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7 Reading Paul Reading Moses

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Chapter Summary

The final chapter presents a summary of previous findings. 2 Corinthians 3 was composed as part of Paul’s first apology to the Corinthians (2:14-7:4). In that apology, the apostle attempted to quell suspicions that arose from within the community in response to both 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians 8, suspicions regarding Paul’s collection for the Jerusalem church. Throughout the early part of the apology, Paul appeals to the figure of Moses. In 3:7-11, the apostle compares the glory of his own ministry to that of the lawgiver; he insists that more glory attends his διακονία. Furthermore, he labels the ministry of Moses a διακονία of death and condemnation because, I argue, it brought such to the gentiles. Paul then contrasts his behavior with that of the lawgiver, insisting that he, unlike Moses, has been entirely open with his constituency. He next introduces Israel and her obstructed perception to raise questions about the perceptual capability of the Corinthians. Was the Corinthians’ perception of Paul veiled like Israel’s perception of Moses? Paul concludes the section by setting Moses up as a paradigm for the gentile Corinthians. Just as Moses “turned to the Lord” and had his veil removed, so should the Corinthians—as a result of their conversion—be able to perceive with unveiled faces. They should be able to see the “glory of the Lord” in their own transformation and thereby, Paul implies, they should be able to view it in Paul’s διακονία as well.

10.1163/9789004289451_008
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