Cover image for The theology of the first letter to the Corinthians
The theology of the first letter to the Corinthians
Furnish, Victor Paul.
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Publication Information:
Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xix, 167 pages ; 23 cm.
Introduction -- Knowing God, belonging to Christ -- Belonging to Christ in an unbelieving society -- Belonging to Christ in a believing community -- Hoping in God, the "all in all" -- The significance of 1 Corinthians for Christian thought.

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BS2675.2 .F87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This study shows that the common view of 1 Corinthians as mainly about 'ethics' and therefore of little importance for 'theology' needs correcting. Furnish argues that 1 Corinthians is an even better place to take the apostle's theological pulse than the allegedly 'more theological' letters to the Galatians and Romans, because here it is especially evident how his thinking about the gospel took place within the crucible of his missionary and pastoral labours. Paul's complex theological legacy is not a systematic theology or even the basis for constructing a theological system. However, we come close to the heart of Paul's legacy in his clear-sighted identification of the gospel with the saving power of God's love as disclosed in Christ, and his insistence that those who are called to belong to Christ are thereby summoned to be agents of God's love wherever in the world they have received that call.

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A letter of the semiliterary type, 1 Corinthians is not simply concerned with ethics and practical concerns. Furnish (Southern Methodist Univ.) assumes its unity and dissents from the view that 1 Corinthians is "practical" while Galatians and Romans are "theological." He believes that 1 Corinthians more accurately reflects Paul's theological pulse than do Galatians and Romans. Although not a theological treatise, 1 Corinthians is a profoundly theological document. Practical and ethical issues at Corinth indicate a misunderstanding of Paul's gospel, according to Furnish, and Paul's theological reflections are his attempt to clarify the gospel. Three passages--1.18-2.16; 12:12-13:13; and 15:1-58--located strategically within the letter's argument are the focus of Furnish's study. These representative passages orient around soteriology, Christology, eschatology, and ecclesiology. The letter emphasizes monotheism and portrays Christ as God's representative, but not God. Living in the dialectic of boundaries, the Parousia, and the Kingdom of God, Paul holds to the center. This small volume is an excellent primer for the student who is beginning a study of Pauline theology and will benefit all students of the Pauline letters. Adequate indexes of references, names, and subjects. All readership levels. J. W. McCant; Point Loma Nazarene College

Table of Contents

Editor's prefacep. xi
Prefacep. xiii
List of abbreviationsp. xvii
1 Introductionp. 1
Paul and the Corinthiansp. 1
Approaching 1 Corinthiansp. 12
2 Knowing God, belonging to Christp. 28
God's church in Corinthp. 29
The wisdom and power of Godp. 37
Belonging to Christ, belonging to Godp. 46
3 Belonging to Christ in an unbelieving societyp. 49
Observing boundariesp. 50
Holding to the centerp. 54
4 Belonging to Christ in a believing communityp. 76
The Lord's tablep. 78
The believing communityp. 86
5 Hoping in God, the "all in all"p. 105
Belonging to the futurep. 106
The resurrection of the deadp. 108
God's final victoryp. 115
6 The significance of 1 Corinthians for Christian thoughtp. 122
1 Corinthians in the New Testamentp. 123
1 Corinthians in the churchp. 131
Select bibliographyp. 145
Index of referencesp. 148
Index of namesp. 162
Index of subjectsp. 165