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Paul's Mosaic Ascent: An Interpretation of 2 Corinthians 12.7–9

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 March 2011

M. David Litwa
Affiliation:
Department of Religious Studies, PO Box 400126, University of Virginia. Charlottesville, VA 22904-4126, USA email: mdl2dj@virginia.edu.

Abstract

This essay offers a reading of 2 Cor 12.7–9 in light of a rabbinic story of Moses' ascent to heaven (b. Šabb. 88b-89a). After an exploration of Moses in 2 Corinthians the author argues that vv. 7–9, like vv. 2–4, constitute an ascent report (vv. 2–4). This ascent report, it is maintained, is structurally parallel to Moses' heavenly ascent in b. Šabb. 88b-89a. Early traditions of Moses' ascent to heaven and dominance over angels suggest that Paul knew a form of the Mosaic ascent, and parodied it to highlight his weakness and paradoxical authority in vv. 7–9.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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