I: 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 in the History of New Testament Scholarship
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2 Corinthians 8 and 9 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Chapter 1: 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 in the History of New Testament Scholarship 1. Semler's Discovery Investigation of the literary problems of 2 Corinthians goes back to the beginning of historical-critical inquiry into the New Testament. In his 1776 commentary on 2 Corinthians, Johann Salomo Semler (1725-91), professor on the liberal theological faculty at Halle since 1753, proposed for the first time the hypothesis that Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians is composed of several distinct fragments. The importance of this insight for Semler lay in its use as an argument against the orthodox doctrine of the canon, and particularly against the prevailing theory of "the final perfection of Scripture," perfectiofinalis scripturae. 1 Semler's historical investigations , only one of which was concerned with 2 Corinthians , demonstrated in case after case that the canon did not come into existence until a much later period, and that early Christianity neither knew of it nor was bound by it.2 Semler's commentary on 2 Corinthians was only part of an ongoing debate which had begun prior to the writing of the commentary and did not end with it. Furthermore, at least one of the dissertations written under his supervision dealt with partition theories with regard to Romans. This dissertation was later reworked and included in Semler's commentary on Romans, but it has nothing to say on 2 Corinthians.3 The observations which were to bring about a decisive change in the course of scholarship on 2 Corinthians are found in the Paraphrasis II: Epistolae ad Corinthios of 1776. In the introduction, Semler proposed that the work is composed of two separate letters. The first letter consists of2 Cor 1-8; Rom 16; 2 Cor 9, together with the conclusion in 13: 11-13. This letter was sent to the Christians of Achaia, and was carried to them by Titus. A second letter was composed later, after distressing news about the situation at Corinth had arrived; this letter includes 2 Cor 10:1-13:10.4 Perhaps the most significant thing about Semler's hypothesis was that such a proposal was made at all. Its See Gottfried Hornig, Die Anfonge der historischkritischen Theologie:johann Salomo Semlers Schriftverstiindnis und seine Stellung zu Luther (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1961); Hans-Eberhard Hess, Theologie und Religion beiJohann Salomo Semler: Ein Beitrag zur Theologiegeschichte des 18. Jahrhunderts (Inaugural Dissertation, Kirchliche Hochschule Berlin, 1974; Augsburg: Blasaditsch, 1974). This dissertation has a large bibliography. 2 See especially Johann Salomo Semler, Abhandlung vonfreier Untersuchung des Canon (Halle: Hemmerde, 1771) Erster Theil; also Hermann Strathmann, "Die Krise des Kanons der Kirche.Joh. Gerhards undjoh. Sal. Semlers Erbe," Das Neue Testament als Kanon (ed. Ernst Kasemann; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1970) 41-61. 3 J. B. G. Keggemann, Dissertatio historico-hermeneutica De duplici epistolae ad Romanos appendice capite XV, XVI (Halae Magdeburgicae, 1767) 24 pp. This dissertation was suggested and supervised by Semler who then adopted and included it in his Paraphrasis epistolae ad Romanos, cum notis, translatione vetusta, et dissertatione de appendice cap. XV, XVI (Halae Magdeburgicae : Hemmerde, 1769) 277-311 : "Dissertatio de duplici appendice huius epistolae C. XV. XVI. 4 Praefatio b 1: "ausus sum coniicere, forte istud Caput nonum fuisse schedulam seiunctam, quam alii, qui in alias Achaiae vrbes iam proficiscerentur, non Corinthum, acceperint a Paulo, vt traderent statoribus ecclesiarum; earn postea recte adiunxisse Corinthios huic Epistolae, isto loco, quo Paulus de eadem re egerat" ("I am venturing the conclusion that, in particular, the ninth chapter was [originally) a separate piece which others, who had already set out for the other towns of Achaia, not Corinth, were to receive from Paul, in order that they should hand it over to the officials of the churches. Later the Corinthians rightly connected this piece to the letter [to the Corinthians) at the very place at which Paul dealt with this very issue"). See alsop. 238 n. 264: ". .. opinari et coniicere liceret, aliquas Epistolas serius demum sic quasi in vnum corpus compositas fuisse, ex varibus minoribus schedis, quae e.c. per Achaiam, in hanc illamve vrbem ab his legatis, a Tito, ab altero, a tertio afferebantur. lam colligebantur et addebantur maiori parti, quam Titus secum ferebat; et sic in unum corpusculum tandem coierunt" ("... the view and conclusion may be permitted that several letters of weighty business were put together in this way at the final stage as into one corpus which was [thus) made up of various smaller pieces. They were carried...