Reading ἔγραψα in 2 Corinthians 2:9 as an Epistolary Aorist

In: Novum Testamentum
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  • 1 Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

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This article offers a re-reading of ἔγραψα in 2 Cor 2:9. It argues that this verb should be interpreted as an epistolary aorist—thereby indicating a reason for why Paul is presently writing—rather than as a preterit aorist, referring to the “tearful letter.” Reading ἔγραψα as an epistolary aorist in 2:9 resolves tensions with the preceding context produced by the typical interpretation. It also results in a fully coherent reading of 2:5-11, where Paul exhorts the Corinthians to receive back the offender. This study supplements K.L. McKay’s treatment of the epistolary aorist in Novum Testamentum.

  • 4)

    See, e.g., A. Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (ICC; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1915) 55. Plummer surmises that both a personal insult and defiance of Paul’s authority were involved. While most commentators agree with the contours of this reconstruction, there are exceptions. C.K. Barrett (“Ὁ ἈΔΙΚΗΣΑΣ [2 Cor 7:12],” in Essays on Paul [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982] 108-117) argues that the person in question was not a member of the Corinthian church but a visiting missionary who opposed Paul and his ministry. M.E. Thrall (“The Offender and the Offence: A Problem of Detection in 2 Corinthians,” in Scripture: Meaning and Method—Essays Presented to Anthony Tyrell Hanson for His Seventieth Birthday [ed. B.P. Thompson; Hull, UK: Hull University Press, 1987] 65-78, at 74-76) proposes that the offender was a member of the Corinthian church who stole money that had been temporarily entrusted to Paul for the collection. In line with a tradition dating back to the Church Fathers, C.G. Kruse (“The Offender and the Offense in 2 Corinthians 2:5 and 7:12,” EvQ 60 [1988] 129-139) identifies the offender with the incestuous man to whom Paul refers in 1 Cor 5:1-5.

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  • 11)

    Thrall, II Corinthians, 1:179.

  • 13)

    Furnish, II Corinthians, 157.

  • 14)

    Thrall, II Corinthians, 1.178.

  • 15)

    Harris, Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 230-231. See also P.E. Hughes, Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes (NICNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962) 69.

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  • 16)

    Thrall, II Corinthians, 1.163 (italics added).

  • 17)

    See also J. Lambrecht, Second Corinthians (SP 8; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999) 32.

  • 25)

    See McKay, “Observations on the Epistolary Aorist in 2 Corinthians,” 154-158. McKay is more tentative about 9:3. However, many translations (e.g., RSV, NRSV, and NIV) render ἔπεµψα in 9:3 as “I am sending,” as do many exegetes (e.g., Furnish [II Corinthians, 421], Harris [Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 616], and Matera [II Corinthians, 199]).

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  • 34)

    See, e.g., Thrall, II Corinthians, 168; and Lambrecht, Second Corinthians, 31.

  • 35)

    See, e.g., Plummer, II Corinthians, 49; and Furnish, II Corinthians, 154.

  • 36)

    R.P. Martin, 2 Corinthians (WBC 40; Waco, TX: Word, 1986) 236.

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