Moses in Corinth

The Apologetic Context of 2 Corinthians 3


Scholars have long puzzled over the imagery focused on Moses in 2 Corinthians 3; it is unclear how that imagery fits into the larger context of the letter. Many have explained the imagery as the apostle’s reaction to the “super-apostles,” Jewish missionaries mentioned later in the letter. These preachers, it has been argued, promoted either a θεῖος ἀνήρ or a Judaizing agenda. In Moses in Corinth, Paul B. Duff contends that the Moses imagery has nothing to do with the super-apostles but functions instead as an integral part of Paul’s first apologia sent to Corinth. This apologia, found in 2 Cor 2:14-7:4, represents an independent letter sent to dispel suspicions about the apostle’s honesty, integrity, and poor physical appearance.
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Biographical Note

Paul B. Duff, Ph.D. (1988), University of Chicago, is Professor of Religion at the George Washington University and the author of Who Rides the Beast? Prophetic Rivalry and the Rhetoric of Crisis in the Churches of the Apocalypse (Oxford, 2001).

Review Quotes

"There is much to admire in this book. [...] The exegesis is clear even when it is complex, and the work is refreshingly concise, in part because Duff avoids the temptation to wade more deeply than necessary into the secondary literature. Most significantly, Duff’s focus on Corinthian discontent with Paul and his ministry rather than on the ostensible characteristics of apostolic rivals proves fruitful and thus poses a serious challenge to interpreters working in the tradition of Georgi or under the long shadow cast by Baur. [...] Duff has made a substantial contribution not only to the exegesis of 2 Cor 3 but also to the study of the Corinthian correspondence more generally." – Ryan S. Schellenberg, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Delaware, in: RBL 10 (2016)

Table of contents

1 Introduction: The Problematic Nature of 2 Corinthians 3
2 The Question of the Integrity of 2 Corinthians
3 The Origins of Paul’s First Apology
4 “Who is Fit for These Things?” (2 Cor 2:14-3:6)
5 The Ministries of Condemnation and Righteousness (2 Cor 3:6-11)
6 Not Like Moses? (2 Cor 3:12-18)
7 Reading Paul Reading Moses


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