Laurence Welborn posits that political competition over power and influence within the community best describes the Corinthian factions. were essentially divided along a single fault line, . Based on social strata, some believers, he argues, were allowed inside while others had to remain outside.
James Dunn summarizes the various views and states that “the various reconstructions of Corinthian Christianity do not help us to get to the meaning of the letter [but] they do . It would be difficult to find a better one-volume overview of scholarship on the church in Corinth.
College and seminary classes dealing with the Corinthian letters should seriously consider assigning this collection as supplementary reading.
His books include "The Religion of the Earliest Churches" and "The Shadow of the Galilean: The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form".
Legitimation and subsistence: an essay on sociology of early Christian missionaries -- Itinerant charismatics -- The community organizers -- Social stratification in the Corinthian community: a contribution tothe sociology of early Hellenistic Christianity -- The strong and the weak in Corinth: a sociological analysis of a theological quarrel -- Social integration and sacramental activity -- The sociological interpretation of religious traditions: its methodological problems as exemplified in early Christianity.
This book seeks to identify and evaluate the history of scholarship dealing with the character and disputes of the first Corinthian Christians. Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza suggests that the wealthy women in leadership positions were the source of some of the problems Paul had to address (e.g., 1 Cor. Margaret Mac Donald concludes that “women were also the main proponents of the radical sexual asceticism about which Paul here feels uneasy” (p. John Barclay contrasts the two Pauline communities in Corinth and Thessalonica.
Part one, “Extracts from the History of Scholarship on Christianity at Corinth,” begins with the view of F. John Chow claims that “certain wealthy and powerful figures (such as Chloe, ) acted as patrons or benefactors of the church” (p. Terence Paige believes he can detect Stoic influences in the church that caused various problems, while Justin Meggitt holds that the rich in the church were responsible for the majority of the problems, seeing the church in Corinth as “almost exclusively poor” (p. Horsley’s second contribution seeks to “show how Paul attempts a political task, to establish an ‘alternative society’ within the setting of the Roman Empire” (p. The four final chapters begin with Meggitt’s appeal for believers to study popular culture more.
Together these four essays provide a composite picture of the social stratification at this ancient urban center and of the concrete organizational and ethical problems that that stratification engendered for the Christians' common life.
A fifth essay helps to focus the critical questions of methodology that arise whenever one approaches ancient religious texts for information on issues which to the texts themselves are of peripheral concern.
For the involvement of the councillors in nomination in cities of the Greek east, see H. Pleket, “Political Culture and Political Practice in the Cities of Asia Minor in the Roman Empire” in Politische Theorie und Praxis im Altertum, ed. Schuller (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1998) 204–16, at 206 with references. Typical is SEG li.1832, a dedication from Lycia in Asia Minor thanking Claudius for his help in ‘recovering the ancestral laws (πάτριοι νόμοι)’ and in ‘transferring the government (πολιτεία) from the thoughtless multitude (πλῆθος) to the councillors selected from among the best (ἄριστοι)’.
Gerd Theissen is Professor of New Testament at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.