty of Social Sciences); Philippines – Ateneo de Manila University: Ma. Maricel Ibita, Ruben Mendoza, Dr. Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology and Anthropology); Adamson University: Daniel Franklin Pilario, CM (St. Vincent School of Theology).

“Urban Poor Women and Children with Academics for Reaching and Delivering on UNSDGs in the Philippines – (UPWARD-UP)”,



Flemish Interuniversity Council and University Development Co-operation, 2020-2022. Research Team: Belgium – KU Leuven: Reimund Bieringer (Principal Investigator), Annemie Dillen, Stephan Parmentier, Leen d’Haenens; Philippines – Ateneo de Manila University: Ma. Maricel Ibita (Principal Investigator), Mary Racelis, Luz Rimban, Ray Paolo Santiago; St. Vincent School of Theology: Daniel Franklin Pilario; De La Salle University / KU Leuven: Ma. Marilou Ibita. See

“Texts, Traditions, and Early Christian Identities”, Australian Catholic University Research Foundation, 2017-2021. Principal Investigators: Francis Watson, John Barclay, Joseph Verheyden, David Sim, Reimund Bieringer.

“Finding the Bible: Researching How New Communication Formats Can Help Youngsters Get in Touch with the Bible” (Zin in Bijbel: Bijbellezen met volwassenen), Porticus Foundation, 2017-2022. Principal Investigators: Reimund Bieringer, Didier Pollefeyt, Stef Aupers; Co-Investigators: Martijn Steegen, Lars de Wildt, Carine Devogelaere.

ToBiAS-project (Toekomst voor Bijbelverhalen in de Actuele Samenleving), 2012, 2013, 2014-2017. Principal Investigators: Reimund Bieringer and Didier Pollefeyt; Co-Investigators: Martijn Steegen and Carine Devogelaere. See http://www.kuleuven. be/thomas/page/tobias/.

“Hunting Down a Ghost: A Critical Study of the Concept of Docetism and Its Use and Abuse in Ancient and Modern Discussions on Early Christian Christology and Soteriology”. Research Foundation Flanders, 2013-2016. Principal Investigators: Joseph Verheyden and Reimund Bieringer.

“New Hermeneutics for Renewed Dialogues: A Catholic Perspective on Crucial Theological Issues in Jewish-Christian and Ecumenical Dialogues in the Perspective of a Future-Oriented Interpretation of Key Johannine Texts”, KU Leuven Research Council, 2012-2016. Principal Investigators: Reimund Bieringer, Didier Pollefeyt and Peter De Mey.

“New Perspectives on Paul and the Jews: A Critical Investigation into the Significance of the Letters of Paul in Light of the Historical Parting of the Ways between Judaism and Christianity with Particular Attention Paid to 2 Cor 3,6.7-18 in Light of Jewish-Christian Dialogue”, Research Foundation Flanders, 2007-2010, and Research Council of Catholic University Leuven, 2006-2010. Principal Investigators: Reimund Bieringer and Didier Pollefeyt.



“Mary Magdalene and the Touching of Jesus: An Intra- and Interdisciplinary Investigation of the Interpretation of John 20,17 in Exegesis, Iconography and Pastoral Care”, Research Foundation Flanders, 2005-2008. Principal Investigators: Reimund Bieringer, Barbara Baert, Sabine Van Den Eynde, and Karlijn Demasure.

“St. Paul’s Theological Method: The Theology of 2 Corinthians”, Research Foundation Flanders, 2003-2006. Principal Investigator: Reimund Bieringer.

“The Gospel of John and Anti-Judaism (John 8,31-59)”, Research Foundation Flanders, 1998-2002. Principal Investigators: Reimund Bieringer and Didier Pollefeyt.

“The Social-Historical Background of the Gospel of John”, Belgian Research Foundation, 1996-1999. Principal Investigator: Reimund Bieringer.

“Methodological Pluralism and 2 Corinthians”, Belgian Research Foundation, 1993-1996. Principal Investigator: Reimund Bieringer.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism (2020-present) New Testament Studies (2012-2014) Asian Horizons: Dharmaram Journal of Theology (2010-2020) Hapag (2007-present) Sacra Scripta (2006-present) Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs (1994-1999) Bijdragen (1992-2002)

MEMBERSHIP IN PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft für Theologie (2010-) European Association of Biblical Studies (2007-) Catholic Biblical Association of America (1999-2012) Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum (1999-) The Society for New Testament Studies (1998-)



The Society of Biblical Literature (1996-) Arbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschsprachigen katholischen Neutestamentler (1992-2022) Studiosorum Novi Testamenti Conventus (1991-) INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES (CO-)ORGANIZED (SELECT) ❍

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International Expert Seminar: Contextualizing Normativity of the Future: Future Directions (27-29 July 2018) International Expert Seminar: The Spirit, Hermeneutics and Dialogues (Leuven, 25-27 May 2016) International Symposium: The Quest for an Elusive Phenomenon: Docetism in the Early Church (Leuven, 3-5 December 2014) International Conference: The Rhetorics of Food (26-28 May 2014) Annual Conferences of the European Association of Biblical Studies (Leipzig, 30 July – 2 August 2013; Vienna, 6-10 July 2014; Cordoba, 12-15 July 2015; Leuven, 17-20 July 2016) Esthetics and Spirituality: Places of Interiority (16-18 May 2013) The Colloquia Biblica Lovaniensia (Leuven, July 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021) Between Hermeneutics and Exegesis: Cases from the Pauline Letters and the Gospel of Mark (dedicated to Prof. Dr. Jan Lambrecht) (Leuven, 14-15 October 2011) Giving Oneself: Self-Gift and Self-Sacrifice in the Life of the Church and of Damien De Veuster SS.CC. (9-10 May 2010) Noli me tangere: New Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Leuven, 16-19 December 2009) New Perspectives on Paul and the Jews (Leuven, 14-15 September 2009) Paul in His Jewish Matrix (Rome, 20-22 May 2009) Jewish Perspectives on Paul: 2 Corinthians and Late Second Temple Judaism (Leuven, 30 March 2009) Noli me tangere: Text – Image – Context (Rome, Academia Belgica, 1-3 April 2008) Reconciliation in Interfaith Perspective (Leuven, 26-27 March 2007) International Colloquium: The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature (Leuven, 16-17 January 2006) Interdisciplinary Academic Seminar: Anti-Judaism in the Fourth Gospel and Jewish-Christian Dialogue (Leuven, 17-18 January 2000)



COURSES Exegesis ❍ Inhoud en theologieën van het Nieuwe Testament (BA) ❍ Inleiding tot het Nieuwe Testament (BA) ❍ The Apostle Paul: His Life and His Letters (BA) ❍ The Letters of Paul (MA) ❍ Johannine Literature (MA) ❍ Johanneïsche literatuur (MA) ❍ Judaism (MA) ❍ Exegetical Methodology (doctoral seminar) ❍ Studiereis Griekenland/Turkije (BA) Hermeneutics and Theology ❍ Bijbelse antropologie (BA) ❍ Bijbeldidactiek (BA) ❍ (co-taught) Vrouwenstudies (BA) ❍ (co-taught) Women’s Studies (BA) ❍ Biblical Theology and Hermeneutics (MA) ❍ Bijbelse theologie en hermeneutiek (MA) ❍ Contextual Hermeneutical Approaches to the Bible (MA) ❍ (co-taught) Scripture and Theology (MA) ❍ Biblical Hermeneutics (doctoral seminar) Languages ❍ Bijbelgrieks Ia, Ib, III (BA and MA) ❍ Biblical Greek (now: Hellenistic Greek) Ia, Ib, III (BA and MA) Studium generale Religie, zingeving, levensbeschouwing in de Faculteit Economie (now: Economie en Bedrijfswetenschappen – Economy and Business) (MA/BA) VISITING / GUEST PROFESSOR (SELECT) ❍ ❍ ❍ ❍ ❍ ❍

De La Salle University, Philippines – online, 2020, 2022 Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines, 2018 Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, 2018 Catholic Institute of Sydney, Australia, 2017 Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Alwaye, Kerala, 2015 Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Pune, 2015

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Liverpool Hope University, UK, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 (ERASMUS exchanges) St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary and Pontifical Oriental Institute of Religious Studies, Vadavathoor, Kottayam, Kerala, 2013 School of Social Theology and Christian Culture at Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece, 2013, 2017 (ERASMUS exchange) St. Joseph Pontifical Seminary, Mangalapuzha, Alwaye, Kerala, 2013, 2015 School of Theology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, 2011 (ERASMUS exchange) Christ University, Bengaluru, India, 2011, 2013 MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Oslo, Norway, 2011 (ERASMUS exchange) Marymatha Major Seminary, Trichur, Kerala, India, 2009, 2015 Dharmaram College, Bengaluru, India, 2009 and 2013 Institute of Formation and Religious Studies, Philippines, 2007, 2009, 2012 St. Vincent School of Theology, Philippines, 2007, 2017 Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany, 2002 (ERASMUS exchange) Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 1998 (ERASMUS exchange) Loyola University Chicago, USA, summer 1995, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008 Newman Theological College, Edmonton, Canada, 1985 SUPERVISION

Doctoral Dissertations: 39 completed (see list in Bibliography, pp. LVIII-LXII); 16 in progress. Master’s Dissertations: 153 completed (see list in Bibliography, pp. LXIILXIX); 2 in progress.

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF REIMUND BIERINGER ACADEMIC BIBLIOGRAPHY (1979-2022) 1979 “Was das Böse und das Übel gut macht, ist die Liebe”: Theodizee im Vergleich zwischen H.R. Schlette und C.S. Lewis, Wissenschaftliche Hausarbeit zum Examen Philosophicum (supervisor: J. Splett), Frankfurt a.M., Philosophisch-theologische Hochschule St. Georgen, 1979. 1983 Die Versöhnung zwischen Rechtfertigung und Sühne: E. Käsemanns Position und ihre Wirkungsgeschichte, thesis for the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) (supervisor: J. Lambrecht), Leuven, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 1983. b Review of H.-J. FINDEIS, Versöhnung – Apostolat – Kirche: Eine exegetischtheologische und rezeptionsgeschichtliche Studie zu den Versöhnungsaussagen des Neuen Testaments (2 Kor, Röm, Kol, Eph) (Forschung zur Bibel, 40), Würzburg, Echter, 1983, in ETL 59 (1983) 371-373. a

1986 “Lasst euch mit Gott versöhnen”: Eine exegetische Untersuchung zu 2 Kor 5,14-21 in seinem Kontext, 4 vols., dissertation for the Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD) (supervisor: J. Lambrecht), Leuven, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 1986. b An International Symposium on the Local Church, in Worship 60 (1986) 64-67. a

1987 2 Kor 5,19a und die Versöhnung der Welt, in ETL 63 (1987) 295-326; repr. in BIERINGER – LAMBRECHT, Studies on 2 Corinthians, 429-459 ( 1994). b Die Liebe ist stärker: Stellvertretung und Sühne im Leben und Denken Edith Steins, in K. HAARLAMMERT (ed.), Edith Stein: Leben im Zeichen des Kreuzes, Speyer, Pilger, 1987, 91-128. a

1989 Danklied für Gott: Unterrichtsentwurf für die Grundschule zum ersten Schöpfungsbericht (Gen 1,1–2,4a), in Katechetische Blätter 114/7-8 (1989) 572-579. 1991 Der 2. Korintherbrief in den neuesten Kommentaren, in ETL 67 (1991) 107130.


1992 V. KOPERSKI – R. BIERINGER (eds.), “Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword”: Festschrift J. Lambrecht (A Special Issue of Louvain Studies 17/2-3 [1992]), Leuven, Peeters, 1992 ( 1992b).



b V. KOPERSKI – R. BIERINGER, Jan Lambrecht the Exegete, in IID. (eds.),

“Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword”, 103-116 ( 1992a). Paul’s Divine Jealousy: The Apostle and His Communities in Relationship, in KOPERSKI – BIERINGER (eds.), “Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword”, 197231 ( 1992a); repr. in BIERINGER – LAMBRECHT, Studies on 2 Corinthians, 223-253 ( 1994); trans. by L. GEYSELS as De goddelijke naijver van Paulus: De relatie van de apostel met zijn gemeenten, in Collationes 23 (1993) 115140. d Traditionsgeschichtlicher Ursprung und theologische Bedeutung der ὑπέρAussagen im Neuen Testament, in F. VAN SEGBROECK et al. (eds.), The Four Gospels 1992: FS F. Neirynck (BETL, 100A), Leuven, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 1992, 219-248. c

1993 See 1992c, 1995a 1994 R. BIERINGER – J. LAMBRECHT, Studies on 2 Corinthians (BETL, 112), Leuven, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 1994. This book contains the following contributions of Reimund Bieringer: α Bibliography, 3-66. β Teilungshypothesen zum 2. Korintherbrief: Ein Forschungsüberblick, 67-105. γ Der 2. Korintherbrief als ursprüngliche Einheit: Ein Forschungsüberblick, 107-130. δ Plädoyer für die Einheitlichkeit des 2. Korintherbriefes: Literarkritische und inhaltliche Argumente, 131-179. ε Die Gegner des Paulus im 2. Korintherbrief, 181-221. ϛ Paul’s Divine Jealousy: The Apostle and His Communities in Relationship, 223-253 ( 1992c). ζ Paul’s Understanding of Diakonia in 2 Corinthians 5,18, 413-428. η 2 Kor 5,19a und die Versöhnung der Welt, 429-459 ( 1987a). ϑ Sünde und Gerechtigkeit Gottes in 2 Korinther 5,21, 461-513. ι 2 Korinther 6,14–7,1 im Kontext des 2. Korintherbriefes: Forschungsüberblick und Versuch eines eigenen Zugangs, 551-570. 1995 Aktive Hoffnung im Leiden: Gegenstand, Grund und Praxis der Hoffnung nach Röm 5,1-5, in Theologische Zeitschrift 51 (1995) 305-325; trans. by L. GEYSELS as Actieve hoop in het lijden: Object, grondslag, en praxis van de hoop volgens Rom 5,1-5, in G. DE SCHRIJVER – R. MICHIELS – L. BOEVE (eds.), Hoop op opstanding: Feestbundel bij het emeritaat van Herman-Emiel Mertens, Leuven – Amersfoort, Acco, 1993, 261-277. b Hoop op heerlijkheid: De visie van Paulus, in B. PATTYN et al. (eds.), Wegen van hoop: Universitaire perspectieven. Bundel aangeboden aan Rector Roger Dillemans, Leuven, Universitaire Pers Leuven, 1995, 440-444. c Jezus’ lijden en dood volgens Johannes, in G. VAN BELLE (ed.), Het Johannesevangelie: Woorden om van te leven, Leuven – Amersfoort, VBS – Acco, 1995, 157-173. a



1996 (ed.), The Corinthian Correspondence (BETL, 125), Leuven, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 1996 ( 1996b). b Zwischen Kontinuität und Diskontinuität: Die beiden Korintherbriefe in ihrer Beziehung zueinander nach der neueren Forschung, in BIERINGER (ed.), The Corinthian Correspondence, 3-38 ( 1996a). a

1997 Febe en Titus in gesprek over Paulus’ theologie van de verzoening, in Collationes 27 (1997) 283-298. b The Normativity of the Future: The Authority of the Bible for Theology, in ET Bulletin: Zeitschrift für Theologie in Europa 8 (1997) 52-67; repr. in BIERINGER – ELSBERND, Normativity of the Future, 27-45 ( 2010c). a

1998 J.W. WENHAM, Inleiding tot het Grieks van het Nieuwe Testament, trans. by R. BIERINGER, Leuven, Peeters, 1998. b Die Liebe des Paulus zur Gemeinde in Korinth: Eine Interpretation von 2 Korinther 6,11, in Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt 23 (1998) 193-213. c R. BIERINGER – B. LATAIRE, “Mijn woorden tot u zijn geest en leven”: Jezus’ woorden in het Johannesevangelie, in F. VAN SEGBROECK (ed.), De woorden die Jezus ons gegeven heeft, Leuven – Amersfoort, VBS – Acco, 1998, 81-103. a

1999 Jesus in the Gospel of John, in The Bible Today 37 (1999) 300-305. 2000 The Johannine Women and the Social Code of Their Time: A Response, in J.W. VAN HENTEN (ed.), Families and Family Relations as Represented in Early Judaisms and Early Christianities: Texts and Fictions (STAR, 2), Leiden, Deo Publishing, 2000, 213-219. b “My Kingship Is Not of This World” (John 18,36): The Kingship of Jesus and Politics, in T. MERRIGAN – J. HAERS (eds.), The Myriad Christ: Plurality and the Quest for the Unity in Contemporary Christology (BETL, 152), Leuven, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 2000, 159-175.


2001 R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT – F. VANDECASTEELE-VANNEUVILLE (eds.), Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel: Papers of the Leuven Colloquium, 2000 (Jewish and Christian Heritage, 1), Assen (now: Leiden), Van Gorcum (now Brill), 2001; partially republished as IID. (eds.), Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel, Louisville KY – London – Leiden, Westminster John Knox, 2001 ( 2001f). b Johannes met nieuwe ogen. 1: “Altijd groter”: De God van Israël in het Johannesevangelie, in Het Teken 74/4 (2001) 98-101 ( 2001c; 2002d-g). c Johannes met nieuwe ogen. 2: “Groter dan onze vader Jakob” (Joh 4,12): Jezus in het Johannesevangelie, in Het Teken 74/6 (2001) 162-166 ( 2001b; 2002d-g). a



d Het schriftargument in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in Bijdragen 62 (2001) 129-

142; trans. as The Scriptural Argument in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in http:// (2003). e Een zelfbewuste gemeente: De christelijke gemeente in Korinte volgens de tweede brief aan de Korintiërs, in J. DELOBEL et al. (eds.), Vroegchristelijke gemeenten tussen werkelijkheid en ideaal, Kampen, Kok, 2001, 54-67. f R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT – F. VANDECASTEELE-VANNEUVILLE, Wrestling with Johannine Anti-Judaism: A Hermeneutical Framework for the Analysis of the Current Debate, in IID. (eds.), Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel, 3-44; repr., 3-37 ( 2001a). a





f g h

2002 M. ELSBERND – R. BIERINGER, When Love Is Not Enough: A Theo-Ethic of Justice, Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 2002; repr. as IID., When Love Is Not Enough: A Theo-Ethic of Justice (Theology and Religious Studies), Manila, Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2008 (expanded  2008i). R. BIERINGER – V. KOPERSKI – B. LATAIRE (eds.), Resurrection in the New Testament: Festschrift J. Lambrecht (BETL, 165), Leuven, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 2002. Biblical Revelation and Exegetical Interpretation according to Dei Verbum 12, in Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt 27 (2002) 3-38; repr. in M. LAMBERIGTS – L. KENIS (eds.), Vatican II and Its Legacy (BETL, 166), Leuven – Paris – Dudley, MA, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 2002, 25-59. Johannes met nieuwe ogen. 3: “Groter dan ons hart” (1 Joh 3,20): De geest in het Johannesevangelie, in Het Teken 74/7 (2002) 194-198 ( 2001b-c; 2002e-g). Johannes met nieuwe ogen. 4: “Grotere liefde” (Joh 15,13): Mens en gemeenschap in het Johannesevangelie, in Het Teken 74/8 (2002) 226-231 ( 2001b-c; 2002d, f-g). Johannes met nieuwe ogen. 5: Grotere daden (Joh 14,12): Wij en het Johannesevangelie, in Het Teken 74/9 (2002) 258-261 ( 2001b-c; 2002d-e, g). Johannes met nieuwe ogen. 6: Wij en het Johannesevangelie, in Het Teken 74/10 (2002) 290-293 ( 2001b-c; 2002d-f). The Spirit’s Guidance into All the Truth: The Text-Critical Problems of John 16,13, in A. DENAUX (ed.), New Testament Textual Criticism and Exegesis: Festschrift J. Delobel (BETL, 161), Leuven, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 2002, 183-207.

2003 De brieven aan de Korintiërs, in J.P. FOKKELMAN – W. WEREN (eds.), De Bijbel literair, Zoetermeer, Meinema, 2003, 553-572. b Maria Magdalena in viervoud, in Interpretatie 11/6 (2003) 4-6. See also 2001d a


2004 Febe, Prisca en Junia: Vrouwen en leiderschap in de brieven van Paulus, in F. VAN SEGBROECK (ed.), Paulus (Verslagboek Vliebergh-Sencie-leergang.



Bijbel 2003), Leuven – Voorburg, Vlaamse Bijbelstichting – Acco, 2004, 157-202; trans. as Women and Leadership in Romans 16: The Leading Roles of Phoebe, Prisca and Junia in Early Christianity, Part I-II, in East Asian Pastoral Review 44 (2007) 221-237; 316-336; repr. as “Not Male and Female”: Phoebe, Prisca and Aquila, Andronicus and Junia in Early Christianity, in A. NELLICKAL – T. NEELANKAVIL (eds.), Feminine Identity in the Church: Promises and Challenges (Marymatha Publications), Thrissur, Marymatha Publications, 2011, 10-49. Trans. from English into Hungarian by R. TOMÁS: Nök vezetö szerepe a Római levél 16. Fejezetében (1)+ (2): Föbe, Priszka és Junia veztö szerepe a kora keresztény korban, in Keresztény Szó 23/6 (2012) 22-27; 23/7 (2012) 8-14. b R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT, Open to Both Ways …? Johannine Perspectives on Judaism in the Light of Jewish-Christian Dialogue, in M. LABAHN – K. SCHOLTISSEK – A. STROTMANN (eds.), Israel und seine Heilstraditionen im Johannesevangelium: Festgabe für Johannes Beutler SJ zum 70. Geburtstag, Paderborn, Schöningh, 2004, 11-32; repr. as Open to Both Ways…? AntiJudaism and the Johannine Christology, in BIERINGER – ELSBERND (eds.), Normativity of the Future, 121-134 ( 2010c). c D. POLLEFEYT – R. BIERINGER, De toekomst van de Bijbel: Bijbelmoeheid: oorzaken en mogelijke remedies, in J. DE TAVERNIER (ed.), De bijbel en andere heilige boeken: Verhalen om van te leven? (Verslagboek VlieberghSencie-leergang. Afdeling Bijbel en catechese 2002), Leuven – Voorburg, Vlaamse Bijbelstichting – Acco, 2004, 19-47; trans. as R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT, L’avenir de la Bible: L’enseignement de la Bible: ses risques, ses défis, in Bijdragen 65 (2004) 393-416.



c d e f


2005 R. BIERINGER – G. VAN BELLE – J. VERHEYDEN (eds.), Luke and His Readers: Festschrift A. Denaux (BETL, 182), Leuven, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 2005. “Come, and You Will See” (John 1:39): Dialogical Authority and Normativity of the Future in the Fourth Gospel and in Religious Education, in H. LOMBAERTS – D. POLLEFEYT (eds.), Hermeneutics and Religious Education (BETL, 180), Leuven – Paris – Dudley, MA, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 2005, 179-201; repr. in BIERINGER – ELSBERND, Normativity of the Future, 361-376 ( 2010c). Mary Magdalene in the Four Gospels, in The Bible Today 43 (2005) 34-41. “Nader Mij niet”: De betekenis van μή μου ἅπτου in Johannes 20:17, in HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies 61 (2005) 19-43. Open, vrijmoedig, onverschrokken: De betekenis van parrèsia in de Septuaginta en in het Nieuwe Testament, in Collationes 35 (2005) 59-74. “... was die Welt im Innersten zusammenhält”: Eine exegetische Untersuchung zu ἀνακεφαλαιώσασϑαι in Eph 1,10, in M. WOLTER (ed.), Ethik als angewandte Ekklesiologie: Der Brief an die Epheser (Monographische Reihe von “Benedictina”. Biblisch-Ökumenische Abteilung, 17), Roma, “Benedictina” Publishing, 2005, 3-35. B. LATAIRE – R. BIERINGER, God the Father: An Exegetical Study of a Johannine Metaphor, in R.L. PLATZNER (ed.), Gender, Tradition and Renewal (Religions and Discourse, 13), Oxford, Peter Lang, 2005, 113-140.







l m


b c

d e f



(eds.), A Dictionary of Jewish Christian Relations, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005, 188-189. D. POLLEFEYT – R. BIERINGER, The Role of the Bible in Religious Education Reconsidered: Risks and Challenges in Teaching the Bible, in International Journal of Practical Theology 9 (2005) 117-139; repr. in BIERINGER – ELSBERND, Normativity of the Future, 377-402 ( 2010c). R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT, Art. Son of God, in E. KESSLER – N. WENBORN (eds.), A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005, 407. R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT, Art. Son of Man, in E. KESSLER – N. WENBORN (eds.), A Dictionary of Jewish Christian Relations, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005, 407-408. Review of A. LINDEMANN, Der Erste Korintherbrief, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2000, in Theologische Literaturzeitung 130 (2005) 46-49. Review of J. LAMBRECHT, “Recht op de waarheid af”: Bijdragen over Paulus, de evangeliën en de Nieuwe Bijbelvertaling, Leuven, Acco, 2005, in Bijdragen 66 (2005) 461. 2006 B. BAERT – R. BIERINGER – K. DEMASURE – S. VAN DEN EYNDE, Noli me tangere: Maria Magdalena in veelvoud. Tentoonstelling Maurits Sabbebibliotheek, 23 februari – 30 april 2006 (Documenta libraria, 32), Leuven, Maurits Sabbebibliotheek – Faculteit Godgeleerdheid – Peeters, 2006; trans. as Noli me tangere: Mary Magdalene: One Person, Many Images. Exhibition Maurits Sabbebibliotheek, 23 February – 30 April 2006 (Documenta libraria, 32), Leuven, Maurits Sabbebibliotheek – Faculteit Godgeleerdheid – Peeters, 2006 ( 2006g). Always Greater: The God of Israel in the Gospel of John, in The Bible Today 44 (2006) 175-178. Annoncer la vie éternelle (1 Jn 1,2): L’interprétation de la Bible dans les textes officiels de l’Église catholique romaine, in Revue théologique de Louvain 37 (2006) 489-512; trans. as ‘Het eeuwige leven verkondigen’ (1 Joh 1,2): Bijbelinterpretatie aan het werk in officiële teksten van de rooms-katholieke kerk, in H. DEBEL (eds.), Verbonden door het boek: Bijbelse essays voor Paul Kevers, Averbode, Uitgeverij Averbode, 2011, 236-252. God spreekt Nederlands: Het kritisch werk gewogen, in J. LAMBRECHT, Trouw en betrouwbaar: Recente Bijbelvertalingen, Averbode, Altiora, 2006, 269-286. “Greater Than Our Ancestor Jacob?”: Jesus in the Gospel of John, in The Bible Today 44 (2006) 301-305. Judas: Verrader of pion in Gods plan?, in VBS-Informatie 37/2 (2006) 42-46; trans. as Judas, Traitor or Pawn in God’s Plan?, in The Bible Today 49 (2011) 305-308. Noli me tangere en het Nieuwe Testament: Een exegetische benadering, in BAERT et al., Noli me tangere, 15-28; trans. as Noli me tangere and the New Testament: An Exegetical Approach, in B. BAERT et al., Noli me tangere, 13-27 ( 2006a). R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT, Wie zeggen de films dat Ik ben? Jezusfilms als actuele uitdagingen tot geloofscommunicatie rond Jezus’ leven, lijden en sterven, in Collationes 36 (2006) 31-64.



b c

d e





2007 Bijbelse Wijsheid en Hildegard van Bingen, in H. AUSLOOS – B. LEMMELIJN (eds.), Bijbelse Wijsheid aan het woord, Leuven – Voorburg, VBS – Acco, 2007, 191-209. “Greater Than Our Hearts” (1 John 3:20): The Spirit in the Gospel of John, in The Bible Today 45 (2007) 305-309. Das Lamm Gottes, das die Sünde der Welt hinwegnimmt (Joh 1,29): Eine kontextorientierte und redaktionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung auf dem Hintergrund der Passatradition als Deutung des Todes Jesu im Johannesevangelium, in G. VAN BELLE (ed.), The Death of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (BETL, 200), Leuven – Paris – Dudley, MA, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 2007, 199-231. Mary of Magdala and Jesus of Nazareth: A Special Relationship in the Light of John 20:17, in Proceedings of the Irish Biblical Association 30 (2007) 1-14. D. KUREK-CHOMYCZ – R. BIERINGER, Guardians of the Old at the Dawn of the New: The Role of Angels in the Pauline Epistles, in F.V. REITERER – T. NICKLAS – K. SCHÖPFLIN (eds.), Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings – Origins, Development and Reception (Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2007), Berlin – New York, De Gruyter, 2007, 325-355. M. ELSBERND – R. BIERINGER, Interpreting the Signs of the Times in the Light of the Gospel: Vision and Normativity of the Future, in J. VERSTRAETEN (ed.), Scrutinizing the Signs of the Times in Light of the Gospel (BETL, 208), Leuven – Paris – Dudley, MA, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 2007, 43-97; repr. in two parts in BIERINGER – ELSBERND, Normativity of the Future, 47-90 ( 2010cγ) and 281-295 ( 2010cϛ). M.M.S. IBITA – R. BIERINGER, Justice as Participation: Toward a Theology of Justice, in Himig Ugnayan: A Theological Journal of the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies 8 (2007) 18-55 ( 2008i). R. BIERINGER – I. VANDEN HOVE, Mary Magdalene in the Four Gospels, in Louvain Studies 32 (2007) 186-254. See also 2004a 2008

a Religie, zingeving en levensbeschouwing, Leuven, Acco, 2008. b R. BIERINGER – E. NATHAN – D. KUREK-CHOMYCZ, 2 Corinthians: A Bibliogra-

phy (BiTS, 5), Leuven – Paris – Dudley, MA, Peeters, 2008. C.R. KOESTER – R. BIERINGER (eds.), The Resurrection of Jesus in the Gospel of John (WUNT, 222), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2008 ( 2008f). d “Comfort, Comfort My People” (Isa 40,1): The Use of παρακαλέω in the Septuagint Version of Isaiah, in H. AUSLOOS – B. LEMMELIJN – M. VERVENNE (eds.), Florilegium Lovaniense: Studies in Septuagint and Textual Criticism in Honour of Florentino García Martínez (BETL, 224), Leuven – Paris – Dudley, MA, Peeters, 2008, 57-70. e “Greater Love” (John 15:13): The Human Person and Society in the Gospel of John, in The Bible Today 46 (2008) 241-247. f “I Am Ascending to My Father and Your Father, to My God and Your God” (John 20:17): Resurrection and Ascension in the Gospel of John, in KOESTER – BIERINGER (eds.), The Resurrection of Jesus in the Gospel of John, 209-235 ( 2008c). c



g “Reconcile Yourselves to God”: An Unusual Interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5:20

in Its Context, in R. BUITENWERF – H. HOLLANDER – J. TROMP (eds.), Jesus, Paul, and Early Christianity: Studies in Honour of Henk Jan de Jonge (SupplNT, 130), Leiden, Brill, 2008, 11-38. h Tweelingzussen of stiefzussen? De relatie tussen theologie en religiewetenschap en de implicaties voor Bijbelwetenschap, in M. LAMBERIGTS – L. KENIS (eds.), Quo vadis theologia? Theologie en religiewetenschap in Leuven – Antwerpen, Halewijn, 2008, 31-48. i M.M.S. IBITA – R. BIERINGER, Justice as Participation: Toward a Theology of Justice, in ELSBERND – BIERINGER, When Love Is Not Enough, repr. 2008, 215-249 ( 2002a, 2007g). See also 2002a 2009 Christelijke initiatie van volwassenen, in D. POLLEFEYT (ed.), Als catechese tot volwassenheid komt, Antwerpen, Halewijn, 2009, 103-126. b “They Have Taken Away My Lord”: Text-Immanent Repetitions and Variations in John 20:1-18, in G. VAN BELLE – M. LABAHN – P. MARITZ (eds.), Repetitions and Variations in the Fourth Gospel: Style, Text, Interpretation (BETL, 223), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2009, 609-630. c Verzoening met God in 2 Korintiërs 5,18-21: Een voorbeeld van paulinische theologie in wording, in Collationes 39 (2009) 21-30. d M.M.S. IBITA – R. BIERINGER, Early Christian Communities and Leadership Functions according to Paul’s Letters, in Himig Ugnayan 10 (2009) 34-50. a

2010 Dialoog en participatie: Over hedendaagse uitdagingen van het christelijk geloof, Leuven – Den Haag, Acco, 2010. b R. BIERINGER – F. GARCÍA MARTÍNEZ – D. POLLEFEYT – P.J. TOMSON (eds.), The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 136), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2010. c R. BIERINGER – M. ELSBERND, Normativity of the Future: Reading Biblical and Other Authoritative Texts in an Eschatological Perspective (ANL, 61), Leuven – Paris – Dudley, MA, Peeters, 2010. This book contains the following articles with Reimund Bieringer as author or co-author: α R. BIERINGER – M. ELSBERND, Introduction: The “Normativity of the Future” Approach: Its Roots, Development, Current State and Challenges, 3-25. β R. BIERINGER, The Normativity of the Future: The Authority of the Bible for Theology, 27-45 ( 1997b) γ M. ELSBERND – R. BIERINGER, Interpreting the Signs of the Times in the Light of the Gospel: Vision and Normativity of the Future, 47-90 ( 2007f). δ R. BIERINGER, Texts that Create a Future: The Function of Ancient Texts for Theology Today, 91-116, repr. in J. LEEMANS – B. MATZ – J. VERSTRAETEN (eds.), Reading Patristic Texts on Social Ethics: Issues and Challenges for 21st-Century Christian Social Thought (CUA Studies in Early Christianity), Washington, DC, The Catholic University of America Press, 2011, 3-29. a





g h




c d e


ε R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT, Open to Both Ways …? Johannine Perspectives on Judaism in the Light of Jewish-Christian Dialogue, 121-134 ( 2004b). ϛ M. ELSBERND – R. BIERINGER, The Ecological Crisis and the Future of Creation, 281-295 ( 2007f). ζ R. BIERINGER, “Come, and You Will See” (John 1:39): Dialogical Authority and Normativity of the Future in the Fourth Gospel and in Religious Education, 361-376 ( 2005b). η D. POLLEFEYT – R. BIERINGER, The Role of the Bible in Religious Education Reconsidered: Risks and Challenges in Teaching the Bible, 377-402 ( 2005i). R. BIERINGER – M.M.S. IBITA, The Beloved Child: The Presentation of Jesus as a Child in the Second Testament, in A. DILLEN – D. POLLEFEYT (eds.), Children’s Voices: Children’s Perspectives in Ethics, Theology and Religious Education (BETL, 230), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2010, 117-136. Dying and Being Raised For: Shifts in the Meaning of ὑπέρ in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, in C. BELEZOS – S. DESPOTIS – C. KARAKOLIS (eds.), Saint Paul and Corinth: 1500 Years since the Writing of the Epistles to the Corinthians: Exegesis – Theology – History of Interpretation – Philology – Philosophy – St Paul’s Time, vol. 1, Metamorfossi, Psichogios Publications, 2010, 311-327; repr. in BIERINGER – IBITA – KUREK-CHOMYCZ – VOLLMER (eds.), Theologizing in the Corinthian Conflict, 163-175 ( 2013a). “Gered in hoop” (Rom 8,24): De nieuwtestamentische visie op de heilsbetekenis van Jezus Christus met bijzondere aandacht voor de visie van Paulus, in T. MERRIGAN – J. LAMBELIN (eds.), Sporen van heil: Christus in een multireligieuze wereld (Leuvense Ontmoetingen rond Geloof, Openbaring en Spiritualiteit), Antwerpen, Halewijn, 2010, 11-23. Een geschenk van Gods genade: De initiatie van volwassenen als model voor de catechese, in Collationes 40 (2010) 209-225. M.M.S. IBITA – R. BIERINGER, (Stifled) Voices of the Future: Learning about Children in the Bible, in A. DILLEN – D. POLLEFEYT (eds.), Children’s Voices: Children’s Perspectives in Ethics, Theology and Religious Education (BETL, 230), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2010, 74-115. Review of E.-M. BECKER, Schreiben und Verstehen: Paulinische Briefhermeneutik im Zweiten Korintherbrief (Neutestamentliche Entwürfe zur Theologie, 4), Tübingen – Basel, A. Francke, 2002, in Theologische Literaturzeitung 135 (2010) 829-831. 2011 R. BIERINGER – D. BOLTON (eds.), Reconciliation in Interfaith Perspective: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Voices, Leuven – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2011 ( 2011d). The Comforted Comforter: The Meaning of παρακαλέω or παράκλησις Terminology in 2 Corinthians, in HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies 67/1 (2011) 1-7. The Gospel of John and Us, in The Bible Today 49 (2011) 373-376. Reconciliation to God in the Light of 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, in BIERINGER – BOLTON (eds.), Reconciliation in Interfaith Perspective, 39-58 ( 2011a). ‘Zoek eerst het koninkrijk van God en zijn gerechtigheid’ (Mt 6,33): De Vlaamse Bijbelstichting in kerk en maatschappij, in H. DEBEL (ed.), Verbonden door



het boek: Bijbelse essays voor Paul Kevers, Averbode, Uitgeverij Averbode, 2011, 272-285. f E. NATHAN – R. BIERINGER, Paul, Moses, and the Veil: Paul’s Perspective on Judaism in Light of 2 Corinthians 3. Part 1 (Nathan): On Paul’s Use of καταργέω and τέλος in 2 Cor 3:7, 11, 13 and 14. Part 2 (Bieringer): The Glory and the Veil, in T.G. CASEY – J. TAYLOR (eds.), Paul’s Jewish Matrix: With an Introductory Essay by Karl P. Donfried (Bible in Dialogue), Roma, Gregorian & Biblical Press, 2011, 201-228. See also 2004a, 2006c, f, 2010cδ 2012 R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT (eds.), Paul and Judaism: Crosscurrents in Pauline Exegesis and the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations (LNTS, 463), London – New York, T&T Clark International – A Continuum Imprint, 2012 ( 2012d). b Art. Blessing, III. New Testament, in Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception 4 (2012) 139-147. c “... Because the Father Is Greater Than I” (John 14:28): Johannine Christology in Light of the Relationship between the Father and the Son, in C. KARAKOLIS – K.-W. NIEBUHR – S. ROGALSKY (eds.), Gospel Images of Jesus Christ in Church Tradition and in Biblical Scholarship: Fifth International East-West Symposium of New Testament Scholars; Minsk, September 2 to 9, 2010 (WUNT, 288), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2012, 181-204. d R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT, Wrestling with the Jewish Paul, in IID. (eds.), Paul and Judaism, 1-14 ( 2012a). See also 2004a a








2013 R. BIERINGER – M.M.S. IBITA – D. KUREK-CHOMYCZ – T.A. VOLLMER (eds.), Theologizing in the Corinthian Conflict: Studies in the Exegesis and Theology of 2 Corinthians (BiTS, 16), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2013. R. BIERINGER – K. DEMASURE – B. BAERT (eds.), To Touch or Not to Touch: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Noli me tangere (ANL, 67), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2013 ( 2013f) “... van aangezicht tot aangezicht ... aanschouwen” (Dei Verbum 7): Openbaring, traditie en Heilige Schrift in de Dogmatische Constitutie Dei Verbum en haar voorgeschiedenis, in K. SCHELKENS (ed.), Herinnering en belofte: 50 jaar Vaticanum II (Nikè-reeks, 60), Leuven – Den Haag, Acco, 2013, 67-85. Dialogical Revelation? On the Reception of Dei Verbum 12 in Verbum Domini, in Asian Horizons: Dharmaram Journal of Theology 7 (2013), no. 1March, 36-58. Divine-Human Reconciliation in 2 Cor 5:18-21 in Its Interpersonal Context: The Contextual Meaning of the καταλλάσσω/καταλλαγή Terminology in 2 Corinthians, in P.-G. KLUMBIES – D.S. DU TOIT (eds.), Paulus – Werk und Wirkung: Festschrift für Andreas Lindemann zum 70. Geburtstag, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2013, 61-80. Touching Jesus? The Meaning of μή μου ἅπτου in Its Johannine Context, in BIERINGER – DEMASURE – BAERT (eds.), To Touch or Not to Touch, 61-81 ( 2013b). L. BOEVE – R. BIERINGER, Openbaring, Schrift en traditie: God en mens in dialoog, in M. LAMBERIGTS – L. KENIS (eds.), Vaticanum II: Geschiedenis of



inspiratie? Theologische opstellen over het Tweede Vaticaans concilie, Antwerpen, Halewijn, 2013, 31-63.




d e



2014 R. BIERINGER – R. BURGGRAEVE – E. NATHAN – M. STEEGEN (eds.), Provoked to Speech: Biblical Hermeneutics as Conversation, Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2014 ( 2014d). R. BIERINGER – E. NATHAN – D. POLLEFEYT – P.J. TOMSON (eds.), Second Corinthians in the Perspective of Late Second Temple Judaism (CRINT, 14), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2014 ( 2014f). J. VERHEYDEN – G. VAN OYEN – M. LABAHN – R. BIERINGER (eds.), Studies in the Gospel of John and Its Christology: Festschrift Gilbert Van Belle (BETL, 265), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2014 ( 2014e). Body and Bible: Biblical Revelation as Symbolic Event, in BIERINGER – BURGGRAEVE – NATHAN – STEEGEN (eds.), Provoked to Speech, 315-342 ( 2014a). “Ihr habt weder seine Stimme gehört noch seine Gestalt gesehen” (Joh 5,37): Anti-Judaismus und johanneische Christologie, in VERHEYDEN – VAN OYEN – LABAHN – BIERINGER (eds.), Studies in the Gospel of John and Its Christology, 165-188 ( 2014c). Love as That Which Binds Everything Together? The Unity of 2 Corinthians Revisited in Light of ἀγαπ-Terminology, in BIERINGER – NATHAN – POLLEFEYT – TOMSON (eds.), Second Corinthians in the Perspective of Late Second Temple Judaism, 11-24 ( 2014b). “… until we see God face to face” (Dei Verbum 7): Revelation, Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture in the Pre-History and in the Final Form of the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, in S.G. KOCHUTHARA (ed.), Revisiting Vatican II: 50 Years of Renewal. Vol. I: Keynote and Plenary Session Papers of the DVK International Conference on Vatican II, Bangalore, Dharmaram Publications, 2014, 212-227.

2015 The Jerusalem Collection and Paul’s Missionary Project: Collection and Mission in Romans 15.14-32, in A. PUIG I TÀRRECH – J.M.G. BARCLAY – J. FREY (eds.) with the assistance of O. MCFARLAND, The Last Years of Paul: Essays from the Tarragona Conference, June 2013 (WUNT, 352), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2015, 15-31. b Présence dans l’absence du corps: constructions de la présence et de l’absence de Paul en 2 Corinthiens dans la perspective des épîtres pauliniennes et du monde grec, in C. BREYTENBACH (ed.), Paul’s Graeco-Roman Context (BETL, 277), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2015, 357-371. c Review of J. BEUTLER, Johannesevangelium: Kommentar, Freiburg i.Br. – Basel – Wien, Herder, 2013, in Stimmen der Zeit 233 (2015) 713-716. a

2016 R. BIERINGER – B. BAERT – K. DEMASURE (eds.), Noli me tangere in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Textual, Iconographic and Contemporary Interpretations (BETL, 283), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2016 ( 2016c). b D. KUREK-CHOMYCZ – R. BIERINGER, The Corinthian καιναὶ κτίσεις? Second Corinthians 5:17 and the Roman Refoundation of Corinth, in A.H. CADWALLADER (ed.), Stones, Bones, and the Sacred: Essays on Material Culture and a



Ancient Religion in Honor of Dennis E. Smith (Early Christian Literature, 212), Atlanta, GA, SBL Press, 2016, 195-220. c Ῥαββουνί in John 20,16 and Its Implications for Our Understanding of the Relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, in BIERINGER – BAERT – DEMASURE (eds.), Noli me tangere in Interdisciplinary Perspective, 3-39 ( 2016a). d Verluste und Gewinne: Hermeneutische Überlegungen zu den Teilungshypothesen zum 2. Korintherbrief, in Zeitschrift zum Neuen Testament 38 (2016) 44-48. 2017 Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel: Fifteen Years after the Leuven Colloquium, in R.A. CULPEPPER – P.N. ANDERSON (eds.), John and Judaism: A Contested Relationship in Context (Resources for Biblical Study, 87), Atlanta, GA, SBL Press, 2017, 243-263. b “der eine so …, der andere so …” (Röm 14,5): Die Liebe zum Nächsten als dem Anderen nach Röm 14,1–15,6, in J.R. BACKES – E. BRÜNENBERG-BUSSWOLDER – P. VAN DEN HEEDE (eds.), Orientierung an der Schrift: Kirche, Ethik und Bildung im Diskurs. Festgabe für Thomas Söding zum 60. Geburtstag (BTS, 170), Göttingen – Bristol, CT, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017, 9-23. c Das Evangelium für die Römer und sein kosmischer Horizont: Eine exegetische Untersuchung zu Röm 1,1-17, in C. BREYTENBACH (ed.), God’s Power for Salvation: Romans 1,1–5,11 (Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum, 23), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2017, 7-41. a

a b






2018 Geld en genade: Het christelijk geloof in de hedendaagse economische context, Leuven – Den Haag, Acco, 2018 ( 2020a). (ed.), 2 Timothy and Titus Reconsidered – Der 2. Timotheus- und der Titusbrief in neuem Licht (Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum, 20), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2018 ( 2018f). J. VERHEYDEN – R. BIERINGER – J. SCHRÖTER – I. JÄGER (eds.), Docetism in the Early Church: The Quest for an Elusive Phenomenon (WUNT, 402), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2018 ( 2018d). The Passion Narrative in the Gospel of John: A Hotbed of Docetism?, in VERHEYDEN – BIERINGER – SCHRÖTER – JÄGER (eds.), Docetism in the Early Church, 113-124 ( 2018c). Proclaimed Message or Proclamation of the Message? A Critical Analysis of the Meaning of εὐαγγέλιον in the Letters of Paul and in the Gospel of Mark, in J. SCHRÖTER – S. BUTTICAZ – A. DETTWILER (eds.), Receptions of Paul in Early Christianity: The Person of Paul and His Writings through the Eyes of His Early Interpreters (BZNW, 234), Berlin – Boston, MA, De Gruyter, 2018, 61-88. Der 2. Timotheus- und der Titusbrief in der Diskussion, in BIERINGER (ed.), 2 Timothy and Titus Reconsidered, 5-16 ( 2018b). 2019 R. BIERINGER – P. DE MEY – M.M.S. IBITA – D. POLLEFEYT (eds.), The Spirit, Hermeneutics and Dialogues (ANL, 76), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2019 ( 2019d).



b “Ik gloei van verontwaardiging” (2 Kor 11,29): De ups en downs van het

apostelschap van Paulus, in A. MAYER – A. SIEBESMA (eds.), Zoals de Vader mij gezonden heeft, zo zend ik u. Apostelen: De Kerk in beweging (Leuvense Ontmoetingen rond Geloof, Openbaring en Spiritualiteit), Antwerpen, Halewijn, 2019, 11-26. c “... Striving for the Prize”: The Theological Significance of Athletic Language in Philippians 3:12-16, in Studia Nauk Teologicznych 14 (2019) 75-87. d D. POLLEFEYT – R. BIERINGER – P. DE MEY – M.M.S. IBITA, Spirit, Hermeneutics, and Dialogues: Exploring Their Interconnectedness, in BIERINGER – DE MEY – IBITA – POLLEFEYT (eds.), The Spirit, Hermeneutics and Dialogues, 3-8 ( 2019a). 2020 Geld en genade: Het christelijk geloof in de hedendaagse economische context, tweede, herwerkte en aangevulde uitgave, Leuven – Den Haag, Acco, 22020 ( 2018a). b Exegetical Perspective: Women and Women Deacons in the New Testament, in H. WARNINK (ed.), Unlocking the Future: Women and the Diaconate (Monsignor W. Onclin Chair 2020), Leuven, Peeters, 2020, 15-45. c Een ontwerp van een paulinische ethiek van de toekomst: Een analyse van 2 Korintiërs 5,14-15 in het licht van de normativiteit van de toekomst, in Tijdschrift voor Theologie 60 (2020) 252-270. a

2021 Mildtätigkeit oder Gerechtigkeit? Erwägungen zu 2 Korinther 9,9-10, in E. BRÜNENBERG-BUSSWOLDER – C. MÜNCH – M. SIGISMUND – R. VORHOLT – A. WEIHS (eds.), Neues Testament im Dialog: Festschrift für Thomas Söding zum 65. Geburtstag, Freiburg i.Br. – Basel – Wien, Herder, 2021, 50-63. 2022 Het Johannesevangelie in de NBV21: Vooruitgang, achteruitgang en gemiste kansen in de herziene vertaling, in Ezra. Bijbels Tijdschrift 54 (zomer 2022) 51-61. b Peter Learning to Be a Rock: A Narrative-Critical Reading of Simon Peter in the Fourth Gospel, in J. LIEU (ed.), Peter in the Early Church: Apostle – Missionary – Church Leader (BETL, 325), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2022, 27-46. c Μαριάμ or Μαρία in John 20,16? A Plea for docta ignorantia, in H.J. DE JONGE – M. GRUNDEKEN – J.S. KLOPPENBORG – C.M. TUCKETT (eds.), The Gospels and Their Receptions: Festschrift Joseph Verheyden (BETL, 330), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2022, 361-388. a

SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS FOR A WIDER AUDIENCE AND INTERVIEWS (1985-2023) 1985 Reconciliation: Our Christian Calling, in Sisters Today 56 (8/1985) 460-462.



1987 “Die große Liebe allein wird bleiben”: Edith Steins Leben in der Nachfolge des Kreuzes (1), in Der Pilger 140 (26 April 1987) 611. Wenn man das Kreuz zu spüren bekommt: Edith Steins Leben in der Nachfolge des Kreuzes (2), in Der Pilger 140 (3 May 1987) 657. 1988 P.H. LANGHÄUSER – R. BIERINGER, Meditationen über den Kreuzweg in St. Ludwig/Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Ludwigshafen, Kath. Pfarramt St. Ludwig, 1988. A Shoot Shall Sprout from the Stump of Jesse: Reflections on Isaiah 11:1-10, in Sisters Today 60 (4/1988) 195-198; trans. as Een twijg zal ontspruiten ..., in Sacerdos 63 (1995) 36-40. 1993 “Verzoen u met God” (2 Kor. 5,20), in VBS-Informatie 24 (March 1993) 17-19. 1997 A. JORIS – R. BIERINGER – J. VAN EYCK, Samen maaltijd vieren: Handleiding, Averbode, Altiora, 1997. A. JORIS et al., Samen maaltijd vieren: Werkmap, Averbode, Altiora, 1997. 1998 Het verdriet van Paulus, in Catechetische service 25 (1998) 1-4. 2000 De “twaalf apostelen” en de priesterwijding van de vrouw, in Schrift 190 (2000) 124-127. 2004 S. VAN DEN EYNDE et al. (R. BIERINGER), Midden in de cirkel: Vrouwen en leiderschap in diverse spirituele tradities, Antwerpen, Halewijn, 2004. Purification Sacrifices and Scapegoats, in J. GOH – E. KATONGOLE (eds.), Unlearning Sin (Christian Living Today, 5), Kuching, Leon Stationary Services, 2004, 84-94. 2007 Verkoop wat u hebt en geef het geld aan de armen, in Schrift 39/1 (2007) 13-17. Woord en antwoord: De proloog van het Johannesevangelie, in VBS-Informatie 38 (2007) 89-97. 2008 Scriptura-project: Een nieuwe vorm van bijbeldidactiek, in VBS-Informatie 39/2 (2008) 40-46. 2010 E. VAN LIERDE – R. BIERINGER (interview), Verlossing is geen eenrichtingsverkeer, in Tertio 11 (28 April 2010) 11.



2019 F. VANNEUVILLE – R. BIERINGER (interview), De apostel Paulus: A rebel with a cause, in Tertio 20 (23 April 2019). C. BOUWERAERTS – R. BIERINGER – K. JANSSEN (interview), Als de kleinste de grootste is, in Kerk en Leven (19 November 2019). 2020 Gehuwde priesters, in Tertio 21 (25 February 2020). 2022 L. CORTOIS – R. BIERINGER (interview), Het rijk van de vrijheid: Paulus ontspiritualiseren, in Tertio 23 (20 April 2022) 9-11. 2023 L. DE VOCHT – R. BIERINGER, Huidcontact is vitale behoefte: Thomas doet wat Maria Magdalena verboden werd, in Tertio 24 (4 January 2023). REIMUND BIERINGER ONLINE Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven Curriculum Vitae Research Group  Homepage  Academic Publications Testimony: Celebrate with Us: 50 Years of Theology Programmes in English! 1968-2018 (Reimund Bieringer: My Way to Leuven) Toekomst van Bijbelverhalen in de Actuele Samenleving (ToBiAS, 2017)  Dutch:  English: Thomas (Theologie, Onderwijs en Multimedia: Actieve Samenwerking)  Is het bestaan van Jezus archeologisch aantoonbaar? (2018)  Maar een verhaal? (Discussion with Patrick Loobuyck, 2018)  Reizen met Paulus (in Dutch) For the separate videos see also under “Youtube: Reizen met Paulus”  Travels with Paul (Dutch with English Subtitles, 2022)



Justus Lipsius Catholic Community Blog Personal Blog Online Newspaper Articles Kerk en leven Als de kleinste de grootste is (2019) Tertio De apostel Paulus, a rebel with a cause (2019) Gehuwde priesters (2020) Vrijheid bij Paulus (2022) Dossier tastzin, Tertio (2023) Thomas doet wat Maria Magdalena verboden werd Academic Publications Available Online Die Liebe des Paulus zur Gemeinde in Korinth: Eine Interpretation von 2 Korinther 6,11, in Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt 23 (1998) 193-213. Biblical Revelation and Exegetical Interpretation according to Dei Verbum 12, in Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt 27 (2002) 3-38. The Comforted Comforter: The Meaning of παρακαλέω or παράκλησις Terminology in 2 Corinthians, in HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies 67/1 (2011), Art. #969, 7 pages. “... Striving for the Prize”: The Theological Significance of Athletic Language in Philippians 3:12-16, in Studia Nauk Teologicznych 14 (2019) 75-87. Geld en genade: Uitdagingen van het christelijk geloof in de hedendaagse economische context, tweede, herwerkte en aangevulde uitgave, Leuven – Den Haag, Acco, 22020.



Wikipedia YouTube Lviv: General Assembly of the European Federation of Catholic Universities (FUCE) (2010) Dominicains de Belgique. (in Dutch)  Eerste brief van Paulus aan de Korintiërs (2019)  Brief aan de Galaten 1/6 (2020)  Brief aan de Galaten 2/6: Rechtvaardig door het geloof (2020)  Brief aan de Galaten 3/6: De Wet (2020)  Brief aan de Galaten 4/6: De Geest (2020)  Brief aan de Galaten 5/6: De vrijheid (2020)  Brief aan de Galaten 6/6: De merktekens van Jezus (2020)  Over het geheel/On the entire series (2020)  See also THOMAS video databank sortby=createdatedesc&groupby=node&csrfp_token=e543f69135#page-title  Reizen met Paulus #1 Tarsus en Jeruzalem (2020) #2 Damascus #3 Antiochië aan de Orontes #4 Cyprus en Antiochië in Pisidië #5 Jeruzalem #6 Galatië #7 Filippi #8 Tessalonika



#9 Athene #10 Korinte #11 Efeze #12 Jeruzalem #13 Rome #14 Spanje Het Nieuwe Testament vrouwonvriendelijk? (2022) article: YouTube: Is het Nieuwe Testament vrouwonvriendelijk? (1/2) YouTube: Is het Nieuwe Testament vrouwonvriendelijk? (2/2) Hoe “werkelijk” is de werkelijke aanwezigheid van Jezus in de Eucharistie? (2022) Webinars Activating Hope in the Pandemic: A Future-Oriented Dialogue with Romans 5: 1-11 in Hope-Less Times. De La Salle University – Theology and Religious Education Department Institute of Scriptures, “Interpreting the Bible in a Pandemic”. Online Conference (2020) Pope Francis’ Dream of the Future of Humanity: A Future-Oriented Reading of the Encyclical Fratelli tutti. The Archdiocese of Thalassery and Alpha Institute of Theology & Science Webinar. Alpha Theologia (2020)

DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS This list contains the Doctoral Dissertations in Theology / Doctoraatsproefschriften Theologie / PhD in Religious Studies (co-)supervised by R. Bieringer at KU Leuven. Co-operation with other institutions and co-supervisors are indicated in the list.

1. Innasimuthu ARULSAMY, Comfort in Affliction: An Exegetical Study of 2 Corinthians 1,3-11, 1995. 2. Niceta M. VARGAS, “As I Have Loved You ...”: An Exegetical Analysis of John 13:31-35, 1995. 3. Victor NICDAO, Power in Times of Weakness according to 2 Corinthians 12,110: An Exegetical Investigation of the Relationship between δύναμις and ἀσϑένεια, 1997.



4. Frédérique VANNEUVILLE, Jesus and “the Jews” in John 8:31-59: An Interdisciplinary Investigation into the Problem of Anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John, 2001. 5. Vincent PIZZUTO, A Cosmic Leap of Faith: An Authorial, Structural, and Theological Investigation of the Cosmic Christology in Col 1:15-20, 2003. A Cosmic Leap of Faith: An Authorial, Structural, and Theological Investigation of the Cosmic Christology in Col 1:15-20 (CBET, 41), Leuven – Paris – Dudley, MA, Peeters, 2006. 6. John DENNIS, The Restoration of Israel in John’s Gospel: A Study of Johannine Restoration Theology in Light of John 11.47-52, 2003. Jesus’ Death and the Gathering of True Israel: The Johannine Appropriation of Restoration Theology in the Light of John 11.47-52 (WUNT, II/217), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2006. 7. Luc DE SAEGER, Wat wij behoren te weten of Hoe Paulus christelijke identiteit uitzegt: Galaten 2,16 en 3,1-14 in context, 2004. 8. Christof STRÜDER, Paulus und die Gesinnung Christi: Identität und Entscheidungsfindung aus der Mitte von 1 Kor 1–4, 2004. Paulus und die Gesinnung Christi: Identität und Entscheidungsfindung aus der Mitte von 1 Kor 1–4 (BETL, 190), Leuven, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 2005. 9. Jacob CHANIKUZHY, Jesus, the Eschatological Temple: An Exegetical Study of Jn 2,13-22 in the Light of the Pre-70 C.E. Eschatological Temple Hopes and the Synoptic Temple Action, 2004. Jesus, the Eschatological Temple: An Exegetical Study of Jn 2,13-22 in the Light of the Pre-70 C.E. Eschatological Temple Hopes and the Synoptic Temple Action (CBET, 58), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2012. 10. Benny THETTAYIL, In Spirit and Truth: An Exegetical Study of John 4:19-26, 2004. In Spirit and Truth: An Exegetical Study of John 4:19-26 and a Theological Investigation of the Replacement Theme in the Fourth Gospel (CBET, 46), Leuven, Peeters, 2007. 11. Joseph Thomas PAMPLANIYIL, Crossing the Abysses: An Exegetical Study of John 20:19-29 in the Light of the Johannine Notion of Discipleship, 2006. 12. Gergely JUHÁSZ, Translating Resurrection: An Early Sixteenth-Century Exegetical Debate in Antwerp between the Protestant Bible Translators William Tyndale and George Joye in Its Historical and Theological Context, 2008 (co-supervisor: G. Latré, Université catholique de Louvain). Translating Resurrection: The Debate between William Tyndale and George Joye in Its Historical and Theological Context (Studies in the History of Christian Traditions, 165), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2014. 13. Virginia Rajakumari SANDIYAGU, The Galilean Women in the Redaction of Luke: An Exegetical Study of Luke 8:1-3, 2008. Women as Eyewitnesses to Christian Kerygma: The Galilean Women in the Redaction of Luke. An Exegetical Study of Luke 8:1-3 (Kristu Jyoti Research Series, 2), Bangalore, Kristu Jyoti Publications, 2017. 14. Dominika KUREK-CHOMYCZ, Making Scents of Revelation: The Significance of Cultic Scents in Ancient Judaism as the Backdrop of Saint Paul’s Olfactory Metaphor in 2 Cor 2:14-17, 2008.



15. Stephen A. JOHNSTON, L’absolu bonté du Dieu qui meurt: Mythe et théologie anonyme dans Broadcast Talks de C.S. Lewis, 2009 (supervisor: J.-L. Souletie, Institut Catholique de Paris, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). Le sens et la vérité du mythe dans Mere Christianity de C.S. Lewis, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2017. 16. Teresa TSUI, The New Life in Christ (Rom 6:1-14): Transformation through the Divine Glory in Christ’s Death and Resurrection, 2009. 17. Joseph Tung DO, Ἱλασμός as Expiation: An Exegetical Study of the Meaning of ἱλασμός in 1 John 2:1-2 and 4:7-10, 2010. Re-thinking the Death of Jesus: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Hilasmos and Agapē in 1 John 2:1-2 and 4:7-10 (CBET, 73), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2014. 18. Emmanuel NATHAN, New Perspectives on Paul and the New Covenant in 2 Cor 3:6.7-18: Hermeneutical and Heuristic Considerations on Continuity and Discontinuity, 2010 (co-supervisor: D. Pollefeyt). Re-membering the New Covenant at Corinth: A Different Perspective on 2 Corinthians 3 (WUNT, II/514), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2020. 19. David BOLTON, Justifying Paul among Jews and Christians? A Critical Investigation of the New Perspective on Paul in Light of Jewish-Christian Dialogue, 2011 (supervisor: D. Pollefeyt, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). Justifying Paul among Jews and Christians? A Critical Investigation of the New Perspective on Paul in Light of Jewish-Christian Dialogue, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015. 20. Gesila Nneka UZUKWU, The Unity of Male and Female in Christ: An Exegetical Study of Gal 3:28c in Light of Paul’s Theology of Promise, 2011. The Unity of Male and Female in Jesus Christ: An Exegetical Study of Galatians 3.28c in Light of Paul’s Theology of Promise (LNTS, 531), London, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015. 21. Binz ANTONY, No One Can Separate Us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus: A Theocentric Interpretation of the Gospel of God for an Ecclesial Purpose in Romans 1–8, 2011. 22. Martijn STEEGEN, Het Nieuwe Testament als fundament voor het dogma van de Drie-eenheid van God: Een Bijbeltheologisch onderzoek naar de taal- en denkstructuren over de Vader, de Zoon en de Geest in het Johannesevangelie, 2012 (co-supervisor: G. Van Belle). 23. Ma. Marilou S. IBITA, “If Anyone Hungers, He/She Must Eat in the House” (1 Cor 11:34): A Narrative-Critical, Socio-Historical and GrammaticalPhilological Analysis of the Story of the Lord’s Supper in Corinth (1 Cor 11:1734), 2012. 24. Jose Joseph KOLLEMKUNNEL, Participation in the Life of Jesus: An Exegetical Study of 2 Cor 4:7-15, 2014. 25. Debra SNODDY, God’s Holy One: A Redaction-Critical Analysis of the Title Used by Peter to Confess Jesus as ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ ϑεοῦ in John 6:69, 2014. 26. Thomas A. VOLLMER, “The Spirit Helps Our Weakness”: Rom 8:26a in Light of Paul’s Purpose for Writing the Letter to the Romans, 2015. “The Spirit Helps Our Weakness”: Rom 8,26a in Light of Paul’s Missiological Purpose for Writing the Letter to the Romans (BiTS, 36), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2018.



27. Varghese Poulose CHIRAPARAMBAN, The Manifestation of God’s Merciful Justice: A Theocentric Reading of Romans 3:21-26, 2015. The Manifestation of God’s Merciful Justice: A Theocentric Reading of Romans 3:21-26 (CBET, 91), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2018. 28. Laura TACK, Weg van de waarheid? Een historisch-kritisch en hermeneutisch onderzoek van Joh 14,6 in het licht van de joods-christelijke dialoog, 2015. John 14:6 in Light of Jewish-Christian Dialogue: Sharing Truth on the Way of Life (WUNT, II/557), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2021. 29. Thomas VADAKKEL, From Division to Unity in Diversity: An Exegetical Analysis of the Image of the Body of Christ in 1 Cor 12:12-27 with Special Attention to the Ecclesial and Ethical Dimensions of the Image in Its Literary and Historical Contexts, 2016 (co-supervisor: E. Nathan, Australian Catholic University). 30. Priya PAUL, Beyond the Breach: An Exegetical Study of John 4:1-42 as a Text of Jewish-Samaritan Reconciliation, 2016. Beyond the Breach: An Exegetical Study of John 4:1-42 as a Text of JewishSamaritan Reconciliation (CBET, 92), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2020. 31. Bincy MATHEW, “He Loved Them Perfectly”: The Johannine Footwashing as the Sign of Perfect Love. An Exegetical Study of John 13:1-20, 2016. The Johannine Footwashing as the Sign of Perfect Love (WUNT, II/464), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2018. 32. Soeng Yu LI, Paul’s Teaching on the πνευματικά in 1 Corinthians 12–14: Prophecy as the Paradigm of τὰ χαρίσματα τὰ μείζονα for the Future-Oriented ἐκκλησία, 2016. Paul’s Teaching on the Pneumatika in 1 Corinthians 12–14: Prophecy as the Paradigm of ta Charismata ta Meizona for the Future-Oriented Ekklēsia (WUNT, II/455), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2018. 33. Viorel COMAN, Dumitru Staniloae’s Trinitarian Ecclesiology in the Context of the Debates on the Filioque: The Synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology in Ecclesiology, 2016 (supervisor: P. De Mey, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). Dumitru Staniloae’s Trinitarian Ecclesiology: Orthodoxy and the Filioque, Lanham, MD, Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2019. 34. Joan Brigida Corazon INFANTE, A World beyond the Divide: A CognitiveLinguistic and Historical-Critical Analysis of the Construal of ΚΟΣΜΟΣ in Select Texts of the Fourth Gospel, 2017 (co-supervisor: P. Van Hecke). 35. Andrey ROMANOV, One God and One Lord: The Meaning of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians (with a Special Focus on 1 Cor 8:6), 2018 (co-supervisor: P. Van Hecke). One God as One God and One Lord: The Lordship of Jesus Christ as a Hermeneutical Key to Paul’s Christology in 1 Corinthians (with a Special Focus on 1 Cor. 8:4-6) (Early Christian Studies, 20), Sydney, SCD Press, 2021. 36. Helen Patricia SANTOS, From Empowerment to a Spirituality of Flourishing at the Margins: A Feminist Prophetic Theological Vision and Mission for Fullness of Life with Marginalized Women in India, 2018 (supervisor: A. Dillen, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer).



37. Thomas TOPS, A Historical-Hermeneutical Study of παροιμία and παρρησία in the Gospel of John. Doctoral Dissertation in Theology, Groningen, Protestantse Theologische Universiteit, KU Leuven, 2021 (supervisor: A. Merz, Protestantse Theologische Universiteit Groningen, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). Paroimia and Parrēsia in the Gospel of John: A Historical-Hermeneutical Study (WUNT, II/565), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2022. 38. Maria Micheal FELIX, The Johannine Presentation of Jesus’ Leadership in John 21: A Historical-Critical and Literary-Critical Study of John 21:1-23 with Special Attention to 21:15-17, 2021. 39. Rex FORTES, The Ethnic Groups in the Fourth Gospel: A Historical-Literary and Social-Scientific Reading of the Dynamics of Identification and Representation within a Contested Ethnicity, 2022 (co-supervisor: M.M.S. Ibita, De La Salle University, Philippines).

MASTER’S DISSERTATIONS This list contains the Master’s theses in Theologie en Religiewetenschappen / Theology and Religious Studies in the Dutch or English Programme supervised by R. Bieringer at KU Leuven. Until 2014-2015 the Faculty awarded a one-year MA in Theology and Religious Studies and a one-year Master of Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion. That is why some of the students in the list were awarded two MA degrees. Since the academic year 2015-2016 students can enrol in a one-year Master programme or a two-year Research Master programme.

1. Victor S. NICDAO, Power in Weakness in 2 Corinthians 12,9-10: A History of Recent Interpretations, 1991. 2. Clair FILBERT, The Role of Mary in the “Lazarus Story”: Toward a Feminist Theological Reconstruction of John 11:1-46, 1994. 3. Bart FIVEZ, “Niet mannelijk en vrouwelijk”: Een exegetische studie van Galaten 3,28 in zijn context, 1994. 4. Hans VANDENHOLEN, Typologische schriftinterpretatie in het Nieuwe Testament: Status quaestionis en toepassing op Gal 3,6-29 en 4,21-31, 1994. 5. Anthony Ademola ADESINA, The Collection of Paul for the Saints in Jerusalem, 1995. 6. Francis E. HIGGINS, The Theme of 2 Corinthians: 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 in Recent Exegetical Discussion, 1995. 7. Bianca LATAIRE, “De aan de boezem van de vader zijnde”: Exegetische studie van Joh 1,18b in zijn context, 1995. 8. Anthony Ademola ADESINA, The Literary Criticism of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 in Recent Scholarship, 1996. 9. Gergely JUHÁSZ, Being with Christ: An Exegetical Analysis of Philippians 1,18b-26 in Perspective of Pauline Eschatology, 1996. 10. Frédérique VANNEUVILLE, Ongeloof ondanks tekenen: Een intertextueel onderzoek van de citaten uit Jes 53,1 en Jes 6,10 in Joh 12,37-43, 1996. 11. Luc DE SAEGER, Hij leeft in mij – Christus: Een exegese van Gal 2,20b, 1997. 12. Bianca LATAIRE, Gelijk aan God? Jezus’ eerste conflict met de “Joden”: Exegetische studie van Joh 5,16-18 in zijn context, 1997.



13. Mark R. BOWERS, Phoebe, διάκονος of Cenchreae: A Study of the Meaning of διάκονος in Rom 16:1-2 in Light of Paul’s Use and Understanding of διακον-Terminology, 1998. 14. John DENNIS, Toward the Meaning of περὶ ἁμαρτίας in Romans 8.3: An Investigation into the Biblical Background of περὶ ἁμαρτίας, 1998. 15. Karin GEERTS, De schreeuw om toekomst: Latijns-Amerikaanse feministische theologie, 1998. 16. Annie BAETEN, De oudtestamentische citaten in het Johannesevangelie: Eerste verkenning van de stand van het onderzoek, 1999. 17. Jacob CHANIKUZHY, Jesus and the Greeks: An Exegetical Study of John 7:35 and 12:20-23, 1999. 18. Vincent A. PIZZUTO, The Authorship of Colossians: A Reexamination, 1999. 19. Debra A. SNODDY, Jn 17:19: ἁγιάζω ἐμαυτόν, 1999. 20. Benny THETTAYIL, Worshiping in Spirit and Truth: A Study of the Background of John 4:19-24, 1999. 21. Jacob CHANIKUZHY, Jesus and the Greeks: An Exegetical Study of John 12:2026, 2000. 22. Barbara FOCQUAERT, “En Hij gaf de Geest door”: Een analyse van Joh 19,28-30 in zijn context, 2000. 23. Eva GELPER, De birkat ha-minim en het Johannesevangelie: Analyse in het perspectief van de joods-christelijke dialoog, 2000 (co-supervisor: D. Pollefeyt). 24. Joseph W. MARCOUX, Reconciliation in Romans 5,9-11: An Exegetical Study of Reconciliation within the Context of Romans 5,9-11, 2000. 25. Dario D. PACHECO, Preaching God’s Gospel to the Gentiles: Paul’s Understanding of “Mission” in the Letter to the Romans, 2000. 26. Benny THETTAYIL, Worshipping in Spirit and Truth: An Exegetical Study of John 4:19-26, 2000. 27. Sebastian Jan DUDA, The Relationship between Sin and Atonement on the Basis of Analysis of Romans 3,21-26, 2001. 28. Barbara FOCQUAERT, De openbaringshelper – De relatie tussen Jezus en de geest in het Johannesevangelie: Een verkenning van het exegetische en theologische werkveld, 2001. 29. Dominika Alicja KUREK, “To Them Not Only I Give Thanks but Also All the Churches of the Gentiles” (Rom 16,4): The Ministry of Prisca and Aquila as Depicted in the New Testament, 2001. 30. Joseph W. MARCOUX, Reconciliation in Romans 5,6-11: An Exegetical Study of Reconciliation within the Context of Romans 5,6-11, 2001. 31. Dario D. PACHECO, Paul and His Mission: Paul’s Understanding of “Mission” in Romans 1:1-7, 2001. 32. Sebastian Jan DUDA, Re-Shaping the Divine: The Meaning of σάρξ in John 1,14, 2002. 33. Dominika Alicja KUREK, A Particular Gift from God (for Men): Analysis of Paul’s Argumentation in 1 Cor 7,36-38, 2002. 34. Joseph Thomas PAMPLANIYIL, The Believing Thomas: An Exegetical Study of Thomas Pericope (John 20:24-29), 2002. 35. Dries SOMERS, Rectissima norma vitae humanae (RB 73,3): Het gebruik van de Bijbel in de Regel van Benedictus, 2002. 36. Isabelle VANDEN HOVE, Woord en beeld over de verhouding van de antieke synagogen tot de tweede tempel: Rabbijnse reflectie en iconografische vormgeving omtrent de sacraliteit van de antieke synagogen, 2002.



37. Katrien VERTOMMEN, Het gebed van Jezus in het Johannesevangelie in het licht van zijn verhouding tot de Vader, 2002. 38. Joseph Tung M. DO, The Loved and Loving Disciple in the Johannine Community, 2003. 39. Sebastian MICHAEL, From Rabbi to Messiah: The Meaning of Rabbi in the Gospel of John in the Perspective of 1:38b, 2003. 40. Joseph Thomas PAMPLANIYIL, Blessed Are the Believers: An Exegetical Study of John 20:24-29 with Special Attention to the Theme of Seeing and Believing, 2003. 41. Elke VOS, Siddharta Gautama en Jezus van Nazareth: Vergelijkende studie tussen hun levensjaren en enkele belangrijke geloofspunten, 2003. 42. Joseph Tung M. DO, Jesus, Hilasmos for Our Sins: An Exegetical Analysis of 1 John 2:2, 2004. 43. Teresa KUO-YU TSUI, The Meaning of Kenosis (Phil 2,7) in Its Larger and Immediate Contexts, 2004. 44. Virginia Rajakumari SANDIYAGU, Galilean Women in the Company of Jesus: A Text-Critical and Syntactical Analysis of Luke 8:1-3, 2004. 45. Ma. Marilou S. IBITA, The Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:17-34): A NarrativeCritical Approach, 2005. 46. Teresa KUO-YU TSUI, Kenosis: The Way of the Suffering Philippian Community to Salvation, 2005. 47. Emmanuel NATHAN, Truth and Prejudice: A Hermeneutical Reflection on the Study of 2 Cor 6:14–7:1, 2005. 48. Carol Marie WEBSTER, Embodying the Body of the Church: The Influence of Graeco-Roman Body Politics on the Formation and Development of Christian Eucharist Celebration – the Consequence for the Participation of Women and the Disabled, 2005 (supervisor: J. Lamberts, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). 49. Binz ANTONY, Jesus, the Son of God in Power: An Exegetical and Theological Analysis of the Title Son of God in Romans 1:1-7, 2006. 50. David BOLTON, The New Perspective on Paul and Jewish-Christian Dialogue, 2006 (supervisor: D. Pollefeyt, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). 51. Ma. Marilou S. IBITA, Theologizing in Paul’s Narrative World: Social Relations and Symbolic Universe in 1 Cor 11:17-34, 2006. 52. Beatrice KAMUSIIME HIGIRO, The Relevance of the Bible in Social Transformation: Gerald O. West’s Contextual Bible Study, 2006 (supervisor: J. Haers, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). 53. Kathelijne KENIS, “Dan zal God hen die in Jezus zijn ontslapen samen met Hem meevoeren”: Exegese van 1 Tes 4,14b in zijn context (4,13-18), 2006. 54. Emmanuel NATHAN, In with the New and Out with the Old? The Covenantal Contrasts in 2 Corinthians 3, 2006 (co-supervisor: D. Pollefeyt). 55. Jonas SLAATS, Christian Satyagraha: The Religious Science of Fasting, 2006 (supervisor: J. Verstraeten, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). 56. Gesila Nneka UZUKWU, Male and Female: An Exegetical Study of Galatians 3:28c, 2006. 57. Hilde VANTOMME, “Als u wist wat God wil geven”: De nieuwtestamentische wortels in het charisma van de Franciscanessen Missionarissen van Maria, 2006.



58. Matthias BRIJSSINCK, De Abrahamitische godsdiensten en de economie: De wisselwerking tussen Christendom, Islam, Jodendom en Economie, KU Leuven (Economie en Bedrijfswetenschappen), 2007. 59. Linda DELANDE, Voor handen van kinderen: Onderbouwing der inhoudelijke criteria ter evaluatie van kinderbijbels. Exemplarische kritische evaluatie, 2007. 60. Hessel Gorrit JANSEN, Basisschoolleerkrachten en kinderen als exegeten en theologen: Een onderzoek onder eerste- en derdejaarsstudenten van de Christelijke Hogeschool Nederland, 2007 (co-supervisor: A. Dillen). 61. Cosmin MURARIU, Freedom and Its Limits within the Church Community: An Exegesis of 1 Cor 6;12a, “All Things Are Lawful for Me, but Not All Things Are Beneficial”, 2007. 62. August BRANTS, De Heilige Geest als voorschot: De betekenis van ἀρραβών in 2 Korinthiërs 1,21-22, 2008. 63. Jan DAMS, Jezus, vriend van alle kinderen?! Onderzoek naar de voorstelling van Jezus door het leerplan en leermiddelen voor het vak Rooms-katholieke godsdienst voor de eerste graad van de lagere school, 2008. 64. Jan PEETERS, Jezus op het grote scherm: Een vergelijkende studie en analyse van drie Amerikaanse Jezusfilms, 2008. 65. Alejandro J. REBÓN-PORTILLO, Does Saint Paul Condemn Homosexuality in Rom 1:26-27? A Historical-Critical Analysis, 2008 (co-supervisor: G. Van Belle). 66. Andrey ROMANOV, The Messianic Expectations in St. Paul’s Letters, 2008. 67. Clazina M. WEISS, Paul, Educated Jew from Tarsus: Questions about His Formative Years, 2008. 68. Shawn Thomas ALLEN, Paul’s Leaven Allegory in 1 Corinthians 5: A Grammatical and Philological Study of 1 Cor 5:6-8, 2009. 69. Ilse BACQUÉ, Mysterie onder woorden: De goddelijkheid van Christus in de proloog van het Johannesevangelie. Bevestigd in de katholieke kerk, ontkend door Jehovah’s getuigen, 2009. 70. Carina DEVOGELAERE, Ontmoetingen in het Johannesevangelie: Een vergelijkende analyse van 8 dialogen, 2009. 71. Jose Joseph KOLLEMKUNNEL, Apostolic Suffering and Life in Christ: An Exegetical-Theological Study of 2 Cor 4:7-15, 2009. 72. Fu-ming LEE, Glory in Departure and Departure in Love: A Grammatical Analysis of John 13:31-38 in View of Narrative Time, 2009. 73. Soeng Yu LI, De weg van de liefde 1 Kor 12,31b–13,13: Paulus’ kunstig pleidooi voor de eeuwige ἀγάπη als motivatie van de tijdelijke charismata, 2009. 74. Hau-Yan MAN, “Let Us Keep Peace with God”: A Critical Study of the Major Textual Problem in Romans 5,1, 2009. 75. Priya PAUL MOOLAN MOOZHA, The Samaritan Woman and the Disciples: An Exegetical Study of John 4:31-38, 2009. 76. Varghese POULOSE, “Passing over Former Sins”: An Exegetical Study of διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων in Rom 3:25 in Its Context, 2009. 77. Andrey ROMANOV, The Lordship of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians, 2009. 78. Liew Nyuk TAN, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ: A Critical Evaluation from the Perspective of Faith Communication, 2009 (supervisor: D. Pollefeyt, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer).



79. Wouter VELLE, Zonen van God: Een exegese van Joh 10,34-36. Voorbij a minori ad maius – en apologetische interpretaties, 2009. 80. Ilse BACQUÉ, Ναί, κύριε: Martha in het Johannesevangelie en de doorwerkingsgeschiedenis, 2010. 81. Teodor BRAŞOVEANU, From the Power of God to Human Powerlessness: An Exegetical Study of the Meaning of δύναμις in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, 2010. 82. Joan Brigida Corazon INFANTE, The Women and the Beloved Disciple by the Cross: A Critical Status Quaestionis of the Exegetical Research on John 19:25-27, 2010. 83. Soeng Yu LI, Wie profeteert, bouwt aan de gemeente: Een exegetische studie van 1 Kor 14,1-5, 2010. 84. Hau-Yan MAN, Who Reconciles Whom? An Analysis of the Scholarly Discussion in English Speaking Scholarship of Paul’s Understanding of the Recipient of Divine Reconciliation, 2010. 85. Jaroslaw MOEGLICH, The Jewishness of Jesus in John 4:3-27, 2010. 86. Priya PAUL MOOLAN MOOZHA, The Samaritan Woman and the Disciples: An Exegetical Study of John 4:31-38, 2010. 87. Varghese POULOSE, The Alleged Pre-Pauline Formula in Rom 3:24-26 and an Exegetical Study of the Hapaxlegomena in It, 2010. 88. Laura TACK, Het kleed van Christus. Woord. Beeld. Object: De naadloze lijfrok in de katholieke verbeeldingswereld, 2010 (supervisor: B. Baert, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). 89. John Nat TUCKER, Collaborative Ministry in Paul: An Exegetical Study of 1 Corinthians 3:5-17, 2010. 90. Thomas VADAKKEL, How Are the Dead Raised? What Kind of Body Do They Have? An Analysis of the Pauline Conception of the Resurrection of the Dead Based on 1 Cor 15:35, 2010. 91. Yong ZHOU, Soteriology and Eschatology according to Ephesians 1:13-14, 2010. 92. Teodor BRAŞOVEANU, From the Power of God to the Power of Sin: An Exegetical Study on the Meaning of δύναμις in Selected Verses from the First Letter to the Corinthians, 2011. 93. Carina DEVOGELAERE, In dienst van het Woord: Een analyse van evangeliecommentaren in functie van de verkondiging, 2011. 94. Paul FITZPATRICK, Mind the Gap: Μή μου ἅπτου in the Light of the Spatial Relation within Narrative Criticism and Narrative Art, 2011 (supervisor: B. Baert, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). 95. Joan Brigida Corazon INFANTE, The Semantic World of κόσμος: A Critical Status Quaestionis on the Meanings and Background of κόσμος in John, 2011. 96. Christy JOSE KOOTTUMMEL, Dying for Our Sins: The Interpretation of Χριστὸς ἀπέϑανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν in 1 Cor 15:3b, 2011. 97. Ligy George PEREPPADAN, Election and Friendship: An Exegetical Study of John 15:12-17 in Relation to Johannine Discipleship, 2011. 98. Ulahannan PULINTHANATHU AUGUSTI, A New Heaven and a New Earth: An Exegetical Analysis of Revelation 21:1-8, 2011 (co-supervisor: D. KurekChomycz). 99. Laura TACK, Blik in de spiegel of gelaat als spiegel? De spiegelmetafoor in 1 Kor 13,12 en 2 Kor 3,18, 2011.



100. John Nat TUCKER, The Meaning of ἐκκλησία in Selected Passages in 1 Corinthians, 2011. 101. Thomas VADAKKEL, Paul and the Body of Christ: A Study of Σῶμα Χριστοῦ in 1 Cor 12:12-27, 2011 (co-supervisor: D. Kurek-Chomycz). 102. Veerle DILLEN, De Bijbel in Taizé - in woord en daad: Een kwantitatieve en kwalitatieve analyse van de Bijbelverwijzingen in de “jaarbrieven” uit Taizé (1987-2012), 2012. 103. Armando DA BAPTISTA SILVA, Pertinence du ministère paroissial pour l’Institut des Prêtres du Sacré-Cœur de Jésus: Le cas du Portugal, 2013 (supervisor: B. Malvaux, Lumen Vitae Brussels, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). 104. Innocentina-Marie OBI, The Self-Understanding of Paul as the Begetter of the Corinthian Community: An Exegetical and Theology Study of 1 Cor 4:14-21, 2013. 105. Agnes FERNANDO, Primary Witness to the Resurrection and a True Disciple of Jesus: Mary Magdalene in the Four Gospels with Special Focus on the Gospel of John, 2014. 106. Balaraju KASIPOGU, Submissive Wives: An Exegetical Study of ὑποτάσσω in Ephesians 5:21-24 and Its Immediate Context, 2014. 107. Innocentina-Marie OBI, Sin and the Justice of God: An Exegetical Study of the Coherence of Thought of 2 Cor 5:21 in Its Literary Context, 2014. 108. John O’CALLAGHAN, The Significance of Adam in Romans 5:12-21, 2014. 109. Jeevan PRASAD, The Role of Antitheses in 1 Thess 4:13–5:11: A Study on the Categorical Division for Identity, 2014. 110. Weiyuan RUAN, Conversion in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults with Special Emphasis on the Catechumenate Period, 2014. 111. Sander VLOEBERGHS, De onzin van Tijd: Een vergelijkende literatuurstudie tussen Alice in Wonderland en het Johannesevangelie, 2014 (co-supervisor: G. Van Belle). 112. Maria Micheal FELIX, Authenticity and Integrity of John 21: A Critical Analysis of Research Published in English, 2015. 113. Aļesja LAVRINOVIČA, The Syntactic Place of 1 Cor 14:33b: A Text-Critical and Exegetical Analysis, 2015 (co-supervisor: D. Kurek-Chomycz). 114. Ona MATULIONYTE, The Compatibility of Catholic Theology with Self-Determination: Exploring Freedom Vis-à-Vis Filial Obedience to God, 2015. 115. Jeevan PRASAD, The Meaning of ἐλπίς in 1 Thes 4:13: A Study of the Description of Others as Having No Hope from Non-Biblical Greek Sources, 2015. 116. Geneviève SOUILLAC, Being, Finitude and Ethical Potential in Ricoeur: Phenomenological Hermeneutics and Biblical Language, 2015. 117. Jean Paul Kouame TAKY, Passer d’une pastorale de la peur à une pastorale de la croissance à partir de l’étude exégétique de Matthieu 13, 24-30, 2015 (supervisor: D. Martens, Lumen Vitae Brussels, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). 118. Thomas TOPS, Een historisch-kritische studie van ἐν παροιμίαις in Joh 16,25, 2015 (co-supervisor: G. Van Belle). 119. Maria Micheal FELIX, The Author(s) of John 21:24-25: A Critical Status Quaestionis of the Literary-Critical Debate concerning John 21:24-25 and Its Relationship to John 21:1-23 as Well as the Whole Gospel, 2016.



120. Rex FORTES, Ethnicity and the Gospel of John: A Status Quaestionis, 2016. 121. Armin Manuel KUMMER, Do You Understand What You Are Reading? Men, Spirituality, and Gender-Specific Biblical Hermeneutics, 2016 (co-supervisor: A. Dillen). 122. Jan SCHREURS, Lc 2,41-52 van “kinderlijk herschreven” naar “herschreven voor kinderen”: Een wetenschappelijk en theologisch onderbouwde versie van Lc 2,41-52 voor 12-jarigen, 2016. 123. Geneviève SOUILLAC, Being, Finitude and Ethical Potential in Ricoeur: Phenomenological Hermeneutics and Biblical Language, 2016. 124. Thomas TOPS, Een historisch-kritische studie van παροιμία en παρρησία in het Johannesevangelie: Een pleidooi voor een paradox, 2016. 125. Precilla Priya D’SOUZA, The Elephant in the Room: The Place of 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 in the English-Speaking Literary-Critical Debate of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, 2017. 126. José FERA MASIYA, La prolifération de nouveaux mouvements chrétiens: un défi pastoral. Cas de la paroisse Saint-Kizito/Diocèse d’Idiofa, 2017 (supervisor: J. Kunduru, Lumen Vitae Brussels, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). 127. Anton LINGIER, An Examination of the Concept of Scripture as Word of God in Human Language from an Eschatological-Hermeneutical Point of View, 2017. 128. Canaan DUMBURA, “Thief, Robber, Fold, and Stranger”: Exploring the Minor Characters in the Good Shepherd Discourse in John 10:1-18, 2018. 129. Anton LINGIER, The Eschatological Principle: An Examination of the Understanding of the Bible as Word of God in Human Language from an Eschatological-Hermeneutical Perspective, 2018 (co-supervisor: S. van Erp). 130. Sara VAN GUCHT, De toekomsthorizon van de liefde in 1 Korintiërs 13: Werken met de benadering van de normativiteit van de toekomst, 2018. 131. Veronika ANDROSOVA, Trust in the Text and Trust in Students: The Analysis of Educational Practices of Dialogical Reading of the Bible Based on a Conceptual Study of Trust, KU Leuven (Psychologie en Pedagogische Wetenschappen), 2019 (supervisor: J. Vlieghe, co-supervisor: R. Bieringer). 132. Bert DE LEENHEER, Aanraking in Noli me tangere: Johannes 20:17vg en de voorstelling ervan in geselecteerde voorbeelden in de schilderkunst van de 14e tot de 21e eeuw, 2019 (co-supervisor: L. Kusters). 133. Sumith KURIAN, An Exegetical Study on μένω in Light of the Vine Metaphor in John 15:1-11, 2019. 134. Li LIU, The True Life-Giver: A Study of σάρξ in John 1:14, 2019. 135. Emma Jean LOWE, Painting a Thousand Words: The Significance of Visual Exegesis for Biblical Studies, 2019 (co-supervisor: L. Tack). 136. Ashe MATEROU, The Faith Confession of Martha in Jn 11:27 and Its Gospel Parallels: A Historical-Critical Analysis of Jn 11:27 in Comparison with the Faith Confession of Peter in Jn 6:69 and Mk 9:29 par. Mt 16:16 and the Johannine Purpose in Jn 20:30-31, 2019. 137. Jane Elizabeth MCBRIDE, The Pericope of the Syrophoenician Woman in Matthew 15 and Mark 7: An Exegetical, Hermeneutical and EmpiricalHomiletical Study, 2019 (co-supervisors: A. Dillen – J. McDonald). 138. Justin Devassy PUTHENPURACKAL, Pursuing the Awaiting Heaven on Paul’s Athletic Imagery in Phil 3:12-16 with Special Attention on Its Eschatological Vision of ‘Already and Not Yet’, 2019.



139. Valentin ANDRONACHE, The Revelatory Function of the Paraclete according to the Gospel of John: An Analysis of the Semantic and Syntactic Problems of John 14:25-26, 2020 (co-supervisor: V. Coman). 140. Alexander BEVAN, Recovering a “Remembered Future” within a “Remembered Past”: An Exegetical Study of the Alternative World of the Text in John 2:13-22 through the Hermeneutics of Cultural Trauma and Social Memory, 2020 (co-supervisor: M.M.S. Ibita). 141. Agatha Evaresta EZEME, The Image of the Good Shepherd in the Gospel of John: A Semantic Analysis of Jn 10:11-15, 2020. 142. Jomson ISSAC, Seeing Signs and Believing in Jesus? An Exegetical Analysis of the Johannine Understanding of the Relation between σημεȋον and πιστεύω in the Context of the First Sign at Cana in John 2:1-11, 2020. 143. Alvin MANITI, “Leave Her Alone” (John 12:7): Re-Reading John 12:4-7 in Its Literary and Historical Context and from Various Feminist Hermeneutical Approaches, 2020. 144. Marceline THARMARAJ, The ἐξουσία of Jesus as Son of Man in the Context of John 5:27: An Exegetical Analysis of John 5:24-30, 2020. 145. Seth VAN DER BIJL, De Geliefde Leerling en Johannes de Zoon van Zebedeüs: Argumenten in de Engelstalige literatuur voor en tegen de identificatie van de geliefde leerling als Johannes de zoon van Zebedeüs op basis van de karakterisering van de geliefde leerling in het vierde evangelie, 2020. 146. Daniel Joseph CARTWRIGHT, Truth and Error in the New Testament Using John 12:37-43 as a Lens, 2021. 147. Reni RUDOLF, Interpretations of the Presentation of the Death of Jesus in Light of the Atonement Theories, 2021. 148. Paul DE COCK, Ethiek in wording: Nieuwe ethische perspectieven in Paulus’ brief aan de Galaten, 2022. 149. Benedict EBOGU, Temporal and Spatial Constructs in the Fourth Gospel: An Exegetical Study on the Role of πάσχα in Jn 2:13-22, 2022. 150. Dong Chan KIM, A Comparative Theology: A Dialogue of Typological Analysis and Theological Reflections between Richard Niebuhr and Myself, 2022 (supervisor: J. Gruber, co-supervisors: A. Carbonnet – R. Bieringer). 151. Berly PAPPACHAN, A “New Family” by Adoption: An Examination of John 19:25-27 in Its Historical Context, 2022 (co-supervisor: D. KurekChomycz). 152. Steve RANSOME, “In Me”, “through Me”, “to Me”? An Exegetical Study of ἐν ἐμοί in Galatians 1:16, 2022. 153. Soli CHAKKUNGEL DEVASIA, The πνεῦμα and the Identity of Jesus: A Historical-Critical Study of the Descending and Remaining of the πνεῦμα on Jesus in John 1:32-34, 2023.

SCRIPTURES, VIRTUES, AND HERMENEUTICS … ἀλλὰ ναί ἐν αὐτῷ γέγονεν 2 Cor 1,19

The relationship between character strengths and virtues, on the one hand, and authoritative religious texts, or religious traditions more generally, on the other, is far from straightforward. This is partly due to the diversity within sacred writings, the different social and cultural contexts in which specific texts originated, and the ways in which they have affected ethical perspectives in subsequent developments of a given religious tradition. More fundamentally, however, identifying positive qualities, agreeing on how each of them specifically is to be understood, and to what extent they are compatible with one another (is justice always compatible with kindness, for example?), remain a matter of debate, as was already the case in ancient philosophical discourse. Anyone who has the pleasure to know Reimund Bieringer and is familiar with the way in which the terms kindness, courage, and integrity are used in contemporary English, will presumably agree that the honouree possesses all these qualities. Yet, we are mindful that there is no direct correspondence between the way in which these terms are used in contemporary English, whether as folk categories or in ethical discourse, and the ancient languages and cultures relevant to our discussion. When exploring kindness, courage, or integrity in biblical writings, one must bear these caveats in mind. In view of the above, in what follows we first offer a brief account of the main points to consider in relation to courage, kindness, and integrity, with reference both to contemporary definitions and ancient discussions and usage, especially but not exclusively in biblical literature. Even though in referring to ancient texts we do include English vocabulary, we do so reluctantly, well aware that in view of the lack of conceptual equivalence, none of these can be considered true semantic equivalents of the Hebrew and Greek terms. In the second part of the introduction we then proceed to an overview of the contributions to the present volume, focusing on how they relate to the overall theme.








1. Courage Of the three qualities which we have selected, only courage belongs to the so-called cardinal virtues. When asked to define courage, English speakers may spontaneously associate it with a simple mastery of fear or fearlessness, and this is also the view found among some psychologists. Yet absence, or mastery of fear alone, or willingness to take risks, can also be manifested in the pursuit of unethical ends, which is why ethicists are more likely to qualify such an understanding by adding the context of pursuing good ends. To what extent the latter is a constitutive element of courage remains contested. The question becomes particularly relevant when faced with atrocities such as the World Trade Center attacks of 2001, or more recently the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which started in February 2022. Can extremist Islamist militants or Russian soldiers invading a neighbouring country be considered “courageous” if they are willing to take risks and manage to overcome fear but their actions have horrible consequences for many people? In what sense, then, if at all, could “courage” still be regarded as a virtue? In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle begins his overview of virtues with ἀνδρεία, characterising it as “the mean in respect of fear and confidence (μεσότης περὶ φόβους καὶ θάρρη)”1. The term ἀνδρεία is indicative of the virtue’s origins: a manly virtue, exhibited mainly in war. A true man, ἀνήρ, possesses ἀνδρεία; to be cowardly is to be unmanly, ἄνανδρος. In classical Greek literary sources not only is ἀνδρεία primarily associated with men, but more specifically, with free Greek males. When ascribed to women or barbarians, it is a cause for wonder2. While ἀνδρεία, alongside justice, self-control, and prudence, may have belonged to the most prominent classical virtues, already among classical Greek philosophers there were different perspectives on what constitutes ἀνδρεία. Aristotle preferred to narrow it down to first and foremost the circumstances of war, and, thus, fearlessness when faced with the danger of death in a battle: “Properly, then, he will be called brave who is fearless in face of a noble death (καλὸν θάνατoν ἀδεής), and of all emergencies that involve death; and the emergencies of war are in the 1. Eth. nic. 115a6-7. 2. S.E. HARRELL, Marvelous Andreia: Politics, Geography, and Ethnicity in Herodotus’ Histories, in R.M. ROSEN – I. SLUITER (eds.), Andreia: Studies in Manliness and Courage in Classical Antiquity (Mnemosyne. Supplements, 238), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2003, 77-94.



highest degree of this kind”3. In Plato’s Laches, on the other hand, a Socratic dialogue focused on defining ἀνδρεία, there is a tendency to widen its scope beyond the context of war. According to Socrates, those in the perils of the sea, in disease, poverty, public affairs, as well as those fighting against desires and pleasures, are also courageous (ἀνδρεῖοι). It may be true that “contemporary use seemingly favors the Socratic tendency by widening the scope of those who can properly be called courageous, including psychiatric patients …, recovering alcoholics …, and those who boldly propose and defend new ideas, thus manifesting intellectual courage”4. One could ask, however, to what extent modern courage, in all its various manifestations, corresponds to ancient ἀνδρεία, with its web of cultural and social entanglements rather remote from twenty-first-century contexts. Ἀνδρεία was unambiguously considered to be a virtue; it had an invariably positive connotation, even if individual users may have applied it to a negative context. As opposed to this, in classical sources, παρρησία, frankness or boldness of speech, as Ineke Sluiter and Ralph Rosen note, “may in and of itself be used as a simple descriptor, e.g. of a practice commonly associated with democracy, which may be evaluated as either a good or a bad thing depending on the views of the speaker”5. For Aristotle, παρρησία was not a virtue; it was “a descriptor of a certain type of speech, which is sometimes rightly adopted and sometimes not”6. This changed somewhat in subsequent philosophical debates. But, already in the classical period ancients associated παρρησία with ἀνδρεία, even though it was by no means a simple relationship7. Hannah Arendt famously referred to courage as something that became “the political virtue par excellence”8. While she did not quote Demosthenes in this context, the following statement concerning civic courage fits Arendt’s assertion well: But whoever in your best interests often opposes your wishes, and never speaks to win favor, but always gives you of his best, and makes choice of that policy which is more under the dominion of chance than of calculation, 3. Eth. nic. 1115a32-35. 4. A.G. ZAVALIY – M. ARISTIDOU, Courage: A Modern Look at an Ancient Virtue, in Journal of Military Ethics 13 (2014) 174-189, p. 179. 5. R.M. ROSEN – I. SLUITER, General Introduction, in IID (eds.), Free Speech in Classical Antiquity (Mnemosyne. Supplements, 254), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2004, 1-19, p. 4. 6. Ibid., p. 16. 7. On the relationship between παρρησία and ἀνδρεία in classical Athens, see R.K. BALOT, Free Speech, Courage, and Democratic Deliberation, in ROSEN – SLUITER (eds.), Free Speech in Classical Antiquity (n. 5), 233-259. 8. H. ARENDT, The Human Condition, Chicago, IL – London, University of Chicago Press, 1958, p. 36.



and yet accepts the responsibility of either, he is the brave man (οὗτός ἐστ’ ἀνδρεῖος). Yes, and it is he who is the useful citizen (καὶ χρήσιμός γε πολίτης), not those who for a moment’s popularity have made havoc of the chief resources of the State9.

We move now to biblical literature. In Hebrew, there is no abstract word for courage; the two roots which in English versions of the Hebrew Bible are often rendered with terms associated with courage or boldness, ‫ חזק‬and ‫אמץ‬, are also connected with physical strength. Thus, not surprisingly, in the Old Greek version, the verbs ἰσχύω and ἀνδρίζομαι are often used in this context. For the LXX translators they appear to be interchangeable to some extent. The combination of the two roots, repeatedly used in Deuteronomy and Joshua (Deut 31,6.7.23; Josh 1,; 10,25), but also in other books, is rendered with ἀνδρίζομαι and ἰσχύω in a varying order. This combination typically occurs as a formulaic expression of encouragement rather than part of an individual’s characterisation, and is rooted in the confidence in God’s enduring support. Deuteronomy 31,6 exemplifies this well: “because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you”. The absence, or mastery, of fear, could also be expressed with reference to the strength of body parts, in particular the heart and the hand, as well as of the spirit, ‫רוּח‬, ַ or soul, ‫נֶ ֶפשׁ‬. A strong hand, however, is also used in reference to God’s power (as in Exod 13,9), without an indication of the need to overcome fear, one must thus be cautious with ascribing to ancient Israelites an abstract notion of courage which can be separated from specific actions. Clearly, however, an ability to overcome fear in view of adverse circumstances, as long as it was a result of having confidence in God, was viewed positively. This could pertain to adversity and adversaries in general terms (Ps 27,1), or more specific circumstances such as war (Ps 27,3). The reason for this confidence was trust and hope in God (in Hebrew typically expressed with the root ‫בטח‬, in the LXX rendered either with πείθω in the perfect tense or, mainly in the Psalms, with ἐλπίζω/ἐλπίς). This trust was based on certain convictions regarding God’s character. While fearless behaviour is associated in biblical texts with several famous female figures, including Deborah, Jael and Esther, typically their gender is emphasised in such contexts, implying the remarkability of such actions (note especially “by the hand of the woman” in Judg 4,9, as well as in reference to the eponymous character of the deuterocanonical book of Judith, in Jdt 9,10; 13,15; 16,5). Notably, in the Hebrew text 9. Chers. 69-70 (J.H. Vince LCL).



Esther’s courage is mainly implied. Only in the Greek additions to Esther is an explicit request, which she makes to God to give her courage, mentioned (ἐμὲ θάρσυνον in LXX Esth 14,12; cf. also the exhortation to Esther in LXX Esth 15,12: θάρσει). While not part of the Hebrew Bible, in Jewish literature of the Second Temple period, the woman most explicitly extolled for her manly courage is the mother of the seven sons. In 2 Macc 7,21 she is said to be “filled with the noble mind” (γενναίῳ πεπληρωμένη φρονήματι) and “awakening her female reason with a male spirit/courage” (τὸν θῆλυν λογισμὸν ἄρσενι θυμῷ διεγείρασα). In 4 Macc 15,30, she is referred to as “more noble than males in endurance” (ἀρρένων πρὸς καρτερίαν γενναιοτέρα) and “more courageous than men in steadfastness” (ἀνδρῶν πρὸς ὑπομονὴν ἀνδρειοτέρα). In the writings which later became part of the New Testament, the noun ἀνδρεία does not appear. The verb ἀνδρίζομαι occurs only once, in Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to keep alert, stand firm in faith, be courageous (ἀνδρίζεσθε), and be strong (1 Cor 16,13). More frequent in New Testament writings is the less gendered (and less implicated in ancient cultural and philosophical discourse) verb θαρσέω/θαρρέω. In the gospels, following the LXX usage, the verb occurs exclusively in the imperative mood, and is typically rendered as “take courage” or “take heart”. The context is that of Jesus’s exhortations in healing accounts as well as when addressing his disciples overtaken with fear. Apart from the gospels, one occurrence in Acts and one in Hebrews, the verb is only used in 2 Corinthians, primarily in Paul’s reference to himself. It is not limited to Paul’s confidence in relation to God (2 Cor 5,6.8), but pertains also to his relation to the addressees. Yet another Greek verb which the Louw and Nida dictionary includes in the “Courage, Boldness” semantic domain is τολμάω, usually rendered as “to dare”. While its use is not limited to the context of faith, Paul’s reference to having been made confident (πεποιθότας) by his imprisonment, and as a result, “daring to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear” (περισσοτέρως τολμᾶν ἀφόβως τὸν λόγον λαλεῖν) in Phil 1,14 is significant. The context of boldness in speech brings us to the by far most frequent group of Greek terms associated with courage in New Testament writings, namely παρρησία and its cognate παρρησιάζομαι. In the context of classical Athens, as mentioned above, παρρησία was related to civic courage, but it was not always a positive term. In New Testament writings, especially in the Gospel of John and the Pauline letters, it becomes one of the most prominent expressions of courage, denoting mainly boldness of speech, but also action. Not surprisingly then, παρρησία is the main subject of two of the contributions to the present volume (Zimmermann,



Gillman) and links to it are made in several other contributions as described below. 2. Kindness Popular accounts of kindness often quote Aristotle’s alleged definition of kindness from his Rhetoric 2.7. As David Konstan has shown, however, the pathos to which Aristotle refers is that of gratitude, not kindness. According to Konstan, “Kindness is not an emotion for Aristotle, and it should be expunged from all lists of the Aristotelian pathê without further ado, to be replaced throughout by gratitude, the emotion that Aristotle in fact examines in this chapter”10. Is kindness a virtue then? None of the virtues listed by Aristotle can be rendered with the English term “kindness”, even if some may involve elements of it. While kindness may be taken for granted in certain ethical approaches, it is less frequently the specific focus of (Western) philosophical inquiry. Kindness continues to attract the interest of psychologists, however11. In Christopher Peterson’s and Martin Seligman’s influential Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification, kindness is listed under “strengths of humanity”, alongside love and social intelligence. From the perspective of positive psychology, Kindness and altruistic love require the assertion of a common humanity in which others are worthy of attention and affirmation for no utilitarian reasons but for their own sake. The affective or emotional ground of such kindness distinguishes it from a merely dutiful or principle-based respect for other persons. Such affective states are expected to give rise to helping behaviors that are not based on an assurance of reciprocity, reputational gain, or any other benefits to self, although such benefits may emerge and need not be resisted12.

Yet, kindness is more complex than it may appear at first sight. John Forester refers to it as a “situated action of compassion”, and proposes that it requires, following and extending analysis of Martha Nussbaum – four contingent, contextually sensitive practical judgments: (1) empathetic recognition of 10. D. KONSTAN, The Emotion in Aristotle Rhetoric 2.7: Gratitude, Not Kindness, in D.C. MIRHADY (ed.), Influences on Peripatetic Rhetoric: Essays in Honor of William W. Fortenbaugh (Philosophia Antiqua, 105), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2007, 239-250. 11. Cf. the results of a large study launched by BBC Radio 4 in 2021, undertaken in collaboration with the University of Sussex psychologist, Prof. Robin Banerjee, “Anatomy of Kindness” ( ten-things-we-learned-from-the-world-s-largest-study-of-kindness). 12. C. PETERSON – M.E.P. SELIGMAN, Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification, Oxford – New York, Oxford University Press; Washington, DC, American Psychological Association, 2004, p. 326.



another’s vulnerability or suffering; (2) causal/moral gauging of the sources of that vulnerability or suffering; (3) crafting of acts to mitigate that vulnerability/suffering, and (4) forming the motivation to respond practically to that Other’s situation13.

This is a helpful way to analyse a notion which eludes simplistic classifications. When one considers the Hebrew Bible, identifying kindness may depend both on one’s understanding of what it involves, and on how one interprets the Hebrew term most frequently associated with kindness, namely ‫ח ֶסד‬. ֶ While in summary accounts and dictionary articles it is often rendered as “loving kindness”, the lack of an adequate English equivalent is readily acknowledged. In NRSV the rendering “kindness” is employed in reference specific acts, but to denote God’s characteristics, “steadfast love” is mainly used, raising questions as to what extent the English term “love” is appropriate in this context. In the postexilic period ‫ ֶח ֶסד‬became tightly linked with the concept of the covenant, implying an element of obligation. Viewed from a synchronic perspective, in the Hebrew Bible ‫ ֶח ֶסד‬is first and foremost a divine attribute, as in Exod 34,6-7. It can, however, be predicated of humans, too. Both in reference to God and humans, it occurs in hierarchical relationships, where one party has the freedom to respond to the other’s needs. In New Testament writings χρηστότης is the term that comes closest to the English “kindness”. The Greek word occurs also in the LXX, mainly as a rendering of the Hebrew term denoting divine goodness, ‫טוֹבה‬, ָ just as the adjective χρηστός is used to translate ‫טוֹב‬, again primarily in reference to God. The abstract noun χρηστότης is derived from the adjective χρηστός, which in turn comes from χράομαι, “make use of”, a reminder about the role of kindness as a response to actual need. In the New Testament, especially in the Pauline letters, χρηστότης is similarly a divine trait (Rom 2,4; 11,22; Eph 2,7). In Titus 3,4 χρηστότης is accompanied by another term which denotes a similar characteristic, φιλανθρωπία, although the latter might imply benevolence towards humanity more in general. In the New Testament χρηστότης is also ascribed to humans, whether as one of the gifts of the spirit (Gal 5,22), or an attribute fitting to be worn by “God’s chosen ones” (Col 3,12). Similar usage is attested for the adjective χρηστός. While in the gospels the term is used less frequently, just as in the Hebrew Bible, kindness may also be expressed in specific actions, without being explicitly characterised as such. This 13. J. FORESTER, Our Curious Silence about Kindness in Planning: Challenges of Addressing Vulnerability and Suffering, in Planning Theory 20 (2021) 63-83, p. 63.



action and other-focused aspect of χρηστότης is best expressed in the verb χρηστεύομαι, when in 1 Cor 13,4 ἀγάπη is said to practice patience (μακροθυμεῖ) and perform kindness (χρηστεύεται), verbal forms which typically get lost in English translation. The theme of kindness is treated largely in two contributions (Reinhartz, Levine) while the other offerings link it to other themes as shown in the overview below. 3. Integrity Integrity is also not part of the Aristotelian virtue ethics system, and there is no consensus as to whether it is redundant in this system14. Yet as opposed to kindness, it is “the darling of many contemporary virtue ethicists”15, as Kristján Kristjánsson puts it. It has also been studied by psychologists. Peterson and Seligman list integrity under “strengths of courage” and describe it as “a regular pattern of behavior that is consistent with espoused values”, “public justification of moral convictions, even if those convictions are not popular” and “treatment of others with care, as evident by helping those in need; sensitivity to the needs of others”16. While this definition (and a psychological perspective) might be close to how integrity is understood by many contemporary English speakers, philosophers are not agreed on a definition. Kristjánsson’s taxonomy of different conceptions of integrity attested in contemporary philosophical discussions provides a helpful summary: The first broad conception understands integrity in terms of coherence between words and actions, or what we could call behavioural consistency. […] The second, and slightly more demanding, conception of integrity demands motivational wholeness of the person. […] The third broad conception of integrity may seem to some to be merely an implication of the first and second […] but others would see it as going beyond the first two in terms of demandingness. On this conception, integrity refers to a specific psycho-moral faculty that secures the non-betrayal of our deepest commitments, especially in times of adversity, and renders us uncompromising at exactly the points where we are most tempted to compromise, for instance in light of consequentialist reasoning17.

