Monday, March 26, 2018

Partition theory

There's an abrupt mood change from 2 Cor 1-9 to 10-13. As a result, some scholars think 2 Corinthians is a two (or more) Pauline letters edited into one. There are more elaborate partition theories in which 2 Corinthians becomes a miniature Pauline canon of collected shorter letters. 

I think the most natural explanation for the dramatic tonal shift from 1-9 to 10-13 is that Paul didn't dictate the entire letter at one sitting. Rather, there was an interval of weeks or months between 1-9 and 10-13. 

I bring that up because it's relevant to something I've said on more than one occasion regarding the Gospels. Some NT scholars think the Gospels authors resequence some events for symbolic reasons. That's why some scenes are (allegedly) out of sync. 

However, even assuming chronological dislocation, that doesn't entail a narrative strategy. Rather, it could simply mean the Gospels weren't dictated at one sitting (which would be exhausting), so some "anachronisms" might be due to the fact that the Gospels have flashbacks or flashforwards, not because that's the order in which things happened, but because that's the order in which the evangelist remembers events in the life of Christ. And if the Gospels were dictated at more than one sitting, which seems inevitable, we'd expect the backtracking and zigzagging that happens in oral history. 

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