A Note On 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 -- By: Randall C. Webber

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 26:3 (Sep 1983)
Article: A Note On 1 Corinthians 15:3-5
Author: Randall C. Webber


A Note On 1 Corinthians 15:3-5

Randall C. Webber*

I. Introduction

There are many examples of traditional elements preserved within the later text of the NT. A large percentage of these occur within the Pauline epistles. In this paper I wish to share some insights into the life of the apostolic Church gained through an examination of one of the formulae preserved by Paul:

For I handed down to you at first that which [ also received:
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;
and that he was buried;
and that he arose on the third day according to the Scriptures;
and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve (1 Cor 15:3–5).

II. Formgeschichte Of The Passage

The majority of modern Biblical scholars agree with Kloppenborg that the passage between vv 2 and 12 of I Corinthians 15 “contains a pre-Pauline confessional/kerygmatic statement.”1 However, they debate the extent, origin and function of the statement. Any one of three characteristics might indicate that a given NT passage is likely to be traditional: (1) The passage should be an insertion into the text; (2) it should show evidence of composition by a person other than the author of the text; (3) it should contain evidence suggesting that the passage is in fact traditional. We will use these characteristics to test the validity of Kloppenborg’s statement about the passage under examination.

In this paper the term “insertion” is used to indicate a grammatical relationship between two parts of a text. An insertion is sometimes, but not always, a later addition to the text. In 1 Cor 15:1–2 Paul reminds his readers of the gospel that he had proclaimed to them at an earlier time. He does not begin to expound on it, however, until v 12. The intervening nine verses include a statement of the basis of the Christian faith (3–5), a list of Christophanies seemingly appended to that statement (6–8), and a discussion of Paul’s apostolic calling and authority (9–11). Verses 3–11 are grammatically unrelated to vv 2 and 12. It would make good sense to read v 2

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