Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 38:3 (Sep 1995)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous


Book Reviews

Suffering and Ministry in the Spirit: Pauls Defense of His Ministry in II Corinthians 2, 14–3, 3. By Scott J. Hafemann. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990, XI + 261 pp., n.p. paper.

To make his revised doctoral dissertation available to a wider audience Hafemann reformulated some sections, transcribed Greek and Hebrew terms into English and deleted part of the technical apparatus. The result is a concise exegetical monograph.

Hafemann starts with the assumption that Pauline texts still remain a largely foreign territory in need of discovery. He questions solutions repeated from commentary to commentary and interrogates the texts afresh. Deliberately he limits the discussion to the Corinthian correspondence, although on rare occasions he glances at other Pauline writings to highlight common thought structures and to confirm exegetical insights. These structural comparisons are true gems (e.g. p. 68). He claims not to employ a definite exegetical method, but rather “to fumble” with the text, asking simple questions of interpretation “until acts of understanding begin to take place” (p. 2). In fact, however, he displays considerable exegetical skills and method. His strengths are structural and lexicographical investigations. Above all he shows deep intuitive understanding of Pauline thought patterns. The results are astounding. Only a few can be mentioned.

Hafemann has identified 2 Cor 2:14–3:3 as “being part of the ‘theological heart’ of II Corinthians” and as such “both a thesis-like compendium of Paul’s self-conception as apostle, as well as a classic presentation of his corresponding apologetic for the authority and validity of his apostolic ministry” (pp. 1-2).

Most decisive is his study of thriambeuein (2:14; pp. 7-34), normally translated as “lead in triumph” (NASB) or “lead in triumphal procession” (NIV). Hafemann demonstrates that the term actually describes the triumphal procession of a Roman general at which his conquered enemies and their wives and children were publicly led to death. For Paul, who previously was an enemy of Christ, being led in the “triumphal procession” of the victor Jesus is hence tantamount to being literally “led to death.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 therefore “functions as one of four thesis-like summaries of Paul’s understanding of the significance of his suffering as an apostle” (p. 52). Yet God’s purpose in leading the apostle to death is to reveal himself. Suffering and weakness are essential characteristics of the apostolic ministry (p. 61). “They are not mere circumstance, but instead are...

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