Ancient Rhetoric and Paul's Apology: The Compositional Unity of 2 Corinthians

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Ancient Rhetoric and Paul's Apology: The Compositional Unity of 2 Corinthians. By Fredrick J. Long. SNTSMS 131. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, xix + 291 pp., $80.00.

In this book, Fredrick Long sets out to do for 2 Corinthians what Margaret Mitchell did for 1 Corinthians with her book Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation (Westminster John Knox, 1991). As Mitchell demonstrated the unity of 1 Corinthians by comparing it to known examples of deliberative rhetoric, Long compares 2 Corinthians to the many surviving speeches of the forensic genus. He thereby aims to demonstrate the integrity of the letter, based on its conventional rhetorical structure (p. 5). (In the meantime, Margaret Mitchell has argued for a complex partition theory for 2 Corinthians.)

A revision of the author's doctoral dissertation under Carol Stockhausen at Marquette University, Long's book begins with a thorough introduction to the genus of forensic rhetoric. His investigation is not limited to the rhetorical handbooks, but draws on the actual known Greco-Roman examples of speeches that were delivered in a forensic setting. Not written as a textbook, this comprehensive survey (chaps. 2-6) will not serve the beginner, but for those already familiar with rhetorical criticism it is a very helpful overview of forensic rhetoric.

In a recent monograph, which also argues for the unity of 2 Corinthians, David Hall has suggested that "the tearful letter" (2 Cor 2:4) was 1 Corinthians and that there was no intermediate visit between the writing of the two letters. (2 Cor 2:1 must refer to an earlier visit.) Long holds the same position (p. 123), but he does not really engage the vast majority of scholars who have found this reconstruction to be impossible.

In 2 Cor 12:19 Paul says: "All along you have been thinking that we have been defending ourselves to you." Without argument, Long assumes, against most interpreters, that Paul approves of this impression (pp. 118, 191), and he maintains that 2 Corinthians is an apologetic letter. Paul defends himself against two basic charges: he was fickle with respect to his intended visits to Corinth, and he made use of worldly rhetoric (not practicing what he preached in 1 Corinthians). In addition, Long mentions the accusation of financial dishonesty, as Paul refused the patronage of the Corinthians, while some Corinthians thought he was using the collection to Jerusalem for his own gain. Having thus established the letter's exigency (chap. 7), Long continues to discuss its disposition (chap. 8) and invention (chap. 9). A chapter on the rhetoric of 2 Corinthians and Paul's theology rounds off the volume.

The appeal of Long's work is that he has one explanation that accounts for the entire letter. He detects a conventional rhetorical outline that accounts for all its individual parts. The main argument (probatio, 2:1-9:15) is even anticipated in the introduction to the letter (divisio acndpartitio, 1:17-24), where all the subsections of the probatio are sequentially introduced. Long draws attention to the problems other scholars have had in making sense of this introduction as a logically connected unit (pp. 161-62). If it is not such a unit, however, but rather a preview of the main parts of the letter, Long is able to solve these problems.

Not all scholars will be convinced that the arguments in 2:17-3:18, for example, are foreshadowed in 1:18-20. The terms "word" and "Christ" are too general to make the case, and the profound discussion of the glory of his ministry in 3:7-11,18 is hardly anticipated by the mere use of the word "glory" in 1:20 (p. …