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True and false boasting in 2 Cor. 10-13.

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Davis, George Brown 


As Paul responds to criticism within the Corinthian congregation, one of the prominent motifs of 2 Cor 10-13 is the theme of boasting. In addressing the theme of boasting in this passage, our examination begins by investigating boasting in Graeco-Roman and Jewish literature. Chapter One examines this theme in Graeco-Roman sources and discusses the rationale behind the practice and limitation of self-praise. In Chapter Two, we explore the theme of boasting in Jewish literature and pay particular attention to the boasting passage found in Jer 9:22-23 and its interpretative traditions. Chapters Three and Four focus on 2 Cor 10-13. Chapter Three discusses the literary and historical setting of this passage; this includes an examination of the charges that have been made against Paul in the Corinthian context. Building on the work of these chapters, the final chapter addresses the theme of boasting in 2 Cor 10-13. In this analysis, we attempt to answer several questions: (1) For Paul, what is the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate boasting? (2) Can legitimate boasting include boasting in one's own activity? (3) What is the relationship between Paul's boasting and boasting practices evident in Graeco-Roman and Jewish sources? In answering these questions, this thesis argues that the triadic pattern of relationships involving the righteous, the wicked and God found in Jewish literature provides a conceptual backdrop to Paul 's use of the boasting theme. According to this pattern, the speech of the wicked involves scornful rebuke of the righteous as well as arrogant boasting that reflects rebellion against God. The righteous, by contrast, who are often portrayed as poor and humble, express confidence in God's ability to save and deliver those faithful to him. Thus, to some extent, the wicked and the righteous display different objects of trust--while the wicked "boast" in themselves , the righteous "boast" in God. Frequently, the theme of status reversal is associated with this triadic pattern of relationships; God punishes the wicked and rescues the righteous. As he answers his critics, Paul aligns himself with the suffering righteous who boast in God.


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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge