Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

(sigma)(pi)Eipetai: Paul's Anthropogenic Metaphor in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

(sigma)(pi)Eipetai: Paul's Anthropogenic Metaphor in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Article excerpt

Bell & Howell Information and Learning: Foreign Text Omitted.

This essay examines the meaning of the metaphor of sowing in 1 Cor 15:42-44 by examining its context in Paul's argument in 1 Cor 15:35-37 and the use of the metaphor as describing human origins and generation in the GrecoRoman world.1 As is evidenced by the frequency with which ... is found in w. 42-44 and w. 36-38, an understanding of the meaning of this metaphor is critical for interpreting w. 42-44 and extremely important for interpreting Paul's argument in w. 35-57. This importance has been recognized by a number of scholars who have attempted to determine what this metaphorical language means, posing two basic theories to explain Paul's metaphor of sowing in w. 42-44. First, on the basis of their interpretation of w. 36-38, scholars have argued that OICipeat in vv. 42-44 refers to the burial or interment of a deceased human being.2 As evidence of this, they can appeal and have appealed to the presence of death in v. 36, to the details of the agricultural analogy in vv. 36-38, which clearly implies the covering of a seed, and to the application of that analogy to the resurrection of the dead in v. 42a: "Thus also is the resurrection of the dead." Since the issue Paul is addressing in 1 Cor 15 involves the resurrection of the dead (v. 12) and since he continues to refer to death and the dead in vv. 36-38 and 42, their interpretation seems to be a natural one. Others, however, argue that the verb refers to all preresurrection human existence, including the living and the dead.3 As evidence, they note that not all the predicates describing the verb ... in vv. 42-44 can refer to an interred body, but must refer to human existence in general. Many argue that Paul is merely demonstrating the possibility of life from death, not death as a precondition of the resurrection. When Paul's use of ... is examined in the context of his argument in vv. 35-57 and of the mythic and philosophical history of this metaphor, however, both of these interpretations prove to be untenable. In contrast, the evidence strongly suggests that Paul's metaphor of sowing in vv. 42-44 is used antithetically to contrast not burial or human existence, but human origins with the resurrection. In I Cor 15:42-44 Paul uses the verb ... as an anthropogenic metaphor describing the creation of the first human being, Adam.

I. ... in the Contxt of Paul's Argument in 1 Corinthians 15:35-57

Paul's sowing metaphor in vv. 42-44 is located in a complicated argument regarding the resurrection of the dead. As Paul's argument indicates in v. 12, some members of the Corinthian community were saying that there is no resurrection of the dead. Paul's aim in 1 Cor 15 is to persuade them otherwise. To do so, he presents a two-part argument, with vv. 1-34 demonstrating that a denial of the resurrection is inconsistent with what the Corinthians and Paul believe and practice and withvv. 35-57 directly addressing the issue that led to their denial. Given the nature of Paul's argument in w. 35-57, it seems quite likely that some of the Corinthians denied the resurrection because they believed it violated the principles of their cosmological doctrine. They probably argued that it is absurd to think that a terrestrial body could be raised to the celestial realm. Since all we have is one side of what was undoubtedly a two-sided exchange, we cannot be absolutely sure that this was the problem. Nevertheless, it seems quite likely because Paul goes to great lengths to prove that the resurrection is compatible with a cosmological system where the terrestrial and celestial realms were considered opposites.4 It is essential to understand how ... fits into this argument. Paul uses the verb ... to refer to the creative power of God in the creation of Adam and extrapolates from this event that God's creative power will be the cause of the resurrection.5

In vv. 35-57, Paul concentrates on demonstrating two essential points: the cause and the effect of the resurrection. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.