In addition to the quality of character, the term “integrity” also continues to be used in English in reference to the condition of being whole 14. See esp. K. KRISTJÁNSSON, Is the Virtue of Integrity Redundant in Aristotelian Virtue Ethics?, in Apeiron 52 (2019) 93-115. 15. Ibid., p. 94. 16. PETERSON – SELIGMAN, Character Strengths (n. 12), p. 250. 17. KRISTJÁNSSON, Integrity (n. 14), pp. 96-97.



and undivided, closer to the original literal meaning of the Latin term integritas. While already in classical Latin usage the extension from physical wholeness or stainlessness to an ethical sense appears to have taken place, in early Christian writings, as Margaret Mohrmann notes, a narrower set of meanings dominated: “limiting integritas almost solely to physical wholeness or intactness, primarily in regard to chastity but also in reference to the reliability of texts and oral traditions”18. The expanded ethical meaning began to be attested only at the end of the fourth century, in the writings of Ambrose and Augustine, and it continued to expand throughout the Middle Ages to include moral uprightness and probity. Based on the Oxford English Dictionary, the ethical meaning (the soundness of moral principle, uprightness, honesty), is attested in the second recorded occurrence of “integrity” in English in 1548, and this is also how the word was used in the King James Version of the Bible. Contemporary English translations, such as NRSV, have continued this tradition. The use of the term “integrity” in English versions pertains primarily to wisdom literature, first and foremost the book of Proverbs. In this context, integrity typically characterises those who are “righteous”, ‫ַצ ִדּיק‬ (note esp. Prov 14,32; 17,26; 20,7). If we consider current usage and especially the first two of the conceptions as listed by Kristjánsson, integrity in the Hebrew Bible can be identified as a principal component of the notion of “righteousness” (‫)צ ָד ָקה‬, ְ which, in turn, is the most important characteristic of wisdom and the wise19. The English term “integrity” typically renders Hebrew words of the root ‫תמם‬, meaning “to reach an end, to be completed”20. This includes its adjectival and nominal derivatives, namely ‫תֹּם‬, ‫תּ ָמּה‬, ֻ ‫ ָתּם‬and ‫תּ ִמים‬. ָ Notably, while the Hebrew terms span a range of spheres, including cultic and legal realms, the English word “integrity” is typically not used in contexts other than ethical. In the cultic context, mainly in Leviticus and Numbers, the adjective ‫ ָתּ ִמים‬is repeatedly employed in reference to sacrificial animals which are “without blemish”, thus physically “whole”. Sarah Melcher remarks, the Priestly literature certainly represents “an ideology of ability”21, which can be countered with different perspectives 18. M.E. MOHRMANN, Integrity: Integritas, Innocentia, Simplicitas, in Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 24/2 (2004) 25-37, p. 26. 19. See B. LEMMELIJN, Mindful Happiness Nowadays: A New Perspective from Ancient Biblical Wisdom, in Acta Theologica Supplementum 26 (2018) 286-304; and EAD., Wisdom of Life as Way of Life: The Wisdom of Jesus Sirach as a Case in Point, in Old Testament Essays 27 (2014) 444-471. 20. M.B. DICK, Integrity, in Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception 13 (2016) 1-2. 21. S.J. MELCHER, Blemish and Perfection of the Body in the Priestly Literature and Deuteronomy, in Journal of Religion, Disability & Health 16 (2012) 1-15.



on embodiment elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. But in addition to ableist overtones relating to the connection between physical wholeness and holiness, the use of the same root in reference to ethical and physical “perfection”, especially for readers who are not attuned to the variety of perspectives, heightens the dangerous potential of these texts. A somewhat different image is presupposed when the Greek word ἀφθαρσία (“incorruption”) is rendered as “integrity” in Tit 2,7, although also in this case the state of not being subject to decay may presuppose bodily wholeness. Even if no other terms are typically translated as “integrity” in English versions of the New Testament, Pauline theologising about the “Yes” (Ναί) which is always in Jesus (2 Cor 1,19-20) could be interpreted as an attempt to construct a theology of integrity avant la lettre, a project which was not subsequently followed up, possibly due to the concerns that Paul’s own behaviour gave rise to regarding his own integrity. The latter is a question which several of the contributors to the present volume have chosen to consider in their essays. It is an overview of the essays in this collection, including their relation to its overall theme, to which we now turn. II. KINDNESS, COURAGE,





Our brief outline of select issues pertaining to kindness, courage, and integrity in ancient and contemporary discussions, as well as biblical writings, has hopefully provided an insight into the complexity of the matter. In view of this, rather than being overly prescriptive, we have given the contributors to this Festschrift freedom as to which aspect of the three qualities to focus on, and whether to consider them in the context of specific biblical writings or passages, or rather in reference to the ethics or politics of biblical interpretation. In the first part of our volume we have included five papers which discuss select writings, corpora of writings, or contexts. Adele REINHARTZ explores the theme of kindness in the book of Ruth. Ruth is often studied for insights into themes such as the ancestry of King David, conversion, levirate marriage, and, in Jewish tradition, the harvest motif. It is on the basis of the latter that the book is read in its entirety during the feast of weeks (Shavuot), which occurs in the late spring. When Ruth is read as an ancient novella, however, the role of kindness appears to be central. It is the eponymous character’s kindness to Naomi – and Boaz’s kindness to Ruth – that result in the birth of a child “to Naomi” (Ruth 4,17) and



resolve the threads of the narrative. Reinhartz’s discussion of the theme, as the title of her essay suggests (“Complicating Kindness in the Book of Ruth”), foregrounds its complexity as opposed to the tendency to associate kindness with altruism. She explores both its salutary aspects, but also its more complicated relationships with bitterness, self-interest, sexual desire, as well as with the motif of manipulation. Reinhartz concludes by observing that while truly altruistic kindness does exist, as exemplified by the honouree, in the book of Ruth the only altruistically kind character is Ruth herself. Amy-Jill LEVINE (“Kindness, Integrity, Courage, and Shamelessness: Recovering Human Behavior”) begins by observing that the qualities listed in the title of this Festschrift are all required for dialogue, yet to that list she proposes to add shamelessness. Albeit not a virtue, as the author observes, it is a means by which dialogue can be strengthened. However, the distinction between courage and shamelessness is somewhat elusive; what may by some people, or the individual concerned, be viewed as courage, could be perceived by others as shamelessness. In her contribution, Levine discusses the parable of the “Friend at Midnight” (Luke 11,5-8), which depicts shameless behaviour as an effective means of acquiring the desired results. According to Levine, reading the parable in relation to Luke’s account of the healing of the centurion’s slave (7,1-20), the parables of the dishonest manager (16,1-13) and widow and judge (18,1-8), and with attention to its language of “friend” and “bread”, shows how the early church’s attempts to make a virtue (tenacity) out of a vice (shamelessness) undermine the parable’s power, how shame functions in both antiquity and today, how the parable can inform group relations, and how appropriate responses can stop the perpetuation of bad behaviour. As remarked above, in the New Testament writings parrhēsia represents one of the most prominent expressions of courage. Parrhēsia is the focus of two essays, Ruben ZIMMERMANN’s “Frank and Free Speech (Παρρησία) as a Virtue in John, Antiquity, and Current Ethical Debate” and John GILLMAN’s “Παρρησία in the Pauline Corpus”. Zimmermann notes how neither in ancient nor contemporary discourse is parrhēsia universally accepted as the right or ethically recommended course of action. In the Gospel of John, as Zimmermann points out, not only is Jesus depicted as a parrhēsiastes, but what is more, he is presented as an example for the disciples and believers, opening up the space for his followers to act likewise. While a challenge for both the speaker and the addressee, Zimmermann argues that free and candid speech is essential as an orienting norm for communities. In Christian ethical terms, parrhēsia needs to be complemented by gentleness, patience, and love, but it is



necessary as a reminder of the value of truth, and as a way to put stop to the discourse of power. John Gillman is also interested both in the ancient and contemporary significance of parrhēsia, even though the latter is not discussed at any length in his essay. Following a brief discussion of other ancient literature, including the LXX, as well as Acts of the Apostles, Gillman devotes most of his essay to the use of the noun and its verbal cognate in the Pauline literature. In his introduction and conclusion, however, he emphasises the importance of parrhēsia to Christian identity, associating the revitalisation of this key concept with Pope Francis. In the last essay in Part I, “‘The Teaching of Christ’ in 2 John 9-10: Reconsidering the Ground for Hospitality in the Johannine Church” by Toan DO, the theme of kindness returns, albeit in a specific form, namely that directed towards strangers in the form of hospitality. More specifically, Toan Do discusses the question of apparent limits to the hospitality of early Christ believer communities, as reflected in the Johannine letters. He notes that commentators often interpret the conditional sentence in 2 John 10 as the author’s endorsement of the exclusion of travellers, understanding the verse as an instruction to exercise inhospitality towards those who violate Jesus’s teaching. However, Toan Do argues that a close investigation of the author’s overall argument and syntax indicates otherwise. Even if 2 John 10 signals some measure of inhospitality, the passage also warrants specific criteria of personal discretion that may be taken into consideration before excluding hospitality. According to Toan Do, the interplay between inhospitality and personal discretion is key to reading 2 John 10. Part II consists of eight papers, dealing either with specific figures or select passages in relation to the overall theme of the volume. While some of the authors are interested mainly in exegesis, others raise hermeneutical questions, including those pertaining to the history of reception, but also those featuring a more present- and future-oriented outlook. Cilliers BREYTENBACH, “Der unreine Aussätzige und der mitleidende, gereizte Jesus: Zu σπλαγχνισθείς und ἐμβριμησάμενος αὐτῷ in Mk 1,41 und 1,43” (ET: “The Unclean Leper and the Compassionate, Irritated Jesus: On σπλαγχνισθείς and ἐμβριμησάμενος αὐτῷ in Mark 1,41 and 1,43”), focuses on yet another motif associated with kindness, namely the emotions triggered in Jesus in his encounter with the man affected by skin disease in Mark 1,40-45. Mindful of the complexities involved in studying ancient emotions, Breytenbach proposes a detailed philological analysis of the Greek terms involved and the semantic imaginary framework evoked by them. He also draws attention to the bodily dimension



of Jesus’s “emotional” behaviour in this instance of kindness as depicted by Mark and missing from the Matthean and Lukan versions of the story. The “visceral” response (being moved in one’s entrails) occurs in other contexts in the other Synoptic Gospels, however. What is more, the “loving kindness”, chesed (‫)ח ֶסד‬ ֶ of the God of Israel is in the Hebrew Bible associated with God’s characterisation as “merciful”, rachum (‫)רחוּם‬, ַ which similarly envisages being moved inside, in the womb, rechem (‫)ר ֶחם‬. ֶ Laura TACK (“The Courage to Look Forward: The Double Mention of στρέφω in John 20,14.16 in Light of the Future-Oriented Vision of John 20,11-18”) begins with commenting on how Reimund Bieringer’s own work on Mary Magdalene, and more specifically, interpreting the Noli me tangere scene (John 20,17), with a focus on mutual conversation and discipleship, involved a considerable amount of courage. In her contribution, Tack studies the double mention of στρέφω (“I turn”) in John 20,14.16, considering it from a double hermeneutical perspective and arguing that Mary Magdalene’s conversion moves along two axes. Whereas the first axis is temporal, moving from the past to the future, Tack suggests, the second axis is revelatory, moving from visionary to auditory perception. In addition to discussing the text of the passage, Tack also provides visual exegesis, which further clarifies the value of the Johannine passage for the Normativity of the Future approach developed by Bieringer and Mary Elsbernd. The double hermeneutical perspective on John 20,14-16 allows the author to present Mary Magdalene’s conversion as an act of courage that challenges both temporal and visual perceptions and that also invites the readers to see Jesus in a different light. Christina M. KREINECKER (“Mutig anders: Griechisch-lateinische Beobachtungen zur Darstellung von Gruppenzugehörigkeit, (un)typischem Verhalten und Gruppenwechsel im Johannesevangelium”; ET: “Courageously Different: Greek-Latin Observations on the Representation of Group Membership, (A)Typical Behaviour and Group Change in the Gospel of John”) also focuses on the Gospel of John, including its reception in the Old Latin version. She investigates how group membership, group (a)typical behaviour and group change are depicted in this gospel and how they were accentuated in the earliest translations of the Greek text into Latin. Using the examples of Nicodemus and Judas who exhibit group atypical behaviour, she examines the way in which their “courageous” behaviour is presented linguistically in the Greek and Latin renderings. While in the case of Nicodemus the change in behaviour towards Jesus is presumably viewed in a positive way both by the



author of the gospel and its ancient interpreters, additional nuances are given in the Latin to explain for the change of Judas’s behaviour away from Jesus. As Kreinecker demonstrates, this is particularly visible in John 6,71, where the contrast between Judas’s affiliation and action is emphasised in a concessive construction. With this the Latin rendering adds a further linguistic nuance to the story in addition to the reference in the Greek text that Judas was instigated by the διάβολος and driven by the σατανᾶς. As Kreinecker concludes, the need for an explanation, at least of Judas’s atypical behaviour seemed to increase over time. With the fourth essay in Part II (“Dinner and Dissent in 1 Cor 11,1734”) by Ma. Marilou S. IBITA, we move to the Corinthian correspondence. In her contribution, Ibita argues that dissent as a theological resource has been present from the earliest generations of Christ-followers. Using contextual biblical interpretation as part of the theological process of see-judge-act-evaluate-celebrate, she argues that Paul is an example of a dissenting voice. In particular, Paul’s dissent is seen in 1 Cor 11,17-34 which critiques the Corinthian practice of following Christ’s command to partake of his death-proclaiming meal. While the Corinthian lettersenders find no issue about their praxis, Paul expresses his dissent on behalf of an unheeded dissent from the hungry have-nots who are humiliated at the divided common table where bad manners express contempt for the church of God. Ibita interprets Paul’s response as a form of dissent by not only calling out the Corinthians’ non-commendable praxis but also by demanding a change in their current practice by going back to the foundational event and asking them to reform their table-manners. In this way, the have-nots who are hungry, whether due to their povertyinduced under-nutrition and/or worsened by an alleged contemporary food crisis, can be enabled to partake of the satisfying κυριακὸν δεῖπνον as an expression of their group identity as ἀδελφοί in Christ until he comes. Paul’s ability to express dissent in this context, Ibita suggests, is one of the vital expressions of promoting kindness, courage, and integrity in the Corinthian community particularly on behalf of the hungry have-nots. In contrast to the contribution of Ibita, whose interest lies in how kindness, courage, and integrity are promoted by Paul among the Corinthians, in the three papers that follow the focus is on the apostle Paul himself. While the first of these includes a more resistant reading and an attempt to understand the Corinthians’ perspective, the latter two propose a rather more compliant reading. Thomas SCHMELLER takes as the point of departure in his essay on “Die Integrität des Paulus: Ein anderer Blick auf sein apostolisches Ethos” (ET: “The Integrity of Paul: Another Look at His



Apostolic Ethos”) a verse in which Paul most emphatically affirms his integrity, 2 Cor 1,12. In the Corinthian correspondence, and in 2 Corinthians in particular, there is evidence that Paul’s integrity was questioned in Corinth. As Schmeller observes, at least some of these doubts must have stemmed from what was perceived as objectionable behaviour or statements by the apostle. In view of this, in his paper he examines three key passages, 2 Cor 1,15–2,2, 1 Cor 9,19-23, and 1 Corinthians 1–4, from two different perspectives. First, he considers them as pointing to, or being at the origin of, certain doubts (“insecurities”, in the German original: “Verunsicherungen”), among the Corinthians, including Paul’s lack of reliability in his dealing with the community, his self-presentation as the messenger of the gospel, and the way in which he proclaimed the gospel. Secondly, Schmeller discusses the same passages from what he assumes would have been Paul’s perspective, thus as “assurances” (“Versicherungen”). He concludes by noting that Paul’s statements and behaviour could be interpreted in opposite ways. While beginning with Luther’s interpretation, Paul’s theology may have been interpreted as implying a complete reversal of traditional values, Schmeller suggests that it was rather a case of relativising them, resulting in uncertainty. In Schmeller’s conclusion, the Corinthians’ doubts were thus not unfounded, and were a result of the community’s application of Paul’s theology in a different way. The paper by Andreas LINDEMANN (“‘… Zur Auferbauung und nicht zur Zerstörung’: Zu den Argumentationsweisen des Paulus in 2 Kor 10–13”; ET: “‘... To Build Up and Not to Destroy’: On Paul’s Modes of Argumentation in 2 Corinthians 10–13”) focuses on 2 Corinthians 10–13. As Lindemann notes, these four chapters give an unusual insight into the theological and ecclesiastical situation in the Corinthian community. Paul has chosen to write a letter to counter the arguments of the missionaries who are currently active in Corinth. He fears that the activities of the – in his eyes – “pseudo-apostles” are a threat to the faith and the church. Although we only know the position of Paul, i.e., the author of the letter, the allusions and quotations, Lindemann suggests, provide a glimpse into the position of the opponents as well. According to Lindemann, Paul uses strikingly different modes of argumentation in 2 Corinthians 10–13. In some passages he presents his thoughts with kindness, while in others he addresses the addressees with courage; in doing so, he consistently strives to meet them with integrity, which becomes especially clear in the context of the repeatedly expressed intention to visit. In the third contribution discussing the apostle Paul (“Planning the Third Visit: 2 Cor 13,1-10”), Jan LAMBRECHT is similarly interested in



Paul’s argumentation in the last four chapters of 2 Corinthians. His focus, however, is more specifically on 2 Cor 13,1-10, which he reads as forming an inclusio with 2 Cor 10,1-11. Lambrecht examines the severity and integrity which Paul announces for his third visit to Corinth. Lambrecht chose to engage the subsequent academic discussions of this pericope after the 1999 publication of his commentary on 2 Corinthians in the Sacra Pagina series with a second edition published in 2006. Marked by Lambrecht’s strong philological approach to biblical interpretation, his critical conversation with the current scholarship touches on the integrity of 2 Corinthians where he continues to defend its integrity and takes on the latest development in the discussion of the preceding context in 2 Cor 10,1-11 and 12,11-21 before zeroing in on 13,1-4, and 13,5-10. Much of Lambrecht’s twenty-four-year-old insights on these pericopes were reaffirmed by recent scholarship. However, he diverges with the positions held by Pitta on the rhetorical-literary division of Chapters 10 and 13, Thrall’s stand on 13,2, and Grässer’s arguments on theologia crucis found in 2 Cor 13,4. Lambrecht concludes with seven points highlighting the rhetorical and contextual nature of Paul’s severity towards the Corinthians which give way to hortatory commands and prayer, subject to their behavioural change while he firmly defends his apostolic integrity. Recognising his advancing age and the limits brought by the COVID-19 pandemic in doing onsite library research, Lambrecht offers this contribution to Bieringer, “former student, esteemed colleague and close friend”. This contribution would be one of the final publications of this esteemed prolific author, who embodied the theme of this book, before his passing on 4 March 2023. The last essay in Part II, “Paul’s ‘Thorn in the Flesh’ and the Inconsequential Nature of a Riddle”, by Victor NICDAO, while also exploring a well-known passage in 2 Corinthians, does not engage in the discussion of the character of Paul. Rather, Nicdao considers the hermeneutical implications of the lack of certainty as to the precise identification (=historical referent) of Paul’s σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί (“thorn in the flesh”). He argues that reading the Pauline passage with integrity requires one to be honest in recognising the limits of the historical investigation. This historical ambiguity, however, does not mean the end of the task of interpretation. Quite the contrary, the historical ambiguity serves as a historical nudge to explore other areas of history relevant to the text instead of simply focusing on its historical referent. From this perspective, historical ambiguity is a hermeneutical advantage because of the possibilities of interpretation it opens. The hermeneutical possibilities allow the interpreter to enter the narrative world of the text and appropriate its meaning



to the life situation of the present-day readers. Nicdao engages some of the recent interpretations of the “thorn in the flesh” to show how Paul’s experience could represent a story of courage sustained by God’s sufficient grace that can be helpful for present day believers’ own journeys of overcoming their suffering. Paul’s σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί, as Nicdao argues, represents in a symbolic way the accounts of people in difficult situations as they transition from adversity to wholeness. Nicdao’s concern with hermeneutics and the integrity of the interpreter serves as a bridge to the last part of the volume, in which contributors examine select hermeneutical and ethical issues in biblical interpretation. While most of the papers in Part III focus on the present and the future, Joseph VERHEYDEN (“Fierce Claims and False Truths: Justin Martyr’s (Mis)Handling of the Argument of Scriptural Corruption”) focuses on the past. His interest is in ancient polemics (rarely characterised by kindness in their ad hominem arguments!) and accusations of textual corruption. Verheyden begins his contribution with some introductory comments concerning the argument of scriptural corruption, and then offers a close reading of chapters 71–74.3 of Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, including an overview of the preceding context. As Verheyden observes, in spite of the zeal and confidence with which accusations of tampering with Scripture are levelled at the adversaries, they ultimately lack substance. Thus, rather than persuading the opponents, they turn out to be directed to the sympathisers. Tobias NICKLAS, “Denk- und Kommunikationsräume jenseits und diesseits des Kanons” (ET: “Spaces of Thought and Communication beyond and on This Side of the Canon”), asks fundamental questions concerning the canon, the truth of God’s word, and the responsibility of the interpreters of Scripture. As he suggests, the texts of the biblical canon create spaces of communication in which writings, but also representations of written texts transferred onto other media (images, films, artefacts), can be placed. Often these “spaces” are neither simply extra-canonical nor simply canonical. Nicklas discusses intermedial representations of canonical material, utilising H. Lefèbvre’s description of “spaces of the Other, simultaneously excluded and included”, understood as “heterotopias”. He also queries the role of suppressed voices found in the canon, such as those of Bathsheba, Junia, or “Jezebel”, that is, voices that are only recognisable when biblical accounts are read against the perspective of biblical narrators. Ultimately, he concludes, as the canon opens up, ever-changing spaces of thought and communication that make biblical texts “habitable” (“bewohnbar”) continue to emerge. These spaces also need to function as “effective spaces” in Foucault’s sense, in that they



not only counteract, but also balance and consolidate the canon. There is potential for inspiration at all the levels of the Bible’s reception, including representation in other media. Integrity requires that interpreters acknowledge this, just as it is their responsibility to recognise precarious biblical texts, to discern spirits, remaining open to the various modes in which God’s word manifests itself, a perspective which according to Nicklas is rooted in the early Christian concept of the “canon of truth” (κανὼν τῆς ἀληθείας). David G. HORRELL, “Generosity and Epistemology: What Might It Mean to Decolonise New Testament Studies?”, similarly asks fundamental ethical and hermeneutical questions. He particularly engages in a critical reflection on New Testament studies as an academic discipline facing challenges in moving away from a white, male, Western-European (and Christian – often predominantly Protestant) discipline towards an inclusive, global one. As Horrell observes, for those rooted and trained in this European tradition, the challenge calls for the kind of courage, generosity-to-the-other, and self-critical integrity that Reimund Bieringer has demonstrated in his scholarly work. In his essay, Horrell offers some reflections on how that self-critical exercise might be pursued, taking examples from the field of New Testament study, and focusing on the epistemological significance of reconfiguring the discipline in a global direction. He begins by examining an example of antisemitism’s / antiJudaism’s presence in historical exegesis of 1 Pet 2,4-10, followed by a discussion of three named characters in Acts, with a focus on their noticed and unnoticed racial identities. Horrell, then, offers a consideration of some examples from African New Testament studies, which in turn bring him to broader epistemological questions. As he concludes, enriching and extending the knowledge sought and produced is a key reason to decolonise New Testament studies. In “Giving the Bible a Future: An Encounter between Biblical Studies and Moral Theology”, Didier POLLEFEYT is also concerned with the questions of integrity in biblical interpretation, but more specifically, he attempts to analyse the unique contribution of Reimund Bieringer in the area of ethics of biblical interpretation, which he deems particularly valuable. Pollefeyt utilises a framework he has developed of different paradigms for one’s understanding of the dynamics of evil in order to classify various approaches to addressing ethical issues in biblical writings: diabolisation (“Evil Bible”), banalisation (“Saving the Bible”), and ethisation (“Cleaning the Bible”). For Pollefeyt, none of these provide satisfactory ways of dealing with problematic biblical texts. Pollefeyt perceives the separation between different theological disciplines, such



as biblical studies, theological ethics, and pastoral theology, as a manifestation of yet another approach to avoid tackling serious ethical issues in biblical texts in that it allows biblical scholars, under the guise of scientific objectivity, to neutralise the challenge that they pose. According to Pollefeyt, the Normativity of the Future approach to biblical interpretation developed by Bieringer in collaboration with Mary Elsbernd, constitutes a very different, far more ethically responsible way of reading biblical texts. While involving an element of resistance, this approach is rooted in an appreciation that God reveals Godself in the space which opens up between the reader, or rather the community of readers, and the text, allowing for the recognition of the harmful and violent aspects, without destroying their life-giving power. The penultimate essay (“‘Be It Done for You as You Desire’: Synodality, the UNSDGs, and the Politics of Biblical Interpretation for a Post-Pandemic Future”), by Ma. Maricel S. IBITA, expounds on what the author considers to be a new trajectory in Bieringer’s scholarship, which is indicative of the courage and integrity that have characterised his approach to biblical exegesis from the very beginning. The trajectory that Ibita refers to pertains to the multidisciplinary, inter-university, international and multisectoral academic and grassroots research for a more inclusive and sustainable world. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic Church’s responses to it, including the ongoing synodal process for the 16th Synod of Bishops in 2023-2024, and the achievements of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), Ibita emphasises the importance of being honest and explicit about the hermeneutical questions and ways of proceeding, and being cognisant of those whom one’s way of reading the biblical text benefits. For the author, all of these are part and parcel of the ethics of biblical interpretation. In her contribution, Ibita first gives an overview of the status of women during the COVID-19 health crisis and generalises on the immediate, intermediate, and long-term pandemic responses of the Catholic Church. As a proposed companion along the way to a post-pandemic world, she then reads Matt 15,21-28 synchronically by characterising the Canaanite woman and applying some interpretive questions from the Normativity of the Future approach. The result of this exploration dialogues with the ministries of women in the Church and in the attainment of the UNSDGs that put women at the centre to rebuild better a post-pandemic future. The final essay of the volume, “Criticism in End-Times: Addressing Climate Change”, by Fernando SEGOVIA, likewise takes as a point of departure Bieringer’s vision and project for biblical criticism, revolving



around a hermeneutics of the future, which so well articulates and exemplifies, as Segovia suggests, the principles of kindness, courage, and integrity. In tribute to his life and work, Segovia engages with this future-focused hermeneutics in two ways. Looking back, he does so from the perspective of the liberationist project dating to the 1960s-1970s. Looking ahead, he does so from the perspective of a world-system in keen decline, now made more manifest than ever by the apocalypse, the un-veiling, of dystopia by the COVID-19 pandemic. Segovia, then, focuses on the climate crisis as the crucial end-times challenge and the model of ecocentrism and dialogues with Bieringer’s future-oriented hermeneutics in engaging biblical texts as Christians grapple with appropriate response. In the hermeneutics of the future, Segovia sees the need to combine critically a secular-humanist ecocentrism alongside updated official climatological and environmental reports with the future-oriented religioustheological hermeneutics of the Christian tradition towards a more relevant Christian formation and action guided by the principles of kindness, courage, and integrity. III. CONCLUDING COMMENTS The virtues, or strengths of character, such as kindness, integrity, and courage, have been of interest to contemporary ethicists and psychologists, but when biblical or other religious texts feature in such discussions, cultural context(s) specific to given text(s), and exegetical or hermeneutical issues are rarely considered in their complexity. The contributors to this Festschrift, offered on the occasion of Reimund Bieringer’s retirement as professor of New Testament at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, have been invited to explore kindness, courage, and integrity from a range of perspectives: in biblical writings, in biblical scholarship, in the politics of biblical interpretation, and/or in their intersections. We invite the readers to continue participating in this life-long learning and self-correcting hermeneutical process, personally and in dialogue with the communities to which they belong and to which they are accountable, cognisant of the politics of biblical interpretations and the impact of their interpretations in the academy and the larger society. The contributors have started the conversation using the hermeneutical tools available in order to address concerns related to the world behind, the world of, and the world before the text, in relation to biblical passages and extra-biblical literature. Additionally, contributors have also considered how these texts relate to the ongoing issues in concrete



communities which consider these biblical passages relevant, meaningful, inspiring, and revelatory in order to reflect together and to continue the conversation and, consequently, embark on various concrete responses that can forge a much better future for all. Ma. Marilou S. IBITA Dominika KUREK-CHOMYCZ Bénédicte LEMMELIJN Sarah WHITEAR




A recurring theme in the media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic is that of kindness. The Canadian website provides a space for sharing “uplifting stories from the front lines of Canadian health care”. Reimund Bieringer did not need a pandemic to stir him to kindness. All who know him personally can attest to the kindness that has long undergirded his relationships with his students, colleagues, and friends. His kindness is felt not only in everyday interactions but in his scholarship as well. As a tribute to the ever-kind Professor Bieringer, for whom kindness is an end in itself, I provide this brief reflection on kindness as a literary motif in the Book of Ruth, a book that has kindness at its core1. The theme of kindness, or ḥesed in Hebrew, is seen by Christian and Jewish commentators alike as a central theme in the book of Ruth. Peter Lau and Gregory Goswell’s study of Ruth, for example, is titled Unceasing Kindness and Will Murphy’s book is subtitled Loving-Kindness in Action2. Relying on the work of Leila L. Bronner, the popular website My Jewish Learning asserts that: “Every character acting in this brief story – from Naomi to Ruth to Boaz to the minor characters – behaves in a manner that demonstrates this heroic concept of some form of ḥesed. The main actors of the story all act in the spirit of ḥesed; some perform ordinary ḥesed, and some – especially Ruth – extraordinary ḥesed. Their exemplary behavior is somewhat reminiscent of that of the patriarchs and matriarchs”3. The centrality of kindness in Ruth cannot be denied. In my reading, however, the characters that engage in acts of kindness often, though not always, have discernible motives beyond altruism for doing so. This is not to diminish their acts of kindness so much as to add depth and nuance 1. This literary analysis is based on my own reading of the Book of Ruth over many years and does not engage directly with the scholarship on this biblical book. For a summary of recent scholarship, and numerous bibliographic references, see J.M. MATHENY, Ruth in Recent Research, in CBR 19 (2020) 8-35. 2. P.H.W. LAU – G. GOSWELL, Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth, Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity, 2016; W. MURPHY, Ruth: Loving-Kindness in Action, Lisburn, Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship, 2004. 3. The quotation is taken from L.L. BRONNER, A Thematic Approach to Ruth in Rabbinic Literature, in A. BRENNER (ed.), A Feminist Companion to Ruth (The Feminist Companion to the Bible, 3), Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 1993, 146-169, p. 148.



to what might on the surface appear to be a simple pastoral tale4. I will illustrate this claim by looking briefly at the interactions among the main characters, Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz, as they are portrayed throughout the book. Ruth’s brief introduction provides minimal detail, just enough to provide a context for the rest of the story. There was a famine in Bethlehem; to escape the famine, Elimelech, Naomi, and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion move to Moab; the sons marry Moabite women named Orpah and Ruth; all three men die; Naomi sets out for Bethlehem with her daughtersin-law after hearing that the famine there has ended. All this information is dispensed in a mere six verses (1,1-6). Kindness emerges as a theme at the very outset of this passage. Somewhere along the way back to Bethlehem, but presumably before leaving Moabite territory, Naomi tells Orpah and Ruth to return to their mother’s house, wishes them well, and gives them a blessing: “May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me” (Ruth 1,8). She expresses the hope that God will grant the two women security in the home of new husbands (1,9). Initially both Orpah and Ruth insist on returning with her (1,10), but Naomi stands firm. It will not benefit them to return with her; she has no more sons for them to marry, and she cannot abide the idea that they would remain unmarried and, presumably, childless, though she does not say so (1,11-13). Here Naomi acknowledges the kindness of her daughters-in-law and aims to do them a kindness in return by forgoing their companionship so that they might find new husbands and rebuild their lives in their own birthplace. The kindness theme is deepened in the next passage, 1,14-18, in which Ruth famously declares that she will not follow Orpah’s dutiful example, but rather that she will accompany Naomi to Bethlehem, and settle there with her for the rest of their lives: Where you go, I will go/ Where you lodge, I will lodge;/ your people shall be my people,/ and your God my God./ Where you die, I will die – there will I be buried. May the LORD do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” (1,16-17). Naomi’s response is not recorded, but, as the narrator tells us, “When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her” (1,18). The story to this point provides no hints at all to any of the motivations other than altruistic kindness, for the actions and words of Naomi and 4. On the Christian website Focus on the Family, for example, Subby SZTERSZKY refers to Ruth as “a small, sunny oasis wedged between the dark history of the Judges and the murky, tortuous rise of the Israelite monarchy recorded in 1 Samuel”, at https://www.



Ruth. It does invite us to think about the nature of Ruth’s commitment to Naomi5, and about Naomi’s state of mind. Depression, perhaps? Sadness? Despair? The uncomplicated acts and words of kindness of the three women in the opening verses of the book draw our attention to kindness as a recurring theme or trope that will be complicated over the course of the chapters that follow. Indeed, the process of nuancing kindness, rendering it a more complex phenomenon, begins in the very next passage. As Naomi enters Bethlehem with Ruth, the women come out to greet her. They ask, “Is this Naomi?” (1,19). Naomi responds bitterly: “Call me no longer Naomi, call me Mara [meaning, Bitter], for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me … [and] brought calamity upon me” (1,19-20). What was this calamity? “I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty” (1,20). Perhaps understandably, Naomi is angry and full of self-pity. After all, she departed Bethlehem with a spouse and family; she witnessed the marriages of her sons, and no doubt expected grandchildren. With all her menfolk dead, and all such expectations frustrated, how could she not be bitter and empty? But in fact, Naomi is not alone; her daughter-in-law Ruth has come with her. Ruth has made her devotion to Naomi abundantly clear. Yet Naomi seems not to have taken notice. Although the text is silent as to Ruth’s response to Naomi’s bitter words, Naomi’s declaration was surely hurtful and decidedly unkind. As chapter 2 opens, however, Naomi begins to soften. The two women face a challenge: how will they support themselves? When Ruth suggests that she go out to glean in the fields, Naomi responds: “Go, my daughter” (2,2). Although one might surmise that the two women spoke to each other on their journey, this is the first time that the narrator reports Naomi speaking directly to Ruth. Even more significant, however, is that she addresses Ruth as “my daughter” (‫)ב ִ ֽתּי‬. ִ This is an acknowledgement of the relationship, and, implicitly, an acceptance of Ruth’s devotion. Ruth gleans in the field, and then meets Boaz, who completes the triad – or perhaps the triangle – of important characters in this book. The book’s readers and hearers already know that Boaz is a rich kinsman of Elimelech, and therefore of Naomi, if only by marriage. 5. Contrary to some interpreters, I view the relationship between Ruth and Naomi as one of mother-daughter rather than lovers. The story does leave itself open, however, to queer modes of interpretation, which some have found fruitful for a constructive theological interpretation. See, for example,



Kindness re-emerges in the encounter between Ruth and Boaz. Boaz notices Ruth and learns from his servant that she is the Moabite who returned with Ruth (2,6). Boaz then addresses Ruth directly, inviting her to glean in no other field but his, and to stay close to his “young women” (2,8). Boaz’s words suggest that this invitation is extended out of concern for her safety. Boaz has already ordered the young men not to bother her, but to allow her to drink from the vessels that they have filled (2,9). When she thanks him profusely, he explains that his actions are in acknowledgement of “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband” (2,11). He provides her with lunch (2,14) and when she resumes gleaning, he tells his young men to let her do so among the standing sheaves, and even to pull some out for her (2,15). Ruth thus returns to Naomi with ample food, and plants the seed for a plan. Naomi’s response is effusive. No longer is God in her bad books as the agent of her emptiness. Now she blesses God, “whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” (2,20). She also informs Ruth that Boaz is a “relative of ours, one of our nearest kin” (2,20). By referring to Boaz as “their” kin, Naomi is also solidifying her acceptance of Ruth as her daughter, closer perhaps than a daughter-in-law, which is how the narrator refers to her (2,20). Perhaps Naomi is already hatching a plan, but all she does at this point is underscore Boaz’s instruction to glean only in his field: “It is better, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, otherwise you might be bothered in another field” (2,22)6. The plan emerges at the beginning of chapter 3. Naomi instructs Ruth to bathe, perfume, and dress herself up, and to sneak down to the threshing floor to lie down beside Boaz (3,2-5). Bold, and perhaps strange advice for a mother to give to a daughter or even a widowed daughter-in-law! Naomi’s caring preamble (“My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you”; 3,1) suggests that this is a way for Ruth to have a secure future. We know from 1,9 that Naomi understands a woman’s security (‫וֹח‬ ַ ֖‫ ) ָמנ‬to be guaranteed by a husband. The intention behind this plan is transparent to us, and no doubt to Ruth as well. Ruth agrees: “All that you tell me I will do” (3,5). This plan may certainly be seen as a mutual expression of kindness. It might be more accurate, however, to see it as a less altruistic act. In fact, the two women are colluding to manipulate Boaz for their own benefit. 6. It is interesting that the narrator here persists in referring to Ruth as her [Naomi’s] daughter-in-law ‫כּ ָלּ ָ ֑תהּ‬, ַ even as they report Naomi’s direct speech in which she calls Ruth “my daughter” ‫בּ ִ֗תּי‬. ִ A similar phenomenon occurs in Ruth 3,1, in which the narrator refers to Naomi as Ruth’s mother-in-law whereas Naomi’s reported speech refers to Ruth as “my daughter”. The same occurs in 3,16.



Implicit in the plan are Naomi’s clear-eyed recognition that Ruth is sexually experienced, and Ruth’s apparent lack of qualms about behaving in this way, or about being viewed as sexually immoral by Boaz and anyone who happens to see her at the threshing floor. Of course, Naomi has not actually told Ruth to engage in sex with Boaz. But in telling Ruth to “observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do” (3,4), Naomi is certainly not ruling it out as a natural outcome of what Boaz might tell Ruth to do. Perhaps Boaz understands that he is being manipulated. If so, he is a willing participant, and upon discovering Ruth at his feet (or “feet”), he immediately buys into the plan7. Indeed, he interprets Ruth’s behaviour as a further expression of kindness, of which he is the beneficiary. His amazed and delighted response to Ruth implies a degree of generational confusion. He exclaims, “May you be blessed by the LORD, my daughter; this last instance of your loyalty is better than the first; you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich” (3,10). On the one hand, he, like Naomi, calls her “my daughter (‫”)בּ ִ֔תּי‬. ִ But what exactly is he thanking Ruth for? Quite obviously, he is grateful that Ruth is pursuing him (for thus he understands her nighttime visit), when she could well have pursued younger men of her own generation. He is thrilled and flattered, in addition, of course, to being grateful. The sexual undertone is unmistakeable. He then promises that he will do for her all that she asks (3,11). Boaz’s promise is an interesting counterpoint to Naomi’s earlier instruction for Ruth to do all that Boaz asks. He is now handing the reins to her. Boaz also tackles the question of sexual impropriety that might be considered the collateral damage to this otherwise fine plan. He assures Ruth that “all the assembly of my people know that you are a worthy woman” (3,11). Presumably, these are the people among whom Boaz was sleeping in the field; conceivably one or more of these people could easily have seen or heard Ruth approaching. We do not hear what she asks, though one can presume that it has to do with marriage. But clearly Boaz is as talented a schemer as his in-law relative Naomi; indeed, one suspects, the delightful idea of marrying Ruth has already crossed his mind to the point that he has informed himself about the possible barriers to such a union. He explains to Ruth that while he is a near kinsman, and therefore eligible to marry Ruth under the laws of levirate marriage, there is someone who is a nearer 7. For discussion of “feet” as a euphemism, see T. LINAFELT, Ruth (Berit Olam), Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 1999, pp. 48-49.



kinsman still (3,12)8. Boaz is effectively promising to marry Ruth, on condition that the next-of-kin relinquish his privilege (3,13). Meanwhile, he asks Ruth to remain until early morning, and before she departs, he fills her cloak with six measures of barley, to take back to Naomi (3,15). Ruth’s early morning departure is intended to keep her daring nocturnal visit a secret: “It must not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor” (3,14). Yet one wonders: during threshing season, where else would a woman have acquired such a large amount of grain? Even if she left under cover of darkness, the chances of being spotted would remain high. Given the suggestive elements of this entire scene – the setting, the timing, the preparations, the instructions, and the euphemistic connotations of “feet” and the very act of lying together in the dark – one might suspect that Boaz has not only filled Ruth’s cloak with grain, but also filled her womb with human, male, seed as well. This idea remains only a suggestion, however, because in the next chapter, the narrator clearly states that the birth of their son was preceded and caused by the expected sexual relationship between husband and wife: “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. When they came together, the LORD made her conceive, and she bore a son” (4,13). Before this happens, however, Boaz must figure out how to persuade the next-of-kin to relinquish his levirate claim. Here he proves himself to be a good manipulator as well as a good schemer. He reminds the man that the land he will acquire at marriage must be used to “maintain the dead man’s name” rather than his own (4,5). The man is not willing to accept this consequence and therefore hands his right of redemption over to Boaz. Perhaps Boaz has done the man a kindness by reminding him of the financial consequences of marrying Ruth; or perhaps he has simply managed to turn the situation to his own advantage. We are left to assume that being a rich man already, Boaz was fine with the idea that he would not personally profit from the land he would acquire when he married Ruth. The strangest aspect of this book, as many have noted, is the ending, in which the son born to Ruth and Boaz becomes Naomi’s. It seems possible that this gift does not deny or replace Ruth’s own relationship to the baby. Yet the note that Naomi “took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse (‫י־לוֹ ְלא ֶ ֹֽמנֶ ת‬ ֖ ‫יקהּ וַ ְתּ ִה‬ ֔ ָ ‫”)ב ֵח‬ ְ remains puzzling (4,16). The Hebrew does not necessarily describe her as breastfeeding him; the term Omenet could refer to a caregiver such as a nanny. And of course, 8. For a detailed discussion of levirate marriage and how Ruth compares with other biblical texts, see D.E. WEISBERG, Levirate Marriage and the Family in Ancient Judaism (HBI Series on Jewish Women), Waltham, MA, Brandeis University Press, 2009.



the act of taking a newborn to one’s bosom can simply refer to cuddling, a highly meaningful, nurturing, and loving act that is familiar to grandparents the world over. Yet here again the language is suggestive rather than simply descriptive, and it is complicated by the very next verse, in which the women of the neighbourhood declare “A son has been born to Naomi” (4,17). Just as the women of Bethlehem bore witness to Naomi’s cry of emptiness upon her return to Bethlehem, so do they witness, and describe, her fulfilment: “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughterin-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him” (4,14). Fittingly, they acknowledge the truth of what Naomi had ignored upon her arrival: that her daughter-in-law loves her and has indeed been the instrument of Naomi’s restoration. This is the ultimate kindness. There is no doubt that kindness is an important theme in this book. Yet it seems that the only altruistically kind person here is Ruth. Both Naomi and Boaz are the beneficiaries of her kindness. While they also show kindness to Ruth, their kindness is instrumental, intended to achieve certain ends which, while of benefit to Ruth, were also not requested by her. It is Naomi’s view that security for Ruth, and herself, can only be attained through marriage. Boaz, in turn, may have been pleased to provide for Ruth and Naomi, but his thrill at finding her on the threshing floor suggests his pleasure at the prospect of being married to this young woman. Ruth herself, however, does not pronounce on these matters. In the book of Ruth, therefore, one cannot easily pry the theme of kindness away from the theme of manipulation. Of course, one ultimate goal of the story is to provide a genealogy for the future king David. This is made explicit in 4,17, in which the narrator explains that the infant, named Obed, “became the father of Jesse, the father of David”. Yet, careful attention to the use of the possessive noun “my daughter” throughout the book suggests that by marrying Ruth, Boaz became the husband of Naomi, or, more accurately, the father of Naomi’s child, thereby finally fulfilling the expectation that Naomi was denied by the death of her sons at the outset of the story. This marriage, of course, is conceptual and symbolic rather than physical, but as a literary device it serves the purpose of overcoming the fact of Naomi’s presumed status as a menopausal woman. While less dramatic than God’s opening of the aged Sarah’s womb in Gen 21,2, this move is at least as important as that earlier kindness, for it leads to the birth of David, Israel’s future king.



The symbolic nature of this fluid family (Ruth, Boaz, Naomi, Obed) is further underscored by the fact that Obed is not genetically related to Naomi in any way. Obed’s father, Boaz, was a kinsman of Naomi’s dead husband. Obed’s mother, Ruth, was Naomi’s Moabite daughter-in-law. And yet, the son of Ruth and Boaz fills up the space left by the loss of Naomi’s “actual” husband and sons. Perhaps, then, the real message here pertains not so much to the love between two women, whether as lovers or as mother-daughter, but to the reality of intentional families, linked not by genealogy but by love. An enduring literary text such as the book of Ruth depends upon nuance, suggestion, suspicion, and complex motivations in order to hold an audience. Real life, however, is at the same time more and less complex than literature. As Reimund Bieringer’s friends, students, and colleagues can attest, in real life, altruistic kindness can and does exist, and we are all blessed by having him in our lives. University of Ottawa Department of Classics and Religious Studies 55 Laurier East 60 University Ottawa ON Canada K1N 6N5 [email protected]



Dialogue requires parameters: kindness, which includes mutual respect; integrity, which requires honesty and moral character; and courage, which means saying what needs to be said, even if the comment may disrupt impressions of mutual respect or moral grounding. I would like to add one more category to dialogue: shamelessness. In this context, shamelessness is not a virtue. It is, however, both a factor of human behavior and a means by which dialogue can be strengthened. The difficulty is determining when shamelessness can be tolerated, when it becomes an opportunity for humor (and at whose expense), and when, like the Cynics who epitomized shamelessness in antiquity, it offers helpful challenges to social conventions. Complicating the process is the inevitability of different perceptions: one person’s courage could be viewed by another as shamelessness. To make my case, I will start with defining shamelessness, which is in the Greek language apart from the New Testament invariably a negative term; move to the parable known as the “Friend at Midnight” (Luke 11,58), which depicts shameless behavior as getting results; show how the parable takes on nuance, especially in relationship to the concept of “friendship”, when read in relation to the healing of the centurion’s slave (Luke 7,1-10), the Parable of the Dishonest Manager (Luke 16,1-13), and the Parable of the Widow and the Judge (Luke 18,1-8); note the implications of the parable’s language of “friend” and “bread”; and conclude by some suggestions on how Luke 11,5-8 can help us ask the right questions in interreligious dialogue. I. SHAMELESSNESS AND CHUTZPAH Little has been written about shamelessness, especially compared to the volumes on shame. Thomas Kazen, in a detailed study of biblical depictions of self-conscious emotions, locates shame in a cluster including “embarrassment, guilt, and pride” and sees all the elements as working to “constrain individual behaviour in a social context”1. He adds that 1. T. KAZEN, Viewing Oneself through Others’ Eyes: Shame between Biology and Culture in Biblical Texts, in SEÅ 84 (2019) 51-80, p. 53 and see extensive notes on the



“Shame involves a loss of (self-) esteem and concern for loss of social status”2. His definitions fit what psychologists are saying. Psychology Today offers, “a self-conscious emotion, shame informs us of an internal state of inadequacy, unworthiness, dishonor, regret, or disconnection…”3. Annette Kämmerer notes, We feel shame when we violate the social norms we believe in. At such moments we feel humiliated, exposed and small and are unable to look another person straight in the eye. We want to sink into the ground and disappear4.

Shame, these popular definitions and others tell us, relates to a negative self-judgment often coupled with a feeling of inadequacy. More, shame presupposes that these feelings or internal states can be externally observed; shame presumes a community that passes judgment. Finally, shame is a matter of being (as in “I am a bad person”) while the related emotion of guilt is a matter of doing (as in “I recognize that I have done a bad thing”). Shame, which involves or entails loss of self-esteem, is related to selfperception; guilt is related to our action, or inaction, typically in relation to someone else. Because we do not want to feel guilty – for hurting someone (a sin of commission), for failing in our commitments (a sin of omission) – avoidance of guilt can be a prod toward civil behavior. But shame, which is an internal feeling related to self-identity, cannot be fixed by rectifying any situation. To attempt rectification is to bring the feeling of inadequacy into the public sphere; therefore, any attempt at correction leads only to further feelings of inadequacy. We can also think of shame as a trait distinguishing infants from humans with a certain level of maturity, and as distinguishing human from nonhuman animals. Human beings, when first created according to the biblical account, were like infants or animals in that they lacked a sense of shame: Gen 2,25 reads, “And the man and his woman were both naked, and they were not ashamed” (‫בושׁ‬/αἰσχύνω). But that infantilized and animalistic lack of shame is quickly replaced when, following that taste of theories of shame as well as how shame functions in both Hebrew and Greek biblical passages, with bibliography. 2. Ibid., p. 55. 3. M.C. LAMIA, Shame: A Concealed, Contagious, and Dangerous Emotion, in Psychology Today (4 April 2011), at 4. A. KÄMMERER, The Scientific Underpinnings of and Impacts of Shame, in Scientific American (9 August 2019), at



the fruit from the tree of knowledge, they realized they were naked: they feared being seen and so judged; they equated public nakedness with shame. While “shame” is a self-perception, shamelessness is related to action. To some extent, it is related to the Yiddish term chutzpah, which connotes outrageous audacity, brazenness, and cheek. The term derives from the Hebrew ‫חוֹצ ָפּה‬, ְ which appears once in the Mishnah: Sotah 9.15, a composite passage that describes the decline of civility following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the death of many of the Tannaim: “With the footprints of the Messiah: ‫חוֹצ ָפּה‬ ְ increases”. The context suggests impudence, rudeness, and presumption along with price gouging, promiscuity, and disrespect5. In Yiddish the term remains negative. As the classic definition goes, epitomizing chutzpah is the individual who murders his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan6. Michael Wex, using the formal Yiddish spelling khutspe, defines such behavior as “both stupid and mannerless, lacking in class and usually unpleasant – propositioning a woman at her husband’s funeral, for instance”7. The outrageousness of these two examples, juridical and matrimonial, helps the term gain, in predominantly English-speaking contexts, potentially less negative connotations. For example, according to the website of the Chabad movement, To be a good Jew, you need two opposites: A sense of shame that prevents you from acting with chutzpah to do the wrong thing, and a sense of chutzpah that prevents you from being ashamed to do the right thing8.

Chutzpah, which relates to shamelessness, suggests nerve, audacity, and self-assurance. Luke 11,5-8, the Parable of the Friend at Midnight, uses the term ἀναίδεια; a hapax legomenon in the New Testament, to describe the motive of a householder who provides bread to a friend. Translators often render 5. The Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 119b, lists Ulla as offering one of several suggestions to explain the events of 70 CE: “Jerusalem was destroyed only because people had no shame before each other, as it is stated: ‘They acted shamefully; they have performed abominations, yet they neither were ashamed nor did they know humiliation. Therefore, they will fall among the fallen, they will fail at the time that I punish them, said God’” (citing Jer 6,15; the “shame” terms derive from ‫)בושׁ‬. For this text, shame is a social mechanism that keeps society ordered. See J.K. CRANE, Shameful Ambivalences: Dimensions of Rabbinic Shame, in AJS Review 35 (2011) 61-84, p. 80. 6. L. ROSTEN, The Joys of Yiddish, New York, McGraw-Hill, 1968, p. 92. 7. M. WEX, Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods, New York, Harper Perennial, 2005, Appendix, 11. 8. T. FREEMAN, What Is Chutzpah?, at 1586271/jewish/Chutzpah.htm.



ἀναίδεια as “persistence” and so make the parable’s message one of persistent prayer. The King James Version’s translation of Luke 11,8 offers “importunity”; the NIV (1978) has “persistence” and the NIV (1984) has “boldness”9. As Snodgrass notes, Using the end of the fourth century CE as a reasonable range for analysis, the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae data base includes at least 258 occurrences of ἀναίδεια, all of which are demonstrably negative except those places early Christian writers have assigned a positive use in dependence on Luke 11:810.

Throughout Greek literature, ἀναίδεια means, “shameless”. Like the Yiddish chutzpah, ἀναίδεια has no positive connotations in its original setting. And like the Yiddish term, which changed connotations when it moved from Eastern Europe to North America, so ἀναίδεια, when it moves from its New Testament setting to the church fathers, takes on a more positive connotation. Whether the use of the term in Luke’s Gospel is entirely negative, or whether it begins to show this movement toward, if not a virtue then less of a vice, is a question worth asking. Given that the Gospels, and Luke in particular, present Jesus as using expressions that sound, not only to modern ears but to ancient ones as well, as outrageous – “Whoever comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters and even life itself” (Luke 14,26); “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon” (Luke 16,9); “All that you have, sell, and distribute to the poor” (Luke 18,22); etc. – an outrageous image in a parable becomes an invitation for conversation. II. THE PARABLE



1. Who among You? The parable of the friend at midnight is shameless (with all the negative connotations) in asking too much of its readers. Because its several pronouns have vague antecedents, readers become confused in determining 9. For a list of other translations, see K. SNODGRASS, Anaideia and the Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:8), in JBL 116 (1997) 505-513, pp. 505-507. 10. Ibid., p. 507; cf. A. JOHNSON, Assurance for Man: The Fallacy of Translating Anaideia by “Persistence”, in Journal of Evangelical Theology 22 (1979) 123-131, pp. 124, 129, following Kenneth Bailey. See also Snodgrass’s cogent critiques of readings attempting to provide a positive valence to the term (e.g., Joachim Jeremias, Bernard Brandon Scott, Anton Fridrichsen, Kenneth Bailey); K. SNODGRASS, Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus, Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 22018, pp. 437449 and notes.



both who is acting shamelessly and with whom to identify, if anyone. This relatively literal translation of the parable demonstrates the lack of clarity: And he [Jesus] said to them [the antecedent is “the disciples”], “Who among you will have a friend, and he will go to him at midnight and will say to him, ‘Friend, lend to me three breads [i.e., loaves], because a friend of mine has come off the road to me, and not do I have something that I will place before him’. And that one from within, answering, will say, ‘Do not trouble me; already the door has been closed, and my children with me in bed are. Not am I able, rising, to give to you [anything]’. I say to you, if even not will he give to him, getting up, because he is his friend, at least on account of his shamelessness, getting up he will give to him whatever he needs”.

From the Greek, we cannot determine in our parable who is friend to whom. The opening line suggests that the “friend” is the petitioner who asks for the three loaves. The next line suggests that the friend, addressed as such, is the householder asleep in bed. The verse continues by indicating that the traveler is a friend of the petitioner. All three figures are friends to someone. Thus, all three, as friends, can expect the others to meet their needs; all three have common expectations of a positive response; all three expect the response to be based in feelings of mutuality, unlike those in a patron/client relationship (the centurion and the elders; the rich man and his manager; the judge and the widow). Yet friendship can be tested; the ethical response is to determine when the testing ends the friendship. The label “shameless” can apply to all three characters: it was shameless of the traveler to arrive in the middle of the night, apparently without warning that he was coming (had he announced his coming, the midnight caller would [or should] have been prepared). It was shameless of the petitioner, at midnight, to ask for bread11. It was shameless of the householder initially to deny the petition, as the denial signaled a lack of concern, selfishness, not wanting to be inconvenienced and not wanting others in his household to be bothered. No one is behaving well, and everyone in the end does the right thing. The point is not that despite shameless behavior, all worked out well; the point is that because of his shamelessness (διά γε τὴν ἀναίδειαν αὐτοῦ), the petitioner got what he wanted. While some scholars have claimed that the “real point of the parable is to depict the custom of oriental hospitality, which was not just a personal matter but a village responsibility”12 and that the householder “will 11. SNODGRASS, Anaideia and the Friend at Midnight (n. 9), p. 510, states that “all four occurrences of αὐτός refer to the petitioner”. 12. JOHNSON, Assurance for Man (n. 10), pp. 124, 129, following Kenneth Bailey.



cause the village to lose face if he does not supply his friend with enough for him to feed his unexpected guest”, the parable says nothing about a village, and “a friend” does not represent a village. I am also not convinced that the petitioner fears being shamed with the reputation of not being able to provide food for a friend13, since his request already shows his lack of preparation. Despite alternative readings, whether sociologically creative or theologically allegorical, the parable tells us that rude, unacceptable action got the petitioner what he wanted. Something in the story is wrong: shamelessness should not be rewarded. That very fact shows the honesty of the parable, given that shamelessness, especially by those who are rich and powerful, is frequently rewarded. Now the moral questions can begin: does shamelessness among friends have a different valence than shamelessness between strangers, or between people with unequal access to power, or between men and women? Parables challenge expectations, prompt the imagination to think in new ways, question the status quo, and otherwise raise questions of ethics and behavior. They may provide no answer or single meaning, but they do help their listeners pose good questions14. This parable asks its auditors what they will tolerate from their friends (would they tolerate the same from those outside their friendship circle?). It asks what motivates actions: friendship, or resignation. It asks, as do several parables including the Prodigal Son and his Elder Brother, the Dishonest Manager, and the Widow and the Judge, why and what happens when bad behavior is rewarded. Luke 11,5 opens with a question: “Who among you will have a friend?” (τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν ἕξει φίλον). Because the parable describes all three characters in friendship terms, auditors do not know with whom to identify: the traveler who leaves the road to seek hospitality; the petitioner, who has nothing with which to feed the traveler, or the householder, in bed with his children, who does not want to rise at midnight to provide three loaves of bread. One plausible answer to the question “which of you”, especially if the parable is stripped out of its Lucan context, might be “not any of us” or “nobody”15. An initial reading of the parable suggests 13. SNODGRASS, Anaideia and the Friend at Midnight (n. 9), p. 505, proposes fear also of bringing shame on the community by suggesting inhospitality. A possible reading, it seems to me an overread: one fellow without a stocked pantry, in the context of friendship, does not lead to a negative view of a community. Nor does the parable say anything about a community, let alone the idea that outsiders would see this community as inhospitable. 14. A.-J. LEVINE, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi, New York, HarperOne, 2007. 15. Cf. H.C. WAETJEN, The Subversion of “World” by the Parable of the Friend at Midnight, in JBL 120 (2001) 703-721, p. 705.



that none of the characters is behaving in a civil manner. We would not be so shameless as to show up, unannounced and empty-handed, at midnight. We would not be so shameless as to wake a neighbor and demand three loaves of bread (why does one person need three loaves? To suggest that he is generous with someone else’s food?) in the middle of the night. We would not be so shameless as to deny the request of a friend. Yet parables can challenge by presenting unattractive, foolish, or simply weird characters and promoting questions of self-identification. The first line of the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15,4) begins with the same rhetorical form as our parable: “Which person among you (τίς ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ὑμῶν), having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?”. Wise sheep-owners may very well respond “not I”: to leave ninety-nine sheep alone in the wilderness is not a wise move. Sheep stray. Luke 15,7 provides the Parable of the Lost Sheep an allegorical meaning, “Thus, I say to you, there will be more joy in the heaven upon one sinner who repents than upon ninety-nine righteous who have no need of repentance” (15,7). The allegory fits the parable uneasily, since according to the parable the sheep-owner lost (ἀπολέσας) a sheep16. It is Luke who states that the lost sheep as well as the lost coin (15,10; the woman lost her coin) are about repenting and forgiving; without this gloss, the parables of sheep and coin, and two sons as well, are about recognizing loss, seeking to rectify that loss by exaggerated if not outrageous action, and celebrating when the full complement is restored. In Luke’s allegory, the man who lost the sheep becomes God (or Jesus), who is ever ready to seek the lost (i.e., sinners). The allegory thus provides the answer to the opening question: “which one among you…?”. The allegory demands the response, “We all would” since we all would want to act as God acts. The formulation “which person among you” appears also in material shared by Matthew and Luke, and it offers an intertext for our parable. Matt 7,7-8 begins with the theme of asking: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and [the door] will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and everyone who knocks, [the door] will be opened” (Matt 7,7-8). While the midnight petitioner does not knock although the parable mentions a “closed door” (θύρα κέκλεισται, Luke 11,7), he does ask, and he asks with the assurance that he will obtain what he seeks. 16. LEVINE, Short Stories by Jesus (n. 14).



Connections to our parable continue in Matthew’s next several verses. Matthew depicts Jesus as asking, using the same rhetorical formula of identification, “Is there any person among you (τίς ἐστιν ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος) who, if your child asks for bread (ἄρτον) will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?”. Presuming a negative answer – no parents would give the stone or the snake – Jesus draws the negative analogy using the qal v’homer (from the lesser to the greater, “how much more so…”) argument: “If therefore you, being evil, know to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in the heavens give good things to those who ask him?” (Matt 7,9-11). With our parable, this section includes asking with expectation of receiving, a rhetorical question requiring audience identification, the demand for bread, the outrageous claim that the disciples are “evil”, and the unexpected positive result of an “evil” or “shameless” nature. Luke 11,9-13 repositions and slightly rewords this material – ask and it will be given, etc. – as the conclusion to the Parable of the Friend at Midnight. Instead of speaking of bread not stone, Luke serves “egg” not “scorpion” (Luke 11,12). Luke also adds a reference to the Holy Spirit, a major Lucan theme, to the final line: “If therefore you, being evil, know to give good things to your children, how much more the Father out of heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11,13). Plausibly, Luke repositioned the Matthean material to provide the conclusion to the parable, which initially was about friendship, need, and shamelessness, rather than about theology. For Luke’s narrative, the Parable of the Friend at Midnight is about human depravity and divine beneficence; people are shameless/evil, and the good God responds to their petitions, just as a parent will give children bread and eggs, not stones and scorpions. Klyne Snodgrass summarizes Luke’s take-away from the parable: “If a human will obviously get up in the middle of the night to grant the request even of a rude friend, will not God much more answer your requests?”17. This is Luke’s conclusion. It is not, however, a necessary or even logical take-away from the parable decontextualized from its Lucan placement. Indeed, as Herman C. Waetjen argues, the parable itself contains no evidence for a “how much more” argument18. Luke has tidied the parable into an allegory and thereby robbed it of any provocation even as its contextualization reinforces a negative anthropology. 17. SNODGRASS, Stories with Intent (n. 10), p. 447 and ID., Anaideia and the Friend at Midnight (n. 9), p. 513: “If among humans a request is granted even when or because the request is rude, how much more will your heavenly Father respond to your requests?”. 18. WAETJEN, The Subversion of “World” (n. 15), p. 704.



2. Friends Which of you, Jesus asks, has a “friend” (φίλος)? The term suggests a voluntary relationship between equals. Of the 27 uses of philos language in the New Testament, Luke’s Gospel accounts for 14, of which 3 appear in our parable, and Acts for another 3. Mark never uses the term, and Matthew uses it only once (Matt 11,19), in reference to the charge against Jesus, “A friend of tax collectors and sinners”; Luke 7,34 repeats the line. Friendship language in Luke has several connotations. First, it describes the relationship between Jesus and his followers. Jesus calls the disciples “My friends” (φίλοις μου) and tells them not to fear those who can kill the body (12,4). The address “friends” is not necessary for the instruction, but it adds nuance: “friends” suggests that for Jesus, he and the disciples are equals, called to the same mission. They will act as he instructs, because he is their friend (and not just their “lord” or patron), even if the mission is one leading to death. Is Jesus shameless in demanding that his friends be willing to die for him? The term “friend” also describes social equals: “Whenever you might be called” to a banquet, instructs Jesus, “go and sit down at the last place, so that when the one who called you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored before all reclining [at table] with you” (Luke 14,10). Following the floating saying about the exalted and the humbled reversing roles, the next line then undercuts the role of host: “When you give a noon meal or a dinner, do not invite your friends (φίλους σου) or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors (γείτονας πλουσίους), lest even they invite you, and you would be repaid” (14,12). In this configuration, friends are those who can reciprocate in kind: they are of the same social class. Friends can expect equal transactional relationships, not based on the desire to gain something. The “friends and neighbors” of the sheep-owner who found his sheep (φίλους καὶ τοὺς γείτονας, 15,6) and of the woman who found her coin (τὰς φίλας καὶ γείτονας, 15,9); and the friends with whom the older brother of the prodigal wanted to celebrate (τῶν φίλων μου, 15,29) are not invited for reasons of gain; they are not invited for the purpose of displaying wealth; they are invited to celebrate. Finally, in Luke’s Gospel, friends are also people with a common cause: Luke tells us that when Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas and Antipas, finding nothing of interest, returned him, “Herod and Pilate became friends (ἐγένοντο δὲ φίλοι) that same day with each other; before this they had been enemies” (23,12). On the other hand, because of Jesus, friends can become enemies: Jesus warns his followers, “You will be betrayed even



by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death” (Luke 21,16). 3. The Centurion and the Friend at Midnight For the Third Gospel, in general, a “friend” is neither client nor patron, for friendship must exist apart from a brokered relationship. Luke’s first use of friendship language appears in 7,1-10, a rewriting of Matt 8,5-13 (yes, I am a Q skeptic) and another intertext for our parable. Like the parable, Luke 7 includes a petition: a centurion, whose highly valued slave is close to death, “sends to [Jesus] elders of the Jews” (ἀπέστειλεν πρὸς αὐτὸν πρεσβυτέρους τῶν Ἰουδαίων, 7,3), to ask him to come and perform a healing. The elders do not describe the centurion as a “friend”; they use the language of patron-client relations in describing the centurion to Jesus, “He is worthy […] for he loves our nation and our synagogue he built for us”. The centurion is patron, who provides financial aid to his clients. The elders are the clients who fulfill their role by praising their patron and providing services on his behalf. Not only as clients but also as Jews living in the Roman empire, they would have little option to refuse the centurion’s request. After Jesus assents to the petition, the centurion sends to him his “friends” (ἔπεμψεν φίλους). These friends – we do not know if they are Jews or gentiles but, given the difficulty of a friendship relationship between the occupier and the occupied, I suspect they are gentiles – speak for the centurion, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof”. The Greek translated here as “trouble” is σκύλλω rather than, as in our parable, κόπους πάρεχε (7,4b-5), but the idea is the same: for Jesus to come to the centurion’s house would be a burden, just as for the householder to rise from the bed and open the door would be a burden. Jesus praises the centurion, and then performs the healing from a distance, without directly encountering either centurion or slave. Luke 7,1-10, the healing, and Luke 11,5-8, the parable, share multiple motifs: the term “friend”, double petitions (the request from the elders/the request from the friends; the implied need of the traveler/ the expressed need of the petitioner), a concern for being bothered or troubled, excuses to avoid action (the centurion’s demurral that Jesus should come to his house; the householder’s reluctance to rise at night), a third-party off-stage but in need (the slave, the traveler), and a benefactor (Jesus; the householder) who does not meet the direct recipient of the benefaction (the slave, the traveler). Reading the healing together with the parable, with the parable decontextualized from its Lucan gloss, opens questions of motivation:



do we act out of fear, coercion, good business sense, need, compassion, or the duties of a patron/client brokerage system…? Are we patrons and clients, or friends? Was the centurion shameless in requesting Jesus’s help by sending the elders? Was he ashamed of his request, knowing that the elders could not refuse him or knowing that Jesus would not be able to refuse? Was the centurion ashamed of his helplessness in aiding his enslaved, or was he ashamed that he had to turn to a Jewish healer to accomplish what he could not? 4. The Friend at Midnight and the Dishonest Manager Following the Parable of the Dishonest Manager, Luke 16,9 reads, “Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon (ποιήσατε φίλους ἐκ τοῦ μαμωνᾶ τῆς ἀδικίας), so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into their eternal tents (αἰωνίους σκηνάς)”. Here are more connections to our parable. Both parables, of the Friend at Midnight and the Dishonest Manager, proceed from a sense of loss or lack: no bread for the traveler; no funds for the manager. Both operate by shameless, i.e., socially inappropriate behavior, whether demanding food at the wrong hour or by using dishonest wealth. Both implicate third parties in schemes: the petitioner in the parable, to cater to his guest, makes demands on the householder; the manager, to placate the “lord”, makes demands on the debtors. Finally, both speak of friendship in a context of shamelessness: the petitioner in the first parable acts in an explicitly shameless manner; the manager in the second, who making friends by means of unrighteous wealth, fits into the shameless category. The dishonest manager epitomizes shamelessness. In interior monologue (a sign of foolishness, or by extension conniving)19, he speculates in Luke 16,3, “What will I do now that my lord (ὁ κύριός μου) is taking the management away from me? To dig I am not strong; to beg I am ashamed (αἰσχύνομαι)”. The second notice is ironic: he would be ashamed to engage in the labor associated with a slave and so he displays his classconsciousness; he would not be ashamed to manipulate the financial records of his lord or implicate others in his duplicity. The manager then proceeds to act shamelessly – a perfect display of chutzpah in the English-speaking context – by decreasing the amount his lord’s debtors owe. At the end of the Parable of the Dishonest Manager, no one has behaved well: the lord made accusations without evidence and then failed either 19. See M.B. DINKLER, “The Thoughts of Many Hearts Shall Be Revealed”: Listening in on Lukan Interior Monologues, in JBL 134 (2015) 373-399.



to check or to collect the debt records; the manager finagled the master’s accounts; the debtors were complicit in a scheme to decrease the amount they owed. So too with the figures in the Parable of the Friend at Midnight: no one behaved well. Yet in both cases, everyone wins. For the first parable, the petitioner gets his bread, the traveler gets his dinner, and the householder can get some sleep. For the second, the manager (apparently) retains his position, the debtors owe less, and the lord has gained a reputation for generosity. The parables suggest that the ends (everyone wins) justify the means (shameless and likely illegal action). Making moral judgments even more difficult, there’s something attractive about such shamelessness, such chutzpah, displayed by the petitioner and the manager. Shamelessness causes the reader to pay attention, to wonder where the ability to act in such an outrageous manner derives (the same wonder would apply to an assessment of the ancient Cynics), and an inability to turn away. At the end of the Parable of the Dishonest Manager, Luke again attempts to mitigate the apparent approval of shameless; again, Luke tacks on independent logia that sit uneasily in juxtaposition to the parable. The section on the Dishonest Manager concludes, “You cannot serve God and mammon” (16,13, cf. Matt 6,24, where the saying is bundled into the Sermon on the Mount). Such serving is, however, exactly what they did. Luke has turned a provocative parable that raises moral questions into an illustration of a platitude. 5. Lend Me Three Breads (χρῆσόν μοι τρεῖς ἄρτους) Our parable, Luke 11,5-11, follows immediately upon Luke’s version of the “Lord’s Prayer”. Luke 11,3 is the petition, “Give us each day our daily bread” (τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δίδου ἡμῖν τὸ καθ᾽ ἡμέραν). To follow this petitionary prayer with a story of someone asking for bread makes the parable an illustration of the prayer and so supports Luke’s allegorical reading: God provides bread, with greater willingness than a sleepy and grumpy householder. That the parable begins with καί can suggest a direct illustration of the prayer. Yet the fit is uneasy: the petitioner in the parable is not asking God for bread, and he is not asking for himself but for a guest. In Luke’s Gospel, references to bread are overdetermined. “Bread” is much more than a food staple. The first appearance of ἄρτος is the devil’s shameless test, “If you are the son of God, command this stone to become bread” (Luke 4,3). The test anticipates, as we have seen, Jesus’s comment in Matt 7,9, “Is there any person among you (ἢ τίς ἐστιν ἐξ ὑμῶν



ἄνθρωπος) who, if your child asks for bread (ἄρτον), will give a stone?”. The words for “bread” (ἄρτος) and “stone” (λίθος) are the same in both passages. It is possible Luke, in 11,12, rephrased Matthew’s line from “bread … stone” to “egg … scorpion” to remove the connection between the temptation and the prayer, or even to remove the connection between the temptation and the parable. In Luke, it is God/Jesus and their allegorical proxies (e.g., the householder in our parable, the father of the prodigal son [Luke 15,17]), who provide bread. In Luke 6,4, Jesus mentions the bread of the presence, set aside for priests, which David and his companions ate. David, in acting illegally by doing what is not permitted (οὐκ ἔξεστιν), is also acting shamelessly. Of greater import for our parable are Jesus’s instructions to his disciples in 9,3, “Take nothing on the road (εἰς τὴν ὁδόν), no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic”. Here is the connection to the traveler in the parable, who has come “off the road” (παρεγένετο ἐξ ὁδοῦ). If we imagine the traveler to be an apostle or evangelist, we can see both the reason for his arriving, shamelessly, empty-handed and for the petitioner’s concern to provide him a meal. People who have “power and authority over all demons” (Luke 9,1) are not people whom we would want to upset. It is shameless for the disciples to demand hospitality; precisely because they are disciples, and are shameless, householders may well provide them hospitality. Although the disciples will shortly thereafter tell Jesus, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish” (Luke 9,13), this limited resource will feed 5,000. If 5 breads can feed 5,000, 3 breads for a single guest seems exorbitant, nervy, shameless, and in context, comedic. Bread references continue, including the Last Supper, where Jesus distributes bread to the apostles (22,19), and in Emmaus (24,30; cf. 24,35), when the two recognize the resurrected Jesus in the breaking of bread. These extensive bread-references push the Parable of the Friend at Midnight again toward allegory, with God/Jesus as providing the bread. Only if the householder is just a sleepy, grumpy, unhappy fellow and the petitioner a shameless individual can the parable raise questions of ethics rather than be an obvious statement of divine beneficence. 6. Unattractive Characters in Parables A comparison of the Parable of the Friend at Midnight with the Parable of the Widow and the Judge (Luke 18,1-8) reveals both the tendency of translators and commentators to turn negatives (shamelessness becomes perseverance, desire for vengeance becomes desire for justice, threat of



violence becomes a concern regarding being bothered) into positives and for Luke to reframe Jesus’s parables to make them about prayer and theology rather than human nature and ethics. Like the other parables discussed in this essay, no one in the Parable of the Widow and the Judge behaves well. The judge “neither fears God nor has respect (ἐντρεπόμενος) for people” (Luke 18,2 NRSV); he thus both epitomizes foolishness, since the “fear of God is the beginning of wisdom” and can expect disgrace, since, as Isa 50,7 states, “The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been shamed (οὐκ ἐνετράπην); therefore I have set my face like solid rock (στερεὰν πέτραν), and I know that I shall not be disgraced (αἰσχυνθῶ)”. To this judge comes, persistently, a widow who demands vengeance (ἐκδίκησον; NRSV: “Grant me justice”) against her opponent. She should not be asking for vengeance (Lev 19,18a, καὶ οὐκ ἐκδικᾶταί σου ἡ χείρ); that is God’s responsibility (Deut 32,35; Rom 12,19). The judge initially does nothing, but he finally determines to grant her want she wants, first, because she continues to bother him (παρέχειν μοι κόπον, 18,5), the same phrase used by the householder unwilling to rise to help (μή μοι κόπους πάρεχε, 11,7), and second, he is concerned that she might punch him in the face (ἵνα μὴ εἰς τέλος ἐρχομένη ὑπωπιάζῃ με, 18,5). Translators again bowdlerize Luke’s text by masking the boxing term and so the implications of physical violence. Our judge cannot set his face like stone; he can only do his best to deflect her threat. The widow, who behaves badly by harassing the judge and then threatening him, gets what she wants. The judge, who behaves badly in refusing theologically and socially proper behavior, acts for self-preservation rather than for justice. Again, Luke rescues the parable from seeming to condone inappropriate behavior by announcing that the parable is about the “need to pray always and not to lose heart” (18,1). Once again, Luke turns a moral and judicial problem into a theological lesson, by setting up the judge as the opposite of God. Adding a nimshal of sorts to the parable, Luke offers, “Will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him night and day?” (18,7a). That would not be an obvious reading from the parable proper. Both parables, decontextualized from Luke’s narrative frames and explanations, reveal something of human nature. They are not commending shameless behavior; they are showing how and why it works, and thereby querying the ethical values of the readers. To lack shame is not to recognize society and therefore to subvert it. There is nothing that makes the term positive. The idea of “good



shamelessness”, suggested by Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom20, is tantamount to “good abuse” or “good rape” even as it argues that the end justifies the means. 7. Luke’s Allegorical Conclusion We have already noted in Luke’s conclusion in 11,9-13, the repositioning of Matthew’s logia to analogize the householder to God and the petitioner to the faithful follower. As Luke 11,13 summarizes, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”. Luke’s contextualization gives the parable a theological focus. There is nothing in the parable that demands it. To the contrary, the parable, decontextualized, is not set up as a lesson about the kingdom of God. A comparison of God to a human father makes sense, given the common Jewish address to God as “father”, but the comparison of God either to an unjust judge or to a sleepy householder in bed with his children is at best a strained connection. Nor does the slide from rudeness or shamelessness to boldness in prayer – “Indirectly the parable does encourage boldness in praying”21 – neatly fit the parable. To be bold is not the same thing as to be shameless. To be bold is to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Ps 22,1). To be shameless is to ask God for one’s sports team to have a winning season. To be bold is to stand up in a bus and ask if anyone has a bottle of water for a senior citizen who looks dehydrated. To be shameless is for the senior citizen to insist on Perrier with lemon after a bottle filled with tap water is offered. 8. Asking the Right Questions The parable creates a double bind. If the petitioner does not act in a shameless manner by demanding the householder provide bread, he will be shamed by failing to provide hospitality. The parable also shows an ongoing circle of shameless action: the friend shows up from the road, apparently unannounced and so, the narrative implies, shamelessly demands hospitality; the petitioner shamelessly demands bread. Yet the 20. WAETJEN, The Subversion of “World” (n. 15), p. 703. 21. SNODGRASS, Anaideia and the Friend at Midnight (n. 9), p. 513.



householder, by recognizing the shamelessness, changes his mind and is thus able to break the cycle: because of his friend’s shamelessness, he provides what is needed and so ends any chance of either shaming or shameless action. Perhaps this break of the pattern explains why the parable ends not with “three breads”, but with the householder giving the petitioner “whatever he needs” (ὅσων χρῄζει, Luke 11,8). While shamelessness cannot, in Greek literature, hold a positive value, it can through its very negative connotations show us where social problems exist. In the Sermon the Mount, Jesus teaches, “If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic/shirt (χιτών), give to him your garment (ἱμάτιον) as well” (Matt 5,40). As with the parable of the Widow and the Judge, so the saying suggests the fraught setting of a judicial arena, where shamelessness can have its place. In settings where most people only had two items of clothing, an inner shirt and an outer garment, to surrender both is to become naked. To sue for either garment is shameless; it violates communal expectations of justice. For the defendant to give both garments is to reveal the shamelessness of the suit by acting in a shameless manner. Thus, shamelessness can serve to indict. Today, shamelessness has become not a negative but a positive, not an attitude to be condemned but to be praised. The problem was already acute in the 1960s. Preaching on this parable, the American civil rights martyr, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., announced, It is midnight in the social order […]. Midnight is a time when everybody is desperately seeking to avoid getting caught. It is the hour when hardly anybody is concerned about obeying the ten commandments; everybody is passionately seeking to obey the eleventh commandment – “thou shall not get caught”. […] It’s all right to lie, but do it with real finesse; it’s all right to steal, but be a dignified stealer, so that if you are caught it becomes embezzlement rather than robbery; it’s all right even to hate, but dress your hate up in the garments of love and make it appear that you are loving when you are actually hating22.

Shamelessness thus, in King’s view, epitomizes the lack of justice. Thus, I find it hard to agree with Waetjen’s claim that “Impudence, effrontery, and dishonorable conduct are divinely legitimated in the pursuit of justice in all the arenas of social life”23. Shamelessness, as in the Sermon on the Mount, is what we may be reduced to when we have no other option; it is not a commendable approach, but it may be a necessary one. The problem arises when it is not necessary, but opportune. 22. 23. WAETJEN, The Subversion of “World” (n. 15), p. 717.



The parable in Luke 11, like most parables, resists simplistic interpretations. It does not commend shamelessness, but it observes that shamelessness can be effective: it worked for the petitioner, as it worked for the widow and for the manager. All three parables create an ethical quandary: when can ill behavior be overlooked, and when do we condemn it? Is shamelessness not acceptable when we act for ourselves, but approved when we ask for another? Would it matter that the request was made on behalf of a missionary, on the road without bread and dependent on supporters versus on behalf of a hungry cousin who forgot to pack a sandwich? Can we deploy a social evil for positive purposes (the church fathers’ “good shamelessness”) as if the ends justify the means? Or do we recognize how the circuit of shamelessness can be broken, albeit at personal cost? Hartford International University for Religion and Peace 77 Sherman Street Hartford, CT 06105-2260411 USA [email protected]



More recent experiences in politics have made it obvious that it is necessary to distinguish between fake news and false claims and to state this publicly. Even if former U.S. President Donald Trump has demonstrably repeated some lies up to 300 times, this does not make them true1. The coverage of Russia’s war with Ukraine and the censorship of the Associated Press in Russia also make it clear how significant the truth of a statement is. Therefore, it once again makes sense to speak, with Williams, of the “value of truth” or even the “virtues of truth”2. The ancient concept of παρρησία (parrhēsia) represents such a virtue of truth and more precisely of “speaking the truth”. The παρρησιαστής courageously opposes the tendency to abolish truth. He/she is a witness to the truth, which remains indispensable for thought and life. The term παρρησία, however, includes more aspects than speaking the truth. It also represents freedom of speech, as well as freedom of expression, that is, the possibility that anyone can and may say anything. This is exactly the literal meaning of the word παρρησία according to its etymology. The term παρρησία is a compound derived from the words ῥῆσις (speech) and πᾶς (all) or πᾶν (anything). Every person should be able to say anything3. Though at least in modern western democracy this value is not seriously disputed by anyone, it remains difficult to practice the candid speech in different contexts, be it among friends, in teams at work such as a faculty at a university4, or in public spaces and in political discourse. It is 1. See the Fact Check of the Washington Post. Up to June 2020, there were 19,127 “false or misleading claims” from the president; see at politics/2020/04/14/president-trump-made-18000-false-or-misleading-claims-1170-days/ (accessed 12 July 2020). 2. See B. WILLIAMS, Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2002. 3. On the etymology see G. SCARPAT, Parrhēsia greca, parrhēsia cristiana (Studi Biblici, 130), Brescia, Paideia, 1964, 22001; I. VAN RENSWOUDE, The Rhetoric of Free Speech in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, 115), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019, pp. 4-10; P.-B. SMIT – E. VAN URK (eds.), Parrhesia: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on Freedom of Speech (STAR, 25), Leiden, Brill, 2018. 4. With regard to this context, see my article R. ZIMMERMANN, Vom Mut der Wahrheitsrede (παρρησία): Erinnerungen an eine unbeliebte Tugend, in J. KOSLOWSKI – T. LEPPEK (eds.), Fides quaerens intellectum: Festschrift für Walter Dietz, Leipzig, Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2021, 125-140. Some parts of this article overlap with the current contribution.



precisely this paradox that is inherent in the term itself, as the historian Hartmut Leppin has convincingly demonstrated in his recently published monograph5. Since the concept was first developed in Athenian democracy, παρρησία has asserted everyone’s claim to free speech, however, this claim would be obsolete if it could be taken up easily and by everyone. Rather, according to Leppin, it is a matter of a “concept of expectation”6. Παρρησία describes an ideal that is often not realized. Ethically speaking, it is a normative claim, a norm or maxim of action that is relevant precisely because it is repeatedly undermined, violated, and disregarded in social practice. This is true even regardless of the various contexts and recontextualizations of the term within ancient discourses as described by Leppin. Here, Leppin distinguishes different addressees and contexts of communication in which the term appears, be it as παρρησία towards fellow citizens, towards confidants, towards the powerful, and towards God7. The present sketch cannot cover all of these different contexts and aspects, but seeks to shed some light on a few of the paradoxes and challenges of παρρησία in antiquity and beyond. Since my contact with Reimund Bieringer is mostly in connection with the Gospel of John, I will therefore give the Gospel of John some weight. Furthermore, I will focus on the ethical dimension of παρρησία. The concept has always been a norm, and therefore had an ethical dimension even in its early political use8. I will argue that free and candid speech is a virtue of the individual9 towards others that may be a challenge for the speaker as well as for the addressee, but which is ultimately useful and even essential as an orienting norm for diverse people living together. Following the founding principle of the Mainz Research Center “Ethics in Antiquity and Christianity”10, 5. See H. LEPPIN, Paradoxe der Parrhesie: Eine antike Wortgeschichte (Tria Corda, 14), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2022. 6. Ibid., p. 4: “Erwartungsbegriff”. 7. This is also the structure of the book; see ibid. 8. I slightly disagree with Leppin on this point, who speaks of a later “Ethisierung der Parrhesie” (ibid., pp. 25-31). For my definition of ethics and norm, see R. ZIMMERMANN, Logic of Love: Discovering Paul’s “Implicit Ethics” through 1 Corinthians, trans. D.T. Roth, Lanham, MD – Boulder, CO, Lexington Books / Fortress Academic, 2018, p. 4: “Ethics is the reflective consideration of a way of living with a view towards its guiding norms and having as its goal an evaluation”; p. 43: “A norm is a pronouncement within an ethical statement or discourse that justifies the claim to an ‘ought’ or sets forth an attribution of value in terms of the conduct of an individual or a group”. 9. See also LEPPIN, Paradoxe der Parrhesie (n. 5), p. 5: “Der Parrhēsiast repräsentiert zumal in nachklassischer Zeit zuvörderst nicht eine Gruppe, sondern sich selbst in seiner Redefähigkeit, die auf intellektuellen, moralischen oder spirituellen Ressourcen beruht, bisweilen aber auch auf ökonomischen”. The individual, however, in many cases addresses a group or team. 10. See (accessed 13 April 2022).



ancient texts function as a source of inspiration and serve as dialogue partners even within current ethical debates11. If one subjects the speech of truth to a critical, ethical examination, one by no means encounters unanimous supporters. In ancient12 as well as contemporary discourse, one encounters objections to the validity or usefulness of παρρησία as the right or ethically recommended action. Such objections as one aspect of the paradox will drive the following line of thought. I. FREE



Candid speech can be practiced privately among friends. However, from the very beginning in the Athens’ council (βουλή), on many occasions it was or even had to be public speech. Accordingly, one might ask, why is it not enough to address individuals? Is it not sufficient for the service of the truth to communicate with one’s peers behind closed doors (“we know that …”)? Does the confrontation with truth in the public not end up in a shamelessly conducted struggle for the truth? Indeed, Hellenism distinguished two dimensions of παρρησία: the moderate and the brazen. The criticism levelled at a particular form of παρρησία speech, however, does not refer to the question of how overtly or covertly candid speech is practiced or to which circle of addressees it is directed. Rather, criticism is made when παρρησία serves self-promotion and someone tries to expose the counterpart under the pretext of frankness. Accordingly, Plutarch in his writing, “How to Tell a Flatterer from a Friend”, praised παρρησία as the highest service of friendship. In this goal, it is necessary to proceed with caution and sensitivity, but the speech of truth must be exercised precisely as an honest rebuke and not as flattery. Although παρρησία occupies a firm place within the ethics of friendship, speaking the truth remains just as undoubtedly connected with a public speech act13. 11. On this hermeneutic, see the Journal for Ethics in Antiquity and Christianity 1, published in 2019, especially the editors’ comments. For a focus on the Bible and Christian ethics, see, e.g., R. ZIMMERMANN, Eine theologische Ethik ohne Schriftbezug ist keine theologische Ethik! 12 Thesen zur bleibenden Relevanz der Bibel für eine theologische Ethik, ibid., 90-91. 12. Plato gives an enlightening example of the ambivalent value of παρρησία. He refers mostly to παρρησία as a problematic practice, see S.S. MONOSON, Plato’s Democratic Entanglements: Athenian Politics and the Practice of Philosophy, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 2000, pp. 154-179, and the summary in LEPPIN, Paradoxe der Parrhesie (n. 5), pp. 28-30. 13. See G.L. PARSENIOS, Confounding Foes and Counseling Friends: Parrēsia in the Fourth Gospel and Greco-Roman Philosophy, in J.G. VAN DER WATT – A. CULPEPPER –



As an example of this παρρησία speech performed in public, I call attention to the use of the term in the Gospel of John14. The term παρρησία occurs nine times here, which means that it appears in the Fourth Gospel more frequently than in any other New Testament writing15. In John 7,4 and 18,20, παρρησία is directly contrasted with ἐν κρυπτῷ, such that παρρησία is precisely a public act in contrast with hidden action. According to John 7,4, Jesus’ brothers urge Jesus to go to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem in order to reveal himself to all the world (τῷ κόσμῳ). The publicity offered by this pilgrimage feast was a prime opportunity. Their rationale reads like a reference to a generally accepted insight that acting with παρρησία is opposed to acting in secret. To be sure, Jesus does not follow the requests of his brothers. Rather, he demonstrates his παρρησία by his free decision to go up to Jerusalem in his own time and to make his appearance with a public speech only on the last day of the feast (John 7,14.26.37). According to John 18,20, under interrogation by the high priest, the Johannine Jesus then refers to his entire teaching in retrospect as παρρησία in public: ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ Ἰησοῦς· ἐγὼ παρρησίᾳ λελάληκα τῷ κόσμῳ, ἐγὼ πάντοτε ἐδίδαξα ἐν συναγωγῇ καὶ ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, ὅπου πάντες οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι συνέρχονται, καὶ ἐν κρυπτῷ ἐλάλησα οὐδέν. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing secretly”. U. SCHNELLE (eds.), The Prologue of the Gospel of John: Its Literary, Theological, and Philosophical Contexts (WUNT, 359), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2016, 251-272, who, following Isocrates and Philodemus (col. 2.1-3) speaks of a twofold Sitz im Leben (“two […] social settings for bold speech”), (1) “toward one’s intimate associates” and (2) “toward all people” (p. 253). Beer, on the other hand, sees a transformation of the παρρησία in Hellenism from public space to private space: the right of public speech becomes “zur moralischen Verpflichtung, dem Freund gegenüber offen u. wahr zu reden. Im privaten Umfeld erhält P. die Bedeutung von ‘Aufrichtigkeit’”. B. BEER, Parrhēsia, in RAC 26 (2015) 1014-1033, here p. 1015. 14. See M. LABAHN, Die παρρησία des Gottessohnes im Johannesevangelium: Theologische Hermeneutik und philosophisches Selbstverständnis, in J. FREY – U. SCHNELLE (eds.), Kontexte des Johannesevangeliums: Das vierte Evangelium in religions- und traditionsgeschichtlicher Perspektive (WUNT, 175), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2004, 321-363 (again in ID., Ausgewählte Studien zum Johannesevangelium, ed. A. LABAHN [BiTS, 28], Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2017, 315-360); W. KLASSEN, Παρρησία in the Johannine Corpus, in J.T. FITZGERALD (ed.), Friendship, Flattery, and Frankness of Speech: Studies on Friendship in the New Testament World (SupplNT, 82), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 1996, 227-254. 15. See John 7,4.13.26; 10,24; 11,14.54; 16,25.29; 18,20, as well as 1 John 2,28; 3,21; 4,17; 5,14. Of the 31 occurrences of παρρησία in the New Testament, 13 of them appear in the Corpus Johanneum. A similar frequency can be observed only in Acts, where the term is linked to missionary speech: μετὰ παρρησίας in Acts 2,29; 4,29.31; 28,31; verbal Acts 9,28; 13,46; 14,3; 18,26; 26,26.



This statement is formulated in a broad and general way. Corresponding to the broad addressee (all Jews) is the spatial expanse of the houses of worship (synagogue and temple) and the whole world (cosmos), as well as the unlimited temporal reference (all times). This framework marks a sharp contrast with the same verb: Jesus had always spoken publicly before the world and said nothing in secret. Since Jesus’ way of speaking stands for his “whole way of existence” (John 7,4: ἐν παρρησίᾳ εἶναι), the Johannine exaggeration can hardly be contrasted with Jesus’ teaching of his disciples in the farewell speeches. Extending the Johannine concept of παρρησία, Michael Labahn summarizes as follows: “Jesu Lehre ist keine Geheimlehre, sondern findet in der Öffentlichkeit statt. Sie ist nicht unverständlich, sondern freimütig und zugänglich. Sein Wirken bildet eine Einheit von Wort, Tat und Person ab, so daß Jesus eine freimütige Existenz führt”16. Jesus is thus brought within the horizon of a true parrhēsiatēs, which other exegetes also try to show in their own way. In an intertextual dialogue with Lucian’s writing “The Dead Come to Life, or The Fisherman”, George Parsenios attempts to clarify how the image of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel fits into that of the contemporary parrhesiast: “Jesus and Parrhēsiathēs are not similar only in how they talk to their audience. They are also similar in the hostile responses they elicit”. Drawing on Foucault’s criteria of a Cynic parrhēsiatēs, Jadranka Brnčić has also called Jesus a “parrhēsiast par excellence”17. According to Brnčić Jesus lived sincerely, independently, justly, and self-sufficiently. She even states that Jesus’ main enemy was neither the Jewish representatives nor the Roman rulers, but hypocrisy. Let us return to the Johannine Jesus. Παρρησία not only proves to be public speech, but it also underlines the fact that the truth cannot be hidden, because Jesus speaks, acts, lives, and dies publicly. In line with the etymology of ἀλήθεια (from alpha privativum and λήθη and λανθάνω, respectively), the Johannine conception of truth is also about the “unconcealment of being” (Heidegger), which is here closely linked to the person of Jesus. Truth and hiddenness are a contradiction in terms. The question of whether παρρησία cannot also work in hiddenness is thus answered unequivocally from the perspective of John’s Gospel. If truth wants to be recognizable as truth, it must come into the light. 16. LABAHN, Die παρρησία des Gottessohnes (n. 14), p. 342; similarly already H. SCHLIER, Παρρησία, παρρησιάζομαι, in TDNT 5 (1967) 871-886, here pp. 879-880: “A mark of Jesus as Revealer is that He works publicly […]. The opposite is ἐν κρυπτῷ, ‘not publicly in a corner’. It is thus emphasised that the preaching of Jesus is ‘not secret doctrine, and his society is not a sect’”. 17. See J. BRNČIĆ, Die Parrhēsia im Neuen Testament, in Wort und Antwort 59 (2018) 113-120, here p. 115.



But Jesus’ way of living is not exclusive, rather it serves as an example for the disciples and believers (John 13,15: ὑπόδειγμα). When one recognizes that the Fourth Gospel formulates its own unique approach to “implicit ethics”18, one will also be able to consider the differentiation between the works of light and those of darkness (John 3,20-21). This was grounded as an ethical program within John’s Gospel from the beginning19: πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς καὶ οὐκ ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα μὴ ἐλεγχθῇ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ· ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἔρχεται πρὸς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα φανερωθῇ αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα ὅτι ἐν θεῷ ἐστιν εἰργασμένα. He who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works be exposed. But he that does truth comes to the light, that it may be made manifest that his works are done in God.

It is not only that Jesus tells the truth and acts publicly. At the same time, the Gospel opens a space for the action of believers. According to John, truth is not only to be spoken by Jesus’ followers, but also to be performed (John 3,21: “He who does the truth …”) and done by them in the public eye. II. SPEAKING THE TRUTH: Παρρησία BETWEEN FACTS AND FICTION? The παρρησία-speech has been described as a speech which tells the truth. The παρρησιαστής pronounces what is “true” or “false”. He/she calls lies and grievances by their names. The close relationship between παρρησία and truth was reflected in various writings in antiquity20, and can also be observed from the beginning in Athens’ democracy. Demosthenes states: Democracies have many beautiful and just traits to which the reasonable person should adhere, including the fact that it is not possible to refrain parrhēsia, which is based on truthfulness, from revealing the truth (καὶ τὴν 18. See J.G. VAN DER WATT – R. ZIMMERMANN (eds.), Rethinking the Ethics of John: The Implicit Ethics in the Johannine Writings (Contexts and Norms of New Testament Ethics, 3; WUNT, 291), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2012; J.G. VAN DER WATT, A Grammar of the Ethics of John: Reading John from an Ethical Perspective, vol. 1 (WUNT, 431), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2019. 19. On this ethical interpretation of John 3,19-21, see A. DREWS, Semantik und Ethik des Wortfeldes “Ergon” im Johannesevangelium (Contexts and Norms of New Testament Ethics, 8; WUNT, II/431), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2017; R. ZIMMERMANN, Erga and Ethics in the Fourth Gospel (John 3:19-21), in A. CULPEPPER – J. FREY (eds.), Expressions of the Johannine Kerygma in John 2:23–5:18: Historical, Literary, and Theological Readings from the Colloquium Ioanneum 2017 in Jerusalem (WUNT, 423), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2019, 71-85. 20. See the source material in SCARPAT, Parrhēsia greca (n. 3), pp. 67-72.



παρρησίαν ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας ἠρτημένην οὐκ ἔστι τἀληθὲς δηλοῦν ἀποτρέψαι, Demosthenes, Or. 60.26; my translation).

Accordingly, for Foucault, the παρρησία is characterized particularly by its relation to truth and truthfulness: “Parrhesiazesthai” means “to tell the truth”. But does the parrhesiastes say what he thinks is true, or does he say what is really true? To my mind, the parrhesiastes says what is true because he knows that it is true; and he knows that it is true because it is really true. The parrhesiastes is not only sincere and says what is his opinion, but his opinion is also the truth. He says what he knows to be true. The second characteristic of parrhesia, then, is that there is always an exact coincidence between belief and truth21.

Παρρησία can be described, as Foucault put it, as a “modality of speaking the truth”. Foucault consequently reflects on speaking the truth as a speech activity with a double reference: on the one hand, it says something about the truthfulness of the speaker, and on the other hand, it says something about the actual correspondence of this speech with extra-linguistic reality. “Parrhēsiastic truth is the recognition of reality as it is […]. In this, the parrhēsiast who speaks the truth honestly and openly has a special relation to the truth and to his own life”22. Following Leppin, the close connection with truth demonstrates in particular the ethical aspect of παρρησία. The person who practices παρρησία feels an obligation to the truth, even if this means contradicting the general opinion or powerful people23. But here the real-life ethicist may register a complaint: Do not the terms “truth” and “truthfulness” or “honesty and openly” bring us into the stratosphere of principles and ideas that are beyond real life? Can one still speak of a clear distinction between lies and truth in the postand late-modern age? Reality cannot be grasped in black or white. It is grey and, in many cases, refreshingly colorful. Consequently, the ability to describe or even understand reality requires multiple perspectives, divergent approaches, complementary measuring instruments, and multiple methods. This epistemic multi-perspectivity of reality (or better, of realities) is widely acknowledged in scientific discourse24. 21. M. FOUCAULT, Discourse and Truth: The Problematization of Parrhesia (six lectures given by Michel Foucault at Berkeley, Oct.-Nov. 1983), at #foucault (accessed 21 June 2020); quote from Foucault, Discourse and Truth, Lecture 1.2 (p. 3). 22. Ibid. 23. See LEPPIN, Paradoxe der Parrhesie (n. 5), p. 27. 24. See L.B. PUNTEL, Wahrheitstheorien in der neueren Philosophie: Eine kritischsystematische Darstellung, 3rd special ed. with a detailed suppl., Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche



Reality and truth are by no means congruent. At the same time, one cannot restrict truth in the sense of coherence theory to closed systems like mathematics or certain forms of analytic philosophy (for example as “true” statements). If one opens up the concept of truth beyond the narrower linguistic space to statements of reality, truth itself now seems to get caught up in the maelstrom of multi-perspectival relativizations. The current debate about theories of truth seems prima vista to confirm this relativism. Does this not make the difference between truth telling and lying obsolete? Is not everything half-true and half-lie in relation to an extra-linguistic reference (and certainly in relation to past events)? Has not the Frankfurt School shown that the modern belief in an objective and universal truth favors systems of oppression? And has not Bernard Williams demonstrated that the demand for truthfulness is itself opposed to the very idea of truth, or at least feeds the doubt that (real) truth is to be found25? It may be difficult to pin down truth beyond closed logical systems. It can certainly not be determined by majority vote, because the majority in a voting body could consist of liars, who mutually confirm each other in their lies. Truth would then be only the democratically legitimized lie. Paradoxically, however, the advocate for the preservation of truth is the deliberate lie itself. The lone protest against the twisting or false construction of reality is the conscience of the individual who knows about his “half-truth” or lie. This is aptly captured by the ancient terms συνείδησις and conscientia, which bring this unmasking co-knowledge to the fore. Although one may be inclined to find pleasure quickly in the plausibility of an elaborate lie by repeating it oneself, there remain the “bites” of conscience, as Cicero put it26, that keep the knowledge of the lie alive deep within. According to Seneca, conscience torments liars and the guilty, convicts them of themselves, and makes them tremble even when the offense remains undetected on the outside27. One may wish to dismiss this oppressive study of conscience as the product of a normative corset made by moral preachers and social conventions. But, according to Seneca, conscience returns as accuser (accusator) and judge (iudex) because it is harder to deceive oneself than to deceive others28. Although no one would deny that there may be grey areas in the periphery, many actions and statements are quite clearly attributable to lies or truth. When Putin claims that there is no war in Ukraine, this is Buchgesellschaft, 2005; G. SKIRBEKK (ed.), Wahrheitstheorien: Eine Auswahl aus den Diskussionen über Wahrheit im 20. Jahrhundert, 11th ed., Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp, 2011. 25. WILLIAMS, Truth and Truthfulness (n. 2), pp. 2-5. 26. See CICERO, Tusc. 4.45: “It is better to be bitten by the conscience (morderi)”. 27. See SENECA, Ep. 97.15-16. 28. SENECA, Ep. 28.10.



simply a lie in view of the thousands of murders and a verifiable massive destruction of living space as a result of military action. With regard to the academy, a statement such as “R.B. is a good scholar” cannot suddenly be interpreted as “I actually meant to say that R.B. is a not so good scholar”, which would not only be a contradiction in terms, but is definitely untrue given the abundance of publications and many other scholarly activities. Whether a balance sheet shows black or red figures cannot be recalculated with rational methods. The examples could be multiplied abundantly. Consequently, truth is, in many cases, not a perspectival “reading” or a mythical “narrative” after all. It is not a matter of agreement and neither is it a product of the skillful art of interpretation. If the distinction between “true” and “false”, and “truth” and “lie” is still justified, might it not then also be ethically justified or even required that we address this dividing line directly, at least when the lie has an individual or socially damaging effect? III. THE SPEAKER: IS THE PATH OF THE Παρρησιαστής TOO DANGEROUS AND RISKY?


Candid speech is usually directed against the mainstream or dominant discourse about what is valid and common sense. By its very nature, truth is disruptive and is formulated from the position of the underdog or outsider. Foucault explicitly foregrounded this critical function of παρρησία: So you see, the function of parrhesia is not to demonstrate the truth to someone else, but has the function of criticism: criticism of the interlocutor or of the speaker himself. “This is what you do and this is what you think; but this is what you should not do and should not think”. “This is the way you behave, but that is the way you ought to behave”. “This is what I have done, and was wrong in so doing”. Parrhesia is a form of criticism, either towards another or towards oneself, but always in a situation where the speaker or confessor is in a position of inferiority with respect to the interlocutor. The parrhesiastes is always less powerful than the one with whom he or she speaks. The parrhesia comes from “below”, as it were, and is directed towards “above”. This is why an ancient Greek would not say that a teacher or father who criticizes a child uses parrhesia. But when a philosopher criticizes a tyrant, when a citizen criticizes the majority, when a pupil criticizes his or her teacher, then such speakers may be using parrhesia29.

One could object that truth speech does serve the truth and that its critical task is to openly denounce hidden lies and grievances. Nevertheless, in its directness, truth can also hurt and disturb unduly – especially 29. FOUCAULT, Discourse and Truth (n. 21), pp. 4-5.



if (as we have seen) the public dimension is inherently inscribed in it. That the majority of people hate admonition and welcome only the flatterer is reflected already in Dion’s reply to Deodoros. People are not normally capable of receiving criticism and are certainly not sovereign enough to endure (public) rebuke30. This psychological problem comes to a head especially when the criticism is true and exposes one’s cherished construction as a self-deception. Accordingly, the consequences could be even more lies, conspiracy networks, and aggressive counter-reactions. A consequentialist ethicist may therefore object that παρρησία can be justified deontologically as a duty to tell the truth, but that, viewed teleologically, it can hardly be classified as right action, because de facto it usually leads to disputes and distortions. Furthermore, one might still support the necessity of παρρησία against the tyrant, while it would be out of place in democratic systems. Democracy, after all, is characterized by free and equal choice. Once a majority has been democratically determined, it should also be accepted by the defeated minorities. Anyone who opens their mouth at this point comes across as an incessant complainer and troublemaker. According to its critics, παρρησία then devolves into an anti-democratic attitude of protest that prevents it from working in the interests of the majority party. In groups, it even destroys the community. Consequently, there are perfectly understandable reasons for dispensing with παρρησία, or for reckoning it as ethically problematic. However, here also it is worthwhile to look back to the origins, as they are accessible to us in the ancient sources. The παρρησία speech was not developed in times of tyranny or aristocracy, but originated with democracy in Attic Greece. Every full citizen had the right to express his opinion freely in Athens31. In the tragedy Ion, Euripides let the hero (named Ion) praise the ideal of free expression as the birthright of Athenian citizens. This right, however, was limited to male citizens who had both a father and mother from Athens. The right of παρρησία in this time was not yet a universal human right32. Nevertheless, equality (ἰσηγορία) and free speech (παρρησία) are praised equally as the two pillars of democracy from the beginning of Athenian democracy and even more in the Hellenistic-Roman period, by the historian Polybius, for example33. According to the philosophers Plutarch 30. DIO CHRYSOSTOM, Discourses 51.4. 31. See for details LEPPIN, Paradoxe der Parrhesie (n. 5), pp. 15-25. 32. See ibid., pp. 19-20, referring to EURIPIDES, Ion 671-675. 33. See POLYBIUS, Hist. 2.38.6: “[…] a purer form of equality and truth-speaking (ἰσηγορίας καὶ παρρησίας) supported by genuine public interest, in short, a true democracy”. See also POLYBIUS, Hist. 2.42.3; 4.31.4; 6.8.4; 18.14.9; 27.4.7; 30.31.10.



and Musonius even an exiled person who lost every right of citizenship can have παρρησία and practice it in favor of the truth and community34. With Leppin, moralization of παρρησία can be seen even more clearly here, in that παρρησία is described as a virtue that is not tied to status or citizenship. Moreover, a clear tendency toward universalization is evident here35. A good and functioning democracy does not only afford the protection of minorities or an extra-governmental opposition. It should also put up with telling the truth for its own sake, even when the truth speech is sometimes disturbing. But it was not only the American presidential elections that soberly demonstrated that democratic voting results are susceptible to manipulation, to media-directed fearmongering, and to demagogic influence on the so-called majority opinion. Nor does the democratic majority have to be an expression of what is right and true, per se; from an ethical point of view, it can even prevent right or good action. Particularly in the case of current challenges such as climate change or global social injustice, regional democratic systems (for example, of nation states) prove to be unsuitable for initiating the necessary actions via the instrument of democratic majorities. Thus, it is good when individuals speak out and courageously call a spade a spade. In the climate debate, the Swedish student Greta Thunberg has raised her voice and called the truth by its name. It is no coincidence that she has been called a “modern prophetess” because of her symbolic actions and courage to stand up against those in power, who are democratically elected but unable to see. She can easily be placed in the ranks of the Old Testament prophets. They, too, were not afraid to convict those in power of lies and self-deception (for example, Nathan in opposition to King David, 1 Samuel 12) and to confront those in power with uncomfortable messages. One has the same justification to call Thunberg a παρρησιαστής. Looking back in the more recent history of theology, we should also remember other examples of courageous candid speech in the political field, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Karl Barth. The latter was presented with a commemorative publication entitled Παρρησία on his eightieth birthday36. In it, Dietrich Schellong tried to show how the “claim” formulated christologically in the second article of the Barmen Declaration 34. See PLUTARCH, Ex. 16 (606b); MUSONIUS, Diss. 9.93-117; see also the discussion by KLASSEN, Παρρησία in the Johannine Corpus (n. 14), pp. 228-230. 35. See LEPPIN, Paradoxe der Parrhesie (n. 5), pp. 45-46. 36. E. BUSCH – J. FANGMEIER – M. GEIGER (eds.), Παρρησία: Karl Barth zum achzigsten Geburtstag am 10. Mai 1966, Zürich, Evangelischer Verlag Zürich, 1966.



can become the foundation of ethics37. The prophetic ministry of Christ – and here, in my opinion, lies the greatest proximity to παρρησία – also shapes the one who lives imitatively in his sphere of influence. In following Jesus, however, an unattractive aspect of telling the truth is also brought dramatically before one’s eyes that is also clearly perceived in Greek philosophy. The path of the παρρησιαστής is inevitably associated with risks and dangers. It can – in the extreme – lead to persecution and death. Parsenios states: “The first is to show how much violence and persecution are visited upon a person who engages in parrēsia”38. In the individual-ethical discourse of antiquity, not only the Cynics but also a moderate philosopher like Musonius Rufus argued that, despite such anticipated dangers, candid truth-speaking should not be restricted39.

IV. IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY: IS Παρρησία NOT HARMFUL TO THE COMMUNITY? I would like to conclude by turning my attention to the socio-ethical aspect: in view of community, can truth-speaking avoid conflict with the value of harmony and peace after all, or at least be weighed against it? It may give us pause to consider that Jesus may well remain silent in the process or merely refer to his earlier παρρησία (John 18,20). Is it not only wise, but teleologically-ethically even reasonable to “sit out” injustice by ruthless people or to bear it humbly for the sake of avoiding conflict, so as not to destroy group cohesion? One may question whether the ostensible avoidance of conflict does not lead to injustice or untruth becoming more widespread. The silence of some favors the audacity of others and leads to greater injustice and the expansion of privilege. Harmony here proves to be a mere pretense; silence becomes the support of the powerful. 37. D. SCHELLONG, Barmen II und die Grundlegung der Ethik, in BUSCH – FANGMEIER – GEIGER (eds.), Παρρησία (n. 36), 491-521. “Das christliche Ethos ist auf eine ethische Realität bezogen, auf die Realität des Christus pro nobis. […] Hier kommt der Imitatio-Gedanke zu einem gewissen Recht, denn im Kraftfelde Christi leben heißt, seiner Art unterstehen und von ihr geprägt werden” (p. 521). 38. PARSENIOS, Confounding Foes and Counseling Friends (n. 13), p. 265; see similarly LABAHN, Die παρρησία des Gottessohnes (n. 14), pp. 347-350 (“2.1.3. Gefahren der παρρησία für den parrhesiastes”) and his summary: “Freimütige Rede gefährdet den Sprecher, und zwar nicht nur dann, wenn der Sprecher es übertreibt oder aus Niedertracht spricht, sondern auch dann, wenn er sich zu Recht gegen das politische System oder die Allgemeinheit äußert”. 39. See MUSONIUS, Diss. 9.93-117.



Those who conceal the knowledge of the lie will also have to ask themselves whether they are not simply shying away from the possible risks of being a παρρησιαστής. In other words, is remaining silent ultimately more about avoiding unpleasant individual consequences of an action and less about stabilizing the community? Conflict avoidance can then hardly be distinguished from conflict aversion. And is there not – as Foucault had already worked out – even a downright duty to παρρησία? The last characteristic of parrhesia is this: in parrhesia, telling the truth is regarded as a duty. The orator who speaks the truth to those who cannot accept his truth, for instance, and who may be exiled, or punished in some way, is free to keep silent. No one forces him to speak; but he feels that it is his duty to do so. When, on the other hand, someone is compelled to tell the truth (as, for example, under duress of torture), then his discourse is not a parrhesiastic utterance. A criminal who is forced by his judges to confess his crime does not use parrhesia. But if he voluntarily confesses his crime to someone else out of a sense of moral obligation, then he performs a parrhesiastic act to criticize a friend who does not recognize his wrongdoing, or insofar as it is a duty towards the city to help the king to better himself as a sovereign. Parrhesia is thus related to freedom and to duty40.

If one follows Foucault’s logic, the παρρησιαστής does not act because of an external deontological norm or because circumstances dictate it. Παρρησία cannot become a commandment to be obeyed or broken contractually. The παρρησιαστής cannot remain silent because of his or her internal disposition. It is the immediate connection that Foucault emphasizes between the speech and the speaker, the coinciding of personal conviction and actual truth, between truthfulness and truth, that cannot keep him or her silent. This is true even when the consequences are painful for the παρρησιαστής and for the community within which παρρησία occurs. So how can παρρησία and a sense of community be brought together? A possible way out of the dilemma may be revealed by the ancient texts. In one of the most detailed discussions of παρρησία in ancient discourse, Philodemus’ “On the Parrhēsia” (περὶ παρρησίας)41, the parrhēsiastes is often compared to a physician. And just like those who call skilled doctors to an operation when they apply the scalpel to those who are ill, so too when what is stinging in frank criticism (ἐν ὄμματι γένηται τῆς παρρησίας) meets the eye of these people 40. FOUCAULT, Discourse and Truth (n. 21), First Lecture, p. 5. 41. See D. KONSTAN et al. (eds.), Philodemus On Frank Criticism: Introduction, Translation, and Notes (SBL Text and Translations, 43), Atlanta, GA, Scholars Press, 1998.



and they believe that they will commit no error, or that they will escape notice even if they have erred many times, they call upon (their teachers) to admonish […]42.

For the good of the patient, it is necessary sometimes to perform painful therapies that cause resistance and displeasure, but ultimately serve the recovery. Plutarch also concludes his discussion of παρρησία by making an appropriate comparison with the art of healing: I have already remarked above that frankness (παρρησία) is in many cases adverse and disagreeable to him who is to be cured by it. One imitates therefore in this the physicians. When they make an incision, they do not leave the suffering part to pain, but coat it with soothing ointments. In the same way, those who reprove others in a polite way must not leave when they have applied the bitter and biting medicine, but must soothe and cheer them up again with kind words and conversations, like the stonemasons who polish and level the hewn parts of the statue. If one leaves a friend who has been wounded and bruised by his generosity, as rough, swollen and bumpy as he has become with anger, it will be difficult to comfort him and set him right. For this reason, one must be most careful, when punishing freely, never to break off the conversation with that which offends or emboldens the friend43.

Although Philodemus’ and Plutarch’s writings focus primarily on the relationship between two people (among friends), they could also provide direction for the implied conflict of a community, at least if that community remains limited to a manageable size. Παρρησία is necessary to distinguish truth from lies, indeed, to continue making clear that the reliability of truth is a value in life and to ensure that not everything becomes a space for interpretation. It puts a stop to the discourse of power that is unavoidable among people. For the sake of the truthfulness of the παρρησιαστής, it must also take place publicly. The pain inflicted by παρρησία could have a salubrious effect – at least if the parley does not break off and is accompanied by “soft talk” (not flattery). The ethics of παρρησία should be balanced with an “ethics of appreciation”. In Christian terms, in addition to the virtue of courageous παρρησία, there is also a need for the virtues of gentleness (πραΰτης), patience (μακροθυμία), and love (ἀγάπη). Or more generally speaking: The implicit ethics in New Testament writings cannot be reduced to one single norm or virtue. On the other hand, this does not mean that everything is arbitrary because of the 42. PHILODEMUS, Περὶ παρρησίας, fr. 32.8; fr. 78.8; Col. XVIIa, text and translation by KONSTAN, Philodemus (n. 41), pp. 116-117. 43. Cf. PLUTARCH, Moral. IV (How to Tell a Flatterer from a Friend), my translation.



diversity of norms and virtues. There is a bundle of norms that mark the ethics of the New Testament44. Παρρησία is one of them. This polyphony of norms needs to be heard again in the current ethical discourse. Universität Mainz Taubertsberg III (9184) Wallstraße 7-7a DE-55122 Mainz Germany [email protected]


44. See ch. 3 of R. ZIMMERMANN (ed.), Ethik des Neuen Testaments, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2023 (forthcoming).


Before Pope Francis began his papacy in March 2013 the concept of παρρησία, an expression from the Greek classical tradition literally meaning “saying everything” (from πᾶν, “everything”, and ῥῆσις, “speech/ saying”) remained obscure to most non-specialists. Lexicographers define παρρησία used positively as frankness of speech, freedom of speech, and openness, and in a related sense as the interior dimension or personal characteristic of courage, confidence, and boldness1. As I will discuss below, this term, initially used in the political realm to designate “freedom of speech”, took on a range of meanings2. Francis’ use of the rich expression parrhesia directs our attention back to its scriptural application. After a brief review of the Pope’s revitalization of this rich concept, I will briefly comment on its usage in Greek literature and the Acts of the Apostles and then offer a more extended discussion of how Paul employed it as a communicative utterance in his literary correspondence. Four instances of Francis’ frequent use of parrhesia illustrate the central role this plays in his public addresses. Toward the end of his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (November 26, 2013), he names the Holy Spirit as the source for “the courage to proclaim the newness of the * This article is in gratitude to Reimund Bieringer for all that he has contributed over the years to so many; he is a person of courage. I am grateful to him for his generous assistance when he was in the doctoral program as I was completing my Ph.D. at KU Leuven over 40 years ago. On the topic of parrhesia, see R. BIERINGER, Open, vrijmoedig, onverschrokken: De betekenis van parrèsia in de Septuaginta en in het Nieuwe Testament, in Collationes: Vlaams tijdschrift voor theologie en pastoraal 35 (2005) 59-74. 1. See H.G. LIDDELL – R. SCOTT – H.S. JONES, A Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford, Clarendon, 1996 (LSJ), and W. BAUER – F.W. DANKER – W.F. ARNDT – F.W. GINGRICH, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press, 2001 (BDAG). An important observation is made by H. ATTRIDGE, Wolterstorff, Rights, Wrongs, and the Bible, in Journal of Religious Ethics 37 (2009) 209-219, p. 211 n. 4, who remarks that “the noun parrhesia, often translated ‘confidence’ […] never loses its classical connotations of ‘boldness’ or ‘frankness of speech’”. 2. See H. SCHLIER, Παρρησία, παρρησιάζομαι, in TDNT 5 (1967) 871-886; H. BALZ, παρρησία, in EDNT 3 (1993) 45-47; C. SPICQ, παρρησία, in ID., Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Peabody, MA, Hendrickson, 1994, vol. 3, 56-62; K. PAPADEMETRIOU, The Performative Meaning of the Word παρρησία in Ancient Greek and the Greek Bible, in P.-B. SMIT – E. VAN URK (eds.), Parrhesia: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on Freedom of Speech (STAR, 25), Leiden, Brill, 2018, 15-38, pp. 28-29; D.E. FREDRICKSON, Parrēsia in the Pauline Epistles, in J.T. FITZGERALD (ed.), Friendship, Flattery, and Frankness of Speech: Studies on Friendship in the New Testament World (SupplNT, 82), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 1996, 163-183; P. GEHRKE, On the Many Senses of ‘Parrēsia’ and Rhetoric, in Rhetoric Society Quarterly 43 (2013) 355-361.



Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition”3. Two points are noteworthy: historically (see below), parrhesia has a divine origin rather than being a human character trait and secondly its exercise may provoke opposition. Almost a year later, Francis, in his opening address for the Synod on the Family (October 6, 2014), instructed the bishops to speak honestly “with parrhesia” and to listen “with humility”. He emphasized that “it is necessary to say with parrhesia all that one feels” (reflecting the etymology of the term). Holding back for fear of what others may think was not, he noted, an option. Here humility may be understood not as a self-effacing stance but rather as a desire to care for the other. In the apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate (May 19, 2018) Francis defines parrhesia specifically as “apostolic fervour”, expressed as “an impulse to evangelize and to leave a mark in this world” (#129)4. Here he references several texts from Acts as well as 2 Cor 3,12 and Eph 3,12. As a final example, Francis, recalling that he frequently uses the word parrhesia, asserts in a homily (April 18, 2020) that “One cannot be Christian without this boldness: if it does not come, you are not a good Christian”5. He identifies parrhesia as integral to the very identity of being a Christian; as the Catechism affirms, parrhesia is itself an expression of “the power of the Spirit” (#2778), a belief that Francis recalls in Evangelii Gaudium, as we have just seen. At this juncture several questions arise for the discerning believer: What does it mean for the Christ follower to practice parrhesia? Does all bold speaking in the context of faith qualify? Are there any limits on the compulsion to speak “all that one feels” as Francis instructs? Does a good Christian have the option to remain silent with a good conscience? It is beneficial to keep these questions in mind as I explore Paul’s use of παρρησία and related terms. But first I will very briefly discuss the linguistic and cultural context of this theme up to the beginning of Christianity. I. Παρρησία IN GRECO-ROMAN LITERATURE



The noun παρρησία first appears in the lexicon of classical Greek in six tragedies by the dramatist Euripides (484-406 BCE). Its meaning and application are debated among the philosophers including Socrates, Plato, 3. (accessed 2 March 2021). 4. (accessed 2 March 2021). 5. (accessed 2 March 2021).



and Aristotle, and are prominent in discussions among the Cynics. For Euripides παρρησία was the freedom to speak one’s mind in the public arena as well as a civil right granted to the citizens (males) of Athens6. Plato distinguished two types of παρρησία: the pejorative sense of meaningless chatter or huckstering and the exemplary sense of truth-telling7. The problem developed that with all citizens having the right of free speech though not necessarily the capacity to speak meaningfully, how does the popular assembly distinguish between the babbling of a huckster or the ranting of a demagogue from the wisdom of those who risked telling the truth? The latter were those deemed to have superior knowledge, intelligence, and personal authority to exercise παρρησία. Another component is that παρρησία comes into play when there is some risk or danger in bold speaking. This was the case when Plato sought to teach true philosophy to Dionysius, the corrupt ruler of Syracuse8. The parrhesiast takes a risk in speaking the truth, a risk that may include losing one’s own life. For Socrates, “each person’s life is set upright” upon the foundation of παρρησία9. He explains that the role of the parrhesiast, a term later used by Plato, is to tell the truth to the Athenians despite the consequences10. Functioning as a truth-teller, the parrhesiast cares for one’s soul as well as that of others. Eventually, marking a shift from the political to the moral realm as in the way that Aristotle uses the term, παρρησία was perceived as a moral virtue, an ethical quality. The Cynic philosophers debated and delineated among themselves the qualities of ideal philosophers and noble persons who embody παρρησία as opposed to the flatterers and charlatans who do not. Among these was the rhetorician Dio Chrysostom (ca. 40 – ca. 115 CE), who believed that he was chosen for his role “not by my own volition, but by the will of some deity (see Orationes 32.11-12)11. Also, 6. (accessed 17 February 2021). The discussion of Euripides is the second of six lectures at the University of California, Berkeley, Oct.-Nov. 1983, given by the French philosopher Michel Foucault, who explored the history of parrhesia in late antiquity. 7. See M. FOUCAULT, Discourse and Truth: The Problematization of Parrhesia (six lectures given by Michel Foucault at Berkeley, Oct.-Nov. 1983), at parrhesia/#foucault (accessed 17 February 2021). 8. See the Seventh Letter, reputed to be by Plato, which recounts his interactions with Dionysius, at (accessed 17 February 2021). 9. See A. MALHERBE (ed.), The Cynic Epistles: A Study Edition, Atlanta, GA, Scholars Press, 1977, pp. 226-227. 10. There developed what was called the “parrhesiastic game”, i.e., the courage of the parrhesiast (the one who speaks with parrhesia), to disregard personal interest, fear, and risk, in order to offer frank criticism for the benefit of the other and the willingness of the other to accept the reprimand without anger or vengeance. The typical format is dialogue, with questions and answers. 11. DIO CHRYSOSTOM, Discourses 32.11-12 (trans. COHOON and CROSBY, LCL). Similarly, Epictetus (ca. 50-135 CE) remarked that the Cynic philosopher must be aware of having



Dio Chrysostom links παρρησία with truth, which is opposed to flattery and guile, in his portrayal of what delights the Emperor Trajan (ὅτι τυγχάνεις χαίρων ἀληθείᾳ καὶ παρρησίᾳ μᾶλλον ἢ θωπείᾳ καὶ ἀπάτῃ, Orationes 3.2)12. Moving into the world of Hellenistic Judaism, we note occasional references to παρρησία in the LXX, Philo, and Josephus. In the LXX the term occurs seventeen times, twelve as a noun and five as a verb13. Lev 26,13 states that God, acting on behalf of the Israelites, “broke the band of your yoke, and brought you forth openly [with boldness]” (μετὰ παρρησίας), thus demonstrating God’s loyalty to the people. In the book of Job, Eliphaz tells Job: “if you humble yourself before the Lord […] then shall you have boldness before the Lord (εἶτα παρρησιασθήσῃ ἐναντίον Κυρίου), looking up cheerfully to heaven” (22,23.26). In contrast, Job’s query: Has the ungodly “any confidence (παρρησία) before God?” (27,10), implies a negative answer. From this it is clear that παρρησία before God is a privilege accorded to the pious. Similarly, in Proverbs personified Wisdom (Sophia) “speaks boldly in high places” (ἐν δὲ πλατείαις παρρησίαν ἄγει, 1,20) and “at the gates of the city boldly says […]” (θαρροῦσα λέγει […], 1,21), whereas the ungodly will have no “bold speech” (οὐχ ἕξει παρρησίαν, 13,5). In the book of Wisdom, Sophia proclaims that “the righteous will stand with great confidence (literally, ‘bold speech’ [ἐν παρρησίᾳ πολλῇ]) in the presence of those who have oppressed them” (5,1). In Ps 11,6 the Lord promises to speak openly/boldly (ἐπαρρησιάσατο) to the poor (see 93,1). The passages cited here from the LXX maintain the classical Greek sense of the ability to speak openly without shame or fear, with the important addition that the authority to do so derives from association with and faithfulness to God14. Similar to the LXX, Philo asserts, in a prayer put on the lips of Moses, that God is the source of παρρησία for the righteous (Her. 27). In Josephus the statement, “they spoke with παρρησία”, is associated with those having a good conscience (συνειδότες) (Ant. 2.131). “been sent from God as a messenger”. Arrian, Discourses of Epictetus 3.22.23-24, 45-46 (trans. Reasoner). From: N. ELLIOTT – M. REASONER (eds.), Documents and Images for the Study of Paul, Minneapolis, MN, Fortress, 2011, p. 15. 12. DIO CHRYSOSTOM, Discourses 3.2 ( English translation from Penelope.*html (accessed 18 February 2021). 13. See PAPADEMETRIOU, The Performative Meaning (n. 2), pp. 28-29; W.C. VAN UNNIK, The Semitic Background of παρρησία in the NT (1962), in ID., Sparsa collecta: The Collected Essays. Part II (SupplNT, 30), Leiden, Brill, 1980, 290-306. 14. See PAPADEMETRIOU, The Performative Meaning (n. 2), p. 29. See also T. BOLAND – P. CLOGHER, A Genealogy of Critique: From Parrhesia to Prophecy, in Critical Research on Religion 5 (2017) 116-132.



It would be a distortion to limit Paul’s application of the concept of παρρησία to his formation as a Hellenistic Jew in the Greco-Roman cultural context. Paul was influenced by both, as illustrated, for example, by his use of Cynic thoughts and expressions on the one hand15 and his engagement with and frequent citation of Scripture on the other hand16. His use of both of these strands was radically influenced by his encounter with the risen Christ. In a Christian context, παρρησία is demonstrated most emphatically through the Word sent to dwell among humankind (John 1,1-14). On this basis God is the preeminent parrhesiast17 and the source of παρρησία for believers, a conviction expressed several times in the New Testament. II. Παρρησία IN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES The multitude of New Testament translations of παρρησία18 reflects the polyvalence of this Greek term. There are around thirty occurrences of the term in the New Testament, where it appears much more frequently than in the LXX. In the New Testament παρρησία, in both its nominal or verbal form, is most prominent in Pauline literature and the Acts of the Apostles19. Paul and Luke make ample use of this characteristic common among itinerant teachers. In Acts Luke20 frames his narrative at the beginning and the end with the theme of παρρησία. In his Pentecost address, 15. See R.G. DOWNING, Cynics, Paul and the Pauline Churches: Cynics and Christian Origins, London – New York, Routledge, 1998. 16. See the recent summary of Paul and Scripture by L.T. JOHNSON, Constructing Paul: The Canonical Paul, vol. 1, Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 2020, pp. 145-161. 17. See P. SCHERZ, The Legal Suppression of Scientific Data and the Christian Virtue of Parrhesia, in Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 35 (2015) 175-192, p. 184. 18. Some examples: “plainness of speech” (2 Cor 3,12, KJV), “speak without fear” (Jerusalem Bible), “act fearlessly” (Eph 6,19, NIV), “boldly and freely” (Eph 6,19, NEB), “boldness” (2 Cor 3,12; Phil 1,20; Eph 6,19, NRSV, NABRE), “boldly” (Eph 6,19, KJV), “confidence” (2 Cor 3,12; Eph 6,19, Rheims NT), “confident” (Jerusalem Bible), “courage” (Phil 1,20; Hebr 3,6, NIV), and “full right” (Phlm 8, NABRE). 19. The word appears forty times, thirty-one as a noun and nine as a verb. Besides its twelve occurrences in Acts and ten in the Pauline corpus, discussed below, it is found once in Mark (8,32), several times in the Johannine literature (John 7,4.13.26; 10,24; 11,14.54; 16,25.29; 18,20; 1 John 2,28; 3,21; 4,17; 5,14) and in Hebrews (3,6; 4,16; 10,19; 10,35). 20. In Acts, Luke uses the cognate verb of παρρησία (9,27.28; 13,46; 14,3; 18,26; 19,8; 26,26) more than the noun (2,29; 4,13.29.31; 28,31). He uses neither in his Gospel, omitting Mark’s single use of the noun (8,32) – the only occurrence of this terminology in the Synoptics – in his parallel text (see Luke 9,18-22). There would seem to be several occasions when Luke could have aptly used the concept, e.g., in Jesus’ inaugural address (4,14-20) or the Magnificat (1,46-55).



Peter preaches “confidently / with boldness” (μετὰ παρρησίας, 2,29)21 about the resurrection of the Messiah foretold by David. At the conclusion of Acts Paul, even while under house arrest, proclaims the kingdom of God “with all boldness and without hindrance” (μετὰ πάσης παρρησίας ἀκωλύτως, 28,31; see Phil 1,20; Eph 6,19-20). The modifiers “all” and “without hindrance” in this last phrase in Acts serve as Luke’s exclamation point marking the forceful character of Paul’s preaching. What Peter proclaimed with boldness in his Pentecost address in Jerusalem at the beginning of Acts (2,14-36) was effective for it “cut to the heart” (2,37) of those who heard. After a narrative of much opposition starting with the imprisonment of Peter and John in Acts 3–4, Paul proclaimed the kingdom of God with boldness free of all hindrance. There is a progression in chapter four from the political and religious authorities who were amazed when “they saw the bold speaking” (Θεωροῦντες […] παρρησίαν) of Peter and John, “uneducated and ordinary men” just released from prison (4,13), to the community of believers who pray that the Lord grant Peter and John “to speak your word with all boldness” (μετὰ παρρησίας πάσης λαλεῖν τὸν λόγον σου, 4,29). This “speaking the word” is closely connected to the following actions of healing and performing signs and wonders, 4,30)22. The term is used a third time in Luke’s report that the believers themselves “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness” (ἐλάλουν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ μετὰ παρρησίας, 4,31). The bold speaking of Peter and John left the learned and empowered authorities speechless (4,1.5.14). The source and foundation for the apostles’ authority was not in any formal position they held as religious leaders, but in God, their Lord and Master (4,19.24). This part of the narrative begins with the bold speaking of two leading apostles observed by startled outsiders and expands to the bold speaking of all believers who were gathered together in one place (4,31). Except for a single reference to Apollos’ bold speaking in the synagogue in Ephesus observed by Priscilla and Aquila (παρρησιάζεσθαι, 18,26)23, the second half of Acts highlights only the bold speaking of Paul (and Barnabas). To the fearful believers in Jerusalem, Barnabas attests to the 21. BDAG, p. 630, option 1. 22. See N. NEUMANN, Παρρησία in Erzähltexten: Handlungsschemata bei Lukian und in der Apostelgeschichte, in SMIT – VAN URK (eds.), Parrhesia: Ancient and Modern Perspectives on Freedom of Speech (n. 2), 60-79, p. 69. 23. Luke does not comment on the impression that Paul’s bold speaking had on this missionary couple. It is noteworthy that neither the nominal nor verbal form of parrhesia is associated with women in Acts, or in the New Testament, for that matter. Of course, one could cite many NT instances where women certainly act boldly.



legitimacy of Saul (Paul), who had become “increasingly more powerful” (9,22), as a new follower of the Way by reporting “how in Damascus he has spoken boldly in the name of Jesus” (ἐπαρρησιάσατο ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, 9,27), something which Paul proceeds to do in Jerusalem (παρρησιαζόμενος ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου, 9,28). In Antioch in Pisidia both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly for the Lord in the face of persecution (παρρησιασάμενοι, 13,46; παρρησιαζόμενοι, 14,3). Their bold speaking was accompanied by the working of “signs and wonders” (14,3). Luke underscores the duration of Paul’s frank speaking in Ephesus (three months, 19,8) and presents Paul (1) defending himself against the slander of Festus (“you are out of your mind”, 26,24) and (2) attesting to Agrippa that he (Paul) knows the “words of sober truth” (ἀληθείας καὶ σωφροσύνης ῥήματα) and that he, Paul, speaks freely/boldly (παρρησιαζόμενος, 26,26). In this latter passage the association of παρρησία with ἀληθεία reflects the perspective of Dio Chrysostem who holds that bold speaking itself attests to the truthfulness of the message24. By associating Paul and leading apostles with teaching and preaching the risen Lord from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth (1,8) with παρρησία25, Luke enhances their status and that of the nascent Christian movement by situating them in the tradition of the prophets and the philosophers26. III. Παρρησία IN THE PAULINE LITERATURE Luke’s portrayal of Paul is consistent with the latter’s self-presentation in several of his letters, seven of which contain παρρησία terminology. Generally speaking, Paul’s process of letter writing, including the multitude of pastoral issues he forthrightly addresses, is itself an exercise in bold speaking, as he himself claims: “I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!” (2 Cor 10,1). When his letters 24. See above where Dio Chrysostom’s views are mentioned. On the association of parrhesia and truth see also FOUCAULT, Discourse and Truth (n. 7). 25. G. SMILLIE, A Mystery for the Sake of Which the Apostle Is an Ambassador in Chains, in Trinity Journal 18 (1997) 199-222, p. 214 n. 49, notes: “The four additional occurrences of παρρησία in variant readings of Acts (6,10; 9,20; 14,19; 16,4 – all concerning conflicts with or oppression from the Jews) are very slightly attested – but equally significant for determining meaning, in that they signal what sorts of contexts the copyists habitually associated with the term and thus inadvertently introduced it”. 26. It is unknown whether Luke, when he wrote Acts, dated about a half century after Paul’s letters, was aware from his Pauline source of the Apostle’s use of parrhesia in his literary correspondence. There is almost no evidence that Luke read any of Paul’s letters, and whether Luke had ever witnessed Paul’s preaching or had any contact with him or his associates is also unknown.



were read to the recipients they may well have been impressed by the forcefulness of both the content and power of Paul’s proclamation even though he faced the charge of having contemptible speech and weak bodily presence (2 Cor 10,10)27. In the Pauline corpus28 the noun παρρησία occurs eight times (2 Cor 3,12; 7,4; Eph 3,12; 6,19; Phil 1,20; Phlm 8; Col 2,15; 1 Tim 3,13) and its verbal cognate twice (1 Thess 2,2; Eph 6,20). I will explore these in the context in which they occur starting with 1 Thess 2,2. IV. THE EARLIEST LETTER: PAUL AND HIS ASSOCIATES SPEAK BOLDLY We begin with First Thessalonians, Paul’s earliest letter, where he uses the verb παρρησιάζεσθαι to illustrate forcefully the character of his εἴσοδος29 among the Thessalonians (2,1-2), a theme developed in detail in 2,112, a passage framed by the first two thanksgiving motifs (1,2-10; 2,1316; see 3,10) of the letter. Including the co-authors Silvanus and Timothy, Paul asserts: “We had the courage (ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα) in/through our God to declare (λαλῆσαι) to you the Gospel of God” (2,2). The verb ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα (ingressive aorist) when used with the infinitive indicates that Paul had the courage to speak out30 in spite of the fierce opposition that he had suffered previously in Philippi (2,2a; see Phil 1,13; Acts 16,16-24) and continued to do so with the Thessalonians (πρὸς ὑμᾶς). The events in Philippi did not intimidate Paul; they only seemed to bolster his freedom to speak boldly. There are three essential aspects of his bold speaking. The first qualifier is that Paul’s bold speaking is done ἐν τῷ θεῷ, the preposition indicating “with the help of” God31. The origin of his bold speaking arises neither from an innate ability nor an acquired virtue, but from the Divine. Paul’s message, validation, and motivation as a proclaimer echo throughout 27. In addition to the Pauline use of παρρησία and its verbal cognate in his letters discussed below, there are other examples of his bold speaking when he does not use that term, a prime example being his public confrontation with Peter at Antioch (Gal 2,11). This incident undoubtedly caused quite a stir. 28. I ascribe to Pauline authorship for the thirteen letters in the Pauline corpus, all of which claim to have been written by Paul. Authorship is understood broadly, as including the involvement of a secretary and the cosponsors. For a vigorous defense of this position see JOHNSON, Constructing Paul (n. 16), esp. pp. 33-41, 90-93. 29. See J.L. GILLMAN, Paul’s Eisodos: The Proclaimed and the Proclaimer (1 Thes 2,8), in R.F. COLLINS (ed.), The Thessalonian Correspondence (BETL, 87), Leuven, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 1990, 62-70. 30. BDAG, option 2, p. 631. 31. See BDAG, IIIb, p. 260.



this thoroughly theocentric passage (θεός occurs 8×): he preaches the gospel of God (2,2.8.9; see also “apostles of Christ”, 2,7 [objective genitive]), he is approved by God (2,4), his desire is to please God “who tests our hearts” (2,4), he has God as his witness (2,5.10), and he encourages the recipients to live a life worthy of God (2,12). This sustained emphasis distinguishes Paul’s approach from that of other itinerant purveyors for whom the Divine was of little or no consequence. The second qualifier is the content of Paul’s bold speaking: the gospel, already succinctly articulated as the death, resurrection, and saving action of Christ (1,10). Thirdly, Paul names the context of his bold speaking: ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι. This metaphor taken from athletic contests figuratively names the great conflict and the consequent suffering he experienced when faced with persecution. Through a growing crescendo of negative and positive statements Paul elaborates on how his message of the gospel came “in power and the Holy Spirit” (1,5). The threefold contrasts in Paul’s self-description, οὐ / οὐκ / οὐδέ / οὔτε … ἀλλά (2,1-2.3-4.5-7a), sharpen his image of bold speaking, separating it from appeals characteristic of charlatans known for their deceit, impure motives, trickery, flattery, greed, and the desire to please humans. There is no clear indication in First Thessalonians that Paul was accused of such nefarious motives. Rather, his rhetoric and language, as has been shown, were appropriated from “Cynics and itinerant preachers to highlight his own missionary work”32. Because of these similarities, Malherbe has cautiously noted: “We cannot determine from his [Paul’s] description that he is making a personal apology”33. Nonetheless, the tenor of 2,1-12 does have the effect of reminding the new converts that his missionary endeavor among them was irreproachable. Throughout this passage Paul is intentional about renewing his pastoral relationship with this fledgling community. He accompanies his bold speaking with the repeated appeal to what they already know, remember, and witness: starting with the emphatic Αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε (2,1), Paul continues with καθὼς οἴδατε (2,5), Μνημονεύετε (2,9), ὑμεῖς μάρτυρες (2,10), and οἴδατε (2,11). In asking the Thessalonians to recall what they remember from his one and only visit, Paul is bringing that relationship into the present, renewing it for them as a living reality34. By calling 32. O. MERK, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12: An Exegetical-Theological Study, in K.P. DON– J. BEUTLER (eds.), The Thessalonians Debate: Methodological Discord or Methodological Synthesis?, Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 2000, 89-113, p. 100. 33. A.J. MALHERBE, Gentle as a Nurse: The Cynic Background to I Thess ii, in NT 12 (1970) 203-217, p. 217. 34. See S. SCHREIBER, Aus der Geschichte einer Beziehung: Die Funktion der Erinnerung in 1 Thess 2,1-12, in ZNW 103 (2012) 212-234.




on them to recall his encouragement for them to “lead a life worthy of God” (2,12), Paul actualizes the paraenetic tenor from that visit35. He expresses the close bond he felt with his beloved family of believers by the repeated use of the reflexive pronoun (ἑαυτῆς/ἑαυτοῦ, 2, and by bringing to the forefront familial imagery reminding them of his sibling connection with them as “brothers and sisters” (2,1.9), his fatherly relationship (2,10), and strikingly his endearing role of being “like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children” (2,7)36. Paul’s use of the nursing imagery evokes the care of a beloved person for one’s charges. In addition, Paul may well be using this imagery to dissuade his female converts from participating in local popular cults honoring goddesses represented by nursing mother votive figurines uncovered by archaeologists in Thessalonica37. In presenting himself and his companions as a caring nurse/mother Paul co-opts this kourotrophic imagery. The subtle attack against goddess cults and the consequent consternation, even persecution (see ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ, 1,6) the Thessalonians experienced when they received “the word” (1,6), point to another dimension of Paul’s boldness in proclaiming the gospel of God. In accepting the message of the gospel courageously and freely spoken by Paul, the recipients paid a price (1,6; 2,14-16) as did the preacher himself (2,2). Because Paul was writing to the Thessalonians only some months after their initial conversions their numbers were presumably very few. The social and economic consequences the small group of Gentile believers must have endured (2,14-16) may have rattled them in their new situation having “turned to God from idols” (1,9). This may have been particularly difficult for women and slaves38. It is interesting and rather puzzling that Paul compares their suffering to those of believers in Judea, namely, Jewish Christians. Why did he not compare them with the Gentiles he had evangelized earlier in Asia Minor, whose social consequences for their courage in converting might have been similar? One possibility may be that Paul was himself still in shock at the intensity with which his compatriots could turn on their own. Only some months before meeting the Thessalonians (see Acts 15), he had 35. This has led some commentators to name this passage as paraenesis. 36. For the text critical problem, see B.M. METZGER, A Textual Commentary on the New Testament, Stuttgart, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; New York, United Bible Societies, 1971, pp. 629-630. 37. On Paul’s use of nursing imagery to supplant women’s adherence to nursing mother goddesses in 2,7 see F.M. GILLMAN, 1 Thessalonians 2, in ID. – M.A. BEAVIS – H. KIM-CRAGG, 1-2 Thessalonians (Wisdom Commentary, 52), Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 2016, 41-56. 38. See F.M. GILLMAN, Paul, His Nurse Metaphor (1 Thess 2:7) and the Thessalonian Women Who Turned against Their Idols, in CBQ 84 (2022) 279-294.



been in Jerusalem where he was confronted with heated arguments raised there by some of the Jewish Christ believers. Surely Paul was well aware that the exercise of courageous speaking would have socially disruptive consequences. V. POLEMICS



Twice in Second Corinthians, Paul explicitly and emphatically characterizes his rhetoric as being bold with the expression πολλὴ παρρησία (3,12; 7,4). The first reference occurs in a passage at the heart of Paul’s vigorous self-defense (2,14–4,6), bridging the two parts of his midrash on Exodus 34 (3,7-18). Functioning as a hinge verse, 3,12, “since, then (οὖν), we have such a hope, we act with great boldness (πολλὴ παρρησία)”, draws the conclusion (οὖν) from 3,7-11 where Paul emphatically contrasts the ministry of death and condemnation with the ministry of Spirit and righteousness, illustrated through a sustained comparison between two types of δόξα (3,7[2×].8.9.10[3×, noun and two cognate verbs].11[2×]): the diminishing and lost glory of the Mosaic covenant and the greater glory marked by the Spirit. The concluding affirmation in 3,12 is elaborated in 3,13-18, where Paul contrasts the veiled face and minds of the old covenant with the unveiled faces of believers brought about through Christ. The concisely stated pivotal verse – just seven words – Ἔχοντες οὖν τοιαύτην ἐλπίδα πολλῇ παρρησίᾳ χρώμεθα (3,12), bringing Paul and his associates personally into the picture (first person plural, see also 3,18)39, underscores both their interior disposition (ἐλπίς) and their external expressivity (πολλὴ παρρησία). The context provides the threefold rationale for hope: their ministry is marked by Spirit, righteousness, and a glory that endures; their belief is in Christ who has removed the veil that shrouds minds and who is the Spirit bringing freedom40; and they are already reflecting/beholding the glory of the Lord and being transformed. In 3,12 the basis for hope is more christological than theological (1,10) although too sharp a contrast is not to be drawn (see θεός in the broader context, 3,4-5; 4,1-2)41. Paul’s well-grounded hope, provides the rationale for speaking boldly. After articulating a sharp polemically inspired negative critique of the 39. In discussing 3,12, I will be using “Paul”, mindful that he uses the plural. 40. A christological reading of 3,17 is preferred. 41. On the theological character of 2 Corinthians see J.L. GILLMAN, God in 2 Corinthians, in T. MILINOVICH (ed.), God in Paul’s Letters (CBQ Imprints), Washington, DC, The Catholic Biblical Association, 2023, 44-58.



fading glory of Moses, building to a crescendo of affirmation in 3,10-11, and perhaps replying to the charge that he was “acting with levity” (τῇ ἐλαφρίᾳ ἐχρησάμην, 1,17) when he changed his travel plans42, Paul explicitly affirms in 3,12 that he acts with bold speech (πολλῇ παρρησίᾳ χρώμεθα, the same verb as in 1,17). To adversaries who portray Moses positively and who charge Paul with insincerity, he counters with the affirmation that his rhetoric has been nothing less than “speaking very boldly”. Paul may be assuming, based on his reinterpretation, that Moses could not be acting with bold speech, since his face is veiled and he cannot make any claim to lasting glory. For Paul to express a very negative evaluation about his ancestral tradition from Exodus 34 and then a positive evaluation about what Christ has done is nothing less than speaking with much boldness. Some commentators have proposed a Semitic and others a Greek philosophical backdrop as the interpretive key for Paul’s use of παρρησία. Both may be at play. Regarding the former, van Unnik, on the basis of the Aramaic term for confidence meaning “to uncover the face”, relates the term to the metaphorical expression, “with uncovered face” (3,18)43. Fredrickson points out multiple resonances between παρρησία and related expressions in Paul’s letter and Greco-Roman traditions44. In 1,12 Paul portrays positively his “boast”, (a characterization of παρρησία?), attested to by his conscience (συνείδησις) as being “with frankness and divine sincerity” (ἐν ἁγιότητι καὶ εἰλικρινείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ), thus without duplicity. Put negatively, he and his coworkers are unlike many who “peddle God’s word” (καπηλεύοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ), but rather, sent by God, “speak with sincerity” (ἐξ εἰλικρινείας […] λαλοῦμεν, 2,17). Fredrickson sees Paul’s denial in 2,17 “as a refutation of the charge that he lacked παρρησία and that he used the tricks of rhetoric to deceive the church”45. As the interior basis for παρρησία, Paul claims “confidence (πεποίθησις) […] through Christ toward God” (3,4) and clarifies that he does not attribute his confidence to his own capability but to God (3,5), with the implication that his παρρησία does not derive from his own competence. In the classical Greek period παρρησία was founded on the freedom of speech granted to the freeborn, male citizens of Athens46. According to 42. See V.P. FURNISH, II Corinthians (AB, 32A), Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1984, p. 230. 43. See VAN UNNIK, The Semitic Background (n. 13), pp. 292-306. 44. See FREDRICKSON, Parrēsia in the Pauline Epistles (n. 2), esp. pp. 173-177 for references to various Greek philosophers with similarities to Paul’s expressions. 45. Ibid., p. 175. 46. See ibid., p. 165.



Paul freedom (ἐλευθερία) is closely associated with the Spirit and is expressed through the ministry of the Spirit (3,8) and specifically in his bold speaking (παρρησία). Another manifestation of Paul’s παρρησία is the refusal to practice cunning (ἐν πανουργίᾳ), but rather to commend himself to “the manifestation of truth” (τῇ φανερώσει τῆς ἀληθείας, 4,2)47. Similarly, in 6,7 he presents himself as “telling the truth” (ἐν λόγῳ ἀληθείας), and a few verses later, he appeals emotionally to the Corinthians, “our mouth stands open to you” (Τὸ στόμα ἡμῶν ἀνέῳγεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, 6,11), an expression analogous to παρρησία. Similar to the emotional appeal of 6,11-13, Paul affirms with much personal affection that the Corinthians are in his heart and in the hearts of his associates, even to the point of dying and living together (7,2-3). Then switching to the first person singular, he specifically names his “very frank speaking with them” (πολλή μοι παρρησία πρὸς ὑμᾶς, 7,4). In this passage παρρησία is portrayed as a hallmark for the “depth of friendship”48. Through the direct use of παρρησία and analogous expressions (see θαρρέω, 10,1.2; τολμάω, 10,2), Paul highlights his way of relating to them as one of open and frank speech, in the context of warmth and affection. VI. THE IMPRISONMENT LETTERS – BOLD SPEAKING UNDER DURESS The theme of παρρησία is found in Paul’s four letters (Phil 1,20; Phm 8; Col 2,15; Eph 3,12; 6,19), written within a close time period during his imprisonment (note the thematic links: Phil 1,12-26; Phlm 1; Col 4,10.18; Eph 3,1; 4,1; 6,20). In Philippians Paul, not knowing the outcome of his fate as a Roman prisoner, expresses his “eager expectation and hope” that “in all [Paul’s] boldness (ἐν πάσῃ παρρησίᾳ) Christ will be exalted in his body” (μεγαλυνθήσεται Χριστὸς ἐν τῷ σώματί μου) whether by life or by death” (1,20). Paul stresses the comprehensive scope of his bold speech in three ways: it takes place ἐν πάσῃ παρρησίᾳ, emphasizing the absolute nature of his bold speaking; it happens ὡς πάντοτε καὶ νῦν, signaling its duration through time; and it manifests itself physically and concretely, individually and publicly ἐν τῷ σώματί μου, εἴτε διὰ ζωῆς εἴτε διὰ θανάτου. Whether as a living person or one who suffers a martyr’s death (1,21-24; 2,17), Paul’s σῶμα is the locus of 47. In the ancient world “the pharrhesiast not only seeks to tell the truth, but […] also embodies the truth […]”. V. NICOLET-ANDERSON, Constructing the Self: Thinking with Paul and Michel Foucault (WUNT, II/32), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2012, p. 282. 48. FREDRICKSON, Parrēsia in the Pauline Epistles (n. 2), p. 182.



the magnification of Christ. Far from restricting his proclamation of the gospel or putting him to shame, Paul sees his imprisonment as the very occasion to advance the spread of the gospel (1,12). Paul’s hope that Christ will be exalted is already being fulfilled as evidenced by the twofold way his imprisonment has actually advanced the gospel: (1) it has become known to the imperial guard (1,13; see “emperor’s household”, 4,22; whether the household was converted Paul does not say) and (2) most brothers and sisters (ἀδελφοί) in the Lord, who ironically having felt confidence rather than despondency by Paul’s imprisonment, “have dared more than ever to speak the word without fear” (περισσοτέρως τολμᾶν ἀφόβως τὸν λόγον λαλεῖν, 1,14; author’s translation). The adjective περισσοτέρως suggests a growing crescendo in the boldness of believers. As one author commented: “the majority has caught something of Paul’s ‘fire’ in their own testimony for Christ”49. First, Paul, and then believers who have come to share in the gospel (1,5) participate in God’s grace (1,7) that expresses itself through the open and free proclamation of the word. In his line of thought, Paul first names the increasing boldness and fearless speaking (τολμᾶν ἀφόβως, a synonym for παρρησία) of believers as a present reality (1,14) and then refers to his future aspiration to proclaim Christ with “all boldness” (1,20). Has Paul’s written recollection of the boldness demonstrated by the ἀδελφοί prompted him to express a few lines later his own future hope to do the same? This future expectation is soon demonstrated as a present reality in the letter’s next chapter when he portrays the humility and exaltation of Christ in the celebrated hymn in 2,6-11. Though imprisoned, Paul is hardly restrained in his vigorous defense of the Gospel (1,16). In Philemon, his shortest and most personally directed letter, Paul addresses the situation of Onesimus, a slave of Paul’s dear friend Philemon. Most interpreters posit that Onesimus whom Paul refers to as “my child” (Phlm 10) is a runaway slave who, having misappropriated (stole?) some money or goods from his master, encountered Paul during his imprisonment. At the start of the body of the letter (Διό, “For this reason”, Phlm 8) Paul tells Philemon in straightforward language, that “though I am bold enough in Christ (πολλὴν ἐν Χριστῷ παρρησίαν) to command you to do your duty”, he (Paul) refuses to act on this authority, but instead appeals to Philemon to do what is proper (τὸ ἀνῆκον) in making his own decision about how to receive Onesimus on his return. 49. R.J. CASSIDY, A Roman Commentary on St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, New York, Herder & Herder, 2020, p. 71.



There are three aspects to Paul’s stance toward Philemon that provide context: Paul’s use of authority, the frequent use of affectionate language evoked by references to love and heart, and the foundation of his παρρησία in Christ. First, regarding his authority, Paul implies that he has the right, alluding to his ἐξουσία as an apostle (see 1 Cor 9,4; 2 Cor 10,8), to exercise his παρρησία and thus to order obedience (Phlm 8, 21), even though he does not refer to himself as an apostle in either the selfintroduction (cf. Rom 1,1; 1 Cor 1,1; 2 Cor 1,1; Gal 1,1; Phil 1,1) or the body of this letter. Renouncing his right based on his apostolic office (potestas), Paul instead relies on the authority ascribed to him (auctoritas) (a) as an old man, for with advanced age comes increased wisdom and respect (Phlm 9), (b) as a prisoner, whose incarceration demonstrates loyalty to Christ and the gospel (Phlm 1, 9-10, 13, 23), and (c) as a spiritual father to Philemon and Onesimus, who owe to Paul their life in the faith (Phlm 10, 19)50. Related to the latter, from a patron-client perspective, Paul has the status of the patron in his relationship with his clients, Philemon and Onesimus. Exercising ascribed authority as a soft power, Paul does not command specific action, e.g., regarding manumission, but rather expects and is confident that Philemon will take Onesimus back as “more than a slave, a beloved brother” (Phlm 16), will welcome him “as you would welcome me” (Phlm 17), and “will do even more than I say” (Phlm 21). Yet, rather than come down heavy handed as Philemon’s patron, Paul approaches Philemon on an equal playing field, referring to him as a co-worker and a partner (Phlm 1, 17) and a brother (Phlm 20). In the context of this letter, Paul relinquishes the recourse to his right, his πολλὴν παρρησίαν, and instead uses soft power. For Paul the pastoral context implies circumstances in which the wiser course of action is to refrain from παρρησία and to appeal rather to Philemon’s good will. The second contextual feature includes the themes of love and heart/ innermost feelings (ἀγάπη/ἀγαπητός and σπλάγχνα) – themes, prominently sketched on Paul’s literary canvas. Referring to Philemon as his “beloved” / “beloved friend” (Phlm 1, 16), rather than a slave master, Paul reminds him of his love for all the saints, lifts up his love as a source of Paul’s joy and encouragement, and appeals to him on the basis of love (Phlm 5, 7, 9). Paul lauds Philemon for refreshing the hearts of the saints and requests the favor of refreshing his own heart, by receiving back Onesimus, Paul’s very own heart (Phlm 7, 12, 20). Perhaps because of 50. See T. BROOKINS, ‘I Rather Appeal to Auctoritas’: Roman Conceptualizations of Power and Paul’s Appeal to Philemon, in CBQ 77 (2015) 302-321.



his strong emotional connection Paul refrains from using “bold speech” (παρρησία), even when this is grounded “in Christ” (ἐν Χριστῷ, Phlm 8), the third feature to be considered. The preposition ἐν designates here “in the presence of” or “a close connection with” Christ51. Even though Paul, “a prisoner of Christ Jesus” (Phlm 1), views the potential for “bold speech” to be closely connected to his life in Christ, this christological foundation does not become the deciding factor in its use. From this brief review of Philemon, the question arises from a pastoral perspective as to when it might be the wiser course of action to use “soft power” and the heartfelt language of love rather than “bold speaking” to address complex questions. Philemon and Onesimus both belonged to the church at Colossae (see Phlm 2, 10-21; Col 4,9.17), which Paul addresses from prison (Col 4,18) in a letter that also uses the word παρρησία in a key text (2,15)52. As the concluding verse in a section about the power of God who raised Christ from the dead and forgave the trespasses of believers (2,8-15), Paul asserts that God, “disarming the rulers and authorities (τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας), made an example publicly (ἐδειγμάτισεν ἐν παρρησίᾳ)53 of them, leading them in a triumphal procession by it (ἐν αὐτῷ)”54. Several points can be made. (1) The rulers and authorities (1,16; 2,10), refer to spiritual powers including the “elemental spirits of the universe” that threaten to “take captive” believers (2,8), and have been placed under the sovereignty of Christ, the head (2,10). (2) God has disarmed them, stripped away their weapons; Paul uses a form of the same verb to name the baptismal experience of “putting off the body of flesh” (2,11). (3) God made an example of them publicly by leading them in triumph, evoking the experience of Roman generals who celebrate successful battles by a triumphal parade of captives. As one author commented: “Colossians flips the script of imperial triumph to demonstrate the power and superiority of God”55 accomplished through the Christ event. (4) Paradoxically, God triumphed over them ἐν αὐτῷ, usually translated “in it” or “by it”, where the pronoun most probably refers to the cross, the most immediate 51. See BDAG, p. 258, options 3 and 4. 52. On the close literary connection between Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians, delivered by Tychicus when Paul returned Onesimus, see JOHNSON, Constructing Paul (n. 16), pp. 246-271. 53. See BDAG, p. 630, option 2. 54. Translation by the author. See BDAG, p. 363, option one. The single Greek participle θριαμβεύσας is rendered by the phrase “leading in a triumphal process”. The NRSV translates: “triumphing over them”. 55. A.M. WRIGHT, JR., Disarming the Rulers and Authorities: Reading Colossians in Its Roman Imperial Context, in Review and Expositor I/16 (2019) 446-457, p. 456.



antecedent (2,14, see “by the cross”, NIV)56, on which a handwritten document, a debt certificate (χειρόγραφον) has been nailed, thus signaling God’s erasure of “all our trespasses”. With the expression ἐν παρρησίᾳ, Paul stresses that God made an example of stripping the rulers and authorities, with full openness to the public, certainly not in secret (see John 7,4). In this instance that public manifestation was done not through the literal frankness of speech (the root meaning of παρρησία), but through the scandalous action on the cross. In 2,15 the phrase ἐδειγμάτισεν ἐν παρρησίᾳ, θριαμβεύσας αὐτοὺς ἐν αὐτῷ contains two parallel expressions each with an action verb followed respectively by ἐν παρρησίᾳ and ἐν αὐτῷ where the pronoun αὐτῷ refers back to the cross (2,14). The second verb (a participle) graphically explains the first verb, namely how God publicly exposed the “rulers and authorities”, namely by leading them in triumph. The parallel prepositional phrases, ἐν παρρησίᾳ and ἐν αὐτῷ, where the latter interprets the former, explain the means by which this was accomplished. In its context the παρρησία of God is a key element at the center of the larger paraenetic passage. Perhaps Paul is implying that just as God has acted decisively in the public arena, so also are believers to act, that is, by not allowing themselves to be taken captive by the elemental spirits (2,8), but instead by putting off the body of flesh (2,11) and by not engaging in practices and regulations that are contrary to “the body of Christ” (τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 2,17). Whereas in Colossians Paul attributes the quality of παρρησία to God, in Ephesians, where the word is used twice as a noun and once as a verb (3,12; 6,19.20), it refers to a quality of believers in relation to God. Translated literally, 3,12 reads: “In him (Christ) we have boldness and access (τὴν παρρησίαν καὶ προσαγωγὴν) (to God) in confidence through faith in/of Christ”. This occurs in a passage, drawing heavily on Col 1,23-28, where Paul spells out the mystery of Christ (Eph 3,4.9) and the role of the ἐκκλησία to make known the fullness of the wisdom of God “to the rulers and authorities” (ταῖς ἀρχαῖς καὶ ταῖς ἐξουσίαις, 3,10; see Col 2,12), which is all according to God’s eternal purpose (3,11). While in Col 2,12 God made a public display (ἐν παρρησίᾳ) of the “rulers and authorities”, in Eph 3,10-12 the ἐκκλησία, in what could be called a “public display”, makes known to them God’s wisdom. Perhaps having in mind his previous theological application of παρρησία in 56. It is also possible that ἐν αὐτῷ in 2,15 refers to Christ (see “through Him”, New American Standard Bible). This and similar phrases (ἐν ᾧ, αὐτῷ) are used repeatedly in the previous verses ( [2×]) to refer to Christ, who is mentioned by name twice (2,8.11).



Col 2,12, in Eph 3,12 Paul gives an ecclesiastical application, relating the term to the “we” (implying Paul along with the ἐκκλησία) who have “access to God”. Is the composite expression παρρησία and προσαγωγή, linked by a single definite article and a conjunction, an example of parataxis or hendiadys? If the latter, common in both Hebrew and Greek57, then one term is subordinate to the other, serving as a modifier. Most translators render παρρησία as a descriptor for προσαγωγή (“access to God in boldness”, NRSV; see “with freedom”, NEB, NIV). Others subordinate the latter term to παρρησία (“boldness of speech and confidence of access”, NABRE). Still others read the combined expression paratactically (“boldness and access”, KJV; “boldness and confident access”, New American Standard Bible). Based on the context, it is difficult to decide among the three options. In favor of a paratactic reading is the emphasis both on (1) “bold speech” implied in a twofold sense: through making known the mystery, once hidden, and the boundless richness of God (3,4-5.8) and through making known the multifaceted wisdom of God expansively to invisible, spiritual powers (3,10), and on (2) access (to God), recalling that Gentiles are now co-heirs and fellow members of the same body (3,6). Therefore, having claimed both “boldness of speech” and access to God, Paul prays that they “will not lose heart” (3,13). Reading the composite phrase as a hendiadys has much in its favor whether the emphasis is either on “boldness of access (to God)”, thus speaking the mystery of the gospel boldly and freely in a way that demonstrates access to God, or on “boldly accessing”, namely approaching God in boldness. Perhaps Paul intended to allow for a fluidity of interpretations without privileging one reading over another. There remains to consider the two christological references that frame Eph 3,12: ἐν ᾧ and διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ. Both indicate that the source of a believer’s boldness and ability to approach God is Christ, not an inherent quality or virtue in themselves. The αὐτοῦ in the latter phrase is probably a subjective genitive, for it was through the faithfulness of Christ that God was able to carry out his eternal purposes (3,11). In the concluding verses of Paul’s appeal to the Ephesians the focus shifts from the boldness of the ἐκκλησία (3,12) to the request for prayer that Paul himself “may be given the word (λόγος) in opening of my mouth (ἐν ἀνοίξει τοῦ στόματός μου) to be able to make known the mystery of the gospel (τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ εὐαγγελίου) boldly (ἐν παρρησία)” (6,19), an appeal emphatically repeated in the following verse: “for which (ὑπὲρ 57. For Greek, see D. SANSONE, On Hendiadys in Greek, in Glotta 62/1-2 (1984) 16-25, at (accessed 2 March 2021).



οὗ) I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly (παρρησιάζομαι)58, as I must speak” (6,20). The divine passive, “be given” (6,19) indicates that the “word” comes from God, rather than from Paul’s own intuition. The expression ἐν ἀνοίξει τοῦ στόματός μου (see τὸ στόμα ἡμῶν ἀνέῳγεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, 2 Cor 6,11), rendered by the NRSV, “when I speak”, has prophetic overtones (see Exod 4,11-12; Isa 59,21). This phrase anticipates the following prepositional phrase, ἐν παρρησίᾳ, which modifies the verb “to make known”. The apostle is to proclaim the word fearlessly/boldly. Paul experiences a divine compulsion to speak (ὡς δεῖ με λαλῆσαι, 6,20); he cannot remain silent. Ironically, he explains that he is in custody for the purpose of (ὑπὲρ οὗ) having the courage to speak. Though imprisoned, he sees himself as an ambassador from the realm of Christ called to bring the word of God to another realm, perhaps also in this context – particularly if the setting for Ephesians is Paul’s house arrest in Rome (see Acts 28,16) – to the Roman emperor himself (see Acts 25,1012). The paradox is striking: an ambassador restrained “in chains” bringing the gospel of peace (Eph 6,15) to the reigning Caesar of an empire self-portrayed as bringing peace, the Pax Romana. Closely parallel to Eph 6,19-20 is Col 4,3-4: “pray for us (προσευχόμενοι […] περὶ ἡμῶν) as well that God will open to us a door for the word (ἀνοίξῃ ἡμῖν θύραν τοῦ λόγου) to speak the mystery of Christ (λαλῆσαι τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ) for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it φανερώσω αὐτό) as it is necessary for me to speak (ὡς δεῖ με λαλῆσαι)”. There are at least seven points of connection: the request for prayer, the initiative of God (divine passive in Eph 6,19), the word, mystery (of Christ / the gospel), opening (of the gate/mouth), imprisonment, and divine necessity to speak. These common indicators signal an equivalence between the verbs φανερώσω (Col 4,4) and παρρησιάζομαι (Eph 6,20)59. Boldly speaking the mystery of the gospel is, in terms of Colossians, a revelation. The last text to consider in the Pauline corpus occurs in a passage in 1 Timothy about the qualifications for the ministry of deacons (3,8-13). Paul writes that “for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing (καλόν) for themselves and great boldness (πολλὴν παρρησίαν) in the faith that is in Christ Jesus” (3,13). There are three points to be considered: (1) In a passage that clearly addresses the qualification of deacons, Paul inserts a note about γυναῖκας (3,11), a term that could be translated 58. This is the only other time Paul uses this verb in addition to 1 Thess 2,2. 59. See VAN UNNIK, The Semitic Background (n. 13), p. 305.



either wives (of deacons, KJV, NEB) or women (NRSV, NABRE, NIV). If the latter, which is more probable, then the reference would be to female deacons. (2) The expression πολλὴν παρρησίαν used in parallel with καλόν seems to suggest a new ability or sense of self-assurance. If the former, that ability would be the capability for much bold speaking (literal meaning), and if the latter, the interior disposition of confidence/ fearlessness60. 3) The ultimate source of this bold speaking/confidence stems from faith in Christ Jesus. VII. CONCLUSION In our exploration of παρρησία and its verbal cognate in the Pauline corpus61, we notice Paul’s multivalent application of these terms. He envisions παρρησία as a divine quality (Col 2,15) and as a human quality that he (2 Cor 7,4; Phil 1,20; Eph 6,19-20; Phlm 8), and his associates (1 Thess 2,2; 2 Cor 3,12; Eph 3,12; see Phil 1,14), and deacons specifically (1 Tim 3,13) manifest. Paul exercises or has the authority to exercise παρρησία not through any innate rhetorical ability but because he speaks boldly “in/through God” (1 Thess 2,2) and is “in Christ” (Eph 3,12; Phlm 8). That he chooses to not always exercise that authority is indicated in his letter to Philemon (Phlm 8). While imprisoned, he presents himself as relying on the prayer of believers so that he may speak with boldness, implying that he needs their spiritual support to be able to speak as he must (Eph 6,20). In other words, one’s own resources, even spiritual resources, are not sufficient to proclaim publicly the gospel. Several times Paul amplifies “bold speaking”, raising it to a heightened level with the modifier πολύς (2 Cor 3,12; 7,4; Phlm 8; 1 Tim 3,13) or πᾶς (Phil 1,20). In a few instances παρρησία is used without a qualifier (Col 2,15; Eph 3,12; 6,19). As a result of his bold speaking always and everywhere, Christ will be exalted (Phil 1,20). When the verb παρρησιάζομαι is used it is followed by the infinitive λαλῆσαι (1 Thess 2,2; Eph 6,20). However, bold speaking takes place not just in words but through actions, pre-eminently the cross, which on the level of metaphor is God’s supreme way of communicating (Col 2,14-15). 60. BDAG, p. 630, option 3b. 61. A broader study of the general theme of boldness and courage in Paul would include the related terms of τολμάω (dare, have the courage, be courageous, be brave enough, Rom 5,7; 15,18; 1 Cor 6,1; 2 Cor 10,2.12; 11,21 [2×]; Phil 1,14), θαρρέω (be confident, be courageous, 2 Cor 5,6.8; 7,16; 10,1.2), and ἀνδρίζομαι (conduct oneself in a manly or courageous way, 1 Cor 16,13). See ibid.



Often the courage to speak out boldly occurs in the face of fierce opposition (1 Thess 2,2) or in adverse circumstances (six out of ten expressions of παρρησία/παρρησιάζομαι occur in the imprisonment letters). This is not surprising since courageous proclamation of the gospel does rouse up defiance from those who are closed off to the message. There are social and political consequences to being courageous in speech or action which have been alluded to throughout this essay. The courage it takes to publicly affirm one’s identity as a believer is a central feature of παρρησία. In addition to bold speaking, another important related dimension is that of courageous action both on the part of Paul and Christ believers, as we have seen above with the Philippians (Phil 1,14). Regarding Christ believers in the Pauline churches, we note that the demonstration of bold action figures prominently in more recent, especially feminist, research; public adherence to Christian belief and practices has life altering consequence that have dramatic implications for an individual’s change in social status62. Because the earliest Pauline Gentile Christ believers were by definition moving into a counter-cultural social location, the question can be raised whether more courage was required for a slave to become a believer (e.g., Onesimus) than for a free person to do so? More courage for a slave woman than for a free woman? More courage for a married woman (e.g., to go against her husband’s unbelief) than an unmarried one? When whole households were converted by their owner’s fiat, as in Lydia’s situation, how did her presumed slave women adjust to suddenly denying the reality of the goddesses who assisted them in giving birth? These questions merely suggest that the amount of courage it took to acknowledge publicly one’s identity as a Christ believer (see e.g., Eph 3,12) may have varied widely across the social class spectrum. Further, this may have been only one aspect of the conversion experience which may have been accompanied for some by a complexus of fears, compromises, and perhaps even regrets. We return to the invitation of Pope Francis’ statement, echoing a prominent Pauline theme as we have seen, that “one cannot be Christian without this boldness”. However, in the history of Catholicism there have been too many painful instances of the opposite, for example, of theologians 62. See R.S. KRAEMER, Becoming Christian, in S.L. JAMES – S. DILLON (eds.), A Companion to Women in the Ancient World (Blackwell Companions to Women in the Ancient World), Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 524-538 (accessed 21 February 2021). ProQuest EBook Central, here pp. 529-530.



being silenced63 and open discussion being squelched on such issues as the ordination of women. Recently, Madeleine Fredell OP commented: “Many women in the Catholic Church, and not least religious sisters, feel enthusiastic about Pope Francis’ encouragement to speak with parrhesia, openness, frankness and boldness”, then added, “I meet numerous women, lay and religious, who have become discouraged by years of being silenced”64. Substantive measures, beyond tokenism, still need to be taken in the church to create a culture where freedom for bold speaking and invitations for open discussions are invited. 7030 Hilton Place San Diego, CA 92111 USA [email protected]

John L. GILLMAN Franciscan School of Theology

63. See T. REESE, Reforming the Vatican: What the Church Can Learn from Other Institutions, in Commonweal April 15, 2008, who comments that “The treatment of theologians accused of dissent by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is one of the scandals of the church”, at (accessed 2 March 2021). 64. M. FREDELL, Are There Limits to Speaking with Parrhesia?, at https://voicesoffaith. org/conversations-1/2019/10/8/are-there-limits-to-speaking-with-parrhesia-by-sistermadeleine-fredell-op. See also G. O’HANLON, Free Speech in the Church, in Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 105/418 (2016) 199-211.


Second John 10 touches on one of the core values of Christ believer practice and living – hospitality. It also places a condition on this practice. Scholars often take the condition (v. 10a: εἴ τις) and construe it as the author’s endorsement of exclusion of travelers1. They argue that one should exercise inhospitality to anyone who violates Jesus’ teaching; any violation of “this teaching”2 (αὕτη ἡ διδαχή) in v. 10a is ground for deciding not to act hospitably in v. 10b (μὴ λαμβάνετε αὐτὸν […] αὐτῷ μὴ λέγετε). However, a close investigation of the author’s overall argument and syntax seems to indicate otherwise. For instance, when the author employs the personal pronoun αὐτός, he does not seem to refer to generic “travelers” who are bearers of false teaching. As αὕτη ἡ διδαχή in the εἰ-clause (v. 10a) appears nowhere else in the Johannine writings, and since 2 John does not explain what “this” teaching means, the phrase remains unclear. It is also noteworthy that exercise of inhospitality is not always based on doctrinal violation. The Elder and Diotrephes in 3 John clash on matters of hospitality; yet neither party seems to reject Jesus. This wider context complicates the reading of 2 John 10.

* In the fall of 2001, I commenced my graduate studies in theology at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. One of my first classes was Pauline Letters, which was then taught by Prof. Reimund Bieringer. I did not know then that Reimund would eventually become my utmost respected Professor, mentor, and Doktorvater. It has been twenty-one years; and I still hold him in my highest regard. If this article ever catches the eyes of any reader, I would like for it to be a tribute to Reimund who has been kind to me, shown me the courage to move forward amidst academic challenges, and taught me the integrity of biblical texts. Reimund and I are two persons representing two totally different cultures and native tongues; but as I got to know Reimund, I discovered that we, like the early Christians in these three precious letters commonly known as being written by John, have learned to exercise the art of Christian hospitality. 1. R. BULTMANN, Die drei Johannesbriefe (KEK, 14), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967, pp. 108-109; R.E. BROWN, The Epistles of John (AB, 30), Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1982, pp. 676-677; G. SCHUNACK, Die Briefe des Johannes, Zürich, Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 1982, pp. 114-117; G. STRECKER, Die Johannesbriefe (KEK, 14), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989, pp. 344-347; and U.C. VON WAHLDE, The Gospel and Letters of John, Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 2010, vol. 3, pp. 243-244. 2. Quotation marks because ἡ διδαχὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ occurs in v. 9 but αὕτη ἡ διδαχή in v. 10.



It is true that 2 John 10 signals that inhospitality is warranted in certain cases, but the author also indicates specific criteria on the basis of which personal discretion should be taken into consideration, prior to an exercise of inhospitality3. I argue that the interplay between the measure of inhospitality (or hospitality) and personal discretion is a key to reading 2 John 10. At the same time, this interplay has been the source of much discussion. For instance, scholarly support for the right to refuse visitors seems to be the result of a confusion in overgeneralizing the essential ground for hospitality. This confusion lies in the mismatch between the clarity of αὕτη ἡ διδαχή (v. 10a) and the application of the μή + imperatives (v. 10b). In 2 John 10, the Elder is perhaps not focusing upon “do not welcome” or “do not greet”. Perhaps, he is stressing the interaction between the protasis (v. 10a) and the apodosis (v. 10b). In this logical condition, the uses of the two personal pronouns (αὕτη “this” and αὐτός “he”) are more particular than generic. They can refer to a “specific” group of people who deny the teaching about Jesus4. The structure and function of the conditional sentence signify that those who violate this teaching (v. 10b) are a particular group of people, once members of the community, who now reject a doctrinal confession of Jesus, suggesting that hospitality is thus extended to all but a few specific travelers. To support this statement, this paper proceeds to identify what αὕτη ἡ διδαχή implies by offering two arguments. It first calls attention to the interplay between the two parts of this sentence, in which the protasis and apodosis build the Elder’s argument, and then proposes a ground for hospitality. The result of this argument, associated with an explanation of αὕτη ἡ διδαχή across 1 John 3,13; 2 John 10; and 3 John 10, offers greater consistency of interpretation of the value of hospitality in the Johannine corpus. I. THE BASIC FUNCTION OF



This section works from the idea that although 2 John 10 may appear simple, the significance of its grammar and syntax is often lost by the readers of this letter, and that, therefore, closer attention to the question 3. Personal discretion comes in because one has to decide what constitutes “this teaching”, which might give people a bit more room to be hospitable. 4. D.B. WALLACE, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 1996, pp. 184, 345-347, 739, esp. 450-451. Wallace notes that in some cases when εἴ τις is employed as a “conditional indicative”, the phrase can refer to a “certain” or “specific” person or group of people. See also H.W. SMYTH, Greek Grammar, Oxford, Benediction Classics, 2014, §2560-2561, esp. §2298. Smyth argues: “When the protasis has εἴ τις and the apodosis a present indicative, the simple condition has a double meaning referring both to an individual case and to a rule of action” (cf. §2298).



of how the grammar serves to communicate meaning will prove helpful for interpretation5. The scholarly tendency is to overgeneralize the condition in 2 John 10, while the author makes it specific and particular, and this difference is key for interpreting Johannine understandings of the value of hospitality. Scholars of Greek grammar treat the details of conditional sentences differently. They agree that the apodosis and protasis closely relate to each other and are inter-dependent parts of a sentence. Not every conditional sentence in the NT is directed at a generic or generalized audience. As B.L. Gildersleeve has indicated6, some conditional sentences are generic, others are particular, and still others are very specific about the targeted recipients and audience. It is beyond the scope of this paper to list all classes of conditions found in Greek. Only the syntax that the Elder uses in 2 John is considered: v. 10a (εἴ τις + οὐ + indicative)7 and v. 10b (μή + imperative). With regard to the conditional usage of 2 John 10, we note that biblical exegetes and grammarians agree on several key points: (1) protasis and apodosis are integrally related; (2) the two clauses can be related to each other differently depending on the grammar or their component parts; (3) conditions may be particular or general in application; and (4) the (general or particular) truth or fulfilment of the condition may be communicated through the grammatical form of the protasis and apodosis. According to Gildersleeve, for example, “The Logical Condition, like every other form of the conditional sentence, is particular or generic according to the character of the apodosis”. This comment will be particularly important for our analysis. He goes on: Hence, when it [the logical condition] has its apodosis in the present, it has a double meaning, which adapts it admirably to personal argument, especially 5. Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik have claimed that since grammar is communicative and delivers meaning, non-native speakers (like all readers of NT Greek) should focus on what the grammar is communicating. This sort of approach informs this section. Cf. G. LEECH – J. SVARTVIK, A Communicative Grammar of English, 3rd ed., Abingdon, Routledge, 2003, pp. 6-25. 6. B.L. GILDERSLEEVE, Studies in Pindaric Syntax, in American Journal of Philology 3 (1882) 434-455. See C.F.D. MOULE, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1977, pp. 148-152, esp. 149. Moule makes a special note: “The difficulty of classifying is illustrated by sentences which belong by meaning in one class, but by form in another; e.g.: […] II John 10”. Also, M. ZERWICK, Biblical Greek (Studia Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 114), Roma, Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2005, §306, notes that “the ‘reality’ of the condition does not mean that the speaker regards the condition as fulfilled, indeed the opposite may be the case, but only that the condition in question is a concrete one”. 7. A.T. ROBERTSON, A Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Nashville, TN, Broadman, 1934, p. 1011, further notes “in the N.T., as in κοινή generally and occasionally in the Attic, we meet εἴ οὐ in the condition”. The use of εἰ οὐ or εἰ μή is treated by A. JANNARIS, An Historical Greek Grammar, London, MacMillan, 1897, §§1801-1828.



when the form εἴ τις is used, which may point either to a definite or to an indefinite person8.

Our study of the ground for hospitality in 2 John 10 will be enhanced if we stress Gildersleeve’s distinction between “particular” and “generic” conditions. A.T. Robertson’s terminology (and his understanding of conditionals which is adopted from Gildersleeve) will also be helpful. He classes the conditionals according to their reality, unreality, probability, and possibility, and these classes will recur in our analysis. In particular, his note on logical conditions is significant: This class of [logical] condition assumes the condition to be a reality and the conclusion follows logically and naturally from that assumption […] The construction is εἰ (sometimes ἐάν) and any tense of the indicative in the apodosis […] The context or other light must determine the actual situation9.

II. CONDITIONAL SENTENCES IN THE NT IN COMPARISON TO THE JOHANNINE EPISTLES H. Bachmann and W.A. Slaby list over five hundred uses of εἴ in the NT10. Only a few conditional sentences with a focus on εἴ τις can be selected. We compare them by means of gradation from generalization to particularity, along with our translation and brief comments, aiming to shed light on the range of interpretive possibilities in the Second John passage. Mark 4,23 εἴ τις ἔχει ὦτα ἀκούειν ἀκουέτω Whoever has ears to hear, let him/her hear.

Jesus is here speaking in parable; and his message is generic. Mark 8,34 εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἀκολουθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι Whoever wishes to follow after me, let him disown himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

Jesus is here most likely responding to Peter’s misunderstanding of discipleship. Yet his message can still be construed as general. 1 Cor 3,17 εἴ τις τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ φθείρει, φθερεῖ τοῦτον ὁ θεός Whoever destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. 8. GILDERSLEEVE, Pindaric Syntax (n. 6), p. 435. Italics added. 9. ROBERTSON, Grammar (n. 7), pp. 1007-1008. Italics original. 10. H. BACHMANN – W.A. SLABY, Konkordanz zum Novum Testamentum Graece, Berlin, De Gruyter, 31987, s.v. εἴ.



Paul is here speaking metaphorically about the division within the Corinthian church. No specific person or persons are targeted. 1 Cor 7,12

εἴ τις ἀδελφὸς γυναῖκα ἔχει ἄπιστον καὶ αὕτη συνευδοκεῖ οἰκεῖν μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ, μὴ ἀφιέτω αὐτήν If any brother has an unbelieving wife and if she consents to live with him, do not divorce her.

In this case τις is used as an indefinite adjective; Paul, by employing ἀδελφός, specifically refers to those who are Christ-believers. Compared with 1 Cor 3,17, 7,12 is more particular. 1 John 2,19b εἰ γὰρ ἐξ ἡμῶν ἦσαν, μεμενήκεισαν ἂν μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν For if they had been part of us, they would have remained with us. 1 John 2,22 Τίς ἐστιν ὁ ψεύστης εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀρνούμενος ὅτι Ἰησοῦς οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ Χριστός; Who is the liar if it is not he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?

In this passage (1 John 2,18-25), the author is specifically speaking about the antichrists who were once members of a Christ believer community, but who now have left it and deny the divinity as well as the humanity of Jesus. The author’s use of a conditional sentence is particular and against the antichrists. The targeted audience in 1 John 2,18-25 is very similar to that of 2 John 7-10. We now turn to our text of 2 John 10. Protasis

(a) εἴ τις ἔρχεται πρὸς ὑμᾶς καὶ ταύτην τὴν διδαχὴν οὐ φέρει If a person comes to you and does not bring with himself this teaching,

Apodosis (b) μὴ λαμβάνετε αὐτὸν εἰς οἰκίαν καὶ χαίρειν αὐτῷ μὴ λέγετε do not receive him into your home and do not speak with him.

We may call v. 10 a logical condition with v. 10a being the protasis and v. 10b being the apodosis. Because μὴ λαμβάνετε and μὴ λέγετε are constructed in the negative second person plural imperatives, the term “prohibition” has been used11. There are two issues at hand. One is whether the apodosis is structurally independent of the protasis; and the other is whether, in 2 John 10, 11. J.G. VAN DER WATT, The Ethical Implications in 2 John 10-11, in Verbum et Ecclesia 36/1 (2015), Art. #1483, 1-7, p. 1, at



the two imperatives are semantically independent of the εἰ-clause. Daniel Wallace points out that the two parts in the conditional sentence are dictated by their structural and semantic relationship. “The apodosis is grammatically independent, but semantically dependent […] The protasis, on the other hand, is grammatically dependent, but semantically independent”12. In a logical condition, the apodosis can stand as a full-blown sentence, but it depends on the fulfillment of the protasis for its factuality. The protasis, on the other hand, cannot form a complete sentence, but its fulfillment is independent of whether the apodosis is true. In the study of the Johannine letters, the violation of αὕτη ἡ διδαχή points to the denial of hospitality based on some generic kind of doctrine rather than a specific difference in doctrine13. The focus then is on the applicable sides of the prohibition, allowing the reader to grapple with the negative commands and to see them in action. Judith Lieu sees “a wide variety of practice”14. Some practice of hospitality seems to depend on the Sitz-im-Leben of the Christ believer community (cf. 3 John 5-8). Others have related the prohibition to further issues in the Johannine writings, such as the stress on the practice of love for one another (John 13,34; 14,15; 15,12; 1 John 3,10-11; 2 John 5; 3 John 6). Scholars tend to connect the love command to 2 John 10. This connection brings its own concerns: whether a Christ believer ought to welcome – or refuse hospitality to – travelers, who violate the teaching of Jesus15. Accordingly, the prohibition of hospitality creates a necessary tension with the love command. 12. WALLACE, Greek Grammar (n. 4), p. 684 (emphasis original). 13. See, for example, commentaries: J.R.W. STOTT, The Epistles of John, Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 11960, p. 212; P. PERKINS, The Johannine Epistles, Wilmington, DE, Michael Glazier, 1979, p. 86; W. LOADER, The Johannine Epistles, London, Epworth, 1992, p. 96; VON WAHLDE, Gospel and Letters (n. 1), vol. 3, pp. 231, 243-244, 265; and G.L. PARSENIOS, First, Second, and Third John (Paideia), Grand Rapids, MI, Baker, 2014, pp. 141-142. 14. J. LIEU, The Second and Third Epistles of John (Studies of the New Testament and Its World), Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1986, p. 128. 15. Cf. A. MALHERBE, The Inhospitality of Diotrephes, in J. JERVELL – W.A. MEEKS (eds.), God’s Christ and His People: Studies in Honour of Nils Alstrup Dahl, Oslo, Universetsforlaget, 1977, 222-232. This article was later expanded as chapter 4 Hospitality and Inhospitality in the Church, in Malherbe’s book, The Social Aspects of Early Christianity, Philadelphia, PA, Fortress, 1983, 92-112. The original title of the article finally returns as chapter 5 in another book by Malherbe, Light from the Gentile: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity (SupplNT, 150), Leiden, Brill, 2014, 69-82. I cite from the 2014 version. Malherbe’s position on the social aspects of early Christianity has been vigorously rejected by B.J. MALINA, The Received View and What It Cannot Do: III John and Hospitality, in Semeia 35 (1986) 171-194. The debate continues with J.G. VAN DER WATT, On Hospitality in 3 John: An Evaluation of the Response of Malina to Malherbe, in Nederduitse Gereformeerde Teologiese Tydskrif 55 (2014) 389-405.



III. TENDENCY TO OVERGENERALIZE THE GROUND FOR HOSPITALITY A number of motives for denying hospitality have been suggested. The most common are christological, theological, and ethical approaches. John Painter claims that the prohibition in 2 John 10b is christological. He notes “the warning [not to welcome] comes concerning those who do not adhere to ‘this teaching’, this christology”16. By “adhere to this teaching”, Painter means the practice of the love commandment, presumably showing hospitality. The merit of this appeal is its direct link to Jesus. Twice in v. 9a the Elder refers to “the teaching of Christ”; and in v. 10a he repeats “this teaching”. Painter understands “the teaching” to originate in Jesus’ love command, because “the christological problem is linked to the failure to walk according to the commandment to love one another”17. He aptly shows how Johannine scholars “often note the un-Christian nature of such a teaching and practice”18. But there are problems with this identification of the Elder’s Christology and ethics. Painter’s overall argument gives the impression that Jesus’ love command is identical with faith in him, and that hospitality is called upon as the practice of the love command. In the Gospel, Jesus commands that the disciples love one another (John 13,34; 15,12.17), and that loving Jesus entails keeping his command (14,15; 15,12). It is important to note that Jesus does not command the disciples to identify “faith in him” with “love for him” or “love for one another”. It is most unlikely that the love command dictates faith in Jesus; rather an act of love is the fruit of faith. In 2 John, if (εἰ) the person comes specifically rejecting the teaching about Christ (9-10a)19, then he is to be refused hospitality (v. 10b). Also, the refusal of hospitality is conditioned with deviation from “the teaching”. The troubling question concerns the clear meaning of “the teaching” of Christ. Is “the teaching” identical with the love command? Is this considered an exhortation to love or an article of faith? By linking the prohibition in 2 John 10b to Christology, the love command inevitably brings about an unnecessary tension between faith 16. J. PAINTER, 1, 2, and 3 John (Sacra Pagina, 18), Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 2002, p. 354. 17. Ibid. Painter continues: “The instruction given here is to be understood against the background of hospitality given to strangers and travelers in the ancient world […] Even a greeting (chairein) involves a participation (koinōnei) with them in their false teaching”. 18. Ibid. There are other similar voices. According to J.L. HOULDEN, A Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, Peabody, MA, Hendrickson, 1973, p. 146: “This passage (vv. 10f.) has, on any showing, an ugly look”. For G. OSBORNE (ed.), 1, 2, & 3 John, Wheaton, IL, Tyndale, 1998, p. 137: “The only way to deal with such people [false teachers and false prophets] was certainly not to welcome them – even better, not receive them into the fellowship”. 19. I shall return to the issue of “objective” or “subjective” genitive below.



and praxis. Painter’s identification between Christology and ethics calls for further clarification. Urban C. von Wahlde analyzes the common features in 2 John and 3 John and draws a theological conclusion about hospitality/inhospitality. He suggests “that the issue between Diotrephes and the Elder is a theological one”20. His opinion is based entirely on the hypothesis that the same author, who is also the Elder (ὁ πρεσβύτερος), wrote the three Johannine epistles21. The Elder issues a Johannine commandment with a two-pronged outcome. On the one hand, the command in 2 John 10 requires that “believers should welcome into their home fellow believers who were travelling for religious purposes”22. On the other, the command becomes an injunction, commanding believers “not to receive the individuals into their house or to give them ‘greeting’ (that is, any sort of positive welcome and acceptance) […] those who brought false teaching”23. Von Wahlde understands the latter part of this commandment to be the prohibition, which is realized in a concrete situation in 3 John 9-10. “Diotrephes is doing [refusing hospitality] to the emissaries of the Elder’s community and the Elder sees it as a violation of the commandment of mutual love […] by his rejection of the message of the Elder, Diotrephes fails in the matter of correct belief”24. Von Wahlde seems to argue that the conflict between the Elder and Diotrephes is based upon theological reasons for the expulsion. Yet 3 John does not relate Diotrephes’ failure in welcoming the Elder to “correct” or “incorrect” belief. Nor does the Elder accuse Diotrephes of “dispossessing God and Jesus” (cf. 2 John 9). It may well be suggested that Diotrephes has not welcomed the Elder (as a guest)25; but such inhospitality is neither theological nor doctrinal, much less an article of faith. In his letter to Gaius (3 John 1), the Elder calls on the deeds of Diotrephes. As Abraham Malherbe rightly notes, the conflict seems “a purely personal issue”26 between two individuals and displays little interest in matters theological. Jan van der Watt links the prohibition in 2 John 10 to ethical considerations. He challenges the “theological [and christological, to that matter] readings of 2 John 10-11 that regard the text as unchristian in its exhortation” and argues “hospitality is not the communicative centre of the 20. VON WAHLDE, Gospel and Letters (n. 1), vol. 3, p. 284. 21. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 222. 22. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 265. 23. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 243. 24. Ibid., vol. 3, pp. 265, 283. 25. In Διοτρέφης οὐκ ἐπιδέχεται ἡμᾶς (3 John 9b), the Elder is not the lone victim of inhospitality. 26. MALHERBE, Inhospitality (n. 15), p. 80.



text, but protection of the group”27. His analyses are helpful on a number of points. He demonstrates the weaknesses of both christological and theological readings. As far as Christology is concerned, the contentious question is whether the love command necessitates one’s Christian obligations to welcome others into the house. The reverse question is whether it is unchristian to refuse hospitality to others. For van der Watt, the answer rests on the argument that in 2 John “hospitality conventions should not be the focus of the argument”28. As for theology, less attention should be given to matters of correct or incorrect belief because “the prohibition in 2 John 10-11 was an accepted way in which groups treated people who no longer operated within the confines of a particular group”29. In unavoidable cases, the necessity of inhospitality is not based on rudeness or against love, but on “an ordinary everyday” practice “to prohibit support and aid to false teachers and thus avoid disseminating error”30. Instead of focusing on αὕτη ἡ διδαχή (v. 10a), which according to the Elder is the ground for and against the exercise of hospitality, van der Watt has explained the ethical meanings of the double prohibitions (v. 10b). Robert W. Yarbrough has shown that Christian approaches to the prohibition of hospitality can embrace all three motivations: When he [the author of 2 John] writes “do not receive him into your home, and do not exchange (Christian) greetings with him”, he has in mind aiding and abetting people who are undercutting apostolic doctrine and leadership as represented by John. Such figures are evidently seeking entrance into already established church circles, and even personal residences, to convince the unwary of new and different teaching about Christ and salvation. An analogy today would be Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, or other missionaries who seek to spread quasi-Christian views. While there is no call to be uncivil to them, to receive them in the sense of endorsing their teaching, giving them financial support, and offering them personal encouragement makes no sense when their teaching clearly rejects historic Christianity. In John’s house-church setting, to receive opponents of Christian belief into your home meant granting to them and their doctrine the honor and respect that are due only to true Christian faith and practice31.

Challengingly, Yarbrough bases his argument upon an understanding that “in 2 John 10 John issues a policy statement”32. A policy statement 27. VAN DER WATT, Ethical Implications (n. 11), p. 1. He cites Painter. 28. Ibid., p. 4. 29. Ibid., p. 5. Cf. “These visitors were indeed representatives of a related but opposing group”. 30. Ibid., p. 6. 31. R.W. YARBROUGH, 1-3 John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), Grand Rapids, MI, Baker, 2008, p. 351. 32. Ibid.



seems equivalent to a rule book on the prohibition of the practice of hospitality. Second John 10 would then leave little or no room for different types of hospitality (cf. the situation in 3 John 10 discussed below). Drawing upon the basic function of a conditional sentence, it seems reasonable to say that in the interplay between the protasis and the apodosis, the identification of αὕτη ἡ διδαχή plays a significant role. The issue related to αὕτη ἡ διδαχή is whether the Elder’s advice to offer or deny hospitality can be overgeneralized as a policy command that applies to all travelers on religious purposes. IV. THE STRUCTURE OF 2 JOHN 9-11 Verse 9a 9b 10


Sentence Complete

Text πᾶς ὁ προάγων καὶ μὴ μένων ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ θεὸν οὐκ ἔχει Complete ὁ μένων ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ οὗτος καὶ τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὸν υἱὸν ἔχει Complete (a) εἴ τις ἔρχεται πρὸς ὑμᾶς καὶ ταύτην τὴν διδαχὴν οὐ φέρει (b) μὴ λαμβάνετε αὐτὸν εἰς οἰκίαν καὶ χαίρειν αὐτῷ μὴ λέγετε Complete ὁ λέγων γὰρ αὐτῷ χαίρειν κοινωνεῖ τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ τοῖς πονηροῖς

These three verses form four complete sentences: two in v. 9; one in v. 10; and one in v. 11. The theme that connects them is ἡ διδαχή because the violation of ἡ διδαχή serves as the cause-effect of hospitality. In v. 9, lack of the teaching of Christ is equivalent to the deprivation of the Father and the Son. In v. 10, the decision to welcome or deny a person (τις) is conditioned by whether (s)he bears “this” (αὕτη) teaching. In v. 11, γάρ explains that greeting “this” person (αὐτός) who violates the teaching would mean to participate in bad deeds. As previously mentioned, the Elder does not spell out the meaning of αὕτη ἡ διδαχή, as he does with regard to αὕτη ἡ ἀγάπη in v. 633. The lack of such clarity causes confusion about the implication of “this” teaching34. Hardy Hansen and Gerald M. Quinn advise that “[n]o verb in a conditional sentence can be translated until the type of conditional sentence is 33. The Elder explains αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἀγάπη, ἵνα περιπατῶμεν κατὰ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ· αὕτη ἡ ἐντολή ἐστιν, καθὼς ἠκούσατε ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς (v. 6). But he does not do so regarding ἡ διδαχή. Thus, many assumptions have been made regarding ἡ διδαχὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ (v. 9a) and ἡ διδαχή (v. 9b; v. 10a). Cf. BROWN, Epistles (n. 1), pp. 674-675; and VON WAHLDE, Gospel and Letters (n. 1), vol. 3, p. 231. Yet, “the teaching” remains unclear. 34. As argued above, the violation of “this” teaching in the εἰ-clause is vital for a correct understanding of the passage.



identified”35. We may state that 2 John 10 is a mixed condition. Herbert Weir Smyth offers a table of some ordinary types of conditional sentences which are classified primarily according to time36. One ordinary type of conditional sentence is where the apodosis is constructed with μή and the imperative. In 2 John 10, this construction may account for the fact that each of the two imperatives in the apodosis is negated: μὴ λαμβάνετε and μὴ λέγετε. “Verbs in the imperative mood”, Hansen and Quinn note, “give a command […] Prohibitions (negative commands) are all introduced by μή”37. But worthy of note is the fact that a negative command is called a “prohibition” insofar as it is constructed as an independent and complete sentence. In a logical condition, however, the command (apodosis) and the conditional (protasis) are held together to form an “inexorable connexion”38. The force of meaning in the two apodoses in v. 10b will be lessened when one considers the broader context surrounding the whole of 2 John 10. The syntax of 2 John 10 does not allow one to take the two negative commands in v. 10b and force them to behave like two prohibitions, semantically independent of the εἰ-clause in v. 10a. In terms of sentence structures, for instance, there is a marked difference in the commands (with μή) between 2 John 10 and 3 John 11 (cf. 2 John 8). The command in 3 John 11 is a complete sentence and stands alone, whereas 2 John 10b is not independent of v. 10a, but rather conditioned by it. In 2 John, the conditional sentence occurs once (in v. 10). Numerically speaking, conditional sentences occur once in 3 John 10 and twenty-eight times in 1 John (7× with εἰ and 21× with ἐάν)39. Interestingly, 1 John 3,13 has a construction identical to 2 John 1040. 1 John 3,13

Apodosis Protasis

(a) μὴ θαυμάζετε, ἀδελφοί, (b) εἰ μισεῖ ὑμᾶς ὁ κόσμος.

35. H. HANSEN – G.M. QUINN, Greek: An Intensive Course, New York, Fordham University Press, 1992, p. 94. 36. SMYTH, Greek Grammar (n. 4), §2297. 37. HANSEN – QUINN, Greek (n. 35), pp. 43, 312. Bold-type original. SMYTH, Greek Grammar (n. 4), §1835. 38. GILDERSLEEVE, Pindaric Syntax (n. 6), p. 435. 39. εἰ with indicative: 1 John 2,19.22; 3,13; 4,1.11; 5,5.9. ἐάν with subjunctive: 1 John 1,6-10; 2,; 3,2.20-22; 4,12.15.20; 5,14-16; 3 John 10. 40. The construction in 1 John 4,1 is special and deserves some attention. Apodosis (a1) μὴ παντὶ πνεύματι πιστεύετε (a2) ἀλλὰ δοκιμάζετε τὰ πνεύματα Protasis (b) εἰ ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν, Result (c) ὅτι πολλοὶ ψευδοπροφῆται ἐξεληλύθασιν εἰς τὸν κόσμον. Syntactically, 1a1-2 is considered two parts of the apodosis while v. 1b is the protasis; and v. 1c is the result clause.



The similarity of construction between 2 John 10 and 1 John 3,13 raises some questions. First, what is the syntactical relation between the protasis and apodosis in these two sentences? Second, to what extent does the violation of αὕτη ἡ διδαχή (protasis) become cause-effect in μὴ λαμβάνετε and μὴ λέγετε (apodosis)? Finally, can one take the negative commands to be the author’s policy statement41? 1. The Syntactical Relation between the Two Clauses of 2 John 10 In conditional sentences, the if-clause is a subordinate and dependent statement; and although the conclusion (apodosis) may be constructed in the indicative (or imperative in this occurrence) and considered the main clause, it is (according to Jannaris, Smyth, Gildersleeve, Robertson, and Wallace) not semantically independent of the if-clause. Syntactical relations between clauses are functional and inseparable from each other. The conclusion thus should not be treated as an independent sentence or a statement of policy. The parts (that is, the protasis and apodosis) of speech in 2 John 10 (and 1 John 3,13, as argued above) must be interpreted along these lines. Each part coordinates with the other in order to form the condition about the possibilities of offering or refusing hospitality. Johannine commentators tend to consider the protasis an alreadyfulfilled event. Often the impression is laid on the protasis, making it independent of the apodosis42. But Raymond Brown and Judith Lieu are more careful. “The condition”, says Brown, “expressed by ei [if] and the indicative, is not merely hypothetical”43. The author of the letter sees a possibility of an impending visit to a Christ believer community, because “the writer expects the event described to happen […] for the Presbyter has identified the ‘another Jesus’ whom the secessionists are proclaiming; it is a Jesus not coming in the flesh”44. Following this lead, Lieu notes that “the ‘if’ suggests not that this is only a vague possibility but that it is a very real one”45. Another tendency is to place less stress on how the protasis and apodosis coordinate with each other in 2 John 10ab, but more on the conclusion that the believers are forbidden to welcome others into their home. Taking the prohibition, as we have seen, to the level of “a policy 41. This question applies to 1 John 3,13a. 42. Cf. above arguments by Painter, von Wahlde, van der Watt, and Yarbrough. 43. BROWN, Epistles (n. 1), p. 676. 44. Ibid. 45. J.M. LIEU, I, II, & III John: A Commentary (NTL), Louisville, KY, Westminster John Knox, 2008, p. 259.



statement”, for instance, Yarbrough argues that “the present imperatives in this verse have iterative force”, because the author “has in mind aiding and abetting people who are undercutting apostolic doctrine and leadership”46. Zerwick, however, calls attention to the Aktionarten, in that an action in the indicative has both time and aspect whereas in the imperative an action denotes no time, but only aspect47. Yarbrough’s argument appears exaggerated. First, Zerwick’s contrast between time and aspect in an action suggests that the two imperatives in 2 John 10b (whether in the present or the aorist tense) denote no time. Verbs in the imperative have no time. Second, Gildersleeve’s earlier explanation shows that the fulfillment of an action in the conclusion (v. 10b) is only hypothetical and depends on the fulfillment in the if-clause (v. 10a). It should be noted that the logical condition should not be treated as a statement of an already completed event. Likewise, the mood in the clauses of a conditional sentence is different from the mood in a statement of assertion. For the latter is “the mood of factual statements and factual questions”48 and “the mood of assertion, or presentation of certainty”49. Here the reading by Brown and Lieu seems more aligned with the text. But, perhaps, they have not clarified enough the significant interplay between v. 10a and v. 10b in 2 John 10, or how different parts of speech are arranged together to form this logical condition. Clarity of the interplay between v. 10a and v. 10b is key to interpreting the entirety of v. 10. The conditional clause in 2 John 10a is a hypothesis, in that the implied visitor may come and may bring a different teaching about Christ (v. 9). The hypothesis makes the coming an impending visit until the event actually happens. This structural and semantic relationship suggests that the conclusion in v. 10b must remain a hypothesis. “The truth of the conclusion depends solely on the truth of the condition, which is not implied in any way”50. It is one thing to consider the if-clause as less hypothetical and to regard the same clause as a real event; it is quite another matter not to treat the conditional clause as an already fulfilled event. Zerwick argues that “the ‘reality’ of the condition does not mean that the speaker regards the condition as fulfilled, indeed the opposite may be the case, but only that the condition in question is treated not as a generality, but as a case which for one reason or another is a concrete one”51. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51.

YARBROUGH, 1-3 John (n. 31), p. 351. ZERWICK, Biblical Greek (n. 6), §§240-291. HANSEN – QUINN, Greek (n. 35), p. 42. WALLACE, Greek Grammar (n. 4), p. 448 (emphasis original). SMYTH, Greek Grammar (n. 4), §2298a. ZERWICK, Biblical Greek (n. 6), §306.



This critical issue of the coordination of the two clauses in a conditional sentence leads to the question of the interpretative results of 2 John 10. 2. Implications from the Elder’s Condition to Hospitality One question remains unexplored: how should one interpret the violation of αὕτη ἡ διδαχή in the intended condition (v. 10a), which the author places on the conclusion before any denial of hospitality may be applied (v. 10b)52. Overgeneralizing the Elder’s syntax seems to have caused some confusion53. If a strict definition (according to Gildersleeve, Smyth, Robertson) of a conditional sentence is applied to 2 John 10, then attention should be directed at the interplay between the two clauses: the protasis (v. 10a) and the apodosis (v. 10b). The syntactical relationship between the two parts of 2 John 10 suggests that the conclusion in v. 10b should not be construed as a policy statement or a set of rules for action54. The sentence best serves as an exhortation with a condition in mind, aimed at a specific group of people who deny a teaching. While the exhortation has potential fulfillment, the Elder places this exhortation in a condition in which the implied person rejects “the teaching”. Several helpful conclusions flow from this view. One advantage from this view is the avoidance of internal conflict, as C.H. Dodd notes: It is possible that the boycott of heretics was the only policy that could have succeeded in preserving the distinctive witness of the Church. It is possible. Yet we must doubt whether this policy in the end best serves the cause of truth and love, upon which our author lays such stress […] We may similarly decline to accept the Presbyter’s ruling here as a sufficient guide to Christian conduct55.

Dodd’s view on protecting the integrity of the Christian community was recently renewed by van der Watt56. But similar to other scholars 52. VAN DER WATT, Ethical Implications (n. 11), analyzes a wide range of scholarly opinions on the prohibition, but seems to have found the same confusion. His analysis gives no attention to the interplay between 10a and 10b and creates the impression that prohibition of hospitality is ethically obligated. 53. Cf. VON WAHLDE, Gospel and Letters (n. 1), vol. 3, pp. 230-232, 243-244, 263, 279287, generalizes the prohibition of hospitality and applies it to all travelers with religious purposes. 54. Contrary to YARBROUGH, 1-3 John (n. 31), p. 351. 55. C.H. DODD, The Johannine Epistles, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1947, pp. 151152 (emphasis original). 56. VAN DER WATT, Ethical Implications (n. 11).



before and after him, Dodd’s argument has not met wide-spread acceptance because of the lack of sufficient explanation of the condition placed on the conclusion. Another benefit of the above proposal is that it enables a comparison of the syntax of 2 John 10 with 1 John 3,13 so that the interpreter is able to test what is meant by 2 John 9-10. The comparison might then satisfactorily explain the significance of the “inexorable” interplay between the protasis and apodosis, especially in this disputed and subtle issue of hospitality in the Johannine church. a) 1 John 3,13 Contrary to other translations (NIV, NKJ, NAB, NET), the RSV and NRSV render: “Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you”. This translation has nuanced εἰ and replaced it with ὅτι. In this rendering, “that” gives the impression of a result as in a ὅτι-clause57. While both “if” and “that” begin a subordinate clause, they differ in their syntactical functions. The difference reflects the translator’s modes of understanding. The ὅτι-clause occurs in 3,11.12.14-16, but not in 13. A comparison between vv. 13 and 14 demonstrates this point. In 3,13, the author says: “And do not be amazed, brothers/sisters, if (εἰ) the world hates you”. In 3,14, he states: “We know that (ὅτι) we have passed from death into life, [and] that (ὅτι) we love our brothers/sisters. The one who does not love remains in death”. Verse 13 is a logical condition (according to Gildersleeve), whose conclusion is limited by the hypothesis that the evil inhabitants in the world may oppose the believers in Jesus who is the Christ (cf. 1 John 2,22), and who has come in the flesh (cf. 1 John 4,2), whereas v. 14 introduces a direct discourse. The ὅτιclause follows the author’s assertion about death and love that he and his community know. The thought in v. 14 therefore reconnects itself with that in vv. 11-12 regarding love for one another. First, v. 11 states the “message” which the addressees have heard from the beginning with the result (ἵνα) that they may love one another. Then, v. 12 contrasts the action of Cain’s murder with the work of righteousness (Cain’s brother). Verses 11-12, 14 are connected by the message of love for one another. They are statements about the meaning of Christ-like love that the author teaches. In between these statements stands v. 13, which is constructed as a logical condition. Similar to the construction in 2 John 10, 1 John 3,13 57. ὅτι has multiple functions – one of which introduces a direct discourse. Cf. BDF §§386, 388, 394, 397, etc.



places a condition on an assumed case. If (and only if) the world happens to oppose Christ believers (v. 13b as protasis), then they do not have to be amazed (v. 13a as apodosis). The rendering in 1 John 3,13 suggests that opposition is the only basis of amazement. If compared with 2 John 10, then 1 John 3,13 raises the question of whether the same grammatical form always signifies the same implications for meaning and actions. Second John 10a and 1 John 3,13b are apodoses constructed in the form of μή + imperatives. In technical terms they appear as prohibitions, but in syntactical relation they are apodoses in negative commands. The protasis and apodosis are bound together and assert an “inexorable connexion”58. The construction in 1 John 3,13 hardly makes the insistence commendable that the author bar his fellows from being astonished at the world’s potential opposition to them. Rudolf Bultmann succinctly states: “Denn V. 13 zeigt ja, daß der Gegensatz von bösen und gerechtem Tun dem Gegensatz von Gotteskindschaft und ‘Welt’ entspricht […] Darüber soll sie [die Gemeinde] sich nicht wundern; der Haß der ‘Welt’, deren repräsentant Kain ist, bestätigt nur ihre Gotteskindschaft”59. The author’s argument is one of exhortation, neither a rule of action, nor a generic prohibition per se. Following Zerwick’s suggestion, one may see that the reality of the condition in 3,13 is not a generality, but a concrete case about the world’s potential resistance to Christ believers60. The similarity of construction between 1 John 3,13 and 2 John 10 points toward an interpretation. The authors of the two respective texts hardly dictate that their audience must strictly follow a course of action. Most plausibly they have offered their communities some pastoral guidelines – with a condition in mind – on how to deal with a particular issue if a situation arises. To test the validity of this interpretation, a case can be 58. GILDERSLEEVE, Pindaric Syntax (n. 6), p. 435. 59. B ULTMANN , Johannesbriefe (n. 1), pp. 59-60. Regarding ὁ κόσμος, A.J. KÖSTENBERGER, The Cosmic Trial Motif in John’s Letters, in R.A. CULPEPPER – P.N. ANDERSON (eds.), Communities in Dispute: Current Scholarship on the Johannine Epistles (Early Christianity and Its Literature, 13), Atlanta, GA, SBL Press, 2014, 157-178, pp. 162-163, attempts to make a statement on the collective use of ὁ κόσμος in 1 John. “The ‘world’ (κόσμος) is mentioned in 1 John first at 2:2, where reference is made to the sufficiency of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice ‘for the sins of the whole world’ […]. Hence, much of the rhetoric about the world in 1 John echoes the negative statements found in the Gospel regarding the Jewish authorities representing the Jewish nation”. Not every reference to ὁ κόσμος in 1 John (e.g., 4,9.14) is negative or about sin, however. T. DO, Does περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου Imply “the sins of the whole world” in 1 John 2:2?, in Bib 94 (2014) 415-435, has pointed out the distinction between the “natural” world and the world of wicked people. Most likely, ὁ κόσμος in 1 John 3,13 implies the world of wicked people who oppose the children of God. The wicked people are those who show no love for one another. 60. ZERWICK, Biblical Greek (n. 6), §306.



made based on the scant information provided in 3 John 10. We will note that if we interpret the condition in 2 John 10a as a generality or policy command, we will face a serious tension when we read a particular situation in 3 John 10. b) 3 John 10 This verse of about thirty-three words in the shortest document in the NT has generated much discussion61. The debate centers around two figures: the Elder (also the letter writer) and Diotrephes, who is otherwise unknown62. This paper raises the question of the relationship among the clauses in v. 10, and how this verse helps readers of 1-3 John to see a coherence of sentence structure, perhaps among different authors’ approaches to a particular issue63. The common feature that 1 John 3,13; 2 John 10; and 3 John 10 share is that they are constructed as conditional sentences. But 3 John 10 employs a different type of condition, which, according to Smyth, belongs to the future more vivid conditional sentence: ἐάν + subjunctive (protasis) and future indicative (apodosis). Adverbial phrase Protasis Apodosis Relative clause Participial phrase Relative clause Relative clause

(a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g)

διὰ τοῦτο ἐὰν ἔλθω ὑπομνήσω αὐτοῦ τὰ ἔργα ἃ ποιεῖ λόγοις πονηροῖς φλυαρῶν ἡμᾶς καὶ μὴ ἀρκούμενος ἐπὶ τούτοις οὔτε αὐτὸς ἐπιδέχεται τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς καὶ τοὺς βουλομένους κωλύει καὶ ἐκ τῆς ἐκκλησίας ἐκβάλλει

The clauses and phrases hang together and form one complex conditional sentence. In v. 10b (protasis), the Elder is unclear whether his impending visit is to Gaius or to Diotrephes; but he states a hypothesis of a visit. In v. 10c (apodosis), the Elder articulates that he would discuss (ὑπομνήσω) Diotrephes’ deeds. Intending to call upon the deeds committed by Diotrephes, the Elder begins to list them. In v. 10d (relative clause introduced by ἅ), the Elder names the first deed, namely, Diotrephes has slandered him and his emissaries (ἡμᾶς). Verse 10e (participial clause) notes further that because Diotrephes is not yet content with slanderous 61. See n. 15 above. 62. I make no assumption about whether the letter’s recipient (Gaius) personally knows Diotrephes or vice versa. 63. Contrary to von Wahlde (cf. nn. 1, 20-24), BULTMANN, Johannesbriefe (n. 1), pp. 9-12, does not think that one can conclusively argue for the common authorship for 1-3 John. Cf. PAINTER, 1, 2, and 3 John (n. 16), pp. 44-51.



words, the Elder continues with another deed. In v. 10f (relative clause), the Elder identifies the second deed, namely, Diotrephes does not welcome the brothers. Finally, in v. 10g (relative clause), the Elder notes that Diotrephes not only prevents but expels from the church those who want to welcome others. The described acts are constructed with relative clauses (v. 10dfg) and a participial phrase (v. 10e). They serve as explanations of Diotrephes’ deeds mentioned in v. 10c. The principal element connecting v. 10defg to v. 10c is the relative pronoun “which” (ἅ). Two points can be made here. First, the fulfillment of the Elder’s intention to bring up Diotrephes’ deeds depends solely on the former’s actual visit. Second, inhospitality may have taken place between Diotrephes and the Elder’s emissaries. The cause for such an exclusion of guests is unlikely to be christological, theological, or ethical64, but mostly personal disputes between two individuals or two groups of individuals65. There is very good reason, therefore, that the three Johannine sentences (1 John 3,13; 2 John 10; and 3 John 10) are composed conditionally. The conditions (protases) play crucial roles in the sentences: (a) they set limits and criteria upon which the conclusions (apodoses) may be reached; (b) they do not address generalized audiences. In 2 John 10, the criterion for an exercise of inhospitality (or hospitality) is specific and particular. 3. Is There Ground for Hospitality in 2 John? The handful of instances of conditional sentences in 1-3 John present the reader with some interpretive choices. On one level, 2 John suggests an exercise of inhospitality if the implied visitor violates αὕτη ἡ διδαχή. On another, the text allows room for the practice of hospitality. The key for the audience to arrive at a conclusion to deny or welcome a guest rests on the interplay between the two parts of this logical condition, in which the violation of αὕτη ἡ διδαχή (v. 10a) plays a crucial role. Personal discretion is also vital in discerning a decision, since it is imperative to identify what αὕτη ἡ διδαχή means. No doubt αὕτη ἡ διδαχή in v. 10a refers to ἡ διδαχὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ (2× in v. 9). Although ἡ διδαχή occurs three times in vv. 9-10, it does not appear elsewhere in the Johannine writings. For this reason, understanding of what it might mean can only be hypothetical.

64. Cf. PAINTER, 1, 2, and 3 John (n. 16), pp. 354-355, 374-377; VON WAHLDE, Gospel and Letters (n. 1), vol. 3, pp. 265, 283; and VAN DER WATT, Ethical Implications (n. 11). 65. MALHERBE, Inhospitality (n. 15), pp. 69-82.



The answer to the question whether there is ground for hospitality may proceed with the opposite question. That is, what prompts the Elder to advise the ecclesial community “not to welcome” and “not to greet” a visitor? In this exhortation, the Elder seems to suggest that the enclitic τις (v. 10a), which is equivalent to πᾶς (v. 9), refers to what he has stated earlier66. In v. 7, the Elder mentions those who formerly belonged to a Christ believer community, but now “went out into the world”. It is therefore reasonable to think that πᾶς (v. 9) and τις (v. 10a) imply these former members. Several indications support this view. Johannine scholars tend to take τις and πᾶς to refer to a generic teaching about Jesus rather than a specific difference in doctrine. Painter takes the “instruction given here” and refers πᾶς and τις “to be understood against the background of hospitality given to strangers and travelers in the ancient world”67. The strangers and travelers in this sense could be anyone. This generic sense of the terms seems overlapped with von Wahlde’s interpretation, who has argued that the exercise of inhospitality can be generally initiated against Christians who are “travelling for religious purposes”68. Although it remains unclear whether the recipient ἐκλεκτὴ κυρία69 in v. 1 refers to the church which is catholic in the broadest sense of the word, the Elder’s tone in vv. 7-11 seems rather specific. As Gildersleeve notes, the use of εἴ τις does not necessarily limit on a “generic” case, but can be “particular”. In its more specific sense, εἴ τις points to “a definite” person70. First John sees similar expressions when referring to a particular person, although in this case he uses the interrogative pronoun τίς. Reference to the antichrist: τίς ἐστιν ὁ ψεύστης εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀρνούμενος ὅτι Ἰησοῦς οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ Χριστός; οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀντίχριστος (2,22). Reference to the believer: τίς [δέ] ἐστιν ὁ νικῶν τὸν κόσμον εἰ μὴ ὁ πιστεύων ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (5,5).

