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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

2 Corinthians - Introduction

1.

It is a generally held view today that 2 Corinthians is made up of more than one of Paul's letters. Although there is no MS evidence to support this theory, there are several problems in the text as we have it which raise the question of its unity. Among the more serious difficulties is the sharp break between the conciliatory tone of chs. 1–9 and the harsh, sarcastic tone of chs. 10–13 . Several partition theories have been developed in order to explain these difficulties, and these theories may be divided into two major schools. (1) Some scholars divide the text into five or six fragments and then reconstruct the chronology of Paul's dealings with the Corinthians on the basis of these units (e.g. 2:14–6:13; 7:2–4 + 10:1–13:10 + 1:1–2:13; 7:5–16; 13:11–13 + ch. 8 + ch. 9 + 6:14–7:1; Betz 1992: 1149–50). (2) Other scholars do not view the points of discontinuity in chs. 1–9 as being severe enough to warrant theories of partition of those chapters, but nevertheless see a significant break between chs. 1–9 and chs. 10–13 . Therefore, they argue in favour of a two-letter hypothesis. This is the position adopted here (cf. Furnish 1984: 35–41). Whether chs. 1–9 came before or after chs. 10–13 is a further subject for debate, but more scholars seem to be in favour of the priority of chs. 1–9 . According to the proponents of the various partition theories, the NT work called 2 Corinthians is the product of an early editor who combined two or more fragments drawn from originally independent letters. However, some scholars continue to defend the integrity of the letter (e.g. Witherington 1995: 328–39).

2.

In form and style 2 Corinthians closely resembles Paul's other works, and its authenticity has not been questioned. However, the language and content of 2 Cor 6:14–7:1 have struck many as being difficult to reconcile with Paul's other writings and, therefore, this passage has often been viewed as an interpolation.

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