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

in Novum Testamentum
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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.

Novum Testamentum

An International Quarterly for New Testament and Related Studies




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.


Thrall, II Corinthians, 1:179.


Furnish, II Corinthians, 157.


Thrall, II Corinthians, 1.178.


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.


Thrall, II Corinthians, 1.163 (italics added).


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


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]).


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


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


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


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