Similar observations can be made about πᾶς in 2 John; it implies the person who no longer remains in ἡ διδαχὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Here the 66. Contra VON WAHLDE, Gospel and Letters (n. 1), vol. 3, pp. 265, 283, who links the situations in 2 John to 3 John. If αὕτη ἡ διδαχή is about Jesus in 2 John, inhospitality between the Elder and Diotrephes in 3 John is not about Jesus. 67. PAINTER, 1, 2, and 3 John (n. 16), p. 354. Italics added. 68. VON WAHLDE, Gospel and Letters (n. 1), vol. 3, p. 265. Cf. nn. 1, 20-24. 69. For some proposed designations, see BROWN, Epistles (n. 1), pp. 652-655. 70. GILDERSLEEVE, Pindaric Syntax (n. 6), p. 435. JANNARIS, Grammar (n. 7), §1976, cites Meno and Cyrill on this use.



mentions of πᾶς and τις seem best to refer to ὁ ἀντίχριστος and ὁ πλάνος (v. 7) and do not apply to a general type of stranger or traveler71. Second, ἡ διδαχὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ can be taken as an objective genitive “teaching about Christ” or a subjective genitive “teaching from Christ”. As an object, Brown defines, “‘teaching’ becomes equivalent to ‘doctrine’, and the substance of the doctrine is usually assumed to concern how Jesus is the Christ”. As a subjective genitive, a “teaching from Christ” means that the Elder “want[s] people to remain rooted in teaching that comes from Jesus himself”. Brown’s own position is that “there is no need to introduce the objective genitive into the interpretation”72. To support his view on the subjective genitive, Brown points to John 7,16 when Jesus says that ἡ ἐμὴ διδαχὴ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμὴ ἀλλὰ τοῦ πέμψαντός με. But here Jesus implies that “the teaching” is not his, but is of the Father who sent him. In fact, Jesus explicitly states in the following verse that anyone who does God’s will knows that “the teaching” is from God (John 7,17)73. In addition, it is unclear whether ἡ διδαχὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ is readily compatible with ἡ ἐμὴ διδαχή. Contrary to this subjective genitive, ἡ διδαχὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ is better construed as an objective genitive. In this sense, the Elder suggests a hypothetical condition for not welcoming the former members who no longer remain in the doctrine about Jesus Christ. The argument against those rejecting “this” teaching about Christ in vv. 9-11 appears to follow logically and cohere with v. 774. Third, the Elder has mentioned some apostates in v. 7. Attention must be devoted, however, to how he says this. The apostates are those who “went out into the world” (ἐξῆλθον; aorist indicative), and the same ones who, at present, continue to deny Jesus – the one coming in the flesh (οἱ μὴ ὁμολογοῦντες; present participle). For the Elder, this confession of Jesus is doctrinal. He names such an apostate ὁ ἀντίχριστος and ὁ πλάνος75. By using the derogative labels, the Elder reminds the 71. Cf. BULTMANN, Johannesbriefe (n. 1), p. 108, compares πᾶς with Gnostics, then says, “Gesagt ist das nicht von einem πλάνος selbst, sondern von all denen, die sich verführen lassen, wie das πᾶς (ebenso wie 1 Joh 2:23) zeigt”. I think that Bultmann’s reference to Gnosticism is speculative, but I agree that his reference to πλάνος makes better sense. 72. BROWN, Epistles (n. 1), p. 674. Following this lead, VON WAHLDE, Gospel and Letters (n. 1), vol. 3, p. 231, argues against the objective genitive, saying “in the Johannine tradition there are no human teachers”. 73. A similar argument can be made regarding John 18,19. 74. πᾶς, οὗτος (v. 9), τις, αὕτη ἡ διδαχή, and αὐτός (vv. 10-11) nicely follow ὁ ἀντίχριστος and ὁ πλάνος in v. 7. 75. The meaning of the singular ὁ ἀντίχριστος and its plural form have been explained by C.R. KOESTER, The Antichrist Theme in the Johannine Epistles and Its Role in Christian Tradition, in CULPEPPER – ANDERSON (eds.), Communities in Dispute (n. 59), 187-196, p. 191.



community members that he is not alone in this teaching about Jesus Christ. The author of 1 John has similarly written about this76. Finally, 1 John mentions this teaching about Jesus on several occasions. The antichrists are those who formerly belonged to the community, but now “went out from us” (2,18-19)77. The fact that the antichrists have left means for the author that they had never belonged to the community. The author calls such an antichrist ὁ ψεύστης because they continue to deny (ἐστίν and ὁ ἀρνούμενος; present and present participle) that Jesus is the Christ, and that the Son is from the Father (2,22-23)78. Later, the author contrasts the true Spirit – the one who confesses Jesus coming in the flesh (4,2) – with the spirit of falsehood – the one who does not confess that Jesus is from God (4,3). Again, he labels the latter ὁ ἀντίχριστος. In summary, these instances in 1-2 John speak of the doctrinal confession of Jesus being the Christ, the Son of God, and coming in the flesh. What is more significant for the Elder is that in 2 John, such a confession serves as ground for an ecclesial community in its discernment and decision whether to welcome or to refuse such apostates. These former members (ὁ ἀντίχριστος and ὁ πλάνος), who continue to deny Jesus Christ or who violate αὕτη ἡ διδαχὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, can claim from the beginning no fellowship in a Christ believer home (cf. 1 John 1,1-4). By denying the confession of Jesus, the apostates have located themselves outside membership with Christ believer communities. Outside the realm of this doctrinal confession, which serves as a condition (v. 10a) to exclude the former members (v. 10b), the Elder is unlikely to bar any exercise of hospitality. This implies further that it is unlikely that the decision Diotrephes takes to refuse hospitality to the Elder’s emissaries in 3 John has anything to do with what is stated in 2 John 10.

76. I see no need to press the otherwise unprovable hypothesis (cf. von Wahlde in nn. 1, 20-24) that the same author wrote 1-3 John. If the letters were independently circulated among the Johannine house-churches (if they existed!), it would be difficult to pinpoint who wrote what. 77. Observing how ἐξέρχομαι is employed differently (ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξῆλθαν in 1 John 2,19 and πολλοὶ πλάνοι ἐξῆλθον εἰς τὸν κόσμον in 2 John 7) further supports the argument for different authors. 78. Cf. M.D. JENSEN, John Is No Exception: Identifying the Subject of εἰμί and Its Implications, in JBL 135 (2016) 341-353, who attempts to identify the antichrists in 1 John with former Jewish Christians. One objection to this is the fact that contrary to the Gospel, 1-3 John never employ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι. Cf. U.C. VON WAHLDE, Narrative Criticism of the Religious Authorities as a Group Character in the Gospel of John: Some Problems, in NTS 63 (2017) 222-245.



V. CONCLUDING REMARKS This paper first called attention to the interaction between the two parts of the logical condition in 2 John 10. The structural and semantic elements are constructed to form the Elder’s argument regarding the violation of the teaching about Christ. It then suggested a ground for the practice of inhospitality against former members who deny the teaching about Christ. This interpretation suggests a more satisfactory and consistent way of explaining the situation in 2 John 10, especially when comparing 2 John 10 with 1 John 3,13 and 3 John 10. According to 3 John, the Elder claims that Diotrephes does not welcome the brothers and sisters. At the same time, the Elder does not identify Diotrephes’ act of inhospitality with matters related to the teaching about Christ (cf. 2 John 9-10a). An act of inhospitality in 3 John 10 is listed as one of the errors that Diotrephes has committed (v. 10fg), which the Elder wishes to confront if, and only if, he comes. One may think that Diotrephes’ action can be interpreted as harmful or uncivil. But the Elder makes no claim regarding Diotrephes rejecting the teaching about Christ. It is noteworthy that the Elder’s visit (ἐὰν ἔλθω) is incumbent on his promised confrontation with the issues. According to 2 John 10 (cf. 1 John 3,13), the Elder states a condition (v. 10a) about the lack of the teaching about Christ. Ground for inhospitality (v. 10b) is conditioned by a violation of this doctrinal confession. It can be argued that by advising the ecclesial community, the Elder is referring to the antichrist and deceiver. The once-claimed-to-be members now continue to reject “this” teaching. These handful of instances of conditional sentences in 1-3 John, mutatis mutandis, have one thing in common: the fulfillment of the conclusion in 1 John 3,13a; 2 John 10b; and 3 John 10c depends solely on the fulfillment of the respective conditions in 1 John 3,13b; 2 John 10a; and 3 John 10b. In 2 John especially, the rejection of “this” teaching in the conditional clause most likely refers to the former members who have left because they hold a radically different view about Jesus. Saint John the Apostle Church 515 Broadway Street Brandenburg, KY 40108 USA [email protected]

Toan DO




Das Modethema der „Emotionen“ hat bereits Niederschlag in der Markusforschung gefunden. Neuerdings ist sogar von einem „un-emotionalen“ Jesus des Evangeliums nach Markus (= Mk) die Rede1. Vor dem Hintergrund der jüdisch-christlichen Literatur zeigt es sich aber, dass Jesus in einigen Episoden durchaus als sehr „emotional“ dargestellt wird. Bei den großen Differenzen zwischen den antik-jüdischen Menschenbildern und unseren modernen Auffassungen von Emotionen, bieten genaue philologische Untersuchungen einen zuverlässigen Zugang zu dem komplexen Thema der Emotions-Forschung2. Es gilt, den semantischen Vorstellungsrahmen, der von dem jeweiligen Begriff evoziert wird, nachzubilden3. 1. Vgl. R.J. HICKS, Emotion Made Right: Hellenistic Moral Progress and the (Un) Emotional Jesus in Mark (BZNW, 250), Berlin – New York, De Gruyter, 2022, S. 23-24. Er argumentiert, dass wenn man Mk vor dem Hintergrund griechisch-römischer Emotionstheorie liest, Jesus als ein anti-emotionales Exemplar in der hellenistischen Tradition ausgewiesen werde. Des nicht zum Trotz erfahre Jesus Ansätze des Wutes (1,41-45; 3,5; 10,14) und Angst (14,33-34). 2. Zuverlässige philologische Studien sind ein Markenzeichen des Jubilars. Vgl. z.B. nur R. BIERINGER, Proclaimed Message or Proclamation of the Message: A Critical Analysis of the Meaning of εὐαγγέλιον in the Letters of Paul and in the Gospel of Mark, in J. SCHRÖTER – S. BUTTICAZ – A. DETTWILER (Hgg.), Receptions of Paul in Early Christianity: The Person of Paul and His Writings through the Eyes of His Early Interpreters (BZNW, 234), Berlin – Boston, MA, De Gruyter, 2018, 61-88; ID., Touching Jesus? The Meaning of μή μου ἅπτου in Its Johannine Context, in ID. – B. BAERT – K. DEMASURE (Hgg.), To Touch or Not to Touch? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Noli me tangere (ANL, 67), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2013, 61-81; ID., Dying and Being Raised For: Shifts in the Meaning of ὑπέρ in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, in ID. – M.M.S. IBITA – D.A. KUREKCHOMYCZ – T.A. VOLLMER (Hgg.), Theologizing in the Corinthian Conflict: Studies in the Exegesis and Theology of 2 Corinthians (BiTS, 16), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2013, 163-175; ID., Divine-Human Reconciliation in 2 Cor 5:18-21 in Its Interpersonal Context: The Contextual Meaning of the καταλάσσω/καταλλαγή Terminology of 2 Corinthians, in P-G. KLUMBIES – D.S. DU TOIT (Hgg.), Paulus – Werk und Wirkung: Festschrift für Andreas Lindemann zum 70. Geburtstag, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2013, 61-80. Als Zeichen des Dankes für seinen Beitrag in der Lehre und in vielen Veröffentlichungen im Niederländischen, fasste ich den Beitrag in Reimund Bieringers Muttersprache ab. 3. Vgl. B. BOSENIUS, „Retten“ oder „heilen“ – welchen frame aktiviert σῴζειν in Mk 5,2143? – Überlegungen zur „Bedeutung“ eines Wortes aus der Perspektive der Kognitiven Semantik, in D.S. DU TOIT – C. GERBER – C. ZIMMERMANN (Hgg.), Sōtēria: Salvation in Early Christianity and Antiquity. Festschrift in Honour of Cilliers Breytenbach on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday (SupplNT, 175), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2019, 166-185.



Zwei Begriffe in der Erzählung über Jesus und den ausgeschlossenen „Aussätzigen“4 in Mk 1,40-45 bieten sich zur semantischen Analyse an5. Eingebettet in einer fortlaufenden Exegese von Mk 1,40-45 wird im Folgenden in zwei Exkursen der Blick auf die Begriffe σπλαγχνίζομαι und ἐμβριμάομαι vor dem Hintergrund ihres Gebrauchs in der antiken jüdischen Literatur gelenkt. Die Erzählung lässt sich durch den Wechsel des Subjekts leicht in fünf Sequenzen gliedern: V. 40, V. 41, V. 42, Vv. 43f. und V. 45. Es wird nicht erzählt, wo und wann auf der Reise durch das galiläische Land ein Aussätziger zu Jesus kam. Die Erzählung ist nicht lokalisiert. Die Handlung spielt sich wegen der Thematik (s.u.) auf einem offenen Feld ab. Der Erzähler setzt mit dem Präsens historicum in V. 40 neu ein6. Er markiert oft den wichtigen Punkt in der Handlung, die er erzählt, indem er das historische Präsens nutzt. Er stellt das Ereignis so dar, als ob es sich vor den Augen des Lesers ereigne. „Ein Aussätziger kommt (ἔρχεται) zu ihm“. Um Hilfe bittend7, auf die Knie fallend, durchbricht der Kranke die Isolation und nähert sich Jesus. Dies ist ein Regelverstoß8, denn nach jüdischer Auffassung ist ein von einer Hautkrankheit befallener Mensch ἀκάθαρτος, „unrein“ (vgl. Lev 13–14; Num 5,2), und hat sich an Orten außerhalb von Siedlungen und Städten aufzuhalten, abgesondert von anderen Menschen. Daher wurden Kranke nach Kontrolle durch einen Priester auf dessen Anweisung von der Gemeinschaft abgesondert und hätten nur durch ihn wieder für rein erklärt und in der Gemeinschaft wieder aufgenommen werden können9. Der Kranke formuliert konditional: Wenn Jesus 4. Das griechische Adjektiv λεπρός, ά, όν, „schuppig“ oder „rau“, wird substantiviert verwendet, um auf den Träger einer sehr ansteckenden und unheilbaren Hautkrankheit zu verweisen (vgl. LXX Lev 13,44f.), bezeichnet aber mehr als der moderne Begriff „Leprakranker“. Philo nennt Aussatz und Gonorrhoe als Krankheiten, die von Gott trennen (Leg. All. 3.7f.). 5. Vgl. schon C.H. CAVE, The Leper: Mark 1.40-45, in NTS 25 (1979) 245-250; C.R. KAZMIERSKI, Evangelist and Leper: A Socio-Cultural Study of Mark 1.40-45, in NTS 38 (1992) 37-50. 6. Vgl. C. BREYTENBACH, Alteration between Aorist, Historical Present and Imperfect: Aspects of Markan Narrative Style, in ID., The Gospel according to Mark as Episodic Narrative (SupplNT, 182), Leiden, Brill, 2021, 179-219, S. 187-188. 7. Für diese Bedeutung von παρακαλέω, s. W. BAUER – F.W. DANKER – W.F. ARNDT – F.W. GINGRICH, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG), Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press, 2001, s.v. 3 und R. BIERINGER, The Comforted Comforter: The Meaning of παρακαλέω or παράκλησις Terminology in 2 Corinthians, in HTS Teologiese Studies 67/1 (2011) 1-7. 8. Vgl. Lev 13,3-8.11; Josephus, Ap. 1.281; CD XIII; 4Q 396 col. III; 11Q 19 col. XLVI und XLVIIII. 9. Vgl. 11Q 19 col. XLVI und XLVIII; Josephus, Ap. 1.281; Ant. 9.74ff. Lev 13f. hat verschiedene Vorschriften für den Umgang mit Kranken mit ansteckenden Hautkrankheiten. Josephus rezipiert die Anweisungen des Moses (vgl. Ant. 3.261, 264). Auch in den Qumranschriften wird es Personen mit Hautkrankheiten sowie anderen unreinen Personen



will, kann er ihn reinigen. In seiner Anrede steckt nicht nur stilgemäß für solche Erzählungen die Bitte des zu Heilenden, sondern auch die Anerkennung der Vollmacht Jesu, dessen Ruf ihm vorauseilte. Der Kranke bittet um mehr als Genesung, nämlich auch um die darauf folgende Reinigung, die ihm wieder Zugang zur Gemeinschaft ermöglichen würde10. Die Haupthandlung wird in Vv. 41f. im Aorist fortgesetzt. Dem Erzähler nach wurde Jesus vom Erscheinungsbild und der Bitte des Aussätzigen so berührt, dass bei ihm eine körperliche Reaktion ausgelöst wurde. „Er spürte es in seinen Eingeweiden“ (σπλαγχνισθείς)11. Wie ist das Partizipium genau zu verstehen? Exkurs zu σπλαγχνισθείς Das zugrundeliegende Verb σπλαγχνίζομαι ist eine Crux. Bis zu der jüngsten Revision von 2017 folgte die Lutherbibel der Übersetzung von 1522 „und es jammerte ihn (sc. Jesus)“. Ähnlich lautet die Einheitsübersetzung: „Jesus hatte Mitleid mit ihm“. Die Ursprünge dieser Übersetzung gehen auf die Vulgata und Erasmus von Rotterdams Übersetzung mit dem Perfekt Passiv Partizip von misereō zurück. Auch wenn man den Wörterbüchern12 der Vulgata und Erasmus’ Novum Instrumentum Omne von 1516 bzw. der zweiten Edition unter dem Titel Novum Testamentum Omne13 von 1519 folgt (Iesus autem misertus protensa manu) und wie Luther mit „und es iammerte Jhesu“ übersetzen würde, zeigt bereits 2 Klem 1,7 (ἠλέησεν [sc. θεός] γὰρ ἡμᾶς καὶ σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἔσωσεν), dass σπλαγχνίζεθαι und ἐλε-έ/άω nicht völlig synonym sind. Dieses Nebeneinander der beiden Begriffe findet sich auch in der Sedrach Apokalypse 13,4 (ἐλέησον, κύριε, τὴν εἰκόνα σου καὶ σπλαγχνίσθητι). Frühe Interpreten von Mk hatten ihre Mühe mit dem Wort. Codex D zu Mk 1,41 ersetzte σπλαγχνισθείς mit ὀργισθείς (er zürnte). Diese Lesart findet Unterstützung in der Vetus Latina Tradition. Etliche Codices lesen Iesus autem iratus14. Es lohnt sich daher, das Wort σπλαγχνίζομαι genauer zu betrachten. Analog zu δειπνίζειν „bewirten“ von δεῖπνον „Mahlzeit“, ist das Verb σπλαγχνίζειν denominativ vom Substantiv τὸ σπλάγχνον (meist im Plural σπλάγχνα, „Innereien“) abgeleitet, ein Wort, das auch auf die Eingeweide als Sitz der Gefühle verweisen kann15. Die Funktion des Suffixes -ίζειν bei denominativen Verben ist schwer zu bestimmen, denn eine enge Eingrenzung der Bedeutung verboten, die Stadt zu betreten (4Q 270 2 II 12; 11Q 19 col. XLV-XLVI; cf. auch später m.Kel. 4 und 7; m.Neg. 3,2). 10. Vgl. die Häufung der Verbes καθαρίζω in Vv. 40-42. 11. Codex D ersetzt das schwierige σπλαγχνισθείς mit ὀργισθείς, „wütend“. Mt und Lk strichen diesen Einblick in Jesu Körper. 12. Vgl. H.G. LIDDELL – R. SCOTT – H.S. JONES, A Greek-English Lexicon (LSJ), Oxford, Clarendon, 1996, s.v.; BDAG, s.v. 13. Vgl. hierzu H.J. DE JONGE, Erasmus’ Novum Testamentum of 1519, in NT 61 (2019) 1-25. 14. Vgl. A. JÜLICHER (Hg.), Itala: Das Neue Testament in altlateinscher Überlieferung nach den Handschriften. II: Marcusevangelium. Zweite verbesserte Auflage, Berlin, De Gruyter, 1970, S. 9. 15. Vgl. LSJ, s.v.; C. SPICQ, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Peabody, MA, Hendrickson, 1994, vol. 3, S. 273-275. F. MIRGUET, An Early History of Compassion:



des „Allerweltsdenominativsuffix[s]“ ist schwierig16. Es will aber bedacht sein, dass σπλάγχνον einen Gegenstand bezeichnet und das Wort semantisch somit zur Klasse der Objekte gehört. Das abgeleitete Verb drückt also eine Aktion aus, die die σπλάγχνα betrifft. Im Aktiv sind die Eingeweide das direkte Objekt der Handlung, im Passiv logisches Objekt. In der passiven Verwendung des Verbs in einer Inschrift aus Kos (4. Jh. v. Chr.) bedeutet σπλαγχνίζεθαι „Innereien werden verzehrt“17. Der aktive Gebrauch ist m.W. erst in 2 Makk 6,8 belegt, wo σπλαγχνίζειν, wie sonst das Verb σπλαγχνεύειν, bedeutet, „Eingeweide essen“. Diese Möglichkeit passt aber weder zum passiven Partizip σπλαγχνιθείς in Mk 1,41, noch zum Kontext des Verses. Hier kommt zum Tragen, dass das zugrundeliegende Nomen σπλάγχνα, auch die Eingeweide bzw. die Gedärme als Sitz der Gefühle bezeichnen kann. Das Wort wird in „der“ LXX und im NT auch so verwendet18, einmal sogar neben κοιλία, dem Wort für „Bauch“19. Es gibt deutliche Beispiele dafür, dass σπλάγχνα verwendet wird, um die inneren Teile des Menschen in der Bauchregion selbst zu bezeichnen und dass, wie der jeweilen Kontext nahelegt, der Schmerz dort andere Ursachen als Mitgefühl haben kann20. Sowohl Paulus als auch der Autor des lukanischen Doppelwerkes kennen die Vorstellung, dass die Eingeweide Sitz der mitleidenden Gefühle sind: Lk 1,78 überträgt dieses Bild auf Gott und Paulus verwendet es u.a., um seine und Titus’ Haltung der Gemeinde gegenüber auszudrücken21. Das Vorkommen des Verbes σπλαγχνίζεθαι in den frühesten christlichen Schriften beschränkt sich auf die synoptischen Evangelien. Mt und Lk verzichten bei der Rezeption von Mk 1,41 auf das Partizip σπλαγχνισθείς, aber an drei anderen Stellen nimmt Mt das Verb aus der Markusvorlage auf und einmal ergänzt er es sogar22. Lukas übernimmt das Verb nicht aus Mk, aber benutzt es in drei Erzählungen aus seinem Sondergut23. Das Verb ist überwiegend mit ἐπί konstruiert24, aber die beiden Großevangelien verwenden es ebenso wie Mk 1,41 auch absolut25. Interessanterweise wird das Verb immer im Passiv verwendet und bis auf den Samariter in Lk 10,33 und den Vater des verlorenen Sohnes in Lk 15,20, fast immer mit Jesus als logischem Subjekt. Unter Absehung von der bereits erwähnten Emotion and Imagination in Hellenistic Judaism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, S. 34-37. 16. So A. DEBRUNNER, Griechische Wortbildungslehre, Heidelberg, Winter, 1917, § 255. Denominative Verba auf -εύειν bezeichnen die Ausübung einer Tätigkeit (vgl. ibid., § 210). So bedeutet σπλαγχνεύειν „Innereien zu essen“. 17. Vgl. die Inschrift IG XII 4.1 275.14-16: σπ]λαγχνίζεται πράτιστα μὲν | [τὰ ἐπὶ βωμοῦ, εἶτα τὰ] ἐπὶ τοῦ λίθου καὶ τὰ ἀπὸ τοῦ λί|[θου·. 18. Vgl. LSJ, s.v.; LXX 4 Makk 15,23.29; OdSal 9,78; Weish 10,5; Sir 30,7; 33,5; Bar 2,27; Phlm 7; 1 Joh 3,17. 4 Makk 14,13: θεωρεῖτε δὲ πῶς πολύπλοκός ἐστιν ἡ τῆς φιλοτεκνίας στοργὴ ἕλκουσα πάντα πρὸς τὴν τῶν σπλάγχνων συμπάθειαν. 19. PsSal 2,14: τὴν κοιλίαν μου καὶ τὰ σπλάγχνα μου πονῶ ἐπὶ τούτοις. 20. Vgl. 2 Makk 9,5f.; 5,30; 8,10; 11,19; 15,23.29; Spr 26,22; Jer 28,13; Apg 1,18. Die Eingeweiden der Gottlosen empfinden kein Mitleid (Spr 12,10: τὰ δὲ σπλάγχνα τῶν ἀσεβῶν ἀνελεήμονα). 21. Vgl. Lk 1,78; 2 Kor 6,12; 7,15; Phil 1,8; Phlm 12 und 20. 22. Vgl Mk 6,34/Mt 14,14 (s. auch 9,36); Mk 8,2/Mt 15,32; ergänzt in Mt 20,34. 23. Vgl. Lk 7,13; 10,33; 15,20. 24. Vgl. Mk 6,34/Mt 14,14; Mk 8,2/Mt 15,32; Mk 9,22; Lk 7,13. Mit περί in Mt 9,36. 25. Vgl. Mt 18,27; 20,34; Lk 10,33; 15,20.



Stelle 2 Makk 6,8 und dem Kompositum ἐπισπλαγχνίζομαι in Spr 17,526, widmen wir uns dem weiteren Vorkommen des Verbes in der christlichen bzw. jüdischchristlichen Literatur. Ein Blick auf das Vorkommen im 2. Jh. n. Chr.27 kann helfen, die Bedeutung des Verbs, das im Passiv gebraucht wird, zu erhellen. Das Testament des Zebulon nimmt die Erzählung von dem Verkauf Josephs durch seine Brüder zum Ausgangspunkt28. Über Gen 37,18-29 hinaus schildert der Erzähler, wie ,Zebulon‘, wie er darunter litt, dass er, wenn auch nicht Mittäter, zumindest Mitwisser des Verkaufs Josephs durch die anderen Brüder war. Sein Schweigen trug dazu bei, seinen Vater Jakob in dem Irrtum zu belassen, dass Joseph von einem wilden Tier verschlungen worden sei. Vor dem Hintergrund seiner Schuld am Geschehen schrieb Zebulon über εὐσπλαγχνία und ἔλεος29. Dieser Text hilft uns, den mit dem Verb σπλαγχνίζεθαι bezeichneten Rahmen genauer abzustecken. In seiner Rede an seine Kinder erzählt Zebulon, dass Joseph schon damals seine Brüder anflehte, ihn zu jammern und barmherzig mit den inneren Teilen im Körper ihres Vaters Jakobs, die Gefühle auslösen, zu sein (Ἐλεήσατέ με, ἀδελφοί μου, οἰκτιρήσατε τὰ σπλάγχνα Ἰακὼβ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν. – TestZeb 2,2). Eindeutig ist, dass der Tod Josephs Jakob körperlich im Bereich seines Bauches affizieren und in tiefe Trauer versetzen wird. So auch im Falle Zebulons. Als er damals Josephs Flehen hörte, so erzählt er, bekam er Mitleid, fing an zu weinen, seine Leber lief aus und die ganze flüssige Substanz seiner Gedärme entleerte sich auf seine Psyche (ὡς δὲ ἔλεγε τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα, εἰς οἶκτον ἦλθον ἐγώ, καὶ ἠρξάμην κλαίειν, καὶ τὰ ἥπατά μου ἐξεχύθησαν ἐπ’ ἐμέ, καὶ πᾶσα ἡ ὑπόστασις τῶν σπλάγχνων μου ἐχαυνοῦτο ἐπὶ τὴν ψυχήν μου. – TestZeb 2,4). Der Autor lässt Zebulon zudem erzählen, wie sein Herz pochte und seine Gelenke zitterten. Seine Reaktion auf die Lage Josephs ist die erste in einer Reihe solcher Beispiele. Später in seinem Leben, als Zebulon selbst einmal nicht rechtzeitig eine Gabe für einen Bedürftigen zur Hand hatte, weinte er, während er sieben Stadien mit ihm ging. Wegen des Menschen drehten seine Innereien sich zum Mitleid (καὶ τὰ σπλάγχνα μου ἐστρέφετο ἐπ’ αὐτῷ εἰς συμπάθειαν – TestZeb 7,1-4). Diese beiden Stellen lassen darauf schliessen, dass σπλαγχνίζεθαι, wie das zugrundeliegenden Nomen σπλάγχνα, stets mit Eingeweiden zu tun hat. Zebulon aß zwei Tage und zwei Nächte nichts, wegen Joseph σπλαγχνιζόμενος (ἐγὼ γὰρ δύο ἡμέρας καὶ δύο νύκτας οὐκ ἐγευσάμην, ἐπὶ Ἰωσήφ. – TestZeb 4,2). Es geht also um das körperliche Empfinden in den Eingeweiden, wenn man sehr durch die Notlage eines anderen betroffen ist. 26. Spr 17,5: ὁ δὲ ἐπισπλαγχνιζόμενος ἐλεηθήσεται – Wer X, wird Barmherzigkeit empfangen. Die Konstruktion mit ἐπί + τινα bezeichnet das Gefühl auslösende Subjekt/ Objekt und gibt damit die Ursache des Bewegtwerdens, das sich auf das Subjekt/Objekt richtet, an. 27. Hermas, Vis. 3,12 (20,3); Mand. 4,3 (31,5); Paraleipomena Ieremiou 6,21; TestZeb 4,2; 6,4; 7,1f.; 8,1.3f.; TestHiob 26,5; TestAbr (B) 12,21f. Vita Adae et Evae 9,7; 27,4; ApkSedr 13,3; ApkMos 9,3; 27,2. 28. Ich folge der längeren Version. Vgl. M. DE JONGE, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs: A Critical Edition of the Greek Text (Pseudepigrapha Veteris Testamenti Graece, 1/2), Leiden, Brill, 1978; H.W. HOLLANDER – M. DE JONGE, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs: A Commentary (Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha, 8), Leiden, Brill, 1985, S. 253-275. Anders J. BECKER, Die Testamente der zwölf Patriarchen (JSHRZ, 3/1), Gütersloh, Mohn, 21980. 29. Vgl. MIRGUET, History of Compassion (Anm. 15), S. 49-57.



Wenn man das Verb mit „barmherzig sein“ oder „jammern“ übersetzt, unterschlägt man nicht nur den passiven Modus, sondern verschiebt auch den Fokus von dem körperlichen ins rein emotionale Empfinden. Besser wäre „mit-leiden“, aber auch damit verschwindet das „Bauchgefühl“. Zu Recht redet Mirguet von „gut-felt compassion“ (im Bauch gefühltes Mit-Leiden)30. Obwohl der Fokus der passiven Form des Verbes auf dem durch eine äußere Situation ausgelösten Affiziertwerden in den inneren Teilen des Bauches liegt, wird es immer wieder in Kontexten verwendet, wo dieses „Mit-Leiden“ zum Handeln anspornt, damit die Lage des leidenden Menschen sich lindert. Zebulon erzählt, dass er im Winter einen schwerbeladenen Menschen nackt sah und durch dessen Anblick in den Eingeweiden bewegt wurde (σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐπ’ αὐτόν). Er stahl dann ein Kleid aus seinem Haus und gab es dem Träger heimlich. Nun fordert er seine Kinder auf, wenn sie in den Eingeweiden berührt werden, allen gegenüber ohne Unterschied barmherzig zu sein und denen in Not zu geben von dem, was Gott ihnen gab (TestZeb 7,1-2). Sollten die Kinder nichts zu geben haben, sollen sie mitleiden in (ihre) Innereien berührenden Mitgefühlen (συμπάσχετε ἐν σπλάγχνοις ἐλέους – TestZeb 7,3; s. auch TestZeb 6,4). Die weiteren Belege des Verbs σπλαγχνίζεθαι in der jüdisch-christlichen Literatur bis zum 2. Jh. n. Chr. bestätigen den Befund im Testament des Zebulon. In der Apokalypse des Moses sagte Adam zu Eva, dass sie und Seth weinen und zu Gott beten mögen, damit Gott im Bauch bewegt werde wegen Adam (δεόμενοι τοῦ θεοῦ ὅπως σπλαγχνισθῇ ἐπ᾽ ἐμέ – ApkMos 9,3). Er selbst bittet inständig zu Gott, damit er „splagchniziert“ wird und sich Adam erbarmt (27,2). Das ἐλεεῖν ist eine aktive Handlung, die auf das erlittene σπλαγχνίζεθαι folgt. Der Zusammenhang zwischen in den Eingeweiden betroffen zu sein und dem aktiven SichErbarmen zeigt sich auch, wenn Hiob seiner Frau sagt: „Lasst uns langmütig sein, bis der Herr im Bauch bewegt ist und uns bemitleidet (μακροθυμήσωμεν ἕως ἂν ὁ Κύριος σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐλεήσῃ ἡμᾶς. – TestHiob 26,5). Als Ausdruck der echten Reue führt das Weinen des Menschen dazu, dass Gott im inneren Sitz der Gefühle bewegt wird. Ähnliches gilt für die Paralipomena Ieremiou 6,21 (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ὁ κύριος ἐπὶ τῶν δακρύων ἡμῶν). Anthropomorph gesprochen führt das σπλαγχνίζεθαι Gottes angesichts der Sünder zu deren Rettung. Nach TestAbr (B) 12,21f. ist Gott, im Kontrast zu Abraham, im Bauch bewegt angesichts der Sünder, sodass sie umkehren, leben, ihren Sinn abwenden von ihren Sünden und gerettet werden (οὐ σπλαγχνίζεται [sc. Ἁβραάμ] ἐπὶ τοὺς ἁμαρτωλοὺς, ἀλλ’ ἐγὼ σπλαγχνίζομαι ἐπὶ τοὺς ἁμαρτωλοὺς ὥστε ἐπιστρέψουσιν καὶ ζήσωσιν καὶ μετανοήσωσιν ἐκ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν, καὶ σωθήσονται). Insbesondere ist es eine Eigenschaft Gottes, in den Eingeweiden getroffen zu werden, wie der Pastor Hermae es ausdrückt (Mand. 9,3 [39,3f.]): οὐκ ἔστι γὰρ ὁ θεὸς ὡς οἱ ἄνθρωποι μνησικακοῦντες, ἀλλ’ αὐτὸς ἀμνησίκακός ἐστιν καὶ σπλαγχνίζεται ἐπὶ τὴν ποίησιν αὐτοῦ. Oder an anderer Stelle (Mand. 4,3 [31,5]): πολύσπλαγχνος οὖν [ὢν] ὁ κύριος ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπὶ τὴν ποίησιν αὐτοῦ. Der Schöpfer und Erhalter des Alls wird durch die sichtbare Reue des Menschen im inneren Sitz der Gefühle bewegt, so dass er Heilung gibt (Sim. 7,4 [66,4]). Der Herr wird im Bauch bewegt und sendet dann seinen Hirten, um den Geist derer, die wirklich Buße tun, zu erneuern (Sim. 8,6 [72,3]; 8,11 [77,1]; 9,14 [91,3]. Vgl. auch Vis. 3,12 [20,3]: ἐσπλαγχνίσθη [sc. θεός] ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς καὶ ἀνενεώσατο 30. Ibid., S. 34-37.



τὰ πνεύματα ὑμῶν). Im Gegensatz zu Gott ist der Strafengel bitterscharf und gar nicht fähig, im Inneren bewegt zu werden (καὶ ὅλως μηδὲν σπλαγχνιζόμενος), denn er ist ἄ-σπλαγχνος (ohne Eingeweide als Sitz der Gefühle; Sim. 6,3 [63,2]). Schon Paulus bahnte es an, dass die Christen aufgerufen werden, σπλάγχνα, d.h. mitfühlende Eingeweide, zu haben31. Später wird das Verb in dem übertragenen Sinn „Mitleid haben“ Teil des christlichen Vokabulars, wie zahlreiche Belege bei u.a. Origenes, Athanasius und Basilius von Caesarea, in Physiologus’ Naturlehre sowie in frühbyzantinischen Inschriften aus Galatien und der phrygischen Hierapolis zeigen: [..].μετὰ Θεὸν | [τ]ὸν εὔσπλαγχ|νον, Πρίσκον τὸ||ν θεοφύλακτο[ν] … (ICG 2280.2-6); … ὅ(τ)ι [εἶ] κ(ύριο)ς [(ὕψιστος?)εὔσπλαγχνος, μακρόθυμος καὶ πολυέ]λεος [καὶ με]τανοῶν [ἐπὶ ταῖς κακίας ἀνθρώπων· (ICG 932.2).

Wir kehren zurück zur Auslegung von Mk 1,41f. Jesus empfindet die Emotionen dem Aussätzigen gegenüber am eigenen Körper. Im Bauch bewegt (σπλαγχνισθείς), seine Hand ausstreckend (ἐκτείνας), berührte Jesus (ἥψατο) den Mann. Diese Handlung widerspricht der Erwartung und den Gesetzesvorschriften. Nach der späteren Mischna war es eine Verunreinigung ersten Grades, einen Unreinen anzufassen (m.Kel. 1,4). Mit der Präsensform von λέγειν vergegenwärtigt der Erzähler die direkte Rede Jesu, als würden die Zuhörer die Worte Jesu an den Kranken hören: „[…] er sagt (λέγει) zu ihm: ‚Ich will‘“. Der markinische Jesus gibt einen strikten Befehl im Aorist32: „Sei gereinigt!“ (καθαρίσθητι). Der Redner fasst die Aktion als Ganzes abgeschlossen auf und erwartet, dass der Mann sofort gereinigt wird. Auch die vollzogene Veränderung wird knapp im Aorist erzählt. Jesus heilt nicht nur, sondern zugleich reinigt er den Mann durch seine Handlung und sein Wort. Der Aussatz entfernte sich sofort vom Mann und er wurde gereinigt. Nach Lev 14,3f. folgt eine Reinigungserklärung zwar nach einer Heilung33, aber Aussatz galt als unheilbar, nur Gott kann dieses heilen34. Anders als die Priester, die die erfolgte Heilung zu konstatieren haben, heilt und reinigt Jesus selbst mit göttlicher Vollmacht durch seine Handlung und durch sein Wort. Er wird hier in die Tradition des Elischa gestellt, denn auch der Syrer Naaman wurde auf das Wort des Propheten hin von seiner Lepra geheilt und gereinigt35. 31. Phil 2,1; s. auch Kol 3,12; 1 Joh 3,17. 32. Vgl. hierzu C. BREYTENBACH, Imperative Aspect in the Gospel according to Mark: Performative Instruction through Direct Speech, in P. BOSMAN – G. KOTZE (Hgg.), Ancient Philosophy and Early Christianity: Studies in Honor of Johan C. Thom (SupplNT, 188), Leiden, Brill, 2022, 388-413. 33. Vgl. auch Josephus, Ap. 1.282. 34. 2 Kön 5,7; Josephus, Ant. 3.264. 35. Vgl. das ἐκαθαρίσθη in LXX 4 Bas (2 Kön) 5,14: καὶ κατέβη Ναιμαν καὶ ἐβαπτίσατο ἐν τῷ Ιορδάνῃ ἑπτάκι κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμα Ἐλισαιε καὶ ἐπέστρεψεν ἡ σὰρξ αὐτοῦ ὡς σὰρξ παιδαρίου μικροῦ καὶ ἐκαθαρίσθη. Die Erzählung wurde in den Vita Prophetarum 22,12 rezipiert.



Der Erzähler setzt in V. 43 die Handlung zunächst im Aorist fort. Der markinische Jesus wird stets als emotional aufgebracht dargestellt. Den Mann „anschnaubend“ (βριμησάμενος), schickte Jesus den geheilten und gereinigten Aussätzigen fort (ἐξέβαλεν)36. Wiederum übergehen Mt und Lk in der Rezeption des Mk diese „Emotion“ Jesu. Womöglich fanden sie die mit ἐμβριμάομαι ausgedrückte Handlung zu barsch. Was ist damit gemeint? Exkurs zu ἐμβριμησάμενος αὐτῷ Das Partizip ἐμβριμησάμενος kommt von ἐν + βριμάομαι. Setzen wir mit Letzterem ein: Das Präfix βρῐ- bedeutet stark (μέγας, ἰσχυρός, χαλεπός), das Verb βριάω „stark machen“. Davon abgeleitet sind ἡ βρίμη, „Kraft, Macht“ und die Adjektive βριμός „zornig“ oder βριαρός -ά -όν „stark, mit Wucht“. Mit Hinweis auf die Suida und Hesychios glossiert LSJ (jeweils s.v.) βριμάζω mit „roar like a lion“ und unter Bezugnahme auf Aristophanes, Equites 885, βριμάομαι (= βριμαίνω) mit „snort with anger, to be indignant“. Montanaris englische Edition schrieb für βριμάω bzw. βριμόομαι „to grumble in anger“. Das Kompositum ἐν + βριμάομαι bedeutet mit Dativ „jemandem gegenüber wütend sein“, wie etwa der Meder Kyaxares auf Kyros und die Meder (ἐβριμοῦτό τε τῷ Κύρῳ καὶ τοῖς Μήδοις – Xenophon, Cyropaedia 4.5.9). Bei βριμάομαι hielten sich die Bedeutungen „anfahrend anreden“ (Aelius Herodianus [PseudoHerodianus], Partitiones, βριθοσύνη· βριμῶμαι, ῥῆμα, τὸ ἐπιπλήττω· [Boissonade 6]) und „wütend sein“ (Hesychios, Lexicon, beta 1165: *βριμοῦσθαι· θυμοῦσθαι g ὀργίζεσθαι). Angesichts der Funktion des ἐν in Komposita (s. LSJ, s.v. E Ib) und der Parallele in Mk 14,5, im Bartholomäus-Evangelium (4,12) oder des Martyriums des Konon von Bedina (45; 52; 61; 131) passt diese Glossierung „jemanden wütend anfahren“ bzw. „anschnauben“ besser als „ernsthaft zureden“, wie für das Kompositum in Mk 1,43 und in LXX Dan 11,30 (NETS: „will rebuke him“) und Mt 9,30 vorgeschlagen wurde (LSJ, s.v. II; LN 33.320) und wohl möglich ist (Hesychios, Lexicon, epsilon 2318: ἐμβριμῆσαι· ἐπιτιμῆσαι. κελεῦσαι, προστάξαι μετ’ ἐξουσίας).

Klar ist auf jeden Fall, dass Jesus nach der Auffassung des Erzählers den Geheilten und zugleich Gereinigten in solch einer Weise anredete, dass seine Stimme von einem heftigen Luftstrom getragen wird. Der markinische Jesus ist gereizt und das zeigt sich körperlich. Diese aufgeregte Weise des Redens gibt dem Befehl zusätzlichen Nachdruck. In V. 44a wiederholt der Erzähler das Muster von V. 41, indem er präsentisch zur Rede Jesu überleitet: „[…] und er sagt (λέγει) zu ihm […]“. In der direkten Rede verwendet der markinische Jesus den Imperativ zunächst im Präsensstamm und befiehlt dem Aussätzigen: „Siehe zu, dass du überhaupt niemandem37 etwas sagst, sondern gehe!“. Indem er 36. Jesus verursachte, dass er geht; s. 1,12. LSJ, s.v. 2 schlägt abgemildert vor: „cause to depart“. 37. μηδενὶ μηδέν ist verstärkend; εἴπῃς Konj. Aor. anstatt Imp. Aor. v. λέγω (vgl. F. BLASS – A. DEBRUNNER – F. REHKOPF, Grammatik des Neutestamentlichen Griechisch, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 171990, § 364,3).



das Verbot mit dem Verb ὅρα im Präsensstamm einführt, verleiht Jesus als Sprecher der sich entfaltenden Handlung Dringlichkeit38. Der geheilte Aussätzige sollte über einen längeren Zeitraum darauf achten, niemandem etwas zu sagen. Die Handlung, die das Verb ὑπάγω, „weggehen, sich in eine Richtung bewegen“ bezeichnet, beinhaltet auch Fortschritt. Es dauert länger, bis der Mann weg ist. Die Handlung wird also als fortlaufend vorgestellt. Die darauffolgenden Befehle aber werden im Aorist gegeben. Jesus befiehlt, dass die letzten beiden Handlungen dringend vollständig abgeschlossen werden sollen: „Zeige (δεῖξον) dich dem Priester und opfere (προσένεγκε) für deine Reinigung“. Wer wieder gesund ist, ist rein und braucht nicht mehr von der Gemeinschaft abgesondert zu werden39. Er muss sich aber vorher dem Priester zeigen. Nur dieser kann ihn wieder für rein erklären und seine vorschriftsmäßigen Opfer annehmen40. Jesus, der den Aussätzigen heilt, schafft selbst die Grundlage für die kultische Reinheit, tritt aber nicht in Konkurrenz mit der Aufsicht der Priester. Die gesetzliche Bestimmung, dass ein Hautkranker abgesondert werden soll, bis der Priester ihn für rein erklärt hat, wird somit vom markinischen Jesus eingehalten und dem markinischen Motiv, die Machttaten Jesus zu verschweigen (vgl. auch 5,43) dienstbar gemacht41. Jesus schnaubt den Mann also an, weil er nun befürchtet, dass seine Messianität nicht mehr bewahrt werden wird. Der Gereinigte handelt nun aber ganz anders als befohlen. Die Bedeutung des Verbs (ἤρξατο – im Aorist) in V. 45 hebt den ingressiven Aspekt hervor. Als er fortging, begann er vieles bekannt zu machen und das Wort (d.h. was geschah)42 zu verbreiten. Der untergeordnete Infinitiv im Folgesatz steht im Präsens (δύνασθαι […] εἰσελθεῖν) und drückt damit aus, dass der Erzähler Jesu Handeln als fortwährend auffasst. Die Folge (ὥστε) war, dass es Jesus nicht mehr möglich war, in eine Stadt hineinzugehen, sondern dass er länger draußen an einsamen Orten verweilte. Der Erzähler schließt die Episode mit einer allgemeinen Bemerkung über das Handeln Jesu und drückt mit den Imperfekten aus, was ab diesem Zeitpunkt die ganze Zeit geschah: „Aber er blieb (ἦν) draußen auf dem Land; und von überall her kamen (ἤρχοντο) Leute dauernd zu ihm“. Durch die Durchbrechung des 38. ὅρα: Imp. Präs. Akt. v. ὁράω – vor einem Verbot „siehe zu, dass“. 39. Vgl. LXX Lev 14,1.7. 40. Vgl. Lev 13,16f.; 14,2-7; Josephus, Ant. 3.264; CD XIII; 11Q Temp 45,18; 4QMMT (396) col. III 7f. 41. Die Schweigegebote an die Dämonen in 1,25.34 und an den Geheilten in 1,44 sowie das Motiv, dass Jesus sich absonderte (1,35.45), sind von Wrede im Rahmen seiner Theorie des Messiasgeheimnisses gedeutet worden; vgl. W. WREDE, Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck, 1901. 42. Vgl. W. BAUER, Griechisch-deutsches Wörterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der frühchristlichen Literatur, ed. K. ALAND – B. ALAND, Berlin, De Gruyter, 6 1988, s.v. λόγος, I 7.



Schweigegebotes wird der Erfolg Jesu noch einmal unterstrichen. Der Gedanke aus 1,21f.27f.32f. wird aufgenommen. Die Angabe „an einsamen Orten“ impliziert, dass sich Jesus abseits der Straßen aufgehalten hatte. Wie konnten die Menschen von überall her kommen43? Sowohl Matthäus als auch Lukas versetzen die Erzählung an andere Orte. Nach Matthäus folgte eine große Menge Jesus als er vom Schauplatz der Bergpredigt herunterstieg. Da kommt ein Aussätziger und fällt vor ihm nieder und spricht (Mt 8,1f.). Nach Lk 5,12 geschieht dieses, als Jesus in einer der Städte ist. Ein Mann voller Aussatz sieht ihn, fällt aufs Angesicht und bittet ihn. Bei Lukas ist das Motiv des einsamen Ortes aufgegeben. So auch im P.Eg. 2 + P.Köln 25544: Und siehe, ein Aussätziger näherte sich [ihm] und sagt: „Lehrer Jesus, mit Aussätzigen wandernd und essend mit [ihnen] in der Herberge; aus[sätzig wurde] auch ich. Wenn [du] nun [willst], werde ich rein“. Sofort [sagte] der Herr [zu ihm]: „Ich will’s, sei rein“. [Und alsbald] wich der Aussatz von ihm. Dann aber sagte Jesus zu ihm: „Gehe hin und zeige dich den Priestern und bringe (das Opfer) für die Reinigung, wie Mose dir befahl“45.

P.Eg. 2 hat ein eigenes Profil. Die Lokalisierung ist nicht mehr an einem einsamen Ort, sondern in einer städtischen Szene. Während Markus stets mit Pronominalisierung in der 3. Person ὁ Ἰησοῦς aus 1,14 aufnimmt, wird er hier direkt mit διδάσκαλε angeredet, antwortet und befiehlt aber als 43. Im 1. Jh. n. Chr. gingen die Straßen von Westen via Sepphoris zu Herodes Antipas’ neue Residenz in Tiberias oder Migdal, beide am See von Gennesaret gelegen; oder nördlicher von Ptolemais zu Julias/Betsaida, die Residenzstadt des Herodes Philippus am Nordufer des Sees. Dem Westufer des Sees entlang verlief eine Küstenstraße, die via Kafarnaum, Gennesar und Migdal, Julias im Norden mit Tiberias im Süden verband. Zwischen diesen Straßen, am Rande der Ebene von Gennesar hat man sich die einsamen Orte vorzustellen. 44. Papyrus Egerton wurde 1935 erstmals veröffentlicht. Er besteht aus zwei doppelseitig beschriebenen Blättern und Resten eines dritten Blattes aus einem aus Perikopen aufgebauten Codex aus dem Ende des 2. Jh. Das Fragment enthält vier oder fünf locker verbundene Geschichten: 1.) Dialog Jesu mit „Gesetzeskundigen“ und „Obersten des Volkes“ (Parr. in Joh 5,39.45–9,29). 2.) Erzählung über einen vergeblichen Versuch, Jesus zu verhaften und zu steinigen. 3.) Heilung eines Aussätzigen (Par. Mk 1,40-44). 4.) Zinsgroschenfrage (Par. Mk 12,13-17). 5.) Eine völlig unbekannte Perikope über ein Weizenkorn. Obwohl die Fragmente ein fortgeschrittenes Stadium der synoptischen Überlieferung darstellen, ist eine literarische Benutzung der synoptischen Evangelien eher unwahrscheinlich. P.Köln 255 wurde 1987 publiziert und enthält unter anderem den Schluss von P.Eg. 2, 1r. Vgl. T. NICKLAS, Papyrus Egerton 2, in T.J. KRAUS – M. KRUGER – T. NICKLAS (Hgg.), Gospel Fragments (OECGT), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008. 45. P.Eg. 2, 1r. καὶ [ἰ]δοὺ λεπρὸς προσελθ[ὼν αὐτῷ] λέγει· διδάσκαλε Ἰησ(οῦ) λε[προῖς συν]οδεύων καὶ συνεσθίω[ν αὐτοῖς] ἐν τῷ πανδοχείῳ ἐλ[έπρησα] καὶ αὐτὸς ἐγώ· ἐὰν [ο]ὖν [σὺ] θέλῃς καθαρίζομαι· ὁ δὲ κύριος [ἔφη αὐτῷ]· θέλ[ω] | καθαρίσθητι· [καὶ εὐθέως ἀ]πέστη ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ ἡ λέπρα· ὁ δὲ κ(ύριο)ς εἶπεν αὐτῷ·] πορε[υθεὶς ἐπίδειξον σεαυτὸ]ν τοῖ[ς ἱερεῦσι …] . P.Köln 255 (1r.1-5): [λέγει] δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰη(σοῦς)· [·] πορε[υθεὶς σεαυ]τὸν ἐπίδειξον τοῖ[ς ἱερεῦσιν] καὶ ἀνένεγκον [περὶ τοῦ καθ]αρισμοῦ ὡς προ [σ]έ[ταξεν Μω(ϋσῆς)].



„der Herr“ (ὁ κύριος) in P.Eg., wo zudem die Gründe für die Ansteckung mit der Krankheit ausführlich geschildert werden. Beiden (Markus und P.Eg.) gemeinsam ist die Bitte des Aussätzigen, Jesu Antwort und die Bestätigung, dass der Aussatz von dem Mann gewichen sei, sowie der Auftrag Jesu, sich, wie Mose anordnete, dem Priester zu zeigen. Typisch markinische Züge fehlen: Die Szene am abgelegenen Ort, der Kniefall, die Betroffenheit Jesu (σπλαγχνισθείς), die harsche Vertreibung des Geheilten in 1,43a und die Motive, dass Jesus um so bekannter wurde und sich absonderte in 1,45. Die „Emotionen“, mit denen Jesus in Mk handelt, sind, wie schon bei Mt und Lk, verschwunden. Eine literarische oder mündliche Abhängigkeit von der Markuserzählung ist sehr unwahrscheinlich. Auch wenn nicht ausgeschlossen werden kann, dass P.Eg. 2, 1r von der mündlichen Verbreitung des Lukasevangeliums zehrt, ist es wahrscheinlicher, dass es sich hier um eine unabhängige Aufnahme einer Episode aus der mündlichen Jesustradition handelt, die auch in der Markustradition überliefert wurde. Zum Thema „Emotionen“ sei abschließend angemerkt, dass die Begriffsanalyse die körperliche Dimension im „emotionalen“ Verhalten des markinischen Jesus deutlich zu Tage gebracht hat. Seine Reaktion ist ja auch ausgelöst durch den kranken Körper des Aussätzigen. Dass er motiviert durch Mitleid, welches auf den Bauch schlägt, helfend eingreift, fügt sich in das bekannte Muster in der jüdisch-christlichen Literatur, nach dem man durch das Ergriffen-Sein vom Leid Anderer zu handeln hat. Ein Muster, das auch in anthropomorphen Erzählungen auf Gott übertragen wurde. Dass Jesus den von ihm in Mitleid geheilten und gereinigten Mann nachher anschnaubte, wirkt seltsam. Diese Wandlung in den „Emotionen“ lässt sich auch nicht erklären, indem man annimmt, dass der Evangelist eine traditionelle Erzählung, seinem erzählerischen Motiv, dass Jesus unerkannt bleiben wollte, dienstbar machte, denn beide „Emotionen“ kommen nur in Mk vor46. Westendallee 54 Cilliers BREYTENBACH DE-14052 Berlin Institut für Christentum und Antike Deutschland Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin [email protected] New Testament and Ancient Studies Stellenbosch University South Africa 46. Ich danke Christiane Zimmermann, Johan Thom und Lilian Uhlig für die Durchsicht des Manuskriptes und wichtige Anregungen.


In his in-depth study on the meaning of ῥαββουνί in John 20,16 Reimund Bieringer resolutely interprets the conversation between Mary Magdalene and the risen Christ as an expression of the theme of discipleship. The emphasis is on the fact that with Mary Magdalene the first disciple reconnects with Jesus personally after his total isolation in his death on the cross and the burial. The point is not only that Mary Magdalene recognises in Jesus the risen Christ, but also that she reconnects with him as a disciple, and in fact the true disciple1.

This change of perspective on Mary Magdalene involved a considerable amount of courage. For centuries, the words of Jesus to Mary, which were known primarily in the Latin translation as noli me tangere, formed the predominant interpretative lens through which the encounter between Christ and Mary Magdalene was viewed. With the emphasis on this prohibition came the objectification and implicit sexualisation of Mary Magdalene, marking her desire to touch – even if it was never explicitly mentioned as such in the text – as taboo. The visual reception history of John 20,16-17 seems to have especially cultivated this one-sided perspective, as it grafted an entire iconography onto these three Latin words. Bieringer’s rigorous exegetical approach to the matter ignited the liberating power of the word. By focusing on a mutual conversation rather than a one-sided prohibition, Bieringer emancipated Mary Magdalene from the paralysing realm of the male gaze. Most importantly, by emphasising Mary Magdalene’s role as a true disciple Bieringer gave back her agency. This article focuses on Mary Magdalene’s courage in becoming a disciple by studying a surprising incongruence in the text of John 20,1118: the double mention of στρέφω in John 20,14.16. By interpreting the 1. R. BIERINGER, Ῥαββουνί in John 20,16 and Its Implications for Our Understanding of the Relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, in ID. – B. BAERT – K. DEMASURE (eds.), Noli Me Tangere in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Textual, Iconographic and Contemporary Interpretations (BETL, 283), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2016, 3-39, p. 39.



double conversion of Mary Magdalene as a meaningful disruption in the narrative, this article revisits the realm of the visual medium to also resuscitate Mary Magdalene’s decision-making power and agency visually. This visual exegesis of the text is designed to support a reading of John 20,11-18 along the lines of the Normativity of the Future approach. This visual way of reading John 20,14.16, therefore, intends to sharpen our image of the future vision the text projects, a vision in which the courageous acts of women become visible, shaping an inclusive image of discipleship. I. INCLINED TO LOOK BACK: THE TWO CONVERSIONS IN THE TEXT JOHN 20,11-18


Guidée par un souvenir, ange incorruptible, j’entrai dans cette caverne creusée au plus profond de moi-même; je m’approchai de ce corps comme de ma propre tombe. J’avais renoncé à tout espoir de Pâques, à toute promesse de résurrection. Marguerite Yourcenar, Feux (1974), pp. 130-131.

Mary Magdalene stands transfixed outside the tomb. She does not speak but bends over to look. She sees two angels, who speak to her first (vv. 11-13). After this conversation is concluded (ταῦτα εἰποῦσα), the first verb of movement (ἐστράφη) changes the course of the narrative. Two other verbs follow in rapid succession: Mary sees (θεωρεῖ) Jesus and did not know (οὐκ ᾔδει) it was him (v. 14). Jesus asks Mary Magdalene why she is weeping and whom she is seeking. Mary is under the false assumption (δοκοῦσα) that the man speaking to her is the gardener (ὁ κηπουρός). Her answer is similar to the one she gave earlier to the angels (v. 15). Jesus then speaks a second time, calling Mary by her name: Μαριάμ. She replies also using a Hebrew term: ῥαββουνί. In this verse, the participle στραφεῖσα is the only verb of movement, among a series of verbs of speech. This second mention of στρέφω forms a pivot in the middle of the verse2. The calling by name initiates a turning movement that joins the name Mariam with the title Rabbouni. The first conversation between the risen Jesus and his disciple follows in vv. 17-18. Focusing on 2. S.M. SCHNEIDERS, John 20:11-18: The Encounter of the Easter Jesus with Mary Magdalene. A Transformative Feminist Reading, in F.F. SEGOVIA (ed.), What Is John? Readers and Readings of the Fourth Gospel (SBL Symposium Series, 3), Atlanta, GA, Scholars, 1996, 155-168, p. 159.



a key-component of post-paschal discipleship, the risen Jesus explains his ascension as a beneficial event. “In returning to the Father, Jesus makes it possible for the disciples to share fully in his relationship with God”3. The scene concludes with a second reference to seeing. The seeing (θεωρεῖ v. 14) as the mere sense perception of the apparent gardener (v. 15) has been transformed into a seeing that witnesses to the resurrection: “I have seen (ἑώρακα) the Lord” (v. 18)4. The turning of Mary Magdalene is mentioned twice, each time at a crucial turn in the story. The first time ἐστράφη concludes the conversation with the angels (v. 14) and the second time στραφεῖσα joins Mary’s prompt response to Jesus’s call (v. 16). Why is στρέφω mentioned twice in vv. 14-16? Mary has already turned around once. Why does she have to turn around a second time? From the viewpoint of literary criticism, the double mention of στρέφω might possibly be a literary seam that signals the joining of two previously separate accounts5. From the perspective of narrative criticism, however, the repetition of στρέφω might well serve to enrich the storytelling, in which case a logical explanation must be found for the second mention of στρέφω in v. 16. The meaning of the participle στραφεῖσα can be understood either literally, figuratively or as a combination of both. (1) The participle can have a literal meaning, indicating the physical turn of Mary Magdalene. The reason for this second turn could then be explained by assuming that Mary Magdalene, in the meantime, had turned her face towards the tomb again6. The second turn might also be understood as a movement that is more vigorous than the first, thus causing the prohibition in v. 17a7. Or the aorist indicative in v. 14 can be understood as an ingressive aorist and the aorist participle in v. 14 as an effective aorist, completing the action begun in v. 148. 3. G.R. O’DAY, The Gospel of John: Introduction, Commentary and Reflections (New Interpreter’s Bible, 9), Nashville, TN, Abingdon, 1995, p. 843. 4. M.R. THOMPSON, Mary of Magdala: Apostle and Leader, New York, Paulist, 1995, pp. 73-74. 5. E. HAENCHEN, John 2: A Commentary on the Gospel of John, Chapters 7–21 (Hermeneia), Philadelphia, PA, Fortress, 1984, p. 209. 6. J.H. BERNARD, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to St. John, vol. 2 (ICC), Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1928, p. 667. 7. “Das στραφεῖσα bedeutet die plötzliche und lebhafte Bewegung auf ihn hin, wie das μή μου ἅπτου V. 17 zeigt”. R. BULTMANN, Das Evangelium des Johannes (KEK, 2), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 181964, p. 532 n. 1. 8. W. VERBURG, Magdalena trifft den Auferstandenen: Misslungenes Zusammentreffen oder vorbildhafte Begegnung? Zur Bedeutung des Lexems στραφεῖσα in Joh 20,16, in BibNot 121 (2004) 77-94, pp. 82-83.



(2) Unlike the literal turning movement, which is expressed by the same verb in v. 14, the participle can have a figurative meaning in v. 16, conveying an inner change. The participle can either indicate Mary’s full recognition of Jesus9 or her spiritual conversion10. In his recent article on the subject Michael Peppard shows that John already uses the verb in the figurative sense earlier in his gospel, when quoting Isa 6,10 LXX in John 12,40. In this verse στραφῶσιν figuratively refers to the conversion of the heart. Replacing the ἐπιστρέφω of the Septuagint version with στρέφω, John, moreover, slightly modifies the quote from Isaiah. This, in turn, might be seen as a preparation for the wordplay in John 20,16. This wordplay is consistent with the way in which John uses double entendre elsewhere in his gospel: “thus the double meaning is more akin to John’s use of ἄνωθεν in the dialogue with Nicodemus (3,3-4) […]. As with ἄνωθεν, so with στρέφειν: the author is playing on two well-known and acceptable uses of the same word”11. Unlike the dialogue with Nicodemus the wordplay in John 20,14-16 is expressed by a verb of movement, which moreover neither belongs to the content of the dialogue, nor causes a misunderstanding. The participle στραφεῖσα primarily supports the dramatic action. A purely figurative interpretation of this participle in v. 16, moreover, presupposes a rather abrupt semantic shift from v. 14 to v. 16, which is not explicitly addressed as such by the Johannine Jesus. For this reason, a third option is worth considering. (3) Mary Magdalene’s second turning is to be understood literally as a physical movement, which nonetheless figuratively conveys an inner transformation. According to Winfried Verburg, who suggests this third possibility, the participle in v. 16 describes how Mary Magdalene partly turns away from the risen Christ so that she no longer sees him. Mary’s averted gaze enables a conversion in the figurative sense of the word. As such, John wants to stress that Mary does not come to faith on the basis of sight but on the basis of the word12. In v. 16, however, the word is already addressed to Mary even before she has turned away. While it may 9. In this case, the verb helps to shape the traditional recognition scene that Brown and later Atwood recognise in these verses. The second occurrence of the verb would then point to “a prolonged recognition”, which was “common in the narratives of Jesus’ appearances (see Jn. 21:5; Lk. 24:31,35)”. R. ATWOOD, Mary Magdalene in the New Testament Gospels and Early Tradition (Europäische Hochschulschriften. XXIII: Theologie, 457), Bern, Lang, 1993, p. 133. Earlier R.E. BROWN, The Gospel according to John (xiii–xxi) (AB, 29A), Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1970, vol. 2, p. 991, pp. 1008-1010. 10. THOMPSON, Mary of Magdala (n. 4), p. 73, p. 75; SCHNEIDERS, John 20:11-18 (n. 2), pp. 159, 162. 11. M. PEPPARD, Mary Magdalene’s Turn: Text Criticism and Reception History of John 20,16, in ETL 96 (2020) 563-581, p. 566. 12. VERBURG, Magdalena trifft den Auferstandenen (n. 8), pp. 85-92.



be true that seeing (θεωρέω John 20,6.12.14) does not lead to insight in the previous verses, another kind of vision (ὁράω John 20, does mediate the encounter with the risen Lord. It is not clear why Mary would turn her gaze away in v. 16 and then proclaims in v. 18 that she has seen the Lord. The interpretation of the participle στραφεῖσα as combining a literal and a figurative meaning remains plausible, however, and underlies the metaphorical interpretation of στρέφω, which I am proposing here. A metaphor consists of an image that carries a surplus of meaning13. When it is read as part of a metaphorical expression, the participle στραφεῖσα conveys the image of a turning movement that carries the metaphorical meaning of an inner transformation. This metaphorical reading, moreover, works in two directions. The verb ἐστράφη in v. 14 can also be taken metaphorically. At first sight, this seems superfluous. The semantic meaning of ἐστράφη in v. 14 is less complex and indisputably refers to a physical turning. This is confirmed by the addition εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω, clearly indicating that Mary turned “backwards”. However, even words with a clear semantic meaning can be part of a metaphorical expression and I believe this is the case in vv. 14-16. In my view, the participle στραφεῖσα in v. 16 completes the movement that began in v. 14. The ingressive aorist ἐστράφη, which happens to be the first verb of motion in this small text unit, sparks a process of transformation in the metaphorical sense. As Jean Zumstein remarks: “le lecteur est appelé à saisir que Marie de Magdala se détourne du tombeau qui signifie, pour elle, la réalité de la mort, pour se diriger vers le Vivant”14. The description of this twisting movement in two phases not only enables John to evoke the complex spatial and temporal unfolding of this movement, but also offers him the opportunity to show how the turning movement is enriched by the conversation that takes place simultaneously. The theme of identity is at the centre of the dialogue in vv. 14-16. Peppard has stressed the significance of Jesus calling Mary by her true name. “When Jesus pronounced her name as Mariam, he was declaring her divinely appointed name and calling her forward to salvation”15. We might add that the designation of Jesus as Rabbouni is equally significant. It does not express Mary’s failure to address the risen Lord with the 13. In his classic theory of metaphor, Ivor A. Richards explains the metaphorical movement as the interaction between a “tenor” (the thing the metaphor is explaining) and a “vehicle” (the image being used). I.A. RICHARDS, The Philosophy of Rhetoric, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1936, pp. 89-112, esp. p. 96. 14. J. ZUMSTEIN, L’évangile selon Saint Jean (CNT, 4b), Genève, Labor et Fides, 2007, p. 279 n. 15. 15. PEPPARD, Mary Magdalene’s Turn (n. 11), p. 573.



proper christological title, but rather demonstrates the very end of the whole process of transformation. Mary is now able to relate to the risen Jesus in the way Jesus himself intended her to. By identifying Jesus as her teacher (ῥαββουνί), Mary accepts her identity as his disciple16. After having turned away from the tomb, Mary now turns to the risen Jesus as his first disciple. The completion of Mary’s conversion in a spiritual sense grows out of the encounter with Jesus and is mediated through the word. However, the starting point of this transformation is no less significant, and it is therefore surprising that it has received so little attention in the history of research. In light of Zumstein’s metaphorical reading, the first conversion, which is the turning “backwards” and away from the tomb, is equally important. Perhaps here the reader stumbles upon the most puzzling aspect. Why does Mary turn backwards? Given that the motive is nowhere explicitly mentioned, we can only guess. One thing is certain, however. This first turn is being carried out solely by Mary. She actively takes up her agency. Mary Thompson writes: The reflexive quality of that verb [i.e., στρέφω] imputes responsibility for the change to Mary herself. She turns herself and allows herself to be changed by a new, totally surprising reality. Now, there is a new dimension to Mary of Magdala. She is able to turn to a new reality, one of which she has no indication, which changes her entire life and engulfs her17.

The turn described in v. 14 is therefore particularly courageous. Mary Magdalene turns away from the tomb. She has the courage to look forward. II. TIME




Ces deux voix sorties du tombeau, cette mort qui servait d’interprète à la mort, m’ont frappé. Je suis devenu chrétien. François-René Chateaubriand, Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe (1849-1850)

1. Memories from beyond the Tomb? Borgo Sansepolcro is a Tuscan town in the province of Arezzo, bordering Umbria in the east. According to legend this village (borgo) was 16. BIERINGER, Ῥαββουνί in John 20,16 (n. 1), p. 38. 17. THOMPSON, Mary of Magdala (n. 4), p. 75.



Fig. 1. Giuliano Amedei, after a design by Piero della Francesca (ca. 1415-1492), Noli me tangere, predella panel of the Misericordia Polyptych, ca. 1460. Borgo Sansepolcro: Museo Civico.

named after the Holy Sepulchre (Santo Sepolcro) when two pilgrims, Arcanus and Giles, returned from the Holy Land and brought different Passion relics to the town, including a fragment of the stone from Christ’s tomb18. It is in this town named after the tomb of Christ that we find an interesting depiction of the scene from John 20,11-18, one that reveals the nucleus of its iconography (fig. 1). Most notably, Borgo Sansepolcro was the hometown of the early Renaissance master Piero della Francesca (ca. 1415-1492). Here we find Piero’s earliest surviving work, the Misericordia Polyptych, which was commissioned in 1445 for the church of the Compagnia di Santa Maria della Misericordia. This confraternity was dedicated to several works of mercy, most importantly the care of plague victims when Sansepolcro was struck with the Black Death (1348-1350). Two of Piero’s brothers were closely associated with the confraternity, which might explain why the commission was awarded to Piero19. The central panel of the altarpiece, depicting the Madonna della Misericordia, is best known. A crowned Madonna, clad in a sober red dress, 18. D. COLE AHL, The Misericordia Polyptych: Reflections on Spiritual and Visual Culture in Sansepolcro, in J.M. WOOD (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Piero della Francesca, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002, 14-29, pp. 16-17. 19. Ibid., p. 19.



shelters the devout beneath her blue mantle. The style of the painting does not yet contain the fully fledged and perfectly poised mathematical composition of Piero’s later fresco (ca. 1460) in the Palazzo della Residenza of the same town, which depicts the risen Christ energetically standing on the verge of his tomb. Still, the Madonna della Misericordia exemplifies how Piero della Francesca infused a traditional iconography, largely indebted to byzantine inspired examples from Siena and Arezzo, with some distinctive and innovative compositional features20. It is the predella of this fabulous altarpiece that draws my attention. Here “the Camaldolite monk and miniaturist Fra Giuliano Amedei” executed five small panels, after Piero’s conception, one of which depicts the central scene from John 20,11-18, also known as the Noli me tangere (fig. 1)21. Its composition, although striking in its simplicity, is telling, not only because of its firm roots in the traditional iconography of the theme, but precisely because the almost poetic links with the town’s most defining relic, the fragment of the tomb of Christ. Mary Magdalene kneels. Weighed down to earth, the heavy folds of a red cloak almost entirely envelop her body. She barely seems able to rise from the ground and reaches out with both hands into the direction of the risen Christ, who is slowly and graciously walking away from her. Mary has her back facing the tomb, which is austerely decorated with coloured marble slabs and is partly cut off by the panel’s left margin. A hill, perhaps symbolising Golgotha, closes off the back of the central scene. Christ is on the other side of the hill, clothed with his white shroud wrapped around him as a Roman toga. He carries a hoe on his left shoulder, a reference to the point in the story where Mary mistakes him for the gardener (v. 15). His posture is dynamic: his body slightly turning and his left foot, pointing to the right, counterbalances his outstretched right arm and leg, pointing to the left. Ambivalently gesturing, Christ’s right arm seems both to ward off and reach toward Mary. The interplay of Mary’s and Christ’s hands express another point in the narrative and stages the prohibition uttered in v. 17. In between the gesticulating hands, there is a void, which is invisibly bridged by the interlocking gazes of Mary and Christ. Muted, but powerful, the intensity of the gaze holds the moment of the encounter for a fraction of a second. The light reflecting from the foliage of both trees22 20. Ibid., p. 28. 21. Ibid., p. 21. 22. As is often the case in the Noli me tangere iconography, the trees are a reference to the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge in paradise. Barbara Baert situates the origin of this typology in late antiquity. “Petrus Chrysologus (d. ca. 450) formulated the connection



in the centre of this void also radiates from Mary’s hair and submerges the scene in an almost eerie ambience. The iconography of the composition is traditional and almost formulaic in its execution. In trecento Italian art similar key features are present in compositions by Giotto (Arena Chapel, Padova, 1305-1306), Puccio di Simone (Santa Trinità, Florence, 1340) or, later still, Fra Angelico (San Marco, Florence, ca. 1445). In a study on the iconography of the Noli me tangere, Barbara Baert distinguishes three key elements: “the shift from the tomb to Christ (1), the decreasing movements (2), and the increasing intensity of the gaze (3)”. These elements are traditionally “marked by the iconographic convention of the twofold composition with the sepulchre at the left and the event of the Noli me tangere at the right […] The left and right positions suggest the temporal and narrative reading direction”23. This early iconographic convention is already attested in some miniatures from the Ottonian manuscripts of the tenth century, such as the Codex Egberti or the evangeliary of Otto III24. Paradoxically, however, the predella of the Misericordia Polyptych expresses the shift away from the tomb by returning to the tomb. The narrative sequence, which starts with the Noli me tangere in the far-left panel, slowly creates a flashback across the five panels from left to right, only to find its resting point in the central panel that focuses on the entombment. The panel adjacent to the Noli me tangere depicts the women at the tomb, with Mary Magdalene leaning and shielding her eyes with her hands, as if to express her eagerness to look (v. 11)25, the central panel depicts the deposition, whereas the fourth and fifth panels depict the flagellation of Christ and the agony in the garden at Gethsemane. The centrality of the tomb in the overarching composition of the predella enhances the static, solemn character and symbolically attaches the polyptych to the genius loci of Borgo Sansepolcro, which emanates from between the tree and the Holy Sepulchre: the Tree of Knowledge aroused Eve’s desire, the tomb of Christ, that of the Marys (Sermo 74.3, and Sermo 77.4.7)”. B. BAERT, The Pact between Space and Gaze: The Narrative and the Iconic in Noli me tangere, in BIERINGER – BAERT – DEMASURE (eds.), Noli Me Tangere in Interdisciplinary Perspective (n. 1), 191216, p. 201. 23. Ibid., p. 199. 24. B. BAERT, Noli Me Tangere in the Codex Egberti (Reichenau, c. 977-93) and in the Gospel-Book of Otto III (Reichenau, 998-1000): Visual Exegesis in Context, in L. CLEAVER – A. BOVEY – L. DONKIN (eds.), Illuminating the Middle Ages: Tributes to Prof. John Lowden from His Students, Friends and Colleagues (Library of the Written Word: Manuscript World, 79), Leiden, Brill, 2020, 36-51. 25. The artist seems to express both meanings of παρέκυψεν (v. 11): “to bend over” and “to look”. Both meanings are reflected in the Vulgate translation: inclinavit se et prospexit.



the relic of the tomb of Christ. The central panel depicting the entombment forms the base of a vertical axis, which is overarched by the Madonna della Misericordia in the middle and crowned by the crucifixion in the upper register. The symmetrical composition highlights the tomb. The posture of John the evangelist, cloaked and with outstretched arms standing in the middle behind the tomb, echoes the protective gesture of the cloaked Madonna della Misericordia. At this point in the predella’s narrative sequence Mary Magdalene is scarcely visible. Her head and shoulders barely emerge from the tomb when she is pictured softly kissing the feet of Christ. Almost completely fused with the dead body on the shroud, Mary is at this point in the narrative metaphorically unable to detach herself from the tomb and to let go. Mary Magdalene has not yet performed her courageous act. She has not yet turned away from death. Here the tomb (μνημεῖον v. 11) is given the full weight of its meaning. It is the memorial of a memory, which is difficult to forget. Like the Passion relic enshrined in its church building, it is a mausoleum of the memory of death kept alive. Called by the name of this memory, Borgo Sansepolcro is called to never forget. At the beginning of the cinquecento, we encounter a similar preference for harmony and symmetry on a predella panel depicting the Noli me tangere (ca. 1500) by the Umbrian master Pietro Vannucci, also known as il Perugino (Città della Pieve, ca. 1450-1523) (fig. 2). Here, Perugino is particularly preoccupied with attaining perfect symmetry. The left part is designed to mirror the right part of the composition almost exactly. Situated in the middle, the tomb is the metaphorical keystone and vanishing point of the visual narrative of the painting. The preceding story of the empty tomb (20,1-10) still lingers on. Absorbing the energy of the encounter between Mary Magdalene and the risen Jesus, the empty tomb becomes the focal point of veneration. Mary, kneeling with her hands folded in a prayerful gesture, seems to express as much reverence to the risen Christ as to the tomb’s emptiness. The asymmetrical postures of Mary and Christ quietly disrupt the symmetrical composition. The dynamism of this picture is subtle, resting wholly on the posture of Christ, standing in a contrapposto pose, gently leaning on a hoe. Mary Magdalene’s body by contrast is folded together and immobile. This subtle balance between symmetry and asymmetry affects the temporality expressed in the painting. Perugino chose to depict the moment right after the flash of recognition (v. 16). The almost perfect symmetry eternalises this moment, with the bodies of Mary and Christ bracketing



Fig. 2. Pietro Vannucci or “il Perugino” (ca. 1450-1523), Noli me tangere, ca. 1500. Tempera on panel, 27,3 × 46,3 cm. Chicago, IL: Art Institute Chicago. Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1026.

the tomb. The void in the middle is venerated as an afterthought. Here, it is not the movement away from Mary to a place beyond the margins of the pictorial that represents the lively dynamism of the resurrection, but it is the empty tomb itself that reveals its meaning. As a threshold, the tomb marks the division between divine life – the realm of the risen Christ – and transient life on earth – the space occupied by Mary Magdalene. As was the case with the Borgo Sansepolcro predella, the moment of Mary’s conversion is not pictured, however, but seems to have already happened. This brings us to the crux of the pictorial representation of John 20,14.16. How can one possibly represent the dynamism of a conversion of the heart in the visual medium? 2. The Shift away from the Tomb Around 1514, Luca Signorelli (ca. 1450-1523) painted the Noli me tangere on a predella for the church of San Vincenzo in Cortona (fig. 3). A pupil of Piero della Francesca, he stands at a turning point in the Italian Renaissance. According to the Italian artist and biographer Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), Signorelli’s exceptional knowledge of drawing nudes and the mere grace of his invention and placement of the narratives (la grazia della invenzione e disposizione delle istorie) opened the way for the majority of artists to the ultimate perfection of art (aperse alla maggior



Fig. 3. Luca Signorelli (ca. 1450-1523), The Resurrected Christ Appearing to St. Magdalene, ca. 1514. Tempera and oil on wood panel, 18,7 × 42,4 cm. Detroit, OH: Detroit Institute of Arts. City of Detroit Purchase, 29.41.

parte delli artefici la via all’ultima perfezione dell’arte)26. Signorelli may also have been influenced by Antonio Pollaiuolo (ca. 1432-1498) whose “passion” it was “to discover the science of movement in the human frame”27. Indeed, movement constitutes the very power of this predella panel. The three Marys, in the upper right corner, slowly proceed towards the tomb28. While two of the women are still absorbed in their conversation, Mary Magdalene, the third one, has already arrived at the tomb, along which two angels sit, “one at the head and the other at the feet” (John 20,12 NRSV). Gesturing with her left hand, Mary Magdalene asks them where they have laid Jesus’s body. The angels reply by pointing to the emptiness of the tomb. Then a sudden shift occurs from the right to the left of the composition. Mary Magdalene, who is now at the centre, dramatically turns her body upward, towards the risen Christ at the left. Her left knee, bent, and her left foot are still pointing in the direction of the tomb at the right, but her shoulders and torso are turned resolutely to the left. Her arms spread wide open seem to express amazement as she 26. G. VASARI, Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori scultori ed architetti, ed. G. URBINI, Torino, G.B. Paravia, s.d., pp. 146-147. 27. M. CRUTTWELL, Luca Signorelli (The Great Masters in Painting and Sculpture), London, George Bell & Sons, 1899, p. 4. Cf. R. VISCHER, Luca Signorelli und die Italienische Renaissance: Eine kunsthistorische Monographie, Berlin – Boston, MA, De Gruyter, 2020 [1879], p. 77. 28. Signorelli conflates the Markan and the Johannine accounts of the resurrection, which is not unusual, and is already attested by some early examples, such as fol. 160 of the Syriac Gospel Lectionary (British Library Add. ms 7170). PEPPARD, Mary Magdalene’s Turn (n. 11), pp. 579-580.



struggles to keep her balance. Christ gracefully responds to her pivoting movement, like a dancer dancing a pas de deux. Their encounter is pivotal, occupying two-thirds of the composition. The German art historian Robert Vischer (1847-1933) shares Vasari’s praise for the innovative nature of Signorelli’s art. Especially in terms of rendering energetic movement, Vischer thinks, Signorelli surpasses his predecessors. So beschränkt sich Signorelli auf den Wuchs und die lebensvolle Bewegung des Menschen mit Betonung des kraftvollen und energischen Gehaltes und er überholt hierin vermöge seiner subjectiveren Idealität die Leistungen seines ehemaligen Lehrers in stürmischem Fortschritte. Hiedurch allein und durch nichts Anderes ist er ein Eröffner, ein Befreier geworden; er entfesselt das stolze Recht der Gestalt und den freien, vollen Effect der Action29.

Signorelli mainly achieves this liberating effect of action in movement by depicting changes or shifts in the positions of his subjects, which reflect inner turmoil or transformation. Jedoch am Wohlsten scheint sich Signorelli zu befinden, wo es sich um Bewegung, um den augenblicklichen Wechsel der Stellungen handelt. Wir haben hier wiederum die zuständlicheren Regungen des Wandelns, Eilens, Schwebens, Feilschens, Hantierens, Tragens, Conversirens, die gelinderen Geberden der Andacht, Klage, Ohnmacht, Heiterkeit von dem scharfen Ausfall der Wuth und Verzweifelung zu unterscheiden. Signorelli hat sowohl die Grazie als die Grossheit im Auge30.

On this modest predella panel, Signorelli also depicts physical movement to achieve an effect of sudden upheaval and inner change. Mary’s conversion is both formally and symbolically at the centre of the composition. Signorelli expresses her sudden transformation through three pictorial means belonging to one single movement, in which (1) the back is turned, (2) the narrative sequence is interrupted, and (3) the body is twisted. The representation of (1) the back turned is a traditional part of the iconography, as the above examples demonstrate. Barbara Baert emphasises the symbolic role of the back. “The dorsal position of Mary Magdalene towards the sepulchre strengthens the polarity in the composition, but marks the sepulchre as an element to forget, to negate, to turn your back on”31. Signorelli takes a creative approach to this traditional component, when he pictures the amazed Mary Magdalene in the centre as 29. VISCHER, Luca Signorelli (n. 27), p. 149. 30. Ibid., p. 154. 31. BAERT, The Pact between Space and Gaze (n. 22), p. 204.



almost standing back-to-back with the tiny Mary Magdalene, still searching, questioning, and bent over the tomb in the upper right-hand corner of the panel. Both figures are each other’s mirror image. Both Marys – the one bent down, the other reaching upwards – also embody two stages of a temporal evolution. On the panel’s surface (2) a story is told and a sequence of events unfolds: the Mary who mourns Jesus’s death becomes the Mary who rejoices at her recognition of the risen Christ. At the same time, this story is shown in a shifted and disrupted manner. The more obvious reading direction is from left to right. By depicting what happens last left, and what happened earlier right, Signorelli evokes the impression of a sudden change in time. It is as if the viewer, together with Mary Magdalene, is reliving the moment when she suddenly recognises Christ. “In the inverted Noli me tangere, a nuance speaks that might be formulated as the momentum in time of the entering appearance as such, the manifestum and thus the textual moment, the fraction between verse 16 and 17 (Rabbouni!)”32. As such, the inverted reading direction evokes an interruption, a crack in time through which the future breaks into the past. It is precisely this vision of the future that transforms the present of Mary Magdalene. This transformation is expressed in (3) Mary’s twisting body. Indeed, the moving body that emerges from between the heavy folds of Mary’s cloak is a somewhat subdued expression of what is generally referred to in Renaissance art as contrapposto. The weight of Mary’s body rests on her right knee, allowing her to move freely with her left knee, which points in the opposite direction. The slender contrapposto of the risen Christ, with his weight resting on his right leg, allowing his left leg to slightly flex, echoes the more compact contrapposto posture of Mary Magdalene. David Summer’s seminal article on the subject connects contrapposto with antithesis (contrapositum), which was the favoured figure of speech in Renaissance rhetoric and poetics. Like antithesis in Petrarch’s poetry, contrapposto gives the work of art a visual eloquence. In the contexts of both literature and art “antithesis provided a conceptual means for dealing with change”33. This intimate connection between the curved body and the rhetoric of antithesis goes back to antiquity. When Quintilian describes the twisted body of Myron’s Discobolos he states that the “curve […] gives an impression of action and animation”, which is then compared to the use of “variation” as “a certain departure from the straight 32. Ibid., p. 202. 33. D. SUMMERS, Contrapposto: Style and Meaning in Renaissance Art, in The Art Bulletin 59 (1977) 336-361, p. 358.



line” in “rhetorical figures”34. Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) in his Della Pittura discusses contrapposto in the context of achieving varietà in the representation of movement35. The viewer of this predella panel, however, senses that the contrapposto posture of Mary Magdalene conveys more than simply visual ornamentation or the mere expression of movement. One feels that the slight uneasiness of Mary’s shifting movement, alternating between losing and finding balance, carries a deeper significance, reflects something of Mary’s inner state of mind and even has the capacity to move the viewer. Joseph Manca discusses “pose as a conveyer of mental and moral sentiment” in Renaissance art and states that “the more incisive narrative artists were more likely to use contrapposto to bear moral meaning” since physical form and moral virtue were required to be consistent with each other. Moral virtue was connected with gravitas or stability, whereas moral weakness was associated with instability of posture36. It is not hard to imagine that Signorelli, too, considered contrapposto to be the most appropriate visual form for depicting Mary Magdalene’s spiritual and moral transformation, precisely because the shifting between the instability of human weakness or sin and the gravitas of moral weight. Mary Magdalene’s dynamic posture, however, does not only convey the significance of this transformation, but also expresses the emotions of Mary’s inner state of mind. An important clue to the emotional bearing of this posture in relation to the whole of the composition is the fluttering garment of the risen Christ, clearly revealing the delicate form of his limbs, and the fanned-out hair of Mary Magdalene. Whereas the heavy folds of Mary’s cloak seem to emphasise her moral gravitas, the light fabric enveloping the risen Christ, moving freely in the air, and Mary’s hair billowing in the wind, seem to manifest the emotional impact involved. The German art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929) has coined the term bewegtes Beiwerk to describe these moving accessories that add the impression of liveliness to the composition. He first encountered these when studying the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510): die äußere Beweglichkeit des willenlosen Beiwerks, der Gewandung und der Haare, die ihm [i.e. Botticelli] Polizian als Charakteristikum antikischer Kunstwerke nahelegte, war ein leicht zu handhabendes, äußeres Kennzeichen, das überall da angehängt werden konnte, wo es galt, den Schein gesteigerten Lebens 34. QUINTILIAN, Institutio Oratoria 2.13.9-11, quoted by SUMMERS, Contrapposto (n. 33), p. 337. 35. SUMMERS, Contrapposto (n. 33), p. 342. 36. J. MANCA, Moral Stance in Italian Renaissance Art: Image, Text, and Meaning, in Artibus et Historiae 22/44 (2001) 51-76, pp. 53-54.



zu erwecken, und Botticelli machte von dieser Erleichterung der bildlichen Wiedergabe erregter oder auch nur innerlich bewegter Menschen gern Gebrauch37.

According to Warburg, the sheer life force and energy expressed by the fluttering garments and hair are a legacy of antiquity, which were mediated to Botticelli by the humanist poet Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494). Most notably, these remnants of antique form were used to express the turmoil of excited or inwardly moved characters. As such, they are part of what Warburg would later call the pathos formula (Pathosformel), a fixed and formulaic antique mode of expression that nonetheless evokes an affect, the dramatic impact of pathos. Also, contrapposto can, significantly, be considered a Pathosformel. Paula Carabell has shown that the figura serpentinata in the unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) functions as a Pathosformel in its own right. As the restless and dynamic continuation of the more balanced classical contrapposto the figura serpentinata expresses the “priority” of the “act of becoming […] over a state of being”38. Although the predella panel by Signorelli does not yet contain the fully developed contrapposto as figura serpentinata, which was so popular in High Renaissance and Mannerist art, Mary Magdalene’s twisting pose does express something of the distorted uneasiness of the serpentine posture. She balances, pivots, and reaches out at the same time. This, in turn, relates to the complex temporality that is expressed through the serpentine form as Pathosformel. Essential to Warburg’s conception of Pathosformel is the idea of movement, particularly that of serpentine form, movement that tends to disrupt, rather than further, the narrative account […] It is these restless figures, moreover, that seemed to Warburg to reveal the presence of multiple, temporal realities. […] As a result, Warburg conceived of the figure in perpetual motion as a multi-temporal entity, whose persistent and identifiable formal elements led him to posit a non-hierarchical conception of the image. In Warburg’s view, therefore, history is dynamic in nature; it exists in a constant state of becoming, where form and meaning are both immanent and deferred in a dialogue between past and present39.

I will return to the temporal significance of Mary Magdalene’s turning movement in the next section. For now, it suffices to stress that the twisting movement intensifies the disruptive quality of the inverted narrative sequence. 37. A.M. WARBURG, Sandro Botticellis ‘Geburt der Venus’ und ‘Frühling’ (1893), in ID., Die Erneuerung der heidnischen Antike, ed. G. BING (Gesammelte Schriften, 1), Leipzig, Teubner, 1932, vol. 1, 1-59, p. 54. 38. P. CARABELL, ‘Figura Serpentinata’: Becoming over Being in Michelangelo’s Unfinished Works, in Artibus et Historiae 35/69 (2014) 79-96, p. 92. 39. Ibid., p. 90.



As we have seen, the deeper significance of Mary’s twisted body points to her moral transformation. As a Pathosformel juxtaposing contradictory movements the contrapposto posture of her body reflects the shifting emotions of Mary’s inner state of mind. Her movements have a strong emotional appeal, moreover, which, in turn, has the capacity to also move the viewer. This is where the Pathosformel as a transfer of movement and affect comes in. Bogdana Paskaleva refers to a series of fragments from 1890 entitled Zuschauer und Bewegung in which Aby Warburg reflects on the empathy40 of the viewer in relation to the artwork. She concludes: “It has to be underscored that the identification of the viewer with the seen object is in Warburg’s mind one of the necessary conditions to create the illusion of movement of the viewed object itself”41. Movement, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder, as Warburg writes. “Das Auge vollführt den Figuren gegenüber Nachbewegung, um die Illusion zu erhalten, als ob der Gegenstand sich bewegte”42. This “after-movement” of the eye is mediated by the bewegtes Beiwerk, which guides the eye. Movement, however, does not remain only in the eye of the beholder. Also, the affect, which springs forth from contemplating this movement, touches the viewer. Paskaleva adds: [W]e have to expand the problematic of empathy and the performance of Nachbewegung by the viewer’s eye towards the idea that the affect too is finished by the viewer himself – a sort of an “after-feeling”, Nachfühlung. This could explain in what way the image functions as a transmitter from the object of desire to desire itself by rendering the affect complete within the viewer. The viewer begins to introject the exterior affect he is witnessing43.

The personal involvement of the viewer is of paramount importance for grasping the meaning of movement. This is no less the case in this predella panel by Signorelli. Also here, the depiction of a complex movement creates an affect that is reciprocated by the viewer. This exchange of emotion and meaning, mediated by the dynamic depiction of Mary Magdalene’s twisting body, recreates the experience of conversion with the viewer. As such, the panel communicates a meta-conversion. This brings me to the next point.

40. Most notably, Aby Warburg develops his insights on empathy (Einfühlung) in dialogue with Robert Vischer’s monograph Das optische Formgefühl (1873). 41. B. PASKALEVA, The Nude Nymph: The Inhuman Object of Desire, in Engramma 135 (2016), at 42. From the fragments by Aby Warburg entitled Zuschauer und Bewegung (1890). Quoted in PASKALEVA, The Nude Nymph (n. 41). 43. PASKALEVA, The Nude Nymph (n. 41).



Fig. 4. Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo (ca. 1480 – ca. 1548), Mary Magdalene, ca. 1535-1540. Oil on canvas, 89,1 × 82,4 cm. London: National Gallery. NG1031.

3. A Mirror of Conversion Mary Magdalene’s moving body has become her signature mark, that is, in addition to the traditional attribute of the ointment jar. Most of the sixteenth-century half-length portraits of Mary Magdalene show her body slightly moving and turning towards the viewer. Such is the case in the Mary Magdalene (ca. 1535-1540) by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo (ca. 1480 – ca. 1548), now at the National Gallery in London (fig. 4). In this intimate portrait Savoldo has mastered evoking both the moment of recognition and the accompanying feeling of inner conversion. The light of the dawning sun shimmers through the landscape in the background. Mary Magdalene stands in front of the battered wall of a ruin and has placed her ointment jar on a brick. Her back faces the viewer and her left arm is tightly clasped around her body. At the same time, half of her body has turned away from the wall and is partly facing the viewer. Mary gently touches her chin. She is wrapped in a luminescent shawl that reflects a source of light outside the picture plane. With her head half lifted, Mary Magdalene looks towards what lies beyond. The return of her gaze carries the instant of recognition.



In her lengthy discussion of this painting Mary Pardo traces Mary Magdalene’s turning movement back to the inventive use of contrapposto in Italian art and literature at the turn of the sixteenth century44. What is most intriguing in Pardo’s discussion is the instantaneity she connects with this movement: “the Magdalene’s turning pose […] produces the illusion of a momentary gesture caught in the act of unfolding (so that the viewer finds himself engaging an event rather than a static figure)”45. The viewer, looking at this painting, is confronted with a snapshot avant la lettre of a pivotal event. The very nature of this event, however, both its source and its inner workings, escapes the visual medium. The luminescent shawl is a pictorial metaphor for the veiled nature of this revelation. “The pose is a rhetorical super-schema in much the same way that the shawl is a velamentum fabulosus about an event in which the garment of the body becomes the manifestation of triumphant divinity”46. The instantaneous nature of the event, the veil as a boundary between interiority and exteriority, and the metaphor of the reflected light, which are expressed in this painting, deserve further attention. The instantaneous nature of the event is best grasped by looking back at its inception. The fold is the prerequisite for the act of the unfolding. The folded shawl of Mary Magdalene is a significant starting point in this painting, especially because between these folds another iconographic type lives on, namely Metanoia. Depicted as a veiled woman with her head bowed or regretfully touching her chin or forehead, Metanoia, or remorse, is related to time and transformation. She often stands back-to-back with Kairos, the personification of the opportune moment (fig. 5). Barbara Baert has recently shown that Metanoia is indeed an old companion of Kairos, ever since his entry into the iconography and literature of the Latin Christian world47. Kairos and Metanoia are also linked on a conceptual level, as Kelly Myers points out: “in order for the internal transformation of metanoia to become external, a person must make choices – and those decisive moments are kairos. Metanoia relies on kairos in that metanoia cannot be established unless a choice has been made or an action taken”48. 44. M. PARDO, The Subject of Savoldo’s Magdalene, in The Art Bulletin 71/1 (1989) 67-91, p. 90. 45. Ibid., p. 72. 46. Ibid., p. 90. 47. B. BAERT, From Kairos to Occasio through Fortuna: Text / Image / Afterlife: On the Antique Critical Moment, a Grisaille in Mantua (School of Mantegna, 1495-1510), and the Fortunes of Aby Warburg (1866-1929), London, Harvey Miller; Turnhout, Brepols, 2021, pp. 45-55. 48. K.A. MYERS, ‘Metanoia’ and the Transformation of Opportunity, in Rhetoric Society Quarterly 41/1 (2011) 1-18, p. 10.



Fig. 5. Girolamo da Carpi (1501-1556), Opportunity and Regret, 1541. Oil on canvas, 211 × 110 cm. Dresden: Gemäldegalerie. Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Gal.-Nr. 142.



Metanoia reveals the barely touchable lightness of Kairos like the black contours of the photonegative reveal the traces of light. In his study on the concepts of ἐπιστροφή and μετάνοια in Stoicism and Neoplatonism the philosopher Pierre Hadot stresses that Christian μετάνοια has a cause that lies outside the individual and as such is a “bouleversement de l’esprit, renouveau radical, réenfantement”49. In a philosophical sense, human beings respond to this rupture by detaching themselves from the illusionary nature of exterior things and by returning, through turning inwards, towards the origin of their own being50. Encouraging the return to one’s origin, remorse brings the gift of rebirth. Therefore, μετάνοια is also more than simply the photonegative of opportunity. It is an active force that steps out of the shadow of καιρός. Remorse reveals the first step of the action necessary to deal with the opportunity presented, which is ἐπιστροφή, the turning movement of conversion. In the painting by Savoldo, the moment of inner conversion is unfolded in the outward gesture of grasping the opportunity, by looking at it and recognising when opportunity stands right in front of oneself. This turning movement of Metanoia in the direction of the light of the opportune moment is, moreover, not horizontal, nor linear. Myers points out that both in Platonism and the Hebrew Bible μετάνοια is indeed closely connected with the physical action of turning or returning51. In Savoldo’s painting Mary Magdalene’s body turns around a vertical axis, which visually expresses a certain verticality in time. Aby Warburg would have understood this verticality as the Pathosformel of a multilayered temporality, as was already mentioned above in our discussion of the predella panel by Signorelli. The turning movement shows how certain forms of expression are deeply rooted in collective memory and how these resurface as a sort of symptom at a given moment in time. The survival (Nachleben) of these pathos formulae through time does not resemble a river that runs from source to mouth, but rather is like a vortex, which sets transformations in motion from a vertical driving force52. By disrupting the linear narrative sequence, the swirling movement of Mary Magdalene tells a different kind of visual story, which is not linear, but punctual. It reaches towards the depths of the feelings of remorse in order to unfold and open up as a disruption, a change of heart. In the Mary 49. P. HADOT, Epistrophè et metanoia dans l’histoire de la philosophie, in Proceedings of the XIth International Congress of Philosophy 12 (1953) 31-36, p. 32. 50. Ibid., pp. 33-36. 51. MYERS, ‘Metanoia’ and the Transformation of Opportunity (n. 48), pp. 9-10. 52. G. DIDI-HUBERMANN, Artistic Survival: Panofsky vs. Warburg and the Exorcism of Impure Time, in Common Knowledge 9/2 (2003) 273-285, pp. 275-276.



Magdalene painting by Savoldo this turning movement captures an everlasting moment of becoming, in which the past is no longer held fast, but the future is not yet entirely lived either. The luminescent veil adds another layer to the composition, which echoes Mary Magdalene’s illumined gaze. Mary Pardo writes: The particular wit of the Magdalene’s shawl is that it conceals what it discloses – inward (the saint’s figure) and outward (the source of light). […I]t presents itself as neither more nor less than a sensuously compelling fictive veil, enticing the viewer to seek the hidden truth that, properly speaking, it cannot embody53.

The inner motions, moreover, are reflected in the gaze, whereas the outer circumstances evoking this inner change are – literally – reflected on the shawl that envelops Mary Magdalene. Both inner and outer events can only be made visible indirectly. The veil mediates this relationship between inside and outside, veiled and unveiled. Also, the reflected light functions as a metaphor in this painting. By showing indirectly what it cannot or does not show, i.e., the interiority of Mary’s conversion or what lies beyond the picture plane, the reflected light reflects the viewer. The viewer of this painting literally stands on the place from which the supposedly supernatural light source emanates. The reflected light also “reflects on” the viewer, in a figurative sense. With the painted traces of light on the textile surface, Savoldo establishes in his own virtuoso manner a connection with the viewer. Drawn into the painting, the viewer is invited to reflect on Mary Magdalene’s internal movement of conversion, which the painting projects. Mary Magdalene has thus become a mirror of conversion. According to Klaus Krüger, the devotional interpretation of Mary Magdalene as a conversionis speculum was a common trope since the Middle Ages54. Savoldo has stripped down the Noli me tangere iconography to the single moment that is central to this essay, which is the moment of Mary Magdalene’s double conversion. Savoldo not only shows the complexity of this moment of conversion and recognition (vv. 14, 16), but he also evokes this moment of transformation within the viewer. Savoldo enables the viewer to enter into the graceful pas de deux between Mary Magdalene 53. PARDO, The Subject of Savoldo’s Magdalene (n. 44), pp. 84, 86. 54. K. KRÜGER, Innerer Blick und ästhetisches Geheimnis: Caravaggios ‘Magdalena’, in E. DÜSING – H.-D. KLEIN (eds.), Geist, Eros und Agape: Untersuchungen zu Liebesdarstellungen in Philosophie, Religion und Kunst, Würzburg, Königshausen und Neumann, 2009, 255-290, pp. 277, 280-281. Also see K. KRÜGER, Das Bild als Schleier des Unsichtbaren: Ästhetische Illusion in der Kunst der frühen Neuzeit in Italien, München, Fink, 2001, pp. 104-106.



and Christ, which was started in Signorelli’s predella painting. Standing in front of this painting, the viewer looks into the direction of the past with its tomb and ruins, which were given a central place in the predella paintings by Piero della Francesca and Perugino. Looking at the painting from the vantage point of the future, however, the viewer meets Mary Magdalene’s gaze. Mirroring her gaze, the viewer, by the act of looking, is invited to also turn around in order to participate fully in the glimpse of recognition, as it is in the moment of being exchanged between Mary Magdalene and the risen Christ. III. THE COURAGE TO LOOK FORWARD: JOHN 20,11-18 IN LIGHT OF THE NORMATIVITY OF THE FUTURE APPROACH Mais la metanoia introduit dans la conscience l’idée de recommencement absolu: comme le Christ est principe aussi bien de ce qui était avant lui que de ce qui est après lui et transmue ainsi toutes choses, ainsi l’homme converti devient principe de son passé comme de son avenir. La conversion opère un saut décisif qui devient la nouvelle origine: Sprung-Ursprung. Le temps se révèle alors, et la liberté humaine comme pouvoir de commencement absolu. Pierre Hadot, Epistrophè et metanoia dans l’histoire de la philosophie (1953), p. 35.

Caught in an everlasting moment of becoming, Mary Magdalene stands at a pivotal place between past and future in John 20,14-16. She has turned away from the past and is now gradually being changed in the face of the future. As she reconnects with the risen Jesus, Mary is commissioned to proclaim the good news of Jesus’s return to the Father. By fulfilling this mission, Mary Magdalene is an example for every disciple of Jesus, who is also called to turn their gaze to the future (John 20,17-18). The Normativity of the Future approach, which was developed by Reimund Bieringer and Mary Elsbernd in the mid-1990s, reconnects with the eschatological future as an ethical resource. In biblical literature, the future is often mediated by a vision of a different world. The future is as such understood as more than simply an extension of the linear progression of time. “Here the vision is not an extension of present possibilities into the future, but rather the future reaching out to meet the present as an annunciation of something more or as a disjuncture from what is”55. The vision 55. M. ELSBERND – R. BIERINGER, Interpreting the Signs of the Times in the Light of the Gospel: Vision and Normativity of the Future, in R. BIERINGER – M. ELSBERND (eds.),



often has a corrective function and envisions an inclusive future as a response to social injustice or exclusion56. In order to retrace the inclusive vision of John 20,11-18, we meandered through the pictorial realm on the path of visual exegesis57. Focusing on how the text was “read” in its visual reception history, visual exegesis does not simply look back, but is, in its own way, future-oriented. Like Savoldo reflected in his painting of Mary Magdalene on the art of painting by turning to the viewer, the image, according to visual exegesis, looks back at the text in order to turn towards the viewer and to transform the mind with its visual imagination. As such, the painting works in the same three-fold manner as the text does according to the Normativity of the Future approach: as a window the painting looks back to the past, as a mirror it reflects onto the viewer in the present, and as an icon it transforms the viewer into the direction of the future58. The double conversion in John 20,14-16 is the crux of the visual interpretation of this biblical text. Three visual solutions were discussed. The first one is static, depicting Mary’s back turned towards the tomb. The second solution is dynamic, focusing on the vigour of the contrapposto posture. The third solution moves the viewer as it creates an affect emanating from the painting. The visual interpretation of John 20,14-16 also shifts the perception of time. The moment of the encounter between the risen Jesus and Mary Magdalene transcends the linear framework of time, which was demarcated by the tomb or the past on one side and the resurrection life or the future on the other side. This moment is, moreover, experienced as instantaneous. The almost meteoric impact of this fleeting instant on the course of time expresses itself visually in the contrapposto movement, causing Normativity of the Future: Reading Biblical and Other Authoritative Texts in an Eschatological Perspective (ANL, 61), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2010, 47-89, p. 54. 56. R. BIERINGER – M. ELSBERND, Introduction: The “Normativity of the Future” Approach. Its Roots, Development, Current State and Challenges, in IID. (eds.), Normativity of the Future (n. 55), 3-25, p. 15. 57. Visual exegesis is the umbrella term for the various ways in which visual agency is included within the interpretation of Scripture. It was coined by Paolo Berdini in 1997 and further developed by Martin O’Kane in 2007. More recently, Vernon K. Robbins, Walter S. Melion and Roy R. Jeal chose the term as the title of their 2017 publication. P. BERDINI, The Religious Art of Jacopo Bassano: Painting as Visual Exegesis, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997; M. O’KANE, Painting the Text: The Artist as Biblical Interpreter (The Bible in the Modern World, 8), Sheffield, Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2007; V.K. ROBBINS, New Testament Texts, Visual Material Culture, and Earliest Christian Art, in ID. – W.S. MELION – R.R. JEAL, The Art of Visual Exegesis: Rhetoric, Texts, Images (Emory Studies in Early Christianity, 19), Atlanta, GA, SBL Press, 2017, 13-54. 58. Compare with BIERINGER – ELSBERND, Introduction (n. 56), pp. 22-23.



shifts and disruptions in the narrative sequence. In the predella painting by Signorelli, for example, the future is sensed as an “unanticipated inbreaking”59. As a consequence, the opportune moment (καιρός) and remorse (μετάνοια) stand side-by-side. The inbreaking opportunity calls for action. This action, in turn, grows from inner conversion. In other words, which are more attuned to the Normativity of the Future approach, the vision of the future poses an ethical imperative that calls for personal transformation. I focussed on works of art made around the turn of the High Renaissance, at a time that witnessed the “rebirth” of pagan antiquity in Christian art60. By discussing the contrapposto as a Pathosformel inherited from antiquity, I sought to liberate Mary Magdalene from paralysis and prohibition. Visual exegesis enabled me to read John 20,11-18 as a powerful narrative of courage, in which Mary Magdalene does act. She resolutely turns around and by doing so she accomplishes her mission to proclaim the good news. The vision of the double conversio according to John 20,14-16 is empowering, not only as a point of recognition for women readers, but also as an exemplary turning point for all readers. The image of Mary Magdalene, who courageously turns around, acts upon the mind of the viewer, allowing Mary to act with it. Thus, Mary Magdalene regains her agency and, with it, that of the women disciples who came after her. Jan Davidtsstraat 35 BE-3010 Kessel-Lo Belgium [email protected]

Laura TACK

59. BIERINGER – ELSBERND, Interpreting the Signs of the Times (n. 55), p. 58. 60. WARBURG, Die Erneuerung der heidnischen Antike (n. 37).


