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The Identification of Paul's Spectacle of Death Metaphor in 1 Corinthians 4.9

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 September 2007

Divinity and Religious Studies, King's College, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3UB, Scotland


Scholars have proposed various explanations for Paul's metaphor of a spectacle (θεατρον) in 1 Cor 4.9 – a Roman triumphal procession, a gladiatorial show, and more recently, a mime performance. Although scholars have presented substantial arguments in favour of their identifications, the details in the text do not totally resonate with any of the proposals. Rather, this article will advance a refined identification of Paul's metaphor that better agrees with the particulars of 4.9 and its context: the Roman spectacle of executing condemned criminals (noxii) within the arena, which was a significant social event in Roman society.

Research Article
© 2007 Cambridge University Press

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I am grateful to Drs. Bruce Winter, Andrew Clarke, and Joseph Hellermann for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.