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Paul's Message of the Cross as Body Language

Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2.254

By Wenhua Shi
December 2008
Mohr Siebeck
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9783161497063
316 pages
$122.50 Paper Original

The heated controversies in Paul’s Corinthian church are very complex and complicated. They are therefore opened to different approaches and interpretations, and could be studied from various perspectives. Wenhua Shi attempts to examine Paul’s ‘message of the cross’ in the context of the Greco-Roman society, especially its firmly established and jealously guarded social ethos. The focus is on three major subjects, crucifixion, rhetoric and peristasis (catalogue of hardship and suffering).

What is new in this study is obviously not these three subjects per se, but the linking of the three subjects together by ‘body language’ in an innovative manner, by setting the relevant Corinthian text against its respective historico-social contexts. Moreover, while it is already common knowledge that Paul’s message of the cross and his manner of proclamation went against the Greco-Roman ethos of his time, few have put it so strongly and consistently, as Wenhua Shi does, that it was the apostle’s conscious intention to invert the current ethos in ‘body language’ with his entire modus operandi.

Moreover, the author can also show the vital importance of putting the biblical text against its context, so that the theological and the historico-social could be kept in a necessary balance.