Im Johannesevangelium gibt es eine Vielzahl von Gruppen, die in der Erzählung eine Rolle spielen. Manche dieser Gruppen sind im Umfang klar definiert, wie etwa der Zwölferkreis (δώδεκα), aus dem aber anders als bei den Synoptikern (Mk 3,16-19; Mt 10,2-4; Lk 6,13-16) nur Judas und Thomas explizit mit Namen genannt werden (Joh 6,71 und 20,24)1. Eine Überschneidung von Gruppenzugehörigkeiten ergibt sich dadurch, dass der Zwölferkreis selbst eine Untergruppe der im Johannesevangelium nicht näher definierten Jünger Jesu (μαθηταί) darstellt. Mit demselben griechischen Wort werden auch die Jünger des Johannes (Joh 1,35.37 und 3,25) und Moses (Joh 9,28) bezeichnet. Unspezifisch sind Gruppenangaben wie die „Menge“ (ὄχλος) und davon zu unterscheiden das jüdische „Volk“ (λάος in Joh 8,2; 11,50 und 18,14), „die Juden“ (Ἰουδαῖοι) und davon als Untergruppen „die Pharisäer“ (Φαρισαῖοι) und „die Führenden“ (ἄρχοντες)2. In der Erzählung kommen einzelnen Gruppen mitunter kollektive Eigenschaften zu, so sind z.B. „die Pharisäer“ pauschal * Dieser Beitrag entstand im Rahmen des Projekts „New Testament in Translation“ (KU Leuven Internal Funds 3H190608). Deutsche Übersetzungen des biblischen Textes sind, sofern nicht anders angegeben, die der Autorin. Mit EÜ bezeichnete Übersetzungen verweisen auf die revidierte Einheitsübersetzung (Stuttgart, Katholische Bibelanstalt, 2016). Der griechische Bibeltext entstammt der 28. Ausgabe des Nestle-Aland (Stuttgart, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012), der Vulgatatext folgt R. WEBER – R. GRYSON (Hgg.), Biblia Sacra: Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem, 5. Edition, Stuttgart, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2007. Bei Abweichungen zwischen den Editionen folgt die Verseinteilung der des NestleAland 28. 1. K. WENGST, Das Johannesevangelium. 1. Teilband: Kapitel 1–10 (TKNT, 4/1), Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 2000, S. 89, geht davon aus, dass diese „andere[n] namentlich genannte[n] Schüler“ auf „ein geschwisterliches und kein hierarchisches Modell von Gemeinde verweisen“, das der Evangelist vertritt. Zur Darstellung des Zwölferkreises im Johannesevangelium vgl. M. THEOBALD, Das Evangelium nach Johannes: Kapitel 1–12 (RNT), Regensburg, Pustet, 2009, S. 498-502; zu den „Jüngern“ siehe C. DIETZFELBINGER, Das Evangelium nach Johannes. Teilband 1: Johannes 1–12 (ZBKNT, 4/1), Zürich, Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2001, S. 188-190. 2. Zur Gruppe der „Juden“ und „Pharisäer“ vgl. THEOBALD, Johannes 1–12 (Anm. 1), S. 152-154 und 159-161, der darauf hinweist, dass jüdische Gruppenbezeichnungen teilweise austauschbar verwendet werden (S. 160); entgegen der Erzählung bei den Synoptikern spielen weder „die Schriftgelehrten“ noch „die Sadduzäer“ eine Rolle. Vgl. weiters DIETZFELBINGER, Johannes 1–12 (Anm. 1), S. 281-286.



eher als feindselig gegenüber Jesus gezeichnet, während zwischen Samaritanern und Juden eine Distanz besteht (Joh 4,9)3. Im Kontrast dazu kennt das Johannesevangelium auch gruppenuntypisches Verhalten, wie etwa bei Jesus selbst, der sich als Jude auf ein Gespräch mit einer Samaritanerin und einer samaritanischen Stadt einlässt (Joh 4,5-40), oder bei Thomas, der als einer der Zwölf zunächst nicht ohne handfesten Erweis an Jesu Auferstehung glaubt (Joh 20,25). In einzelnen Fällen kommt es in der Erzählung zu einem Gruppenwechsel, der im Text mehr oder weniger deutlich ausgedrückt wird. Explizit genannt werden etwa die Jünger des Johannes, die zu Jüngern Jesu werden (Joh 1,35-39). Im folgenden Beitrag geht es um Gruppenzugehörigkeit, gruppen(un)typisches Verhalten und Gruppenwechsel im Johannesevangelium und ihre sprachlichen Nuancierungen. Im ersten Teil (I) werden jene Gruppenzugehörigkeiten behandelt, die mit der Präposition ἐκ ausgedrückt werden. Zudem wird nach sprachlichen und narrativen Faktoren gefragt, an denen sich Gruppenwechsel erkennen lässt. Im zweiten Teil (II) werden exemplarisch sprachliche Interpretationen bei der Darstellung der Gruppenzugehörigkeit des Judas und Nikodemus aufgezeigt, die durch die Übersetzung vom Griechischen ins Lateinische in der Textgeschichte entstanden sind. Ziel ist es, auf die interpretative Funktion von Übersetzungen zu verweisen, an denen deutlich wird, wie der Bibeltext zu einer bestimmten Zeit in einem bestimmten Kontext verstanden wurde4. I. GRUPPENZUGEHÖRIGKEIT IM JOHANNESEVANGELIUM: DIE PRÄPOSITION ἐκ Die Zugehörigkeit eines einzelnen oder mehrerer Menschen zu einer Gruppe wird im Johannesevangelium sprachlich unter anderem mit der Präposition ἐκ (mit Genitiv) ausgedrückt, wie z.B. die Jünger des Johannes in Joh 1,35 (ὁ Ἰωάννης καὶ ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ δύο). Auch die Jünger Jesu5 und verschiedene Untergruppen von Juden6 werden in ihrer 3. U. POPLUTZ, Die Pharisäer als literarische Figurengruppe im Johannesevangelium, in J. FREY – U. POPLUTZ (Hgg.), Narrativität und Theologie im Johannesevangelium (BTS, 130), Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener Theologie, 2012, 19-39, S. 27, unterscheidet hierbei zwischen der „Gruppenkategorie“ (Pharisäer gehören zur Gruppe der Juden) und der „Rollenkategorie“ (im Falle der Pharisäer häufig die Opposition zu Jesus). 4. Zugunsten dieser textlichen Analyse wird in diesem Beitrag die umfangreiche Sekundärliteratur zum Johannesevangelium nur in Auswahl zitiert. 5. Siehe Joh 6,; 7,31.40; 12,2.4.42; 13,21.23; 16,5.17; 17,12; 18,9.17.25; 20,24; 21,2. 6. Siehe Joh 1,24; 3,1; 7,; 8,46-47; 9,16.40; 10,20.26; 11,19.37.45-46.49; 12,9.42; 18,26.



Zugehörigkeit sprachlich mit ἐκ ausgewiesen. Der Präpositionalausdruck ist im Johannesevangelium also weder exklusiv einer Gruppe von Menschen vorbehalten noch enthält er eine Wertung der Gruppe. Insofern eine solche ausgedrückt werden soll, ergibt sie sich erst aus dem Kontext und etwaigen expliziten sprachlichen Hinweisen. Im Johannesevangelium ist dies besonders aufschlussreich bei der Frage, wie sich Gruppen und einzelne Vertreter davon gegenüber Jesus verhalten. Denn dabei kommt es mitunter zu einer Spannung zwischen dem individuellen Verhalten und der im Narrativ der zugehörenden Gruppe pauschal zugedachten Eigenschaften7. Im Folgenden werden solche spannungsreichen Konstellationen im Johannesevangelium untersucht: zunächst (1) Jünger, die sich Jesus gegenüber abweisend verhalten, dann (2) Vertreter jüdischer Gruppierungen, die Jesus gegenüber wohlwollend gezeichnet sind, und schließlich (3) mit Judas und Nikodemus zwei Beispiele für den Wechsel von einer Gruppe zu einer anderen. 1. Antipathien gegenüber Jesus aus Jüngerkreisen Eine zurückhaltende bis ablehnende Haltung unter den Jüngern findet sich insbesondere gegen Ende des sechsten Kapitels. So heißt es in Joh 6,60: πολλοὶ οὖν ἀκούσαντες ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ εἶπαν· σκληρός ἐστιν ὁ λόγος οὗτος· τίς δύναται αὐτοῦ ἀκούειν; („viele seiner Jünger, die zuhörten, sagten nun: Hart ist diese Rede, wer kann sie anhören?“). Der Konflikt spitzt sich in den folgenden Versen weiter zu, aber die mit ἐκ ausgedrückte Gruppenzugehörigkeit verändert sich dadurch nicht. In Joh 6,64 wird vielmehr eine eigene Untergruppe, „einige von euch“ (ἐξ ὑμῶν τινες), von Jesus benannt, die durch ihren Unglauben gekennzeichnet ist: ἀλλ’ εἰσὶν ἐξ ὑμῶν τινες οἳ οὐ πιστεύουσιν. Doch selbst dann, wenn sich „viele“ dieser Jünger in unmittelbarer Folge in Joh 6,66 zurückziehen, werden diese sprachlich weiterhin über ihre Jüngerschaft identifiziert: ἐκ 7. Zur belangreichen Frage nach Anti-Judaismus im Johannesevangelium wird seit Jahrzehnten an der KU Leuven geforscht, vgl. R. BIERINGER, Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel: Fifteen Years after the Leuven Colloquium, in R.A. CULPEPPER – P.N. ANDERSON (Hgg.), John and Judaism: A Contested Relationship in Context (Resources for Biblical Study, 87), Atlanta, GA, SBL Press, 2017, 243-263. Vgl. weiters u.a. R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT, Open to Both Ways…? Johannine Perspectives on Judaism in the Light of Jewish-Christian Dialogue, in M. LABAHN – K. SCHOLTISSEK – A. STROTMANN (Hgg.), Israel und seine Heilstraditionen im Johannesevangelium: Festgabe für Johannes Beutler SJ zum 70. Geburtstag, Paderborn, Schöningh, 2004, 11-32, S. 20-21 (mit Anm. 33), sowie die Beiträge zum Thema „The Jews“ von J. Beutler, H.J. de Jonge, M.C. de Boer, R.F. Collins, P.J. Tomson und A. Reinhartz in R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT – F. VANDECASTEELEVANNEUVILLE (Hgg.), Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel: Papers of the Leuven Colloquium, 2000 (Jewish and Christian Heritage, 1), Assen, Royal Van Gorcum, 2001, S. 229-356.



τούτου πολλοὶ [ἐκ] τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω καὶ οὐκέτι μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ περιεπάτουν („darauf gingen viele seiner Jünger weg und zurück und zogen nicht mehr mit ihm umher“). Dass es sich bei den πολλοί in V. 66 nicht einfach oder gar deckungsgleich um die NichtGlaubenden aus V. 64 handeln kann, legt schon das Wort τινες nahe, das eine Untergruppe der πολλοί benennt. Auch die Weiterführung der Geschichte in V. 67 verdeutlicht dies, wenn Jesus die kritische Frage an den Zwölferkreis, eine weitere Untergruppe, stellt, ob auch sie ihn verlassen wollen. Spätestens an der Rede Jesu und dem erläuternden Zusatz in Joh 6,70-71 ist ersichtlich, dass es sich bei den Zwölf nicht um eine homogene Gruppe handelt, selbst wenn die Zugehörigkeit dazu sprachlich mit ἐκ formuliert außer Frage steht: „Habe ich nicht euch, die Zwölf, erwählt? Und doch ist einer von euch ein Teufel (ἐξ ὑμῶν εἷς διάβολός ἐστιν). Er sprach von Judas, dem Sohn des Simon Iskariot; denn dieser sollte ihn ausliefern: einer der Zwölf (οὗτος γὰρ ἔμελλεν παραδιδόναι αὐτόν, εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα)“ (EÜ). Weder das Nicht-Mitgehen mit Jesus (περιπατείν in V. 66) noch das Dabei-Bleiben bei Jesus allein (wie die Zwölf und unter ihnen Judas in den Versen 70-71) kann sprachlich Auskunft geben über das Jünger-Sein und den Glauben an Jesus und seine Verkündigung8. In den Versen 70-71 wird dies bei Judas besonders deutlich: selbst wenn er sich als ein Teufel erweisen sollte (Joh 13,2 ist hier typisch johanneisch vom wissenden Jesus vorweggenommen), bleibt er sprachlich betont am Ende von V. 71 einer der Zwölf (εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα)9. An zwei weiteren Stellen im Johannesevangelium stehen die Zugehörigkeit zur Jüngerschaft Jesu und die Auslieferung durch Judas wie zwei Realitäten nebeneinander. So wird die Frage des Judas in Joh 12,5, warum das Öl der Jesus salbenden Frau nicht für 300 Denare verkauft worden sei, in V. 4 durch eine Identifikation des Fragenden eingeführt: Judas Iskariot, einer seiner Jünger (εἷς [ἐκ] τῶν μαθητῶν), der ihn ausliefern 8. Anders interpretieren dies u.a. DIETZFELBINGER, Johannes 1–12 (Anm. 1), S. 184, und WENGST, Johannes 1–10 (Anm. 1), S. 259: „Die Schüler Jesu geben die Gemeinschaft mit ihm, die Nachfolge, auf und kehren zurück“. J. SCHNEIDER, Das Evangelium nach Johannes, aus dem Nachlass herausgegeben unter Leitung von Erich Fascher (THKNT), Berlin, Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1976, S. 157, spricht von einem „endgültigen Bruch“ mit Jesus. THEOBALD, Johannes 1–12 (Anm. 1), S. 495, sieht in diesem Vers „nichts anderes als die Aufkündigung ihrer Nachfolge“. 9. Vgl. auch WENGST, Johannes 1–10 (Anm. 1), S. 263: „Das Erwähltsein schließt nicht aus, dass ein Erwählter teuflisch handelt und damit seine Erwählung unkenntlich macht. Aber kann er sie zunichte machen? Das bleibt eine offene Frage“. Zur Figur des Judas im Johannesevangelium vgl. stellvertretend für viele Werke F. WAGENER, Figuren als Handlungsmodelle: Simon Petrus, die samaritische Frau, Judas und Thomas als Zugänge zu einer narrativen Ethik des Johannesevangeliums (WUNT, II/408; Kontexte und Normen neutestamentlicher Ethik, 6), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2015, S. 413-492.



werde. Auch in Joh 13,21 bestätigt Jesus noch einmal gegenüber seinen Jüngern, dass ihn tatsächlich einer von ihnen ausliefern werde (ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι εἷς ἐξ ὑμῶν παραδώσει με). Die sprachliche Hervorhebung eines Jüngers mit ἐκ ist im Johannesevangelium nicht exklusiv Judas vorbehalten. Andreas (Joh 6,8), der Jünger, den Jesus liebte (Joh 13,23), Petrus (Joh 18,17.25 und Joh 21,2), Thomas (Joh 20,24 und 21,2) und Nathanael (Joh 21,2) werden ebenso sprachlich mit ἐκ als zu Jesus gehörig benannt. Auch Lazarus, der in Joh 12,2 in entsprechender Formulierung mit Jesus zu Tisch liegt (εἷς ἦν ἐκ τῶν ἀνακειμένων σὺν αὐτῷ), kann hier erwähnt werden. Auffallend ist, dass Petrus, eine Zentralfigur der Zwölf in den synoptischen Darstellungen, im Johannesevangelium zum ersten Mal erst in der kritischen Anfrage von außen in der Passionserzählung auf seine Zugehörigkeit hin befragt wird: in Joh 18,17 wird er von der Pförtnerin (ἡ παιδίσκη ἡ θυρωρός) gefragt, ober er nicht einer der Jünger sei (μὴ καὶ σὺ ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν εἶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τούτου). In Joh 18,25 lautet die Frage derer, die sich am Feuer wärmten, ähnlich: μὴ καὶ σὺ ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ εἶ. Bei der dritten Anfrage in Joh 18,26 allerdings wird nicht mehr nach der Gruppenzugehörigkeit gefragt, sondern nach der Anwesenheit des Petrus im Garten (οὐκ ἐγώ σε εἶδον ἐν τῷ κήπῳ μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ). Umgekehrt wird dafür der Fragende selbst über seine Zugehörigkeit zum Hohepriester ausgewiesen (εἷς ἐκ τῶν δούλων τοῦ ἀρχιερέως) und darüber hinaus als ein Verwandter dessen, dem Petrus zuvor das Ohr abgeschlagen hat. Anders als in den synoptischen Passionsberichten endet die Erzählung in Joh 18,27 mit dem Hahnenschrei und damit der Erfüllung der Ankündigung aus Joh 13,38. Vom reflektierenden Einhalten des Petrus und seinen Tränen (Mk 14,72; Mt 26,75; Lk 22,6162) ist im Johannesevangelium nicht die Rede. Erst nach der Passion tritt Petrus in der Erzählung in Joh 20,2 wieder in Erscheinung. 2. Sympathien für Jesus aus pharisäisch-jüdischen Kreisen Auch im umgekehrten Fall, wenn aus kritisch-gegnerischen Gruppen Zustimmung für Jesus und seine Botschaft kommt, kann die Gruppenzugehörigkeit sprachlich mit ἐκ ausgedrückt sein. Ein Beispiel dafür ist Nikodemus, der im Johannesevangelium drei Mal Erwähnung findet10. 10. J.-M. SEVRIN, The Nicodemus Enigma: The Characterization and Function of an Ambiguous Actor of the Fourth Gospel, in BIERINGER – POLLEFEYT – VANDECASTEELEVANNEUVILLE (Hgg.), Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel (Anm. 7), 357-369, S. 359, verweist zudem auf die erzählerische Nähe zu den „vielen“ (πολλοί), die in Joh 2,23 aufgrund der Zeichen Jesu zum Glauben kommen, von ihm aber nicht in den engeren Kreis aufgenommen werden.



Eingeführt wird er in Joh 3,1 nicht nur als ein „Mensch“ aus der Gruppe der Pharisäer (ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων), sondern zusätzlich auch – aber mit partitivem Genitiv ohne die Präposition ἐκ – als ein „Führender der Juden“ (ἄρχων τῶν Ἰουδαίων). Zwar endet das Gespräch in Joh 3,21 ohne expliziten Hinweis darauf, wie Nikodemus reagiert, doch wird bei den weiteren Erwähnungen stets auf diese nächtliche Begegnung Bezug genommen. In Joh 7,50-51 und der Auseinandersetzung der Pharisäer mit der Tempelpolizei ergreift Nikodemus Partei für Jesus, wenn er fragt: „Verurteilt etwa unser Gesetz einen Menschen, bevor man ihn verhört und festgestellt hat, was er tut?“ (V. 51, EÜ). Wie schon in Joh 3,1 wird Nikodemus auch in Joh 7,50 als zu den Pharisäern gehörig eingeführt (αὐτῶν weist auf V. 47 zurück), dazu kommt die Erinnerung an seinen Besuch bei Jesus: ὁ ἐλθὼν πρὸς αὐτὸν [τὸ] πρότερον, εἷς ὢν ἐξ αὐτῶν (V. 50). Die Spitze der Erzählung liegt dabei nicht in den grammatikalischen Formulierungen, sondern zwischen den Zeilen. Denn wenn die Pharisäer die Tempeldiener in V. 48 fragen: „Ist etwa einer von den Oberen oder von den Pharisäern zum Glauben an ihn gekommen?“ (EÜ; μή τις ἐκ τῶν ἀρχόντων ἐπίστευσεν εἰς αὐτὸν ἢ ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων), dann mag für sie in der Erzählung die Antwort wie selbstverständlich „nein“ lauten. Leser und Leserinnen des Johannesevangeliums aber könnten die Rückbindung an Joh 3,1 auch in der (dazu chiastischen) Formulierung erkennen. Ein solcher (τις) der ἄρχοντες – hier nun anders als in Joh 3,1 mit ἐκ ausgedrückt – könnte Nikodemus sein. Ob dieser aber tatsächlich zum Glauben an Jesus gekommen ist, wird weder hier noch beim dritten und letzten Auftreten des Nikodemus in Joh 19 explizit erwähnt. Es fällt jedoch auf, dass von seiner Zugehörigkeit zu den Pharisäern oder den Führenden in Jerusalem nach dem Tod Jesu nicht mehr eigens die Rede ist. Vielmehr wird er in der Grablegungserzählung nur noch über seinen nächtlichen Besuch bei Jesus in Joh 3,1-21 identifiziert (Joh 19,40). Darin könnten aufmerksame Leser und Leserinnen eine Distanzierung zur Gruppe der Pharisäer erkennen, die an den beiden ersten Stellen noch ein Identifikationsmerkmal des Nikodemus war. Erwähnenswert ist außerdem, dass das (heimliche) Jünger-Sein des Josef von Arimathäa in Joh 19,38 sprachlich nicht mit ἐκ ausgedrückt wird, sondern mit einem Prädikatsnomen: ὢν μαθητὴς τοῦ Ἰησοῦ (mehr dazu unten). Nikodemus ist indes nicht der einzige der Pharisäer im Johannesevangelium, der Jesus und seiner Verkündigung gegenüber offen ist. Auch in Joh 9,16 wird die Gruppenzugehörigkeit mit ἐκ ausgedrückt: „einige der Pharisäer“ (ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων τινές) stellen dort Jesus aufgrund seiner Einstellung zum Sabbat in Frage. „Andere“ (ἄλλοι) aber sehen dies anders („wie kann ein Sünder solche Zeichen tun?“). Auch wenn die Ergänzung



„ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων“ bei ἄλλοι sprachlich nicht zwingend notwendig ist, legt sie sich dennoch nahe. Dass es sich inhaltlich in jedem Fall um eine gemeinsame Gruppe (Pharisäer) handeln muss, zeigt nicht zuletzt der explizite Hinweis am Ende des Verses, demnach aufgrund der unterschiedlichen Einschätzung der einen (τινές) und der anderen (ἄλλοι) eine Spaltung unter ihnen entstand (σχίσμα ἦν ἐν αὐτοῖς). Noch deutlicher wird eine positive Haltung Jesus gegenüber in Joh 11,45, wenn im Anschluss an die Auferweckung des Lazarus „viele der Juden“ (πολλοὶ οὖν ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων) zum Glauben an Jesus komen (ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτόν). Bemerkenswert ist hier die Fortsetzung der Erzählung in Joh 11,46, wo es heißt: τινὲς δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀπῆλθον πρὸς τοὺς Φαρισαίους καὶ εἶπαν αὐτοῖς ἃ ἐποίησεν Ἰησοῦς („aber einige von ihnen gingen zu den Pharisäern und sagten ihnen, was er getan hatte“; EÜ). Auch hier gehören jene, die an Jesus glauben, und jene, die skeptisch sind, derselben Gruppe an, in diesem Fall „den Juden“. Die Untergruppe der Pharisäer steht in der johanneischen Darstellung in einem besonders schlechten Licht. Dies zeigt sich auch in Joh 12,42, wenn unter den Juden viele der Führenden zum Glauben an Jesus kommen (ἐκ τῶν ἀρχόντων πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτόν), aber sich wegen der Pharisäer und eines dem johanneischen Kontext geschuldeten drohenden Synagogenausschlusses nicht öffentlich zu ihm bekennen (ἀλλὰ διὰ τοὺς Φαρισαίους οὐχ ὡμολόγουν ἵνα μὴ ἀποσυνάγωγοι γένωνται). Die Heimlichkeit des Jünger-Seins aus Furcht vor den Pharisäern ist auch bei Josef von Arimathäa in Joh 19,38 ein Thema. Doch kann selbst unter den Pharisäern, wie das Beispiel des Nikodemus zeigt, nicht einfach schwarz-weiß gemalt werden11. Die Frage des Pro und Contra zu Jesus stellt sich im Johannesevangelium nicht entlang von Gruppenlinien, sondern letztendlich quer durch diese hindurch. 3. Der Wechsel der Gruppenzugehörigkeit: Judas und Nikodemus als Beispiel Wie die Beispiele zu ἐκ gezeigt haben, bleibt die Gruppenzugehörigkeit zunächst vom jeweiligen Einzelverhalten unberührt. Doch das Johannesevangelium weist auch zwei einander entgegengesetzte Figuren auf, 11. So auch U. SCHNELLE, Das Evangelium nach Johannes, 2. Auflage (THKNT, 4), Leipzig, Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2000, S. 163-166, der acht unterschiedliche Verwendungsweisen der Bezeichnung „Juden“ benennt und festhält, dass „nur ca. ein Drittel der Belege […] negativ“ ist. Anders spricht THEOBALD, Johannes 1–12 (Anm. 1), S. 154, an den sieben Stellen im Johannesevangelium, die an Jesus glaubende Juden erwähnen (Joh 2,23; 7,31; 8,30; 10,42; 11,45; 12,11.42), von einem „Schein-Glauben“ (vgl. auch S. 69-70). Zur Spaltung der Gruppe der Pharisäer im Johannesevangelium vgl. POPLUTZ, Pharisäer (Anm. 3), S. 33-36.



bei denen sich die Gruppenzugehörigkeit im Laufe der Geschichte inhaltlich und letztendlich auch sprachlich wandelt: Judas, der zum engsten Kreis Jesu gehört, und Nikodemus, der zu den Pharisäern und dem führenden Kreis der Juden gehört. Ihr gruppenuntypisches Verhalten wird an ihren Taten deutlich. Judas stellt die Ereignisse um Jesus kritisch in Frage (Joh 12,5) und liefert ihn schließlich aus. Demgegenüber steht das (nächtliche) Zugehen des Nikodemus auf Jesus und die Grablegung gemeinsam mit Josef von Arimathäa, einem (heimlichen) Jünger Jesu (ὢν μαθητής, Joh 19,38)12. Diese Zusammenarbeit zwischen Nikodemus und dem Jünger Josef rückt auch Nikodemus weiter in Richtung der Jünger Jesu, ohne dass dies explizit ausgedrückt wird. Die Nacht (Finsternis), in der beide, Judas und Nikodemus, einschneidende Begegnungen mit Jesus haben, ist ein typisches johanneisches Erzählmotiv. Der gelehrten Diskussion des Nikodemus steht Judas gegenüber, der angestiftet vom διάβολος (Joh 13,2) unter dem Einfluss des σατανᾶς in der Finsternis agiert (Joh 13,27.30) und in der Nacht aus der Erzählung scheidet (Joh 18,5), und zwar nur noch als Ausliefernder, nicht aber mehr als Jünger Jesu identifiziert. Er gehört nun zu einer anderen Gruppe, wenn auch nicht mit ἐκ ausgedrückt: er steht gemeinsam mit den Gegnern Jesu (Joh 18,5b: εἱστήκει […] μετ᾿ αὐτῶν), also auf der Seite des Schlägertrupps und der im Auftrag der Hohepriester und Pharisäer Agierenden (τὴν σπεῖραν καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἀρχιερέων καὶ ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων ὑπηρέτας) aus Joh 18,3. Damit stehen Nikodemus und Judas einander diametral gegenüber: der eine entwickelt sich aus der Gruppe der Pharisäer zu einem am Tag gemeinsam mit einem Jünger Jesu Agierenden, der andere wechselt aus der Gruppe der Zwölf zu einem, der u.a. gemeinsam mit den Pharisäern in der Nacht an der Festnahme Jesu beteiligt ist13. Obwohl markant in beiden Fällen die ursprüngliche Gruppenzugehörigkeit bei der jeweils letzten Erwähnung 12. Vgl. auch POPLUTZ, Pharisäer (Anm. 3), S. 33: „Wenn man […] die Distanznahme der Pharisäer […] als Charakterisierungsmerkmal ernst nimmt, verhält sich Nikodemus dazu genau konträr: Er sucht die Nähe Jesu und führt mit ihm bei Nacht ein vertrauliches Zwiegespräch“. 13. Vgl. SCHNELLE, Johannes (Anm. 11), S. 150. Diese Interpretation eines „stufenweise[n] Voranschreiten[s] im Glauben an Jesus“ (R. SCHNACKENBURG, Das Johannesevangelium: Einleitung und Kommentar zu Kap. 1–4 [HTKNT, 4/1], Freiburg i.Br., Herder, 1965, S. 379), lehnt K. WENGST, Das Johannesevangelium. 2. Teilband: Kapitel 11–21 (TKNT, 4/2), Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 2001, S. 118, ab, da kein „offenes Bekenntnis zu Jesus“ erwähnt wird und heimliches Verhalten zudem negativ besetzt ist (Joh 12,42-43). Dennoch räumt er bei der Grablegung Jesu (Joh 19,39) ein, dass keine Kritik erkennbar ist: „Wie sollte es auch negativ gewertet werden, dass sie den hingerichteten Jesus so ehrenvoll beisetzen?“ (S. 270). Vgl. auch DIETZFELBINGER, Johannes 1–12 (Anm. 1), S. 282, über Nikodemus, der „sich öffentlich an dem ehrenvollen Begräbnis für Jesus [beteiligt], und das kann nicht anders denn als ein Akt des Bekenntnisses zu Jesus verstanden werden“.



im Johannesevangelium nicht mehr genannt wird, geht die Erzählung dennoch nicht den letzten Umkehrschritt. Denn die „neue“ Gruppenzugehörigkeit wird weder für Judas noch für Nikodemus am Ende ihrer Darstellung sprachlich mit ἐκ ausgewiesen. Deutlich ist ihr Gruppenwechsel dennoch: Judas steht „mit“ den Dienern der Pharisäer und Hohepriester (μετ᾿ αὐτῶν in Joh 18,5b), Nikodemus agiert gemeinsam mit einem (heimlichen) Jünger Jesu (Joh 19,38)14. Während Judas durch den Einfluss des διάβολος und σατανᾶς handelt, wird bei Nikodemus keine personalisierte Kraft gegenübergestellt. Wohl aber fällt auf, dass der nächtliche Besuch bei Jesus stets als Identifikationsmerkmal des Nikodemus mit offenkundig nachhaltiger Wirkung erwähnt wird. Letztendlich bleibt der Ausgang beider Geschichten für Leser und Leserinnen aber offen. II. NIKODEMUS, EINER DER PHARISÄER, UND JUDAS, EINER DER ZWÖLF, IM GRIECHISCH-LATEINISCHEN VERGLEICH Stellt man dem soeben skizzierten griechischen Befund die lateinische Übersetzung gegenüber, so zeigt sich, dass die Stellen, die eine Gruppenbezeichnung mit ἐκ angeben, in der Vulgata nicht ausschließlich mit dem lateinischen e(x) übersetzt werden: der bloße Genitiv steht in Joh 6,66 (multi discipulorum eius), die Präposition de in Joh 7,31 (de turba autem multi crediderunt für ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου δὲ πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν)15. Da in Joh 7,31 aber auch in der griechischen Handschriftenüberlieferung die Auslassung der Präposition belegt ist (πολλοὶ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ), könnte die lateinische Version auch auf eine entsprechende griechische Vorlage mit bloßem Genitiv zurückgehen16. Mit einem Blick in die lateinische Handschriftenbezeugung nimmt, wie zu erwarten, auch die Variantenvielfalt an den 14. SEVRIN, Nicodemus (Anm. 10), S. 367, lässt die Trennlinie anders verlaufen: „[perhaps] one could call him a disciple rather than a believer“, betont aber, dass Nikodemus die Gruppengrenzen überschreitet: „The way Nicodemus is characterized makes it impossible to consider ‚the Jews‘, who are connected with the Pharisees, to constitute one pole of a dualism. […] There is indeed an ‚in-between‘“ (S. 369). C. DIETZFELBINGER, Das Evangelium nach Johannes. Teilband 2: Johannes 13–21 (ZBKNT, 4/2), Zürich, Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2001, S. 315, spricht sogar von der „Entwicklung eines glaubenden Juden“ als Propaganda des Evangelisten. 15. Gerade bei der Übertragung der griechischen Präpositionen findet sich im Lateinischen eine gewisse Variationsbreite, und zwar unabhängig von der griechischen Vorlage, vgl. H.A.G. HOUGHTON, The Latin New Testament: A Guide to Its Early History, Texts, and Manuscripts, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016, S. 148. Ob es eine spätere Tendenz in der Vulgatatradition gibt, ἐκ und e(x) einander entsprechen zu lassen, wäre eigens zu untersuchen. 16. Dabei ist anzumerken, dass die Vulgata an anderen Stellen (Joh 12,2 und 4) e(x) liest, während das griechische ἐκ in der Handschriftenbezeugung strittig ist.



einzelnen Stellen zu. Noch komplexer wird es bei einem Vergleich zwischen der griechischen und der lateinischen Texttradition. Dabei können sprachliche Veränderungen der Eigenart des Lateinischen geschuldet sein, wie etwa dort, wo es kein Äquivalent zum Griechischen gibt17. Ein für die Frage nach der Gruppenzugehörigkeit besonders relevantes Beispiel dafür ist das fehlende lateinische Pendant für das aktive Präsenspartizip von εἰμί (ὤν)18, wie unten noch weiter ausgeführt wird. Die sprachlich notwendigen Veränderungen, die sich beim Übersetzen durch die Diskrepanz zwischen den Möglichkeiten der Ausgangssprache und denen der Zielsprache ergeben, sind nur ein bekannter Aspekt, der bei Übersetzungsvergleichen zu beachten ist. Ein weiterer ist die Tatsache, dass Übersetzungen stets zugleich auch Interpretationen sind. Darin liegt für die Untersuchung der alten Bibelübersetzungen großes Potential, denn diese geben – nolens volens und einmal mehr, einmal weniger – Auskunft darüber, wie der Bibeltext zu einem bestimmten Zeitpunkt gelesen und verstanden wurde: sei es, dass die Zielsprache die jeweilige semantische Bedeutungsbreite einzelner Wörter oder Wendungen nicht deckungsgleich wiedergeben kann, sei es, dass durch die grammatikalischen Unterschiede eine inhaltlich einschränkende oder erweiternde Übersetzung erforderlich wird, wie dies insbesondere bei Partizipia der Fall ist, sei es, dass ganz bewusst ein bestimmter Akzent gesetzt wird, der auf den jeweiligen Kontext des Übersetzers oder des Zielpublikums der Übersetzung schließen lässt19. Im Folgenden wird in einem griechisch-lateinischen Übersetzungsvergleich näher auf die Darstellung des Nikodemus und Judas im Johannesevangelium eingegangen. Ausgehend (1) von jenen Stellen, in denen die 17. Dazu gehören sowohl grammatikalische, syntaktische und rhetorische Unterschiede, u.a. keine Entsprechung für Aorist, aktive Perfektpartizipia, passive Präsenspartizipia und Artikel, der Stellenwert von Partikeln und Partizipia, die Verwendung der doppelten Negation und viele mehr. Vgl. B. FISCHER, Das Neue Testament in lateinischer Sprache: Der gegenwärtige Stand seiner Erforschung und seine Bedeutung für die griechische Textgeschichte, in K. ALAND (Hg.), Die alten Übersetzungen des Neuen Testaments, die Kirchenväterzitate und Lektionare: Der gegenwärtige Stand ihrer Erforschung und ihre Bedeutung für die griechische Textgeschichte (Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung, 5), Berlin, De Gruyter, 1972, 1-92, S. 16 und 83-87; R. HARRISON, Jerome’s Revision of the Gospels, University of Pennsylvania, unpublished dissertation, 1986, S. 237-274, und P. BURTON, The Old Latin Gospels: A Study of Their Texts and Language (Oxford Early Christian Studies), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000. 18. Erst in philosophischen Debatten des Mittelalters tritt beim Verb esse das Partizip ens zur Bezeichnung des Seienden auf. 19. Vgl. u.a. D.C. PARKER, The Living Text of the Gospels, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, S. 13-15; B.M. METZGER, The Early Versions of the New Testament: Their Origin, Transmission, and Limitations, Oxford, Clarendon, 1977.



beiden zum ersten Mal namentlich in ihrer Gruppenzugehörigkeit (ἐκ) genannt werden (Joh 3,1 und Joh 6,71), wird (2) besonders auf unterschiedliche sprachliche Nuancierungen im Lateinischen geachtet. Abschließend (3) wird gefragt, was diese unterschiedlichen Nuancierungen für das Verständnis des Textes bedeuten. 1. Nikodemus und Judas als Teil ihrer Herkunftsgruppe In Joh 3,1 heißt es über Nikodemus ἦν δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων, Νικόδημος ὄνομα αὐτῷ, ἄρχων τῶν Ἰουδαίων, was in der Vulgata mit erat autem homo ex Pharisaeis Nicodemus nomine princeps Iudaeorum wiedergegeben wird. In den altlateinischen Übersetzungen bleibt der Präpositionalausdruck ex Pharisaeis beibehalten, doch lesen VL 2 und VL 3 anstelle der Präposition ex die Präposition de. In allen lateinischen Handschriften steht für ἄνθρωπος das lateinische Wort homo, lediglich VL 3 ergänzt homo quidam („ein bestimmter Mensch“)20. Judas wird in Joh 6,71 zum ersten Mal im Anschluss an eine rhetorische Frage Jesu in der Erzählung eingeführt und näher charakterisiert: Nestle-Aland 28 70 ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· οὐκ ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς τοὺς δώδεκα ἐξελεξάμην; καὶ ἐξ ὑμῶν εἷς διάβολός ἐστιν. 71 ἔλεγεν δὲ τὸν Ἰούδαν Σίμωνος Ἰσκαριώτου· οὗτος γὰρ ἔμελλεν παραδιδόναι αὐτόν, εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα Vulgata 71 respondit eis Iesus nonne ego vos duodecim elegi et ex vobis unus diabolus est 72 dicebat autem Iudam Simonis Scariotis hic enim erat traditurus eum cum esset unus ex duodecim

Gleich zweimal steht in diesen beiden Versen ἐκ zusammen mit dem einmal vor- und einmal nachgestellten Zahlwort εἷς zur Angabe der Gruppenzugehörigkeit. Beides, die Präposition und die Satzstellung, findet sich in der Vulgata dem Ausgangstext des Nestle-Aland 28 entsprechend. Doch gibt es sowohl in den griechischen als auch in den altlateinischen Handschriften Abweichungen. Die umgekehrte Wortstellung εἷς ἐξ ὑμῶν 20. Für weitere Unterschiede siehe P.H. BURTON – H.A.G. HOUGHTON – R.F. MACLACH– D.C. PARKER (Hgg.), Evangelium Secundum Iohannem, 2 Faszikeln, Jo 1,1–9,41 (Vetus Latina. Die Reste der Altlateinischen Bibel, 19), Freiburg i.Br., Herder, 2011-2013, und das gesamte Johannesevangelium in der altlateinischen Bezeugung online unter http:// Für Details zu den einzelnen Handschriften siehe R. GRYSON, Altlateinische Handschriften / Manuscrits vieux latins. Répertoire descriptif, 2 Bände (Vetus Latina, 1/2), Freiburg i.Br., Herder, 1999-2004, und HOUGHTON, Latin New Testament (Anm. 15). LAN



lesen in Joh 6,70 nicht nur der zweisprachige Codex Bezae, und zwar im griechischen wie im lateinischen Teil (unus […] de uobis)21, und einige Minuskeln, sondern auch eine spätere Korrektur im Codex Sinaiticus, wo das Zahlenwort εἷς zunächst in der ersten Hand fehlt. Auch in den altlateinischen Handschriften finden sich beide Wortstellungen: unus nach dem Präpositionalausdruck steht in VL 3, 7, 11, 11A, 33, 35, 47 und 48; vor dem Präpositionalausdruck in VL 2, 4 (unus tamen) 5, 6, 8, 9A, 10, 10A, 13, 14, 15 und 30, wobei dem Präpositionalausdruck stets diabolus est folgt, mit Ausnahme von Codex Palatinus (VL 2; unus est ex uobis diabolus). Auch wenn die bewährte textkritische Regel zu beachten ist, dass Handschriften „zu wägen, nicht zu zählen“22 sind, fällt doch die starke Bezeugung der im Griechischen nur sporadisch belegten Voranstellung des Wortes unus auf. Der im Griechischen zwischen Joh 6,70 und 6,71 entstehende Chiasmus in der Wortstellung wird im Lateinischen dadurch nur bedingt beibehalten, doch steht in allen altlateinischen Handschriften mit dieser Passage unus entsprechend der griechischen Vorlage im Text vor der Erwähnung der Zwölf. Ein weiterer Unterschied fällt bei der Verwendung der Präposition auf: während in Joh 6,70 zur Präposition ex keine alternativen Lesarten in den altlateinischen Handschriften zu finden sind, gibt es in Joh 6,71 zu ex sehr wohl Varianten. VL 2, 6, 7, 8, 9A, 10, 11A, 13, [14], 27, 33, 35, 47 und 48 lesen ex, die Präposition de hingegen steht in VL 3, 4, 5 (der lateinische Teil des Codex Bezae), 11, [22] und 30. Aus dem Rahmen fällt VL 29, da die Handschrift überhaupt keine Präposition liest, doch wird es sich dabei wohl um einen Schreibfehler handeln. Denn weder ist im Griechischen ein reiner Genitiv an dieser Stelle als alternative Lesart belegt, noch wäre ein solcher im Lateinischen, das keinen Artikel hat, beim Zahlenwort duodecim23 ausweisbar. Am auffälligsten im Vergleich ist in Joh 6,71 jedoch, dass weder der altlateinische Text noch die spätere Vulgatarevision auf eine griechische Textvorlage entsprechend dem Ausgangstext des Nestle-Aland 28 (εἷς 21. Allerdings variiert die Stellung des Wortes ἔστιν/est im Codex Bezae: der griechische Teil liest dieses nach διάβολος (ἐξ ὑμῶν εἷς διάβολός ἐστιν), der lateinische schiebt est nach unus ein (unus est de uobis diabolus). Zum Codex Bezae siehe u.a. D.C. PARKER, Codex Bezae: An Early Christian Manuscript and Its Text, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992, und D.C. PARKER – C.-B. AMPHOUX (Hgg.), Codex Bezae: Studies from the Lunel Colloquium, June 1994 (NTTSD, 22), Leiden, Brill, 1996. 22. K. ALAND – B. ALAND, Der Text des Neuen Testaments: Einführung in die wissenschaftlichen Ausgaben und in Theorie wie Praxis der modernen Textkritik, Stuttgart, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1982, S. 282. 23. VL 29 schreibt an dieser Stelle die Zahl XII, wie viele andere Handschriften auch (VL [3], 4, 6, 11A, [14], 27, 30, 35 und 48).



ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα) zurückgehen dürfte, sondern vielmehr auf eine alternative Lesart mit dem Partizip ὤν (εἷς ὢν ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα), die nicht nur im Papyrus 66 belegt ist, sondern auch in einer Reihe von bedeutenden Majuskeln, darunter die Codices Sinaiticus (4. Jh.), Washingtonianus (5. Jh.), Petropolitanus Purpureus (6. Jh.) sowie der zweisprachige Codex Sangallensis 48 (9. Jh.), und in zahlreichen Minuskeln, darunter die Textfamilien 1 und 1324. Denn in allen lateinischen Handschriften findet sich eine Übersetzung mit esse, mit Ausnahme des lateinischen Teils des zweisprachigen Codex Bezae (VL 5), der hier dem griechischen Teil ohne ὤν entspricht25. Da, wie bereits oben angemerkt, das Lateinische kein Äquivalent für das griechische Partizip ὤν aufweist, wird dieses in Joh 6,71 umschrieben, und zwar beinahe ausschließlich mit einem cum-Satz (cum esset). Lediglich VL 2 (Codex Palatinus) gibt das griechische Partizip in einem Relativsatz, qui unus erat, wieder. Durch diese konzessive bzw. relative Wiedergabe mit einer Form von esse lässt das Lateinische nicht nur auf die Präsenz einer Form von εἰμί im Griechischen schließen, sondern legt in der üblichen Übersetzungspraxis speziell ein Partizip nahe. Diese gewichtige Bezeugung in der lateinischen Tradition für die Lesart ὤν im Griechischen wird im textkritischen Apparat des Nestle-Aland 28 allerdings bisher nicht ausgewiesen. Dort wird unter den Versionen derzeit lediglich die syrische Harklensis (syh) als Zeugin für die Lesart ὤν angeführt. Die lateinische Bezeugung wäre in einer der folgenden Auflagen, spätestens aber nach Erscheinen der Editio Critica Maior zum Johannesevangelium, entsprechend nachzutragen26. 2. Die Konjunktion cum (mit Konjunktiv) im Johannesevangelium Der lateinische Text in Joh 6,71 lässt Rückschlüsse auf das Verständnis des griechischen Textes zur Zeit des Übersetzens zu. Denn die Konjunktion cum mit Konjunktiv dient im Lateinischen vorwiegend dazu, eine narrativ-temporale Relation anzuzeigen, eine Begründung zu geben, ein adversatives Verhältnis zu benennen oder einen konzessiven Gedanken 24. Vgl. zu Details den textkritischen Apparat des Nestle-Aland 28 zur Stelle. 25. Diese Entsprechung zwischen dem lateinischen und griechischen Teil im Codex Bezae fällt auch deshalb auf, weil die beiden Teile an der vergleichbaren Stelle in Joh 7,50 voneinander abweichen. Dort steht dem griechischen εἷς ὢν ἐξ αὐτῶν das lateinische unus ex illis gegenüber. 26. Zudem wäre ein eindeutigerer Ausweis der zweisprachigen Handschriften im textkritischen Apparat wünschenswert, denn nur so könnte man erkennen, dass die einzige lateinische Lesart ohne esse im Codex Bezae dem griechischen Text des Codex entspricht. Zudem könnte kenntlich gemacht werden, dass auch beide Sprachteile im interlinearen Codex Sangallensis 48 einander entsprechen (mit εἰμί/esse formuliert).



zum Ausdruck zu bringen. Inhaltlich sind an dieser Stelle zu Judas ein narrativ-temporales („zu dem Zeitpunkt, als er einer der Zwölf war“) oder wohl eher noch ein konzessives Verständnis („obwohl er einer der Zwölf war“) denkbar. Da sprachlich zusätzlich kein eindeutiger Hinweis steht, wie etwa tamen in VL 5 in Joh 6,70, gegeben wird, lohnt sich ein kurzer Blick auf alle Verbindungen von cum mit Konjunktiv des Verbes esse im Johannesevangelium. Im Vulgatatext findet sich die Konjunktion cum mit Konjunktiv des Verbs esse im Johannesevangelium häufig narrativ-temporal verwendet (Joh 1,48; 2,23; 11,49; 17,12; 20,1; 20,19; 21,18). Dieses Verständnis legt sich dabei meist durch eindeutige Hinweise im Griechischen nahe, wie etwa ein ὅτε-Satz in Joh 17,12 und 21,18 oder zusätzliche Zeitangaben in Joh 2,23 (Pessach-Fest) und in Joh 11,49 (das laufende Jahr). In Joh 20,1 und 20,19 werden nicht nur Angaben zur frühen Morgenstunde gemacht, sondern stehen im Griechischen zusätzlich absolute Genitivkonstruktionen mit dem Partizip οὔσης, die im Lateinischen zeitlich aufgelöst werden. Auch in Joh 3,4 und Joh 11,51 können die cum-Sätze narrativ verstanden werden. Im zuletzt genannten Fall könnte auch ein kausales Verständnis in Frage kommen, wie dies die Einheitsübersetzung in ihrer Wiedergabe der griechischen Partizipialkonstruktion (ἀρχιερεὺς ὤν) aufweist: „Das sagte er nicht aus sich selbst; sondern weil er der Hohepriester jenes Jahres war, sagte er aus prophetischer Eingebung, dass Jesus für das Volk sterben werde“ (EÜ). Für Joh 3,4 legt sich aufgrund des Gegensatzes von Geboren-Werden und Alt-Sein neben dem narrativen Verständnis auch eine konzessive Nuance nahe: quomodo potest homo nasci cum senex sit („wie kann ein Mensch geboren werden, wenn/obwohl er alt ist?“). Ebenfalls eine konzessive Akzentuierung bietet sich für cum abgesehen von Joh 6,71 auch in Joh 4,9; 9,25; 10,33 und 21,11 an. An diesen Stellen gibt cum mit Konjunktiv eine griechische Partizipialkonstruktion mit einem Präsenspartizip von εἰμί wieder. Der Gegensatz liegt in diesen Versen inhaltlich meist deutlich auf der Hand und wird gelegentlich sogar zusätzlich betont. So wird in Joh 4,9 der Gegensatz zwischen Juden und Samaritanern in einem eigenen Nachsatz für Leser und Leserinnen erläutert – nämlich damit, dass Juden mit Samaritanern keinen Umgang pflegen. Dieser Gegensatz liegt der Spannung zugrunde, die in der Frage der Frau an Jesus mitschwingt: quomodo tu Iudaeus cum sis bibere a me poscis quae sum mulier Samaritana („wie kannst du, obwohl du Jude bist, von mir, die ich eine Samaritanerin bin, zu trinken fordern?“). Auffällig an diesem Vers ist, dass die völlig parallele Konstruktion im Griechischen (πῶς σὺ Ἰουδαῖος ὢν παρ᾿ ἐμοῦ πεῖν αἰτεῖς γυναικὸς Σαμαρίτιδος οὔσης) in der Vulgata nicht nachgeahmt wird. Im Griechischen



folgt in beiden Fällen auf das Personalpronomen (σύ; ἐμοῦ) eine Zugehörigkeit (Ἰουδαῖος; γυναικὸς Σαμαρίτιδος) und dann das Präsenspartizip (ὤν; οὔσης). Die Vulgata hingegen übersetzt im ersten Fall bei Jesus mit einem cum-Satz, im zweiten Fall bei der Samaritanerin mit einem einfachen Relativsatz. Sprachlich gibt es dafür keine Notwendigkeit, in beiden Fällen könnte sowohl ein cum- oder ein Relativsatz stehen. Varianten im Altlateinischen belegen dies: VL 2, 4, 8, 11, 11A, 13, 14, 30, 33 lesen auch im zweiten Fall cum mit Konjunktiv (cum sim). Den Relativsatz quae sum wie in der Vulgata lesen VL 6, 7, 10, 27, 29, 35, 47 und 48; eine Kombination aus beidem (quae cum sim mulier Samaritana) liest VL 1527. Im Kontext der lateinischen Übersetzung wurde offensichtlich die Notwendigkeit empfunden, dem Verhalten Jesu eine eindeutige, in diesem Fall konzessive Nuance zu geben. Über die Gründe dafür zu spekulieren, ist müßig. Festzuhalten bleibt, dass das Lateinische hier den Lesern und Leserinnen eine klare Interpretation des griechischen Partizips gibt. In Joh 9,25 besteht der Gegensatz zwischen den beiden sich ausschließenden Konstitutionen „blind sein“ und „sehen“, wie der Geheilte festhält: unum scio quia caecus cum essem modo video („eines weiß ich, dass ich, obwohl ich blind war, nun sehe“). In Joh 10,33 ist es der grundsätzliche Schöpfungsunterschied zwischen Gott und Mensch, der zum Ausdruck kommt und die Auseinandersetzung um Jesus im Johannesevangelium auf den Punkt bringt: de bono opere non lapidamus te sed de blasphemia et quia tu homo cum sis facis te ipsum Deum („wegen deines guten Werkes steinigen wir dich nicht, sondern wegen der Blasphemie und weil du, obwohl du ein Mensch bist, dich selbst zu Gott machst“). Auch in Joh 21,11 ist der Gegensatz zwischen dem prall gefüllten Netz und der Feststellung, dass dieses dennoch nicht zerreißt, bildlich greifbar. Ähnlich wie in Joh 4,9 wird auch hier durch den doppelten Verweis eine Spannung aufgebaut: rete […] plenum magnis piscibus centum quinquaginta tribus et cum tanti essent non est scissum rete („[…] das Netz gefüllt mit 153 großen Fischen und obwohl es viele waren, riss das Netz nicht“). Weder Joh 3,4 noch Joh 6,71 sind mit zusätzlichen sprachlichen Hinweisen versehen, doch legt der Kontext die konzessive Bedeutung nahe. Der Gegensatz in Joh 6,71 ergibt sich daraus, dass das Ausliefern Jesu „gruppenuntypisch“ ist, sich also nicht mit der Tatsache verträgt, dass Judas aus dem engsten Kreis um Jesus stammt. 27. Daneben finden sich auch andere Wiedergaben des zweiten Teils: quia sum steht in VL 9A; ohne eine Wiedergabe mit esse kommen VL 5 (a me […] muliere Samaritanae) und VL 22 (a me […] a muliere Samaritana) aus.



3. Die lateinischen „Nuancen“ in der Darstellung von Judas und Nikodemus Im Kontext des Gesamtevangelium wäre die bewusst konzessive Erläuterung bei der Einführung des Judas in Joh 6,71 nicht notwendigerweise erforderlich. Denn wie im ersten Teil dieses Beitrags dargestellt, gibt es sowohl auf Seiten der Jesus-Skeptiker als auch bei den Jesus-Anhängern „atypisches“ Verhalten. Sprachlich wird die Spannung zwischen Verhalten und Gruppenzugehörigkeit im Lateinischen variiert, es steht also nicht künstlich für ein sprachliches Phänomen im Griechischen stets dieselbe lateinische Übersetzung. Gerade an diesen Nuancen gegenüber der griechischen Vorlage aber zeigt sich das Interpretationspotential der lateinischen Übersetzungen. In Joh 7,50 wird erzählt, dass Nikodemus „einer von ihnen“, den Pharisäern, sei, und zwar sprachlich völlig ident zur Variantenlesart mit ὤν in Joh 6,71: εἷς ὢν ἐξ αὐτῶν28. Die lateinische Wiedergabe verweist zwar in den meisten Fällen eindeutig auf das griechische Partizip, doch stets mit einem einfachen Relativsatz (qui erat unus), nicht aber mit der Konjunktion cum und dem Konjunktiv zum Ausdruck eines konzessiven Gedankens29. Anders als in Joh 6,71 wird die Präposition ex in den altlateinischen Handschriften nicht variiert, wohl aber die Satzstellung von unus. Spekulationen, warum hier in Joh 7,50 ein Relativsatz und kein cum-Satz steht, sind wenig zielführend; die Tatsache bleibt, dass die Übersetzungen das Partizip ὤν in derselben Konstruktion in den beiden Versen unterschiedlich nuancieren. Mit dieser Beobachtung wird im Umkehrschluss umso deutlicher, dass es sich beim Lateinischen cum esset in Joh 6,71 um eine in der Übersetzung hinzutretende Interpretation handelt, es also dem Übersetzer notwendig erschien, den Lesern und 28. Die Auslassung von ὤν in Joh 7,50 scheint lediglich im Codex Regius (Majuskel 019; 8. Jh.) belegt, der damit parallel an beiden Stellen ohne Partizip formuliert, vgl. dazu die elektronische Edition des International Greek New Testament Project unter http:// 29. Die Kombination cum mit Konjunktiv wird ausschließlich für den an dieser Stelle lückenhaften Codex Vercellensis (VL 3) rekonstruiert, und zwar von A. GASQUET (Hg.), Codex Vercellensis iamdudum ab Irico et Bianchino bis editus denuo cum manuscripto collatus in lucem profertur, 1. Band (Collectanea Biblica Latina, 3), Roma – Regensburg – New York, Pustet, 1914 (vgl. auch PL 12, Kol. 407). Eine Variante zum Relativsatz weist der bilingue Codex Sangallensis 48 (VL 27) auf, in dem es sich beim interlinear geschriebenen lateinischen Text weitgehend um eine ad-hoc-Übersetzung handelt. Anstelle eines Relativsatzes liest der Codex fiens, das Partizip Präsens des Wortes fieri. Warum diese Übersetzung nicht auch in Joh 6,71 gewählt wurde, bleibt offen. Vgl. H.A.G. HOUGHTON, The Latin Text of John in the Saint Gall Bilingual Gospels (Codex Sangallensis 48), in ID. – P. MONTORO (Hgg.), At One Remove: The Text of the New Testament in Early Translations and Quotations: Papers from the Eleventh Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (Texts and Studies, 3/24), Piscataway, NJ, Gorgias, 2020, 149-171.



Leserinnen eine zusätzliche Erklärung für das Verhalten des Judas im Text mitzugeben. Für das Verhalten des Nikodemus bedurfte es einer solchen zusätzlichen Erklärung offensichtlich nicht. Abschließend lohnt sich noch ein kurzer Blick auf Joh 19,38, auch wenn dort keine ἐκ-Konstruktion steht, sondern Josef von Arimathäa schlicht als ὢν μαθητὴς τοῦ Ἰησοῦ in seiner Gruppenzugehörigkeit vorgestellt wird. Aufschlussreich ist hier vor allem die lateinische Wiedergabe des Partizips ὤν, das meistens kausal aufgelöst wird30. Dies erfolgt sowohl mit eo quod esset („dadurch, dass“ oder „deshalb, weil“ in der Vulgata, VL 7, 9A, 15, 29, 30, 33, 35, 47 und 48) als auch mit quia erat discipulus Iesu (VL 8 [Korrektor], 25). Dazu liest VL 10 die Erweiterung quia et ipse discipulus erat Iesu („denn auch er war ein Jünger Jesu“)31. Einen Relativsatz (qui […] erat discipulus Iesu) lesen mit unterschiedlicher Wortstellung32 VL 2, 3, 8 (1. Hand), 13 (fuerat), 14, 16 (fuit), [21] und 27. Die Erweiterung qui et ipse discipulus erat Iesu findet sich in VL 4, 6 [fuit] und 22A. Beide Formulierungen, eo quod und quia, geben eine Begründung für das Verhalten des Josef. Der Relativsatz ist demgegenüber eine eher nuancenneutrale Wiedergabe des griechischen Partizips. Inhaltlich bemerkenswert ist die kausale Interpretation, weil sie die Gruppenzugehörigkeit (Jünger-Sein) des Josef zum Grund für sein Handeln (den Leichnam Jesu erbitten und bestatten) macht. Mit diesem kausativen Zusammenhang zwischen Bestattung und Jüngersein Jesu sind bedeutende Implikationen für das Verständnis des Nikodemus verbunden. Denn das Jünger-Sein, selbst wenn heimlich aus Furcht (Joh 19,38), erweist sich an der Tat gegenüber Jesus, der Bestattung nach dem jüdischen Brauch (Joh 19,41) und der in der Antike bedeutenden Ehrung der 30. Rein sprachlich könnte im Lateinischen für ein kausales Verständnis cum mit Konjunktiv stehen. Dies wäre aber, wie der Befund unter II.2. gezeigt hat, im lateinischen Johannesevangelium unüblich. 31. Erst eine umfangreichere Untersuchung der Texte im Zuge der Editio Critica Maior wird zeigen können, ob die Erweiterung et ipse der zugegeben unübliche Versuch einer Wiedergabe des in manchen griechischen Handschriften bezeugten Artikels ὁ vor dem Namen Josef ist (ὁ Ἰωσὴφ ὁ ἀπὸ Ἁριμαθαίας, ὢν μαθητής τοῦ Ἰησοῦ) oder auf eine etwaige andere griechische Variante hinweist. Denn erst in den Minuskeln 983 und 1689 aus dem 12. bzw. frühen 13. Jh. ist die Lesart ὢν μαθητής καὶ αὐτὸς τοῦ Ἰησοῦ belegt (vgl. die elektronische Edition des International Greek New Testament Project; Anm. 28). Vgl. auch F. ABEL, L’adjectif démonstratif dans la langue de la Bible latine: étude sur la formation des systèmes déictiques et de l’article défini des langues romanes (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für Romanische Philologie, 125), Tübingen, Niemeyer, 1971, S. 149-153, und die Tabelle 5.03 auf S. 141, wo die Stelle nicht aufgelistet wird. 32. Die Wortstellung qui ab Arimatia erat discipuli (VL 2 und 27) verweist dabei wohl auf eine griechische Vorlage, die den Artikel ὁ vor der präpositionalen Herkunftsangabe enthält (ὁ Ἰωσὴφ ὁ ἀπὸ Ἁριμαθαίας, ὢν μαθητής), wie dies im griechischen Teil des bilinguen Codex Sangellensis (VL 27) auch der Fall ist (fol. 388).



Toten33. Gerade durch sein Mitwirken an der Bestattung erweist sich demnach auch Nikodemus im Umkehrschluss als Jünger, und zwar entgegen der ursprünglichen Herkunftsgruppe der Pharisäer. Selbst wenn dies textlich nicht weiter ausgeführt wird, weist die lateinische Nuancierung hier eine deutliche Interpretation in diese Richtung auf. III. ABSCHLIESSENDE BEMERKUNGEN Die Untersuchung der Gruppenzugehörigkeit im Johannesevangelium, ausgedrückt mit ἐκ, hat im griechisch-lateinischen Vergleich typische Übersetzungsphänomene zum Vorschein gebracht. So gibt es selbstverständlich sowohl in der griechischen wie in der lateinischen Textbezeugung traditionseigene Varianten, wie etwa die Präposition e(x) mit der alternativen Lesart de oder den kausalen Ausdruck eo quod und die Alternative quia im Lateinischen. Darüber hinaus gibt es aber auch deutliche Zusammenhänge zwischen den Sprachtraditionen, die Rückschlüsse auf die jeweilige Textvorlage zulassen, wie z.B. jene lateinischen Handschriften mit einer Form des Verbes esse, die auf die Präsenz von ὤν in der griechischen Vorlage in Joh 6,71 verweisen. Aus dem Rahmen der Tradition fallen Spontanübersetzungen wie die im bilinguen Codex Sangallensis 48 bezeugte singuläre Lesart fiens in Joh 7,50, die keine weitere Aufnahme in der erhaltenen lateinischen Handschriftenbezeugung findet. Auch singuläre Übereinstimmungen im zweisprachigen Codex Bezae könnten einer bewussten Anpassung der beiden Sprachteile geschuldet sein. Darüber hinaus ist an den diskutierten Textpassagen auch der typische Charakter von Übersetzungen erkennbar, d.h. der Versuch, Inhalt und Form eines Textes in einer anderen Sprache und für ein bestimmtes Zielpublikum adäquat wiederzugeben. Dabei können zusätzliche Nuancen 33. So auch WENGST, Johannes 1–10 (Anm. 1), S. 117-118. P. DSCHULNIGG, Nikodemus im Johannesevangelium, in B. KOWALSKI – R. HÖFFNER – J. VERHEYDEN (Hgg.), Studien zu Einleitungsfragen und zur Theologie und Exegese des Neuen Testaments: Gesammelte Aufsätze von Peter Dschulnigg (BiTS, 9), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2010, 251266, S. 265, schreibt, dass die große Menge an Myrrhe und Aloe in Joh 19,39 nicht nur einem jüdischen König würdig ist, sondern dass Josef und Nikodemus mit der Bestattung Jesu „ein öffentliches Bekenntnis ihrer Verehrung und ihres Glaubens an Jesus“ abgeben. DIETZFELBINGER, Johannes 13–21 (Anm. 14), S. 315, konstatiert mit Blick auf 2 Chron 16,14: „Also spricht der Text von einem königlichen Begräbnis Jesu“. Ähnlich äußert sich F. SIEGERT, Das Evangelium des Johannes in seiner ursprünglichen Gestalt: Wiederherstellung und Kommentar (Schriften des Institutum Judaicum Delitzschianum, 7), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008, S. 596-599, der zudem auf den Zusammenhang zwischen dem Begräbnis hier und dem Thema der neuen Geburt beim nächtlichen Gespräch in Joh 3,3-8 verweist (S. 596).



auftreten, die eindeutige Hinweise auf das Verständnis des griechischen Textes liefern. So bedurfte es offensichtlich im lateinischen Übersetzungskontext eher einer Erklärung dafür, wie einer der Zwölf dazu kam, Jesus seinen Gegnern und damit dem Tod auszuliefern, als für die Tatsache, dass mit Nikodemus einer der gegnerischen Gruppe der Pharisäer durch sein Tun letztendlich auf der Seite der Jünger steht. Der lateinische Text in Joh 6,71 geht bei seiner Erklärung zu Judas mit der konzessiven Übersetzung einen deutlichen Schritt weiter als das Griechische, das kein explizites sprachliches Merkmal für ein konzessives Verständnis des Partizips aufweist. Inhaltlich ist aber auch im griechischen Text das Bedürfnis zu erkennen, das Verhalten des Judas zu erklären. Denn mehrmals ist davon die Rede, dass Judas vom διάβολος angestiftet und vom σατανᾶς getrieben wird (Joh 13,2.27.30). Insofern unterscheidet sich das Johannesevangelium formal wenig von den Synoptikern, wo auch inhaltliche Interpretationslinien angeboten werden, um das Verhalten des Judas nachzuvollziehen (vgl. Mt 26,14-16; 27,3-10; Lk 22,3-6; Apg 1,15-26). Die lateinische Übersetzung geht im Johannesevangelium noch einen Schritt weiter und betont den Gegensatz zwischen der Zugehörigkeit und der Tat des Judas durch die konzessive Nuancierung in Joh 6,71. Die Erklärungsbedürftigkeit für das Verhalten des Judas nahm im Laufe der Zeit offensichtlich zu, während die Zuwendung des Nikodemus hin zu Jesus keiner zusätzlichen Übersetzungsnuance im Lateinischen bedurfte. Der griechische Text formuliert jedoch in beiden Fällen sprachlich gleich: auf beiden Seiten steht die Gruppenzugehörigkeit, deren Veränderung einen massiven Eingriff erfordert, sei es durch den διάβολος und σατανᾶς im Falle des Judas, sei es durch Jesus und die Kraft eines nächtlichen Gesprächs im Falle des Nikodemus. KU Leuven Christina M. KREINECKER Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies St.-Michielsstraat 4/3100 BE-3000 Leuven Belgium [email protected]


“Dissent and protest constitute a neglected theological source that has not been utilized in processes of synodality at all levels of the church”1. This comment represents a growing interest and study on the importance of dissent in the communal life of Christ followers in the twenty and twenty-first centuries2. This topic was the theme of the Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology XIII: “Dissenting Church: Exploring the Theological Power of Conflict and Disagreement” held online on 20-23 October, 2021. In my short presentation in the conference, which serves as an unpublished, earlier form of this longer paper, I pointed out that the importance of dissent as a theological resource is reflected already in the New Testament writings. It is found in the theologizing about the communal life of the early Christ-followers. The word “dissent” is not necessarily found in the NRSV translation, but the noun “dissension” is used to express several Greek words such as σχίσμα (1 Cor 12,25), ἔρις (1 Tim 6,4), ζήτησις (Acts 15,2), and στάσις (Acts 23,7.10). This paper focuses on one example of Paul’s own dissent found in 1 Cor 11,17-34 against the σχίσματα (1 Cor 11,18) observable at the Corinthians’ common meal. I posit that using contextual biblical hermeneutics, Paul’s ability to express dissent on how the Corinthians were partaking of the meal in a non-commendable manner is one of the vital expressions of promoting kindness, courage and integrity in the Corinthian community particularly on behalf of the hungry have-nots. Prof. Reimund Bieringer’s scholarship, mentorship and pastoral engagement reflect kindness, courage and integrity as well as the freedom to express dissent especially considering the task of biblical interpretation and its ethical impact3. As an established historical-critical biblical scholar, he is also able to incorporate his work in biblical exegesis and hermeneutics into the larger theological discussion, pastoral engagement, and 1. B.E. HINZE, Dissenting Church: New Models for Conflict and Diversity in the Roman Catholic Tradition, in Horizons 45 (2018) 128-132, p. 128. 2. See ibid. 3. See the discussion on ethics, in R. BIERINGER – M. ELSBERND, Introduction: The “Normativity of the Future” Approach. Its Roots, Development, Current State and Challenges, in IID. (eds.), Normativity of the Future: Reading Biblical and Other Authoritative Texts in an Eschatological Perspective (ANL, 61), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2010, 3-25, pp. 16, 20-21.



research projects with societal impact such as the issue of anti-Judaism4. This ability to situate the contribution of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics amidst the signs of the times is important for Bieringer5. The hermeneutical approach that he co-developed with Mary Elsbernd6 and the responsibility to teach students in the various branches of theology through the course “Contextual Hermeneutical Approaches to the Bible” at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, which I have had the honor of co-teaching with him, attest to his openness to listen to the marginal voices in the biblical text and among interpreters. The word “contextual” in the contextual hermeneutical biblical approach is multi-faceted. It means that the biblical interpretation is rooted in the contemporary context of the interpreter/reader and the issues one is confronted with7 such as the issue of hunger. Contextual biblical interpretation also includes the literary context of the biblical text (the character of Paul and the Corinthians in the context of first-century CE Roman Corinth). Finally, it is also mindful of the historical contexts of the biblical text (Corinth under the Roman empire). All of these contextualities are important in the hermeneutical exercise within the larger theological process which I will explain below. More recently, Bieringer has been involved in a research project which includes the partnership of academic experts and sectoral groups like the urban poor8. He is the main promotor from KU Leuven of the project funded by the Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad (Flemish Interuniversities Council)Universitaire Ontwikkelingssamenwerking (University Development Co-operation) entitled “Urban Poor Women and Children with Academics for Reaching and Delivering on UNSDGs in the Philippines” – (UPWARD-UP, PH2020SIN294A101). This inter-disciplinary, inter-university, international, 4. R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT – F. VANDECASTEELE-VANNEUVILLE (eds.), Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel: Papers of the Leuven Colloquium, 2000 (Jewish and Christian Heritage, 1), Assen, Royal Van Gorcum, 2001, at (accessed 28 November 2022); see R. BIERINGER, Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel: Fifteen Years after the Leuven Colloquium, in R.A. CULPEPPER – P.N. ANDERSON (eds.), John and Judaism: A Contested Relationship in Context (Resources for Biblical Study, 87), Atlanta, GA, SBL Press, 2017, 243-263. 5. See M. ELSBERND – R. BIERINGER, Interpreting the Signs of the Times in the Light of the Gospel: Vision and Normativity of the Future, in BIERINGER – ELSBERND (eds.), Normativity of the Future (n. 3), 47-90. 6. See BIERINGER – ELSBERND, Introduction (n. 3). 7. See G.O. WEST, Locating ‘Contextual Bible Study’ within Biblical Liberation Hermeneutics and Intercultural Biblical Hermeneutics, in HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies 70 (2014) 1-10. 8. For more details, see 0257?lang=en&hl=en.



and multisectoral project included a dialogue and common knowledge generation among the urban poor from the Alliance of People’s Organizations along Manggahan Floodway, a federation of people’s organizations in Pasig City, Philippines in cooperation with multi-disciplinary academic scholars from KU Leuven (from the faculties of Theology, Journalism/Communication Sciences, Law), Ateneo de Manila University (from the departments of Theology, Law, Sociology, Journalism), St. Vincent School of Theology-Adamson University (Theology), and De La Salle University (Department of Theology and Religious Education). This kind of research involvement challenges the academic researchers to pay attention to the unheeded voices of the hungry have-nots in the biblical text and among the readers. It provides an opportunity for dialogue to happen and, in turn, enriches the contextual biblical interpretation and inspires readers to put their dissenting yet life-giving insights into actions. This paper will attempt to incorporate the interpretation of 1 Cor 11,1734 from the perspective of the dissenting hungry have-nots championed by Paul’s own dissent in Roman Corinth and how this text influences one’s commitment to respond to the contemporary hunger problem. This paper suggests that in a context of hunger in Corinth in the mid-50s, Paul’s dissent and advice in 1 Cor 11,17-34 encourages, even commands, the Christ followers to ensure that everyone partake of the meal at the common table, particularly the hungry have-nots. Employing characterization from liberationist and feminist perspectives with insights from empire studies and archaeology, the biblical analysis will be situated within the larger theological process of see–judge–act, started by Joseph Cardinal Cardijn9 and found in Mater et Magistra §236. This three-step spiral process has been updated with the inclusion of a fourth step, evaluate, and a fifth step, celebrate, according to the influence of the Latin-American Youth Ministry in a Congress held in Cochacamba, Bolivia on 28 December 1991 – 5 January 199210. This paper will utilize this five-step theological framework of see–judge– act–evaluate–celebrate. More specifically, it will focus on 1 Cor 11,17-34 9. See J. SANDS, Introducing Cardinal Cardijn’s See–Judge–Act as an Interdisciplinary Method to Move Theory into Practice, in Religions 9 (2018), no. 129, 1-10; B. LUCAS, Forming Young People for Mission in the Contemporary Church: Some Lessons from Cardinal Cardijn, in The Australasian Catholic Record 95 (2018) 190-198; F.J.H. TALAVERA, El método catequético en la Sociedad del siglo XXI, in CIEGM Revista Arbitrada del Centro de Investigación de Estudios Gerenciales 41 (2020) 252-265; JOHN XXIII, Mater et Magistra, Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, May 15, 1961, at content/john-xxiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_15051961_mater.html. 10. See TALAVERA, El método catequético (n. 9).



under the second step, judge, particularly the process of biblical-theological analysis. Using the Corinthian passage in this step is meant to gather from the Bible a faith-based resource that can serve as an inspiration and a sustaining biblical tradition behind the plan of action that can respond to the issue of worsening global hunger under the COVID-19 pandemic. This theological framework and critical analysis have implications on the need to foster interdisciplinary theologizing and the continuing dialogical development of the Christian tradition as expressed in biblical interpretations, catechism, liturgical praxis and pastoral response. Moreover, it also impacts the communal response of Jesus’ followers in the twenty-first century to the extensive hunger threats, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. Finally, this interdisciplinary theological process explores the role and responsibility of theologizing and the consequent action by ecclesial communities to the wider, global society in responding to the challenge of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 2: Zero Hunger. I. SEE The first in the five-step theological spiral is SEE11. This step asks for the basic information about the hunger situation using multi-agency statistics and multi-sensory reports. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the responses against it and the different levels of lockdowns and their multi-faceted consequences such as delayed food production and distribution as well as the reduced capacity to buy food due to job losses and economic recession, are causing more hunger globally12. The international, multi-agency combined SOFI report for 2022 demonstrates that the pre-pandemic hunger challenge got worse. […] the number of people unable to afford a healthy diet around the world rose by 112 million to almost 3.1 billion, reflecting the impacts of rising consumer food prices during the pandemic. This number could even be greater once data are available to account for income losses in 2020. The ongoing war in Ukraine is disrupting supply chains and further affecting prices of grain, fertilizer and energy13. 11. For a more detailed discussion, see M.M.S. IBITA, Meals and Mission: A Contextual Reading of the Lukan Meal Scenes in the Filipino Context, in F. DEL CASTILLO (ed.), A Flourishing Faith: Celebrating 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines, Paranaque City, Don Bosco School of Theology and Don Bosco Press, 2021, 47-70. 12. See, for example, J. SWINNEN – J. MCDERMOTT, Covid‐19 and Global Food Security, in EuroChoices 19/3 (2020) 26-33. 13. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS (FAO) et al., The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022: Repurposing Food and Agricultural Policies to Make Healthy Diets More Affordable (The State of Food Security and Nutrition



In the Philippines, hunger has accompanied the many lockdowns caused by COVID-19 surges due to the cessation of work impacting the buying capacity of the majority who are daily wage earners14. Some people are even more at risk of dying due to hunger than of being infected by the virus. The recent statistics reveal these findings: The 11.3% Hunger rate in October 2022 is the sum of 9.1% (est. 2.3 million families) who experienced Moderate Hunger and 2.2% (est. 573,000 families) who experienced Severe Hunger. Moderate Hunger refers to those who experienced hunger “Only Once” or “A Few Times” in the last three months. Meanwhile, Severe Hunger refers to those who experienced it “Often” or “Always” in the last three months15.

Amidst this life-threatening double challenge of the pandemic and hunger, how are those who regard the biblical text as revelatory supposed to respond? Which resources from the faith tradition can help in the meaning-making and response in solidarity? II. JUDGE This step is composed of two sets of analyses that will help to understand the issue of hunger better from non-theological fields and from a biblical-theological perspective that will help in planning the subsequent action response. 1. JUDGE: Socio-Economic-Cultural-Political and Public Health Analyses The first part of the second step in the theological spiral is a combination of analyses of the hunger problem from socio-economic-culturalpolitical perspectives. In the time of the pandemic, the public health aspect also needs to be included. Prior to the pandemic, hunger had complex, multiple, interrelated causes but these have been worsened by the COVID-19 in the World [SOFI], 2022), Roma, FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, WHO, 2022, p. vi, at (accessed 28 November 2022). 14. See, for example, A. ESPARTINEZ, Emerging Community Pantries in the Philippines during the Pandemic: Hunger, Healing, and Hope, in Religions 12 (2021), no. 11, 926; E.D. MACUSI et al., Impacts of COVID-19 on the Catch of Small-Scale Fishers and Their Families Due to Restriction Policies in Davao Gulf, Philippines, in Frontiers in Marine Science 8 (2022) 1-10. 15. SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS, Third Quarter 2022 Social Weather Survey: Hunger Hardly Moves from 11.6% to 11.3%, Social Weather Stations, October 29, 2022, at https:// (accessed 28 November 2022).



global emergency. The treatment here will be concise. The SOFI 2020 reports that “The cost of a healthy diet exceeds the international poverty line (established at USD 1.90 purchasing power parity [PPP] per person per day), making it unaffordable for the poor”16. The same report notes that nearly 57% or more of people from sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia cannot buy and provide a healthy diet for themselves17. In 2022, the SOFI report also notes the impact of war in global hunger such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine18. Furthermore, it explains: As argued in the last two editions of this report, to meet the targets of SDG 2 by 2030, healthy diets must be delivered at lower cost to contribute to people’s ability to afford them. This implies both an expansion in the supply of the nutritious foods that constitute a healthy diet and a shift in consumption towards them. Most of the food and agricultural policy support currently implemented is not aligned with the objective of promoting healthy diets and in many cases is actually inadvertently undermining food security and nutrition outcomes. Furthermore, much of the support is not equitably distributed, is market distortive and environmentally harmful19.

Given the quarantine and lockdowns imposed due to the pandemic along with the economic effects of job loss and decreased remittances following the COVID-19 response, disruptions in food supply severely limit the global household food security and access to nutritious diets especially for the most vulnerable sectors20. In the Philippine context, the addition of ecological disasters, exemplified by the number of typhoons and super typhoons that hit the country without respite even during the pandemic, contribute to agricultural losses that worsen the hunger problem21. Geo-political factors such as the incursion into the West Philippine Sea also add to the loss of marine resources including fish and other edible produce. However, hunger is also exacerbated by food waste due to the interruption of the food distribution cycle and the militarized approach to the pandemic instead of a public health response22. The penalty and arrestdriven way of penalizing those who venture in search of food or money 16. FAO et al., The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020: Transforming Food Systems for Affordable Healthy Diets, Roma, FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO, 2020, at, p. xvi (accessed 18 July 2021). 17. Ibid., p. xvi. 18. FAO et al., SOFI 2022 (n. 13), p. vi. 19. Ibid., p. xvi. 20. FAO et al., SOFI 2020 (n. 16), ix. 21. See J.F. WARREN, Typhoons and Droughts: Food Shortages and Famine in the Philippines since the Seventeenth Century, in International Review of Environmental History 4/2 (2018) 27-44. 22. See M. BELTRAN, The Philippines’ Pandemic Response: A Tragedy of Errors, in Diplomat (Rozelle, N.S.W.) (2020).



to buy food have been behind the stories of dissent in responding to the hunger problem23. 2. JUDGE: Biblical-Theological Analysis In addition to the concise analysis from the socio-economic-culturalpolitical and public health perspective, the theological spiral delves deeper into the theological analysis. This portion will include the longest discussion since this is the part where biblical scholars and theologians can contribute the most. From the Christian faith tradition, one possible way of analyzing the hunger situation and what one can do as an answer is to explore biblical texts that respond to hunger. In this paper, I shall focus on a contextual biblical interpretation of 1 Cor 11,17-34, the oldest written account of the communal meal of the Christ-followers, the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον, the Lord’s Supper/Dinner and Paul’s expressions of dissent. Varying interpretations of Paul’s dissent against the Corinthian praxis of coming together for the identity-forming power of the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον (Lord’s Supper/Dinner) helped shape the ecclesial traditions on the (dis)connection between the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον and its link to the eucharistic celebration vis-à-vis the Christian response to hunger. Many interpret the divisions at the table discussed in 1 Cor 11,17-34 and Paul’s response in vv. 33-34 as paving the way for the separation of the Lord’s Supper from the fulfilling sympotic meal. Some argue that Paul is only speaking of a token of bread and wine24. Others hold that separating the bread-cup from the meal was already a practice even before Paul wrote the letter25. Some contend that vv. 33-34 was the catalyst for the separation26, while others claim that v. 34 is talking about a different meal in the poor Corinthians’ private homes27. Yet in examining the conflict, considering Paul’s and the Corinthians’ structure of fictive ecclesial siblingship28 and power 23. See M.R. THOMPSON, Brute Force Governance: Public Approval Despite Policy Failure During the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Philippines, in Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 41 (2022) 399-421. 24. See J. MEGGITT, Paul, Poverty and Survival, Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1998, pp. 189-193. 25. See, for instance, J. JEREMIAS, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, London, SCM Press, 1966, p. 121. 26. See, for example, C.H. TALBERT, Reading Corinthians: A Literary and Theological Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, New York, Crossroad, 1987, p. 80. 27. See, for example, C.K. BARRETT, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, London, Adam and Charles Black, 1968, p. 277. 28. See M.M.S. IBITA, Sibling Love and Ethics at the Supper of the Lord in Corinth, in J.R. BACKES – E. BRÜNENBERG-BUSSWOLDER – P.V. DEN HEEDE (eds.), Orientierung an der Schrift: Kirche, Ethik und Bildung im Diskurs. Festgabe für Thomas Söding zum 60. Geburtstag, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017, 116-129.



relations with insights from Roman economic stratification29, the identityforming function of Roman symposium30 and Corinthian archaeological findings which suggest a contemporary famine31, I posit that Paul’s dissenting position seems to suggest otherwise. Instead, in analyzing Paul’s response to the Corinthian conflict and ecclesial challenge, as part of the judge step of the theological spiral, Paul’s dissent advocates for the maximization of the Lord’s Supper as a response to the widespread hunger and its fatal effects on the hungry have-nots in Corinth32. Under the Roman Empire, the communal meal was one of the identityforming activities of various groups33. The communal meal was also one of the attractive reasons for the majority of people living in poverty to join the Christ-followers’ ἐκκλησία such as in Corinth34. Yet it is in this meal context that we find one of the important dissents in the history of Jesus’ followers as voiced by Paul. In the middle of the first century 29. See S.J. FRIESEN, Poverty in Pauline Studies: Beyond the So-Called New Consensus, in JSNT 26 (2004) 323-361; B.W. LONGENECKER, Exposing the Economic Middle: A Revised Economy Scale for the Study of Early Urban Christianity, in JSNT 31 (2009) 243-278. 30. For example, D.E. SMITH, From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World, Minneapolis, MN, Fortress, 2003, pp. 191-200; J.S. KLOPPENBORG, Precedence at the Communal Meal in Corinth, in NT 58 (2016) 167-203. 31. See B.W. WINTER, Secular and Christian Responses to Corinthian Famines, in Tyndale Bulletin 40 (1989) 86-106; B.B. BLUE, The House Church at Corinth and the Lord’s Supper: Famine, Food Supply, and the Present Distress, in Criswell Theological Review 5 (1991) 221-239; See B.N. DANYLAK, Tiberius Claudius Dinippus and the Food Shortages in Corinth, in Tyndale Bulletin 59 (2008) 231-270. 32. See, for instance, M.M.S. IBITA, Including the Hungry Adelphoi: Exploring Pauline Points of View in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, in S.E. MCGINN – L.L.E. NGAN – A.C. PILARSKI (eds.), By Bread Alone: The Bible through the Eyes of the Hungry, Minneapolis, MN, Fortress, 2014, 159-184; EAD., Food Crises in Corinth? Revisiting the Evidence and Its Possible Implications in Reading 1 Cor 11:17-34, in A.H. CADWALLADER (ed.), Stones, Bones, and the Sacred: Essays on Material Culture and Ancient Religion in Honor of Dennis E. Smith (Early Christianity and Its Literature, 21), Atlanta, GA, SBL Press, 2016, 33-53. 33. See the discussion of the various banquets in the book especially its general characteristics in relation to group identity SMITH, From Symposium (n. 30), pp. 20-46; R.S. ASCOUGH, Social and Political Characteristics of Greco-Roman Association Meals, in D.E. SMITH – H. TAUSSIG (eds.), Meals in the Early Christian World: Social Formation, Experimentation, and Conflict at the Table, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 59-72. 34. See P. PILHOFER, Ökonomische Attraktivität christlicher Gemeinden der Frühzeit, in ID., Die frühen Christen und ihre Welt: Greifswalder Aufsätze 1996-2001 mit Beiträge von J. BÖRSTINGHAUS – E. EBEL (WUNT, 145), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2002, 194-218, pp. 206-207; E. EBEL, Die Attraktivität früher christlicher Gemeinden: Die Gemeinde von Korinth im Spiegel griechisch-römischer Vereine (WUNT, II/178), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2004, pp. 163, 217; Pilhofer’s and Ebel’s points are noted in J.S. KLOPPENBORG, Precedence at the Communal Meal in Corinth, in NT 58 (2016) 167-203, pp. 191-192; see also B.W. LONGENECKER, Socio-Economic Profiling of the First Urban Christians, in T.D. STILL – D.G. HORRELL (eds.), After the First Urban Christians: The Social-Scientific Study of Pauline Christianity Twenty-Five Years Later, London, Continuum, 2009, 36-59, p. 52.



in Roman-occupied Corinth, a hunger situation was experienced by the population which made the marginalization at the communal meal in Corinth a subject of intense dissent when Paul wrote 1 Cor 11,17-3435. Because of Paul’s dissent, Christ-followers up to this day have information on the oldest literary source about the Christ-followers’ communal meal following Jesus’ command for remembering. Paul theologizes and commands them on how to rectify the situation because of the identityforming role of communal meal, even if this problem was not part of the queries sent by the Corinthians to Paul on how to live out their faith while awaiting Jesus’ return. There are different aspects to Paul’s dissent in 1 Cor 11,17-34. a) Paul’s Dissent against the Abuses Τοῦτο δὲ παραγγέλλων οὐκ ἐπαινῶ ὅτι οὐκ εἰς τὸ κρεῖσσον ἀλλ᾽ εἰς τὸ ἧσσον συνέρχεσθε. 18 πρῶτον μὲν γὰρ συνερχομένων ὑμῶν ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ ἀκούω σχίσματα ἐν ὑμῖν ὑπάρχειν καὶ μέρος τι πιστεύω. 19 δεῖ γὰρ καὶ αἱρέσεις ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι, ἵνα [καὶ] οἱ δόκιμοι φανεροὶ γένωνται ἐν ὑμῖν. 20 Συνερχομένων οὖν ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ οὐκ ἔστιν κυριακὸν δεῖπνον φαγεῖν· 21 ἕκαστος γὰρ τὸ ἴδιον δεῖπνον προλαμβάνει ἐν τῷ φαγεῖν, καὶ ὃς μὲν πεινᾷ ὃς δὲ μεθύει. 22 μὴ γὰρ οἰκίας οὐκ ἔχετε εἰς τὸ ἐσθίειν καὶ πίνειν; ἢ τῆς ἐκκλησίας τοῦ θεοῦ καταφρονεῖτε, καὶ καταισχύνετε τοὺς μὴ ἔχοντας; τί εἴπω ὑμῖν; ἐπαινέσω ὑμᾶς; ἐν τούτῳ οὐκ ἐπαινῶ (1 Cor 11,17-22). 17

Each verse in this passage expresses Paul’s very strong dissent over the way the Corinthian Christians were partaking of the identity-forming communal dinner in the midst of a hunger situation. Paul’s disagreement is strongly expressed by his words of non-commendation, οὐκ ἐπαινῶ, found in vv. 17 and 22 which sandwich the discussion of the faulty commensality in Corinth. Paul enumerates his reason for doing so. First, Paul’s dissent is against the σχίσματα (v. 18) and αἱρέσεις (v. 19) among them. In v. 18, Paul explains ἀκούω σχίσματα ἐν ὑμῖν ὑπάρχειν, καὶ μέρος τι πιστεύω. The importance of this passage cannot be underestimated. This passage is one that gives voice to the unheeded needs of the hungry have-nots. They have voices, but they are not being listened to adequately by those who have. While the Corinthians’ letter sought to ask Paul for advice about several matters (1 Cor 7,1.25; 8,1; 12,1; 16,1.12), they did not include a question on how to deal with this division at the communal identity-forming meal. Consequently, and secondly, the divisions manifest especially during their communal meal which they hold in the houses that they have when 35. See IBITA, Food Crises (n. 32), pp. 33-53.



they gather as ἐκκλησία (vv. 18, 22). Greco-Roman sympotic meals such as the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον ought to promote and solidify group identity. Ironically, this is not the case in Corinth. The gathering together is highlighted by the word συνέρχομαι (vv. 17, 18, 20). The expected unity is also underlined by the word ἐκκλησία (vv. 18, 22). Nevertheless, the opposite is true given that Paul registers his very strong dissent in the way the hungry have-nots (οἱ μὴ ἔχοντες) are treated. Thus, his opposing stance characterizes the Corinthians’ praxis negatively: as οὐκ ἔστιν κυριακὸν δεῖπνον and as ἴδιον δεῖπνον (vv. 20-21). With the resulting abuses and unkind treatment of the hungry have-nots, he emphatically repeats his dissent in v. 22: οὐκ ἐπαινῶ! The abuses at the common meal and the un-sibling-like treatment of the hungry have-nots are more concerning when the hunger situation is noted. Archeological findings such as those that attest to the presence of a curator annonae in the mid-50s in Corinth has been considered as evidence of contemporary food crises at the time of the writing of First Corinthians36. This ad hoc position was usually set up in times of threatening or actual famine by appointing a wealthy person37. A curator annonae used his own resources by giving corn to the city, giving money for its purchase, and/or by buying local stocks and selling them at a moderate price38. However, the grains distributed by the curator annonae were only for the Roman citizens. Those who were not had no access to the grains. The archaeological evidence suggests that there was an ongoing food shortage in Corinth at the time of Paul’s writing of 1 Corinthians. The alleged food crises provide additional information on the hunger situation among the Corinthian Christians, showing it to be something more serious than just the common hunger pangs felt by people who get hungry after a period of time from their last meal but who have access to food for their next meal. This food shortage information must be combined with the economic insights from empire studies that the vast majority of the Roman colonized 36. See DANYLAK, Tiberius Claudius Dinippus and the Food Shortages in Corinth (n. 31), pp. 231-270; IBITA, Food Crises (n. 32), pp. 33-53. 37. See G. RICKMAN, The Corn Supply of Ancient Rome, Oxford, Clarendon, 1980, p. 35; B. SIRKS, Food for Rome: The Legal Structure of the Transportation and Processing of Supplies for the Imperial Distributions in Rome and Constantinople, Amsterdam, Gieben, 1991, pp. 10-23; P. ERDKAMP, The Grain Market in the Roman Empire: A Social, Political and Economic Study, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 258-316, esp. 270; IBITA, Food Crises (n. 32), p. 37. 38. See P. GARNSEY – R. SALLER, The Roman Empire: Economy, Society, and Culture, London, Duckworth, 1987, p. 124; A.H.M. JONES, The Greek City: From Alexander to Justinian, Oxford, Clarendon, 1979, pp. 217-218.



people were living in poverty39. The large majority of the colonized people lives at subsistence level (40%, those who were “small farm families, laborers [skilled or unskilled], artisans [esp. those employed by others], wage earners, most merchants and traders, small shop/tavern owners”) or below subsistence level (28%, those who belonged to “some farm families, non-slave daily laborers, unattached widows, orphans, beggars, disabled, unskilled day laborers, and prisoners”)40. Following Friesen’s and Longenecker’s insights that the large percentage of the people in the Roman Empire belonged to those who lived at or below subsistence levels means that most likely the majority of the Corinthian Christians also belonged to the have-nots as Paul mentioned in v. 2241. A good number of Corinthian Christ-followers did not qualify for the grain distribution. As noted earlier, scholars have shown that because of the general level of poverty of the colonized people of the Roman Empire, the frequency of the satisfying communal meal, not just the token of bread or wine, but a full meal, was one of the big drawers of adherents of social groups including the Christ-followers42. With the generalized poverty and the food shortage, these hungry have-nots most likely had inadequate or no food at all in whatever kind of poor dwelling they inhabited43. These hungry ones pinned their hope of eating a satisfying meal on the communal gathering44 but unacceptable table manners at their common meal showed contempt for the church of God and humiliated the have-nots. Thus, what made the treatment harsher in Corinth, and worthy of Paul’s 39. See FRIESEN, Poverty in Pauline Studies (n. 29), pp. 323-361; LONGENECKER, Exposing the Economic Middle (n. 29), pp. 243-278. 40. See FRIESEN, Poverty in Pauline Studies (n. 29), pp. 341, 347. 41. Ibid., pp. 341, 348-350. 42. See KLOPPENBORG, Precedence (n. 34), pp. 191-193. 43. See G.D.R. SANDERS, Landlords and Tenants: Sharecroppers and Subsistence Farming in Corinthian Historical Context, in Corinth in Contrast (2014) 101-125. On pp. 124-125, Sanders argues: “The poorest echelons, approximately 65+% (Scheidel and Friesen 85%) of the population, including the landless farmers living close to or at subsistence level, had few non-perishable material possessions that survived in the archaeological record and so they remain invisible in the world’s museums and libraries. It is not surprising, then, that their means of existence has escaped the attention of archaeologists and historians who are data-blind below a certain high threshold of material wealth. […] In terms of domestic archaeology, we need to dig urban and rural sites where there are low expectations of ‘finds’ beyond those we can recover in a sieve, water sieve, or soil sample. These sorts of investigations would build up new data about a mute segment of ancient Corinthian society. Since this group made up the majority of the population, a better understanding of these Corinthians will require us to alter significantly our reconstructions of Corinth before, during, and after the colonial period”. 44. See LONGENECKER, Socio-Economic Profiling (n. 34), p. 52.



dissent, was that the marginalization of the hungry have-nots happened at the communal table, at the same time and place that they used when they came together as ἐκκλησία to affirm who they were as a body, followers of Christ crucified, siblings to one another. Moroever, the alleged food crises made hunger worse for the hungry have-nots who already lived below subsistence level and who could not afford to access adequate and nutritious food even before the food shortage. Paul’s dissent, therefore, is meant to address the hunger needs of the have-nots while ensuring that their identity-forming meals continue to be faithful to the example of the Lord who shared the bread and the wine as his body and blood respectively (vv. 23-26). b) Paul’s Dissenting Response against the Abuses Paul’s dissent continues with a three-fold response to this abusive and divisive situation. First, we find his dissent and correction through the need for proper remembering, bringing the Corinthians back to the foundational moment in 1 Cor 11,23-26. Ἐγὼ γὰρ παρέλαβον ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου, ὃ καὶ παρέδωκα ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ᾗ παρεδίδετο ἔλαβεν ἄρτον 24 καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ εἶπεν· τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ σῶμα τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 25 ὡσαύτως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι λέγων· τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐστὶν ἐν τῷ ἐμῷ αἵματι· τοῦτο ποιεῖτε, ὁσάκις ἐὰν πίνητε, εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. 26 ὁσάκις γὰρ ἐὰν ἐσθίητε τὸν ἄρτον τοῦτον καὶ τὸ ποτήριον πίνητε, τὸν θάνατον τοῦ κυρίου καταγγέλλετε ἄχρι οὗ ἔλθῃ (1 Cor 11,23-26).


It is interesting to note that to continue his dissent and to counter the Corinthian praxis, what he describes as οὐκ ἔστιν κυριακὸν δεῖπνον and ἴδιον δεῖπνον, Paul now compares with the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον by citing the foundational story of the dinner. In this dinner, the Lord who was betrayed still shares the bread and wine as his body and blood with his tablemates as the ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν (v. 24) indicates and as doubly expressed in the command for remembering (vv. 24-25). In these verses, Paul’s dissent has a three-fold temporal basis rooted in the example of Christ-crucified. He sandwiches the words over the bread and the wine with a reference to the κύριος from the originating moment (v. 23) and his longed-for return (v. 26) in order for the Corinthians to change their current praxis. Paul corrects them by reminding them of the originating event performed by Jesus and the reason for the meal and how it was done in the context of a traumatic betrayal. The citation of the Lord sharing the bread and the wine represents the component parts of the satisfying, sympotic meal. The



sharing of this satisfying meal by his followers must be done until he comes again but the current Corinthian praxis is not the way to do it according to Paul’s opposing perspective. A second dissenting response is found in Paul’s underlining of the need to discern how the Corinthians ought to partake of the bread and wine worthily. Ὥστε ὃς ἂν ἐσθίῃ τὸν ἄρτον ἢ πίνῃ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦ κυρίου ἀναξίως, ἔνοχος ἔσται τοῦ σώματος καὶ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ κυρίου. 28 δοκιμαζέτω δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἑαυτὸν καὶ οὕτως ἐκ τοῦ ἄρτου ἐσθιέτω καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ποτηρίου πινέτω· 29 ὁ γὰρ ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων κρίμα ἑαυτῷ ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει μὴ διακρίνων τὸ σῶμα. 30 διὰ τοῦτο ἐν ὑμῖν πολλοὶ ἀσθενεῖς καὶ ἄρρωστοι καὶ κοιμῶνται ἱκανοί. 31 εἰ δὲ ἑαυτοὺς διεκρίνομεν, οὐκ ἂν ἐκρινόμεθα· 32 κρινόμενοι δὲ ὑπὸ [τοῦ] κυρίου παιδευόμεθα, ἵνα μὴ σὺν τῷ κόσμῳ κατακριθῶμεν (1 Cor 11,27-32). 27

Recent studies underline the ritual aspect of the meal especially through the citation of the words over the bread and the wine as well as the language of judgment45. Fuad characterizes the Corinthian communal meal as an example of ritual failure. “Social stratification and imitation of pagan practices were at the heart of the problem in the practice of the Lord’s Supper, which led to misapplication, misexecution, insincerity, ineffectuality, defeat, and misframe”46. For Dijkhuizen, “Performing the Lord’s Supper involves risk. Enacting the orderly sequence of ritual segments or subacts with a holy disposition is what is required for the proper performance of this sacrificial meal”47. She notes the current debate in 1 Cor 11,30 and advances the discussion from a ritual perspective where the commemoration of the bread and the wine within the context of a unified community as a corporate entity coupled with proper ritual performance of the meal will be efficacious and not result in ailing bodies48. However, Paul’s dissent and correction can also include his warning about the need to discern the body and to be mindful and caring of the physiological manifestations of weakness, illness, and death among the 45. See P. DIJKHUIZEN, The Lord’s Supper and Ritual Theory: Interpreting 1 Corinthians 11:30 in Terms of Risk, Failure, and Efficacy, in Neotestamentica 50 (2016) 441-476; P.-B. SMIT, ‘It’s the Ritual, Stupid!’: The Ritual Turn in New Testament Studies in Theological Perspective, in NTT Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion 73 (2019) 169-190; C. FUAD, The Practice of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 as a Socio-Religious Ritual Failure, in ExpTim 130 (2019) 202-214. 46. FUAD, The Practice of the Lord’s Supper (n. 45), p. 213. 47. DIJKHUIZEN, The Lord’s Supper and Ritual Theory (n. 45), p. 441. 48. See ibid., p. 472; see also D.J. DOWNS, Physical Weakness, Illness and Death in 1 Corinthians 11.30: Deprivation and Overconsumption in Pauline and Early Christianity, in NTS 65 (2019) 572-588.



members. These physiological manifestations can be the consequences of the hunger context due to poverty-induced malnutrition since most of the members lived at or below subsistence level which an alleged food crisis can worsen with deadly consequences49. Third, Paul continues his dissent by providing directions on how the Corinthians can change their ways and revert to the praxis which he has provided as following the crucified Lord’s example. Ὥστε, ἀδελφοί μου, συνερχόμενοι εἰς τὸ φαγεῖν ἀλλήλους ἐκδέχεσθε. εἴ τις πεινᾷ, ἐν οἴκῳ ἐσθιέτω, ἵνα μὴ εἰς κρίμα συνέρχησθε. Τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ ὡς ἂν ἔλθω διατάξομαι (1 Cor 11,33-34). 33


This practical solution in vv. 33-34 ensures that the hungry have-nots who come to the communal, identity-forming meal are fed. Here I diverge on the translation from NRSV because it is perplexing to interpret these verses as Paul sending back the hungry have-nots to their own homes. Due to their economic deprivation by living at or below subsistence level, which would have been worsened by the alleged food shortage, the havenots most likely did not have food in their own houses. And if we are to recall that the common meal was one of the important attractions for becoming a part of the Christ-followers, then vv. 33-34 can be understood as a command to welcome one another as siblings at the same time and place where they hold the satisfying communal meal without showing contempt nor treating them in a humiliating manner as Paul previously mentioned in v. 2250. Paul’s dissent and critique of the Corinthian dinner and his corrective measures are also expressed in his reminder for them to have a sibling love for one another characterized by kindness (χρηστεύεται, see 1 Cor 13,4), especially towards the more vulnerable siblings who have nothing51. For Paul, there is a need to be courageous to call out the haves, the community leaders and those responsible for the divisions in the Corinthian’s partaking of the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον by giving voice to the hungry havenots through his forceful dissent and strong commands at the end of the letter to ensure the integrity of the communal meal and to restore the divided community. Paul’s promise of a future coming hints at the Corinthians’need to attend to his dissenting position and to comply with his command to rectify the situation. 49. See IBITA, Food Crises (n. 32), pp. 42-49. 50. See IBITA, Sibling Love (n. 28), pp. 116-129; EAD., Including the Hungry Adelphoi (n. 32), pp. 182-184. 51. IBITA, Including the Hungry Adelphoi (n. 32), pp. 159-184; EAD., Sibling Love (n. 28), pp. 116-129.



In a nutshell, 1 Cor 11,17-34 demonstrates Paul’s dissent regarding the marginalization of the hungry have-nots at the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον of the Corinthian Christians. Along with the socio-economic stratification and the food crises exacerbating the context of hunger and its deadly consequences, Paul’s dissent demanded response from his Corinthian siblings in Christ through correction, discernment and concrete direction to ensure that the hungry have-nots and the haves partake of the communal meal precisely as their own siblings in Christ in the midst of the poverty in the Roman Empire that caused perennial hunger and was probably worsened by the alleged food crises in Corinth at the background. III. ACT The next step in the theological spiral is to consider the insights coming from the previous steps of SEE and JUDGE and to have an action plan. Given the context of COVID-19 and the hunger situation which worsened due to the pandemic and the consequences of the quarantine rules, providing food for one’s family is one of the reasons for the hungry havenots’ dissent against the government’s lockdown protocols. The money and food packets coming from the government’s Social Amelioration Program per household are grossly inadequate and delayed compared to the needs of the poor families and the length of the lockdowns. Moreover, many of the most vulnerable ones do not qualify given the requirements set by the government. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, which celebrated the 500 years of the coming of the Christian faith through the colonial powers of Spain. The Eucharist is an important expression of the Christian faith. But what does it have to do with hunger? In this context, the importance of 1 Cor 11,17-34 as the oldest extant source of the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον which is now celebrated as the Eucharist cannot be overlooked. In the situation of hunger due to the food shortage in Roman-occupied Corinth and the massive poverty in the empire, Paul’s dissent can serve as an inspiration and a sustaining biblical tradition to address hunger for Christ-followers today. This passage demands a solution on behalf of the hungry have-nots stemming from the example given by Christ himself and adopted to one’s own context. It invites Christ followers today to find ways to feed the hungry have-nots and not to let them fend for themselves alone. The dissemination of this way of understanding the biblical passage can be through faith-sharing in groups, in para-liturgical and liturgical contexts. With this kind of inspiration and a sustaining biblical



tradition from 1 Cor 11,17-34, the Christians’ concrete hunger response can take many forms that mitigate hunger despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 on communal gatherings including the limitation of coming together for liturgical services such as the Eucharist to an online mode only52. While the COVID-19 restrictions limited the church gatherings and online masses prevailed, this digital shift and coping at the time of the pandemic highlighted the role of the house churches. Eucharistic celebrations online helped in the meaning-making during the pandemic, in alleviating mental health problems associated with COVID-19 and the prolonged quarantine and lockdowns53, and in facilitating food distribution to relieve hunger particularly among the poor. For instance, actions inspired by 1 Cor 11,17-34 can take the shape of direct help to or working with hunger-vulnerable groups. During the height of the pandemic and the intense lockdowns, helping in food drives such as participating in community pantries or starting one through local parishes and faith-oriented groups was very crucial in mitigating the hunger problem and was a form of dissent against the inadequate government response. Churches and faithbased groups became food banks in coordination with farmers and fisherfolks. Many individual Christians and faith-based groups such as the Tanging Yaman Foundation worked to facilitate farm-to-church-to-families delivery of basic foods. Some, like the Vincentians, helped in transporting food to reach the more vulnerable ones in urban poor housing communities and those who were living in precarious situations since mobility was highly impeded54. In other instances, beneficiaries of food drives themselves divided their food provisions and shared them with others who are in more difficult situations. Those with permission to leave their houses served in repacking the food donations for individual family distributions such as the leaders in the APOAMF community with whom we worked in the UPWARD-UP project led by Prof. Bieringer. Other communities established family and community urban gardens such as the residents in 52. See J. YEE, CBCP Pushes Holding of Masses Via Radio, TV, Online, Inquirer News, March 15, 2020, at (accessed 30 November 2022); G.Z. MALOLOS et al., The Impact of COVID-19 on Church Gatherings in the Philippines: A Policy Analysis, in Christian Journal for Global Health 8 (2021) 53-63. 53. See VATICAN NEWS, Philippines: Church’s Message of Hope Sought by Government, Vatican News, August 26, 2020, at philippines-government-asks-for-church-help-amid-alarming-rise.html (accessed 30 November 2022). 54. J.P. CALLEJA, Vincentians in Philippines Win COVID Praise, May 18, 2020, at https:// (accessed 30 November 2022).



the APOAMF community and some of the volunteers of our UPWARD-UP project for a longer and more sustainable solution.

IV. EVALUATE The next step is to evaluate how the see–judge–act process succeeded or not. One of the ways in which the proposed understanding of 1 Cor 11,1734 can be evaluated is if more and more Christ-followers today would be more cognizant of how this passage can be an inspiration and a sustaining biblical tradition behind the link between the ancient partaking of the satisfying Lord’s Supper and Paul’s command to be faithful to the example of the Lord and the contemporary food-sharing with the hungry have-nots within the community and even beyond it. It will be a success if communities, including the haves and have-nots, continue to respond to the hunger crisis that worsened under the COVID-19 pandemic, inspired by their faith tradition such as the one found in 1 Cor 11,17-34. It can be used to encourage those who are working to solve the global hunger challenge and to help them to be strengthened, refreshed or enlivened when donor and/or volunteer fatigue happens. I recognize that a limit of this paper is the lack of a qualitative and/or quantitative survey that can directly link 1 Cor 11,17-34 as an inspiration to all of these initiatives.

V. CELEBRATE The last step of the theological spiral is to celebrate or to ritualize. As a form of celebration or ritualization, the Christ followers today can reflect on 1 Cor 11,17-34 especially on the days when this text is read in the community during faith sharing, or when it is read on Holy Thursday to remember the origins of the eucharistic celebration. Moreover, the hunger crisis during the pandemic spurred many churches and groups to use the physical structures of their churches as venues for food banks and their members as communal human resources who facilitate the food gathering and distribution especially for those who are most vulnerable. The community members continue to consolidate help and to serve as conduits of food sharing in many and varied ways to address and to alleviate the worsening hunger during the pandemic and beyond it. The combination of these activities with the contextual reflection on 1 Cor 11,17-34 will enrich the meaning of the eucharistic celebration when the Corinthian text is re-read and interpreted afresh.



VI. CONCLUSION In this paper offered to honor the work of Prof. Reimund Bieringer, I have shown that according to 1 Cor 11,17-34, there was dissent at the dinner in Corinth among the Christ-followers while they were living in a situation of hunger due to poverty and perhaps made worse by the alleged food crises. Without Paul’s strong dissenting stance against the Corinthians’ faulty communal partaking of the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον, there would be no evidence of how easy the communal meal could be abused. There would be no written reminder of the originating tradition nor the concrete ways to discern and to correct the marginalizing situation. Without Paul’s dissent and commands to rectify the situation, the identityforming function of the communal meal would not have been handed on to present-day believers. However, with this Pauline passage, Christ-believers are made more aware of their responsibility not only for the ritual aspect of the meal but also the response to the hunger challenge, as it was in Corinth then and in our contemporary context now. May Paul’s dissent in this passage continue to serve as an inspiration and a sustaining Christian biblical tradition to respond to the prevailing battles with hunger made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and a target of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger. I hope that inspired by the example of Prof. Reimund Bieringer’s biblical scholarship and the continued challenge to use a combination of biblical hermeneutical approaches in challenging contexts, this exercise using the see–judge–act–evaluate– celebrate theological process offered a fresh look at 1 Cor 11,17-34 as an example of the need to express dissent on behalf of upholding sibling love and kindness towards the hungry members of the church and beyond it for a continued faithful partaking of the κυριακὸν δεῖπνον. De La Salle University Ma. Marilou S. IBITA Department of Theology and Religious Education 2401 Taft Avenue, Malate 1004 Manila, Metro Manila Philippines [email protected] Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Sint-Michielsstraat 6 BE-3000 Leuven Belgium [email protected]


Die Herausgeber/innen dieser Festschrift haben in ihrer Einladung, daran mitzuwirken, auf eine ganze Reihe von Vorzügen hingewiesen, die Reimund Bieringers wissenschaftliches Engagement kennzeichnen: „attention to detail, passion for justice, integrity, courage, and kindness“. Ihre Idee, daraus das Thema der Festschrift abzuleiten, leuchtet unmittelbar ein. Ich werde deshalb im Folgenden einen Aspekt dieser liebevollen Charakterisierung herausgreifen und nach der Integrität der Person fragen, die im wissenschaftlichen Werk des zu ehrenden Kollegen großen Raum einnimmt: des Apostels Paulus. Als Ausgangspunkt wähle ich einen Text, in dem Paulus diese Integrität emphatisch beteuert. In 2 Kor 1,12 schreibt er: Denn unser Ruhm ist dies, das Zeugnis unseres Gewissens, dass wir in der Schlichtheit und Aufrichtigkeit Gottes, [und] nicht in der Weisheit des Fleisches, sondern in der Gnade Gottes, unser Leben in der Welt führten, ganz besonders aber bei euch.

Seine Lebensführung ist geprägt durch „Schlichtheit (ἁπλότης)“, „Aufrichtigkeit (εἰλικρίνεια)“ und „Gnade Gottes (χάρις θεοῦ)“, wobei letztere der „Weisheit des Fleisches (σοφία σαρκική)“ gegenübergestellt wird. Was Paulus formuliert, ist sein apostolisches Ethos. Dabei wird „Ethos“ hier als ein rhetorisches Argument, nicht als sozialgeschichtliches Korrelat zur Ethik verstanden1. In der Rhetorik gibt es drei Arten von kunstvollen2 Beweisführungen (probationes): 1. Zu diesem sozialgeschichtlichen Verständnis vgl. M. WOLTER, Identität und Ethos bei Paulus, in ID., Theologie und Ethos im frühen Christentum: Studien zu Jesus, Paulus und Lukas (WUNT, 236), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2009, 121-169, S. 127: Ethos ist in diesem Sinn ein „Kanon von institutionalisierten Handlungen, die innerhalb eines bestimmten sozialen Systems in Geltung stehen“ und durch die „eine bestimmte Gruppe als solche erkennbar und erfahrbar wird“. 2. Neben den kunstvollen Beweisen, die der rhetorischen Bemühung bedürfen, gibt es auch kunstlose, die vorgegeben sind (z.B. die Aussagen von Zeugen); vgl. dazu H. LAUSBERG, Handbuch der literarischen Rhetorik: Eine Grundlegung der Literaturwissenschaft, München, Hueber, 21973, § 351.



probationes [können] bewirkt werden 1) durch vertrauenswürdigen Charakter des Redners („ethische“ Beweise); 2) durch die Erregung von Leidenschaften im Hörer („pathetische“ Beweise); 3) durch die logische Folgerichtigkeit der Darlegung der Sache selbst („sachliche“ Beweise)3.

Rhetorisch verstanden, setzt Paulus also seinen „vertrauenswürdigen Charakter“ im Rahmen einer Argumentation ein. Das ist in seinen Briefen nicht selten der Fall. Besonders häufig begegnet diese Art der Argumentation in den Korintherbriefen4. Das dürfte damit zu tun haben, dass es nur hier weniger seine Lehre war, die Anlass zu Konflikten lieferte, als vielmehr seine Person. Vor allem gilt das für 2 Kor. Hier führt Paulus einen leidenschaftlichen Kampf mit seinen Gegnern, aber: Kern der Auseinandersetzung waren weder eine unterschiedliche Theologie noch ein unterschiedliches Amtsverständnis. Kern der Auseinandersetzung waren vielmehr Anerkennung, Autorität und Einfluss in der Gemeinde5.

