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2 Corinthians

At a Glance
Letter
Genre:
(5/5) *****
Reliability of Dating:
(3/5) ***
Length of Text:
Greek
Original Language:
Ancient Translations:
Modern Translations:

Estimated Range of Dating: 50-60 A.D.

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Information on 2 Corinthians

Second Corinthians is one of the four letters of Paul known as the Hauptbriefe, which are universally accepted to contain authentic Pauline correspondence.

Werner Georg Kummel would like to view the letter to be a whole composed by the apostle Paul on one occasion (Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 287-293).

However, there are difficulties that have suggested to several commentators that 2 Corinthians has been compiled from several pieces of correspondence. Since the "sorrowful letter" mentioned in 2:4 does not describe 1 Corinthians, we know that Paul had written at least three letters to the Corinthians. A quite reasonable suggestion is that the last four chapters contain the "sorrowful letter" that is mentioned in 2:4.

Other evidence bears out this view. Edgar J. Goodspeed notes a few considerations that suggest disunity in 2 Corinthians (An Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 58-59). On the one hand, "From the beginning through chapter 9 it is pervaded by a sense of harmony, reconciliation, and comfort." On the other, "With the beginning of chapter 10 we are once more in the midst of personal misunderstanding and bitterness, and these continue to dominate the letter to the end . . . This undeniable incongruity between the two parts of II Corinthians naturally suggests that we have in it two letters instead of one - one conciliatory and gratified, the other injured and incensed. And as the early part of II Corinthians clearly looks back upon a painful, regretted letter, the possibility suggests itself that we actually have that letter in chapters 10-13."

Norman Perrin offers the following solution with five Pauline fragments and one non-Pauline interpolation (The New Testament: An Introduction, pp. 104-105).

Kummel allows that 6:14-7:1 is interpolated yet still maintains that it is Pauline. However, Joseph Fitzmyer has argued that 6:14-7:1 is an interpolation from a document at Qumran in an essay reproduced in The Semitic Background of the New Testament, pp. 205-217. There are three reasons to posit that the passage is interpolated: "the paragraph radically interrupts the chain of thought between 6:13 and 7:2," the passage is "a unit intelligible in itself," and "six of the key-words in the passage are not found elsewhere in the New Testament." Fitzmyer argues that references to triple dualism, the opposition to idols, the temple of God, separation from all impurity, and the concatenation of Old Testament texts point to a Qumranic origin for the interpolated fragment.


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Kirby, Peter. "2 Corinthians." Early Christian Writings. <http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/2corinthians.html>.