Thursday, April 06, 2006

Autobiography as Paradigm

J. B. Hood notes a quote from Michael Gorman's "Theological Introduction to the Letters of Paul." I went to look up this quote, and found the whole section rather helpful, so here it is:

When Paul writes autobiographically, he writes paradigmatically. On the surface 1 Cor 9 sounds like a self-defence of apostolic rights, which in part it is. But the whole purpose of Paul’s assertions or fights is to show that he, like the Corinthian elite, had legitimate rights that could be deliberately suppressed as an act of cruciform love and, ultimately, of true freedom. In this chapter Paul establishes his apostolic rights (9:1-12a, 13-14); narrates his renunciation of them as a fundamental part of his apostolic identity and modus operandi (9:12b, 15-18); and explains his tow motives for doing so – to ‘win others’ through Christ-like freedom and love (9:19-23), and to insure his own participation in the eschatological victory (9:24-27).

Michael Gorman, Apostle of the Crucified Lord (Eerdmans, 2004) pg. 258

If this is valid, that when Paul writes autobiographically, he writes paradigmatically; then this allows a great deal of Pauline material to become useful and not just informative. It allows a for an interesting hermeneutical key that may unlock Paul's arguments and set the stage for a better or more comprehensive understanding of the letter in which the personal narrative is shared. One immediately thinks of Galatians 1-2 and Philippians 3. For my purposes, I want to think if this could, and if so - how, relate to Colossians 1:24-2:5. But for now, that's another blog...

1 comment:

J. B. Hood said...

I do think the whole quote is brilliant, but didn't have room for it--or to cite Gorman's book in its entirety, which is also worth reading, or his corpus (add Cruciformity)!

The valuable takeaway is the idea that Paul's narrative pattern (Cross) is repeatable...a pauline version of Mark 8:31-38, I think.

Gorman really does use this as a "hermeneutical key," which makes this book so valuable--a few overstatements, but both his texts play this out in ways that North American Xians desperately need to hear...especially pastors and seminarians.