The Old Testament Background of Reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5–7 and its Bearing on the Literary Problem of 2 Corinthians 6.14–7.1
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 February 2009
Few scholars have proposed that there is any precise OT background for Paul's view of reconciliation, even though there has been much discussion about the formulation of the doctrine. There is no Hebrew word for ‘reconciliation’ in the OT; there is general agreement that Paul obtained this word from not only the Jewish but also the Greco-Roman world. The καταλλάσσω–διαλλάσσομαι word group is found in the Septuagint (rarely), 2 and 4 Maccabees and Josephus as well as in classical, hellenistic and koine writings. The use of the word group in these writings has been well documented.
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page 550 note 1 This paper was read in the Fall Term of 1987 at the New Testament Seminar at Cambridge University and at the Ehrhardt Seminar at the University of Manchester. I am grateful for comments made by members of these seminars, by Goulder, M. D. of Birmingham, by my colleagues at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and at Tyndale House Library, Cambridge, and by Professors Stuhlmacher and Hengelof Tübingen.Google Scholar
page 550 note 2 See Fitzmyer, J. A., To Advance the Gospel (New York: Crossroad, 1981) 164–5;Google ScholarMarshall, I. H., ‘The Meaning of “Reconciliation”’ in Unity and Diversity in New Testament Theology: Essays in Honor of G. E. Ladd (ed. Guelich, R. A.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978) 117–21;Google ScholarMartin, R. P., Reconciliation: A Study of Paul's Theology (Atlanta: John Knox, 1981) 104–6, among others.Google Scholar
page 550 note 3 The apparent exception to this is Hofius, O., ‘Erwägungen zur Gestalt und Herkunft des paulinischen Versöhnungsgedankens’, ZThK 77 (1980) 186–99, who argues that 2 Cor 5. 18–21 is based on Isaiah 52–53.Google Scholar
page 550 note 4 See Stuhlmacher, P., ‘Das Evangelium von der Versöhnung in Christus’, in Das Evangelium von der Versöhnung in Christus, edd. Stuhlmacher, P. and Class, H. (Stuttgart: Calwer, 1979) 44–9Google Scholar, who proposes that the OT is the origin for the language of reconciliation in the NT (in particular he cites Isa 2. 2–4; 9. 1 ff.; 11. 1 ff.; 25. 6 ff.; 40. 9–11; 43. 1 ff.;52. 13–53. 12; 56. 1 ff.; 60–63; Jer 23. 7 ff.; 31. 31 ff.; Zech 9–13). However, he only cites these texts and conducts no exegetical analysis of them.
page 551 note 1 E.g., see the helpful albeit general discussions of Hahn, F. C., ‘Siehe, jetzt ist der Tag des Heils’, EvTh 33 (1973) 244–53;Google ScholarStuhlmacher, , ‘Erwägungen zum ontologischen Charakter der kaine ktisis bei Paulus’, EvTh 27 (1967) 1–35;Google ScholarStuhlmacher, Versöhnung, Gesetz und Gerechtigkeit (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1981) 133–4, 238–9;Google ScholarHofius, ‘Versöhnungsgedankens’, 188;Google ScholarMartin, Reconciliation, 108–10;Google Scholaridem., 2 Corinthians (Word Biblical Commentary; Waco: Word, 1986) 149–53, 58;Google ScholarFindeis, H.-J., Versöhnung-Apostolat-Kirche, Forschung zur Bibel 40 (Würzburg: Echter, 1983) 157–64, 176, whose discussion is the best in this regard.Google Scholar
page 552 note 1 So Hafemann, S., ‘“Self-Commendation” and Apostolic Legitimacy in 2 Corinthians: A Pauline Dialectic?’ forthcoming in NTS (1989).Google Scholar
page 552 note 2 I have found that Hafemann, S., Suffering and the Spirit, WUNT (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck] 1986) 58–87, has made the same point.Google Scholar
page 552 note 3 This phrase could also be translated ‘there is a new creation’. Either translation does not affect our overall argument.Google Scholar
page 553 note 1 Although Stuhlmacher, ‘kaine ktisis’, 5–6, among a number of others (cf. infra n. 2, p. 576), is right that v. 16 concerns Paul's conversion and apostolic call, its function in the overall argument of chapters 2–7 is to encourage the readers also not to evaluate ‘according to the flesh’. This is evident from its syntactical dependence on vv. 14–15 and its parallelism with v. 17 (cf. ὥστε), which is clearly a general reference.Google Scholar
page 553 note 2 Among relevant Jewish texts the next closest parallels are 1 En 91. 16 and 1 QH 13. 11–12, which also contrast the old creation with the new creation; the former text has only a generally parallel contrast, while the latter is so filled with lacunae that its original wording is questionable.Google Scholar
page 553 note 3 However, this combination does occur in post-NT Christian literature always in allusion to 2 Cor5. 17 or Isa 43. 18–19 (cf. Alexandrinus, Clemens, Stromata 184.108.40.206.4; 220.127.116.11.1–6; Origenes, Commentarium in evangelium Mattaei 17.33.104–106; 17.33.110–133; Fragmenta in Psalmos 1–150; Gregorius Nazianzenus, In theophania 36.313.9–12; In novam Dominicam 36.616.39–42; Gregorius Nyssenus, Contra Eunomium 18.104.22.168.5–8).Google Scholar
page 553 note 4 However, Furnish, V., 11 Corinthians (The Anchor Bible; Garden City: Doubleday, 1984) 314–15Google Scholar, would be representative of a few in seeing 2 Cor 5. 17 as generally dependent only on the concept of creation in apocalyptic Judaism. Nevertheless, Furnish adds that ‘the roots of the apocalyptic idea go back to Isa 65:17–25 (cf. Isa 42:9; 43:18–19; 48:6; 66:22)’ (Ibid., 315). But it could just as easily be said that Paul was aware that this apocalyptic tradition was based on Isaiah so that he also has Isaiah itself in mind (see Stuhlmacher, ‘kaine ktisis’, 10–13, 20, who understands this apocalyptic tradition as having been based on Isaiah 43 and 65). This especially could be the case since a number of Jewish texts cited by Furnish stem from the end of the first century A.D. (1 En 45. 4–6; 72. 1; 2 Bar 32. 6; 44. 12; 57. 2 and perhaps Joseph and Asenath 15. 4) and some of the relevant texts allude to Isa 43 or 65 (cf. likewise Stuhlmacher, ibid., 13, who cites 1 En 106. 13, 1 QS 4, 25 and 1 QH 13, 11 ff. in this latter regard). Indeed, it is highly likely that 1 En 45. 3–6 and 72. 1 explicitly allude to Isaiah's creation theme since the former also develops Isaiah's ‘elect one’ idea (cf. Isa 41. 8–9; 42.1; 43.10; 43. 20; 44.1–2; 45. 4; 49. 7) and the latter context paraphrases Isa 52. 7 (cf. 1 En 71.15–17). Likewise Jub 1. 29 reflects the same creation idea of Isaiah since 1. 28 alludes to Isa 24. 23 and 1. 29a refers to Isa 63. 9 (other texts which may be developing Isaiah's new creation theme are Jub 4. 26; 5.12; 1 En 91.16; 106.13; 2 Bar 32. 6; 44.12; 49. 3; 57. 2; 4 Ezra 7. 75). Certainly Paul must be given the same liberty. Among those viewing either Isa 43. 18–19 or 65. 17 (or 66. 22), or both, as the basis for 2 Cor 5. 17, see Stuhlmacher, Ibid., 6; Windisch, H., Der zweite Korintherbrief (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1924) 189;Google ScholarTasker, R. V. G., The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958) 88; Martin, 2 Corinthians, 152);Google ScholarBruce, , 1 and 2 Corinthians (New Century Bible; London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1971) 209;Google ScholarKim, S., The Origin of Paul's Gospel (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1982) 18, n.2.Google Scholar
page 554 note 1 E.g., Martin, 2 Corinthians, 149–53;Google ScholarHughes, P. E., Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962) 201 ff.Google Scholar See similarly Hahn, ‘Tag des Heils’, 244–53Google Scholar, and Furnish, 11 Corinthians, 335, who see a definite link between the two concepts but explain it only very generally.Google Scholar
page 557 note 1 It is also possible that in v. 20 Paul is calling for unbelievers among the professing readership to be reconciled, as 2 Cor 13. 5 may bear out. This is not incompatible with our above view, i.e., Paul may well be exhorting believers to live according to their calling of reconciliation and for unbelievers to accept this calling.Google Scholar
page 557 note 2 Throughout 2 Corinthians the first person plural almost always refers to Paul and his co-workers, although there is occasional ambiguity (cf. 1. 21–22; 3. 18; 5. 4–10; 5. 16; 5. 21; 6. 16a; 7. 1). Since there is high probability that an inclusive reference is intended in 5. 21, 6.16a, 7.1, and perhaps in 5.16, the same intention may also be present in 5.18 (cf. also the inclusive πς of w. 14–15 and κόσμος in v. 19). Whichever is the case, our overall argument is not significantly affected.Google Scholar
page 557 note 3 Kim suggests that to some degree in 2 Cor 5. 15–17 Paul may have in mind the rabbinic idea which compares forgiveness generally, as well as atonement for sin specifically on the New Year's Day or on the Day of Atonement with a new creation (Origin of Paul's Gospel, 17, n. 1 and 4, citing in support Strack, H. and Billerbeck, P., Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch, Vol. 2, 421–2Google Scholar; Vol. 3, 519, together with other secondary sources). The relation of atonement and new creation may have already been incipient in the OT concept of the Day of Atonement, which laid the basis for the development of the combination by Paul and Jewish tradition (so Gese, H., Essays on Biblical Theology [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1981], 109–16).Google Scholar However, Kim thinks a closer parallel to Paul than the rabbinic ideas is the Qumran concept of new creation which was applied to a person's entry into the eschatological community to picture cleansing and renewal (Origin, 17, n. 4, citing in support 1 QH 3. 19–22; 11. 10–14; 1 QS 11.13 ff. [?] and secondary sources).
page 558 note 1 Findeis, , Versöhnung, 149, 156–60Google Scholar, also sees the death and resurrection of v. 15b as resulting in the new creation of v. 17. Christ's resurrection is also viewed as the beginning of the new creation elsewhere in the NT (cf. Col 1. 15–16 and 1. 18; Eph 1. 20–23, 2. 5–6 and 2.10; Rev 1.5 and 3.14).
page 559 note 1 The phrase τ⋯ δ⋯ πάντα functions as a reference to the new creation and in doing so likely also summarizes the preceding thought of 5. 14–5. 17(cf. Windisch, , Korintherbrief, 191)Google Scholar. The identical phrase in 4. 15 (although here with γάρ instead of δέ) and 12. 19 may have the same literary function and conceptual meaning (however, Findeis, , Versöhnung, 164Google Scholar, argues that no cosmic nuance is evident in the phrase in 5. 18 but that it functions only in a literary manner to summarize). Perhaps on a first reading many readers may have discerned only the literary function, but on a re-reading some may have also noticed its significance as a creational reference.
page 559 note 3 Cf. Stuhlmacher, , Versöhnung, Gesetz und Gerechtigkeit, 79–80Google Scholar, and Betz, O., Wie Verstehen Wir das Neue Testament? (Wuppertal: Aussaat, 1981) 56–7, who find Hofius' overall argument convincingGoogle Scholar. Cf. Furnish, , II Corinthians, 351 (and authors cited therein), who sees Isaiah 53 as standing behind 2 Cor 5. 21.Google Scholar
page 560 note 1 Grimm, W., Weil Ich dich liebe. Die Verküundigung Jesu und Deuterojesaja, ANTI 1 (Bern and Frankfurt: Lang, 1976), e.g., 254, 267 (and 275 of the second edition).Google Scholar
page 560 note 2 See Kleinknecht, K. T., Der leidende Gerechtfertigte, WUNT (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck] 1984) 264, who has independently made the same point.Google Scholar
page 560 note 3 Cf. Rom 12. 3; 15. 15; 1 Cor 3. 10; 15. 10; Gal 2. 9; Eph 3. 2, 7–8, where χάριζ refers to Paul's apostolic task of proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles as originating from divine grace.Google Scholar
page 561 note 1 Cf. κενόζ in 1 Cor 15.10, 14; Gal 2. 2; Phil 2. 16; 1 Thess 2.1; 3. 5.Google Scholar
page 561 note 2 Cf. Koch, D.-A., Die Schrift als Zeuge des Evangeliums, Beiträge zur historischen Theologie 69 (Tübingen: Mohr, 1986) 263, 318.Google Scholar This OT citation may also be continuing the thought of 5. 17 because of the following parallels: (1) emphasis on the inaugurated presence of the eschatological age; (2) the use of ιδού; (3) both are references to Isaiah (cf. Koch, ibid., 263).
