restricted access Freedom and Idol Sacrifices, Chapters 8–10
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Freedom and Idol Sacrifices, Chapters 8-10 The new theme 1 prevails up to 11 :1. The second half of chap. 11, too, is still linked with this section, through the observations on the Lord's Supper; cf. 10:14ffwith 11 :23ff. Despite the unified topic announced by Paul, considerable breaks and tensions are found within this section which provoke operations of literary criticism.2 This will be clear even from an overview of the train of thought: chap. 8: on el5wf..bfJvra, "meat sacrificed to idols"; chap. 9: on the E~ovuLa, "rights," of the Apostle (whereby differing opinions can be entertained as to the inherent connection with 9:24-27; see bela~); chap. 10:1-22: Scripture proof and sacrament as arguments against Elowf..of..arpLa, "idol worship." Then 10:23-11 :1links up again with the topic ofchap. 8. Chap. 9 creates the impression of an interruption. But chaps. 8 and 10, too, present a double face . Two questions seem to be interwoven: the question ofel5wf..o0vra, that is, of the (unholy) substance of the meat, and the question ofel5wf..of..arpLa, of the eating as an act ofestablishing fellowship with the idol. 3 Paul's argument appears to vacillate. 4 In chaps. 8 and 10:23-11:1 he adopts in principle the standpoint of the "strong": sacrificial meat is not dangerous and can accordingly be eaten. The restriction on freedom is imposed not by the meat, but by the conscience, by the bond with the "weak" brother. The strong are admonished. In 10: 1- 22, on the other hand, Paul appears to vote in favor ofthe weak. Eating is dangerous. All are warned. In the former passages Paul argues with the idea offreedom, which has its place in the community and is thereby binding in the community; in the second passage he operates with For 1Ttpl, "concerning," cf. 7:1, 25; 12:1. the idea of the sacrament, which institutes a fellowship that is exclusive. In the latter case, raising the question ofconscience is not necessary at all.s Now both forms of argumentation are Pauline in content . The question is, however, whether Paul can argue both ways in the same breath. A further point is the harshness of the transitions from 8 to 9: 1, from 9 to 10:1, from 10:22 to 10:23. Verse 23 can be joined either to chap. 8 or to 9:27. All the same, the very fact that there are such manifold possibilities ofestablishing connections is a warning against making schematic divisions. A substantial point infavor of the literary unity is the parallel with Rom 14:1-15:13.6 This passage in Romans was composed ofcourse not long after the epistles to the Corinthians and obviously represents a revision and further development of 1 Cor 8- 10. What was formulated in 1 Corinthians in the course of a topical discussion is here (in the epistle to the Roman church with which he was not personally acquainted) couched in more general terms. Apart from questions ofliterary criticism the following can be said. 1) The practice adopted in Corinth is not accidental, e.g., a result of indifference, but programmatic; it is the result ofenthusiasm; it is the practical application 2 Weiss, Schmithals; for the discussion see von Soden, "Sakrament und Ethik." apparently been brought to Paul's attention by the weak. They demand a break with paganism; but they are given the answer, (a) that this is impossible (5: 10), and (b) that knowledge makes eating possible Uust as 7ropvtla, "sexual immorality," is permitted by the principle 7ravra Ettunv, "I am free to do anything"). 3 Schmithals, Gnosticism in Corinth, 92f [86f], would assign the two topics to two letters: letter A, to which 10:1- 22 or 14- 22 belongs, deals with tlowXoXarpla {together with sexual immorality, 6:12- 20), lack of discipline at the Lord's Supper (1 1:2-34), resurrection (15) ; letter B deals with tlowMOura. 4 Weiss, 212f; von Soden, "Sakrament und Ethik," 17f. 5 According to Schmithals, Gnosticism in Corinth, 227 [215], the verdict of letter A (the "sacramental" verdict ) was anti-Gnostic. The community had accepted it. But this raised the new problem as to whether it is permissible to eat meat sacrificed to idols. 6 Weiss holds that the prevailing lukewarmness has Hurd, Origin, 65, argues that the section belongs to the calm passages in which Paul takes up statements from the Corinthians' letter, yet not in order...