Um sich in der Gemeinde gegen seine Gegner durchzusetzen, betont Paulus mehr als in anderen Briefen seine tadellose Lebens- und Amtsführung, wobei faktisch beides zusammenfällt, denn sein Leben ist nicht von seinem Amt zu trennen. Die Integrität des Paulus wurde in Korinth in Frage gestellt und bezweifelt. Manche dieser Zweifel dürften konstruiert, also erfunden oder zumindest übertrieben gewesen sein und nur dem Zweck gedient haben, seine Stellung in der Gemeinde zu untergraben. Aber es gab offenbar auch Verunsicherungen, die tatsächlich auf anstößige Verhaltensweisen oder Äußerungen des Apostels zurückgingen. Drei solche Verunsicherungen werde ich im Folgenden untersuchen. Ich werde zunächst analysieren, welche Probleme die Gemeinde jeweils mit Paulus hatte, danach, wie sich diese Probleme aus der Perspektive des Paulus darstellten. Auf beiden Ebenen werde ich fragen, ob es vielleicht etwas Verbindendes gibt, das alle drei Vorkommnisse anstößig macht bzw. ihnen allen die Anstößigkeit nimmt. Abschließend wird es um die Frage gehen, wie plausibel diese Versicherungen damals waren und wie plausibel sie heute sind.

3. Ibid., § 355. 4. Vgl. den Nachweis bei J.W. THOMPSON, Apostle of Persuasion: Theology and Rhetoric in the Pauline Letters, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker, 2020, der Argumentationen mit dem eigenen Ethos im Gal (S. 74-77), 1 Thess (S. 84-87), 1/2 Kor (S. 87-95) und Phil (S. 95-99) analysiert. 5. Th. SCHMELLER, Paulus und seine Gegner im 2. Korintherbrief: Die Inszenierung einer Kontroverse, in M. EBNER – G. HÄFNER – K. HUBER (Hgg.), Kontroverse Stimmen im Kanon (QD, 279), Freiburg i.Br., Herder, 2016, 108-137, S. 136.



I. VERUNSICHERUNGEN 1. 2 Kor 1,15–2,2: Verlässlichkeit im Umgang mit der Gemeinde? Ich beginne mit einem Text, in dem die Zweifel der Gemeinde an der paulinischen Integrität sehr deutlich erkennbar sind, auch wenn es schwierig ist, das auslösende Verhalten des Paulus genau zu bestimmen. Man kann in diesem Text eine konkrete (1,15-17.23–2,2) und eine allgemeinere, theologische Argumentation (1,18-22) unterscheiden. Der konkrete Abschnitt lässt erkennen, dass es um einen Reiseplan des Paulus ging (1,15-16), der nicht umgesetzt wurde (1,23; 2,1). Die Reise sollte so aussehen: Korinth – Makedonien – Korinth – Judäa. Dieser Plan unterscheidet sich von dem, der 1 Kor 16,3-9 zu entnehmen ist: Makedonien – Korinth – ggf. Jerusalem. Abweichend ist also die Anzahl der Besuche in Korinth und die Zuversicht bezüglich einer Reise nach Jerusalem. Mindestens drei Fragen sind in der Forschung umstritten: Welcher der beiden Pläne ist der ursprüngliche? Wie einschneidend waren die Änderungen? Wann wurde welcher Plan den Korinthern mitgeteilt? Diese Fragen können wir hier nicht im Detail diskutieren. Eine genaue Analyse6 macht das folgende Bild wahrscheinlich: Der in 1 Kor 16,3-9 mitgeteilte Plan ist der ursprüngliche. Er wurde in 2 Kor 1,15-17.23– 2,2 abgeändert. Dafür spricht vor allem, was wir aus Röm 15,22-25.31; Apg 20–21 wissen: Paulus hat die Kollekte selbst nach Jerusalem gebracht, obwohl sich die Situation in Judäa verschärft hatte und er dafür den Plan einer Rom- und Spanienreise zurückstellen musste. Es ist naheliegend anzunehmen, dass sich die ursprünglich offene Planung (1 Kor 16) allmählich verfestigt hat (2 Kor 1) und dass sie schließlich umgesetzt wurde. Dafür spricht auch, dass nur in 2 Kor 1, nicht in 1 Kor 16 überhaupt irgendeine Planänderung erwähnt wird. Der ursprüngliche Plan (1 Kor 16,3-9) wurde nicht nur leicht an die Verhältnisse angepasst, sondern mehrfach von Grund auf neu gefasst. Die erste Änderung bestand in dem sogen. Zwischenbesuch von Ephesus aus, der 2 Kor 12,14; 13,1 zu entnehmen ist und der wohl durch Nachrichten vom Auftreten gegnerischer Fremdmissionare veranlasst wurde. Er war in 1 Kor 16,3-9 noch nicht vorgesehen gewesen. Bei diesem Besuch dürfte der neue Plan (2 Kor 1,15-17.23–2,2) mitgeteilt worden sein, wobei Paulus als ersten Teil des Doppelbesuchs seine baldige Rückkehr ankündigte. Wegen eines Eklats (2 Kor 2,5; 7,12) während seines Aufenthalts verzichtete Paulus dann aber auf diese Rückkehr und schrieb statt dessen einen 6. Vgl. Th. SCHMELLER, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther. Teilband 1: 2 Kor 1,1–7,4 (EKKNT, 8/1), Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener Verlag, 2010, S. 94-103, 119-124.



Brief, den sogen. Tränenbrief (2 Kor 1,23–2,4). Vermutlich wurde diese erneute, dritte Planänderung – zunächst ein Brief statt eines Besuchs – im Tränenbrief mitgeteilt. Eine vierte Änderung dürfte sich für die korinthische Gemeinde aus dem 2 Kor selbst ergeben: Wieder schickte Paulus einen Brief, statt, wie versprochen, selbst zu kommen. Auch wenn diese Rekonstruktion nicht in allen Details sicher ist, wird man den Texten jedenfalls entnehmen können, dass die Gemeinde sich von Paulus schlecht behandelt fühlte, weil er seine Zusagen nicht einhielt: Sie hatte den Eindruck, er handle mit ἐλαφρία, also leichtfertig (2 Kor 1,17a). Der Artikel (τῇ ἐλαφρίᾳ) deutet auf einen tatsächlich geäußerten, nicht nur möglichen Vorwurf hin. Ein zweiter Vorwurf wird in 1,17b genannt: Das Wollen des Paulus, wie es sich in seiner Reiseplanung zeigt, war κατὰ σάρκα, also „dem Fleisch entsprechend“, d.h. nicht in der Sphäre des göttlichen Geistes. Die erneute Wiedergabe dieses Vorwurfs in 10,2 wird etwas konkreter, denn hier wird er „einigen (τινες)“ zugeschrieben. Wie groß die Gruppe derer war, die einen solchen Vorwurf äußerten, bleibt unbestimmt. Er dürfte von den fremden Missionaren, aber auch von einem Teil der Gemeinde vertreten worden sein. In ihrer Sicht zeigte die Leichtfertigkeit, mit der Paulus Versprechungen gab, ohne sich daran gebunden zu fühlen, dass er nicht vom Geist geleitet wurde. Nur deshalb gelte bei ihm „das ‚Ja, ja‘ und (zugleich) das ‚Nein, nein‘“ (1,17c). Diese Übersetzung von 1,17c ist nicht unumstritten. Schon die Textüberlieferung ist gespalten. Neben dem Text, für den sich Nestle/Aland28 entscheiden, gibt es noch eine kürzere, von wenigen Zeugen gebotene Variante (τὸ ναὶ καὶ τὸ οὔ). Die längere Fassung ist nicht nur besser bezeugt, sondern auch die lectio difficilior und deshalb vorzuziehen. Es gibt aber verschiedene Möglichkeiten, sie zu deuten. Geht es um die Gleichzeitigkeit einer positiven und einer negativen Aussage? Vielleicht sogar noch genauer: um die Bestätigung eines Inhalts für die einen, die Leugnung desselben Inhalts für die anderen? Oder um die Bestätigung mit dem Mund, die Leugnung im Herzen? Oder geht es gar nicht um Gleichzeitigkeit, sondern um eine willkürliche, launenhafte, nicht nachvollziehbare Änderung: zuerst Ja, dann plötzlich Nein? In beiden Fällen ist die Verdopplung („ja, ja – nein, nein“) eine Intensivierung. Wie man sich hier auch entscheidet: Der Kern des Vorwurfs besteht darin, dass man sich bei Paulus nicht auf eine klare und eindeutige Unterscheidung zwischen Ja und Nein verlassen kann, was von seinen Kritikern mit dem Fehlen des Geistes erklärt wird. Eine solche Deutung seiner Planänderungen ist auffällig. Soll man wirklich annehmen, die Gemeinde habe (ganz oder in Teilen) allein aus den zu- und abgesagten Besuchen auf die Fleischlichkeit des Paulus



geschlossen? Das ist nicht nur für sich genommen schwer vorstellbar, sondern auch aus den folgenden zwei Gründen wenig wahrscheinlich: 1. Aus 2,1.5; 7,12 ergibt sich, dass der Zwischenbesuch bei der Gemeinde nicht gerade den Wunsch nach baldiger Wiederholung geweckt haben dürfte. 2. Der 2 Kor enthält noch weitere Vorwürfe gegen Paulus, die mit Fleischlichkeit in Verbindung gebracht wurden oder werden konnten: nicht nur Unzuverlässigkeit in 1,17, sondern auch unterwürfiges, wenig charismatisches Auftreten in 10,2; Habgier und listiger Betrug in 12,16; vielleicht auch herrisches Verhalten (1,24) und kaum überzeugende Geisterweise in Wundern und Visionen (12,1.12)7. Man muss deshalb annehmen, dass die Planänderungen in ein allgemeineres negatives Urteil über Paulus eingeordnet wurden. Sie sind nicht ohne ein abwertendes Gesamtbild verständlich, das als Interpretationsrahmen diente und zu dem sie selbst beitrugen. Wie dieses Bild näherhin aussah, ist 2 Kor 1,15– 2,2 nicht zu entnehmen. Wir werden prüfen müssen, ob die im Folgenden besprochenen Text aus der Korintherkorrespondenz zur Klärung beitragen. 2. 1 Kor 9,19-23: Verlässlichkeit in der Selbstdarstellung? Während der letzte Text aus 2 Kor Vorbehalte zeigte, die sich auf mangelnde Verlässlichkeit des Paulus gegenüber der Gemeinde bezogen, könnte der jetzt zu besprechende (zeitlich vorangehende) Text aus 1 Kor noch gravierendere Vorbehalte zum Ausdruck bringen oder generiert haben: Er betrifft die Identität des Paulus als eines Boten des Evangeliums. Es ist nicht klar, ob Paulus im Rahmen des 1 Kor auf einen diesbezüglichen Vorwurf reagiert, wie er jedenfalls hinter Gal 1,10 steht8. Der Abschnitt ist eine Demonstration der Freiheit, die Paulus in 1 Kor 9 für sich reklamiert, und muss deshalb nicht apologetisch verstanden werden. Aber zumindest im Fortgang der Geschichte des Paulus mit der korinthischen Gemeinde dürfte dieser Text zu dem negativen Gesamtbild beigetragen haben, von dem schon die Rede war. Was Paulus als Selbstempfehlung verstanden hatte, konnte auch ganz anders verstanden werden. 7. Ob es sich bei den letzten beiden Punkten um tatsächlich geäußerte Vorwürfe handelt, ist nicht eindeutig. 8. Gegen eine apologetische Deutung sprechen sich W. SCHRAGE, Der erste Brief an die Korinther. Teilband II: 1 Kor 6,12–11,16 (EKKNT, 7/2), Solothurn, Benziger Verlag, S. 334 mit Anm. 322, und D. ZELLER, Der erste Brief an die Korinther (KEK, 5), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010, S. 319 mit Anm. 256, aus. Dagegen sieht z.B. P. MARSHALL, Enmity in Corinth: Social Conventions in Paul’s Relations with the Corinthians (WUNT, II/23), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 1987, S. 284, 308, 1 Kor 9 als eine Digression an, in der Paulus den von Gegnern erhobenen Vorwurf der Inkonsistenz zurückweist.



In der Forschungsgeschichte zu 1 Kor 9,19-239 lassen sich mindestens drei Positionen idealtypisch unterscheiden. Der Text wird entweder als Zeugnis einer chamäleonartigen Verkündigungsstrategie im Sinne einer Anpassung an alle Hörergruppen verstanden, einer Strategie, die damals zwar an sich anstößig war, von Paulus aber mit dem Verweis auf die Förderung des Evangeliums gerechtfertigt wurde10. Oder: Paulus präsentiert sich hier als christlicher Proteus, dessen Anpassung an die Hörer eine Form des Widerstands gegen Identitäten war, die die Einheit der Glaubenden bedrohten11. Schließlich: Die vermeintlich chamäleon- bzw. proteusartigen Züge führen in die Irre, denn Paulus ging es in Wirklichkeit gar nicht um die Übernahme verschiedener Lebensstile12. Der Text enthält viele strittige Elemente, die hier nicht im einzelnen besprochen werden können. Zwei Fragen müssen aber geklärt werden: 1. Wer ist mit den verschiedenen Gruppen, also den „Juden“, denen „unter dem Gesetz“, den „Gesetzlosen“ und den „Schwachen“, jeweils gemeint? 2. Was bedeutet „ich bin geworden wie…“? Zu 1.: Es wird bei der Deutung zwischen zwei, drei oder vier Gruppen unterschieden. Die „unter dem Gesetz (Stehenden)“ werden gern mit den „Juden“ identifiziert13. Die „Gesetzlosen“ gelten oft als Heiden14, z.T. aber auch allgemein als unmoralische Menschen, Sünder15. Die 9. Vgl. dazu MARSHALL, Enmity (Anm. 8), S. 307-308; M.D. NANOS, Was Paul a „Liar“ for the Gospel? The Case for a New Interpretation of Paul’s „Becoming Everything to Everyone“ in 1 Cor 9:19-23, in Review and Expositor 110 (2013) 591-608, S. 592-593. 10. So vor allem M.D. GIVEN, Paul’s True Rhetoric: Ambiguity, Cunning, and Deception in Greece and Rome, Harrisburg, PA, Trinity, 2001, S. 103-104, der sich explizit gegen Versuche einer Domestizierung dieser Anstößigkeit wendet. 11. So vor allem W.A. MEEKS, The Christian Proteus, in ID. – J.T. FITZGERALD (Hgg.), The Writings of St. Paul (Norton Critical Editions in the History of Ideas), New York, W.W. Norton, 22007, 689-694. Ähnlich auch MARSHALL, Enmity (Anm. 8), S. 316; S. VOLLENWEIDER, Freiheit als neue Schöpfung: Eine Untersuchung zur Eleutheria bei Paulus und in seiner Umwelt (FRLANT, 147), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989, S. 216-217: Paulus vertritt provokativ eine ganz eigene Auffassung von Freiheit. 12. So der wohl meistvertretene Zugang: Der Text ist nicht wirklich ernst zu nehmen, weil Paulus zuspitzt und übertreibt. Hierher gehört auch die These von NANOS, Was Paul a „Liar“ for the Gospel? (Anm. 9), S. 598-606: Die Anpassung des Paulus an seine Hörer sei nur als rhetorisches Mittel zu verstehen; sie besage nicht mehr, als dass er sie gedanklich bei ihrem jeweiligen Ausgangspunkt abhole. 13. Vgl. SCHRAGE, 1 Kor 6,12–11,16 (Anm. 8), S. 341-342; VOLLENWEIDER, Freiheit (Anm. 11), S. 213; ZELLER, Der erste Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 8), S. 317. 14. Vgl. GIVEN, Paul’s True Rhetoric (Anm. 10), S. 107-108; ZELLER, Der erste Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 8), S. 317; W. KLAIBER, Der erste Korintherbrief (Die Botschaft des Neuen Testaments), Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener Verlag, 2011, S. 145. 15. So C.E. GLAD, Paul and Philodemus: Adaptability in Epicurean and Early Christian Psychagogy (SupplNT, 81), Leiden, Brill, 1995, S. 256-257. Vgl. auch SCHRAGE, 1 Kor 6,12–11,16 (Anm. 8), S. 343: Wer das Gesetz nicht kennt oder nicht hält.



„Schwachen“ werden entweder als die Gemeindemitglieder von 8,9.1116 oder als ängstliche Heiden17 oder übergreifend als Menschen mit Schwierigkeiten verstanden18. Die weitgehend parallele Formulierung der ersten drei Fälle und die Wiederholung von ἐγενόμην zu Beginn des vierten Falls macht es m.E. wahrscheinlich, dass der vierte Fall eine Sonderstellung hat. Es werden in meiner Sicht zunächst drei Gruppen unterschieden, die man so identifizieren kann: 1. die Juden, 2. die Gottesfürchtigen bzw. Proselyten, die zwar „unter dem Gesetz“ stehen, aber keine Juden sind, und 3. die Gesetzlosen, also die Heiden. Mit der Bezeichnung „die Schwachen“ werden diese drei Gruppen so zusammengefasst, dass eine Verbindung zum Kontext entsteht. V. 22 enthält also eine doppelte Verallgemeinerung. Diese Deutung erklärt die Struktur der Verse am besten: Das doppelte ἐγενόμην leitet jeweils einen Sinnabschnitt ein und wird anschließend jeweils detailliert, das erste ἐγενόμην in drei, das zweite in zwei Gruppen. Zu 2.: Paulus verbindet sich mit diesen verschiedenen Gruppen, indem er „wird wie“ sie. Dieses ἐγενόμην (ὡς) findet, wie schon angedeutet, sehr unterschiedliche Interpretationen. Eine weitgehend wörtliche Deutung versteht den Ausdruck als Übernahme verschiedener Identitäten, so dass wirklich von einem Wechsel des Selbstverständnisses in jeder Hinsicht und mit allen Konsequenzen die Rede wäre19. Etwas weniger stark befrachtet wird der Ausdruck dann, wenn man von einer situationsabhängigen Anpassung an verschiedene Lebensstile ausgeht, womit z.B. die Beachtung oder Nichtbeachtung von Speisegeboten gemeint wäre20. Am offensten sind Deutungen, die „werden wie“ entweder als „Umgang pflegen mit“21 oder als rein rhetorische Anpassung in der Argumentation verstehen22, so dass bei Paulus selbst keine großen Veränderungen anzunehmen wären. Gegen die letzte Deutung, die „werden wie“ stark abschwächt, spricht einiges: die Verallgemeinerung in V. 22 „allen bin ich alles geworden“, 16. So VOLLENWEIDER, Freiheit (Anm. 11), S. 213; ZELLER, Der erste Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 8), S. 318-319. 17. So SCHRAGE, 1 Kor 6,12–11,16 (Anm. 8), S. 346. 18. So KLAIBER, Der erste Korintherbrief (Anm. 14), S. 147. 19. So GIVEN, Paul’s True Rhetoric (Anm. 10), S. 104, 109-110. Ähnlich auch MEEKS, The Christian Proteus (Anm. 11), S. 690-691. Etwas anders VOLLENWEIDER, Freiheit (Anm. 11), S. 217, der in der paulinischen Formulierung eine „Freiheit von den bisherigen identitätsstiftenden Mustern“ ausgedrückt findet. 20. So z.B. ZELLER, Der erste Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 8), S. 317-320. 21. So GLAD, Paul and Philodemus (Anm. 15), S. 258, der den Ausdruck mit „to associate“ umschreibt. 22. So NANOS, Was Paul a „Liar“ for the Gospel? (Anm. 9), S. 598-599.



die sowohl für sich genommen als auch im griechisch-römischen Kontext23 kaum so eingeschränkt verstanden werden kann; die zweimalige Hervorhebung „obwohl ich nicht unter dem Gesetz stehe / kein Gesetzloser bin“, die die paulinische Identität ins Spiel bringt; vor allem aber nichtchristliche und christliche Zeugnisse aus der Antike, die diesem Text ein anstößiges Verhalten des Paulus entnehmen: eine Bereitschaft sich selbst zu verstellen, die sie ihm vorwerfen oder die sie bei ihm entschuldigen24. Das Hauptproblem der ersten Deutung ist, dass sie annehmen muss, Paulus habe das Judentum verlassen. Ohne das hier belegen zu können, spricht dagegen so viel, dass man diese Option m.E. ausscheiden kann. Es bleibt die mittlere Interpretation, die keineswegs impliziert, dass Paulus das Gesetz insgesamt als überholt und ungültig angesehen habe25, sondern nur, dass er bestimmte gesetzliche Regelungen, bes. Reinheitsund Speisegebote, je nach Situation einhielt oder nicht. Diese Deutung herrscht schon in der frühen Kirche vor. Augustinus legt Wert darauf, dass Paulus bei dieser Anpassung an seine Umgebung „aus mitleidigem Erbarmen, nicht aus lügenhafter Verstellung“ gehandelt habe26. Hier wird erkennbar, wie sein Verhalten eben auch gedeutet werden konnte und von (Teilen) der korinthischen Gemeinde wohl gedeutet wurde: als Hinterlist und Täuschung. Das in 1 Kor 9 geschilderte Verhalten, mit dem er dort seine Freiheit demonstrierte, konnte auch als das Verhalten eines Schmeichlers verstanden werden, der allen nach dem Mund redet und recht gibt, um geheime eigennützige Ziele zu erreichen27. Mit der von ihm beanspruchten „Schlichtheit und Aufrichtigkeit Gottes“ (2 Kor 1,12) war das nicht zu vereinbaren. Nicht nur sein unzuverlässiger Umgang mit der Gemeinde, sondern auch seine Selbstdarstellung konnte also Anstoß erregen. Wenn er beansprucht, er tue „alles um des Evangeliums willen“ (1 Kor 9,23), liegt die Frage nahe: War denn seine Verkündigung des Evangeliums selbst verlässlich und unanstößig? Darum wird es im folgenden Punkt gehen. 23. Vgl. die Durchsicht der Belege bei ZELLER, Der erste Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 8), S. 319. 24. Vgl. bes. die Zeugnisse von Porphyrius und Johannes Chrysostomos, die NANOS, Was Paul a „Liar“ for the Gospel? (Anm. 9), S. 594-595, zitiert. 25. Gegen NANOS, ibid., für den offenbar nur die Möglichkeit besteht, dass Paulus die Tora grundsätzlich und als ganze abgelehnt habe und zum Heiden geworden sei, wenn überhaupt von einer echten Verhaltensänderung des Paulus die Rede sein sollte. 26. Epistula 40.4 (übs. v. A. HOFFMANN [Bibliothek der Kirchenväter]). Zu diesem Zitat vgl. SCHRAGE, 1 Kor 6,12–11,16 (Anm. 8), S. 351. Dort (S. 351-353) auch weitere Stimmen aus der frühen Kirche. Vgl. auch o. Anm. 24. 27. Darin dürfte MARSHALL, Enmity (Anm. 8), S. 309-316, Recht haben, auch wenn seine Deutung von 1 Kor 9 als Reaktion auf den Vorwurf der Inkonsistenz (S. 284, 308) nicht überzeugt.



3. 1 Kor 1–4: Verlässlichkeit in der Verkündigung? Von den vielen Themen, die in den ersten vier Kapiteln des 1 Kor begegnen, greife ich hier ein einziges heraus: die Verkündigung des Evangeliums unter bewusstem Verzicht auf Rhetorik. In 1 Kor 1,17 grenzt Paulus seine Verkündigung von der „Weisheit des Wortes“ ab, in 2,1-5 von „überredenden Worten der Weisheit“ (oder von „Überredung[skunst] der Weisheit“)28 und in 2,13 von „Worten, die von menschlicher Weisheit gelehrt werden“. Meistens wird heute angenommen, mit dieser Abgrenzung beziehe sich Paulus zumindest auch, wenn nicht vor allem auf eine Weise der Verkündigung, die sich an der Rhetorik orientiert29. Er stellt sich als einen Verkündiger dar, der ohne irgendwelche Redekunst und ohne jede manipulative Absicht schlicht die Wahrheit spricht. Andererseits wird aber nicht erst von der heutigen Exegese, sondern schon von den Kirchenväter in seinen Briefen, auch in 1 Kor 1–4 selbst, eine hohe rhetorische Prägung wahrgenommen. Könnte es sein, dass Paulus, ähnlich wie viele antike Redner, seine rhetorische Kompetenz und seinen Einsatz von Rhetorik bewusst verheimlichte, dass die zitierten Verse (wie auch 2 Kor 11,6) eine dissimulatio artis (eine „Verheimlichung der [eigenen rhetorischen] Kunst“) enthalten und deshalb gerade nicht gegen, sondern für rhetorisches Können und rhetorische Absichten sprechen? Dissimulatio artis liegt dann vor, wenn die folgenden drei Merkmale erfüllt sind: (1) Der Redner verzichtet, manchmal zugunsten der Stimme einer normativen Instanz, explizit oder implizit auf den Anspruch, eigene rhetorische Kompetenz zu besitzen oder anzuwenden. (2) Diese Selbstverkleinerung des Redners und ggf. seine Selbstbeschränkung auf eine Rolle als Sprachrohr (z.B. der Sache, der Wahrheit, der Natur) ist fiktiv oder enthält zumindest fiktive Elemente. (3) Das Verbergen der rhetorischen Kunst soll in der Regel nicht nur die Chance der Einflussnahme erhöhen, sondern erkennbar auch zum Ansehen und zur Geltung des Redners beitragen30.

Alle drei Elemente sind in 1 Kor 1–4 zu erkennen. Das kann und muss hier nicht umfassend nachgewiesen werden31. Für jedes Merkmal soll ein Beispiel genügen: 28. Alle Textzeugen enthalten den Stamm πειθ-, so dass zwischen den Überlieferungsvarianten nicht entschieden werden muss. 29. Vgl. Z.B. A.G. WHITE, Where Is the Wise Man? Graeco-Roman Education as a Background to the Divisions in 1 Corinthians 1–4 (LNTS, 536), London, Bloomsbury, 2015, S. 197; ZELLER, Der erste Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 8), S. 97. 30. Th. SCHMELLER, Dissimulatio artis? Paulus und die antike Rhetorik, in NTS 66 (2020) 500-520, S. 511-512. 31. Vgl. ibid., S. 515-518.



Zu (1): Die paulinische Predigt soll nicht durch menschliche Rhetorik, sondern durch das Kreuz (1,17), durch die Kraft Gottes (2,5) und durch den Geist (2,4.14) wirken. Zu (2): Die Angabe, seine Erstverkündigung beschränke sich auf den Gekreuzigten (1 Kor 2,2), steht in Spannung zu anderen Texten, in denen Paulus sein Evangelium ebenfalls zusammenfasst, in denen aber auch die Auferweckung eine Rolle spielt (Röm 1,1-4; 10,9; 1 Kor 15,3-5; 1 Thess 1,9-10). Zu (3): Die rhetorische Zurückhaltung bei der Erstverkündigung beruhte nicht auf Unfähigkeit, sondern war bewusst und gewollt (vgl. 2,2: ἔκρινα). Sie war nötig – so wird man das verstehen dürfen –, weil Rhetorik immer der jeweiligen Situation entsprechen muss. Nach den Regeln der Rhetorik selbst musste Paulus bei der Behandlung eines Gegenstandes wie des Kreuzes Zurückhaltung üben und durfte keine (erkennbare) Redekunst anwenden. Das bedeutet aber: Er bewegt sich hier im Rahmen der Rhetorik. Wenn also die Beteuerung des Paulus, bei der Erstverkündigung keine rhetorischen Mittel einzusetzen, selbst ein rhetorisches Mittel war, dann ergibt sich daraus ein Problem. Manche modernen Auslegern bestreiten die Anwendung von dissimulatio artis genau mit dem Argument, dass eine solche Irreführung dem Apostel nicht zuzutrauen sei, weil sie seine Integrität in Frage stelle32. Andere trauen sie Paulus ohne weiteres zu: Er habe sich zu solcher Täuschung berechtigt gesehen, weil er – ähnlich wie Sokrates – die Wahrheit in einer Welt voller Täuschung vertreten musste33. Beide Urteile gehen an der Realität der Gemeinde vorbei, denn die Anwendung von dissimulatio war so weit verbreitet, dass sie, auch wenn sie durchschaut wurde, keine moralische Verurteilung des Redners auslöste. Für die korinthischen Christen war die dissimulatio in anderer Hinsicht problematisch. Das wichtigste Motiv von Rednern für deren Anwendung bestand darin, beim Publikum den Verdacht auf rhetorische Manipulation zu zerstreuen – der Redner leugnete seine Kunst, damit sich das Publikum nicht manipuliert fühlte und keine mentale Abwehrhaltung entwickelte. Paulus dagegen verwendet dieses Mittel, wie der Kontext zeigt, ganz anders. In 1 Kor 1–4 geht es ja vor allem um die Überwindung der Spaltung in der Gemeinde. Manche verglichen seine Verkündigung 32. So D. LITFIN, Paul’s Theology of Preaching: The Apostle’s Challenge to the Art of Persuasion in Ancient Corinth, Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity, S. 289. 33. Vgl. GIVEN, Paul’s True Rhetoric (Anm. 10), S. 3-4, 7, 103.



mit der des Apollos und schätzten sie in ihrer rhetorischen Qualität (und vermutlich auch in ihrem philosophischen Niveau) als deutlich geringer ein. Die Reaktion des Paulus mithilfe der dissimulatio artis ist ungewöhnlich. Ihr Einsatz diente in der Regel eben dazu, rhetorische Kompetenz mehr oder weniger ernsthaft zu verheimlichen, nicht, solche Kompetenz zu postulieren. Bei einem nach dem Urteil der Hörer unfähigen Redner musste dieses Mittel lächerlich und unglaubwürdig wirken. Paulus konnte wie ein gerissener Hochstapler erscheinen, der rhetorische Kunst, die er nicht besaß, dadurch beanspruchte, dass er sie leugnete. Nicht die Anwendung der dissimulatio artis an sich war anstößig, sondern sein Versuch, durch ihre Anwendung aus der Not eine Tugend zu machen. Das gefährdete die Glaubwürdigkeit seiner Verkündigung. Natürlich können wir nicht sicher sein, wie die korinthische Gemeinde auf die paulinische dissimulatio reagierte. Was wir aber erkennen können, ist, dass die rhetorische Strategie von 1 Kor 1–4 nicht funktioniert hat. In 2 Kor 10 begegnet eine ganz ähnliche Konstellation erneut: Im Vergleich mit der Redekunst der fremden Missionare wurde die rhetorische Präsenz des Paulus als schwach empfunden (10,10). Hier reagiert Paulus nicht mit einem Hinweis auf seine absichtsvolle Zurückhaltung (wie in 1 Kor 2,2), sondern er räumt seine Unfähigkeit ein (2 Kor 11,6), stellt diese Unfähigkeit aber im Kontext in Frage (2 Kor 10,1-11). Diese etwas variierte Wiederholung zeigt, dass das Thema in der Gemeinde nicht abgeschlossen war. Offenbar hat die Argumentation in 1 Kor 1–4 sie nicht überzeugt. Es ist vielmehr wahrscheinlich, dass sie die paulinische Rhetorik zunehmend als peinlich empfand, wozu die Agitation der Fremdmissionare beigetragen haben dürfte. Im Rückblick auf die unter I behandelten Probleme ergibt sich, dass das apostolische Ethos des Paulus, seine Integrität, im Urteil der korinthischen Gemeinde in mehrfacher Hinsicht gefährdet war. Seine Verlässlichkeit stand in Frage: auf der konkreten Ebene seines Umgangs mit der Gemeinde, auf der tiefer liegenden Ebene seiner Selbstdarstellung und auf der fundamentalen Ebene seiner Verkündigung des Evangeliums. Im nächsten Punkt werden wir fragen, wie sich diese Gefährdungen aus der Perspektive des Paulus darstellten. II. VERSICHERUNGEN Wir beginnen mit dem dritten, fundamentalen Problem und wenden uns danach dem zweiten und dem ersten zu.



1. 1 Kor 1–4: Verlässlichkeit in der Verkündigung Die Argumentation in 1 Kor 1–4 konnte, wie sich gezeigt hat, dazu beitragen, die Glaubwürdigkeit des Paulus und seiner Verkündigung in Frage zu stellen. Aus paulinischer Sicht dürfte das eine Fehlinterpretation gewesen sein. Die Gemeinsamkeiten mit der verbreiteten dissimulatio artis konnten zwar so gelesen werden, als beanspruche er hier auf lächerliche Weise rhetorische Kompetenz. Sie mussten aber nicht so gelesen werden. Es gibt einen Hinweis im Text, der eine andere Aussageintention nahelegt. In 1 Kor 4,19-21 macht Paulus deutlich, dass sein zurückhaltendes, am Kreuz Christi orientiertes, auf durchsetzungsstarke Rhetorik verzichtendes Auftreten nicht die einzige Möglichkeit ist. Bei seinem nächsten Besuch könnte die Gemeinde einen Apostel erleben, der nicht sanft und liebevoll auf erfahrenes Unrecht reagiert (4,12-13), sondern der diesem mit der Kraft des Reiches Gottes entgegentritt (4,19-20). Die Paradoxie im Peristasenkatalog wird hier aufgebrochen. Es geht um ein nach den üblichen, nicht nach paradoxen Maßstäben kraftvolles Auftreten: „Soll ich mit dem Stock zu euch kommen oder in Liebe und im Geist der Sanftmut?“ (V. 21). Den „Stock“, das harte Vorgehen, setzt Paulus dann ein, wenn die Gemeinde es ablehnt, ihn als sanftmütigen Apostel zum Vorbild zu nehmen. Dann wird er nicht mehr positiv und liebevoll auf das erfahrene Unrecht reagieren, sondern ein entschiedenes, am Reich Gottes orientiertes Verhalten an den Tag legen. Dann wird sich die göttliche Kraft nicht mehr in seiner Niedrigkeit zeigen, sondern gerade in seinem durchsetzungsstarken Auftreten. Auch wenn dieses Auftreten nicht näher beschrieben wird: Rhetorische Aspekte wird man nicht ausschließen dürfen. Zu einer echten dissimulatio artis passt eine so offen geäußerte Drohung denkbar schlecht. Durch die dissimulatio versucht der Redner ja gerade, jeden Eindruck von Überordnung zu zerstreuen und sich mit den Hörern auf dieselbe Stufe zu stellen. Ein solches Anliegen wird durch 1 Kor 4,19-21 klar konterkariert. Damit wird nun aber deutlich, dass Paulus offenbar keine Verheimlichung rhetorischer Kompetenz anstrebte. Er wollte auch nicht über den Umweg der dissimulatio artis solche Kompetenz indirekt für sich reklamieren. Wenn die Gemeinde seine Aussagen als anstößig empfand, dann beruhte das auf einem Missverständnis. Er versuchte die dissimulatio vielmehr auf kreative Weise zu modifizieren und einzusetzen, um den Widerstand der Korinther zu überwinden. Dieser Widerstand resultierte nicht wie in den Fällen, wo die dissimulatio bei paganen Rednern zum Tragen kam, aus dem Verdacht starker, manipulierender Rhetorik, sondern



aus einer als zu schwach empfundenen Rhetorik, die seine Verkündigung desavouierte. Auch hier war die dissimulatio anwendbar. Paulus gibt zwar – anders als pagane Redner – offen zu erkennen, dass er durchaus in der Lage war, sich rhetorisch durchzusetzen. Mit paganen Rednern hat sein variierender Gebrauch der dissimulatio aber gemeinsam, dass er eine normative Instanz zu Wort kommen lässt. Nicht Paulus verkündet das Evangelium und fordert die Unterordnung der Gemeinde, sondern Gott bzw. der Geist Gottes ist hier am Werk und legt ihm seine Rhetorik in den Mund. Paulus macht sich also das fiktive Selbstverständnis paganer Redner zu eigen und tritt als Sprachrohr Gottes auf34. Wenn Paulus die dissimulatio artis verwendet – und daran lassen die Gemeinsamkeiten m.E. keinen Zweifel –, dann geht es also nicht um eine Verheimlichung, sondern um eine Qualifizierung seiner Rhetorik. Sie machte es ihm möglich, sich als Redner so zu präsentieren, wie es seinem Selbstverständnis entsprach. Von ihrer christologischen Basis her war die Rhetorik des Kreuzes einerseits eine Anti-Rhetorik, die mit den üblichen rhetorischen Maßstäben nichts zu tun hatte, andererseits eine christlich qualifizierte Rhetorik, die eben diese Maßstäbe übernahm und umsetzte. Auch wenn klar ist, dass Paulus den menschlichen Möglichkeiten und der Rhetorik viel weniger traute und zutraute als seine pagane Umwelt; auch wenn klar ist, dass für ihn rhetorische Einflussnahme nur in Verbindung mit der göttlichen Kraft und nur als ihr Sprachrohr erfolgversprechend war: In dieser Konstellation war Rhetorik möglich und sinnvoll. Ihre Anwendung und ihre (z.T. fiktive) Nicht-Anwendung stellte die Verlässlichkeit der paulinischen Verkündigung nicht in Frage. 2. 1 Kor 9,19-23: Verlässlichkeit in der Selbstdarstellung Die kurze Besprechung dieses stark umstrittenen Textes (vgl. o. I, 2.) hat ergeben: Mit dem „Werden wie“, der Anpassung an verschiedene Gruppen, bezieht sich Paulus unter anderem darauf, dass er bestimmte gesetzliche Regelungen, bes. Reinheits- und Speisegebote, je nach Situation einhielt oder nicht. Diese Anpassungsbereitschaft wurde von (Teilen) der korinthischen Gemeinde wohl als Hinterlist und Täuschung gedeutet, als das Verhalten eines Schmeichlers, der allen nach dem Mund redet. 34. Ähnlich J. SCHLOEMANN, „I Have a Dream“: Die Kunst der freien Rede. Von Cicero bis Barack Obama, München, Beck, 2019, S. 84, zu 1 Kor 2,1-5: Der Text „erinnert an ein Argument, das die Rhetorik […] schon länger empfohlen hatte, weil man damit die eigene Glaubwürdigkeit erhöhe: dass man nämlich selbst gar kein geschickter Redner sei und gerade deswegen das Vertrauen der Zuhörer genieße. Jetzt aber wird dieses Argument zusätzlich mit der allerhöchsten denkbaren Autorität aufgeladen, nämlich der göttlichen“.



Paulus war in seiner Selbstdarstellung in ihren Augen unzuverlässig und anstößig. Wie hat Paulus selbst diese Flexibilität verstanden? In der Forschung wird seine Haltung mit verschiedenen griechischrömischen und frühjüdischen Traditionen in Verbindung gebracht. Clarence E. Glad hat auf die philosophische, bes. die epikureische Psychagogie verwiesen, bei der es um eine Rücksichtnahme des Lehrers auf die Situation des Schülers ging, der je nach seinem Charakter und nach den Umständen entweder verständnisvoll und freundlich oder aber hart und entschieden behandelt werden sollte. Paulus spreche also von verschiedenen Formen der Verkündigung, mit denen er Menschen für das Evangelium gewinnen und im Evangelium bestärken konnte35. Eine solche Analogie ist durchaus naheliegend, sollte aber nicht überfrachtet werden: Von einem „Gewinn“ von Menschen ist in den philosophischen Texten nicht die Rede und von ihrer „Rettung“ nur im Sinne einer Herbeiführung sittlicher Reifung, also deutlich anders als bei Paulus. Ihm geht es um ein Heil mit eschatologischem Charakter, an dem man durch die „Rettung“ Anteil bekommen kann. Auch wenn man die psychagogischen Analogien stark macht, gilt: Paulus eschatologisiert solche Bildungstraditionen36. Samuel Vollenweider legt den Akzent auf die Umprägung des griechischrömischen Freiheitsbegriffs zu einer Freiheit, die nicht mehr im Gegensatz zur Knechtschaft steht: Freiheit wird von Paulus verstanden als „Distanz zum Faktischen, als Freiheit von den bisherigen identitätsstiftenden Mustern“37, die „eine nicht mehr egozentrisch strukturierte Partizipation am Wirklichen“38 eröffnet. Diese Umprägung ist für Vollenweider so deutlich eine Nachahmung Christi (der Knechtsgestalt angenommen hat [Phil 2,67], der arm geworden ist [2 Kor 8,9]), dass er hinter 1 Kor 9,20 „christologisches Sprachgut“ vermutet39. Noch größer wird das Spektrum religionsgeschichtlicher Parallelen, wenn man auch das frühe Judentum einbezieht, wie es David J. Rudolph vorschlägt40. Seine zentrale These ist: „1 Cor 9:19-23 reflects Paul’s imitation of Christ’s accommodation and open table-fellowship“41. Wie 35. Vgl. GLAD, Paul and Philodemus (Anm. 15), bes. S. 43-45, 249-277. 36. Vgl. Th. SCHMELLER, Schulen im Neuen Testament? Zur Stellung des Urchristentums in der Bildungswelt seiner Zeit. Mit einem Beitrag von Christian CEBULJ zur johanneischen Schule (HBS, 30), Freiburg i.Br., Herder, 2001, S. 75-176. Zu Glads Ansatz vgl. auch K. DIVJANOVIĆ, Paulus als Philosoph: Das Ethos des Apostels vor dem Hintergrund antiker Populärphilosophie (NTAbh, NF 58), Münster, Aschendorff, 2015, S. 300-305. 37. VOLLENWEIDER, Freiheit (Anm. 11), S. 217 (Hervorhebung übernommen). 38. Ibid. (Hervorhebung übernommen). 39. Ibid., S. 218 (Hervorhebung übernommen). 40. Vgl. D.J. RUDOLPH, A Jew to the Jews: Jewish Contours of Pauline Flexibility in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Eugene, OR, Pickwick, 22016, bes. S. 115-147. 41. Ibid., S. 19.



Jesus mit verschiedenen Gruppen von Juden Tischgemeinschaft pflegte, so aß auch Paulus mit Juden (V. 20), zu denen Juden unterschiedlich strenger Ausrichtung gehörten42, und mit Heiden (V. 21). Margaret M. Mitchell hat zu Recht gefragt, ob der paulinische Text exklusiv mit einer von verschiedenen möglichen Traditionen aus dem griechisch-römischen oder frühjüdischen Bereich in Verbindung gebracht werden sollte oder ob nicht vielmehr eine Mischung oder Synthese anzunehmen ist43. Gemeinsam ist den genannten Zugängen: Sie rechnen damit, dass Paulus durch die Berufung und in der Nachahmung Jesu eine neue Identität gewonnen hatte, die alte Identitätsmerkmale nicht auslöschte, sondern relativierte. Eine Identität, die durch die Begegnung mit einer neuen, ebenso faszinierenden wie verbindlichen Wirklichkeit entstanden war, und der sich die bisherige Identität ein- und unterordnete. So dürfte Paulus die Flexibilität in seiner Selbstdarstellung verstanden haben, die für die Korinther anstößig war. Sie stellte seine Verlässlichkeit nicht in Frage, sondern zeugte in ihrer Anstößigkeit von einer Erfahrung, die Paulus auch anderen zu vermitteln versuchte. 3. 2 Kor 1,15–2,2: Verlässlichkeit im Umgang mit der Gemeinde Auf die Vorwürfe der Gemeinde (Leichtfertigkeit, Wandel nach dem Fleisch, keine eindeutige Unterscheidung zwischen Ja und Nein) antwortet Paulus mit einem theologischen Exkurs (1,18-22)44. Schon die Einleitung, die zwischen einem Schwur und einer theologischen Aussage schwankt, lässt das Anliegen erkennen: Paulus beruft sich auf die Treue Gottes, um daraus seine eigene Verlässlichkeit und Glaubwürdigkeit abzuleiten. Dass es nicht mehr allein um die Reisepläne geht, zeigt die Formulierung „unser Wort“. Darin ist natürlich die Kommunikation mit der Gemeinde enthalten, also auch die Reisepläne, aber darüber hinaus seine gesamte Verkündigung, das Wort des Evangeliums. Die christologischen Aussagen in Vv. 19-20 beziehen die Problematik von Ja und Nein, bei der in der Sicht der Gemeinde Paulus versagt hatte, 42. Die „unter dem Gesetz (Stehenden)“ von V. 20b gehören in seiner Sicht zu einer strengeren Richtung des Judentums als „die Juden“ von V. 20a. 43. Vgl. M.M. MITCHELL, Pauline Accomodation and „Condescension“ (συγκατάβασις): 1 Cor 9:19-23 and the History of Influence, in EAD., Paul and the Emergence of Christian Textuality: Early Christian Literary Culture in Context. Collected Essays Vol. I (WUNT, 393), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2017, 193-217. Neben den genannten führt MITCHELL (ibid., S. 195) noch weitere griechisch-römische Traditionen an, die zur Erklärung der Stelle herangezogen werden. 44. Zu den Details der Auslegung vgl. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 1,1–7,4 (Anm. 6), S. 103119.



auf Jesus Christus. Die Argumentation ist nicht ganz leicht verständlich. Klar ist jedenfalls: Der von Paulus, Silvanus und Timotheus verkündete Sohn Gottes schwankt nicht zwischen Ja und Nein, sondern „das Ja ist in ihm geworden“. Dieses Ja ist eine Bekräftigung und Erfüllung der Verheißungen Gottes, eine Einlösung seiner Versprechen, wodurch sich Gott als verlässlich erweist. In Vv. 21-22 schließt sich Paulus in einer trinitarisch klingenden Aussage mit den Adressaten zusammen. Die Salbung macht aus ihm und aus ihnen „Messiasse“, die das Werk Christi, des Gesalbten, weiterführen. Alle Glaubenden gemeinsam werden von Gott besiegelt, was wohl als eine Übereignung zu verstehen ist. Alle sind nun sein Eigentum und stehen unter seiner Herrschaft. Alle bekommen als Angeld den Geist und können sich durch diese Vorwegnahme des Eschatons auf die noch ausstehende Vollendung des Heils verlassen. Dieser explizite Zusammenschluss von Apostel (samt Mitarbeitern) und Gemeinde ist für die Argumentation wichtig. Beide Gruppen werden Gott übereignet und erhalten Anteil an seiner Verlässlichkeit – beide Gruppen oder keine! Der theologische Exkurs in 2 Kor 1,18-22 ist also ein Text, der mehrere Argumente miteinander verbindet und ineinander übergehen lässt. Die wichtigsten sind: 1. Die Verkündigung des Paulus von der Verlässlichkeit Gottes, der in Christus seine Verheißungen eingelöst hat, hat Anteil an eben dieser Verlässlichkeit. 2. Auch die Gemeinde hat schon Anteil daran, weil sie durch die Predigt des Paulus Gott übereignet worden ist. 3. Die Übereignung an Gott ist eine gemeinsame Erfahrung, weshalb Zweifel an der Verlässlichkeit des Paulus Zweifel am eigenen Heilsstand bedeuten. Dieser anspruchsvolle Gedankengang ist, wie gesagt, nicht allein mit Irritationen zu erklären, die durch die Änderung von Reiseplänen entstanden waren. Er setzt voraus, dass in der Gemeinde ein abwertendes Gesamtbild des Paulus entstanden war, das ihr als Interpretationsrahmen für neue Erfahrungen mit ihm diente. Die beiden anderen Texte aus der Korintherkorrespondenz, die wir besprochen haben, helfen dabei, die Entstehung dieses Gesamtbilds zu erklären. Auch die dort behandelten Verhaltensweisen des Paulus konnten den Korinthern als ein Ja und ein Nein zugleich erscheinen: seine schmeichlerische Verheimlichung der eigenen Identität und der eigenen Ziele und sein merkwürdiges Schwanken zwischen Ablehnung und Beanspruchung von rhetorischer Kompetenz. Etwas Verschwommenes, Uneindeutiges umgab ihn und nahm ihm die Glaubwürdigkeit. Das Hin und Her mit den Besuchsplänen passte nur zu gut in dieses Bild. Alle drei Texte enthalten aber bei näherem Hinsehen einen Verweis auf die Berufung und Sendung des Paulus. In 1 Kor 9 geht es ihm nicht



um eine Verheimlichung seiner Identität, sondern was die Gemeinde als hinterlistige Schmeichelei verstand, war für ihn Ausdruck seiner Gotteserfahrung und Nachahmung Christi. In 1 Kor 1–4 beansprucht er keine rhetorische Kompetenz, die er nicht hatte und nach seinen Worten auch nicht schätzte, sondern was die Gemeinde als peinliche Hochstapelei verstand, war für Paulus eine christlich qualifizierte Rhetorik, in deren Rahmen er zum Sprachrohr des Geistes wurde und seine Sendung zur Verkündigung des Evangeliums wahrnahm (1 Kor 1,17). Und so war auch seine Reiseplanung nicht Ausdruck von fleischlicher Leichtfertigkeit oder herrischer Willkür, sondern eines anderen Bewusstseins, einer Erkenntnis, die die Gemeinde noch nicht vollständig teilte: „dass wir euer Ruhm sind, wie auch ihr unserer, am Tage [unseres] Herrn Jesus“ (1,14). Dieser eschatologische Tag des „Herrn Jesus“ war durch das „Angeld des Geistes“ (1,22) bereits Gegenwart und bestimmte die Wirklichkeit des Paulus wie auch der Korinther.

III. AUSWERTUNG Bei der Auswertung der Textanalysen müssen wir im Blick behalten, dass die drei geschilderten Probleme nicht auf derselben Ebene liegen: Nur in 2 Kor 1 nimmt Paulus direkt dazu Stellung, wie die Gemeinde auf seinen Umgang mit ihr reagiert hatte. In 1 Kor 1–4 setzt er eine Abwertung seiner Rhetorik gegenüber der des Apollos voraus, geht aber nicht direkt auf diese Kritik ein. Hier und in 1 Kor 9 haben wir neben diesen Texten selbst nur noch einige Hinweise in 2 Kor, um die unterschiedlichen Perspektiven der Gemeinde und des Paulus zu rekonstruieren. Gemeinsam ist den drei untersuchten Texten, dass sie aktuelle oder potentielle Verunsicherungen der Gemeinde und Versicherungen des Paulus enthalten. Seine Stellungnahme zur Verwendung oder Verheimlichung von Rhetorik (1 Kor 1–4) war für die Gemeinde vermutlich nicht akzeptabel, jedenfalls zunächst nicht. Möglich ist, dass die zweite Anwendung von dissimulatio artis in 2 Kor 11,6 größeren Erfolg hatte, denn dieser Brief dürfte insgesamt sein Ziel der Versöhnung erreicht haben45. Unabhängig davon ist jedenfalls das, was Paulus bietet, eine christliche Rhetorik in nuce, die später von den Kirchenvätern weiterentwickelt wurde, insbes. von Augustinus im 4. Buch von De doctrina christiana. Paulus hat hier etwas 45. Dass Paulus den Kampf gegen seine Gegner für sich entscheiden und nach Korinth zurückkehren konnte, lässt sich aus Apg 20,2-3; Röm 15,26; 16,23 erschließen.



erkannt, das sich als bis heute wegweisend herausstellen sollte, auch wenn es zunächst nicht überzeugend erschien46. Ähnlich zu beurteilen ist die Problematik von 1 Kor 9,19-23. Auch hier scheint die Gemeinde das Verhalten des Paulus anders beurteilt zu haben als er selbst, nämlich als Hinterlist und Täuschung. Spätere Urteile sahen anders aus. Die Kirchenväter überwanden die Anstößigkeit des Textes, indem sie ihn in als Nachahmung der göttlichen „Herablassung“ (συγκατάβασις) und Anpassung an die menschliche Schwäche verstanden47. Damit ist die heute zunehmend vertretene Deutung, wonach Paulus in 1 Kor 9 auf eine neue Identität verweist, die alle anderen Identitäten relativiert, durchaus vereinbar. Aktuell nicht überzeugend war wohl auch die paulinische Antwort auf den Vorwurf der Unzuverlässigkeit in 2 Kor 1,15-17. Der theologische Exkurs in 1,18-22 ist zwar eindrucksvoll, aber Paulus bezieht ihn nicht auf das Problem und bemüht sich nicht darum, die vielen Planänderungen zu plausibilisieren48. Die Erkenntnis, die seinem Verhalten die Anstößigkeit nehmen sollte, bestand letztlich einfach in der Anerkennung seiner besonderen Stellung. Dass er über den Glauben der Korinther nicht herrschen wolle (2 Kor 1,24), steht in einer gewissen Spannung zur bewussten Schonung der Gemeinde (1,23), die eine solche Herrschaft natürlich nahelegt (vgl. 1 Kor 4,18-21; 2 Kor 13,2). Paulus erhebt als Antwort auf den Vorwurf der Unzuverlässigkeit Anspruch auf apostolische Immunität – ein Autoritätsargument, das schon damals nicht ausreichte49 und das heute noch kritischer beurteilt wird. Im Rückblick zeigt sich, in welchem Verhältnis die behandelten Verunsicherungen und Versicherungen zueinander stehen: Das Verhalten des Paulus entsprach in mehrfacher Hinsicht nicht den üblichen Erwartungen und konnte gegensätzlich interpretiert werden. Paulus selbst erklärte es „geistlich“ mit seiner Berufung und Sendung, als Folge des Einbruchs einer neuen Wirklichkeit in sein Leben, während manche in der Gemeinde dasselbe Verhalten als „fleischlich“, als Ausdruck von skrupelloser Selbstsucht, Launen oder Willkürherrschaft, interpretierten. Sowohl Paulus als 46. In einer Monographie zur Dissimulatio artis, die 2023 erscheinen wird, versuche ich, die paulinische als Vorläuferin der frühchristlichen Rhetorik (insbes. des Augustinus) zu zeigen. 47. Vgl. den Nachweis bei MITCHELL, Pauline Accomodation (Anm. 43), S. 205-214. 48. Diese argumentative Schwäche scheint Paulus selbst empfunden zu haben: In V. 23 setzt er mit einer Beteuerungsformel (vgl. V. 18) zu einer zweiten, ganz anderen Begründung seines Verhaltens an. 49. Später wurde allerdings, wie auch bei den beiden anderen Texten, die Anstößigkeit nicht mehr wahrgenommen. Calvin und Luther verwenden 1,24 zur Kritik an der Herrschaftsausübung in der Kirche (Belege bei SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 1,1–7,4 [Anm. 6], S. 121), ohne die andere Seite dieses Verses und seines Kontexts zu sehen.



auch die Gemeinde urteilten dabei ihrem Selbstverständnis nach aus der Perspektive des Geistes und sprachen sich gegenseitig diese Perspektive ab. Beide Seiten setzten also als Grundprinzip den Gegensatz von Fleisch und Geist voraus. Ihre gegensätzlichen Bewertungen des paulinischen Verhaltens zeigen allerdings, dass sie bei der Anwendung dieses Prinzips verschiedene Maßstäbe anlegten. Der Konflikt lässt sich nur damit erklären, dass die Unterscheidung zwischen geistlich und fleischlich nicht übereinstimmend vorgenommen wurde, obwohl es ja Paulus gewesen war, der die Gemeinde mit dieser Unterscheidung vertraut gemacht hatte und der ihnen die Überzeugung vermittelt hatte, den Geist empfangen zu haben. Hatte Paulus seine Theologie unzureichend vermittelt? War es ihm nicht gelungen mitzuteilen, was „nach dem Geist zu leben“ eigentlich bedeutete? Für wahrscheinlicher halte ich, dass seine Theologie selbst in dieser Frage nicht eindeutig war. Das kann ich hier freilich nur noch andeuten50. Lange Zeit wurde – vor allem von protestantischen Exegeten – in der Tradition Martin Luthers angenommen, Paulus habe eine Umwertung der Werte vertreten. Die üblichen Werte seien von ihm durch ganz neuartige ersetzt worden: Nicht die Stärke, sondern die Schwäche, nicht der Erfolg, sondern das Kreuz, nicht die Durchsetzungsfähigkeit, sondern das Leiden seien für ihn Orte der Gotteserfahrung gewesen. Diese Annahme einer paradoxen Umwertung stützte sich vor allem auf Texte aus dem 2 Kor (1,8-10; 4,7-18; 6,3-10; 11,21b–12,9a.9b-10; 13,1-14), sah darin aber ein Grundprinzip paulinischer Theologie. Mittlerweile werden die Zweifel immer lauter. Das paulinische Denken erweist sich als vielfältiger und komplexer. Um nur ein Beispiel zu nennen: In 2 Kor 11,21b–12,10 wird in vier Teiltexten das Wirken der Kraft Gottes demonstriert. Diese Kraft verbindet sich mit Auszeichnungen, die von allen nachvollzogen werden können (mit der Herkunft und den Leistungen des Missionars in 11,21b29, mit der Himmelsreise in 12,1-5), ist aber noch deutlicher erkennbar in Situationen menschlicher Begrenztheit und Ohnmacht (in der demütigenden Flucht aus Damaskus in 11,30-33, im schmerzhaften und hinderlichen Stachel in 12,6-10). Es geht nicht einfach um eine Umkehrung der Perspektive: Die Aussage ist nicht, dass Gott nur, sondern dass er auch in der vermeintlichen Gottferne wirkt, und dass sich hier seine Kraft sozusagen in Reinform zeigt. Wenn also der Einbruch der neuen Wirklichkeit die bisherigen Werte nicht auf den Kopf stellt, sondern relativiert, entsteht Unsicherheit. Das 50. Vgl. zum Folgenden Th. SCHMELLER, Kreuz und Kraft: Apostolisches Durchsetzungsvermögen nach 1 und 2 Kor, in ID., Kreuz und Kraft II: Untersuchungen zu Paulus (SBAB, 66), Stuttgart, Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2018, 78-102.



Verhalten des Paulus war nicht klar zu beurteilen: Entsprach es (wie Paulus das sah) gerade in seiner Uneindeutigkeit dieser neuen Situation, oder stellte es (wie Teile der Gemeinde das sahen) die Legitimation des Paulus in Frage, weil es zeigte, wie weit er von der Zuverlässigkeit Gottes entfernt war? Auch Letzteres war eine auf der Basis paulinischer Theologie mögliche Deutung. Das macht die Entgegnung des Paulus deutlich, in der er Gott gerade Verlässlichkeit und Berechenbarkeit zuspricht (2 Kor 1,18-21). Die Gemeinde war eine aufmerksame Schülerin. Sie hatte ihn nicht missverstanden, sondern sie hatte nur seine eigene Theologie auf andere Weise angewendet. Am Schluss dieser Überlegungen zum paulinischen Ethos stellt sich im Rahmen einer Festschrift die Frage, was das alles mit dem Jubilar zu tun hat. Kann man irgendetwas davon auf ihn übertragen? Solche Übertragungen sind natürlich immer höchst problematisch. Ich beschränke mich deshalb darauf, einige Begriffe zusammenzustellen, die in meinem Text eine Rolle gespielt haben, und überlasse die Verbindung mit Reimund Bieringer den Leserinnen und Lesern: „geistlich“, „verlässlich“, „vertrauenswürdig“, ein „christlicher Proteus“. Goethe-Universität Fachbereich Kath. Theologie DE-60629 Frankfurt am Main Deutschland [email protected]



Die letzten vier Kapitel des Zweiten Korintherbriefes gehören zu den besonders spannenden, zugleich exegetisch umstrittensten Texten im Corpus Paulinum. Paulus kündigt an, dass er die korinthische Gemeinde zum dritten Mal besuchen will, um dann fremden Verkündigern entgegenzutreten, die er als „Falschapostel“ (11,13) und ironisch als „Über-Apostel“ (ὑπερλίαν ἀπόστολοι, 12,11) bezeichnet1. Sein Ziel ist es, die Gemeinde wieder für sich und für sein Verständnis des Glaubens zu gewinnen. Im ersten seiner uns erhaltenen Briefe nach Korinth hatte Paulus die dort entstandene innergemeindliche „Parteienbildung“ kritisiert und angekündigt, er werde „bald“ nach Korinth kommen, um die δύναμις der „Aufgeblasenen“ zu prüfen (1 Kor 4,18f.); ironisch hatte er die Adressaten gefragt, ob er „mit dem Stock“ zu ihnen kommen soll oder aber „in Liebe und im Geist der Sanftmut“ (4,21)2. Die Reaktion der Korinther kennen wir nicht; in der weiteren Korrespondenz mit Korinth spielt das Parteienproblem jedenfalls keine Rolle mehr. Aber mittlerweile ist die Beziehung zwischen der Gemeinde und Paulus erheblich belastet. Der brieflich angekündigte zweite Besuch endete mit einem Misserfolg. Doch anders als offenbar in der Beziehung zu den Gemeinden in Galatien will Paulus die Gemeinde in Korinth nicht aufgeben3; in 2 Kor 10,1–13,10(13) wird deutlich, dass er einen diesmal erfolgreichen Besuch vorbereiten will4. 1. Paulus sieht sie als Gegner, aber Versuche, sie genau zu identifizieren, bleiben angesichts der Quellenlage offenbar vergeblich. Zur Forschung und zum methodischen Problem R. BIERINGER, Die Gegner des Paulus im 2. Korintherbrief, in ID. – J. LAMBRECHT, Studies on 2 Corinthians (BETL, 112), Leuven, Leuven University Press – Peeters, 1994, 181-221. 2. C. DE BOER, The Composition of 1 Corinthians, in NTS 40 (1994) 229-245 nimmt an, dass Paulus mit Kap. 4 den Brief bereits abgeschlossen hatte, als er durch die Ankunft des Stephanas mündliche (5,1) und schriftliche (7,1) ihn beunruhigende Nachrichten erhielt, die ihn zur Fortsetzung seines Schreibens veranlassten (Kap. 5–16). Seine Besuchsabsicht wiederholt er in 11,34 und in 16,5-9. 3. In Gal 4,20 deutet Paulus an, dass er mit den Galatern sprechen will; er sagt aber zugleich, dass er „ratlos“ ist. Die Notiz in 6,17a (τοῦ λοιποῦ κόπους μοι μηδεὶς παρεχέτω) wirkt beinahe wie ein „Schlussstrich“; ein Besuch in Galatien wird nicht in Aussicht gestellt. 4. Der Text 2 Kor 10–13 ist der ursprüngliche Schlussabschnitt des in 2 Kor 1–13 vorliegenden Briefes oder aber das Corpus eines ursprünglich selbständigen Briefes, der dann Teil des durch redaktionelle Arbeit geschaffenen „Zweiten Korintherbriefs“ wurde. Zur ersten Annahme vgl. beispielsweise R. BIERINGER, Plädoyer für die Einheitlichkeit des



Paulus bedient sich dazu auffallend unterschiedlicher Argumentationsweisen: An einigen Stellen trägt er seine Gedanken in Güte und Freundlichkeit (kindness) vor, während er sich an anderen Stellen mit Mut (courage) an die Adressaten wendet; dabei ist er durchgängig bestrebt, ihnen mit Redlichkeit (integrity) zu begegnen, was vor allem im Zusammenhang der mehrfach ausgesprochenen Besuchsabsicht deutlich wird. I. „DIALEKTISCHE“ ARGUMENTATION: 2 KOR 10,1-11 In 10,1a schreibt Paulus einleitend in geradezu freundschaftlicher Weise, er wende sich διὰ τῆς πραΰτητος καὶ ἐπιεικείας τοῦ Χριστοῦ5 aufmunternd, aber auch mahnend an die Adressaten (παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς6); indirekt deutet er damit an, dass ihm auch ein anderes Vorgehen möglich wäre. Die folgenden Sätze (Vv. 1b-6) sind mutig, geradezu aggressiv; man kann sie auch als Drohungen lesen. Zuerst referiert Paulus den Vorwurf, er sei persönlich anwesend (κατὰ πρόσωπον) „demütig bei euch“ (ταπεινὸς ἐν ὑμῖν), abwesend dagegen „mutig euch gegenüber“ (ἀπὼν δὲ θαρρῶ εἰς ὑμᾶς)7. Der zweite Hinweis kann sich nur auf briefliche Äußerungen beziehen (vgl. Vv. 9.10)8; vielleicht sah man in dem, was Paulus in 1 Kor 5,3-5 geschrieben hatte, einen Beleg für „mutiges“ Verhalten, oder man wusste von Paulusbriefen, die entsprechend eingeschätzt wurden9. V. 2 trägt jedenfalls einen geradezu drohenden Unterton: Paulus 2. Korintherbriefes: Literarkritische und inhaltliche Argumente, in ID. – LAMBRECHT, Studies on 2 Corinthians (Anm. 1), 131-179, zur zweiten Annahme vgl. beispielsweise A. LINDEMANN, „… an die Kirche in Korinth samt allen Heiligen in ganz Achaja“: Zu Entstehung und Redaktion des „2. Korintherbriefes“, in D. SÄNGER (Hg.), Der zweite Korintherbrief: Literarische Gestalt − historische Situation − theologische Argumentation. Festschrift zum 70. Geburtstag von Dietrich-Alex Koch (FRLANT, 250), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012, 131-159. 5. πραΰτης und ἐπιείκεια sind bei Paulus selten. In 1 Kor 4,21 ist ein Besuch ἐν ἀγάπῃ πνεύματί τε πραΰτητος die Alternative zu einem Kommen ἐν ῥάβδῳ, zu ἐπιείκεια vgl. Phil 4,5 (τὸ ἐπιεικὲς ὑμῶν γνωσθήτω πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις). 6. Vgl Röm 12,1: παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι […]. 7. Paulus verwendet vermutlich eigene Worte und „zitiert“ nicht wörtlich eine fremde Aussage. Ob sein Auftreten grundsätzlich in dieser Weise charakterisiert wurde oder ob in Korinth aktuell eine Situation entstanden war, in der Paulus womöglich unfreiwillig als ταπεινός erschien, lässt sich nicht sagen. Vgl. Th. SCHMELLER, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther. Teilband 2: 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (EKKNT, 8/2), Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener Theologie; Ostfildern, Patmos, 2015, S. 130: Bei seinem „Zwischenbesuch“ hatte Paulus „eine peinliche Niederlage erlitten“, aber schon der Gründungsbesuch erfolgte ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ καὶ ἐν φόβῳ καὶ ἐν τρόμῳ πολλῷ (1 Kor 2,3). 8. Möglich wäre natürlich, dass man in Korinth von entsprechenden Äußerungen des Paulus „gehört“ hatte. 9. Die Adressaten wussten vermutlich, worauf sich die Aussage in 2 Kor 10,1 bezieht.



wird bei seinem beabsichtigten Aufenthalt in Korinth10 „mutig vorgehen“ (θαρρών) gegen „einige11, die über uns urteilen (τοὺς λογιζομένους ἡμᾶς), wir würden nach dem Fleisch wandeln“12. Worauf genau sich dieses wertende Urteil bezieht, ist (uns) nicht klar; da die Wendung κατὰ σάρκα περιπατεῖν paulinisch ist13, gibt Paulus den Vorwurf offenbar mit seinen eigenen Worten wieder14. Dazu erklärt er (V. 3), dass er tatsächlich „im Fleisch“ lebt und handelt (ἐν σαρκὶ περιπατοῦντες), dass sein „Kämpfen“15 aber nicht nach dem Maßstab des Fleisches (κατὰ σάρκα) geschieht16. Die Waffen bei diesem Feldzug17, so formuliert er metaphorisch, sind nämlich nicht durch menschliche Maßstäbe (σαρκικά) bestimmt, sondern durch Gott (δυνατὰ τῷ θεῷ), der Festungswerke zum Einsturz zu bringen vermag (V. 4)18. Paulus identifiziert diese ὀχυρώματα mit jenen Urteilen (λογισμοί), die die in V. 2 genannten τινές gegen ihn richten; sie werden aber „nicht standhalten“19. Zugleich weist er πᾶν ὕψωμα zurück, das sich gegen die Erkenntnis Gottes (γνῶσις τοῦ θεοῦ)20 erhebt (V. 5a): 10. Παρών steht für κατὰ πρόσωπον (V. 1). Vgl. zu dieser Thematik im Ganzen R. BIERINGER, Présence dans l’absence du corps: constructions de la présence et de l’absence de Paul en 2 Corinthiens dans la perspective des épîtres pauliniennes et du monde grec, in C. BREYTENBACH (Hg.), Paul’s Graeco-Roman Context (BETL, 277), Leuven – Paris – Bristol, CT, Peeters, 2015, 357-371. 11. Aus der Wendung ἐπί τινας lässt sich nicht ableiten, wie groß die Zahl der Personen ist, an die Paulus denkt. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 128: Paulus denkt vielleicht nur an einen Teil der Gemeinde (vgl. ἐπί τινας […]). 12. Die pluralische Formulierung bezieht sich vermutlich auf Paulus allein, nicht auf ihn und seine Mitarbeiter. 13. Vgl. Röm 8,4. 14. Was genau gemeint ist, lässt sich nicht sagen; an Vorwürfe auf der Ebene des Sittlich-Moralischen wird nicht gedacht sein. 15. Die Metaphorik (στρατευόμεθα) passt zum in V. 2 verwendeten Verb τολμᾶν: Paulus „wagt“ es, einen „Kampf“ zu führen; das militärische Bild hält sich bis V. 5 durch. 16. Die Deutung der Pluralwendungen ist unklar und umstritten; spricht Paulus im Namen von Mitverfassern des Briefes, oder setzt der Plural einfach das „ich“ von Vv. 1b, 2 fort? Selbst wenn der Vorwurf sich gegen Paulus samt einer Gruppe richten sollte, ist doch klar, dass es Paulus ist, der jetzt diesen Vorwurf zurückweist. 17. στρατεία im NT sonst nur 1 Tim 1,18. 18. Vgl. Spr 21,22 LXX: „Der Weise betritt befestigte Städte und reißt die Festung nieder (καθεῖλεν τὸ ὀχύρωμα), auf die die Gottlosen vertraut hatten“ (Septuaginta Deutsch). 19. B. BOSENIUS, Die Abwesenheit des Apostels als theologisches Programm: Der zweite Korintherbrief als Beispiel für die Brieflichkeit der paulinischen Theologie (TANZ, 11), Tübingen, Francke, 1994, S. 125: Die militärische Metaphorik könnte „auch als Anspielung auf die strategische Bedeutung Korinths“ zu verstehen sein. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 133: „[D]ie Erinnerumg an die Belagerung und Eroberung Korinths durch die Römer im Jahre 146 v. Chr. [könnte] den paulinischen Bildern zusätzliche Plausibilität“ verliehen haben. Ist das wirklich wahrscheinlich? 20. Das Lexem γνῶσις ist in der korinthischen Korrespondenz häufig belegt, sonst bei Paulus aber nur in Röm 2,20; 11,33; 15,14; Phil 2,8. Die Polemik des Paulus wäre besonders bemerkenswert, wenn man sich in Korinth auf eine besondere Gotteserkenntnis berufen haben sollte (vgl. 1 Kor 8,1 mit der dort offenbar zitierten Aussage πάντες γνῶσιν ἔχομεν).



„Wir nehmen jedes Denken gefangen“ in den Christus gebührenden Gehorsam (εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ). Diese Bilder und die abschließende Ankündigung in V. 6 sind eindeutig als Drohungen gemeint21; von der in V. 1a angekündigten „freundlichen“ Akzentuierung der nachfolgenden Argumentation ist in Vv. 1b-6 nichts zu erkennen. In V. 7 werden die Adressaten aufgefordert, zur Kenntnis zu nehmen, was doch „vor Augen liegt“22: Wer23 davon überzeugt ist, zu Christus zu gehören (πέποιθεν ἑαυτῷ Χριστοῦ εἶναι), muss bedenken, dass das in gleicher Weise auch für Paulus gilt24. Es überrascht, dass Paulus davon spricht, er sei anderen gleichwertig, die den genannten Anspruch erheben. Aber schon in V. 8 verlässt er diese Ebene wieder: Selbst wenn er sich mehr als schon bisher seiner ἐξουσία rühmte, müsste er sich trotzdem nicht schämen (οὐκ αἰσχυνθήσομαι, vgl. Phil 1,20; Röm 1,16), weil Christus ihm diese ἐξουσία gegeben hat. Der ausdrückliche Hinweis, dies diene der οἰκοδομή der Adressaten, nicht ihrer καθαίρεσις25, geht möglicherweise darauf zurück, dass ihm in Korinth der Verzicht auf solche καθαίρεσις als Schwäche ausgelegt wurde26. Jetzt jedenfalls stellt Paulus fest, dass sein Selbstruhm zulässig ist, denn er verdankt sich der ihm von Christus verliehenen ἐξουσία. In Vv. 9-11 spricht Paulus nochmals von der in V. 1b nur andeutend beschriebenen Diskrepanz zwischen seiner körperlichen Gegenwart und seiner Abwesenheit. Jetzt schreibt er ausdrücklich, dass er mit seinen Briefen niemanden einschüchtern oder erschrecken will27. Diese Möglichkeit bestand anscheinend tatsächlich28: Es wird ausdrücklich gesagt, dass „die Briefe gewichtig und machtvoll“ sind, die körperliche Anwesenheit des Paulus aber schwach und die Rede (ὁ λόγος) kläglich (V. 10). Paulus 21. Vgl. R. BULTMANN, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther (KEK Sonderband), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1976, S. 188: V. 6 ist „wie V. 2 und V. 7-11 drohender Hinweis auf den bevorstehenden Besuch“. 22. βλέπετε ist vermutlich als Imperativ zu lesen (so E. GRÄSSER, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther: Kapitel 8,1–13,13 (ÖTKNT, 8/2), Gütersloh, Güterloher Verlagshaus, 2005, S. 91f. Als Indikativ gelesen läge eine kritisch-ironische Feststellung vor: „Ihr interessiert euch (nur) für das, was mit dem Augenschein zu tun hat“. 23. τίς dürfte generisch zu verstehen sein (vgl. V. 2). 24. […] καθὼς αὐτὸς Χριστοῦ, οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς. In P46 ist die Aussage stark verändert: […] ὅτι καθὼς αὐτὸς ὁ Χριστός, οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς „wie Christus selber, so sind auch wir“. 25. οἰκοδομή ist in der korinthischen Korrespondenz ein wichtiger Begriff (1 Kor 3,9; 14,; 2 Kor 5,1; dazu οἰκοδομεῖν in 1 Kor 8,1.10; 10,23; 14,4.17, aber nicht innerhalb des 2 Kor). 26. BULTMANN, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 21), S. 191: Paulus könnte „unter Umständen die ἐξουσία auch εἰς καθαίρεσιν verwenden – aber das sollen die Korinther nicht herausfordern“. 27. ἐκφοβέω ist hapax legomenon im NT. 28. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 128: „Ob dieser Vorwurf von den Fremdmissionaren oder von pauluskritischen Gemeindemitgliedern stammt, ist nicht zu sagen“.



zitiert oder paraphrasiert offenbar eine in Korinth getroffene Aussage (φησίν); entweder ist an eine einzelne Person zu denken („sagt jemand“), oder φησίν ist unpersönlich zu verstehen („man sagt“)29. Paulusbriefe30 wurden in Korinth als eindrucksvoll wahrgenommen, man sah aber zugleich eine Schwäche der παρουσία τοῦ σώματος und die Kraftlosigkeit seines λόγος. Der Hinweis auf die körperliche Schwäche könnte realistisch sein. Aber die Aussage ὁ λόγος ἐξουθενημένος lässt sich entweder auf die Schwächlichkeit des gesprochenen Wortes beziehen, oder ὁ λόγος bezieht sich vor allem auf den Inhalt dessen, was Paulus sagt. Dass man in Korinth sagte, es mangele Paulus an rhetorischen Qualitäten, ist wenig wahrscheinlich, denn man hätte ja zugleich gesagt, der Gemeindegründer sei für seine Aufgabe als Verkündiger eigentlich ungeeignet31. Näher liegt die Annahme, dass es Kritik gab am Inhalt seiner Predigt32. Dazu schreibt Paulus nun (V. 11), „der Betreffende“33 solle bedenken, dass dem abwesend δι’ ἐπιστολῶν geschriebenen λόγος anwesend sein ἔργον entsprechen werde. Paulus wird bei seinem erneuten Besuch in Korinth nicht nur „reden“, sondern handeln, es wird zwischen seiner Predigt (λόγος) und der damit verbundenen Konsequenz (ἔργον) volle Übereinstimmung bestehen. Was genau geschehen soll, wenn Paulus zu seinem dritten Besuch kommt, machen seine Worte nicht deutlich34; anscheinend soll gerade die unbestimmt 29. GRÄSSER, 2 Kor 8,1–13,13 (Anm. 22), S. 97: Im Stil der Diatribe meint φησίν „den gedachten Gegner“. M.E. THRALL, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Vol. 2: Commentary on II Corinthians VIII–XIII (ICC), Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 2000, S. 629f. folgert aus V. 11, dass in V. 10 „some specific individual is in view“. 30. In V. 9 ([…] διὰ τῶν ἐπιστολῶν) und in V. 10 (αἱ ἐπιστολαί) steht der bestimmte Artikel. Vielleicht ist an den in 1 Kor 5,9 erwähnten Brief zu denken; aber hatte man diese ἐπιστολή in Korinth als βαρεῖα und ἰσχυρά wahrgenommen? 31. THRALL, II Corinthians VIII–XIII (Anm. 29), S. 633: „The apostle must originally have established the nucleus of the Corinthian church precisely through his power of effective speech employed in the proclamation of the gospel. How else?“. 32. BULTMANN, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 21), S. 192: „Es ist die Verkündigung nach Form und Inhalt; man mag Rhetorik und σοφία (γνῶσις) vermißt haben“. Anders M.J. HARRIS, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC), Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans; Milton Keynes, Paternoster, 2005, S. 699f. mit Anm. 181. „No rival of Paul could make the assertion at Corinth that Paul’s preaching amounted to nothing or was ineffective“; dies werde schon durch die bloße Existenz der korinthischen Gemeinde widerlegt. „Paul’s critics were affirming that his speaking ability, including his ability in extempore speech, was wholly without merit“. 33. „Wer so denkt […]“. τοῦτο λογιζέσθω wie in V. 7, vgl. φησίν in V. 10. 34. In Röm 15,18f. schreibt Paulus als Erläuterung zu seinen Aussagen über die καύχησις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, dass er es „nicht wagen würde, von etwas zu reden, was nicht Christus durch mich gewirkt hat zum Gehorsam der Heidenvölker, durch Wort und Tat (λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ), durch die Macht von Zeichen und Wundern, in der Kraft des Geistes“; als Beleg führt er ganz konkret seine Missionserfolge an „von Jerusalem und seiner Umgebung aus bis nach Illyrien“ (V. 19b).



bleibende Drohung die Korinther und natürlich auch die gegenwärtig in Korinth aktiven fremden Verkündiger beeindrucken und verunsichern35. Paulus schreibt in 2 Kor 10,1-11 „freundliche“ Worte, aber er spricht auch „mutige“ Drohungen aus; er ist davon überzeugt, dass dieses Vorgehen entscheidend zum Erfolg seines geplanten Besuchs beitragen wird36. II. „OFFENSIVE“ ARGUMENTATION: 2 KOR 10,12–11,4 In 10,12 setzt Paulus neu ein mit der bescheiden klingenden, tatsächlich aber ironischen Aussage: „Wir wagen es nicht, uns zu denen zu zählen oder uns mit jenen zu vergleichen, die sich selbst empfehlen“ ([…] ἐγκρῖναι ἢ συγκρῖναι ἑαυτούς τισιν τῶν ἑαυτοὺς συνιστανόντων). Paulus behauptet, dass die in V. 2 erwähnten τινές „sich an sich selbst messen und mit sich selbst vergleichen“, und dass sie damit „unverständig“ sind (οὐ συνιᾶσιν). Er setzt voraus, dass die Adressaten erkennen, von wem er spricht37, auch wenn sie seiner Beschreibung wohl nicht zustimmen. „Wir dagegen“, so schreibt er in V. 13, „wollen uns nicht ins Maßlose rühmen, sondern nach dem ‚Maß des Bereichs‘38, den uns Gott zugemessen hat“. Paulus beschreibt diesen κανών ganz konkret: „[…] dass wir nämlich auch bis zu euch gelangen sollten“ (ἐφικέσθαι ἄχρι καὶ ὑμῶν). Er wiederholt das, wobei er nun von einer vollendeten Tatsache spricht (ἄχρι γὰρ καὶ ὑμῶν ἐφθάσαμεν ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, V. 14). Paulus 35. BULTMANN, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 21), S. 193: Paulus meint nicht, „dass er als παρών die Ansprüche der Gegner erfüllen wird“, aber er sagt, „dass er den Beweis seiner ἐξουσία geben wird. Er traut sich also ein imponierendes Auftreten in der Kraft Christi zu (vgl. 13,3f.). Er wird seinen Willen in der Gemeinde durchsetzen und die Gegner schlagen – wenn er dazu gezwungen wird“ (zustimmend zitiert von GRÄSSER, 2 Kor 8,1–13,13 [Anm. 22], S. 100). Vgl. HARRIS, 2 Corinthians (Anm. 32), S. 702: Paulus „wanted to prevent his converts from imagining that he was aiming to terrorize them and stun them into compliance whenever he wrote to them […] Paul affirms here in v. 11 in a rhetorically charged statement both his constancy of character and his consistency in conduct“. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 146: Paulus vertraute darauf, „eine auch die Gegner überzeugende Art der rhetorischen Einflussnahme zu beherrschen“. 36. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 209: „Wie realistisch diese Selbsteinschätzung war, entzieht sich unserer Kenntnis“. Schmeller stellt dann aber m.R. fest: „Auch wenn Paulus schriftlich eindrucksvoller war als mündlich, spricht doch sein in 10,11 geäußertes Selbstvertrauen dagegen, eine zu große Differenz anzunehmen“ (ibid., S. 209 zu 2 Kor 11,6). 37. Zur „Gegnerfrage“ s. BIERINGER, Die Gegner des Paulus im 2. Korintherbrief (Anm. 1) sowie SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 149-171. 38. Die ungewöhnliche Wendung κατὰ τὸ μέτρον τοῦ κανόνος wird kontrovers diskutiert; ihr Sinn ergibt sich an dieser Stelle wohl aus dem Kontext. Vgl. THRALL, II Corinthians VIII–XIII (Anm. 29), S. 647: „This territorial-defined schedule of duties is the criterion which will govern what he says about his apostolic achievements“.



gewinnt seinen „Selbstruhm“ aus seiner erfolgreichen Missionsarbeit in Korinth, und dieser Einschätzung können die Adressaten natürlich nicht widersprechen. Anschließend distanziert sich Paulus nochmals von dem Verhalten der Konkurrenten: „Nicht ins Maßlose rühmen wir uns (unter Verweis auf) fremde Mühen“ (V. 15a). Dem stellt er seine eigene Praxis gegenüber: „Wir haben aber die Hoffnung, dass, wenn euer Glaube in euch wächst, wir ‚groß gemacht werden‘ gemäß unserem Maßstab über alles Maß“ (V. 15b). Dabei sieht er seinen Maßstab als eine „objektiv“ gegebene Größe an – es ist die reale geographische Ausbreitung seiner Verkündigung ([…] εἰς τὰ ὑπερέκεινα ὑμῶν εὐαγγελίσασθαι, V. 16)39. Dazu folgt die an Jer 9,23 erinnernde Aufforderung: ὁ δὲ καυχώμενος ἐν κυρίῳ καυχάσθω (V. 17)40. Er schließt (V. 18) mit der Feststellung „Nicht wer sich selbst empfiehlt, ist bewährt“ (οὐ γὰρ ὁ ἑαυτὸν συνιστάνων, ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν δόκιμος), bewährt ist vielmehr, „wen der Herr empfiehlt“ (ἀλλ’ ὃν ὁ κύριος συνίστησιν). Mit der Wendung ὁ ἑαυτὸν συνιστάνων kennzeichnet Paulus die in V. 2 und in V. 12 erwähnten τινές, wobei er annimmt, dass die Gemeinde das erkennt. Die Aussagen in 10,12-18 könnten ihrerseits als Selbstempfehlung des Paulus verstanden werden. Deshalb erinnert er die Gemeinde an die Tatsache, dass sie ihm ihre Entstehung verdankt (V. 13). Die Christen in Korinth gehören insofern für ihn nicht zu seinen „Gegnern“, sondern sie sind eher „Schiedsrichter“; sie sollen die von ihm vorgetragenen Argumente lesen und bewerten, und dabei setzt Paulus voraus, dass sie dem, was er ihnen schreibt, eigentlich nicht widersprechen können. In 11,1 geht Paulus zur Offensive über. Mit dem Wunsch41, die Adressaten möchten doch μου μικρόν τι ἀφροσύνης ertragen42, zeigt Paulus an, dass er sich nun auf die Argumentationsebene der zuvor erwähnten τινές begeben will43, auch wenn das „nur geringfügig“ geschehen soll. 39. Mit dem Nachsatz V. 16b οὐκ ἐν ἀλλοτρίῳ κανόνι εἰς τὰ ἕτοιμα καυχήσασθαι wird V. 15a wiederholt. 40. Dieses Zitat hatte Paulus schon in 1 Kor 1,31 verwendet; ob er jetzt voraussetzt, dass die Adressaten es bereits kennen, lässt sich nicht sagen. 41. Dazu H. KRÄMER, Zur Bedeutung von Wunschsätzen im Neuen Testament, in D.-A. KOCH – G. SELLIN – A. LINDEMANN (Hgg.), Jesu Rede von Gott und ihre Nachgeschichte im frühen Christentum: FS W. Marxsen, Gütersloh, Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1989, 375-378, hier S. 377: Der Wunsch ὄφελον ἀνείχεσθέ μου μικρόν τι ἀφροσύνης enthält die Feststellung, dass die Adressaten ihn leider nicht erfüllen. „Logisch muß dann ἀνέχεσθε Imperativ sein: ‚So ertragt mich doch auch!‘“. Vgl. V.P. FURNISH, II Corinthians (AB, 32A), Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1984, S. 485f.: „The context, especially vv. 2-3, makes it more likely that anechesthe is intended here as an imperative than as an indicative“. 42. Der Aspekt des ἀνέχεσθαι bildet den Rahmen der Argumentation (V. 1 und V. 4). 43. Die Begriffe ἄφρων bzw. ἀφροσύνη bekommen in der folgenden Argumentation zentrale Bedeutung, zunächst in der Vorbereitung der „Narrenrede“ in 11,16 (μή τίς με δόξῃ ἄφρονα εἶναι) und in 11,19 (ἡδέως γὰρ ἀνέχεσθε τῶν ἀφρόνων φρόνιμοι ὄντες),



Es ist ein Gott entsprechender Eifer, den Paulus für die Gemeinde aufbringt (ζηλῶ γὰρ ὑμᾶς θεοῦ ζήλῳ): Geradezu als Brautvater hat er „die Gemeinde einem Mann (ἑνὶ ἀνδρί) verlobt“44, und nun muss er sie als reine Jungfrau bewahren, um sie dann bei der Hochzeit Christus zuzuführen (παραστῆσαι τῷ Χριστῷ)45. Paulus vertieft diese Metaphorik, indem er auf den „Sündenfall“ anspielt (V. 3): So wie die Schlange dank ihrer Verschlagenheit (πανουργία, vgl. 2 Kor 4,2) Eva betrog46, so droht jetzt die Gefahr, dass das Denken und Handeln der Gemeinde (τὰ νοήματα ὑμῶν) von der eindeutigen Ausrichtung auf Christus „abgezogen“ wird (φθαρῇ […] ἀπὸ τῆς ἁπλότητος καὶ τῆς ἁγνότητος […])47. Anschließend (V. 4) überträgt Paulus das biblische Beispiel auf die gegenwärtige Situation. Ironisch stellt er fest, dass die Adressaten es gern akzeptieren (καλῶς ἀνέχεσθε), wenn jemand „kommt“ und einen „anderen Jesus“ oder einen „anderen Geist“ oder ein „anderes Evangelium“ verkündigt. Es ist wirklich eine „andere“ Botschaft, die der Verkündigung widerspricht, die die Gemeinde durch Paulus empfangen hatte. Zwar spricht auch jener ἐρχόμενος von „Jesus“ und vom „Geist“ und vom „Evangelium“, aber tatsächlich ist es ein ἄλλος Ἰησοῦς und ein πνεῦμα ἕτερον und ein εὐαγγέλιον ἕτερον, das da gepredigt wird – es besteht ein scharfer Gegensatz zu der von Paulus in Korinth verkündigten und dort im Glauben angenommenen Botschaft (10,13f.). Paulus bestreitet also nicht lediglich die Legitimität der anderen Verkündiger48; er stellt vielmehr heraus, dass diese in Wahrheit einen anderen, einen falschen Inhalt predigen, dann zu deren Beginn (11,21b: ἐν ἀφροσύνῃ λέγω) sowie in 12,6 (οὐκ ἔσομαι ἄφρων), schließlich im Rückblick auf die „Narrenrede“ (12,11 γέγονα ἄφρων, ὑμεῖς με ἠναγκάσατε). 44. ἁρμόζεσθαι im NT nur hier, aber das Bild begegnet häufig. 45. Die „Hochzeit“ ist vermutlich auf die Parusie zu beziehen; dazu H. WINDISCH, Der zweite Korintherbrief, ed. G. STRECKER (KEK, 6), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1924 (= 1970), S. 320-322. Zu „Paulus als Ehestifter“ s. C. GERBER, Paulus und seine ‚Kinder‘: Studien zur Beziehungsmetaphorik der paulinischen Briefe (BZNW, 136), Berlin – New York, De Gruyter, 2005, S. 216-218. 46. Deutlich ist die Anspielung auf Evas an Gott gerichtete Worte beim „Sündenfall“: ὁ ὄφις ἠπάτησέν με (Gen 3,13 LXX). Anders als später in 1 Tim 2,14 steht „Eva“ hier nicht generalisierend für „die Frau“, sondern Paulus bleibt ganz bei dem Bild von der Gemeinde als der παρθένος und von Christus als dem εἷς ἀνήρ. 47. In der Mehrzahl der Handschriften fehlt die zweite Genitivwendung καὶ τῆς ἁγνότητος, aber eine etwas größere Wahrscheinlichkeit spricht für den Langtext. 48. BULTMANN, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 21), S. 204: Die Formulierung „zwingt überhaupt nicht, an bestimmte dogmatische christologische Lehren zu denken, und gegen solche polemisiert Paulus ja überhaupt nicht. Die Bestreitung des paulinischen Apostolats und die Anmaßung eines falschen Apostolats (Vv. 13-15) bedeutet für ihn schon eine Verfälschung des Evangeliums“. Noch stärker zugespitzt bei SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 205: „Sie sind nicht falsche Apostel, weil sie eine falsche Lehre haben, sondern sie haben eine falsche Lehre, weil sie falsche Apostel sind“.



nämlich – wie er abschließend mit dem schon in Gal 1,6 verwendeten Begriff formuliert – „ein anderes Evangelium“49, wobei man Gal 1,7 ergänzen könnte. Von der in 10,1a angekündigten freundlichen Argumentation ist in 10,12–11,4 nur wenig zu sehen. Paulus bescheinigt den Adressaten im Gegenteil, dass sie vom Glauben an die ihnen verkündigte Botschaft abgefallen sind bzw. im Begriff stehen, dies zu tun50. Dabei nimmt er an, dass sie die von ihm gegebene Beschreibung und auch die Ehe-Metapher verstehen und also jedenfalls wissen, dass das, was sie von den fremden Verkündigern jetzt hören, ein εὐαγγέλιον ἕτερον ist, auch wenn sie meinen sollten, diese „andere Botschaft“ sei im Gegensatz zur paulinischen Predigt die richtige Botschaft. Paulus hofft, dass die Adressaten sein Urteil übernehmen und dass sie zu seiner Verkündigung zurückkehren.

III. MUTIGE POLEMIK IN 2 KOR 11,5-21A (11,22B–12,10)



In 11,5-21a bereitet Paulus die„Narrenrede“ vor, die dann in 11,21b beginnt. Durchaus freundlich erinnert er die korinthische Gemeinde zunächst (Vv. 5-11) an die Arbeit, die er für sie geleistet hat und die er fortsetzen will (V. 12). Dann aber folgt eine scharfe, mutige Gerichtsankündigung (Vv. 13-15) und schließlich (Vv. 16-21a) die Hinführung zu der „Narrenrede“. In 11,5 macht Paulus deutlich, wen er in V. 4 mit ὁ ἐρχόμενος gemeint hatte. Er setzt voraus, dass die Adressaten die spöttisch-ironische Bezeichnung ὑπερλίαν ἀπόστολοι sofort verstehen und richtig zuordnen51. Seine Einschätzung (λογίζομαι), er stehe ihnen in nichts nach (μηδὲν ὑστερηκέναι […]), klingt zwar so, als sähe er hier gar keinen grundsätzlichen Gegensatz. Aber dann geht er zum Angriff über (V. 6a): Mag er auch ein „Dilettant im Wort“ (ἰδιώτης τῷ λόγῳ) sein52, so ist er jedenfalls nicht 49. Insofern ist die Schlussfolgerung von SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 170 problematisch: „Nicht, weil die Fremdmissionare ein anderes Evangelium verkündeten, waren sie Gegner des Paulus, sondern weil sie seine Gegner waren, verkündeten sie in paulinischer Sicht ein anderes Evangelium“. Deutlich ist, dass sich Paulus hier nicht so scharf wie in Gal 1,6-9 von den Adressaten abgrenzt; denn er will an der Beziehung zu Korinth festhalten, und eben deshalb plant er einen weiteren Besuch dort. 50. Das lässt die präsentische Formulierung erkennen (καλῶς ἀνέχεσθε). 51. Zu den „Super-Aposteln“ s. den Exkurs bei THRALL, II Corinthians VIII–XIII (Anm. 29), S. 671-676. 52. Ob eine in Korinth getroffene Aussage „zitiert“ wird oder ob der Begriff ἰδιώτης hier ein „Topos aus der sokratischen Tradition“ ist, mit dem sich Paulus verteidigt, wie



ein (ἰδιώτης) τῇ γνώσει, wie die Adressaten ja aus eigener Erfahrung wissen (ἐν παντὶ φανερώσαντες ἐν πᾶσιν εἰς ὑμᾶς, V. 6b). Folglich können sie dem nicht widersprechen, was Paulus nun vortragen wird. Er erinnert sie in einer rhetorischen Frage daran, dass er es war, der in Korinth das Evangelium verkündigte (δωρεὰν τὸ τοῦ θεοῦ εὐαγγέλιον εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν, V. 7)53. Die selbstironische Bemerkung ἄλλας ἐκκλησίας ἐσύλησα […] (V. 8) ist natürlich nicht wörtlich zu verstehen. Aber an die in V. 9 ziemlich genau geschilderte Situation wird man sich in Korinth erinnern54; Paulus versichert, er werde an dieser Praxis nichts ändern (V. 9c). Dann leistet er geradezu einen Schwur (ἔστιν ἀλήθεια Χριστοῦ ἐν ἐμοί, V. 10) hinsichtlich der καύχησις, die ihm ἐν τοῖς κλίμασιν τῆς Ἀχαΐας zukommt. Diese καύχησις kann von den Adressaten ja überhaupt nicht in Zweifel gezogen werden, weil er ja tatsächlich bei ihnen erfolgreich war. Auf die abschließende rhetorische Frage nach dem Motiv seines Handelns (διὰ τί; ὅτι οὐκ ἀγαπῶ ὑμᾶς; V. 11a) gibt er die Antwort (V. 11b): „Gott weiß es“ (ὁ θεὸς οἶδεν) – nämlich dass er um der Liebe zu den Adressaten willen so handelt55. Es ist deutlich, dass Paulus in 2 Kor 11,5-11 aggressive Töne vermeidet; aber er sieht sich veranlasst, die Adressaten nachdrücklich an sein Wirken bei ihnen und für sie zu erinnern. In V. 12a stellt Paulus nochmals fest, dass er an seiner bisherigen Praxis festhalten wird; überraschend ist allerdings die damit verbundene Absicht: Er will auf diese Weise „denen widersprechen, die einen Vorwand suchen, um in dem, worin sie sich rühmen, gefunden zu werden wie wir“ (ἵνα ἐν ᾧ καυχῶνται εὑρεθῶσιν καθὼς καὶ ἡμεῖς, V. 12b). Paulus will zeigen, dass er den gegenwärtig in Korinth aktiven Verkündigern tatsächlich überlegen ist56. Dementsprechend folgt deren scharfe negative Charakterisierung (V. 13): „Diese Leute“ (τοιοῦτοι) sind ψευδαπόστολοι – sie sind also gar keine Apostel. Sie sind ἐργάται δόλιοι – sie leisten in Wahrheit also keine oder sogar eine schädliche Arbeit. Am Ende steht H.D. BETZ, Der Apostel Paulus und die sokratische Tradition: Eine exegetischer Untersuchung zu seiner „Apologie“ 2 Korinther 10–13 (BHT, 45), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 1972, S. 66 annimmt, lässt sich nicht sicher sagen. 53. Das entscheidende Gewicht liegt auf der Verkündigung, weniger auf ihrer Kennzeichnung als δωρεάν. 54. Die Erwähnung der ihm gleichzeitig aus Makedonien zuteil gewordenen Unterstützung (V. 9b) enthält einen kritischen Vorwurf. 55. GRÄSSER, 2 Kor 8,1–13,13 (Anm. 22), S. 141: „Paulus muss auf den ihm tatsächlich gemachten Vorwurf der Lieblosigkeit antworten“. 56. BULTMANN, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 21), S. 209: Die Gegner wollen Paulus veranlassen, „den Grundsatz des δωρεάν aufzugeben, um ihm damit einen Vorzug, den er in den Augen der Gemeinde haben könnte, zu entreißen. Ihr Motiv ist also Eifersucht“.



der Vorwurf „Sie verwandeln sich äußerlich (μετασχηματιζόμενοι) in ἀπόστολοι Χριστοῦ“. Diese Aussage unterstreicht Paulus dann in scharfer Polemik: „Und das ist kein Wunder (οὐ θαῦμα), denn der Satan selbst verwandelt sich (μετασχηματίζεται) in einen Engel des Lichts“ (V. 14)57. Und folglich ist es überhaupt nichts Besonderes (οὐ μέγα), wenn sich auch seine Diener so verwandeln (μετασχηματίζονται) als seien sie Diener der Gerechtigkeit (V. 15a). Hier fügt Paulus ein apokalyptisches Gerichtswort an: ὧν τὸ τέλος ἔσται κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν (V. 15b). Vom (End-)Gericht nach den Werken hatte er schon in 1 Kor 3,13-15 und auch in 2 Kor 5,10 gesprochen; dieser Gedanke war den Adressaten also bekannt58. Jetzt lesen sie, das die in Korinth tätigen Verkündiger treffende göttliche Gericht werde „ihren Werken entsprechen“, es werde also vernichtend sein. Diese Aussagen sind in ihrer Härte kaum zu überbieten; sie richten sich explizit gegen die fremden Verkündiger, aber sie treffen implizit zugleich die Adressaten, die jenen Verkündigern folgen. In 11,16-21a ändert Paulus seine Argumentation in Duktus und Stil. Er schreibt in Vorbereitung auf die in 11,21b beginnende „Narrenrede“ zunächst ganz zurückhaltend, dass er sich „ein wenig rühmen“ wird, wie auch andere das tun (Vv. 16-18). Doch dann wechselt er polemisch zu direkter Kritik an den Adressaten: Der ironisch formulierte Vorwurf ἡδέως γὰρ ἀνέχεσθε τῶν ἀφρόνων φρόνιμοι ὄντες (V. 19) und die zugespitzte Beschreibung der Situation in Korinth in V. 20 richtet sich gegen die Gemeinde und direkt gegen die jetzt dort agierenden Verkündiger – das fünfmalige εἴ τις … entspricht dem ὁ ἐρχόμενος in V. 4. Die Sätze sind nicht als subjektiv wertende „persönliche“ Urteile formuliert, sondern als objektive, sachliche Feststellungen; Paulus setzt voraus, die Adressaten würden ihre reale Lage darin zumindest andeutend erkennen59. Deshalb ist die Annahme sehr unwahrscheinlich, dass viele der von Paulus 57. Zu dieser Vorstellung vgl. Vita Adae et Evae 9,1: „Und es vergingen 18 Tage [sc. nach der Vertreibung aus dem Paradies], dann erzürnte der Satan und verwandelte sich in die Lichtgestalt der Engel“ (Übers. O. MERK – M. MEISER, Das Leben Adams und Evas [JSHRZ, 2/5], Gütersloh, Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1998, S. 793). Zu möglichen religionsgeschichtlichen Zusammenhängen s. WINDISCH, Der zweite Korintherbrief (Anm. 45), S. 342f. 58. Zum Hinweis auf die ἔργα vgl. die Charakterisierung der „falschen Apostel“ als ἐργάται δόλιοι. 59. BULTMANN, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 21), S. 213f.: „Wieweit die Schilderung richtig ist, ist nicht zu fragen. Ohne Zweifel will Paulus auch das subjektive Verhalten der Gegner treffen. Die Hauptsache ist aber die objektive Situation, in die sich die Korinther durch die Abhängigkeit von den Konkurrenten begeben“. Die betont am Schluss stehende Wendung εἴ τις εἰς πρόσωπον ὑμᾶς δέρει ist natürlich metaphorisch zu verstehen.



beschriebenen Gegensätze „in Wahrheit gar nicht existierten“ und dass er die Gegner „zu großen Teilen selbst“ schuf; wäre das der Fall, so würde Paulus seine Argumentation ja außerordentlich schwächen und geradezu unmöglich machen60. In einem ironischen Selbstkommentar erinnert Paulus abschließend daran, dass er in Korinth in ganz anderer Weise gearbeitet hat (V. 21a): „Ich sage es zu (meiner) Schande: Wir waren dafür zu schwach“ ([…] ἡμεῖς ἠσθενήκαμεν)61. Unmittelbar anschließend folgt in 11,21b–12,10 die „Narrenrede“. Sie liest sich teilweise geradezu wie eine autobiographische Selbstdarstellung62, während die Briefadressaten gar nicht direkt angesprochen werden63. Es scheint beinahe, als wolle Paulus die Beziehungen zu ihnen abbrechen. Aber sie sind natürlich als Leserinnen und Leser vorausgesetzt, wie insbesondere die Selbstkommentare in 12,1 und in 12,10 zeigen. Aus der Fortsetzung geht hervor, dass Paulus an der korinthischen Gemeinde unverändert in höchstem Maße interessiert ist. IV. MUTIGE UND FREUNDLICHE WORTE: 2 KOR 12,11-21 Im Rückblick auf die „Narrenrede“ erklärt Paulus den Adressaten, warum er sich ihnen als ein ἄφρων dargestellt hat (12,11a). Mit der vorwurfsvollen Bemerkung ὑμεῖς με ἠναγκάσατε und der an 10,12.18 anknüpfenden Aussage, dass eigentlich er von ihnen hätte „empfohlen“ werden müssen, spricht er die korinthischen Christen erstmals seit 11,20 wieder direkt an. In einem abermaligen, geradezu widersinnigen Vergleich schreibt er, dass er den ὑπερλίαν ἀπόστολοι „in nichts nachsteht“ (οὐδὲν γὰρ ὑστέρησα), auch wenn er (in seinen eigenen Augen oder in denen der Adressaten?) 60. Dies kritisch zu SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 171. Wie würde man in Korinth reagieren, wenn das Gegnerbild, das Paulus zeichnet, tatsächlich „beinahe eine Chimäre“ wäre, wie Schmeller meint? 61. Vgl. 10,1: […] κατὰ πρόσωπον μὲν ταπεινὸς ἐν ὑμῖν und 10,10b: […] ἡ δὲ παρουσία τοῦ σώματος ἀσθενὴς καὶ ὁ λόγος ἐξουθενημένος. 62. Zur Frage, inwieweit man einen paulinischen Text als „autobiographisch“ charakterisieren kann, s. einerseits E.-M. BECKER, Autobiographisches bei Paulus; Aspekte und Aufgaben, in EAD. et al., Biographie und Persönlichkeit des Paulus (WUNT, 187), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2006, 67-87, andererseits C. GERBER, Καυχᾶσθαι δεῖ, οὐ συμφέρον μέν… (2 Kor 12.1): Selbstlob bei Paulus vor dem Hintergrund der antiken Gepflogenheiten, in BREYTENBACH (Hg.), Paul’s Graeco-Roman Context (Anm. 10), 213-251, hier S. 250f. 63. Nach G. GUTTENBERGER, Klugheit, Besonnenheit, Gerechtigkeit und Tapferkeit: Zum Hintergrund der Vorwürfe gegen Paulus nach 2 Kor 10–13, in ZNW 96 (2005) 78-98 setzt die Schilderung der Flucht aus Damaskus voraus, dass sich die Gegner in Korinth darauf bezogen haben könnten (ibid., S. 88-93). Aber der Text lässt nicht erkennen, dass Paulus annimmt, das Geschehen sei in Korinth bekannt.



„nichts“ ist (εἰ καὶ οὐδέν εἰμι, V. 11b)64. Er betont, dass in Korinth die σημεῖα τοῦ ἀποστόλου „in aller Geduld“ vollbracht wurden, und zwar durch „Zeichen“ und „Wunder“ und „Machterweise“65. Beispiele dafür nennt er nicht, aber er setzt abermals voraus, dass die Korinther dem vom ihm Gesagten nicht widersprechen können. Die rhetorische Frage, worin sie gegenüber anderen Gemeinden benachteiligt seien außer dadurch, dass er ihnen nicht zur Last gefallen ist (V. 13a), bedarf keiner Antwort; die Korinther wissen natürlich, dass Paulus sie nicht (finanziell) belastet hat66. Er schließt daher mit der ironischen Bitte um Vergebung für „dieses Unrecht“ (χαρίσασθέ μοι τὴν ἀδικίαν ταύτην, V. 13b). Die in 12,11-13 vorgetragene Argumentation, insbesondere auch die Art der Gegenüberstellung der korinthischen Gemeinde zu den λοιπαὶ ἐκκλησίαι, muss den Erfahrungen der Adressaten entsprechen; das setzt Paulus jedenfalls voraus, denn andernfalls gingen seine Worte ja ins Leere oder wären sogar kontraproduktiv. Die Hinweise auf die Vergangenheit sind „freundlich“, den Adressaten zugewandt formuliert; durch den ironischen Ton erweisen sie sich aber zugleich auch als distanziert und „mutig“. In 12,14a kündigt Paulus sehr betont (ἰδού) seinen dritten Besuch an. Er wird den Adressaten selbstverständlich nicht zur Last fallen (οὐ καταναρκήσω), denn, so schreibt er rhetorisch geschickt, „ich suche nicht das Eure, sondern Euch“ (οὐ γὰρ ζητῶ τὰ ὑμῶν ἀλλ’ ὑμᾶς)67. Als eine Parallele oder als ein Modell für diese Praxis erinnert er daran, dass nicht Kinder für ihre Eltern zu „sparen“ haben, sondern umgekehrt Eltern für ihre Kinder (V. 14b)68. Paulus sieht sich also als „Vater“ der Gemeinde69, 64. Zur philosophischen Selbsteinschätzung als „Nichts“ s. BETZ, Der Apostel Paulus und die sokratische Tradition (Anm. 52), S. 122-130. 65. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 334: „Mit der Einschätzung der Wunder als Legitimationsmittel des Apostels war Paulus offenbar einverstanden, auch wenn sie für sein Wirken weniger typisch als für die Gegner waren. Eine gewisse Zurückhaltung kommt nicht nur darin zum Ausdruck, dass Paulus keine Beispiele nennt“, sondern auch in dem Passivum divinum (κατειργάσθη) und „vor allem in der Modalbestimmung ἐν πάσῃ ὑπομονῇ“. Von der δύναμις σημείων καὶ τεράτων schreibt Paulus auch in Röm 15,11. 66. Die stark betonte Wendung αὐτὸς ἐγὼ οὐ κατενάρκησα ὑμῶν nimmt 11,9 auf (οὐ κατενάρκησα οὐθενός). 67. GERBER, Paulus und seine ‚Kinder‘ (Anm. 45), S. 212: Das Wortspiel „unterscheidet geschickt zwischen dem Interesse am Besitz der Menschen und dem Interesse an den Menschen selbst“. 68. Philo, VitMos 2.245 schreibt, es sei ein Naturgesetz (νόμος φύσεως), dass Eltern von ihren Kindern beerbt werden. Vgl. GERBER, Paulus und seine ‚Kinder‘ (Anm. 45), S. 212: Das Verb θησαυρίζειν spricht „vom Ansparen von Vermögen, nicht von finanzieller Unterstützung“. 69. Meint der Plural οἱ γονεῖς, dass die gemeinsam mit Paulus in Korinth tätigen Missionare als „Eltern“ der Gemeinde zu verstehen sind?



wie er es ähnlich schon in 1 Kor 4,15 geschrieben hatte. Er ist sogar bereit, um der Korinther willen sich selbst preiszugeben (V. 15a). Das verbindet er aber sogleich wieder mit einer ironischen Frage (V. 15b): „Wenn ich euch (tatsächlich) mehr liebe, werde ich (dann) weniger geliebt werden?“70. Es wäre absurd, wenn dieser Fall tatsächlich einträte. Dann deutet sich allerdings doch ein konkretes Konfliktfeld an (Vv. 1618). Paulus unterstreicht zunächst (ἔστω δέ), dass er die Adressaten nicht in ungerechtfertigter Weise belastet hat (ἐγὼ οὐ κατεβάρησα ὑμᾶς, V. 6a)71 – offenbar im Gegensatz zu anderen, die das tun oder getan haben. „Aber“, so fügt er nun wieder ironisch hinzu, „betrügerisch, wie ich bin, habe ich euch mit List gefangen“ (V. 16b)72. Die dann folgenden Fragen (Vv. 17, 18) sind wohl nicht nur als rhetorische Fragen zu verstehen, sondern sie scheinen einen konkreten Anlass zu haben: War die Gemeinde durch jemanden, den Paulus nach Korinth entsandt hatte, tatsächlich „übervorteilt“ worden (ἐπλεονέκτησα ὑμᾶς; V. 17)73? Hatte Titus zusammen mit einem nicht namenlich genannten ἀδελφός die Korinther „etwa übervorteilt“ (μήτι ἐπλεονέκτησεν ὑμᾶς Τίτος; V. 18b)? Die Antwort muss jeweils „Nein“ lauten. Dazu passen dann die beiden rhetorischen Fragen zu der Beziehung zwischen Paulus und Titus (οὐ τῷ αὐτῷ πνεύματι περιεπατήσαμεν; οὐ τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἴχνεσιν; V. 18c), die selbstverständlich mit „Ja“ zu beantworten sind – Paulus identifiziert sich geradezu mit Titus. War in Korinth ein bestimmter Vorgang, etwa die Kollekte für Jerusalem, als ein πλεονεκτεῖν wahrgenommen worden? Jedenfalls tragen diese rhetorischen Fragen keinen ironischen oder gar aggressiven Unterton, sondern sie wirken eher entschuldigend. Dem entspricht, dass Paulus nun schreibt, die Briefleser könnten meinen, er lege ihnen eine „Apologie“ vor (πάλαι δοκεῖτε ὅτι ὑμῖν ἀπολογούμεθα, V. 19a)74. Aber das Gegenteil ist der Fall: κατέναντι θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ λαλοῦμεν (V. 19b). Alles, was Paulus „sagt“ bzw. schreibt, dient „eurer Auferbauung“ ([…] τὰ δὲ πάντα, ἀγαπητοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμῶν οἰκοδομῆς, V. 19c). An dieser Stelle verwendet Paulus die in seinen Briefen häufige, innerhalb des 2 Kor sonst aber nicht belegte Anrede ἀγαπητοί75, mit der 70. εἰ περισσοτέρως ὑμᾶς ἀγαπῶν, ἧσσον ἀγαπῶμαι; Zur Entscheidung für die Lesart ἀγαπῶν (anstelle von ἀγαπῶ) s. B.M. METZGER, A Textual Commentary on the New Testament, Stuttgart, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; New York, United Bible Societies, 1971; second edition, 1994, S. 517. 71. Vgl. P. ARZT-GRABNER (unter Mitarbeit von R.E. KRITZER), 2. Korinther (PKNT, 4), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014, S. 522. 72. Steht im Hintergrund dieser Formulierung ein entsprechender in Korinth gegen Paulus erhobener Vorwurf? 73. Gab es entsprechende Vorwürfe im Zusammenhang der Kollekte für Jerusalem? 74. Dafür könnte auch πάλαι sprechen (von etlichen Handschriften in πάλιν korrigiert. 75. ἀγαπητοί steht am Ende des Abschnitts 6,14−7,1, der aber m.E. unpaulinisch ist.



er sagt, dass er die Gemeinde liebt. Er befürchtet, sein bevorstehender Besuch könne von gegenseitigem Nicht-Verstehen bestimmt sein und mit einem Misserfolg enden – nämlich dann, „wenn ich bei meinem Kommen euch nicht so vorfinde, wie ich es möchte, und ich von euch nicht so vorgefunden werde, wie ihr es möchtet“ (V. 20a). Paulus erläutert den mit φοβοῦμαι γὰρ μή πως ἐλθὼν… begonnenen Satz, indem er acht „Unwerte“ aufzählt76, die bei seinem Besuch vermieden werden sollen (V. 20b)77. Er wünscht sich darüber hinaus (V. 21), dass bei dem kommenden Besuch „Gott mich nicht bei euch demütigen wird“, und dass „ich nicht viele von denen beklage, die zuvor gesündigt haben und die nicht umgekehrt sind (μὴ μετανοησάντων) für die Unreinheit und Unzucht und Zügellosigkeit, die sie getan hatten“. Würden sich die Korinther der Umkehr verweigern, dann käme das einem Rückfall in ihre frühere, „heidnische“ Existenz gleich, was für Paulus natürlich eine Demütigung wäre. Da Paulus hier von „vielen“ spricht (πενθήσω πολλούς), denkt er möglicherweise nicht an die ganze Gemeinde, sondern an einzelne Personen oder an eine Gruppe innerhalb der Gemeinde. Aber er hält es offenbar nicht für ausgeschlossen, dass die Lage in Korinth auch durch seinen bevorstehenden Besuch nicht abschließend in seinem Sinne geklärt werden wird. V. EINE LETZTE „DIALEKTISCHE“ ARGUMENTATION: 2 KOR 13,1-10 In 13,1-4 kündigt Paulus seinen dritten Besuch in Korinth noch einmal an78. Dazu verweist er darauf, dass es für die Bestätigung eines Sachverhalts (ῥῆμα) zwei oder drei Zeugen geben muss. Die Formulierung erinnert an Dtn 19,15 LXX79, ist aber nicht als Schriftzitat markiert80; der 76. Der „Lasterkatalog“ nennt mögliche innergemeindliche Konflikte oder Streitigkeiten; vgl. Gal 5,20; Röm 1,29. Die im 1 Kor so bedeutsamen und von Paulus heftig kritisierten σχίσματα werden nicht genannt, aber es gibt Übereinstimmungen mit Aussagen im 1 Kor (ἔρις 1 Kor 1,11; 3,3, dort auch ζῆλος, zu φυσιώσεις vgl. das häufige φυσιοῦν im 1 Kor, ἀκαταστασίαι 1 Kor 14,33, unmittelbar vor der Glosse in Vv. 34, 35). 77. Der Satz μή πως ἔρις κτλ. ist offenbar absichtlich sprachlich unvollständig formuliert. 78. Ob die Wendung τρίτον τοῦτο ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς bewusst „eindeutiger“ formuliert ist als in 12,14 (τρίτον τοῦτο ἑτοίμως ἔχω ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς), lässt sich kaum sagen. Codex A und einige Vulgata-Handschriften haben die Formulierungen aneinander angeglichen. 79. Paulus schreibt: ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων καὶ τριῶν σταθήσεται πᾶν ῥῆμα. Der LXX-Text von Dtn 19,15 lautet: ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων καὶ ἐπὶ στόματος τριῶν μαρτύρων σταθήσεται πᾶν ῥῆμα. 80. Vgl. D.-A. KOCH, Die Schrift als Zeuge des Evangeliums: Untersuchungen zur Verwendung und zum Verständnis der Schrift bei Paulus (BHT, 69), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 1986, S. 118; er rechnet hier und ebenso in Mt 18,16 mit „vorgegebene[r] mündliche[r] Verwendung dieses Schriftworts“.



dritte Besuch des Paulus soll endgültigen „Beweischarakter“ haben81. Er nennt allerdings nicht drei unabhängige μάρτυρες, sondern bezieht sich auf seine eigenen Besuche; das scheint für seine Argumentation hier aber ohne Bedeutung zu sein. Der vorangegangene Besuch endete mit einem Misserfolg; Paulus nimmt jetzt offenbar an, dass sein Brief zur Veränderung der Situation in Korinth beitragen wird. Deshalb erinnert er (V. 2) an das, was er bei dem zweiten Besuch anwesend gesagt hatte (προείρηκα καὶ προλέγω, ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον) und was er jetzt abwesend bestätigt (καὶ ἀπὼν νῦν [sc. προλέγω]82): Er droht denen, „die früher gesündigt haben“ (τοῖς προημαρτηκόσιν, vgl. 12,21), und jetzt auch „allen Übrigen“ (καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν), dass er bei seinem Kommen „niemanden schonen“ wird (ἐὰν ἔλθω εἰς τὸ πάλιν οὐ φείσομαι). Es ist allerdings nicht zu erkennen, wie er diese Drohung meint realisieren zu können. Deutlich ist aber, dass der Brief den geplanten Besuch zwar nicht ersetzen, aber doch entscheidend zu dessen Erfolg beitragen soll: Die Korinther sollen durch diesen Brief zur Umkehr veranlasst werden, und das soll sich bei dem Besuch dann bestätigen83. V. 3 zeigt allerdings, dass Paulus dessen nicht ganz sicher ist: Die Notiz δοκιμὴν ζητεῖτε τοῦ ἐν ἐμοὶ λαλοῦντος Χριστοῦ könnte ein Hinweis auf den Wunsch der Gemeinde sein, Paulus solle sich in gleicher Weise ausweisen wie die ὑπερλίαν ἀπόστολοι. Der Relativsatz ὃς εἰς ὑμᾶς οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ ἀλλὰ δυνατεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν ist dann möglicherweise die Paraphrase einer korinthischen Aussage, die gelautet haben könnte: „In uns ist Christus nicht schwach, sondern machtvoll“. Paulus würde dies in V. 4a auf seine Weise sogar bestätigen84: ἐσταυρώθη ἐξ ἀσθενείας, ἀλλὰ ζῇ ἐκ δυνάμεως θεοῦ. V. 4b würde dann zeigen, dass der christologischen Fundierung die existentielle Aneignung folgt: „Auch wir sind nämlich schwach in ihm, aber wir werden leben mit ihm auf Grund der Macht Gottes an euch“. In V. 5 wechselt Paulus wieder auf die Ebene der mutigen, couragierten Argumentation. Er fordert die Adressaten auf, ihren Glauben zu prüfen (V. 5a85), und er fragt, ob sie nicht an sich selbst erkennen, dass Jesus 81. Vgl. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (Anm. 7), S. 368. 82. Sehr viele Handschriften lesen ἀπὼν νῦν γράφω, aber die Differenzierung zwischen λέγειν und γράφειν ist hier nicht intendiert. 83. Jedenfalls sollen dann entsprechend 10,11 λόγος und ἔργον miteinander übereinstimmen. 84. Ähnlich wird in 1 Kor 8,1a die korinthische Parole πάντες γνῶσιν ἔχομεν zunächst positiv zitiert, dann aber kritisch kommentiert (ἡ γνῶσις φυσιοῖ, ἡ δὲ ἀγάπη οἰκοδομεῖ, 8,1b). 85. Auffallend die Verdoppelung ἑαυτοὺς πειράζετε […] ἑαυτοὺς δοκιμάζετε.



Christus in ihnen ist (ἢ οὐκ ἐπιγινώσκετε ἑαυτοὺς ὅτι Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν; V. 5b); dabei hält er es tatsächlich für möglich, dass sie scheitern: „Es müsste denn sein, dass ihr die Prüfung nicht besteht“ (εἰ μήτι ἀδόκιμοί ἐστε, V. 5c). In V. 6 fügt Paulus eine Selbsteinschätzung hinzu, durch die die Schärfe des an die Korinther gerichteten Aufrufs umso deutlicher hervortritt: „Ich hoffe aber, dass ihr erkennen werdet, dass wir die Prüfung bestehen“ (ἐλπίζω δὲ ὅτι γνώσεσθε ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἐσμὲν ἀδόκιμοι). In V. 7a richtet Paulus an Gott die Bitte, die Korinther möchten auf keinen Fall etwas Böses tun86. Woran er bei κακόν konkret denkt, schreibt er nicht. Aber er will verhindern, dass dadurch er seinerseits als „bewährt“ erscheint (V. 7b), als wäre das μὴ ποιῆσαι κακὸν μηδέν eine Folge seines Eingreifens. Paulus will einfach, dass die Adressaten „das Gute tun“ (ἵνα ὑμεῖς τὸ καλὸν ποιῆτε), während „wir [sc. Paulus] uns als unbewährt erweisen würden“ (ἡμεῖς δὲ ὡς ἀδόκιμοι ὦμεν, V. 7c), insofern dann ein Eingreifen gar nicht nötig ist87. In V. 8 folgt eine an weisheitliches Denken erinnernde Sentenz: οὐ γὰρ δυνάμεθά τι κατὰ τῆς ἀληθείας ἀλλ’ ὑπὲρ τῆς ἀληθείας. Würde die an Gott gerichtete Bitte dem Erweis der eigenen δοκιμή dienen, dann geschähe sie κατὰ τῆς ἀληθείας, doch die Bitte lautet, dass die Adressaten „das Gute tun“, und also geschieht diese Bitte ὑπὲρ τῆς ἀληθείας. Die Beziehung zwischen Paulus und den Korinthern soll allein durch „die Wahrheit“ bestimmt sein88. Deshalb freut sich Paulus, wenn er sich als schwach erweist, die Korinther aber stark sind89, und deshalb betet er für die „Vervollkommnung“90 der korinthischen Christen. In einem kurzen Selbstkommentar kehrt Paulus in 13,10 zum Ausgangspunkt des in 10,1 begonnenen Argumentationsgangs zurück: „Deshalb schreibe ich dies abwesend (ταῦτα ἀπὼν γράφω), damit ich nicht anwesend [sc. redend] streng agieren muss ([…] παρὼν μὴ ἀποτόμως 86. Auffallend ist die doppelte Verneinung. Der Plural in V. 7 bezieht sich allein auf Paulus, nicht auf ihn und irgendwelche „Mitarbeiter“. 87. Der Wunsch ὑμεῖς τὸ καλὸν ποιῆτε setzt voraus, dass über τὸ καλόν zwischen Paulus und den Korinthern kein Dissenz besteht. 88. Dazu BULTMANN, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther (Anm. 21), S. 250: ἀλήθεια ist zu verstehen „als die Wahrheit, die Gott erkennen läßt, d.h. als das Evangelium im Gegensatz zu einem ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον (11,4)“. 89. Wenn Paulus damit in ähnlicher Weise wie zuvor in V. 3 ein korinthisches Schlagwort aufgenommen haben sollte, das etwa gelautet haben könnte: ἡμεῖς δυνατοί, dann würde er damit implizit sagen, dass den Korinthern diese Stärke tatsächlich noch fehlt. 90. κατάρτισις ist im NT nur hier belegt.



χρήσωμαι)“. So handelt er „gemäß der Vollmacht (κατὰ τὴν ἐξουσίαν), die mir der Herr gegeben hat“. Am Ende steht der die Aussage in 10,8 wörtlich wiederholende Hinweis darauf, dass diese ἐξουσία „der Auferbauung und nicht der Zerstörung“ dient (εἰς οἰκοδομὴν καὶ οὐκ εἰς καθαίρεσιν)91. VI. ABSCHLIESSENDE BEOBACHTUNGEN Der Brief, zu dem der Abschnitt 2 Kor 10–13 gehört, dient der Vorbereitung des offenbar nahe bevorstehenden dritten Besuchs des Paulus in Korinth; er soll dessen Erfolg so weit wie möglich sichern. Der Gemeinde wird geschrieben, dass sie die ψευδαπόστολοι zurückweisen und sich vom εὐαγγέλιον ἕτερον abwenden soll, sie soll also zu der ihr ursprünglich verkündigten Botschaft zurückkehren. Um das zu erreichen, trägt Paulus seine Argumente in inhaltlich und formal unterschiedlicher Weise vor. Einerseits beschreibt er die akute Lage in Korinth mit scharfer Kritik, andererseits aber erinnert er zugleich freundlich an die Vergangenheit und an Chancen, die für die nahe Zukunft bestehen. Die gute Beziehung zu der Gemeinde ist ihm wichtig. Dabei liegen seine Hoffnungen zunächst auf dem, was er in dem vorliegenden Brief zu sagen hat; aber zugleich kündigt er mit Nachdruck sein Kommen an und zeigt seine Überzeugung, er werde bei diesem Besuch seine Vorstellungen durchsetzen können92. Durchgängig ist erkennbar, dass die brieflichen Aussagen den persönlichen Besuch nicht ersetzen, sondern entscheidend dazu beitragen sollen, dass der beabsichtigte Besuch erfolgreich verläuft93. Wie die 91. In 10,8 hatte Paulus geschrieben […] περὶ τῆς ἐξουσίας ἡμῶν ἧς ἔδωκεν ὁ κύριος εἰς οἰκοδομὴν καὶ οὐκ εἰς καθαίρεσιν ὑμῶν. 92. Wenn in 2 Kor 10–13 der Schlussabschnitt des von Paulus verfassten Zweiten Korintherbriefes und also der letzte Brief nach Korinth vorliegt, dann ließe sich aus der in Korinth erfolgten Abfassung des Röm folgern, dass die Argumente des Paulus positiv aufgenommen wurden; fragen kann man, warum Paulus in diesem umfangreichen 2 Kor erst ganz am Ende auf das zentrale Thema eingeht. M.E. ist es wahrscheinlicher, dass in 2 Kor 10–13 das Corpus eines eigenständigen Briefes vorliegt; dann hätte Paulus das mit diesem Brief angestrebte Ziel nicht erreicht, und so ließ er einen weiteren Brief durch Titus überbringen, in dem er die Schärfe seiner Angriffe relativierte (in 2 Kor 1,3–2,11 liegt m.E. der „Tränenbrief“ vor). Nach Rückkehr des Titus erfuhr Paulus von der Verbesserung der Lage in Korinth und schrieb den „Versöhnungsbrief“, in dem er die wiederhergestellte gute Beziehung bestätigte (2 Kor 2,12-13; 7,5-16). 93. Vgl. BIERINGER, Présence (Anm. 10), S. 366: „Paul n’utilise pas l’antithèse ἀπών – παρών d’une manière épistolaire pour exprimer qu’une lettre se substitue à une présence face à face. Cependant 2 Corinthiens nous fait rencontrer un Paul qui, lorsqu’il écrit ses lettres, est toujours en train de construire sa présence, un utilisant des moyens rhétoriques qui touchent vivement le lecteur“.



in 2 Kor 10–13 vorgetragenen Argumente in Korinth aufgenommen wurden, lässt sich nicht sagen. Die vermutlich in Korinth erfolgte Abfassung des Römerbriefs ist aber ein Beleg dafür, dass der Konflikt überwunden werden konnte. An der Rehwiese 38 DE-33617 Bielefeld Deutschland [email protected]



The topic of my contribution to the Festschrift for Reimund Bieringer, former student, esteemed colleague and close friend, is 2 Cor 13,1-10. Bieringer’s doctoral thesis was devoted to 2 Corinthians and his concern for this Pauline letter has never diminished. Given my age and the difficulty of consulting the Leuven theological library during the corona pandemic, I have chosen to reflect instead on what I wrote in my commentary of 19991 with the help of some commentaries published since then2. Much of what I thought before 2000 will be reaffirmed. 2 Cor 13,1-10 can be divided into vv. 1-4 and 5-103. Verses 1 and 10 also function as a sort of inclusio. Verses 2-4 are apologetic and verses 59 hortative. The grammatically structured translation4 will follow the Greek subsections of the two units. My article will contain five parts. Two of them (I and II) pay attention to the preceding context, namely 10,1-11 and 12,11-21, two (III and IV) deal with the text itself, and the fifth formulates the conclusions (V)5. 1. J. LAMBRECHT, Second Corinthians (Sacra Pagina, 8), Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 1999 and 22006. 2. P. BARNETT, Second Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT), Grand Rapids, MI – Cambridge, Eerdmans, 1997; R.F. COLLINS, Second Corinthians (Paideia), Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Academic, 2013; B. CORSANI, La Seconda Lettera ai Corinzi, Torino, Claudiana, 2001; E. GRÄSSER, Der zweite Brief an die Korinther: Kapitel 8,1–13,13 (ÖTKNT, 8/2), Gütersloh, Güterloher Verlagshaus, 2005; S. HAFEMANN, 2 Corinthians, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 2000; M.J. HARRIS, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC), Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans; Milton Keynes, Paternoster, 2005; F.J. MATERA, II Corinthians (NTL), Louisville, KY – London, Westminster John Knox, 2003; M.A. PASCUZZI, First and Second Corinthians (New Collegeville Commentary), Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 2005; A. PITTA, La Seconda Lettera ai Corinzi (Commenti biblici), Roma, Borla, 2006; Th. SCHMELLER, Der Zweite Brief an die Korinther. Vol. 2: 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (EKKNT, 8/2), Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener Theologie; Ostfildern, Patmos, 2015; M.A. SEIFRID, The Second Letter to the Corinthians (Pillar New Testament Commentary), Grand Rapids, MI – Cambridge, Eerdmans, 2014; M.E. THRALL, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Vol. 2: Commentary on II Corinthians VIII–XIII (ICC), Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 2000; cf. also R. BIERINGER – M.M.S. IBITA – D.A. KUREK-CHOMYCZ – T.A. VOLLMER (eds.), Theologizing in the Corinthian Conflict: Studies in the Exegesis and Theology of 2 Corinthians (BiTS, 16), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2013. 3. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (n. 2) considers 12,14–13,10 as one pericope: the “Besuchsankündiging” (p. 345), the peroratio of the letter (cf. pp. 365 and 392). 4. LAMBRECHT, 2 Corinthians (n. 1), p. 220. 5. In her brief introduction to 2 Corinthians 10–13, THRALL, II Corinthians VIII–XIII (n. 2), pp. 595-596, refers to three monographs (J. Zmijewski, 1987, M.M. DiCicco, 1995,



I. 2 COR 10,1-11 In 13,1a Paul clearly declares that he is coming a third time to Corinth. On pp. 158-189 of my commentary I brought together a list of “motifs” which are present in both 10,1-11 and 13,1-106. This proves that we cannot speak of mere coincidence. The inclusio formed by parts of chapters 10 and 13 is deliberate and conscious. We may elaborate the data as follows. First the vocabulary: (1) The participles ἀπών in 10,1 and παρών in 10,2, as well as ἀπόντες – παρόντες in 10,11, are repeated in 13,2a (παρών – παρών) and 10ab (ἀπών – παρών). Cf. παρουσία in 10,10. (2) The adjective ἀσθενής in 10,10 can be compared with the verb ἀσθενέω in 13,4a, and the noun ἀσθένεια in 13,4c and 9c. and H.-G. Sundermann, 1996) which sustain her own view. The four last chapters of 2 Corinthians constitute “a separate letter, written later than chaps. 1–9” (p. 586), a separate epistolary item in which the peroration (13,1-10) is the counterpart of the exordium (10,1-11). PITTA, 2 Corinzi (n. 2), pp. 17-31, provides a lengthy section which deals with the “integrità o redazionalità della 2 Corinzi”. He concludes his discussion as follows: “[…] reteniamo che la sequenza di 2 Cor 1–9 e di 2 Cor 10–13 corrisponda all’invio cronologica di due lettere autonome ma unificate in una fase successiva […]. In base alle caracteristiche generali delle due lettere potremo definirle come ‘lettera della riconciliazione’ (2 Cor 1–9) e ‘lettera polemica’ (2 Cor 10–13)” (p. 31). However, HARRIS, 2 Corinthians (n. 2), pp. 29-51, defends the integrity of 2 Corinthians: “[…] the assumption is that although the canonical letter was composed in stages, it was regarded by Paul as a single piece of correspondence and was sent to the believers in Corinth as a single composition” (p. 51). This last opinion was shared in my own commentary. In his second volume SCHMELLER again examines “die Frage der Einheitlichkeit” (2 Kor 7,5–13,13 [n. 2], see pp. 107-119). He takes the side of the minority and defends chapters 10–13 as belonging to the same letter. He writes on p. 110: “Wer diesen Brief als einheitlichen Brief ansieht, nimmt an, Paulus beschäftige sich in diesem Brief zunächst mit der weitgehend erfolgten Versöhnung (1–9) und erst anschliessend mit der noch bestehenden Gefahr durch die Gegner (10–13), befinde sich aber in beiden Teilen in derselben Phase des Konflikts”. Schmeller underlines the important presence of Titus as bringer of the brief (see pp. 117119): “Wenn dieser Gesandte (= Titus) bei der Verlesung und Besprechung des Briefs anwesend war, müssen auch Kap. 10–13 einen anderen Klang bekommen haben. Sie verloren durch die Gegenwart des Titus nichts von ihrem Ernst, aber sie würden begleitet von der liebevollen Bemühung des Paulus um die Gemeinde, die durch Titus repräsentiert wurde” (p. 119). 6. The rhetorical-literary division of chapters 10 and 13 is different and rather confusing in PITTA, 2 Corinzi (n. 2), p. 60. The section 10,1-6 is considered as an “esordio generale” and that of 10,7-18 as “la confutazione delle accuse”. In 12,19–13,13 Pitta assembles the “apusia-parusia, perorazione finale e postscriptum”. I explained my own division in my commentary, p. 159 for 10,1-11, pp. 215-216 for 12,11-21, and p. 223 for 13,1-10. Reference may also be made to my hypothesis of an interruption in 10,1 (cf. pp. 159-160).



(3) The Jeremiah clause in 10,8 (περὶ τῆς ἐξουσίας ἡμῶν ἧς ἔδωκεν ὁ κύριος εἰς οἰκοδομὴν καὶ οὐκ εἰς καθαίρεσιν ὑμῶν) is almost exactly repeated in 13,10bc (κατὰ τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἣν ὁ κύριος ἔδωκέν μοι εἰς οἰκοδομὴν καὶ οὐκ εἰς καθαίρεσιν). (4) The adjective δόκιμος in 10,18 (although outside 10,1-11) must be mentioned in view of the abundant presence of the δοκι-word-group in 13,3-7. There are also a number of similar themes although not expressed in identical wording: (1) In both chapters 10 and 13 Paul announces, by way of threat, that in his future visit he will be bold and severe, not sparing (cf. 10,2.11 and 13,2c.10bc). (2) His earlier writing is mentioned in 10,9-11 and his present writing in 13,11. (3) Over against his weakness Paul stresses his power (cf. 10,11 and 13,4cd). (4) In 10,7 Paul affirms that he is of Christ; in 13,5de he asks if the Corinthians realize that Christ is in them. The content of the clause ὅταν πληρωθῇ ὑμῶν ἡ ὑπακοή in 10,6 may surprise the reader. My literal translation is: “Once your obedience has been made perfect”. Paul is supposing that his punishment described in 10,4-6 will not take place before the (majority of?) Corinthians have repented through obedience7. In 13,9-10 more or less the same idea appears to be expressed. Severity is not excluded, but the intention of his prayer is the “improvement” of the Corinthians. What Paul expounds in 13,1-10, at the end of the four chapters, must already have been very much alive in his mind at the beginning in chapter 10. The last substantial part of the letter, 13,1-10, is meant as an ultimate warning before the third visit. Paul hopes that the threat of punishment will not have to be executed, that he will not have to act severely according to the authority God has given him (cf. 13,10bc). II. 2 COR 12,11-21 In 12,11 Paul finishes the fool’s speech (11,22–12,10): “I have become foolish; you forced me (to it). In fact, I ought to be commended by you, for I was in nothing inferior to the super-apostles, even though I am 7. Otherwise, SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (n. 2), pp. 137-138.



nothing”. In 12,12, he proves that he is not inferior by referring to “the signs of the apostle” that were done among the Corinthians. In 12,13, strangely, he asks the question: “in what were you treated less than the other churches, except that I myself did not burden you?”. In 12,14-18 this theme is developed. As a matter of fact, in v. 14 it is the first time that his planned third visit to Corinth is explicitly mentioned: ᾿Ιδοὺ τρίτον τοῦτο ἑτοίμως ἔχω ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς. Paul has not burdened the Corinthians. But somebody says that he has caught them by deceit. Here Paul points to Titus and the brother who have been sent with him to Corinth. No, Titus has not defrauded them. All three of them – Paul, Titus and the brother – have been living in the same upright spirit. Paul’s language is decidedly apologetic. But he claims that he speaks the truth and that he has acted to build up the Corinthians8. The next three verses should be quoted in Greek and in translation: 19a b c d 20a b c d 21a b

19a b c d 20a b c d

Πάλαι δοκεῖτε ὅτι ὑμῖν ἀπολογούμεθα. κατέναντι θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ λαλοῦμεν· τὰ δὲ πάντα, ἀγαπητοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμῶν οἰκοδομῆς. φοβοῦμαι γὰρ μή πως ἐλθὼν οὐχ οἵους θέλω εὕρω ὑμᾶς κἀγὼ εὑρεθῶ ὑμῖν οἷον οὐ θέλετε· μή πως ἔρις, ζῆλος, θυμοί, ἐριθεῖαι, καταλαλιαί, ψιθυρισμοί, φυσιώσεις, ἀκαταστασίαι· μὴ πάλιν ἐλθόντος μου ταπεινώσῃ με ὁ θεός μου πρὸς ὑμᾶς καὶ πενθήσω πολλοὺς τῶν προημαρτηκότων καὶ μὴ μετανοησάντων ἐπὶ τῇ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ καὶ πορνείᾳ καὶ ἀσελγείᾳ ᾗ ἔπραξαν. Are you thinking again that we defend ourselves before you? In God’s sight we speak in Christ, beloved, all (is done) for your upbuilding. I fear that when I come I may not find you the sort of people I wish, and I may be found by you the sort of person you do not wish; that (there may be) rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of anger, ambitions, words of slander and gossip, manifestations of conceit, arrogance, and disorder.

8. We should not identify 12,1-18 as the “perorazione della probatio”, which PITTA, 2 Corinzi (n. 2), pp. 509-111, sees as part of the “discorso immoderato” (11,1–12,18). We limit the fool’s speech to 11,22–12,10. What follows is a reflection on that discourse. Moreover, it would seem that 12,19-21 still belongs to that reflection.


21a b


(I fear) that, when I come, my God may again humble me before you and I may grieve over many who sinned before and have not repented of the impurity, fornication, and debauchery they have practiced.

In v. 19 Paul is still looking back at what he has been saying. The reader will reply to him that his words have been an apology indeed, but will also readily agree that Paul speaks in Christ, in God’s sight, and that all was done to build up the Corinthians. Burdening the Corinthians is no longer the theme in vv. 20-21. Paul now deals with what the Corinthians might do to him, through their disunity and through the immoral life that many of them continue to conduct. Paul fears his arrival in Corinth! God may again humble him. Twice, in v. 20 and v. 21, the third visit is referred to by the same verb: ἐλθών (v. 20b) and ἐλθόντος μου (v. 21a), aorist participles of ἔρχομαι (cf. v. 14).

III. 2 COR 13,1-4 The first section, 13,1-4, is apologetic. The structured Greek text may help our discussion. We first consider vv. 1-2, then vv. 3-4. Verses 1-2 1a Τρίτον τοῦτο ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς· b ἐπὶ στόματος δύο μαρτύρων καὶ τριῶν σταθήσεται πᾶν ῥῆμα. 2a προείρηκα καὶ προλέγω, ὡς παρὼν τὸ δεύτερον καὶ ἀπὼν νῦν, τοῖς προημαρτηκόσιν καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν, b ὅτι ἐὰν ἔλθω εἰς τὸ πάλιν c οὐ φείσομαι, 1a b 2a b c

It (is) the third time (that) I am coming to you. “On the evidence of two or three witnesses every case must be established”. I said to those who sinned before and to all the others, and now while absent I say, just as I did when present the second time, that when I come again I will not refrain.

Schmeller prefers to see εἰς τὸ πάλιν (v. 2b) as belonging to οὐ φείσομαι of v. 2c9. In 12,14 Paul has declared: “Now I am ready to come to you the third time”. In 13,1 he repeats this clause but omits “being ready”. He plainly announces: “This (is) the third time I am coming to you”. He no longer speaks of burdening or fear. In 13,2 he expresses his threat: “I will not 9. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (n. 2), p. 369.



refrain”, that is: “I will not spare you; I will be severe”. A new theme comes to the fore. As we would expect from a commentary that is at once expansive and summarizing, Margaret E. Thrall discusses the two explanations of the virtual quotation of Deut 19,15 in v. 1b10. She dismisses the literal one, that would point to a process, equivalent to a legal proceeding with its need for two or three witnesses, and accepts the metaphorical interpretation, according to which the witnesses are Paul’s three visits. “In its simple form the three witnesses are equated with Paul’s three visits to Corinth, the two in the past and the third to come […]. The first two visits are to be regarded as occasions of warning, the third as the time for decision”11. Thrall renders v. 2c by “I shall not spare”. Initially she seems to reject the three proposals of punishment, namely excommunication, temporal exclusion and bodily sickness inflicted by Paul. However, she finds “strong warning” too little. At the end she returns to the third proposal: “The miraculous infliction of bodily suffering would fit both the implicit requirement of visible action and also the probability that Paul is prepared to act alone if necessary”12. But is this not too much? Verses 3-4 3a ἐπεὶ δοκιμὴν ζητεῖτε τοῦ ἐν ἐμοὶ λαλοῦντος Χριστοῦ, b ὃς εἰς ὑμᾶς οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ c ἀλλὰ δυνατεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν. 4a καὶ γὰρ ἐσταυρώθη ἐξ ἀσθενείας, b ἀλλὰ ζῇ ἐκ δυνάμεως θεοῦ. c καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς ἀσθενοῦμεν ἐν αὐτῷ, d ἀλλὰ ζήσομεν σὺν αὐτῷ ἐκ δυνάμεως θεοῦ εἰς ὑμᾶς. 3a b c 4a b c d

since you seek the proof that Christ is speaking through me, (Christ) who toward you is not weak but is powerful among you. For indeed, although he was crucified in weakness, he certainly lives by the power of God. For although we too are weak in him, we shall certainly live with him by the power of God (in dealing) with you.

10. THRALL, II Corinthians VIII–XIII (n. 2), pp. 872-876. 11. Ibid., p. 875. According to Thrall the durative perfect προείηκα in v. 2a refers to the second (interim) visit. The present προλέγω is rendered by “I do say beforehand”; this speaking occurs in the letter itself. HARRIS, 2 Corinthians (n. 2), p. 905, renders προλέγω by “I am forewarning”. The hesitation of SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (n. 2), pp. 367-368, between visits and letters should be avoided. 12. Ibid., p. 878. Cf. SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (n. 2), p. 369: “Es kommt nur eine Strafaktion in Frage”.



In v. 3a Paul seems to refer to what he wrote in 10,10. Some Corinthians claim that his letters are weighty and strong, but his presence in the body is weak and his speech accounts to nothing. Their criticism invites Paul to react, to show a strong and willful presence, to prove that, while Paul is present, Christ is speaking through him. In v. 3bc Paul first asserts that Christ is not weak but powerful among them13. The structure of the clauses 4ab and 4cd is parallel: a b c d

καὶ γὰρ ἐσταυρώθη ἐξ ἀσθενείας, ἀλλὰ ζῇ ἐκ δυνάμεως θεοῦ. καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς ἀσθενοῦμεν ἐν αὐτῷ, ἀλλὰ ζήσομεν σὺν αὐτῷ ἐκ δυνάμεως θεοῦ εἰς ὑμᾶς.

The following five points on this truly remarkable verse summarize the lengthy discussion on pp. 223-226 of my commentary14. (1) Twice, in 4a and 4c, a motivating καὶ γάρ begins the further grounding, first that Christ is powerful (cf. 3bc), second that Paul himself will be full of strength (cf. 2c). Most likely καὶ γάρ is not just “etenim” (“for”). Moreover, the adverbial καί of 4a is probably slightly different from that in 4c: “for indeed Christ was crucified in weakness” (4a); “for we also are weak in Christ” (4c). (2) The parallelism between 4ab and 4cd should not deceive us. Formally we have a parataxis, but the link between 4cd and 4ab lies in the consecutive argumentation. The weakness and power of Christ in 4ab has a consequence for Paul; he is also weak and strong. We may paraphrase as follows: Indeed Christ was utterly weak through the crucifixion but he has been raised to eternal life by the power of God, so that we too are weak in him but will live in Christ by the power of God. (3) Clause 4d is relatively longer, especially with the addition of εἰς ὑμᾶς. While 4b refers to the resurrection life of Christ, Paul appears in 4d to refer to the strong life he will manifest among the Corinthians during his third visit. While “we will live with him (= Christ)” seems at first to invite the reader to think of Paul’s future resurrection life, the added εἰς ὑμᾶς draws the readers’ attention towards the vigor with which he will deal with the Corinthians. Yet his strength here can be called “anticipative” 13. HARRIS, 2 Corinthians (n. 2), p. 912, mentions the chiasmus in v. 3bc: (A) εἰς ὑμᾶς (B) οὐκ ἀσθενεῖ (B’) δυνατεῖ (A’) ἐν ὑμῖν. Cf. also PITTA, 2 Corinzi (n. 2), p. 539. 14. HARRIS, 2 Corinthians (n. 2), pp. 913-917, deals with eight items which are partly the same.



resurrection power. Paul’s strength then will still be “strength in weakness” (cf. 12,10b)15. (4) In both 4ab and 4cd we encounter γὰρ … ἀλλά. May we find here the equivalent of the famous μὲν γὰρ … δέ-construction (“on the one hand … on the other”)? In such a construction the first part often possesses a concessive nuance. If this is the case in 4ab, we may circumscribe the meaning as follows: “for indeed, although Christ was crucified in weakness, he certainly now lives by the power of God”. The meaning of 4cd then is similar: “for although we too are weak in him, we shall certainly live by him by the power of God in dealing with you”. (5) Finally, we should pay attention to the tenses of the verbs and the times they indicate. 4a: 4b: 4c: 4d:

aorist (past time for Christ); present (present time, and henceforth always, for Christ); present (present time for Paul) future (future time for Paul with regard to his third visit; the future of his definitive resurrection life after death is not directly addressed).

In v. 4 the three time-dimensions of past, present and future are connected through a movement from past to present and from present to future. We should also note that in 4d Paul announces his future severe authority (cf. 2c). Erich Grässer’s commentary is compact, dense, and always deep16. In his explanation of v. 4a, he emphasizes the theologia crucis of Paul. Cross and resurrection cannot be separated. The crucifixion is not a past event followed by the resurrection. The cross of Christ is still present17. I very much doubt that this interpretation is valid, notwithstanding the bold statement of Paul in 1 Cor 2,2: “for I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”. The crucifixion of Christ was an event in the past. Of course, it is the crucified Christ who has been raised, but he is no longer crucified18. 15. Cf. ibid., p. 916: “Paul is speaking of his imminent visit to Corinth when, in unison with Christ and with God’s power, he would act decisively and vigorously against unrepentant evildoers within the congregation”. See also PITTA, 2 Corinzi (n. 2), p. 540: “nel presente del suo ministero, a favore della sua communità, si compie la potenza di Dio”. 16. GRÄSSER, 2 Kor 8,1–13,13 (n. 2). 17. Cf. ibid., p. 253. He speaks of the “untrennbare Zusammengehörigkeit von Kreuz und Auferweckung”. “Die Kreuzigung is kein vergangenes Ereignis, dem die Auferstehung folgte, sondern das Kreuz Christi ist ‘ständige Gegenwart’ (R. Bultmann) und der Auferstandene beibt der Gekreuzigte […]”. 18. Cf. J. LAMBRECHT, Attributive and Predicative “Crucified”, in ID., Intended Sense of Scripture III: Fifty Further Notes on the NT (2001), Chisinau, Scholars’ Press, 2022, 43-48. See also SCHMELLER, 2 Kor 7,5–13,13 (n. 2), pp. 377-390: “Die paulinische Rede von Kraft und Schwachheit bei Martin Luther”.



IV. 2 COR 13,5-10 In the second section, 13,5-10, the hortative tone dominates. We may divide the section into vv. 5-6, 7-9 and 10. Paul’s reasoning is not always easy to follow. Verses 5-6 5a ῾Εαυτοὺς πειράζετε εἰ ἐστὲ ἐν τῇ πίστει, b ἑαυτοὺς δοκιμάζετε· c ἢ οὐκ ἐπιγινώσκετε ἑαυτοὺς d ὅτι ᾿Ιησοῦς Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν; e εἰ μήτι ἀδόκιμοί ἐστε. 6a ἐλπίζω δὲ ὅτι γνώσεσθε b ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἐσμὲν ἀδόκιμοι. 5a b c d e 6a b

Examine yourselves (to see) whether you are in the faith, test yourselves. Or do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? If not, you have failed the test. But I hope that you will discover that we have not failed the test.

Paul’s choice of words, δοκιμάζω (5b) and ἐσμὲν ἀδόκιμοι (5c and 6b), ἐπιγινώσκω (5c) and γινώσκω (6a), and the threefold ἑαυτούς (5abc), makes verses 5-6 a tight unit. A paraphrase may help us to follow Paul’s train of thought. In 5ab Paul commands the Corinthians. They must examine themselves in order to know whether they are in the faith, whether they are true Christians (5a)19. In 3a they were asking Paul to prove that Christ is speaking through him; now Paul tells them to take that proof on themselves. They are to test themselves (5b). Paul’s question to them in 5cd implies that they should already have realized that Christ is in them. The οὐκ-question expects a positive answer. But “the presence of the indwelling Christ requires that they should conform to standards of behavior that Christian faith demands”20. In 5e the clause must be completed: If you do not realize that Christ is in you, you are without proof, you are not authentic, you have not passed the test. In 6ab an apologetic remark is suddenly added. But I do hope, Paul writes, that you will find out that we are not without proof, that we have passed the test. He is evidently pointing to his future authority during the 19. Cf. THRALL, II Corinthians VIII–XIII (n. 2), p. 889. 20. Ibid., p. 891.



third visit. Paul expresses his “genuine hope for positive recognition” of his apostolate21. Strangely, while the main clause (6a), expressing hope, takes the singular (ἐλπίζω), in the ὅτι clause (6b) Paul switches to the plural (ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἐσμὲν ἀδόκιμοι). Verses 7-9 7a εὐχόμεθα δὲ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν μὴ ποιῆσαι ὑμᾶς κακὸν μηδέν, b οὐχ ἵνα ἡμεῖς δόκιμοι φανῶμεν, c ἀλλ᾿ ἵνα ὑμεῖς τὸ καλὸν ποιῆτε, d ἡμεῖς δὲ ὡς ἀδόκιμοι ὦμεν. 8a οὐ γὰρ δυνάμεθά τι κατὰ τῆς ἀληθείας b ἀλλὰ ὑπὲρ τῆς ἀληθείας. 9a χαίρομεν γὰρ b ὅταν ἡμεῖς ἀσθενῶμεν, c ὑμεῖς δὲ δυνατοὶ ἦτε· d τοῦτο καὶ εὐχόμεθα, τὴν ὑμῶν κατάρτισιν. 7a b c d 8a b 9a b c d

We pray God that you may do no wrong, not that we should appear as having passed the test, but that you will do what is good, though we may seem to have failed the test. For we have no power against the truth, but (only) for the truth. For we rejoice whenever we are weak but you are powerful. What we pray for is this, your improvement.

Paul no longer threatens the Corinthians in vv. 7-9, nor does he defend himself. The small unit is included by the verb εὐχόμεθα in 7a and 9d. It is exhortation by means of prayer. Paul prays to God that the Corinthians may not do anything wrong (7a) but only what is right (7c). He has forgotten, as it were, what he wrote in v. 6 about his hope. He now asserts that the aim of his prayer is not to appear to have met the test (7b); he may even seem as (ὡς) having failed the test (7d), which, of course, is not the case. After all, it is the truth which counts. We cannot do anything against the truth but only for the truth (8ab). The statement in v. 8 looks like a maxim. According to the interpretation which Thrall prefers, “truth” means the gospel. Not doing anything against the truth “might express in strong terms, although obliquely, Paul’s ultimate lack of concern for his own personal interests […], by contrast with his urgent desire that the truth of the gospel should be visibly demonstrated in the lives of the Corinthians”22. 21. Ibid., p. 893. 22. Ibid., p. 897.



In v. 9abc he adds the motivation. For we rejoice, he says, when we are weak but you are strong. However, as to content the opposition weakstrong is not valid. The weakness of Paul is suffering which in no way excludes God-given strength, but the strength of the Corinthians is their conduct as true believers. The clause of v. 9d is clearly conclusive. What he prays for is the restoration of the Corinthians, their way to perfection, their improvement. Verse 10a b c

10 Διὰ τοῦτο ταῦτα ἀπὼν γράφω, ἵνα παρὼν μὴ ἀποτόμως χρήσωμαι κατὰ τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἣν ὁ κύριος ἔδωκέν μοι εἰς οἰκοδομὴν καὶ οὐκ εἰς καθαίρεσιν.

10a b

This is why I write these things while absent, that when present I may not have to act severely according to the authority God gave me for building up and not for destroying.


The mention of ἀπών (10a) and παρών (10b) refers back to 10,1-2 and 11, while the Jeremiah authority-clause of 13,10bc points to 10,8. In a final sentence Paul expresses the aim of his writing. Through this letter Paul hopes for a change of conduct in Corinth; he hopes that he will not have to be severe during his third visit, and that he may employ the authority given to him by God according to its real intention: not that of destruction but that of building up. Whether ταῦτα in v. 10a refers back to the whole of the letter or to (part of) the four last chapters is not clear. Before the final blessing and greetings (13,12-13) Paul once more returns to direct commands: “Finally, brothers, rejoice, mend your ways, take the appeal to heart, be of the same mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (13,11). Not only Paul but the Corinthians too must rejoice while they are caring for moral improvement and for unity in the church. No less than six exhortations are present. Responsible behavior will ensure God’s love and peace. V. CONCLUSION The analysis of 1 Cor 13,1-10 brings us to no less than seven conclusive insights. First, the last chapter of the letter constitutes an inclusio with 10,1-11. The framing elements are evident and can in no way be accidental. Second, 2 Cor 13,1-10 cannot be understood without 12,20-21: the state of the Corinthians, marked by their miserable disorder, selfishness and lack of mutual love, and especially by the state of those who still



practice licentiousness and immorality. In 13,2 Paul severely warns them all; he will not spare them. Third, every issue must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses. For Paul his visits are the three witnesses. However, in 2 Cor 13,1-10 he stresses that the third visit will be decisive. Fourth, in 13,4 Paul compares himself to Christ with regard to weakness and strength. However, Paul’s situation is not just similar to that of Christ; it is causally linked to it. Christ was the first; Paul’s weakness is empowered by God thanks to Christ. The reader may find it strange that Paul does not speak here of his life after death, of his hope to be raised, but only of his future powerful dealing with the Corinthians. Fifth, it surprises the reader that in vv. 5-9 the threat of vv. 1-4 gives way to hortative commands (5-6) and a hortative prayer (7-9). Sixth, Paul’s firm defense of his integrity in v. 6 catches the eye, but already in v. 7, he claims that he is not worrying about his reputation: he may seem to have failed the test. Seventh, the most striking feature in 2 Cor 13,1-10 is the conditional character of Paul’s threat. The purpose of the final passage of his letter is to change the behavior of the Corinthians prior to his arrival, prior to his third visit. Paul writes while still absent so that, when present, he may not have to act severely and execute his threat (cf. 13,10). Waversebaan 220 BE-3001 Leuven (Heverlee) Belgium [email protected]


The editors would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to Prof. Dr. Jan Lambrecht, S.J. (23 April 1926 – 4 March 2023) for his scholarship and his very strong support in the commencement and completion of this Festschrift for Prof. Dr. Reimund Bieringer, his former student, esteemed colleague and close friend. Prof. Lambrecht was able to enjoy seeing the first proofs of the publication before his passing.


In many instances in his letters, Paul gives a list of his sufferings. None of these lists, however, has attracted as much scholarly attention as Paul’s brief reference to his σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί in 2 Cor 12,7. The ostensive referent of the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί has become a riddle that has provoked various interpretations. The focus of this investigation is Paul’s reference to the “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Cor 12,7. From the perspective of this study, reading the text with integrity requires honesty in recognizing the limits of the historical investigation. In addition, it also entails a consideration of the other aspects of the hermeneutical process1. This paper will, thus, have two parts. First, a brief survey of interpretations will be given and the points of contention concerning the identity of Paul’s σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί will be clarified. The lack of consensus on this matter, despite the great amount of exegetical energy expended on it, shows the limitations of the historical-critical investigation. Second, the hermeneutical possibilities opened up by the “non liquet” with respect to the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί will be discussed. The fact that the scholars could not identify with certainty the historical referent of the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί does not mean that the text is meaningless nor does it signify the end of the task of interpretation. In a way, the uncertainty offers hermeneutical possibilities that allow the historical and interpretative tasks to continue and, at the same time, the appropriation of textual meaning by the reader. A consideration of these hermeneutical possibilities is a way of reading the text with integrity. I. A SURVEY OF INTERPRETATIONS The philosopher S. Kierkegaard stated that the identification of Paul’s σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί provides everyone the opportunity to be an exegete2. * The title of this article was suggested to the author by Prof. Reimund Bieringer for a paper presentation during the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature held in Boston in November 18-21, 2017. 1. Etymologically, the word “integrity” comes from the Latin word “integer”, meaning “whole” or “complete”. 2. S. KIERKEGAARD, “Der Pfahl im Fleisch” sowie “wider Feigheit” und “vom Gebet” (Stundenbuch 12), translated and commented on by A. PAULSEN, Hamburg, Furche, 1962, p. 29.



There may be grain of truth to that statement when one looks at the suggestions regarding the identification of Paul’s σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί. 1. Paul’s σκόλοψ as a Physical or Bodily Affliction Irenaeus of Lyons (second century CE) is the earliest among the Church Fathers to refer to Paul’s σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί. However, he did not specify what it was but simply mentioned it in relation to the contrast between God’s immortality and the general human mortality3. Our earliest reference which identifies Paul’s σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί is found in the De Pudicitia of Tertullian (ca. 160-220 CE)4. Tertullian’s reference emerges from his discussion of the difference between Paul’s situation and that of the incestuous person in 1 Cor 5,5 and the blasphemous persons in 1 Tim 1,20. The incestuous person and the blasphemers were “handed over” directly to Satan whereas Paul “was given” an angel of Satan. Tertullian adds that this angel buffets Paul “per dolorem, ut aiunt, auriculae vel capitis”5. When Tertullian identified Paul’s σκόλοψ as some pain of the ear or of the head, he simply expressed a view held during his time – “ut aiunt”. Among the Church Fathers who followed Tertullian’s identification were Cyprian of Carthage6, Augustine of Hippo7, and Pelagius8. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the proponents included Lanfranc of Canterbury9 and Thomas Aquinas10. In the critical period of scholarship on 2 Corinthians after Semler until the present time, the view that Paul’s σκόλοψ alluded to a corporal ailment has attracted the greatest number of adherents. 3. IRENAEUS OF LYONS, Contra haereses, in PG 7, cols. 1128-1129. 4. TERTULLIAN OF CARTHAGE, De Pudicitia 13, in PL 2, col. 1004. 5. Ibid. 6. CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE, De mortalitate, in PL 4, col. 591 and Testimonium ad Quirinum adversus Judaeos 3,6, in PL 4, col. 736. 7. In some instances, AUGUSTINE did not say what the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί stood for – see Enarrationes in Psalmos (Sermon 2 on Psalm 58), in PL 36, col. 708; ibid. (on Psalm 97), in PL 37, col. 1256; De gratia Christi et de peccato originali, in PL 35, col. 367; and In Iohannes Evangelium Tractatus, in PL 35, col. 1443. In a few places, however, he identified it as some bodily affliction given to Paul by the Lord for his welfare – see Enarrationes in Psalmos (on Psalm 90), in PL 37, col. 1165; ibid. (on Psalm 98), col. 1269 and (on Psalm 130), col. 1708. In two instances, he understood it as a pain in the head – see Sermones ad populum (Sermon 163, on Gal 5,15-21), in PL 38, col. 893 and Sermo ad mensam Cypriani de sancto quadrato, in PL Suppl. 2, col. 699. 8. PELAGIUS, In epistolam ad Corinthios II, in PL Suppl. 1, col. 1268. 9. LANFRANC OF CANTERBURY, Epistola Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios secunda, in PL 150, col. 254. His preference for bodily pain followed Augustine’s comments on Psalm 130. 10. THOMAS AQUINAS, Commentaria in omnes D. Pauli apostoli epistolas, vol. 2, Paris, Vivès, 1874, p. 112.



What precisely this physical affliction was has been an area of much theorizing. Some of the suggestions included: (1) excruciating pain in the head11; (2) epilepsy12; (3) severe eye problem13; (4) malaria, malarial 11. W.M.L. DE WETTE, Kurze Erklärung der Briefe an die Korinther (Kurzgefaßtes exegetisches Handbuch zum Neuen Testament), Leipzig, Hirzel, 1841, p. 279; H. POPE, What Was St. Paul’s Infirmity?, in ITQ 10 (1915) 418-435, p. 435; and M.E. THRALL, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Vol. 2: Commentary on II Corinthians VIII–XIII (ICC), Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 2000, p. 818. See also U. HECKEL, Der Dorn im Fleisch: Der Krankheit des Paulus in 2 Kor 12,7 und Gal 4,13f., in ZNW 84 (1993) 65-92, p. 87, conjectures that the thorn corresponds to Trigeminusneuralgie (Trigeminal Neuralgia), afflicting its victim with a piercing, shooting pain in the head when they are about 40 years old. 12. W.K.L. ZIEGLER, Theologische Abhandlungen, vol. 2, Göttingen, Dieterich, 1804, p. 128; M. KRENKEL, Der Dorn im Fleische: 2 Kor. 12,7-9, in ID., Beiträge zur Aufhellung der Geschichte und der Briefe des Apostels Paulus, Braunschweig, C.A. Schwetschke und Sohn, 1830, 47-125, and ID., Der körperliche Leiden des Apostels Paulus, in ZWT 16 (1873) 238-244; A. HARNACK, Medicinisches aus der ältesten Kirchengeschichte (TU, 8/4), Leipzig, Hinrichs, 1892, p. 94; P.W. SCHMIEDEL, Die Briefe an die Thessalonicher und an die Korinther (Hand-Commentar zum Neuen Testament, 2), Freiburg, J.C.B. Mohr, 1891, pp. 294295; M. DIBELIUS, Die Geisterwelt im Glauben des Paulus, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1909, pp. 46-47; F.W. GROSHEIDE, De Tweede Brief van den Apostel Paulus aan de Kerk te Korinthe (Kommentaar op het Nieuwe Testament, 8), Amsterdam, Bottenburg, 1939; second edition: De Tweede Brief aan de Kerk te Korinthe (Commentaar op het Nieuwe Testament, 8), Kampen, Kok, 1959, p. 348; K.L. SCHMIDT, κολαφίζω, in TDNT 3 (1965) 818-821, p. 820; K. STENDAHL, Paul among the Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays, Philadelphia, PA, Fortress, 1976, p. 42; D. LANDSBOROUGH, St Paul and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, in Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 50 (1987) 659-664; G. BARBAGLIO, 1-2 Corinzi (Leggere oggi la Bibbia, 2/7), Brescia, Paideia, 1989, p. 121; and A. YARBRO COLLINS, Paul’s Disability: The Thorn in His Flesh, in C. MOSS – J. SCHIPPER (eds.), Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 165183. See also J.B. LIGHTFOOT, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, London, Macmillan, 1865; 71881, p. 191, who proposed either epilepsy or an acute pain in the head; P. BACHMANN, Der zweite Brief des Paulus an die Korinther (Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, 8), Leipzig, Deichert’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1909; 31918, p. 399, suggested either epilepsy or neurasthenia; O. GLOMBITZA, Gnade – Das entscheidende Wort: Erwägungen zu I. Kor. XV,i-ii, eine exegetische Studie, in NT 2 (1958) 281-290, p. 289, proposed epilepsy, or an eye problem, or hysteria. 13. H. ALFORD, The Greek Testament with a Critically Revised Text: A Digest of Various Readings. Marginal References to Verbal and Idiomatic Usage: Prolegomena: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary. Vol. 2: The Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians, Boston, MA – New York, Lee and Shepard, 1852; 61872; reprinted in Chicago, IL, Moody Press, 1958, p. 676; E.M. MERRINS, St. Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh, in BS 64 (1907) 661-692, pp. 672-673; H. WINDISCH, Der zweite Korintherbrief, ed. G. STRECKER (KEK, 6), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1924, p. 388; O. HOLTZMANN, Das Neue Testament nach dem Stuttgarter griechischen Text übersetzt und erklärt, vol. 2, Gießen, Töpelmann, 1926, p. 613; P. NISBET, The Thorn in the Flesh, in ExpTim 80 (1969) 126; D.L. AKIN, Triumphalism, Suffering and Spiritual Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 in Its Literary Theological Context, in Criswell Theological Review 4 (1989) 119-144, p. 138; T.J. LEARY, ‘A Thorn in the Flesh’ – 2 Corinthians 12:7: Was Paul Visually Impaired?, in JTS 43 (1992) 520-522, p. 520; K. QUAST, Reading the Corinthian Correspondence: An Introduction, New York – Mahwah, NJ, Paulist, 1994, p. 156; and B. WITHERINGTON III, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 1995, p. 462.



fever14 or even Malta fever15; (5) leprosy16; (6) speech impediment17 – Paul was a stammerer and suffered from a “preacher’s cramp”; (7) subarachnoid hemorrhage resulting in visual impairment, difficulty in using or understanding spoken or written language and minor epileptic attacks18. Other unsubstantiated conjectures included the following: paralytic affections19, deafness20, endogenous depression21, hysteria22, and sciatica or ischias, a painful disorder from the hip down to the back of the thigh23. 14. W.M. RAMSAY, St. Paul: The Traveler and the Roman Citizen, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1907, p. 94; ID., The Church in the Roman Empire before A.D. 170, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1892, pp. 63-64; ID., A Historical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, in Expositor V/10 (1899) 20-23; J. SICKENBERGER, Die Briefe des heiligen Paulus an die Korinther und sein Brief an die Römer (Die Heiligen Schrift des Neuen Testaments, 6), Bonn, Hanstein, 1919; 41932, p. 155; E.-B. ALLO, Seconde épître aux Corinthiens (ÉtBib, 45), Paris, Gabalda, 1937, 21956, pp. 320-322; J. KEULERS, De brieven van Paulus (De boeken van het Nieuwe Testament vertaald en uitgelegd, 5/1), Roermond – Maaseik, Romen, 1938, p. 390; O. KUSS, Die Briefe an die Römer, Korinther und Galater (RNT, 6), Regensburg, Pustet, 1940, p. 240; G. THILS, De ‘stimulo carnis’ in II Cor. XII:7, in Collectanea Mechliniensia 16 (1946) 160-163, p. 163; W. BARCLAY, The Letters to the Corinthians, in The Daily Study Bible, Philadelphia, PA, Westminster, 1954, p. 258; and K. PRÜMM, Diakonia Pneumatos: Der zweite Korintherbrief als Zugang zur apostolischen Botschaft. Auslegung und Theologie. Vol. 1: Theologische Auslegung des zweiten Korintherbriefes, Roma – Freiburg i.Br. – Wien, Herder, 1967, p. 665. 15. W.M. ALEXANDER, St. Paul’s Infirmity, in ExpTim 15 (1903-1904) 469-473 and 545-548. 16. E. PREUSCHEN, Paulus als Antichrist, in ZNW 2 (1901) 169-201, p. 193: “Paulus litt am Aussatz” and R. EISLER, Ἰησοῦς βασιλεύς, οὐ βασιλεύσας: Die messianische Unabhängigkeitsbewegung vom Auftreten Johannes des Täufers bis zum Untergang Jakobs des Gerechten nach der neuerschlossenen Eroberung von Jerusalem des Flavius Josephus und den christlichen Quellen (Religionswissenschaftliche Bibliothek, 9), Heidelberg, Winter, 1930, pp. 427 and 794-795. 17. W.K.L. CLARKE, Was St. Paul a Stammerer?, in ExpTim 39 (1927) 458-460; C.K. BARRETT, Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (BNTC), London, Black, 1973, p. 315; and G. GODET, Introduction au Nouveau Testament, Neuchâtel, Fischbacher, 1893, p. 87. 18. A. HISEY – J.S.P. BECK, Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh”: A Paragnosis, in Journal of Bible and Religion 29 (1961) 125-129. 19. S.T. BLOOMFIELD, Recensio Synoptica Annotationis Sacrae, vol. 7, London, Rivingtons, 1827, p. 286 and ID., Ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη: The Greek Testament with English Notes, London, Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 31839, pp. 252-253. 20. M.L. KNAPP, Paul the Deaf, in The Biblical World 47 (1916) 311-317. 21. H. LIETZMANN, An die Korinther I/II (HNT, 9), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 1909; 3 1931; 41949 and 51969 editions with supplementary notes by W.G. KÜMMEL, p. 157. See also ID., A History of the Early Church. Vol. 1: The Beginnings of the Christian Church, trans. B.L. Woolf, Guildford – London, Lutterworth, 1961; repr. 1974, p. 113, where Lietzmann suggests Paul’s overstrung nerves as his σκόλοψ. 22. F. FENNER, Die Krankheit im Neuen Testament: Eine religions- und medizingeschichliche Untersuchung (Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 18), Leipzig, Hinrichs, 1930, p. 37 and GLOMBITZA, Gnade (n. 12), p. 289. 23. T. DAECHSEL, Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi: Sein Lebenswerk und seine Brief in wort- und sinngetreuer Verdeutschung, Dresden – Leipzig, Ungelenk, 1913, vol. 1: Text, p. 249, and vol. 2: Anmerkungen und Literaturübersicht, p. 174 n. 130.



The suggestions are many. However, none is compelling. There are scholars who reject the view that Paul’s σκόλοψ as some physical or bodily ailment, and propose an alternative identification. 2. Paul’s σκόλοψ as Adversaries or Opposition to His Person Another widely accepted view, going back to John Chrysostom (ca. 344407 CE), identified the σκόλοψ as the adversaries or the opposition Paul had to face24. Among the Church Fathers who followed the position of Chrysostom were Theodoret of Cyrrhus25, Severian of Gabala26, Oecumenius of Trikka27, Primasius of Hadrumetum28, John of Damascus29, Photius of Constantinople30, and Theophylact of Ohrid31. This was also the view of Erasmus of Rotterdam32. In critical scholarship on 2 Corinthians the view that Paul’s σκόλοψ referred to his adversaries or the opposition to his person has gained wide support. Who precisely opposed Paul, and thus who the σκόλοψ stands for, has given room for more speculation. The following have been proposed: (1) Alexander the coppersmith (2 Tim 4,14) or the party of Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim 2,17), or to all the enemies of the Word33; (2) Apollos 24. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Ὑπόμνημα εἰς τὴν πρὸς Κορινθίους δεύτεραν ἐπιστολήν. In secundam ad Corinthios epistolam commentarius (Homiliae), in PG 61, cols. 577-578. 25. THEODORET OF CYRRHUS, Ἑρμηνεία τῆς δευτέρας ἐπιστολῆς πρὸς Κορινθίους. Interpretatio secundae epistolae ad Corinthios, in PG 82, col. 449. See also ID., Epistola 78, in PG 83, col. 1254. 26. SEVERIAN OF GABALA, in K. STAAB, Pauluskommentare aus der griechischen Kirche: Aus Katenhandschriften gesammelt und herausgegeben (NTAbh, 15), Münster, Aschendorff, 1933; reprinted in 1984, p. 297. 27. OECUMENIUS OF TRIKKA, Παύλου ἀποστόλου ἡ πρὸς Κορινθίους ἐπιστολὴ δεύτερα. Pauli apostoli ad Corinthios posterior epistula, in PG 118, col. 1068. 28. PRIMASIUS OF HADRUMETUM, Ad Corinthios Epistola Secunda, in PL 68, col. 582. 29. JOHN DAMASCENE, Εἰς ἐπιστολὴν πρὸς Κορινθίους Β᾿. In Epistolam II ad Corinthios, in PG 95, col. 768. 30. PHOTIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, in STAAB, Pauluskommentare (n. 26), p. 602. 31. THEOPHYLACT OF OHRID, Τοῦ ἁγίου Παύλου πρὸς Κορινθίους δευτέρας ἐπιστολῆς ἐξήγησις. Epistolae II Divi Pauli ad Corinthios exposition, in PG 124, col. 932. 32. D. ERASMUS, Epistola Pauli ad Corinthios secunda, in ID., Opera omnia. Vol. 4: Novum Testamentum, Cui, in hac Editione, subjectae sunt singulis paginis adnotationes [Leiden, 1705]; repr. Hildesheim, Olms, 1962, col. 793: “non morbum corporis sed afflictionem ab inimicis illatam”. See also ID., Paraphrasis in epistolam Pauli ad Corinthios posteriorem, in ID., Opera omnia. Vol. 7: Paraphrases in Novum Testamentum [Leiden, 1705]; repr. Hildesheim, Olms, 1962, col. 938. 33. CHRYSOSTOM, Πρὸς Κορινθίους (n. 24), Homily 26, in PG 61, col. 578: Ἄγγελος τοίνυν σατᾶν λέγει Ἀλέξανδρον τὸν χαλκέα τοὺς περὶ Ὑμέναιον καὶ Φιλητὸν, πάντας τοὺς ἀντικείμενους τῷ λόγῳ, τοὺς ἐμβάλλοντας εἰς δεσμωτήριον, τοὺς δέροντας, τοὺς ἀπάγοντας· ἐπειδὴ τὰ τοῦ σατανᾶ ἔπραττον. Ὥσπερ οὖν υἱοὺς διαβόλου καλεῖ τοὺς Ἰουδαίους τὰ ἐκείνου ζηλοῦντας, οὕτω καὶ ἄγγελον σατᾶν ἅπαντα τὸν ἀντιπίπτοντα.



of Alexandria34; (3) The Corinthians themselves or their rejection of Paul’s apostleship35; (4) James the brother of the Lord36; and (5) A literal angel of Satan or the angel of destruction who punished those who were unworthy to ascend to the Merkabah37. In this view, the ἄγγελος σατανᾶ is a real angelic being who attacked Paul during his heavenly sojourn. A discussion of the grammar is important in illuminating the meaning of the text. However, a rendering of the Greek dative τῇ σαρκί in v. 7 by the Latin genitive carnis has led to an altogether different identification of Paul’s σκόλοψ which had been a popular view especially during the Middle Ages. 3. Paul’s σκόλοψ as a Moral or Spiritual Torment It was either Cyprian of Carthage or the translator of Irenaeus’ originally Greek work Contra haereses38 who first rendered the Greek phrase σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί by the Latin “stimulus carnis”. This rendition is generally adopted by the Latin Fathers, and is the translation found in the Latin Vulgate. The translation may be considered as a “faulty” rendition of σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί. W. Schauf, however, maintained that the dative τῇ σαρκί represents a Hebraism and corresponds to the genitival Hebrew construction with the preposition lamed, which expresses a relationship (“eine Zugehörigkeit”). The expression σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί is, thus, equivalent to σκόλοψ τῆς σαρκός or to the Vulgate “stimulus carnis”39. A simpler explanation 34. P.F. BEATRICE, Apollos of Alexandria and the Origins of the Jewish Christian Baptism Encratism, in ANRW II.26.2, Berlin – New York, De Gruyter, 1990, pp. 1247-1248. Beatrice maintains that Apollos is Paul’s σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί. He is also the ἀδικήσας mentioned in 7,5! 35. See J.W. MCCANT, Paul’s Thorn of Rejected Apostleship, in NTS 34 (1988) 550572, p. 568 and ID., 2 Corinthians (Readings), Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 1999, pp. 149-150. 36. See N. FUERST, Der Schriftsteller Paulus, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Publikationen, 1989, p. 86: “Paul nennt ihn nicht direkt, aber die Kirchengeschichte ist sich einig, wer sein größter Gegner war: Jakobus, der Gerechte, der ‘Bruder des Herrn’, das Haupt der Apostelbehörde in Jerusalem”. 37. See R.M. PRICE, Punished in Paradise (An Exegetical Theory on II Corinthians 12:1-10), in JSNT 7 (1980) 33-40, p. 37. See also P. JOÜON, Note de philologie paulinienne, in Recherches de Science Religieuse 15 (1925) 531-535, p. 532; D. ABERNATHY, Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh: A Messenger of Satan?, in Neotestamentica 35/1-2 (2001) 69-79; and C.R.A. MORRAY-JONES, Paradise Revisited (2 Cor 12:1-12): The Jewish Mystical Background of Paul’s Apostolate. Part 2: Paul’s Heavenly Ascent and Its Significance, in HTR 86 (1993) 265-292, pp. 282-283. 38. See PG 7, col. 1128. 39. W. SCHAUF, Sarx: Der Begriff “Fleisch” beim Apostel Paulus unter besonderer Berücksichtigung seiner Erlösungslehre (NTAbh, 11/1-2), Münster, Aschendorff, 1924, pp. 111-114.



would be to understand τῇ σαρκί as an example of a dative of place. The encroachment of the prepositions, especially ἐν and εἰς, on the simple dative as well as the gradual and eventual disappearance of this case and its replacement by either the accusative or the genitive, are well known and are frequently noted in grammar books40. The simple locative dative which is more common in Homer and in orators up to Demosthenes became extremely limited in use in later Greek and in the New Testament41, the local sense being more predominantly expressed with the use of the preposition ἐν42. In Latin, the local sense is more properly denoted by the ablative43, usually with the preposition “in”, or the genitive44. Thus, if a Latin translator understood the dative τῇ σαρκί as a dative of place, the Latin carnis as a genitive of place would not be a “faulty” rendition but would have in fact been a perfectly justifiable translation. The phrase “stimulus carnis”, especially when “carnis” is understood as a genitive of origin, suggested to some later writers particularly in the Middle Ages that it was a reference to carnal temptation. Gregory the Great was one of the early proponents of this view45. He pointed to Rom 7,23 to demonstrate that Paul suffered from such temptation46. This identification of Paul’s stimulus carnis as carnal temptation gained the support of many Latin writers of the Middle Ages47. It was also one 40. See J. HUMBERT, Syntaxe grecque (Tradition de l’humanisme), Paris, Klincksieck, 1945; revised and augmented 31972, §§ 494-495. See also A.T. ROBERTSON, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1914; 31919, pp. 520-522; J.H. MOULTON, A Grammar of New Testament Greek. Vol. 3: Syntax, by N. TURNER, Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1976, p. 236; M. ZERWICK, Biblical Greek (Studia Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 114), Roma, Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1963, § 51; and F. BLASS – A. DEBRUNNER – F. REHKOPF, Grammatik des Neutestamentlichen Griechisch, Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 171990 (BDR), p. 150. 41. See also ROBERTSON, Grammar (n. 40), pp. 520-521; MOULTON – TURNER, Syntax (n. 40), p. 243; ZERWICK, Biblical Greek (n. 40), § 57; and BDR, § 199. 42. See ROBERTSON, Grammar (n. 40), pp. 520-521; C.F.D. MOULE, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1953; 21959, p. 75; and MOULTON – TURNER, Syntax (n. 40), pp. 243-244. 43. See MOULE, An Idiom Book (n. 42), pp. 43-44, who mentions the local use as one of the applications of the Greek dative which in Latin would be expressed by the ablative. 44. For the Latin locative genitive, see J. JANSSENS – K. VAN DE VORST, Latijnse Spraakkunst, Luik, Dessain, 311982, § 212. 45. GREGORY THE GREAT, Moralia (on Job 7,18), in PL 75, col. 832. See also ibid. (Praefatio 3,12), col. 523; ibid. (on Job 11,10), col. 931; and ibid. (on Job 50,21), in PL 76, col. 689. 46. Ibid. (on Job 7,18), in PL 75, col. 832 and ibid. (on Job 11,10), col. 931. 47. See RABANUS MAURUS, Enarrationum in epistolas Beati Pauli. Book 12: Expositio in epistolam ad Corinthios secundam, in PL 112, col. 236; HAYMO OF HALBERSTADT, In divi Pauli espitolas expositio. In epistolam II ad Corinthios, in PL 117, col. 665; WALAFRID STRABO, Glossa ordinaria. Epistola II ad Corinthios, in PL 114, col. 568; SEDULIUS SCOTUS, In epistolam II ad Corinthios, in PL 103, col. 180; ATTO OF VERCELLI, Expositio epistolarum S. Pauli. Epistola secunda ad Corinthios, in PL 134, col. 483;



of the two suggestions proposed by Thomas Aquinas and J.A. Bengel48. G. Estius preferred it among the different possibilities he entertained49. Cornelius a Lapide was probably its most eloquent proponent50. In more recent times, this identification is generally rejected although variations of the moral-spiritual interpretation are still propounded: (1) seven bodily sins51; (2) Paul’s painful remembrance of his past, particularly, his bitter memory of his activities as a former persecutor52; (3) Paul’s inability to win over the Jews to the Gospel53; (4) Paul’s suppressed homosexuality54; and (5) Paul’s “virile temperament” leading to “outbursts of anger”55, irascibility and violent fits of temper56.

BRUNO THE CARTHUSIAN, Epistola II ad Corinthios, in PL 153, col. 274; PETER LOMBARD, In epistolam II ad Corinthios, in PL 192, col. 84; and HERVAEUS BURGIDOLENSIS, Commentaria in epistolas divi Pauli. In epistolam II ad Corinthios, in PL 181, col. 1116. Cf. H.R. MINN, The Thorn That Remained: Materials for the Study of St. Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh. 2 Corinthians XII. vv. 1-10, Auckland, Institute Press, 1972, p. 25, who suggested that the identification of Paul’s σκόλοψ was widely adopted when monasticism highlighted the dangers of carnal temptations. 48. THOMAS AQUINAS, Commentaria 2 (n. 10), p. 112 and J.A. BENGEL, Gnomon Novi Testamenti in quo ex nativa verborum vi simplicitas, profunditas, concinnitas, salubritas sensuum coelestium indicatur, Tübingen, Fues, 1742; 31773; 8th printing in 1887, p. 725. 49. G. ESTIUS, In omnes canonicas apostolorum epistolas. Vol. 3: In epistolam secundam Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios commentarius, Mainz, Kirchheim, 1842, p. 470. 50. See CORNELIUS A LAPIDE (VAN DEN STEEN), Commentarius in secundam epistolam ad Corinthios, in ID., Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram, vol. 18, ed. A. CRAMPON, Paris, Vives, 1866. 51. See, for instance, T. FAHY, St. Paul’s ‘Boasting’ and ‘Weakness’, in ITQ 31 (1964) 214-227, p. 218 and W. DE BOOR, Der zweite Brief des Paulus an die Korinther (Wuppertaler Studienbibel), Wuppertal, Brockhaus, 1972, 51982, p. 234. 52. F. KOHLER, Étude exégétique sur II Corinthiens XII, 7-9, in Revue de Théologie et des Questions Religieuses 20 (1911) 368-378; C. BRUSTON, L’écharde de saint Paul et l’abandon du pécheur à Satan, in Revue de Théologie et des Questions Religieuses 21 (1912) 411-418; H.P. WOLMARANS, Die doring in die vlees by Paulus, in Onder Eigen Vaandel 9 (1934) 179-287; and A. SCHLATTER, Paulus, der Bote Jesu: Eine Deutung seiner Briefe an die Korinther, Stuttgart, Calwer, 11934, pp. 666-667 and ID., Die Briefe des Paulus (Erläuterungen zum Neuen Testament, 2), Stuttgart, Calwer, 1909; 81936, reprinted under the title Die Korintherbriefe (Erläuterungen zum Neuen Testament, 6), Stuttgart, Calwer, 1950, p. 667. 53. P.H. MENOUD, L’écharde et l’ange satanique (2 Cor. 12,7), in J.N. SEVENSTER – W.C. VAN UNNIK (eds.), Studia Paulina: In Honorem Johannis de Zwaan, Haarlem, Bohn, 1953, 163-171. 54. J.S. SPONG, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture, San Francisco, CA, HarperOne, 1991, pp. 117-118. 55. V.A. HOLMES-GORE, The Thorn in the Flesh, in Theology 32 (1936) 111-112. 56. E. KAMLAH, Wie beurteilt Paulus sein Leiden?, in ZNW 54 (1963) 217-233, p. 219.



4. Points of Contention For the most part, there is a convergence in the information used as basis for the identification of the σκόλοψ. There is, however, a divergence in the way this information is interpreted. The areas of discussion in identifying Paul’s σκόλοψ can be brought together under the following 6 contentious points: a) The σκόλοψ-Metaphor The word σκόλοψ is a hapax legomenon in the New Testament. Literally, it means “what is pointed”57. As such, it is a graphic representation for what can cause pain58 like a “thorn”59, a “stake”60 or a “cross”61. All agree that the word σκόλοψ is a metaphor. The question then arises: A metaphor for what? For the affliction brought upon Paul by his adversaries on the basis of LXX Num 33,55 and Ez 28,24 where σκόλοψ was used as a metaphor for the opponents of Israel? Or, is it a metaphor for pain – whether in a physical or moral-spiritual sense – based on LXX Hos 2,8 and Sir 43,19? The ambiguity of the σκόλοψmetaphor will continue to generate other hypotheses. b) The Dative τῇ σαρκί What does the word σάρξ in v. 7 mean? The muscular part of the body or the whole bodily existence62? The life of the whole human person63? The corrupt human nature64? 57. G. DELLING, σκόλοψ, in TDNT 9 (1971) 409-412, p. 411: “eigtl. das Zugespitze”. 58. H. STRACK – P. BILLERBECK, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrash, München, Beck, 1924-1928, p. 534. 59. In the Septuagint, σκόλοψ is employed four times with the meaning “thorn” rather than “stake”. See Num 33,55; Ezek 28,24; Hos 2,8; and Sir 43,19. 60. See ALEXANDER, Infirmity (n. 15), p. 470 and D.M. PARK, Paul’s σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί: Thorn or Stake? (2 Cor. XII 7), in NT 22 (1980) 179-183, pp. 182-183. 61. See SCHLATTER, Paulus, der Bote Jesu (n. 52), p. 666 and BRUSTON, L’écharde de saint Paul (n. 52), p. 412. 62. See BACHMANN, Korinther (n. 12), p. 398 n. 1: “σάρξ steht hier in der Metapher natürlich eigentlichsten phsyiologischen Sinne von Fleisch”. 63. See R. PENNA, La présence des adversaires de Paul en 2 Cor 10–13: approche littéraire, in E. LOHSE (ed.), Verteidigung und Begründung des Apostolischen Amtes (2 Kor 10–13) (Benedictina, 11), Roma, Abtei St. Paul vor den Mauern, 1992, 7-41, p. 35: “le complément τῇ σαρκί est le même en 1 Cor 7,28 (cf. Phil 1,24), où l’on comprend non pas la corporéité, mais la vie humaine en général”. 64. WOLMARANS, Die doring in die vlees by Paulus (n. 52), p. 285: “Die ‘vlees’ is ook hier [in v. 7C] die swak, sondig menslike bestaan, wat staan in die diens van die sonde en die doring moet daardie ding wees wat hierdie vleeslike mag neerhou, belet om sig te verhef”.



How is the dative case to be construed – a local dative or a dative of disadvantage? If it is a locative dative, why did Paul not use the preposition ἐν? The absence of ἐν would make τῇ σαρκί an example of the local dative which is rare in the New Testament. On the other hand, the dativus incommodi links closely with the verb65. Strictly, therefore, a dativus incommodi would ascribe to the action of giving (ἐδόθη), not to the σκόλοψ itself, the “disadvantage” done to the σάρξ. The position of the expression τῇ σαρκί after σκόλοψ, however, makes it unlikely that it is to be linked with ἐδόθη66. c) The Apposition ἄγγελος σατανᾶ The phrase ἄγγελος σατανᾶ is generally considered as an apposition to σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί67. That the genitive σατανᾶ represents a genitive of origin is not contested. In this respect, passages are cited to demonstrate that Satan did in fact have angels. Is there a metonymic and causal relationship between the two expressions σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί, and ἄγγελος σατανᾶ68? Is the effect (σκόλοψ 65. See ROBERTSON, Grammar (n. 40), pp. 538-539 and MOULTON – TURNER, Syntax (n. 40), pp. 219, 238. 66. See BDR § 190,3, n. 3 and also MOULTON – TURNER, Syntax (n. 40), p. 219, who classify τῇ σαρκί in v. 7 as an example of an “adjectival dative”. Some authors link τῇ σαρκί not with σκόλοψ nor with ἐδόθη but with μοι. They argue that this is a case of a double dative – the first (μοι), a dative of person functioning as an indirect object and the second (τῇ σαρκί), a dative of explanation which modifies μοι. See C. WORDSWORTH, The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Original Greek: With Introductions and Notes. Vol. 2: St. Paul’s Epistles; the General Epistles; the Book of Revelation; and Indexes, London, Rivingtons, 1872, p. 181 and A. SAND, Der Begriff ‘Fleisch’ in den Paulinischen Hauptbriefe (Biblische Untersuchungen, 2), Regensburg, Pustet, 1967, p. 131. Most authors, however, assert that the position of τῇ σαρκί links it closely to σκόλοψ. See H.A.W. MEYER, Kritisch exegetisches Handbuch über den zweiten Brief an die Korinther (KEK, 6), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1840, 51870, p. 335 and G. GODET, La seconde Épître aux Corinthiens. Commentaire, ed. P. COMTESSE, Neuchâtel, Attinger, 1914, p. 321. 67. A few authors, however, consider ἄγγελος σατανᾶ as the subject and σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί as an apposition or appositional predicate. See C.F. KLING, Die Korinther-Briefe: Theologisch-homiletisch bearbeitet (Theologisch-Homiletisches Bibelwerk, 7), Bielefeld, Velhagen und Klasing, 1861; 4th revised edition by A. BRAUN, 1903, p. 431, and J.J. THIERRY, Der Dorn im Fleisch (2 Kor. XII,7-9), in NT 5 (1962) 301-310, pp. 303-304. The occurrence of ἄγγελος σατανᾶ in postposition with respect to σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί, makes this grammatical interpretation unlikely. 68. J. ZMIJEWSKI, Der Stil der paulinischen “Narrenrede”: Analyse der Sprachgestaltung in 2 Kor 11,1–12,10 als Beitrag zur Methodik von Stiluntersuchungen neutestamentlicher Texte (BBB, 52), Köln, Hanstein, 1978, p. 367 and n. 311: “Näherhin wird bei dieser Metonymie die Wirkung (‘Krankheit’) durch die Ursache (‘Satansengel’) wiedergegeben”. See also HECKEL, Dorn (n. 11), p. 70: “Stilistisch gesehen handelt es sich um eine Metonymie, denn the Wirkung wird nach ihrer Ursache benannt, die Schwachheit auf



τῇ σαρκί = physical illness) caused by the ἄγγελος σατανᾶ? Or, is the apposition simply explicative, stressing the personal quality of the ἄγγελος who is an agent of Satan? Is it enough to simply posit Satanic agency in the apposition? d) The Verb κολαφίζω Does the verb simply signify the physical nature of the action done to the body? Does it represent an action done by a human person and, more specifically, by an adversary on another? Is the verb a metaphor for being disgraced? Is it just a matter of emphasis – the verb signifying a physical action done to the body by a personal agent, resulting in shame and humiliation? e) The Context There is an agreement that 2 Corinthians 11 reflects Paul’s disputes with his opponents. There are, however, clear differences in assessing how the context relates to the identity of the σκόλοψ. Does the σκόλοψ point to the same opponents of Paul? Those who support the opposition hypothesis argue that 2 Corinthians 11 reflects Paul’s dispute with his opponents. They maintain, therefore, that the context requires that the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί be interpreted as referring to these adversaries. Those who advocate the physical ailment hypothesis provide a different appraisal. In the first place, the differences between 2 Cor 12,7 and 2 Corinthians 11 are underscored. In 12,7, we find the singular ἄγγελος, while in chapter 11 the reference is to the opponents in the plural69. In 12,7, Satan is differentiated from his ἄγγελος. In 2 Cor 11,5, Satan himself is an ἄγγελος who has his own διάκονοι. They also maintain that the ἄγγελος σατανᾶ corresponds to the accusation leveled against Paul by his adversaries. His sickness, according to them, demonstrates that Paul was accused of being under the authority of Satan and, thus, could not have been a legitimate apostle. Methodologically, the discussion of the context is important. In this instance, however, it does not provide a solid basis for the identification of the σκόλοψ. einen Boten und seinen Auftraggeber zurückgeführt und durch den Namen ihres Verursachers umschreiben”. Much earlier, see also CORNELIUS A LAPIDE, ad Corintios (n. 50), p. 503, who argued that angelus Satanae is a “metonymia, qua causa pro effectu, et autor pro opere”. 69. See E. GÜTTGEMANNS, Der leidende Apostel und sein Herr: Studien zur paulinischen Christologie (FRLANT, 90), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1966, p. 164.



f) The Use of “Parallel Texts” “Parallel” texts and other New Testament passages have also been used to identify the σκόλοψ. Here are some examples: i. ἀσθένεια τῆς σαρκός in Gal 4,13, which is interpreted as a physical ailment, is understood to correspond to the phrase σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί. This is, however, contested. First, it is not certain whether ἀσθένεια τῆς σαρκός really refers to a physical ailment. In the only other occurrence of ἀσθένεια τῆς σαρκός in Rom 6,19, it refers to a moral, not physical, weakness. Even if ἀσθένεια τῆς σαρκός represents a physical ailment, its relation to σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί is unclear. The only similarity with the two expressions is the word σάρξ. Moreover, ἀσθένεια τῆς σαρκός is not linked to Paul’s revelatory experiences. The σκόλοψ, in contrast, is closely connected to Paul’s Paradise journey narrated in 2 Cor 12,2-4. The ἀσθένεια τῆς σαρκός in Gal 4,13 opened the way for spreading the Gospel and became an occasion for great joy to Paul. Conversely, the σκόλοψ was a source of great pain to Paul and became an occasion of an earnest appeal for relief. ii. In Gal 4,14 Paul is grateful that the Galatians did not despise (οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε) him. Can we conclude from the use of this verb that Paul suffered from malaria or epilepsy, diseases which evince contempt and loathing? The link between sickness, sin and Satan in the Bible makes any illness, not just malaria and epilepsy, despicable. iii. Similarly, can we conclude from Paul’s statement in Gal 4,15, his reference to writing in big letters (Gal 6,11), the way he signed his name (Phlm 9; see also 2 Thess 3,17), his use of an amanuensis in his letters and travel companions in his journeys, and his predilection for metaphors concerning light and darkness (1 Cor 13,12; see also 1 Tim 6,16), that he was afflicted with an eye problem? iv. Is it justifiable to conclude that Paul suffered a speech defect based on his statements in 10,10 (his speech is ἐξουθενημένος) and in 11,6 (he is ἰδιώτης τῷ λόγῳ), and on his inability to describe fully his experience in 2 Cor 12,2-4? Are these passages not statements about his rhetorical training rather than his physical condition? These sample texts and many others illustrate how tenuous are the claims being made on the basis of these so-called “parallel texts”. The survey demonstrates the limits of the historical investigation. Biblical scholars (and a biochemist and doctors who have joined the scholarly fray) have used all the tools of their trade and all the analytic



weapons in their arsenal – philological analysis, word analysis, syntactical analysis, study of the context, use of biblical and non-biblical parallels – in trying to determine the identity of the σκόλοψ. The survey shows the continuing ambiguity about the identification of the σκόλοψ. One may perhaps honestly admit ignorance concerning the identity of the σκόλοψ and conclude, as J. Héring suggested many years ago, with a “non liquet”70. However, the search for the meaning of the text is not limited to the determination of its historical referent. The ambiguity that, for the historical critic, is considered a disadvantage, may in fact open various hermeneutical possibilities. II. HERMENEUTICAL POSSIBILITIES Even those who have labored to identify the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί admit the difficulty of this historical enterprise. F.F. Bruce thinks that “certainty is unattainable”71. For F. Danker, the identity of the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί is “an eternal mystery”72. D. Abernathy pointedly remarked: “The prevailing consensus […] is that no one really knows what it was nor can it be known”73. The task of interpretation, however, does not end with Héring’s “non liquet”. The ambiguity or the lack of certainty opens up various hermeneutical possibilities. We propose a hermeneutical framework (albeit, very provisional and exploratory) for moving forward in the task of interpreting 2 Cor 12,7-10. It is our reading of the works of C.R. Moss74, J. Larson75, and J.E. Powers76 that has allowed us to come up with this framework.

70. J. HÉRING, La seconde épître de Saint Paul aux Corinthiens (CNT, 8), Neuchâtel – Paris, Delachaux & Niestlé, 1958, p. 96. 71. F.F. BRUCE, I and II Corinthians (New Century Bible), London, Marshall, Morgan and Scott; Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans, 1971, p. 248. See also F.J. MATERA, II Corinthians (NTL), Louisville, KY – London, Westminster John Knox, 2003, p. 284. 72. F.W. DANKER, II Corinthians (Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament), Minneapolis, MN, Fortress, 1989, p. 193. 73. ABERNATHY, Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh (n. 37), p. 69. See also F.G. CARVER, 2 Corinthians: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (New Beacon Bible Commentary), Kansas City, MO, Beacon Hill Press, 2009, p. 337. 74. C.R. MOSS, Christly Possession and Weakened Bodies: Reconsideration of the Function of Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-10), in Journal of Religion, Disability and Health 16 (2012) 319-330. 75. J. LARSON, Paul’s Masculinity, in JBL 123 (2004) 85-97. 76. J.E. POWERS, A ‘Thorn in the Flesh’: The Appropriation of Textual Meaning, in Journal of Pentecostal Theology 9 (2001) 85-99.




What is it? Historical Content

World of Paul



Thorn in the Flesh Angel of Satan





Significance to Paul

1. The Value and Limits of the Task of Identifying the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί Much exegetical work on 2 Cor 12,7-10 has been focused on determining the identity of the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί (line A of the framework). We are not saying that this has been a futile or irrelevant task. In fact, our appreciation of the significance of the σκόλοψ to Paul’s life as an apostle, his ministry and the accusations leveled against him by his opponents (line B), has been facilitated greatly by scholars who have endeavored to determine the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί (line A). Even without a precise identification of the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί, a serious consideration of the text of 2 Cor 12,7-10 yields valuable insights into the situation of Paul. First, as with every human, so also with Paul, life is a mixture of blessings and misfortunes. In the case of Paul, his glorious experience of a heavenly ascent (12,2-4) is counterbalanced by the painful experience of the “thorn in the flesh” (12,7). Paul is not a superhuman being. He shares our human lot. He is not exempted from the fate that befalls all human beings. Like many human beings in distress, he appeals to God for help. Second, Paul’s prayer demonstrates that the suffering represented by σκόλοψ was not something he relished but rather something from which he initially sought deliverance. In a way, Paul’s prayer to the Lord was an act of resistance. Unlike the Stoics of his time, his prayer to the Lord demonstrates that he did not consider the painful situation as an inescapable lot which one must simply endure with resignation. Third, Paul’s prayer presupposes a particular understanding of power and weakness. Power and weakness are usually understood as antitheses that exclude one another. Paul can only be either weak or strong. The Lord’s response to Paul’s prayer gave him a new perspective. Weakness is, as it were, redefined and all the sufferings it entailed need no longer mean inability or impairment in his apostolic tasks. Weakness need not necessarily mean the absence of power. It no longer signifies distance



from God or being cut off from his empowering grace. Power and weakness can coincide in his person because of the grace of Christ. Lastly, Paul’s delight in his weaknesses does not typify a masochistic fascination for suffering but is a consequence of the Lord’s assurance of his sufficient grace77. 2. Fruitful Areas of Historical Study That the historical referent of the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί cannot be determined does not mean the end of the historical task. A more fruitful area of historical study is to focus on the world of Paul and how elements of this world contribute to our understanding of Paul’s σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί and its significance in the life of the apostle (line C)78. In this regard, I find the contributions of J. Larson and C. Moss refreshingly valuable. J. Larson highlights the importance of gender norms in the GraecoRoman world of Paul’s time. Considering the gender norms of his time, Paul’s physical appearance, his skills as a speaker, his rhetorical performance, his personal inconsistency or vacillation, his accommodation or eagerness to please, engaging in manual labor rather than accepting financial support – would have all raised doubts about his masculinity and, consequently, brought into question his authority. Briefly, Paul’s response was to point to a crucified Christ, not to a muscular Jesus. By doing so, he makes virtue of his weaknesses. By considering the gender norms of Paul’s time, Larson has allowed us to gain further insight and better appreciation of the significance of the accusation made against Paul. Here the movement is line C. In the same vein as Larson, C.R. Moss also explores the world of Paul, concentrating on the theories of medicine and demonic possession of those times and how these relate specifically to the rhetorical function that the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί plays in Paul’s argument against his opponents. Her studies on ancient theories of medicine and demonic possession underscores the cathartic function of the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί in 12,7 (the σκόλοψ lances, as it were, the boil of Paul’s pride) and the mechanics of how the power of Christ dwells in him (Paul’s weakened and “porous” body serves 77. See V. NICDAO, Suffering and the Empowering Grace of the Lord, in Concilium (2016/3) 67-75. 78. Cf. J.M. GLESSNER, Ethnomedical Anthropology and Paul’s “Thorn” (2 Corinthians 12:7), in BTB 47/1 (2017) 15-46. Glessner assumes that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” is a physical disability. Using the tools of ethnomedical anthropology, he attempts to enter the “symbolic world” of Paul and the Corinthian community, in order to respond to the many questions raised by Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”, particularly those involving the relationship of illness and healing. See also K.D. MOORE, Paul’s Flesh: A Disabled Reading of Flesh/Spirit Dualism, in Feminist Theology 29 (2021) 130-139.



as a magnet that attracts the power of Christ to find its dwelling place in his person). 3. Entering the Narrative World of the Bible and Appropriating Textual Meaning The hermeneutical task may yield more fruitful results by focusing on the significance of the σκόλοψ τῇ σαρκί in its context rather than on the ostensive or historical referent. In this regard, the contribution of J. Powers is very helpful. She writes, “Instead of looking for meaning in the historical reference of the text, meaning is sought in the text itself”79. Although her primary concern is the appropriation of textual meaning within the Pentecostal hermeneutic, what she enunciates may very well be for any serious reader of the Bible. The first movement is the need for the reader to enter into and take seriously the world of the biblical text (line D) – “meaning is sought in the text itself”. In the case of 2 Cor 12,7, Paul, and consequently the reader who enters the narrative world of Paul, is made to understand that the σκόλοψ, whatever it may have been and from which Paul sought relief in his prayer, is no longer a hindrance to Paul’s ministry as he previously thought because of the sufficiency of God’s grace. There is the temporal simultaneity of power and weakness in Paul. The second movement is the actual appropriation of textual meaning to the life situation of the reader (line E). In a way, the uncertainty about the identity of the σκόλοψ offers the reader a hermeneutical advantage because the textual meaning is opened up to various applications with respect to the reader. The double movement of entering the narrative world of the text and appropriating its textual meaning yields meaningful results. S.H. Polaski enters into and takes seriously the world of the text and, instead of focusing on the identity of the σκόλοψ, finds in Paul’s narrative of his difficulties evidence of trauma and how Paul came to terms with it80. Similarly, focusing on 2 Cor 1,3-10; 4,7-12.16; 6,4-10; 11,21-33; and 12,7-10, P.Y. Clark believes that Paul wrestled with post-traumatic stress disorder. 2 Cor 12,7-10 is, according to him, “a testimony of his human journey through illness, with an emerging awareness of his own vulnerability, and it illustrates how relying on the power of divine grace has led him (and, by extension, can lead us) toward healing and wholeness”81. 79. POWERS, Thorn (n. 76), p. 96. 80. S.H. POLASKI, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10: Paul’s Trauma, in Review and Expositor 105 (2008) 279-284. 81. P.Y. CLARK, Toward a Pastoral Reading of 2 Corinthians as a Memoir of PTSD and Healing, in E. BOASE – C.G. FRECHETTE (eds.), Bible through the Lens of Trauma (Semeia Studies, 86), Atlanta, GA, SBL Press, 2016, 231-247.



In the same vein, L. Togarasei notes that the example of Paul who lived a full and meaningful life despite his “thorn in the flesh”, shows that “the church’s mission to PLWDs [Persons Living With Disabilities] should not necessarily be the healing of disabilities but their empowerment and integration in our societies”82. In these cases, the authors entered the narrative world of the text and found meaning which they could easily appropriate for sufferers of traumatic experiences and PTSD, and which PLWDs could find meaningful and valuable. III. CONCLUSION By way of a summary, let me focus on the question of historical ambiguity with respect to the meaning of the text. Scholars, researchers and interpreters have to constantly wrestle with historical uncertainties and for this reason, propose various hypotheses. Given the choice, however, I think they would prefer historical certainty over historical ambiguity. From this perspective, historical ambiguity is a hermeneutical disadvantage. What is being proposed is a different estimation of historical ambiguity, namely, to see it as a “hermeneutical nudge” – (1) to take the text in its literary context seriously even if the historical referent cannot be determined; (2) to explore other areas of history relevant to the text instead of simply focusing on its historical referent; and (3) to enter the narrative world of the text and appropriate its meaning to the life situation of the reader. From this perspective, historical ambiguity is an advantage because of the hermeneutical possibilities it opens. More consequential than solving the riddle of the “thorn in the flesh” is exploring the various hermeneutical possibilities that the historical ambiguity engenders. University of the Assumption Unisite Subdivision Brgy, Del Pilar City of San Fernando Pampanga, Philippines [email protected]

Victor S. NICDAO

82. L. TOGARASEI, Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh” and Christian Mission to People with Disabilities, in International Review of Mission 108 (2019) 136-147.




Criticising an opponent, or even a colleague, was an integral feature of scholarly tradition long before the Christian era and Christian scholars and intellectuals readily adopted it in their writings. Criticism exists in various forms and formats, from the gentle rebuke to the harshest of comments, from parodying or ridiculing to demonising or ostracising the other, from general to ad personam arguments, and from well-argued opposition or accusations to baseless insults or insinuations. This paper will briefly touch upon one such form of criticism that is attested in ancient Christian literature and well beyond. It is the accusation that the opponent has tampered with the sacred writings on which faith itself is based. It is one of the harshest types of criticism because it goes to the heart of the matter, it gives the impression that it can be verified (which is not always the case), and it immediately and inevitably leads to claims of insincerity and utter vilification of the other. The impression it creates is that when one reaches for such an outrageous accusation, there surely must be truth in it. In the following I am not trying to determine who is right and who is wrong in the debate I have taken as a case study, but rather examine how the argument functions and why the author using it thought it would work. I. A FEW INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS The argument of scriptural corruption has to do with, but cannot fully be reduced to, issues of interpretation and transmission of the text. In discussing different interpretations of a passage or hermeneutical or other principles for interpreting the sacred text, it may happen that the latter is declared obscure or difficult to understand, but it is not in and of itself discredited. Textual corruption is a well-known and widespread phenomenon in the transmission of the biblical text, but not all types of corruption equally apply. For the argument to work it is assumed that the corruption was consciously inserted, that it involves tampering with the text for theological or ideological reasons, and in its stronger form, that it involves cutting out parts of the sacred text, because they are deemed wrong or inadmissible or unfit.



The argument is not only used for discrediting opponents, but can also be turned into what is claimed to be a positive intervention in an effort to restore the (original) “orthodox” reading1, or to eliminate presumed cases of interpolation2. The argument was used by Christians in disputes with Judaism and with fellow Christians, and also by Muslims criticising both Jews and Christians. Muqatil ibn Sulayman (†150/767), the author of the oldest complete edited commentary on the Qur’an, spent quite some time on explaining verses in the Qur’an that could allude to Jewish initiatives to tamper with their own sacred books in order to counter Muhammad. Among the methods he mentions are attempts at adding words, insulting the prophet, ignoring commands of the Torah, substituting other verses for the original, or concealing information3. This “fascination with Jewish perfidy” in falsifying their own legacy may have been inspired and furthered by what Christian scholars had been saying about this in their own efforts to claim Jewish scripture for themselves4. But the accusation was not limited to Jews and became an integral part of any good polemical treatise. A famous case is that of ‘Abd al-Jabbar (†415/1025) in his Critique of Christian Origins, but one should also mention Abu l-Baqa’ Salih b. Husayn al-Ja’fari (†618/1221) and perhaps most importantly, Ibn Taymiyya (†728/1328)5. In recent years the argument, as used by early Christian authors to counter opponents, has attracted some attention in scholarly literature. In an unpublished PhD dissertation from 2007, Kevin M. Vacarella has 1. Cf. B.D. EHRMAN, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993, ²2011, passim; R.R. SCHULZ, Twentieth-Century Corruption of Scripture, in ExpTim 119 (2008) 270-274 (firmly opposing certain readings in NA and UBSGNT and claiming that the text was adjusted for misogynic reasons). 2. On interpolation theories in Paul’s letters in general, see W.O. WALKER, JR., Interpolations in the Pauline Letters (JSNT SS, 213), Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 2001, and a number of essays on specific passages in NTS (1999) and CBQ (1998, 2003 and 2007). 3. Cf. G. NICKEL, Early Muslim Accusations of tahrif: Muqatil ibn Sulayman’s Commentary on Key Qur’anic Verses, in D. THOMAS (ed.), The Bible in Arabic Christianity (The History of Christian-Muslim Relations, 6), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2007, 207-224. See also his monograph including later commentators of the Qur’an, such as al-Tabari: Narratives of Tampering in the Earliest Commentaries on the Qur’an (The History of ChristianMuslim Relations, 13), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2010. 4. So G.S. REYNOLDS, On the Qur’anic Accusation of Scriptural Falsification (tahrif) and Christian Anti-Jewish Polemics, in JAOS 130 (2010) 189-202 (the quoted phrase is from his conclusion). 5. Cf. A. SAEED, The Charge of Distortion of Jewish and Christian Scriptures, in The Muslim World 92 (2002) 419-436. For a recent attempt at minimising the importance of the argument in (esp. early) Muslim tradition, see M. WHITTINGHAM, A History of Muslim Views of the Bible: The First Four Centuries, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2021, passim.



studied three such cases that involve the argument of corrupting Scripture: the Letter of Ptolemy to Flora, the deuterosis motif as used in the Didascalia Apostolorum, and the accusation about false pericopes developed in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies. In at least two of the three, but probably in all of them, the argument is used in connection with creating or strengthening group identity6. A member of the Valentinian school, Ptolemy formulates his argument in the context of Valentinian cosmology and philosophy7. More specifically, he makes a clear distinction between the realm of the Father and that of the demiurge. His argument breathes an air of logic. Opposing both the view of those who accept the Torah as it is and of those who reject it completely as outdated and superseded by Jesus’ teaching (the latter probably refers to Marcion), he defines the Torah as the work of the demiurge that contains material that is said at best to be in need of re-interpretation and at worst simply to be false (see esp. 33.7.7-9). The solution he proposes fits perfectly well within Valentinian theological hermeneutics as well as Valentinian cosmology and metaphysics, and thus helps him to get a grip on the strange work that is the Torah and to convince his addressee that he represents a specific view and a specific group which she is invited to join. As Vaccarella puts it, By presenting a rare argument that the Jewish scriptures contain false and inauthentic material, Ptolemy is able to appropriate a level of control over the supposedly accurate reading of these writings. The false scripture is recognizable when compared with the teaching of Christ; it can be found by a close reading of the gospels when Jesus contests the validity of certain ideas and practices of his day. Ptolemy’s knowledge on this matter is buttressed by his claim of apostolic authority. Each of these factors contributes to the manner in which Ptolemy constructs Christian identity and simultaneously disenfranchises other interpretations of the Mosaic law8.

The second case Vaccarella has studied is of a somewhat different nature. As he sees it, the Didascalia was written to master a crisis in one or more mixed Jewish-Gentile Christian communities in third-century Syria9. The major stumbling block, so it would seem, was the ongoing 6. K.M. VACCARELLA, Shaping Christian Identity: The False Scripture Argument in Early Christian Literature, unpublished PhD dissertation, Florida State University, 2007. 7. On Ptolemy’s letter, see ibid., pp. 34-80. Cf. G. QUISPEL, La Lettre de Ptolémée à Flora, in ID., Gnostic Studies, I, Leiden, Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1974, 70-102. For an attempt to read the letter as a sort of counter-narrative, see J. VERHEYDEN, Attempting the Impossible? Ptolemy’s Letter to Flora as Counter-Narrative, in F. WATSON – S. PARKHOUSE (eds.), Telling the Christian Story Differently: Counter-Narratives from Nag Hammadi and Beyond, London, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2020, 95-120. 8. VACCARELLA, Shaping Christian Identity (n. 6), p. 79. 9. Ibid., pp. 81-118.



interest of some Gentile Christians in pagan forms of worshipping, which the author summarises under the label “idolatry”. But the author has not only Gentile Christians in view. His “rhetoric of idolatry” is also aimed at Christians of Jewish descent, informing and warning them, in a sweep against rabbinic Judaism, that Israel was given its Torah because of its disobedience to God’s commandments, in particular, their worshipping of the golden calf. This makes much in the Torah temporary and even inauthentic in terms of reflecting God’s will: The Didascalia […] utilizes a rhetorical strategy of inauthentic religious laws to construct a certain type of Christian identity that is different than other Christian traditions (the “heretics”), the idolatrous pagans who uphold heathen practices, and the rabbinic Jews, with whom the Didascalist directly competed regarding the authority of the scriptures10.

The corruption has, then, to do with the fact that in the opinion of the author the original divine commandments were supplemented and in a sense “overgrown” by temporary laws that were meant to punish God’s disobedient people. These laws should again be recognised for what they are and ignored (or removed from the Torah). It is corruption of a rather specific kind. The author of the Homilies returns several times to the topic of corruption as part of the polemics Peter is said to uphold against his major opponent named Simon the Magician, which may be a label for a number of historical figures, including, and perhaps foremost, Paul as the apostle of the Gentiles11. Many passages in the Torah are declared to be false and spurious (see, e.g., Hom. 2.51.1 and 3.17.2). The disputed material involves perceived contradictory statements, rules and laws that are said to have been superseded by Jesus’ teaching, and that part of Jewish prophecy that turned out to be wrong or wrongly applied12. In this instance, as well, the question is linked to issues of creating and upholding a specific form of Christian identity. I am rather less inclined than Vaccarella to include Marcionism in the list, but both (rabbinic) Judaism and pagan religion are in view when constructing identity based on this argument:

10. Ibid., p. 118. 11. Ibid., pp. 119-173. 12. See Vaccarella’s list of the various types and categories of such falsified material, ibid., pp. 140-156. Cf. K.E. SHUVE, The Doctrine of the False Pericopes and Other Late Antique Approaches to the Problem of Scripture’s Unity, in F. AMSLER et al. (eds.), Nouvelles intrigues pseudo-clémentines / Plots in the Pseudo-Clementine Romance (PIRSB, 6), Lausanne, Éditions du Zèbre, 2008, 437-445.



To properly worship God each member must avoid the practices associated with the false passages, uphold the traditions supported by the Homilies, and disregard false prophecy13.

