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

Integrity.

Our earliest papyri preserve the letter whole (e.g. P46, from c.200 CE), but a number of scholars have argued that it is in fact a compound of several letters. Thus it has been suggested that 1 Cor 1–4 is a self-contained letter, closing in 4:14–21 with the typical close-of-letter formulae (see de Boer 1994 ). It is strange that the named party divisions which Paul repeatedly criticizes in chs. 1–4 are never mentioned in chs. 5–16 . It is possible that the Corinthians' letter to Paul ( 7:1 ) and disturbing news about their behaviour ( 5:1 ) arrived after the initial drafting of chs. 1–4 but before they were sent to Corinth. However, the opening thanksgiving section ( 1:4–9 ) seems to anticipate themes which surface in later chapters (e.g. spiritual gifts in 1:7 and chs. 12–14 ), and the theme of unity ( 1:10 ) pervades the whole letter (see Mitchell 1992 ). Inconsistencies have been found within later chapters, for instance between an apparently softer stance on sacrificial food in 8:1–13 and 10:22–11:1 , and a harder line in 10:1–22 . Complex theories have been propounded of two, four, or more original letters which have been stitched together into our 1 Corinthians (see details in ABD i. 1142–3). Such hypotheses are plausible in the case of 2 Corinthians, but Paul's varying rhetorical purposes can probably explain all the inconsistencies in this letter. Thus we may take 1 Corinthians as a single and unified whole.

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