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The Power of the Absent Father: A Socio-Rhetorical Analysis of 1 Corinthians 4:14–5:13

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Chapter Summary

This chapter shows the complexity in Paul's argumentation in 1 Corinthians 1-5 around the issue of his authority and its application to a morally problematic situation in the Corinthians' community. Given the rhetorical situation constructed by Paul, an argument for his authority inevitably needed to precede his attempt to assert his authority. While 1 Cor 1:10-4:13 contains a line of argumentation that emphasizes Paul's pre-eminence within the community, 4:14-21 brings that line of reasoning to a head by using an extended metaphor regarding Paul as the father of the household of faith in Corinth. Thompson argues that metaphors are an important ideological resource since they obscure relations of power by endowing people with characteristics that they do not really possess. Paul does not claim that it is his apostolic status that empowers him to instruct the Corinthians regarding appropriate moral conduct, since others could presumably claim that status.

Keywords: Corinthians; Paul's argumentation; Thompson



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