Identity creation is key to understanding what these authors are aiming at, but even then the arguments remain quite “peculiar”14 and in a sense too polemical and too biased to solve the real problems about the tensions and contradictions that are met in Scripture. There are other means to make sense of them, but these authors preferred to take a path less trodden and one that is obviously not without its own difficulties. In the second part of the essay I will discuss another instance of the argument from a somewhat earlier time than the three that were studied by Vaccarella. II. THE FALSE PASSAGES ARGUMENT IN JUSTIN MARTYR’S DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho presents itself as the report (divided into 142 chapters in modern editions) of a, in my opinion and that of others, fictive encounter between the author and a Jew journeying in Asia Minor who is eager to enter into a discussion with a Christian. In the end Justin will not be able to convince Trypho, but clearly thinks he managed to build a strong case for Christianity, addressing a wide range of topics that divided Jews and Christians and offering answers that the intended readership is supposed to appreciate as valid or at least as useful replies in any given discussion with Jewish opponents. The Dialogue does not follow a fixed structure, but addresses a number of topics to which one or the other of the protagonists come back, often more than once. The topics addressed can be subsumed under four categories: the permanence of the Law, the evidence from Hebrew Scripture about the Messiah, certain disputed beliefs that are met among Christians, and the twofold perspective in which Christianity is to be viewed, focusing on Jews and Gentiles alike15. The question that interests us belongs to the second group. It shows up rather late in the debate and is handled quite succinctly compared to other topics, but to fully appreciate its value 13. Ibid., p. 173. 14. Ibid., p. 176. 15. On the importance of Jewish Scripture in arguing a Christian case, see E.F. OSBORN, Justin Martyr (BHT, 47), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 1973, pp. 87-98 and 120-138. For a valuable survey of the history of research on the Dialogue with regard to the author’s position towards Judaism, see S.J.G. SANCHEZ, Justin apologiste chrétien (CahRB, 50), Paris, Gabalda, 2000, pp. 25-67.



and role in the discussion it may be helpful to situate it in its immediate context, and to start with the latter. 1. The Preceding Context The question is dealt with in Dial. 71–74.3; its interpretation is hampered by the fact that the text breaks off at 74.3, only to resume with a citation from Jer 2,19 that is said to apply to Israel and not to foreign nations, as Trypho apparently read it in line with Jewish tradition. This no longer has anything to do with the question of false passages, but rather with false interpretations of Scripture. That is also the topic in the preceding context of 71–74.3, though it is not easy to determine where this begins. A case could be made to set its beginning at chapter 63, but only on the condition that one recognises that a crucial element of the discussion in 71–74.3, the correct understanding of the prophecy in Isa 7,14, had actually been addressed for the first time already as far back as chapters 43–44. However, on that occasion, Trypho had interrupted Justin because he first wanted to hear the latter’s opinion on a different matter – whether those who had lived before the Law had been given to Moses will be resurrected as well (45.1). Justin gives in to the request, which in turn leads him to discuss a number of other topics as well. Thus, in Dial. 55–62 Justin cites and explains a long list of instances from Scripture that would all demonstrate that what Trypho thought is said of God actually is said of Christ16. Trypho seems to be convinced by this presentation, but now demands proof (from Scripture) that this figure is indeed the same as the one Christians say was born from a virgin, crucified and then resurrected and taken up in heaven (63.1)17. Justin replies that he has given such proof already in the preceding, but will come back to it for the benefit of his discussion partner (63.2). Isa 53,8.12 is cited as proof that Christ was not born like any other human being (v. 8a) and was destined to be given up to death for the sake of the sins of the people (vv. 8b, 12). The first topic is further bolstered by a citation from Gen 49,11d, ascribed to Moses, as usual (περὶ οὗ καὶ Μωσῆς), which Justin had already cited in 54.2 with the 16. On this section, which starts at ch. 55 or 56 and deals with the pre-existence of Christ, see esp. P. PRIGENT, Justin et l’Ancien Testament (ÉtBib, 12), Paris, Gabalda, 1964, pp. 117-133, but he is interested first and foremost in the parallel with chs. 126–129 and their possible common origin, and then also in parallels in Irenaeus and Tertullian. 17. PRIGENT (ibid., pp. 145-157) again is more interested in the parallel with ch. 43 and above all in the parallels with other early Christian authors. Note that in the title of this chapter Prigent delineates the broader section as 63–78, but in the previous one he had put chs. 75–76 apart, as I propose to do here as well.



comment, “The expression, ‘the blood of the grape’, indicates allegorically that Christ has blood not from human seed, but from the power of God”18. He now repeats this same argument summarily in 63.2 as, “since His blood did not originate from human seed but from the will of God”19. Additional proof for the virgin birth comes from Ps 109,3-4, which in 3c speaks of γαστήρ20. One may wonder if such an argument holds, but that is not Justin’s concern. He immediately adds to it in 64.4 a much longer citation, this one from Ps 44,7-13, that he thinks offers further proof of Christ’s divine origin21. The keywords are, as Justin emphasises when summarising the argument, the terms God for Christ, Christ, and the verb προσκυνέω, the key verses being vv. 8 and 13 where these terms are found. Justin is confident that the argument holds, for it is God who has given testimony to Christ (63.5)22. Trypho seemingly gives in, but actually immediately introduces a nuance, not without any irony23, that raises more questions than it solves 18. FALLS, p. 229. Τὸ δὲ αἷμα τῆς σταφυλῆς εἰπεῖν τὸν Λόγον, διὰ τῆς τέχνης δεδήλωκεν ὅτι αἷμα μὲν ἔχει ὁ Χριστός, οὐκ ἐξ ἀνθρώπου σπέρματος, ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ δυνάμεως (BOBICHON, I, p. 320). Unless otherwise indicated, citations are from T.B. FALLS, Saint Justin Martyr (The Fathers of the Church, 6), Washington, DC, Catholic University of America Press, 1948. The Greek is cited from P. BOBICHON, Justin Martyr, Dialogue avec Tryphon. Édition critique. Volume I: Introduction, Texte grec, Traduction. Volume II: Notes de la traduction, Appendices, Indices (Paradosis, 47/1-2), Fribourg/CH, Academic Press Fribourg, 2003. The term τέχνη seems to have posed some problem. Falls translates as “allegorically”, which is perhaps too free. Bobichon notes that the phrase διὰ τῆς τέχνης is a hapax in the Dialogue and that the word often carries a negative connotation in Justin (BOBICHON, II, p. 730), but that is not the case here. He translates it as “par ce moyen détourné” and in 114.1 more neutrally as “procédé”; in the latter instance it is met in a context in which Justin speaks of typology. A. LUKYN WILLIAMS, Justin Martyr, the Dialogue with Trypho: Translation, Introduction, and Notes, London, SPCK, 1930, p. 107 has “by this trope”. On the text and textual history of Gen 49,11 and the evidence in Justin, see J. SMIT SIBINGA, The Old Testament Text of Justin Martyr. I: The Pentateuch, Leiden, Brill, 1963, pp. 77-81. 19. FALLS, p. 247. ὡς τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἐξ ἀνθρωπείου σπέρματος γεγεννημένου ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ θελήματος θεοῦ (BOBICHON, I, p. 352). This time Justin qualifies it as ἐν παραβολῇ εἰπών, which may have influenced Falls’ choice for “allegorically” in the previous instance. On the possibility that the passage as formulated by Justin was influenced by or reflects an earlier (original?) reading of John 1,13, see BOBICHON, II, p. 750 n. 8. 20. The verse constitutes a pillar in Justin’s argument; it is first cited in Dial. 32.6 and then repeated several times. See BOBICHON, II, p. 671 n. 28. 21. On this theme in general in Justin, see A. RUDOLPH, “Denn wir sind jenes Volk…”: Die neue Gottesverehrung in Justins Dialog mit dem Juden Tryphon in historisch-theologischer Sicht (Hereditas: Studien zur Alten Kirchengeschichte, 15), Bonn, Borengässer, 1999, pp. 167-180 and passim. 22. Actually, the word God is not used, but the phrase “He who made all things” (Falls has “did”) is best understood as referring to God as Creator. See the survey of alternative interpretations and the discussion in BOBICHON, II, p. 751 n. 14. 23. Note “the God who made Him (Christ)”, and compare with the phrase in 63.5.



when arguing that this may perhaps be so for Christians, but “we Jews […] are not obliged to confess or worship Him” (64.1)24. The argument is shaky and indeed not without danger, as it gives the impression that Jews are not bound to what is said in Scripture. Trypho is rebuked by Justin as one who is “contentious and shallow-brained” (64.2 φιλέριστος καὶ κενός)25. It is perhaps not much of an answer, but it certainly labels the antagonist in a very negative way. It does not restrain Justin from generously offering to continue the debate, finely pointing out that this is a very serious matter because it deals with salvation, including Trypho’s own (64.3)26. Another long citation, again from the Psalms (98.1-7), that had been cited before (37.3-4) and is now accompanied by the good advice to Trypho to take heed and try to understand what is written instead of ventilating objections27, should offer proof that the Lord, who is now (almost) naturally understood as referring to Christ, was actually worshipped already by Moses, Aaron and Samuel. The passage is introduced in such a way that apparently no further comment is needed, and indeed none is given28. A different kind of argument is added to it in 64.5-6 when, in a partially abbreviated format, Ps 71,1-18 is cited as proof that David was not speaking about his son Solomon, the title of the Psalm and its first verse notwithstanding, but actually about Christ as the saviour of his people (the verb “to save” in v. 4 and the connotation of eternity in the phrase συμπαραμενεῖ τῷ ἡλίῳ καὶ πρὸ τῆς σελήνης ‹εἰς› γενεὰς γενεῶν in v. 5). It is followed in 64.8 by yet another Psalm citation, this one from Ps 18,2-7 (already cited more extensively in Dial. 30.1), the final verse of which Justin interprets quite freely in 64.7 with the help of allusions to Zech 12,10 as referring to Christ’s divine origin and destination (“He 24. FALLS, p. 249 (Jews is not in the Greek). ἡμεῖς δέ, […], οὐ δεόμεθα τῆς ὁμολογίας αὐτοῦ οὐδὲ τῆς προσκυνήσεως (BOBICHON, I, p. 354). Cf. RUDOLPH, Gottesverehrung (n. 21), pp. 167-169. 25. FALLS, p. 249; BOBICHON, I, p. 354. Cf. Dial. 67.11. 26. On the importance of this passage for Justin’s project, see C.D. ALLERT, Revelation, Truth, Canon and Interpretation: Studies in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho (SupplVC, 64), Leiden – Boston, MA – Köln, Brill, 2002, p. 60: “The passage virtually summarizes Justin’s intentions in the Dialogue”. 27. Another quite negative reply: καὶ ἀξιῶ ὑμᾶς πρὸς τὸ συνιέναι, μὴ πρὸς τὸ πονηρεύεσθαι καὶ ἀντιλέγειν μόνον ἑαυτοὺς ὀτρῦναι (BOBICHON, I, p. 356); “and I ask you to be attentive in order to understand them, instead of making a point only of maliciously contradicting them” (FALLS, p. 249). 28. Cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 752 n. 13: “le Salut, pour les juifs, passe par l’adoration du Christ. Cette interprétation a le mérite de prendre en compte la technique souvent allusive – mais toujours cohérente – selon laquelle Justin utilise et associe les citations bibliques”. No wonder that Trypho reacts quite vigorously in 38.1 after Justin had first cited this passage. On the citation technique of Justin in Dial. 63–68, see also G. OTRANTO, Esegesi biblica e storia in Giustino (Dial. 63–8) (Quaderni di “Vetera Christianorum”, 14), Bari, Istituto di Letteratura Cristiana antica, 1979, here pp. 60-61.



would come forth from the highest heavens and was to ascend again to the same place”) and further explains by smuggling in the phrase “He came forth as God from above, and became man in the midst of men” which is obviously not found in the citation itself29. The argument impresses by the length of the citations, but also by the emphatic note that some of these had already been cited before. Trypho is being taught the truth about Scripture the hard way, as he himself recognises when admitting “I am puzzled” (65.1 δυσωπούμενος)30. However, it does not make him refrain from continuing the debate, though in a considerably less confident way, when asking Justin to clarify to him the meaning of Isa 42,8. Justin is not impressed by his interlocutor’s sudden humbleness and replies that he hopes Trypho is sincere in citing this one verse without its context. Justin, as a good pedagogue, begins with abundantly citing the context from Isa 42,5 to 13 (65.6), which in his opinion in itself should demonstrate the correct meaning of the passage. God obviously does not say that he does not wish to glorify anyone, but rather that he reserves this honour for the one who is called “light of the nations” (v. 6); v. 8 receives its meaning from its context31. As far as Justin is concerned, it sometimes is just a matter of citing the text to get an idea of its meaning. Whether Trypho really got this remains an open question, even though he gives in to Justin and invites him to pick up again where he had left off (65.7), that is, the interpretation of the prophecy in Isa 7,1432. Justin gladly accepts the invitation and starts with 29. Note the double emphatic “recall and know” at the end of each part of the phrase: ἀπ᾿ ἄκρων τῶν οὐρανῶν προέρχεσθαι ἔμελλεν καὶ πάλιν εἰς τοὺς αὐτοὺς τόπους ἀνιέναι ἐμηνύετο, ἀναμνήσθητε, ἵνα καὶ θεὸν ἄνωθεν προελθόντα καὶ ἄνθρωπον ἐν ἀνθρώποις γενόμενον γνωρίσητε (BOBICHON, I, p. 358). The opening words recall the way Justin describes the second Parousia. BOBICHON (II, p. 754 n. 23) also finely notes the allusion to Trypho’s words in 48.1 in the phrase ἄνθρωπον ἐν ἀνθρώποις (there with ἐκ). One will also note that the adjective in the phrase ἰσχυρὸς ὡς γίγας is missing from LXX and from the manuscript of the Dialogue. Justin cites the verse two times with (Dial. 69.3; 1 Apol. 54.9 ) and one more time also without the adjective (1 Apol. 40.4). It strengthens the force of the formula and invites allusions to a Heracles // Jesus parallelism (so BOBICHON, II, p. 754 n. 26). 30. There may be a pinch of sarcasm in Trypho’s reaction; so T.J. HORNER, Listening to Trypho: Justin Martyr’s Dialogue Reconsidered (CBET, 28), Leuven, Peeters, 2001, p. 127. 31. Cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 755 n. 5: “C’est d’abord dans son contexte qu’un verset trouve son sens”. Curiously, also in view of the accusation of falsifying the biblical text that will follow soon, Justin tacitly corrects Trypho’s citation of v. 8 by adding τοῖς γλυπτοῖς at the end and refrains from making any comment on it, in line with the irenic tone of this part of the dialogue. In the same vein, Trypho does not object to Justin adding καὶ οὐκ ἄλλῳ τινί to v. 6 in his comment (not in the citation itself) in 65.7 (cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 755 n. 10). 32. On Jewish interpretation of this verse in contrast to Justin’s, see L. MISIARCZYK, Il midrash nel Dialogo con Trifone di Giustino martire, Plock, Plocki Instytut Wydawniczy, 1999, pp. 193-205.



citing the verse in its context once again (7,10-17, in 66.2-3), as he had done before in 43.5-6, adding just one pointed comment: no one in Jewish tradition has ever been said to have been born from a virgin, except Jesus33. “True” as this may be for one who believes that the verse must be read as a prophecy about Jesus, Justin’s interpretation nevertheless fails to win over Trypho who mounts a triple defence. First he notes, with good reason, that Scripture does not speak of a virgin, but of a young woman, though it means he has to adapt the text of the LXX that he claims reads νεᾶνις instead of παρθένος (67.1)34. He continues by noting that such a story about a so-called virgin birth closely resembles what Greek mythology tells about the birth of Perseus, shaming Justin for being no better than these silly stories (67.2 αἰδεῖσθαι ὀφείλετε)35. He ends with generously admitting that Jesus could well be the Christ, but then on his own merits for having kept to the Law and not by any miraculous birth (67.2)36. The argument seems to be a strong one, but its deficiencies are obviously built in, as it is formulated by Justin, in order to be countered. Yet, one also senses that Justin does not really feel certain about his reply for his first response is not about content but about the character of his interlocutor. He begins by criticising Trypho for not being serious (67.3a γελοιάζοντες ἢ ἐπιτωθάζοντες). He then goes into the offensive by claiming that Trypho’s objections actually offer proof for the Christian position (67.3b). And he concludes with accusing Trypho of not playing by the book and for coming back on issues on which they had agreed before (67.4)37. The last objection is immediately illustrated in a most general and somewhat sophistic way: if God had proclaimed the Law to master the obduracy of his people, as Trypho is supposed to have agreed, then there is little merit in upkeeping the Law and using it as a criterion for identifying the Messiah (67.4). Trypho’s reply is short and rather weak: after all Jesus was circumcised, so kept the Law (67.5). It allows Justin to introduce a most important distinction, inspired by Paul, in defining one’s attitude to the Law. Jesus kept the Law in obedience to the Father, just as he suffered 33. Dial. 66.4: Ὅτι μὲν οὖν ἐν τῷ γένει τῷ κατὰ σάρκα Ἀβραὰμ οὐδεὶς οὐδέποτε ἀπὸ παρθένου γεγέννηται οὐδὲ λέλεκται γεγεννημένος, ἀλλ᾿ ἢ οὗτος ὁ ἡμέτερος Χριστός, πᾶσι φανερόν ἐστι (BOBICHON, I, p. 364); “Everyone knows, I added, that of all the carnal descendants of Abraham, no one was ever born of a virgin, or even claimed to be born so, except our Christ” (FALLS, p. 254). Note the emphatic “our Christ”. 34. Ἡ γραφὴ οὐκ ἔχει· Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος […], ἀλλ᾿· Ἰδοὺ ἡ νεᾶνις […] (BOBICHON, I, p. 364). 35. Cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 756 n. 4. 36. See RUDOLPH, Gottesverehrung (n. 21), pp. 184-187. 37. He combines with it a call to keep the truth at any cost, implicitly accusing the opponent of not being truthful. Cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 756 n. 7.



death for the same reason, but he was not justified by it38. Justin feels he is winning and continues by pushing Trypho towards admitting, as he had done before, that the righteous who lived before Moses were justified without the Law (67.7), that God has no need of the sacrifices his people brought, but that this only served to illustrate the latter’s obedience to the Law (67.8), and that another covenant had been announced in Scripture, a universally recognised one and one that is not built on fear and trembling (67.9-10). The reply ends with yet another accusation about Trypho’s attitude, describing him as one who constantly contradicts himself while accusing others of the same39. Three things are worth noting in this long chapter: Justin does not actually address any of the objections Trypho brought up; instead he focuses on the opponent’s attitude, which is said to be insincere and even contradictory; in the end, what seems to be a weak and evasive reply on the part of Justin turns out to be a most effective one as Trypho has to give in on the whole line of argument. The opponent is not fully convinced. He no longer says that Justin’s interpretation of Isa 7,10-17 is wrong, but that it is a quite unbelievable and indeed impossible reading of the passage40. There is something to be said for this, for how to explain and accept that God was made man41? Justin’s reply is as surprising as it is simple: he is not using any “human” arguments, but just lets Scripture speak42! The reply comes down to the same as the previous one and basically is an ad hominem argument: Trypho does not want to see the truth in Scripture and is urged not to return to issues on which agreement had already been reached in trying to counter Justin. The argument is stronger than one might expect it to be, 38. Dial. 67.6: Ὡμολόγησά τε καὶ ὁμολογῶ· ἀλλ᾿ οὐχ ὡς δικαιούμενον αὐτὸν διὰ τούτων ὡμολόγησα ὑπομεμενηκέναι πάντα, ἀλλὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν ἀπαρτίζοντα, ἣν ἤθελεν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ (BOBICHON, I, p. 366); “Yes I did […] and I still do, but I do not admit that he submitted to this, as though justification could be acquired by it, but simply to complete the plan of our redemption in accordance with the will of His Father” (FALLS, p. 255). 39. Dial. 67.11: Οὐκ οἶδ᾿ ὅπως, ἔφην, φιλερίστους τινὰς ἀποκαλῶν, αὐτὸς πολλάκις ἐν τούτῳ ἐφάνης τῷ ἔργῳ ὤν, ἀντειπὼν πολλάκις οἷς συνετέθης (BOBICHON, I, p. 368); “I don’t know, I said, how you can accuse others of admiring strife, when you yourself so often seem to do just that, for you frequently contradict what you had previously conceded” (FALLS, p. 256). On this argument from sophistry, see BOBICHON, II, p. 758 n. 22. 40. Dial. 68.1a: Ἄπιστον γὰρ καὶ ἀδύνατον σχεδὸν πρᾶγμα (BOBICHON, I, p. 368); “what is incredible and practically impossible” (FALLS, p. 256). 41. BOBICHON (II, p. 758 nn. 1 and 2) rightly draws attention to the absence of the article with “God” and the similarity with the critique of Celsus’ Jew (Cels. 1.69). 42. Dial. 68.1b: εἰ δὲ γραφὰς καὶ εἰς τοῦτο εἰρημένας τοσαύτας, πλειστάκις αὐτὰς λέγων, ἀξιῶ ὑμᾶς ἐπιγνῶναι αὐτάς […] (BOBICHON, I, p. 368); “But if I constantly appeal to various passages of Scripture to prove my point and beg you to understand them […]” (FALLS, p. 256).



at least in the way Justin depicts the situation, for it “forces” Trypho to admit that he will have to search Scripture for the truth it contains and to agree that he will stop philandering (68.2-3a). Justin has Trypho where he wants him to be and changes gear: from now on he will be the one who asks the questions! The first such question is rather embarrassing for Justin and already has him run into problems. When asked if he accepts that the terms “Lord” and “God” can be used for another than God or Christ, Trypho aptly replies that this is actually what has to be dealt with and proven (68.3b-4a; cf. 63.5)43. Justin falls back on his by now usual reply: please do not retrieve from what you have previously agreed on, to which Trypho consents, giving Justin some courage to go on, citing once more Isa 53,8 as proof that Christ is not of merely human descent (68.4b; cf. 13.6 and 63.2). Trypho’s objection, based on Ps 131,11, that the promise of a future kingdom is made to David is easily countered by Isa 7,13: such prophecies are not made to David in person but to “his house”. Prophets explain what had remained hidden or unsaid in older texts; that is what prophecy is all about, so Justin (68.6). What remains unsaid in this explanation is, of course, that Jesus indeed belongs to the house of David for which no evidence is cited here. Justin solemnly promises Trypho that this is what he will prove, but before that he does two other things. This tendency of Justin to delay his response and wander off into other aspects and questions may help to enhance the tension, though it may also look like an acute form of prognostication, as it is rampant and occurs all through the Dialogue. He begins by briefly picking up on Trypho’s first argument about the precise reading of Isa 7,14 in Greek, which inspires him to a full-blown attack on rabbinic exegesis44. Three arguments are mounted. Justin brutally accuses 43. Behind it is a more fundamental problem with interpreting Scripture which OSBORN (Justin [n. 15], p. 88) once formulated as, “The scriptures for all their coherence and unanimity may be misunderstood”. 44. Justin’s (sources of) knowledge of Judaism, its practices and its Scripture has been a matter of some dispute. He does not show any trace of familiarity with Hebrew (D. ROKEAH, Justin Martyr and the Jews [Jewish and Christian Perspectives Series, 5], Leiden – Boston, MA – Köln, 2002, pp. 20-21: the few instances in which one might suspect such a knowledge stem from his sources), nor is there any indication he was directly influenced by Hellenistic Judaism as it had developed in Alexandria (ibid., pp. 22-28; cf. O. SKARSAUNE, The Proof from Prophecy: A Study in Justin Martyr’s Proof-Text Tradition: Text-Type, Provenance, Theological Profile [SupplNT, 46], Leiden, Brill, 1987, pp. 409-424). It is therefore probably safe to say, as has been suggested, that “his knowledge of Judaism was derived directly from the LXX and from post-biblical practices, doctrines and exegetical methods” (L.W. BARNARD, Justin Martyr: His Life and Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1967, p. 43; cf. W.A. SHOTWELL, The Biblical Exegesis of Justin Martyr, London, SPCK, 1965, pp. 70-115; ROKEAH, Justin, pp. 29-42), to which one should in any case add the strong influence from Christian polemical tradition in dealing with all things Jewish, as is also the case with the argument of falsifying Scripture on which more below.



Jewish scribes and rabbis of willingly having changed the text by reading νεᾶνις; he goes on by fulminating, without providing any further evidence, against their tendency to adapt the text of Scripture to their liking, as if this is common practice among rabbis; and he ends with exposing their stubbornness for not accepting that what is said in Scripture about Christ indeed applies to Jesus and to him alone (68.7-9)45. Impressive as the objections may sound, on closer look one has to admit that they carry far less weight than Justin wants his Christian readers to believe. The reading νεᾶνις may after all well be the better equivalent for the Hebrew original, even if it is not attested in the LXX. This first argument is built on a different perception of the status and trustworthiness of the Greek rendering of Scripture. The second argument is too general to convince an adversary. The last one, perhaps the strongest of the three, is given a status that exceeds its value, for if it is true that what is said in Scripture about a suffering Messiah can indeed be applied to Jesus, it is not proven that it can only be applied to him and that no other figure can claim it again in the future. This is what Justin is referring to with his comment that Trypho’s “teachers” (τοῖς διδασκάλοις ὑμῶν, as he calls them in 68.7), by which he must have meant rabbis, should recognise their mistake (69.9)46. The second detour leads him to counter Trypho’s second argument, about the parallel with Greek mythology. The critique is straightforward: all such stories are devised by the devil. When Dionysius or Heracles are said to have been taken up into heaven and Asclepius to have healed the sick and even resuscitated people (69.2-3, note the threefold μεμιμῆσθαι), this is nothing but the devil imitating in a weak and perverse way what is said about Jesus Christ. The last aspect is illustrated from the healing catalogue in Isa 35,1-7, which is naturally taken to point to Jesus’ ministry (69.5), though not without also referring to the opposition the latter met and the accusations of magic and deception that were brought against 45. The central phrase is found in 68.9: Ἃς δ᾿ ἂν λέγωμεν αὐτοῖς γραφάς, αἳ διαρρήδην τὸν Χριστὸν καὶ παθητὸν καὶ προσκυνητὸν καὶ θεὸν ἀποδεικνύουσιν, ἃς καὶ προανιστόρησα ὑμῖν, ταύτας εἰς Χριστὸν μὲν εἰρῆσθαι ἀναγκαζόμενοι συντίθενται, τοῦτον δὲ μὴ εἶναι τὸν Χριστὸν τολμῶσι λέγειν, ἐλεύσεσθαι δὲ καὶ παθεῖν καὶ βασιλεῦσαι καὶ προσκυνητὸν γενέσθαι θεὸν ὁμολογοῦσιν (BOBICHON, I, p. 372); “Under pressure, they are forced to agree that some of the passages we cited – passages already quoted to you which clearly prove that Christ was to suffer, to be worshipped, and to be called God – were indeed spoken of Christ. They boldly deny that He whom we worship is the Christ, yet they admit that a Messiah will come to suffer and rule and be worshipped” (FALLS, p. 258). Falls omits θεός. If the two other motifs are met elsewhere in the Dialogue, this latter one is not; see BOBICHON, II, p. 759 n. 17. 46. On Justin’s presentation of Jewish “teachers”, see P.J. DONAHUE, Jewish-Christian Controversy in the Second Century: A Study in the Dialogue of Justin Martyr, unpublished dissertation Yale University, 1973, pp. 190-210; HORNER, Listening to Trypho (n. 30), pp. 130136.



him47. The argument may seem a bit odd for the modern reader, but an imaginary second-century Jewish interlocutor may well have bought into it, for the motif that Moses had inspired Plato was not unknown48. The problem is not the awkward chronology, but rather the fact that this motif is here expanded to also include, on the one hand, Greek mythology that definitely was much older than Plato, and on the other, parts of Scripture that were much later than Moses but here serve as proof that what the ancients said the Greek gods had done also applies to Jesus. Justin develops the argument a bit further still in chapter 70 and also includes the Mithras cult in his incriminations, arguing that all they say and do is equally well attested already in Daniel (2,34, on the stone that is taken from the mountain without any human help) and, again, in Isaiah (citing 33,13-19, on pronouncing justice, in 70.2-3, which Mithras worshippers are said to do in mere imitation of the prophet). Justin’s real interest, however, is not so much in countering this pagan cult, but in demonstrating that the Isaiah citation is replete with allusions to what Jesus will say and do at the Last Supper49. So here again, as in the previous chapter, the major focus is on Jesus Christ and on how the prophet Isaiah has so generously foretold what would happen to him. The passing reference to Perseus’ birth from “a virgin” with which Justin closes this section is but a side comment and one more example of how the ancient Greeks, helped by Satan, found their inspiration in Jewish tradition (70.5)50. 47. Dial. 69.7: Οἱ δὲ καὶ ταῦτα ὁρῶντες γινόμενα φαντασίαν μαγικὴν γίνεσθαι ἔλεγον· καὶ γὰρ μάγον εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐτόλμων λέγειν καὶ λαοπλάνον (BOBICHON, I, p. 376); “Yet, though they witnessed these miraculous deeds with their own eyes, they attributed them to magical art; indeed, they dared to call Him a magician who misled the people” (FALLS, p. 260). The latter accusation recalls the one brought against Jesus in Matt 27,63; see also Dial. 108.2, but without the composite word that is found here. Cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 762 n. 22. 48. See BOBICHON, II, p. 760 n. 3. 49. 70.4: Ὅτι μὲν οὖν καὶ ‹λέγει› ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ προφητείᾳ περὶ τοῦ ἄρτου, ὃν παρέδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ ἡμέτερος Χριστὸς ποιεῖν εἰς ἀνάμνησιν τοῦ σεσωματοποιῆσθαι αὐτὸν διὰ τοὺς πιστεύοντας εἰς αὐτόν, δι᾿ οὓς καὶ παθητὸς γέγονε, καὶ περὶ τοῦ ποτηρίου, ὃ εἰς ἀνάμνησιν τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ παρέδωκεν εὐχαριστοῦντας ποιεῖν, φαίνεται (BOBICHON, I, p. 378); “It is quite evident that this prophecy also alludes to the bread which our Christ gave us to offer in remembrance of the Body which he assumed for the sake of those who believe in Him, for whom He also suffered, and also to the cup which He taught us to offer in the Eucharist, in commemoration of His blood” (FALLS, p. 262). Commentators have been puzzled about how Justin obscures a possible allusion to baptism in Isa 33,16 (τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτοῦ πιστόν, “his water shall be sure”) in favour of a eucharistic interpretation, in which water would have replaced wine. See the summary of the debate, mostly in older literature, in BOBICHON, II, p. 764 n. 10. 50. Cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 765 n. 14. The comparison with mythology is also met in the first Apology and has led some to think that Justin was using a common source in both of his works, a hypothesis we cannot address here; see PRIGENT, Justin (n. 16), pp. 158-171.



2. The False Passages Argument We finally get back to Isa 7,14, and this time it is “for real”! Justin had expressed doubts about the competence and, above all, the honesty of Trypho’s teachers in 68.7 when accusing them of not accepting the truth of the LXX translation. He picks up the same argument again in chapter 71, but now in a much more expanded format, when objecting to Trypho, You should also know that they have deleted entire passages from the version composed by those elders at the court of Ptolemy, in which it is clearly indicated that the Crucified One was foretold as God and man, and as about to suffer death on the cross51.

The accusation leaves one baffled, both because of its generalising character and the lack of evidence52. Justin argues, no more no less, that Jewish experts have systematically tampered with the Greek version of Scripture when it was at risk of being abused by Christian readers53. He does not yet say which passages he has in mind54. The intervention in any case was not complete, nor successful, for he shows that Christians managed to safeguard and preserve copies of the original version55. Perhaps 51. Dial. 71.2 (FALLS, p. 262). Καὶ ὅτι πολλὰς γραφὰς τέλεον περιεῖλον ἀπὸ τῶν ἐξηγήσεων τῶν γεγενημένων ὑπὸ τῶν παρὰ Πτολεμαίῳ γεγενημένων, πρεσβυτέρων, ἐξ ὧν διαρρήδην οὗτος αὐτὸς ὁ σταυρωθεὶς ὅτι θεὸς καὶ ἄνθρωπος καὶ σταυρούμενος καὶ ἀποθνῄσκων κεκηρυγμένος ἀποδείκνυται, εἰδέναι ὑμᾶς βούλομαι (BOBICHON, I, p. 378). How important this phrase is for Justin is demonstrated not only by its content, but also by its form. Note the creed-like fourfold formula with “God”, “man”, “crucified”, which will play an important role soon after in the examples Justin will cite (cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 767 n. 5), and “died”, which unfortunately has lost some of its ring in Falls’ translation (contrast Bobichon’s “[…] est proclamé Dieu, homme, crucifié et mort”); the adverb διαρρήδην; the emphatic “I want you to know” at the end; and maybe also the at first somewhat sloppy double γεγενημένων that may betray Justin’s emotion when formulating this. 52. PRIGENT (Justin [n. 16], pp. 173-174) even thought that this topic is completely out of place in this context, but he is rightly tackled by BOBICHON who shows that it continues the question of changes to the text that was inaugurated with the debate on Isa 7,14 and concludes, with good reason, “ce développement est donc ici, dans la logique de Justin, tout à fait justifié. Où serait-il mieux placé dans l’œuvre?” (II, p. 765 n. 1). That said, one cannot ignore that the way Justin tackles the topic raises some questions as I will show below. 53. They did so by producing a Greek version of their own, he says in 71.1. He apparently seems to know only one such alternative to the LXX, which may have been Theodotion’s (so BOBICHON, II, p. 765 n. 3). 54. In view of what follows the phrase πολλὰς γραφάς is probably best understood as “many (or ‘entire’) passages” (so Falls) rather than as “beaucoup d’Écritures” (Bobichon), which makes no sense. 55. The possibility that Christians might have tampered with the text obviously does not even cross his mind. Remarkable (and somewhat puzzling) is also the complete



the best way to make sense of the objection is to regard it as a tactical move from which Justin also immediately retreats by adding that he will not use it against Trypho, except for those cases in which his opponent admits that there exists a different reading56. This should not too easily be regarded as a sign he realised that the argument could not work, for in that case he could just have left it out. As a matter of fact, as I see it, the net result is a double gain. Justin can present himself as a fair opponent; the others are pictured as insincere meddlers with the truth of Sacred Scripture. It also functions as a way to postpone once more the discussion on the vexed verse from Isa 7,14, Justin’s promise that he now will turn to it notwithstanding (71.3; cf. 68.7-8 and earlier already in 43.8), for Trypho naturally counters Justin’s insinuations by urging him to say which writings he is hinting at57. Justin takes up the gauntlet, but it quickly turns out that he seems to have overplayed his hand, or at least somewhat overstated his case for not all of the examples that follow bear equal weight58. The first instance (72.1) is particularly weak as the example he cites from 2 Ezra (LXX) is only vaguely identified (“on the Law of Pascha”, which may refer to 2 Ezra 6,19-21LXX) and the text the Jews are said to have omitted is missing in the LXX version59. Later on, the same passage was cited (in Latin) and also attributed to Ezra by Lactantius (Div. Inst. 4.18.22), which does little to take away the suspicion about its absence of any reference to the Hebrew version which could be invoked to force a decision in such cases where the Greek is ambiguous. It is difficult to imagine that Justin was of the opinion that the same argument of Jewish tampering with the text also worked in this case. 56. Dial. 71.2: Ἃς, ἐπειδὴ ἀρνεῖσθαι πάντας τοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ γένους ὑμῶν ἐπίσταμαι, ταῖς τοιαύταις ζητήσεσιν οὐ προβάλλω, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ τὰς ἐκ τῶν ὁμολογουμένων ἔτι παρ᾿ ὑμῖν ζητήσεις ποιεῖν ἔρχομαι (BOBICHON, I, pp. 378-380); “But, since I know that all of you Jews deny the authenticity of these passages, I will not start a discussion about them, but I will limit the controversy to those passages which you admit as genuine” (FALLS, pp. 262-263). 57. Dial. 71.4: Πρῶτον ἀξιοῦμεν εἰπεῖν σε ἡμῖν καί τινας ὧν λέγεις τέλεον παραγεγράφθαι γραφῶν (BOBICHON, I, p. 380); “Before you do, […], we would like you to quote some of the passages you claim were entirely omitted” (FALLS, p. 263). 58. I will as a rule refrain from discussing the origin of Justin’s citations, but a good case can be made for assuming he took them from a Testimonia collection. On the latter, see M.C. ALBL, “And Scripture cannot be broken …”: The Form and Function of the Early Christian Testimonia Collections (SupplNT, 96), Leiden – Boston, MA – Köln, Brill, 1999, pp. 101-106 (Justin); RUDOLPH, Gottesverehrung (n. 21), pp. 51-54; and above all, SKARSAUNE, Proof (n. 44), passim. 59. At best, there is a faint echo of 1 Cor 5,7 in the notion of Christ as the Paschal lamb, which allows for speculating about the possibility that Justin is (knowingly) citing a Christian interpretation of or perhaps even interpolation in the biblical text. See the survey of opinions in BOBICHON, II, p. 767 n. 2.



authenticity60. This does not in itself make it a Christian construct, though that is probably the most plausible option61. The second example comes from Jeremiah and is not much stronger. Justin accuses the rabbis of having removed Jer 11,19 (72.2)62. The version he cites differs slightly from that of the LXX, which in turn differs in some respect from the Hebrew (MT), but the verse is found in all Greek manuscripts63. At most one could say that the Jews hold to a wrong reading, but not that they eliminated the verse altogether. Justin seems to realise the problem when adding that the omission occurred only recently for he knows of Jewish manuscripts that still read the passage64. His case is not really helped by what follows. He considers the omission as a sign of the rabbis’ embarrassment with the phrase “an innocent lamb”, but the way

60. Ibid. 61. See, most forcefully on the basis of the parallel in Lactantius, LUKYN WILLIAMS, Justin Martyr (n. 18), p. 151 n. 2 (“It seems to be entirely Christian in origin”), who connects it with the free quotation of Matt 27,40.42 in Dial. 101.3. E. NORELLI, Due testimonia attribuiti a Esdra, in ASE 1 (1984) 231-282, offers a more specific context, arguing that the passage originated as a Christian midrash on Exodus 12 in the decades before Justin wrote his Dialogue. R. KRAFT, Ezra Materials in Judaism and Christianity, in ANRW II.19.1, Berlin – New York, De Gruyter, 1972, pp. 119-136, remains somewhat uncommitted when merely calling it “pre-Christian”. Cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 768 n. 2. 62. For an analysis of the text form, see SKARSAUNE, Proof (n. 44), pp. 40-42. In this case Justin speaks of περικόπτω (also 72.4), while in the previous one he used a form of ἀφαιρέω (also 73.1). Other verbs that are used in this context are περιαιρέω (71.2), παραγράφομαι (71.4; further also in 73.5 and 6 and 84.3 and 4, in the latter in combination with παρεξηγηθέω), ἐγκόπτω (72.3). BOBICHON (II, p. 766 n. 4) points out that these verbs are close to each other in meaning, but may also connote specific nuances that include “omit”, “strike”, and also “interpret erroneously”. Yet, he concludes, more generally and slightly in tension with what preceded, “Il semble donc que ces différentes expressions soient perçues comme équivalentes, et que leur variété n’ait d’autre fonction que d’éviter la répétition”. Whether they also reflect uncertainty on Justin’s part about what precisely had happened to these verses, remains to be seen (pace Bobichon). 63. The reference to “an innocent lamb” (actually, the adjective ἄκακον is missing in the manuscript, but is added by many editors from 72.3, where the phrase is cited once more) and the combined presence of “bread” and “wood” in the Greek (though the latter is not in the MT) made the verse a favourite among Christian authors and secured it a place in any Testimonia collection (see the evidence in BOBICHON, II, p. 768 n. 3), but it is hard to say if the difference from the Hebrew was a conscious choice or rather the result of a mistake; see F.C. BURKITT, Justin Martyr and Jeremiah 11,19, in JTS 32 (1932) 371-373, who opts for the latter. 64. Dial. 72.3: Καὶ ἐπειδὴ αὕτη ἡ περικοπή […] ἔτι ἐστιν ἐγγεγραμμένην ἔν τισιν ἀντιγράφοις τῶν ἐν συναγωγαῖς ᾿Ιουδαίων (πρὸ γὰρ ὀλίγου χρόνου ταῦτα ἐξέκοψαν) (BOBICHON, II, p. 380); “this passage from the words of Jeremias is still found in some copies of Scripture in the Jewish synagogues (for it was deleted only a short time ago)” (FALLS, p. 263). The information, which is not further documented, serves a double purpose. It gives the impression that Justin is well informed about Jewish liturgical life and praxis and at the same time it shows that the Jews were a bit sloppy in handling their sacred text. Jews in the diaspora read the Bible in Greek (cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 769 n. 4).



this is formulated, comparing this phrase to a similar one in Isa 53,7 (a lamb led to be slaughtered), gives the wrong impression that the Jews have also left out the latter, for which there is no evidence65. The difficulty is only partially obscured by the emphatic language about blasphemy, which qualifies any such tampering with the text as a most serious mistake. The situation is further complicated when Justin then adds one more passage from Jeremiah that he claims was left out, citing a verse that is not attested in any Hebrew, Greek or Latin version of the book (72.4)66. Next, Justin accuses Jewish scribes and rabbis of having tampered with the text of Ps 95,10 (LXX) having left out the phrase “from the cross” after “the Lord reigns” (73.1). Actually, the phrase is missing from the Hebrew and from the LXX, but it is attested among later authors in the West67. Most puzzlingly, Justin then cites the psalm in its entirety in 73.34, but simply forgets to mention the phrase “from the cross”68! No wonder that in his exegesis of the verse in 73.2, Justin passes over the phrase in silence to concentrate on other elements that would prove that this is said of Christ, the Crucified69. Trypho remains most polite70. He interrupts Justin to express doubts that the scribes/rabbis (οἱ ἄρχοντες τοῦ λαοῦ) would have left out anything 65. ὡς καὶ διὰ τοῦ Ἠσαΐου προεφητεύθη, ὡς πρόβατον ἐπὶ σφαγὴν ἀγόμενος, καὶ ἐνθάδε ὡς ἀρνίον ἄκακον δηλοῦται· ὥστ᾿ ἀπορούμενοι ἐπὶ τὸ βλασφημεῖν χωροῦσι (BOBICHON, I, p. 382); “and since He is shown, as was likewise prophesied by Isaias, as led like a lamb to slaughter, and in accordance with this passage He is marked as ‘an innocent lamb’ they are so confused by such words that they resort to blasphemy” (FALLS, p. 264). The whole phrase, with its threefold ὡς followed by ὥστε, reads difficult and was subject to several emendations (see BOBICHON, I, p. 382 nn. 1-3). 66. The strange verse has given rise to various speculations. Attested also by Irenaeus (who attributes it to Jeremiah), the text sounds like a paraphrase of the famous passage in Matt 27,52-53 that provided the inspiration for the motif of the descent in hell (cf. OSBORN, Justin [n. 15], p. 104: “perhaps”). Direct dependence from Irenaeus, whose source remains unknown, is probably the less complicated option and therefore to be preferred over such suggestions that have to pose independent use of a common source, as proposed by PRIGENT, Justin (n. 16), pp. 185-187 and supported by E. NORELLI, Il martirio di Isaia come testimonium antigiudaico?, in Henoch 2 (1980) 44-49. Cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 769 n. 8. 67. Cf. BOBICHON, II, p. 770 n. 1. For a more detailed analysis of the text form and its origin, see SKARSAUNE, Proof (n. 44), pp. 35-39. OSBORN (Justin [n. 15], p. 111) explains the reading as resulting from “midrashic exegesis”. 68. Unless this is a scribal correction in line with the received text. Several editors have harmonised the passage with the form cited in 73.1, but maybe there is no need for this, as BOBICHON (II, p. 771 n. 4) argues with reference to the edition of Marcovich, as it may be one more example of Justin’s concern to cite the text in the form in which it is accepted by his opponent (see also Dial. 131.3). 69. So BOBICHON (II, p. 771 n. 4), who points to Ps 95,2 and sees several parallels also with words and phrases from Psalm 46. 70. Commentators have extensively debated the question in how far the Dialogue offers us a civilised form of debate in which the protagonists, and then especially Justin, are a



from the sacred text, but he does not accuse him of being a liar. He just does not believe that this has happened (73.5 ἀπίστῳ δὲ ἔοικε τὸ τοιοῦτον)71. Justin uses the moment to continue his attack but in a rather different way. He no longer offers proof for any corruption of the Scripture on the part of the scribes or rabbis, but simply condemns them for a crime that is worse than any other, including, in this order, worshiping the golden calf, rejecting God’s food in the desert, child sacrifice to please demons, and killing the prophets (73.6a). All of these accusations had been mentioned before. Justin claims he has made his case and tries to wrap up the debate by expressing his surprise that Trypho had never heard of the examples he has cited, a rather harsh judgement of the opponent, and concluding that they nevertheless offer sufficient proof (73.6b). Trypho, however, does not give in yet and comes back to the last example, the one from Ps 95,10. He carefully picks out one element from the long citation Justin gave of the psalm – the multiple references to the Creator of heaven and earth (see Ps 19, – that in his opinion cannot possibly have been said about anyone other than God. “You, however, claim that it refers to Him who suffered, and who you are anxious to prove is the Christ” (74.1)72. Justin’s reply is subtle, which may be a model of diplomacy. The latter certainly is an overstatement. For a critical note on what at that time was the majority position and one that is not yet been given up today, see R. JOLY, Christianisme et philosophie: études sur Justin et les Apologistes grecs du deuxième siècle, Brussels, Éditions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 1973, pp. 155-170. The whole question depends of course a lot on whether this is a fictive or a real encounter. If the former, the main protagonist, who is also its author, can easily depict himself in a positive way. 71. BOBICHON (II, p. 772 n. 9) seems to twist the order a bit when writing: “L’accusation de Justin est non seulement ‘incroyable’, mais aussi ‘invraisemblable’”. That Jewish scribes would have tampered with the biblical text is in se highly implausible. It is perhaps worth noting that Trypho’s reaction is not linked in any way to another important critical argument that was used in Jewish-Christian debate – the accusation of creating something new. J. KLAWANS, Heresy, Forgery, Novelty: Condemning, Denying, and Asserting Innovation in Ancient Judaism, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2019, esp. pp. 117-158 (Early Christianity) and passim. In a context of debate with Judaism, it is also linked to critiques of supersessionism. Ultimately, this argument is based on a certain view of history in which the old is by definition better than the new. On the use of this argument in both Jewish and Christian tradition, see P. PILHOFER, Presbyteron Kreitton: Der Altersbeweis der jüdischen und christlichen Apologeten und seine Vorgeschichte (WUNT, II/39), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 1990, pp. 235-252 and passim. 72. FALLS, p. 265; σὺ δ᾿ αὐτὸν φῂς εἰς τὸν παθητὸν τοῦτον, ὃν καὶ Χριστὸν εἶναι σπουδάζεις ἀποδεικνύναι, εἰρῆσθαι (BOBICHON, I, p. 384). Needless to add that for Justin “the Christ” is to be identified with Jesus, whose name is not mentioned in this context. See HORNER, Listening to Trypho (n. 30), pp. 155-164; L.W. HURTADO, “Jesus” as God’s Name, and Jesus as God’s Embodied Name, in S. PARVIS – P. FOSTER (eds.), Justin Martyr and His Worlds, Minneapolis, MN, Fortress, 2007, 128-136, here p. 134.



sign of a certain lack of confidence; the whole is not helped by the fact that the text of the manuscript breaks off at this point. Justin first cites the opening verses of the psalm again and then adds as his comment that it looks as if those reciting the text are singing the glory of the Father73, but actually they are praising Christ, for that is how the Spirit, who speaks in this text, wants us to understand it (74.2-3). Justin and the Spirit are united in their understanding of the passage, and obviously the latter says what the former wants it to say. As the text breaks off we do not know if Trypho was allowed a reply74. When the text resumes in chapter 75, it deals with the crucial question of demonstrating that Scripture speaks of Christ, beginning with Exod 23,20-21 that mentions an angel that will guide Israel out of Egypt, which Justin naturally takes to be a reference to Christ. The argument about corrupting Scripture has been left behind. The whole reasoning in chapters 71–74.3 leaves one perplexed. What announced itself as a climax in the dispute, especially because it is formulated in such an elaborate way in 72.1, turns out to be an anti-climax, for the evidence Justin can cite does not concern the omission of entire books, as the phrase πολλὰς γραφὰς τέλεον περιεῖλον (71.2) seemed to claim, though that is probably not the way it should be interpreted, as we have seen, but rather it concerns some difficulties with particular readings that are not found in the Hebrew text, nor in the LXX, and which one may suspect with good reason are Christian fabrications. Justin may perhaps be excused for believing what was probably circulating in Christian circles, though we do not know how widely, but he cannot be excused for mounting this rather weak defence. Moreover, he may claim that Isa 7,14 is corrupted, but the reader still has not heard any argument as to why Justin’s reading would be the more original one. It all hangs on some vague claims that do not prove able to carry the weight. Two conclusions may perhaps be drawn from this “ultimate argument” and the way it is used by Justin. First, it is a dangerous argument, for it depends on different readings in different textual traditions, none of which can be proven definitively to be the original one. In that sense, 73. Ὡς τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ τῶν ὅλων ᾄδοντας καὶ ψάλλοντας (BOBICHON, I, p. 386, translated as: “C’est comme s’ils s’adressaient” [italics mine]); Falls’s translation misses the point. 74. On the lacuna and the loose fragment that follows (basically a citation of Jer 2,19-20 with a paraphrasing commentary, well in the style of Justin, and another one of Deut 31,1618 without any comment and without any trace of a discussion of textual problems; on the latter, see SMIT SIBINGA, Pentateuch [n. 18], pp. 143-144), see BOBICHON, I, pp. 55-57 and II, pp. 773-774; cf. also SKARSAUNE, Proof (n. 44), pp. 213-215.



the argument depends on theological presuppositions rather than that it proves them. When one wishes to make these kinds of accusations one better have good arguments, for without such arguments one risks shooting oneself in the foot. Second, in some respect, this kind of argument may change everything. The other party could easily use it to end the debate, disputing, with good reason, any such claims because of their inherent weakness. Nothing would be gained with such an outcome, for what is the benefit of no longer discussing with one another? Fortunately, this does not happen in the Dialogue for Trypho stays and is open to continuing the discussion, or rather, Justin makes Trypho stay and continue, for in the end he is the one in charge of everything and the one who remains the master of the game throughout. When looking upon the accusation of corruption in this way, Justin may have felt confident that he could use such a dangerous argument to expose the other party, but one nevertheless is entitled to wonder if this would work in a real-life situation, if that ever was Justin’s purpose. Actually, I think this was not the case, as I have said elsewhere75. The Dialogue was meant for use within the community, to comfort and encourage, and to create a sense of confidence, and perhaps even of superiority, in reflecting on how Scripture also announced the Saviour in places where outsiders would not have thought to look. III. CONCLUSION This close reading of a quite significant section from the Dialogue with Trypho has yielded a picture that is both rich and troubling. One may admire the zeal of the protagonists in defending their position, and also their faith and confidence in the truth of it. However, with the argument of corrupting Scripture, by which the section is concluded, Justin has taken a slippery path that he, in my opinion, is not able to walk till the end in a convincing way. This has led me to the conclusion that such an argument, built on examples such as those found here, can only function when addressed to sympathisers. And that is the irony of it all, for what claims to be the ultimate accusation brought forward against an opponent actually serves quite a different purpose from the one it pretends to aim for. To be 75. Cf. J. VERHEYDEN, Living Apart Together: Jews and Christians in Second-Century Rome – Re-visiting Some of the Actors Involved, in J. SCHRÖTER – B. EDSALL – J. VERHEYDEN (eds.), Jews and Christians – Parting Ways in the First Two Centuries CE? Reflections on the Gains and Losses of a Model (BZNW, 253), Berlin – New York, De Gruyter, 2021, 307-345, here pp. 319-320.



honest, Justin’s strongest argument ends up being a bit of an anti-climax for the critical reader, but those who read his work and are on the same page will no doubt have been strengthened in their conviction that the truth is on their side. KU Leuven Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies St.-Michielsstraat 4/3101 BE-3000 Leuven Belgium [email protected]



Sobald die Exegese des Neuen (wie auch des Alten) Testaments sich nicht nur als historische oder philologische, sondern als theologische Disziplin versteht, muss sie sich mit Problemen auseinandersetzen, die sich aus dem Gedanken ergeben, dass die Schriften des biblischen Kanons inspiriert und damit von entscheidender Bedeutung für die Theologie als Ganze sind1. Die Frage, inwiefern wir heute – als Exegetinnen und Exegeten des 21. Jahrhunderts – noch davon sprechen können, dass die Bibel Gottes Wort sei bzw. dass sich in ihr Gottes Wort zeige, hat auch Reimund Bieringer2 intensiv beschäftigt3. Klar scheint (1), dass das Verhältnis von Gotteswort und menschlichen Worten in der Bibel nicht einfach in gleicher Weise wie das Verhältnis von göttlicher und menschlicher Natur Christi zu beschreiben ist. Die Bibel ist nicht einfach „Buch gewordenes“ Wort Gottes. (2) Gotteswort und menschliche Worte der Bibel verhalten sich nicht so zueinander, dass jedes menschliche Wort der Bibel einfach auch ein Wort Gottes wäre. Gottes Wort klebt auch nicht einfach an den menschlichen Worten der Bibel4. Gottes Sprechen ist nicht nur um ein 1. Die häufig mit dem II. Vatikanischen Konzil in Verbindung gebrachte Kurzformel, in der Schrift begegne „Gottes Wort im Menschenwort“, ist zwar an sich weiterführend; sie bewahrt vor fundamentalistischen Engführungen und öffnet den Weg für kritische historische Zugänge zur Schrift. Sie alleine aber reicht nicht aus, wo wir Brücken zwischen sensibler philologisch, literarisch wie historisch verantworteter Exegese und anderen Fächern, vor allem der Systematischen Theologie, bauen wollen. 2. Ich habe Reimund Bieringer vor inzwischen mehr als 15 Jahren kennen gelernt; ich schätze an ihm seinen Blick fürs Detail, sein Bewusstsein für die Verantwortung, die wir in unserem Fach tragen, seine zugewandte Art eine Vielzahl von Nachwuchswissenschaftler:innen zu begleiten – und die Tatsache, dass er sich als Exeget auch als Theologe versteht. Lieber Reimund, ad multos annos! 3. In höchstem Maße hilfreich erscheint mir der Gedanke, dass Inspiration weder alleine eine Sache der Vergangenheit noch der Gegenwart, weder alleine gebunden an ein historisches Ereignis vor der Textproduktion, die Textproduktion oder auch geschichtliche wie heutige Rezeptionsprozesse ist, sondern ihr auch eine eschatologische Dimension zukommt. Hierzu – mit überaus hilfreicher Diskussion theologiegeschichtlich verschiedener Ansätze – z.B. R. BIERINGER, The Normativity of the Future: The Authority of the Bible for Theology (1996, 1997), in ID. – M. ELSBERND (Hgg.), Normativity of the Future: Reading Biblical and Other Authoritative Texts in an Eschatological Perspective (ANL, 61), Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA, Peeters, 2010, 27-46; sehr grundlegende Gedanken zur Inspiration auch bei E. DIRSCHERL, Das menschliche Wort Gottes und seine Präsenz in der Zeit (Studien zu Judentum und Christentum, 26), Paderborn, Schöningh, 2013, S. 15-85. 4. Mit anderen Worten: Nicht nur aufgrund meiner Arbeiten zur Rezeptionsgeschichte des Neuen Testaments lehne ich den Gedanken einer Verbalinspiration im engeren Sinne



Unendliches anders zu denken als das, was wir als menschliches Sprechen verstehen und erleben5. Dies scheint selbstverständlich, muss aber ernst genommen werden, wenn wir über das Wort Gottes sprechen und ihm in unseren Auslegungen auf verantwortliche Weise Raum gewähren wollen. Worte der Bibel einfach zu rezitieren, ja selbst sie methodisch sachgemäß auszulegen bedeutet noch nicht, Wort Gottes zu sprechen oder es zum Sprechen zu bringen. Im Gegenteil: wer für sich beansprucht, mit biblischen Worten im Besitz des Gottesworts zu sein, um damit Macht über andere auszuüben, ihre Lebensmöglichkeiten einzuschränken (oder gar Leben zu zerstören), hat die menschlichen Worte der Bibel zu Worten des Diabolos, d.h. wörtlich des „Zerwerfers“6, gemacht. Beispiele dafür finden sich in der Geschichte der Bibelauslegung leider viel zu viele7. Dass so etwas möglich ist, reflektiert die Bibel selbst, wenn sie bei der Versuchung Christi (Mt 4,6 par. Lk 4,10-11) den Diabolos Worte aus Psalm 90/91,11-12 zitieren lässt8. Dass das daraus vom Teufel Gefolgte nicht Gottes Willen entsprechen kann, ist bereits an sich klar – und wird umso deutlicher durch die direkt darauf folgende Antwort Jesu erwiesen, der sich auch mit ihr als wahrhafter Sohn Gottes erweist. Der folgende Beitrag kann und möchte nicht das gesamte Spektrum der mit diesen grundlegenden Gedanken angedeuteten Probleme bearbeiten. Er setzt vielmehr an einem bisher wenig beachteten Aspekt an, der für die Frage nach der Inspiration der Schrift wie auch die damit verbundene Verantwortung, die in die Hände von Auslegerinnen und Auslegern gelegt, ist, wichtig ist: Die Beschäftigung mit außerkanonischer Literatur wie auch mit Rezeptionen biblischer Texte hat mir in den vergangenen Jahren mehr und mehr vor Augen geführt, dass unser übliches Bild der Grenzlinie des Wortes ab. Zur kritischen Diskussion dieser Vorstellung vgl. z.B. U. LUZ, Theologische Hermeneutik des Neuen Testaments, Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener Verlag, 2014, S. 110-112. 5. Mir ist bewusst, dass ich mit diesem einfach klingenden Satz ein grundsätzliches Problem der Gotteslehre wie der Theologie der Offenbarung berühre, das ich hier nicht weiter entfalten kann. 6. Eine solche, sehr überzeugende Übersetzung bieten nun S. ALKIER – T. PAULSEN, Die Evangelien nach Markus und Matthäus: Neu übersetzt (Frankfurter Neues Testament, 2), Paderborn, Brill Deutschland, 2021, S. 271 Anm. 8. 7. Besonders aktuell und erschütternde Beispiele der Verwendung von Bibel in kirchlichen Machtstrukturen, die zum sexuellen wie spirituellen Missbrauch von Frauen führen. Weiterführend H. KÖNIG, Wenn Gottes Wort entweiht wird und sich zuletzt doch als heilsam erweist: Die Rolle der Heiligen Schriften in Missbrauchskontexten, in B. HASLBECK – R. HEYDER – U. LEIMGRUBER (Hgg.), Erzählen als Widerstand: Berichte über spirituellen und sexuellen Missbrauch an erwachsenen Frauen in der katholischen Kirche, Münster, Aschendorff, 2020, 241-246. 8. Interessant daran ist natürlich, welche Passage des Psalms der Diabolos zitiert und was er weglässt, nämlich die in V. 13 folgende Aussage über den Schutz vor Natter und Drachen bzw. Basilisk (LXX!).



zwischen Kanon und Literaturen (oder Traditionen) außerhalb des Kanons bzw. ihren intermedialen Repräsentationen irreführend ist. Natürlich können wir bereits in den spätantiken Kanonlisten sehr deutlich zwischen kanonischen (und damit inspirierten) und außerkanonischen Schriften unterscheiden. Doch bereits jede konkrete Bibel, die wir in die Hand nehmen können oder heute womöglich auch als Digitalisat vor uns haben, ist einerseits Bibel und andererseits bereits (als einzelne Handschrift, als aufgrund verschiedener Handschriften erstellte Edition, als aufgrund verschiedenster Entscheidungen entstandene Übersetzung oder als Text, der mit einer Vielzahl von Paratexten versehen ist) Teil der biblischen Rezeptionsgeschichte. Dies ist nur eine allererste Beobachtung, aufgrund derer ich es für sinnvoll halte, neu über das Verhältnis von Bibel, Kanon und außerkanonischen Texten und Traditionen nachzudenken. Meine These ist, dass die Schriften des Kanons Kommunikationsräume kreieren, in die sich Schriften, aber auch in andere Medien übersetzte Repräsentationen von Schrifttexten einordnen lassen, die weder einfach außerkanonisch sind, noch einfach kanonisch. Man könnte, wenn man zunächst die (gegenüber Foucault9) weniger bekannte Beschreibung von H. Lefèbvre als „Orte des Anderen, das gleichzeitig ausgeschlossen und einbezogen“10 zugrunde legt, solche Räume als Heterotopien verstehen. Dass das, was Lefèbvre für Stadträume des 20. Jahrhunderts beschreibt, in einem weiten Sinne verstanden, von heuristischem Wert für das Verhältnis von kanonischen und außerkanonischen Texten (und Traditionen) sein mag, möchte der folgende Beitrag zunächst an einigen Beispielen illustrieren, um schließlich, darauf aufbauend, zu fragen, welche Bedeutung dieser Beobachtung für die Fragen nach der Inspiration heiliger Schriften und der Verantwortung von Exeget:innen bei ihrer Auslegung zukommt. I. JENSEITS DES KANONS UND DOCH


1. Intermediale Repräsentationen kanonischer Materialien In ihrer Monographie Bild, Grab und Wort stellt Jutta Dresken-Weiland eine Reihe von biblischen und apokryphen Motiven vor, die regelmäßig 9. M. FOUCAULT, Von anderen Räumen (1967), in J. DÜNNE – S. GÜNZEL (Hgg.), Raumtheorie: Grundlagentexte aus Philosophie und Kulturwissenschaften, Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp, 92018 [2006]) 317-329. 10. Zitat: M. LÖW, Raum – Die topologischen Dimensionen der Kultur, in F. JAEGER – B. LIEBSCH (Hgg.), Handbuch der Kulturwissenschaften. Vol. 1: Grundlagen und Schlüsselbegriffe, Stuttgart – Weimar, Metzler, 2011, 46-59, hier S. 55, die hier entscheidende raumtheoretische Gedanken von H. LEFÈBVRE, Die Revolution der Städte, München, List, 1972, zusammenfasst.



in Katakomben und auf antiken Sarkophagen dargestellt sind11. Sie verweist dabei auf Motive aus der Jona-Erzählung, das Quellwunder des Mose und das des Petrus (sowie weitere mit Petrus verbundene Szenen), die Petrus-Christus-Hahn-Szene, die Brotvermehrung, das Weinwunder zu Kana, Mahldarstellungen, die Auferweckung des Lazarus, Daniel in der Löwengrube, eine Reihe von Wunderheilungen, die Anbetung der Magier, den Sündenfall, Noah in der Arche, das Opfer Abrahams und die Jünglinge im Feuerofen. Eindeutig außerkanonisch ist dabei das Quellwunder des Petrus (im römischen Kerker)12 sowie das damit verbindbare Motiv seiner Gefangennahme und die so genannte (recht selten zu findende) Petrus-Leseszene. So gesehen, entspricht das Ergebnis den Erwartungen: der allergrößte Teil der Szenen steht in Relation zu Texten aus dem biblischen Kanon, vor allem erzählenden Passagen aus den Evangelien wie dem Alten Testament. Nur ganz Weniges ist klar apokryph. Genaueres Hinsehen jedoch zwingt dazu, dieses Ergebnis zu überdenken. Dies beginnt schon damit, dass die genannten Darstellungen eine sehr begrenzte Auswahl an biblischen Szenen bieten und damit keineswegs einfach einen auch nur ansatzweise vollständigen biblischen Kanon repräsentieren13. Es setzt sich damit fort, dass bei einigen Wundererzählungen – z.B. der Heilung eines Blinden – nicht eindeutig klar wird, auf welche der doch recht unterschiedlichen Blindenheilungen in den neutestamentlichen Evangelien (vgl. Mk 8,22-26; Mk 10,46-52 par. Mt 20,29-34; Lk 18,35-43 sowie Joh 9,1-41) sich die Darstellung bezieht. Aus den vielen verschiedenen, z.T. literarisch miteinander zusammenhängenden, gleichzeitig im Text aber recht deutlich voneinander differenzierbaren Blindenheilungen der Evangelien wird stattdessen einfach „die Heilung eines Blinden“. Für antike Betrachter:innen (wie auch die meisten unserer Zeit) dürfte dies kein Problem dargestellt haben: Ins „kulturelle Gedächtnis“14 eingeprägt sind kaum die Detailunterschiede der verschiedenen verschrifteten Blindenheilungen des Neuen Testaments, sondern die Erinnerung daran, dass Jesus Blinde heilte. 11. J. DRESKEN-WEILAND, Bild, Grab und Wort: Untersuchungen zu Jenseitsvorstellungen von Christen des 3. und 4. Jahrhunderts, Regensburg, Schnell und Steiner, 2010, S. 96-311. 12. Besonders interessant an diesem Beispiel ist, dass mit einiger Wahrscheinlichkeit die ersten bildlichen Darstellungen älter sind als die schriftlichen Zeugnisse über dieses Wunder im Martyrium des Petrus nach Pseudo-Linus, und der Passio der heiligen Processus und Martinianus. Weiterführend das Material bei DRESKEN-WEILAND, Bild, Grab und Wort (Anm. 11), S. 119-136. 13. Ich klammere im Folgenden den durchaus reizvollen Gedanken aus, dass die verschiedenen genannten Szenen in gewisser Weise auch eine Art von „Kanon“ bilden, der alles andere als identisch mit dem biblischen Kanon ist. 14. Zu diesem Begriff J. ASSMANN, Das kulturelle Gedächtnis: Schrift, Erinnerung und politische Identität in frühen Hochkulturen, München, Beck, ³2000.



Zudem aber scheinen wenigstens in einzelnen Fällen die Darstellungen der einzelnen Erzählungen nicht einfach unverbunden nebeneinander zu stehen15. Wenn etwa der im zweiten Drittel des 4. Jahrhunderts entstandene so genannte „Dogma-Sarkophag“ (heute im Museum Pio Cristiano im Vatikan)16 aus Rom die Erschaffung des Menschen als trinitarisches Ereignis eventuell im Sinne einer zur Zeit seiner Entstehung umstrittenen nizänischen Orthodoxie beschreibt17 und dieses Bild gleichzeitig in Bezug zu einer Blindenheilung setzt, dann entsteht durch die Bilder eine neue „Erzählung“18. Diese steht sicherlich in Bezug zu möglichen Deutungen der Blindenheilung in Joh 9 als Akt neuer Schöpfung19. Strukturell verbunden mit der Figur des Heiligen Geistes wiederum finden wir in der Darstellung der Anbetung der Magier hinter Maria auf eine Figur, auf die der erste der drei Magier mit dem Finger verweist. Sollte es sich hierbei um Bileam handeln, so sind damit – exegetisch höchst sinnvoll – der durch den Geist inspirierte heidnische Prophet, sein Orakel (Num 24,17) und die Darstellung der Magier in einer Komposition miteinander verbunden20. Schließlich sind auf dem gleichen Sarkophag – neben einer Reihe anderer Darstellungen biblischer Textpassagen – in vielfacher Verbindung zu den anderen Bildern auch Verhaftung und Quellwunder des Petrus zu finden, womit eine Verknüpfung zu Gründungserzählungen der 15. Auszugehen ist wohl von einer vorgegebenen Auswahl an Motiven, die in den Werkstätten mehr oder minder vorgegeben waren und die dann nach Wunsch der Auftraggeber zusammengestellt wurden (Jutta Dresken-Weiland, persönliche Kommunikation am 7.11.21). 16. Bildliche Darstellung und kurze Einführung unter museivaticani-mobile/de/collezioni/musei/museo-pio-cristiano/sarcofagi-_a-doppio-registro/ sarcofago-_dogmatico.html (6.11.2021), sowie H. KAISER-MINN, Die Erschaffung des Menschen auf den spätantiken Monumenten des 3. und 4. Jahrhunderts (Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum. Ergänzungsband, 6), Münster, Aschendorff, 1981, Abb. 140 und 141. Weiterführend zudem Repertorium der christlich-antiken Sarkophage 1: Rom und Ostia, hg. von G. BOVINI, Mainz, von Zabern, 1967, Nr. 43. 17. Zur Diskussion um diese Darstellung vgl. J. ENGEMANN, Zu den Dreifaltigkeitsdarstellungen in der frühchristlichen Kunst: Gab es im 4. Jahrhundert anthropomorphe Trinitätsbilder?, in Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 19 (1976) 157-172. 18. Dies ist auch dann der Fall, wenn diese Erzählung weder vom Auftraggeber, noch von den Ausführenden im Detail so angezielt sein sollte. 19. Ich halte diese Deutung auch weiterhin für höchst sinnvoll. Zur Bedeutung der Schöpfungstheologie im Johannesevangelium vgl. z.B. H.-U. WEIDEMANN, The Victory of Protology over Eschatology? Creation in the Gospel of John, in T. NICKLAS – K. ZAMFIR (Hgg.), Theologies of Creation in Early Judaism and Ancient Christianity: In Honour of Hans Klein (Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies, 6), Berlin – New York, De Gruyter, 2010, 299-334. 20. Zur Bedeutung des Bileamorakels für die matthäische Szene wie auch deren weitere Rezeption vgl. z.B. T. NICKLAS, Balaam and the Star of the Magi, in G.H. VAN KOOTEN – J. VAN RUITEN (Hgg.), The Prestige of the Pagan Prophet Balaam in Judaism, Early Christianity and Islam (Themes in Biblical Narrative, 11), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2008, 233-246.



Kirche von Rom hergestellt ist21. Man könnte nun nebeneinanderstellen, was an derartigen Darstellungen kanonisch und was außerkanonisch ist. Die Szene von der Anbetung durch die Magier würde dann wohl als Repräsentation eines kanonischen Texts, nämlich Mt 2,1-12, verstanden. Doch was hat dann Bileam, der zumindest explizit im matthäischen Text nicht begegnet, in ihr verloren? Und ist die Darstellung einer Erschaffung des Menschen durch die göttliche Trinität kanonisch oder außerkanonisch? Für die antiken Künstler wie auch ihr Publikum dürfte diese Frage keine Rolle gespielt haben; gerade deswegen aber ist sie für unser Verständnis dessen, was wir unter „kanonisch“ verstehen, interessant. Die Relation zu schriftlichen kanonischen Texten ist stark – und doch weist der durch die Darstellung eröffnete Kommunikationsraum eben auch auf erst jenseits des Kanons entwickelte Vorstellungen. Wo Bibel nicht nur als schriftlicher Text, sondern auch als eine virtuelle Größe22 präsent ist, die sich in individuell unterschiedlich intensiver Weise in unser (individuelles wie soziales) Gedächtnis eingeprägt hat, nehmen wir Darstellungen wie die oben beschriebene als biblisch und, damit zusammenhängend, als kanonisch wahr. Vielleicht können wir auch zwischen kanonischen und extrakanonischen Bestandteilen unterscheiden. Doch selbst wo jeder der Einzelbestandteile als kanonisch identifiziert werden könnte, ist ihre Komposition zu einer ikonographischen Gesamterzählung weder einfach kanonisch, noch einfach außerkanonisch. Die Relationen zu kanonischen Texten und Traditionen sind so stark, dass sie nicht einfach außer Acht gelassen werden können; in vielen Fällen möchten solche Darstellungen aufgrund der starken Relationen zu kanonischen Texten wohl auch an der Autorität der kanonischen Schriften teilhaben. Einen Aspekt des Problems habe ich bisher nur angedeutet. Wie sollen wir eine bildliche Darstellung einordnen, wenn ihre starke Relation zu kanonischen Texten eindeutig ist, sie aber (aus welchen Gründen auch immer) Elemente enthält, die wir in den kanonischen Texten nicht finden? Zu den beliebtesten Motiven, die wir in der Katakombenmalerei, aber auch auf antik-christlichen Sarkophagen finden, gehört die Auferweckung des Lazarus23. Dargestellt ist dabei natürlich nicht die gesamte hochkomplexe 21. Gleichzeitig ist nicht unbedingt notwendig zu beweisen, dass alle Verknüpfungen, die in einem Kunstwerk sichtbar sind, durch den Künstler oder die Künstlerin bewusst geschaffen sind. Es genügt, wenn sie in der Rezeption durch Betrachter:innen erkennbar werden. 22. Zur Bibel als mentaler oder virtueller Größe vgl. A. MERKT, Das Novum Testamentum Patristicum (NTP): Ein Projekt zur Erforschung und Auslegung des Neuen Testaments in frühchristlicher und spätantiker Zeit, in Early Christianity 6 (2015) 573-595, hier S. 579. 23. Hierzu erneut sehr detailliert und hilfreich DRESKEN-WEILAND, Bild, Grab und Wort (Anm. 11), S. 213-233; dort auch ausgewähltes Bildmaterial.



Szenenfolge aus Joh 11,1-44, sondern nur der eigentliche Moment der Auferweckung, als Lazarus aus dem Grab herauskommt (Joh 11,44). Auf vielen Darstellungen ist gut erkennbar, dass Lazarus weiterhin in Leinenbinden gewickelt ist (vgl. Joh 11,44), aus denen er erst befreit werden muss. In dieser Hinsicht sind viele Bilder durchaus dem Text des Johannesevangeliums verpflichtet24. Auffallend ist jedoch die Darstellung Jesu in vielen der Bilder: Dieser ist häufig mit einem langen Stab abgebildet, mit dem er auf das Grab und/oder Lazarus zeigt. Natürlich kann man nachdenken, inwiefern ein solcher Stab, der rein bildlich die Verbindung zwischen Wundertäter und Auferwecktem herstellt, im Grunde einfach Jesu wunderwirkendes Wort zu repräsentieren sucht. Gleichzeitig aber lässt er an ein magisches Instrument, eine Art von Zauberstab, denken, welches zum Ausdruck bringt, dass Jesus ein ganz außergewöhnlicher Wundertäter – größer als alle Magier – ist, der selbst den Tod (und damit auch den Tod der im Sarkophag bzw. der Katakombe Bestatteten) zu überwinden vermag25. Würden wir heute ein Fragment eines Texts finden, in dem die Lazarusszene geschildert, dabei aber ein magischer Stab in Jesu Hand erwähnt wird, würden wir dies sicherlich nicht als kanonischen Text, sondern als sensationelle Entdeckung eines neuen Apokryphons feiern26. Die gleiche bildliche Darstellung aber verstehen wir üblicherweise als kanonisch! Mir geht es nicht einfach darum, kleinlich auf diesen Widerspruch zu verweisen. Ich halte diese Beobachtung stattdessen für ein weiteres Indiz dafür, dass eine solche bildliche Darstellung einem Kommunikationsraum zuzuweisen ist, der weder einfach als kanonisch, noch einfach als außerkanonisch zu bezeichnen ist, der also weder ganz in den Kommunikationsraum „Kanon“ eingeschlossen, noch ganz ausgeschlossen ist. Die Beispiele hierzu ließen sich – wohl endlos – erweitern. Für Bibelfilme, Jesuscomics, Bachs Johannespassion, Jesus Christ Superstar, die Fresken der Sixtinischen Kapelle, angebliche „Fußabdrücke Jesu“27 und viele mehr ist der konkrete Ort in solchen Räumen je unterschiedlich zu bestimmen.

24. Ich gehe natürlich nicht davon aus, dass die entsprechenden Handwerker jeweils den Text des Johannesevangeliums konsultierten, sondern vorgegebene Bildprogramme abarbeiteten. 25. Ähnlich DRESKEN-WEILAND, Bild, Grab und Wort (Anm. 11), S. 232. 26. Auch die Heilung eines Aussätzigen, die wir im „unbekannten Evangelium“ auf Papyrus Egerton 2 finden, unterscheidet sich nur in Details von denen in Mk 1,40-45 par. Trotzdem verstehen wir sie selbstverständlich als „apokryph“. 27. Hierzu z.B. A. MERKT, Der Fußabdruck Jesu: Materiale Kultur, apokryphe Literatur und christliche Theologie, in Blick in die Wissenschaft 41 (2020) 10-15.



2. Unterdrückte Stimmen im Kanon zum Sprechen bringen Doch dies ist nicht die einzige Möglichkeit, über durch kanonische Schriften erzeugte Kommunikationsräume nachzudenken. Dass die Schriften des Kanons selbst sich nicht einfach eindeutig in eine systematische Lehre gießen lassen, obwohl wir glauben dürfen, dass sich in ihnen das Wort des einen Gottes offenbart, ist allen, die kritisch historisch mit biblischen Texten arbeiten, bewusst. In einer aus der Reihe von Leitthesen zur Bedeutung der Schrift in ökumenischer Perspektive, die ich gemeinsam mit Stefan Alkier und Christos Karakolis formuliert habe, wird die Vielfalt dieser Stimmen28 gar als eine Stärke der Schrift herausgearbeitet. Ich zitiere: Differenzen und Divergenzen der verschiedenen Stimmen in den biblischen Schriften sollen nicht geglättet oder gar harmonisiert werden. Vielmehr verweist ihre Diversität darauf, dass es sich bei den Schriften Alten und Neuen Testaments auch um historisch gewachsenes Menschenwort in der Vielfalt verschiedener historischer Situationen handelt. Die menschliche Formulierung von Wahrheit zwingt dazu, Wahrheit in menschlicher Vielfalt zu denken. Die durch die Transposition in den Kanon generierte Übersummativität der einzelnen Schriften ermöglicht es, in der Vielfalt und Widersprüchlichkeit der menschlich verfassten Zeugnisse das eine Wort Gottes zu hören. Die Vielfalt der biblischen Schriften stellt daher keinen Abbruch ihrer Wahrheitsfähigkeit dar, sondern ihre historisch bedingte realitätsgesättigte Erdung29.

Doch was ist unter den „verschiedenen Stimmen in der Bibel“ überhaupt zu verstehen? Die Stimmen, von denen die gemeinsam formulierte These spricht, entsprechen in meinem Verständnis nicht einfach den Stimmen der einzelnen Autoren (und Redaktoren)30, die uns in der Bibel begegnen. Sie sind auch nicht einfach mit den verschiedenen Einzelschriften der Bibel (und den in ihren repräsentierten Textformen) gleichzusetzen. Die Möglichkeiten, von „Stimmen“ zu sprechen, die sich in den Texten der Bibel spiegeln, gehen m.E. deutlich weiter: Wir finden, gebrochen durch die Perspektiven der Autoren der uns vorliegenden Schriften, einen 28. Die grundsätzliche Vorstellung der Vielstimmigkeit literarischer Texte, die sich höchst fruchtbar auf die Exegese biblischer Schriften anwenden lässt, geht auf Michail Bachtin und seine Gedanken zur Dialogizität moderner Literatur zurück. Einführend hierzu z.B. M. AUMÜLLER, Michail Bachtin, in M. MARTINEZ – M. SCHEFFEL (Hgg.), Klassiker der modernen Literaturtheorie: Von Sigmund Freud bis Judith Butler, München, Beck, 2010, 105-126. 29. S. ALKIER – C. KARAKOLIS – T. NICKLAS, Sola Scriptura ökumenisch (Biblische Argumente in öffentlichen Debatten, 1), Paderborn, Brill Deutschland, 2021, S. 3-4. 30. Ich gehe davon aus, dass es sich bei den meisten, vielleicht allen dieser Autoren und Redaktoren um Männer handelt.



Widerhall der Stimme Jesu31 wie des Paulus und anderer früher Anhänger Jesu, der Stimmen von Propheten (und Prophetinnen) und ihren Schülerkreisen, Zeugnisse weisheitlicher und schriftgelehrter Diskurse, die Stimmen der verschiedenen Charaktere, die in der Schrift zu Wort kommen, und vieles mehr. Vor allem aber verstehe ich unter den „Stimmen in der Bibel“ nicht einfach alleine die sich in den Schriften durchsetzenden dominanten Aussagen und Stellungnahmen, die in den meisten Fällen die Perspektiven von erwachsenen, freien Männern spiegeln, jedoch kaum einmal die von Kindern, Versklavten und Frauen32. Wo in der Bibel kommen wirklich einmal einzelne Bitterarme zu Wort? Meist erscheinen sie nur als Objekte eines sicherlich barmherzigen Handelns, vielleicht auch als Gruppe, der Zuspruch erteilt wird, kaum eine oder einer erhält einen Namen oder wird zum Protagonisten oder der Protagonistin einer Erzählung33. Vor diesem Hintergrund ist mir der Gedanke wichtig, dass wenigstens ab und an die Schriften der Bibel auch Schlüsse auf kaum mehr hörbare oder gar zum Schweigen gebrachte Gegenstimmen zulassen: Ich denke hier etwa an die Stimme der Batseba, von der wir nicht hören, was es für sie bedeutet, mit David, immerhin dem Mörder ihres Mannes, zusammenleben zu müssen, an die Stimme des Sklaven Onesimus, über dessen weiteres Schicksal Paulus mit Philemon verhandelt34, an die Stimme der Phoebe, die wohl für die Mission des Paulus eine entscheidende Person gewesen sein muss35, an die jedoch nur ein kurzer Hinweis im Römerbrief 31. So wichtig diese Stimme ist, so wenig halte ich es für sinnvoll, in einer spekulativen Rekonstruktion von ipsissima vox oder gar ipsissima verba des irdischen Jesus eine dann alles andere in den Schatten stellende Mitte der Schrift (oder gar: hinter der Schrift) zu erstellen. 32. Wenn die Bibel zudem Gottes Wort für alle Menschen zur Sprache bringen will, ist natürlich auch die Tatsache hochproblematisch, dass wir in ihr so gut wie nie die Stimmen von Menschen aus Kulturräumen finden können, mit denen die Welt, in der die Bibel entstand, nicht in Berührung kommen konnte. 33. Dies gilt selbst für den armen Lazarus in Lk 16,19-31, der vollkommen passiv dargestellt wird und wohl nur aus erzähltechnischen Gründen einen Namen hat: sonst könnte der Reiche in 16,24 seine Bitte nicht formulieren. 34. Ich glaube, dass der Philemonbrief im Kern sicherlich das Anliegen verfolgt, Onesimus in eine neue Rechtsstellung zu setzen und ihn, als Getauften, in das Beziehungsgeflecht der Brüder und Schwestern in Christus einzubeziehen. Hierzu T. NICKLAS, The Letter to Philemon: A Discussion with J. Albert Harrill, in S.E. PORTER (Hg.), Paul’s World (Pauline Studies, 4), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2008, 201-220. Gleichzeitig wird mir zunehmend bewusst, dass uns die für den Konflikt wohl entscheidende Stimme, nämlich die des Onesimus, weiterhin fehlt. 35. Interessant hierzu ist die Tatsache, wie im Verlauf der Rezeptionsgeschichte von Röm 16,1-2 das Verständnis der Rolle der Phoebe und ihres Verhältnisses zu Paulus sich aufgrund von Vorstellungen von Gender-Rollen veränderte und sie mehr und mehr dem Paulus untergeordnet wurde. Beispiele hierzu bei T. NICKLAS, Phoebe: ‚Patrona‘ des Paulus, Frau im Dienst des Evangeliums, Vorbild für Männer und Frauen, in Jahrbuch für Biblische Theologie 33 (2018) 143-156.



erinnert. Ich denke an die Apostelin Junia, die Teile der späteren Rezeption zu einem Mann gemacht haben36, oder an die Prophetin aus Thyatira, welche der Seher Johannes, die Stimme Christi benutzend, mit dem Schimpfnamen Isebel belegt37 und sie in aggressiver Weise verurteilt, ohne dass sich heute klar rekonstruieren lässt, was genau eine solche Reaktion ausgelöst haben mag. Möglicherweise hatte der Seher mit seinem Urteil recht. Daran zu glauben, dass sich in der Bibel Gottes Wort in Menschenworten zeigt, bedeutet aber – zumindest meiner Ansicht nach – nicht, dass das der Fall gewesen sein muss. Die Wahl seiner Mittel, um eine Person zum Schweigen zu bringen, scheint mir wenigstens aus meiner Perspektive heute kaum angemessen. Dies sind nur einige Beispiele: Wir können viele solcher Stimmen der Vergangenheit und ihre Perspektiven, Meinungen und Stellungnahmen, die sich in der Bibel spiegeln, nur erahnen. Selbst wenn wir nicht in der Lage sind, sie historisch zweifelsfrei zu rekonstruieren, kann es angemessen sein, sie in Fortschreibungen biblischer Schriften, die sich genau auf diese übersehenen Stimmen einlassen, zum Sprechen zu bringen. Dies zu tun ist einfach eine konsequente Anwendung des Gedankens, dass Inspiration sich nicht alleine auf einen Punkt der Vergangenheit konzentrieren kann, in dem die Schriften entstanden. Wo wir Leserinnen und Lesern der Schrift zutrauen, inspiriert zu sein, bedeutet dies, dass auch ihre Fortschreibungen von Schrift wenigstens potentiell inspiriert sein können. Die Differenz zu kanonischen Schriften besteht dann vor allem darin, dass diese Fortschreibungen weder von „katholischer“, d.h. allumfassender Bedeutung sein müssen38, noch dass wir einfach davon ausgehen können, dass sie inspiriert sind. Solche Fortschreibungen, wie wir sie bis heute beobachten können, stehen nicht nur in einem literarischen Zusammenhang, der mit Paradigmen der Intertextualität zu beschreiben ist, sondern bewegen sich in einem durch den Kanon angestoßenen Denk- und Kommunikationsraum, der jenseits des 36. Sehr hilfreich hierzu das Material bei E.J. EPP, Junia: The First Woman Apostle, Minneapolis, MN, Fortress, 2005. 37. Mit dem Namen Isebel setzt der Seher sie natürlich in Bezug mit der gleichnamigen Frau des Königs Ahab. – In anderen Fällen (wie z.B. den von ihm ebenfalls geschmähten Nikolaiten) ist nicht ganz klar, ob sich hinter dieser Chiffre wirklich eine historische Gruppe erkennen lässt. Zur Diskussion hierzu vgl. M. SOMMER, Die Nikolaiten und die Gegnerfiktion in der Offenbarung des Johannes – eine Annäherung an einige hermeneutische Probleme der Apokalypselektüre, in J. VERHEYDEN – T. NICKLAS – E. HERNITSCHECK (Hgg.), Shadowy Characters and Fragmentary Evidence: The Search for Early Christian Groups and Movements (WUNT, 388), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2017, 49-68. 38. Zum Prinzip der Katholizität als Kriterium für Kanonizität vgl. T. NICKLAS, Catholicity and the Formation of the Canon, in B. LAIRD – S.E. PORTER (Hgg.), The New Testament Canon in Contemporary Research, Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2023 [im Druck].



verschrifteten Kanons zu verorten ist. Ohne ihn bleiben die kanonischen Texte einfach Monumente der Vergangenheit. Jeder Anstoß kanonischer Schriften, der zu Lern-, ja Bildungsprozessen führt, welche mit Hilfe der durch die kanonischen Schriften erzeugten erzählten Welten erlebte Welt zu deuten suchen39, führt bereits in einen solchen Raum. Jede sich in die Textwelten verstrickende Lektüre, die erlaubt, diese geradezu zu „bewohnen“40, erzeugt einen solchen Denk- und Kommunikationsraum. Ohne diese Prozesse, die einen Teil der Geschichte des Kanons nach seiner Entstehung ausmachen41, blieben die Schriften toter Buchstabe. Und natürlich ist auch hier ein alleiniger Fokus auf Fortschreibungen nicht ausreichend; erneut ist natürlich an jede Form medialer Präsentation von Texten, Traditionen und Motiven in engster Verbindung mit dem Kanon zu denken. II. KANONISCH UND DOCH


Es scheint mir aber auch möglich und notwendig, in die andere Richtung zu denken. Ich habe bereits angedeutet, dass es auch in den kanonischen Schriften (zum Teil den Text dominierende) Stimmen gibt, die Leserinnen und Leser geradezu zur kritischen Stellungnahme nötigen. Ohne deswegen von der grundsätzlichen Idee einer Inspiration der Schrift abzugehen, erscheint es mir möglich, dass der Geist Gottes Leserinnen und Leser späterer Zeiten dazu inspiriert, in konkreten historischen Situationen der Vergangenheit entstandene Passagen der Schrift zu kritisieren und sich von ihnen zu distanzieren. Dies ist sogar notwendig, sobald wir ernst nehmen, dass die Texte der Schrift trotz ihrer Inspiration historische Menschenworte sind und bleiben. Die Idee einer „realitätsbedingte[n] Erdung“42 von Wahrheit, ausgedrückt in der Vielfalt menschlicher Stimmen, bedeutet ja, dass historische Menschenworte in konkreten historischen 39. Zu solchen Bildungsprozessen vgl. beispielhaft die Beiträge in R. KOERRENZ – T. NICKLAS (Hgg.), Bildung = Jahrbuch für Biblische Theologie 35 (2020). 40. Den Gedanken, dass es möglich ist, die Erzählungen der Bibel geradezu zu „bewohnen“, habe ich in T. NICKLAS, Rezeptionsästhetische und -geschichtliche Einsichten, in ALKIER – KARAKOLIS – NICKLAS, Sola Scriptura ökumenisch (Anm. 29), 102-130, hier S. 112-113, 117-119 entwickelt. 41. Zu dem Gedanken, dass auch der bereits anerkannte Kanon eine Geschichte hat, die zu beschreiben eine der Aufgaben exegetischer Forschung ist, vgl. u.a. T. NICKLAS, The Interaction of Canon and History: Some Assumptions, in I. SALOUL – J.W. VAN HENTEN (Hgg.), Martyrdom: Canonisation, Contestation and Afterlives, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, 2020, 33-54. 42. Siehe oben das Zitat aus ALKIER – KARAKOLIS – NICKLAS, Sola Scriptura ökumenisch (Anm. 29), S. 3-4.



und kulturellen Kontexten den Versuch darstellen, das als Wahrheit Erkannte in bestmöglicher Weise zum Ausdruck zu bringen, dass dies aber in neuen Kontexten interpretiert, weitergeführt und womöglich kritisch hinterfragt werden muss. Die darüber hinaus weisenden Gedanken, dass einerseits jede Passage der Schrift – und sei sie noch so eindeutig – der Interpretation bedarf43 und andererseits nicht jede einzelne Passage der Schrift an sich schon als inspiriert betrachtet werden muss, erlauben sogar noch weiterzugehen. Ich würde nicht so weit gehen zu sagen, dass einzelne Textpassagen – wie etwa Joh 8,44 – aus der Schrift gestrichen werden dürfen (oder gar müssen)44, meine aber, dass wir bestimmte im Kanon zu findende Aussagen als so problematisch auffassen müssen, dass diese damit in eine geradezu prekäre Stellung rücken. Joh 8,44, die Bezeichnung einer Gruppe von „Juden“ als Teufelskinder, dürfte sicherlich eine davon sein. Textpassagen wie die oben genannte aggressive Verurteilung der Seherin von Thyatira in der Johannesapokalypse gehören wohl ebenso dazu45. Darüber hinaus aber halte ich es für nötig auch größere Komplexe ins Auge zu fassen: Wenn wir uns auch nur ein wenig die Realität des Lebens vieler in der Antike, im Grunde aber zu allen Zeiten menschlicher Geschichte versklavter Menschen vor Augen halten, dann fällt zwar auf, dass ein Text wie 1 Petr 2,18-25 Sklavinnen und Sklaven anders als fast alle anderen Zeugnisse aus der Antike konkret anspricht. Gleichzeitig aber wird erkennbar, dass es dem Text, der im Horizont seiner Zeit und Kultur steht, nicht gelingt, menschengemachte Formen von Missbrauch und Unterdrückung zu durchbrechen46. Wir müssen 43. Dies gilt im Grunde selbst für solch klare Aussagen wie das Liebesgebot. Dies zeigt sich schon in der Frage des Gesetzeslehrers aus Lk 10,29, wer denn mein Nächster sei, aber auch in der Diskussion des Jakobusbriefs über das Verhältnis von Barmherzigkeit und Gerechtigkeit. 44. Ich hielte dies weder für konkret praktikabel noch für hilfreich. 45. Die Darstellung von Gewalt in der Apokalypse ist schon häufig problematisiert worden. Dabei halte ich Passagen, die thematisieren, dass diese Welt eine ist, in der Gewaltsames geschieht, für sogar wichtig, obwohl (oder vielleicht gar: weil) sie uns natürlich mit verschiedensten Formen der Theodizeefrage konfrontieren. Andere Passagen, wie die über die Schlacht Christi gegen die Gottesfeinde (Offb 19,11-21), bieten höchst gebrochene Darstellungen von Gewalt. Hierzu weiterführend T. NICKLAS, The Eschatological Battle according to the Book of Revelation: Perspectives on Revelation 19:11-21, in P.G.R. DE VILLIERS – J.W. VAN HENTEN (Hgg.), Coping with Violence in the New Testament (STAR, 16), Leiden – Boston, MA, Brill, 2012, 227-244. Für besonders problematisch allerdings halte ich Passagen, in denen sich die hohe Aggressivität des Sehers gegenüber anders Denkenden zeigt, sowie solche, die sich als Aufforderung deuten lassen, selbst Rache an den Gegnern – repräsentiert in der Hure Babylon – zu nehmen (vgl. z.B. Offb 18,6-7). 46. J. STEETSKAMP, Autorschaft und Sklavenperspektive im Ersten Petrusbrief (WUNT, II/524), Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2020, sieht hinter dem Text die Perspektive eines gebildeten Sklaven, der mit den Möglichkeiten seiner Zeit versucht, ein gerechteres Leben für Sklavinnen und Sklaven zu ermöglichen. Dies ist ein spannender Gedanke. Trotzdem



leider damit leben, dass bis weit ins 19. Jahrhundert hinein auch Menschen, die sich als Christen verstanden, mit der Bibel in der Hand die Versklavung von Menschen als gottgewollt zu verteidigen suchten47. Wir dürfen jedoch in unserer Zeit nicht schweigen, wenn heute mit der Bibel in der Hand etwa Homosexuelle48 oder Menschen mit nichtbinärer Geschlechteridentität ausgegrenzt werden. Genauso wie wir problemlos anerkennen können, dass inspirierte Autoren der Schrift keine Ahnung von Quantenphysik oder Digitalisierung hatten, genauso wie wir bestimmte Speisegebote für überholt halten49 und neutestamentliche Anweisungen zur Organisation der Ekklesia (vgl. z.B. 1 Tim 3,2.12; Tit 1,6)50 nicht beachten, können wir voraussetzen, dass die Autoren der biblischen Schriften auch in ihren Aussagen zur Sklaverei, aber auch zu menschlicher Geschlechtlichkeit Menschen ihrer Zeit blieben, deren Aussagen nicht einfach ungebrochen in alle Zeiten hinein gültig sein können. Die Beispiele ließen sich fortsetzen. Ich spreche damit keineswegs einer Beliebigkeit im Umgang mit der Bibel das Wort; als Interpretinnen und Interpreten aber sind wir in der Verantwortung, die Geister zu unterscheiden, um in den Worten von Menschen die Stimme des Gottesgeistes erkennbar zu machen. Ein mögliches Kriterium, wie das wenigstens ansatzweise glaube ich, dass letztendlich M. SOMMER, Freiheit und Intellekt: Der 1. Petrusbrief und römisch-hellenistische Gelehrtendiskurse über Sklaverei, in Early Christianity 12 (2021) 1-21, hier S. 21, Recht zu geben ist, wenn er zu dem Fazit kommt: „In meinen Augen ist 1 Petr 2,18-20 auch heute noch ein gewalttätiger Text, weil er sich bestimmter Kategorien bedient, die wir diachron gelesen als gewalttätig, ja geradezu unmenschlich empfinden und zutiefst verurteilen. Trotz allem möchte er mit diesen Kategorien eine Idee von Freiheit, sozialer Integration und gesellschaftlicher Kritik durch eine gelebte Ethik ausdrücken, die meines Erachtens anschlussfähig ist an eine moderne und aufgeklärte Form der Theologie“. – Leider haben wir keine einzige Aussage aus dem Munde Jesu, die Sklaverei verurteilen würde, und leider bleibt unklar, was Gal 3,28 für die konkreten Lebensverhältnisse von Versklavten bedeutete, die Teil einer paulinischen Ekklesia wurden. Vielleicht am hilfreichsten ist die – eher wenig beachtete – Passage Offb 18,13, die vom Handel mit Versklavten spricht, die zwar als σώματα bezeichnet würden, bei denen es sich aber um die Seelen/Leben von Menschen handele. 47. Material hierzu bei W.M. SWARTLEY, Slavery, Sabbath, War and Women: Case Studies in Biblical Interpretation, Scottdale, PA – Waterloo, Ont., Herald Press, 1983, S. 31-64 sowie D.M. GOLDENBERG, Black and Slave: The Origins and History of the Curse of Ham, Berlin – Boston, MA, De Gruyter, 2017. 48. Argumentationshilfen z.B. T. HIEKE, Die Männer von Sodom: Keine Homosexualität in Genesis 19 und anderswo, in ID. – K. HUBER (Hgg.), Bibel falsch verstanden: Hartnäckige Fehldeutungen biblischer Texte erklärt, Stuttgart, Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2020, 64-71 (sowie die auf S. 70-71 angegebene weitere Sekundärliteratur). 49. Ich spreche hier nicht nur von den Speisegeboten der Tora, sondern von den Minimalanforderungen, die Apg 15,19-21 an Getaufte aus den Völkern stellt. 50. Zur hochkomplexen Auslegungsgeschichte dieser Passagen, in der es darum geht, dass der Episkop, Presbyter oder Diakon Mann einer Frau sein soll, vgl. den Überblick bei D.G. HUNTER, ‚A Man of One Wife‘: Patristic Interpretations of 1 Timothy 3:2, 3:12, and Titus 1:6 and the Making of a Christian Priesthood, in ASE 32 (2015) 333-352.



gelingen kann, habe ich zusammen mit Stefan Alkier und Christos Karakolis vorgestellt: Die Schrift stellt unmissverständlich klar, dass Gott das Heil für alle seine Geschöpfe will und er es ihnen offenkundig anbietet. Theologisch sachgemäße Bibelauslegung muss deswegen im Wortsinn evangelisch, katholisch und orthodox sein, d.h.: sie ist der guten Nachricht für alle in richtiger Weise verpflichtet51.

In manchen Fällen sind es biblische Stimmen selbst, die uns – als Stellungnahmen in Wahrheitsdiskursen52 – erlauben, andere Stimmen zu kritisieren. In manchen Fällen könnten wir mit unserer Kritik an ihnen wenigstens ansetzen53, müssen aber im Licht der Erfahrungen aus der Geschichte wie aufgrund heutiger Erkenntnisse über Welt und Mensch tiefer gehen. In anderen Fällen ist es eine auf grundlegenden Impulsen der Schriften des Kanons beruhende Haltung – oben formuliert als grundlegende Erkenntnis von Gottes Willen zum Heil aller seiner Geschöpfe –, die von uns fordert, bestimmte Aussagen und Stimmen im Kanon als „prekär“ einzuordnen. III. FAZIT Mit der oben formulierten knappen Skizze ergibt sich eine Reihe sehr grundlegender Gedanken, die ich im Folgenden als Thesen zu formulieren suche. 1. Wäre die Inspiration der Schriften auf ihre Entstehung allein und damit die Vergangenheit beschränkt, könnte Gottes Wort in den Menschenworten der Schrift uns nicht erreichen. Diese blieben stattdessen toter Buchstabe. Wo wir aber die Inspiration von Leserinnen und Lesern, Hörerinnen und Hörern, Interpretinnen und Interpreten der Schrift für möglich halten, folgt daraus, dass auch die durch diese Menschen erzeugten Fortschreibungen der Schrift und deren Interpretationen und Repräsentationen in anderen Medien inspiriert sein können. 51. ALKIER – KARAKOLIS – NICKLAS, Sola Scriptura ökumenisch (Anm. 29), S. 4. 52. Hilfreich in diesem Zusammenhang ist das dem Band von S. ALKIER (Hg.), Antagonismen in neutestamentlichen Schriften: Studien zur Neuformulierung der ‚Gegnerfrage‘ jenseits des Historismus (Beyond Historicism – New Testament Studies Today, 1), Paderborn, Brill – Schöningh, 2021, zugrunde liegende Modell, frühchristliche Schriften zu verstehen. 53. So würde ich die israeltheologischen Aussagen des Paulus in Röm 9–11 als entscheidende Impulse verstehen, die uns auch helfen können, Passagen mit antijüdischem Potential im Neuen Testament zu kritisieren und zu relativieren.



2. So eröffnet der Kanon sich fortwährend ändernde Denk- und Kommunikationsräume, die seine Schriften und ihre Aussagen überhaupt erst „bewohnbar“ machen und sie in den Welten von Menschen verschiedenster historischer Kontexte überhaupt erst ankommen lassen. Diese Räume sind einerseits so eng mit dem Kanon verbunden, dass sie nicht einfach außerkanonisch sind, andererseits auch nicht einfach kanonisch. Damit lassen sie sich nicht nur wie oben als „Heterotopien“ im Sinn von Lefèbvre beschreiben. Ihnen kommt wohl auch im Sinne Foucaults die Funktion zu, als „wirksame Orte“ in der Funktion von „Widerlagern“ den Kanon nicht nur zu konterkarieren, sondern ihn auszubalancieren und zu festigen54. Sie ragen einerseits deutlich über die Grenzen des „definierten“ Schriftkanons hinaus, fragen aber auch in ihn hinein und sind in der Lage, Stimmen und Aussagen innerhalb des Kanons als „prekär“ zu erweisen, aber auch verborgene Stimmen zum Sprechen zu bringen. Damit jedoch ergibt sich, dass wir nicht nur von einer Geschichte der Entstehung des Kanons sprechen dürfen. Auch der bereits allgemein anerkannte Kanon hat eine Geschichte, die bis heute weitergeht. 3. Aus einem solchen Kanonverständnis, das auf dem Gedanken basiert, dass jede Passage der Schrift wie auch die Schrift als Ganze bleibend der Interpretation aufgegeben ist, ergibt sich eine hohe Verantwortung für alle Auslegerinnen und Ausleger der Schrift55. Natürlich hat sich die Interpretation der Schrift an präzisen Fragen und der reflektiert-methodengeleiteten Arbeit am Text zu orientieren. Wo sie theologisch, gesellschaftlich und damit für das Leben von Menschen relevant sein will, muss sie aber darüber hinausgehen und im oben beschriebenen Sinne den ernsthaften Versuch unternehmen, die Geister zu unterscheiden. 4. Ein solches Verständnis des Kanons ist weniger postmodern, als es auf den ersten Blick den Anschein haben mag. Vielmehr berührt es sich mit dem, was die Alte Kirche seit dem Ende des 2. Jahrhunderts mit dem Modell eines κανὼν τῆς ἀληθείας (und verwandten Begriffen) zum Ausdruck bringen wollte56. Es geht nicht in allererster Linie um den 54. Entscheidend hierzu FOUCAULT, Von anderen Räumen (Anm. 9). 55. Erste Gedanken dazu habe ich (allerdings in einem früheren Stadium meiner Überlegungen) formuliert in dem Beitrag T. NICKLAS, Verantwortete Exegese: Reflexionen (auch) anhand der Geschichte der Jesusforschung, in T. FORNET-PONSE (Hg.), Jesus Christus: Von alttestamentlichen Messiasvorstellungen bis zur literarischen Figur (Jerusalemer Theologisches Forum, 25), Münster, Aschendorff, 2015, 73-90. 56. Hierzu knapp und hilfreich z.B. C. MARKSCHIES, Haupteinleitung, in ID. – J. SCHRÖTER (Hgg.), Antike christliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung. Vol. 1: Evangelien und Verwandtes, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2012, 1-180, hier S. 13 (mit weiterführender Literatur). – Für diesen letzten Gedanken bin ich Andreas Merkt (persönliches Gespräch) zu Dank verpflichtet.



Buchstaben der Schrift, sondern um die in immer neuer Weise erkennbare, in immer neuen menschlichen Worten formulierbare und in verschiedensten anderen Medien darstellbare Wahrheit des sich bis heute schenkenden Gottesworts, das aber nie einfach in dauerhaften Besitz genommen werden kann oder gar zur Herrschaft über andere oder dem Urteil über sie berechtigt. Universität Regensburg Fakultät für Katholische Theologie DE-93040 Regensburg Deutschland [email protected]



ἐκ μέρους γὰρ γινώσκομεν (1 Cor 13,9)

Marking the sixty-fifth birthday and retirement of an esteemed colleague is a suitable occasion to reflect on the nature and shape of the discipline to which that colleague has devoted their career1. Such reflection is important, for academic disciplines, including New Testament studies, are not defined by some kind of legal foundation or unalterable constitution. Rather, they acquire a shape and a sense of their tasks through a history – a history that takes place in particular contexts and forms a kind of tradition that shapes the ongoing practice of that discipline. Put in more epistemological terms, that history determines what it is that a discipline seeks to know, how it seeks to know it, and for whom such knowledge is valuable. It may be the case, as Robert Morgan and John Barton comment, that most of the time biblical scholars proceed with their studies and “seldom discuss why they pursue some questions raised by the texts, and not others. Like good soldiers they get on with the job and do not reason why”2. But – leaving aside the question of whether, after Nuremberg, this is a valid description of a “good soldier” – we should certainly insist that good scholars do ask why, albeit not constantly, but periodically, and especially when changing contexts press the need for strategic and critical appraisal. Like other disciplines of the European academy, New Testament studies acquired its particular shape as a modern, critical, academic discipline in a western-European context profoundly shaped by years of bloody religious conflict – especially the thirty years’ war of the seventeenth century – 1. I am very grateful for this opportunity to join in honouring Reimund Bieringer, and I would like to thank him publicly for the kindness he has shown me over many years, both practically, in facilitating a number of visits to conduct research at Leuven, and intellectually, in his unfailingly generous, open, and humble engagement. A version of this paper was also presented at the NT and Patristics Research Seminar at Durham University in March 2022, and I thank the participants for their engaging questions and discussion then, especially John Barclay and Francis Watson. 2. R. MORGAN – J. BARTON, Biblical Interpretation (Oxford Bible Series), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 220.



and by Europe’s colonial expansion, linked in complex ways with Christian mission3. Michael Legaspi argues persuasively that the emergence of modern biblical studies in the wake of Europe’s post-Reformation conflicts involved not merely the construction of a new approach to the Bible but the creation of a new object, “the academic Bible”, shaped by the need to remain relevant to the particular socio-political circumstances of the time4. Since the decolonisation of the second half of the twentieth century, and the ideological critique of the ways in which European imperialism was accompanied by particular constructions of the “other” – “Oriental”, “African”, “Indian”, etc. – many disciplines, ranging from anthropology and geography to classics and literature, have faced the challenge of critique and radical reconstruction. Whatever our convictions as to the priorities and practices of a contemporary discipline, in our case New Testament studies, it seems to me that we should not evade the critical challenge of asking how far, and in what ways, the traditions of the discipline have been shaped – and continue to be shaped – by that particular European history, and what it would mean to reshape those traditions in a decolonised and globalised world. While the impetus to undertake such critical and reconstructive labour goes back many decades, recent years, with high-profile campaigns such as Rhodes Must Fall and Black Lives Matter, have added new momentum to such work. The challenge to academic institutions in what may broadly – if not unproblematically – be labelled “the West” is now framed in terms of a call to “decolonise” the university, its curricula, and methods of study5. But what might it mean to approach such a task in the discipline of New Testament studies? And what might it mean to participate in that task for those of us who are white males, trained in the established (European) methods of the discipline and holding posts in European institutions6? I hope in this essay to suggest some answers to that question, but it is clear that our collective efforts to ask such questions and explore possible answers will require the kind of kindness, courage, and integrity that the editors have rightly chosen to epitomise Reimund Bieringer’s life 3. For a brief overview, see W.H. WAN, Re-examining the Master’s Tools: Considerations on Biblical Studies’ Race Problem, in K.M. HOCKEY – D.G. HORRELL (eds.), Ethnicity, Race, Religion: Identities and Ideologies in Early Jewish and Christian Texts and in Modern Biblical Interpretation, London, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018, 219-229. 4. M.C. LEGASPI, The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010. 5. For some representative discussions, see P. GOPAL, On Decolonisation and the University, in Textual Practice 35 (2021) 873-899; G. WARD, Decolonizing Theology, in Stellenbosch Theological Journal 3 (2017) 561-584; M. NYE, Decolonizing the Study of Religion, in Open Library of Humanities 5/1 (2019) no. 43, 1-45. 6. Despite Brexit, I continue to include the UK within Europe.



and work, and specifically the kindness and integrity that undergird a generous attention to the other and a rigorous self-critique. Exploring what it might mean to decolonise New Testament studies is a task with both critical and constructive dimensions: we must both critically appraise the established traditions and practices of the dominant mainstream of the discipline, and constructively assess the potential of other perspectives and approaches to reshape and recast it. Within the scope of a single paper, it is impossible to offer more than illustrative and suggestive examples, but I aim to encompass both dimensions of this task, moving from a more historical and critical perspective to a more forwardlooking and constructive vision, in each case via specific case studies. Beyond the specific exegetical and interpretative debates, I am interested to try to assess the broader epistemological questions that reveal what practitioners of the discipline take to be their tasks: What do we want to know, and how do we seek to know it? I begin with one example of the way in which antisemitism (or anti-Judaism) has been evident in historical exegesis, then turn to a consideration of three named characters in Acts, thinking about how the contexts of exegesis shape the questions exegetes do and do not ask, before finally examining some examples from African New Testament studies to inform more constructive reflections on addressing the decolonial challenge.

I. ANTISEMITISM/ANTI-JUDAISM IN NEW TESTAMENT INTERPRETATION: 1 PET 2,4-10 It is by now well-known – and much analysed and lamented – that New Testament studies as an academic discipline, even in ostensibly historical mode, has often served to generate and reinforce antisemitism, insofar as it has given scholarly weight to negative stereotypes of Jews as (among other things) hypocrites, legalists, violent opponents of the Messiah, and hardened against true faith7. Especially in early twentieth-century Germany, 7. These are issues to which Reimund Bieringer has given significant attention, see e.g., R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT – F. VANDECASTEELE-VANNEUVILLE (eds.), Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel, Louisville, KY, Westminster John Knox, 2001; R. BIERINGER – D. POLLEFEYT (eds.), Paul and Judaism: Crosscurrents in Pauline Exegesis and the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations (LNTS, 463), London – New York, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2012. There are difficult and contested questions concerning the relationship between theological anti-Judaism and political or racial antisemitism. Clear distinctions between the two are often hard to sustain; on the connections, see S. HESCHEL, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany, Princeton, NJ – Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2008, pp. 20-23. See also the various categories of anti-Judaism and antisemitism



but by no means only there, Christian interpreters contrasted the positive achievements of early Christianity with the negative limitations of Judaism, reinforcing binary contrasts between law, ritual, and nationalism on the Jewish side, and grace, freedom, and universalism on the Christian side. There are many difficult and complex questions entangled in this issue but one broader reason why it is important to discuss – and pertinent to our topic here – is that it shows how far New Testament studies as a discipline, despite its focus on (supposedly) objective historical and philological analysis, can become, and has in the past become, enmeshed in the ideological distortions of its particular context of production. This should alert us to the need to think critically about how our “knowledge” has been shaped by such contexts. There could be many illustrations of this point, but one, which also shows how exegesis can shift in its focus, concerns early German interpretation of 1 Pet 2,4-10, a passage in which the author draws on scriptural texts and phrases to depict a contrast between those who reject the “living stone”, Christ, and those who place their trust in this stone, and thus come to form a chosen people8. Despite the rich use of scriptural phrasing, here as elsewhere in the letter, there is no explicit mention of Israel or of Ἰουδαῖοι, nor any specific identification of those who have rejected or “disobeyed the word” (v. 7). Indeed, in Johann Huther’s commentary from 1877 there is an insistence that the people who have rejected Christ are to be understood in a general and non-specific way. Commenting on 2,4, Huther writes: “Was in dieser Stelle speciell von den Bauleuten gesagt ist, wird hier allgemein auf die Menschen überhaupt bezogen […] der Gedanke ist allgemein und umfassend”9. Huther is explicit that set out by G. THEISSEN, Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft vor und nach 1945: Karl Georg Kuhn und Günther Bornkamm (Philosophisch-historische Klasse der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, 47), Heidelberg, Winter, 2009, pp. 116-121. Antisemitism may be simply defined as “hostility to or prejudice against Jews” (New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1998, p. 73), and in the examples we shall consider below, it seems to me that the negative hostility is expressed, crucially, against the people as an undifferentiated group. I follow Nasar Meer in adopting the convention of writing “antisemitism” rather than “anti-Semitism”, since the latter may problematically imply the validity of the category “Semitism” (see N. MEER, Racialization and Religion: Race, Culture and Difference in the Study of Antisemitism and Islamophobia, in Ethnic and Racial Studies 36 [2013] 385398, p. 395 n. 2). 8. This section draws material from a longer essay, for which the initial research was done during a month spent as a visiting fellow at KU Leuven, when Reimund Bieringer kindly acted as my host: D.G. HORRELL, “Das im Unglauben verharrende Judenvolk”: 1 Pet 2:4-10, Its History of Interpretation in Germany (1855-1978), and the Important Contribution of Leonhard Goppelt, in D. DU TOIT (ed.), Bedrängnis und Identität: Studien zu Situation, Kommunikation und Theologie des 1. Petrusbriefes (BZNW, 200), Berlin, De Gruyter, 2013, 327-351. 9. J.E. HUTHER, Kritisch Exegetisches Handbuch über den 1. Brief des Petrus, den Brief des Judas und den 2. Brief des Petrus (KEK, 12), Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht,



the author’s description of the Christian community in v. 5 and elsewhere is not primarily intended to draw a distinction between the “old covenant” and “new covenant” communities. A rather different perspective is presented, however, in Hans Windisch’s influential commentary, first published in 1911: “Die ganze Stelle [2.1-10] polemisiert gegen das Judentum: sein Tempeldienst, Priestertum, Opferkult, sein ganzer Heilsstand gilt als erledigt; die einzig richtige Weise der Gottesverehrung […] ist bei der Christengemeinde zu finden”10. This brief but forceful assertion is developed more extensively in G. Wohlenberg’s commentary from 1915. Here, too, the (widespread) view that the addressees are (mostly) gentiles allows and supports an interpretation that contrasts gentiles and Jews, as gr