page 562 note 1 Isa 49. 8b is altered in the LXX to refer to the gathering of the nations and not Israel.Google Scholar
page 562 note 2 It is possible though less probable that Paul applies the quote primarily to Christ and only secondarily to himself as Christ's ambassador. Of course, if the citation is used without regard for the thought of its OT context, which is improbable in the light of our overall argument, then all of the above-mentioned identifications of the quote could be called into question.Google Scholar
page 563 note 2 Symmachus also renders by διαλλαγή in Ps 29. 6 and 68(69). 14 in the sense of ‘pleasurable acceptance’ before God's presence in contrast to God ‘turning his face away’ (cf. Ps 29. 6b; 68(69). 17).Google Scholar
page 563 note 3 Although Paul uses only the καταλλάσσω word group, itis synonymous with the διαλλάσσω word group, so that the latter could have sparked off the former in Paul's mind.Google Scholar
page 563 note 4 After writing the first draft of this article I found Lane, W. L.'s study, ‘Covenant: the Key to Paul's Conflict with Corinth’, TynB 33 (1982) 8–9, 19–22, who also discusses at some length Isa 49. 1–13 as a ‘paradigm’ not only for the immediate context of 1 Cor 6. 2 but also for the themes of‘comfort’ and ‘affliction’ elsewhere in the book. However, his focus is only on the theme of Paul as a prophetic messenger of a covenant lawsuit along the lines of the OT prophets.Google Scholar
page 564 note 1 See generally Robinson, H. W., Corporate Personality in Ancient Israel (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1964) and the bibliography therein;Google ScholarJohnson, A. R., The One and the Many in the Israelite Conception of God (Cardiff: Univ. Press, 1942).Google Scholar For applications in Paul see Robinson's bibliography, as well as Ellis, E. E., Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978) 170–1, who also applies the concept to 2 Cor 6. 2. I am not endorsing the idea of corporate‘personality’ also held by Robinson and Johnson, which is distinct from corporate ‘representation’.Google Scholar
page 565 note 1 I found that Wright, N. T. has also argued that the church inherited Israel's promises through Christ their representative, who sums up true Israel in himself, and he views this idea as the key to understanding the argument and theology of Romans (‘The Messiah and the People of God. A Study in Pauline Theology With Particular Reference to the Argument of the Epistle to the Romans’ [unpub. 1980 D.Phil. Thesis, Oxford University]).Google Scholar He sees the same concept as crucial for understanding 2 Cor 5. 17–21, although his discussion is brief (ibid., 222). Even more important is Wright's subsequent article ‘Adam in Pauline Christology’, SBL 1983 Seminar Papers (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983) 359–89, which demonstrates throughout Pauline literature that Christ was viewed as representative of the ideal Israel (in relation to his role as the ideal Adam).Google Scholar
page 565 note 5 See Furnish, , II Corinthians, 349Google Scholar, on which this division of 2 Cor 6. 4–10 is based. Cf. Kleinknecht, , Der leidende Gerechtfertigte, 263–8, who proposes that w. 4–10 are best seen against the background of the Jewish tradition of the suffering of the righteous (e.g. Slavonic Enoch 66. 6; Test. Jos. 1 ff.; DSS; Pss 118; 139) as given its ultimate definition by the suffering of Jesus.Google Scholar
page 567 note 2 See Furnish, , II Corinthians, 368–83, for an excellent survey of the recent history of interpretation, especially focusing on alternative viewpoints.Google Scholar
page 567 note 3 See likewise Lane, ‘Covenant’, 19–20, 24–5. The literary integrity of this section has most recently been argued on a different thematic basis by Patte, D., ‘A Structural Exegesis of 2 Corinthians 2:14–7:4 with special Attention on 2:14–3:6 and 6:11–7:4’, SBL 1987 Seminar Papers (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987) 40–9.Google Scholar
page 568 note 3 Intriguingly, Clemens Alexandrinus, Stromata 22.214.171.124–2.6 quotes 2 Cor 5. 17 and then immediately cites the exhortations of 6. 14–16a, 7. 1, while omitting the OT references.Google Scholar
page 568 note 5 Thrall, , ‘The Problem of II Cor. vi.14–vii.l in Some Recent Discussion’, NTS 24(1978) 144.Google Scholar
page 568 note 6 See Murphy-O'Connor, J., ‘Relating 2 Corinthians 6.14–7.1 to Its Context’, NTS 33 (1987) 273.Google Scholar
page 569 note 1 Cf. Lane, , ‘Covenant’, 22–5, who does see the ‘promises’ of 7. 1 positively summarizing the OT quotes in 6. 16–18 but referring only generally to blessings promised by God to Israelites who submit to the demands of the covenant. He never explains what blessings are in mind. He also argues that 6. 14–7. 1 is not an interpolation because it concernsthe OT covenant motif as does also the preceding and following contexts. However, there is no substantial study of the OT citations nor any discussion of how they could relate to the OT theme of restoration or Paul's development of reconciliation in the context.Google Scholar
page 569 note 2 This idea is based on a suggestion made to me by Otto Betz in a personal communication.Google Scholar
page 572 note 1 So Ellis, , Prophecy and Hermeneutic, 170–1. In the same manner the 2 Samuel 7 promise is applied to the Messiah in Heb 1. 5.Google Scholar
page 572 note 2 Some include Hos 1. 10 as part of the OT background which is possible but uncertain. However, its context also concerns restoration from exile.Google Scholar
page 572 note 3 Although it is possible that the first person plural is purely rhetorical and does not include Paul.Google Scholar
page 573 note 1 See Furnish, , II Corinthians, 368Google Scholar, who sees the phrase ‘perfecting holiness’ in 7. 1 as a summary of the appeals of 6.14a and of the Isa 52.11 quote in 6.17. Targ. Isa. 53. 5 may also be relevant as background here: there it is said that the Servant ‘shall build the sanctuary that was polluted because of our transgressions’ and that ‘by his teaching shall his peace be multiplied upon us’.
page 573 note 2 The same general meaning is to be attached to the synonyms for άπίστοι in 6. 14b–15.Google Scholar
page 575 note 2 The Epistle of Barnabas 6. 13 refers to Christ's redemption of believers (cf. 6. 1–12) as a ‘second creation’ and explains this as a typological fulfilment of Israel entering into the land after the first Exodus (cf. Exod 33. 3), as well as a fulfilment of the prophecy of Israel's restoration to the land in Ezek 11.19 and 36. 26 (Ep Barn 6.13–14), two OT contexts cited in 2 Cor 6.16–17 (see supra). Furthermore, the writer then explains that the Ezek 36. 26 prophecy has also been fulfilled by believers becoming a ‘holy temple’ (να⋯ζ ᾄγιοζ) and ‘habitation’ (κατοικητήριον) for God ‘to dwell among us’ (cf. Ep Barn 6. 14–15; 2 Cor 6. 16).Google Scholar
page 576 note 2 See Thrall, , ‘Problem of II Cor. vi.14–vii.l’, 146, and especially Murphy-O'Connor, ‘Relating 2 Corinthians’, 273–5.Google Scholar
page 577 note 1 Such kinds of associative links where the sense is altered have been illustrated elsewhere in 2 Corinthians by Fitzmyer, J. A., ‘Glory Reflected on the Face of Christ (2 Cor 3. 7–4. 6) and a Palestinian Jewish Motif’, TS 42 (1981) 633–9. Indeed, Thrall and Murphy-O'Connor make a proposal virtually identical to ours for the use of Deut 11.16 in 2 Cor 6. 11b (cf. supra, n. 2, p. 576).Google Scholar
page 577 note 2 E.g., see Anderson, A. A., The Psalms, Vol. 2 (New Century Bible; London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1972) 797–802;Google ScholarWeiser, A, The Psalms (Phil.: Westminster, 1962) 725–7;Google ScholarJohnson, A. R., Sacral Kingship In Ancient Israel (University of Wales, 1967) 2–4, 126.Google Scholar
page 579 note 1 I am presently writing a monograph in which these texts together with 2 Corinthians 5–7 and Ephesians 2 will receive fuller discussion.Google Scholar
page 579 note 2 In 2 Corinthians 5–7 Paul is developing on the surface level who he is, what he is teaching and what the readers are to gain or lose from this. But Paul's thoughts here are not drawn exclusively from the situation in Corinth but from what may be considered the deeper level of the Isaianic background. Some readers (especially Jewish Christians) may have quickly discerned this, while others might have thought on this deeper level only through further reflection on the epistle, especially after positively responding to the ‘surface’ message.Google Scholar
page 580 note 1 In 26. 23 Christ is said ‘to proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles’, which is most likely a reference to the similar phrases in Isa 42. 6; 49. 6; 60. 3 (so Marshall, I. H., The Acts of the Apostles [Tyndale New Testament Commentaries; Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1980], 398;Google ScholarBruce, F. F., The Book of the Acts [The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954] 494). As suggested for 2 Cor 6. 2, this close contextual association of Isaiah Servant allusions in Acts 26 which are applied to Paul and Christ may betray an idea of corporate representation or solidarity.Google Scholar
page 580 note 2 For most recent discussion of these allusions see Kim, , Origin of Paul's Gospel, 5–20, where also a survey of other commentators seeing the same allusions is found. It is also noteworthy to observe the striking parallel phraseology between 2 Cor 4. 4, 6 and Acts 26. 18.Google Scholar