Turning The Tables On Idol Feasts: Paul’s Use Of Exodus 32:6 In 1 Corinthians 10:7 -- By: Jerry Hwang

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 54:3 (Sep 2011)
Article: Turning The Tables On Idol Feasts: Paul’s Use Of Exodus 32:6 In 1 Corinthians 10:7
Author: Jerry Hwang


Turning The Tables On Idol Feasts: Paul’s Use Of Exodus 32:6 In 1 Corinthians 10:7

Jerry Hwang*

* Jerry Hwang is assistant professor at Singapore Bible College, 9-15 Adam Road #05-201, Republic of Singapore 289886.

I. Introduction

In the course of exploring the use of the OT in the NT, attention quickly turns to 1 Cor 10:1-13. Not only do pregnant phrases such as “baptized into Moses” (10:2), “spiritual food” (10:3), and “the Rock was Christ” (10:4) engender lively debate, but the characterization of the Pentateuch’s narratives as τύποι (“types”; 10:6) and τυπικῶς (“typological”; 10:11) 1for his Corinthian hearers also add to the intrigue of the passage. Richard Hays poses the provocative question of whether Paul’s imaginative construal of these OT traditions accords with their original literary context: “If Israel’s story is a metaphor for Christian experience, has Paul so usurped the meaning and claims of the precursor story that he has in effect annihilated it, deprived it of a right to independent existence?”2 The debate over whether the NT uses the OT in a contextual manner thus continues unabated among evangelical scholars.3

Past treatments of Paul’s reuse of the wilderness traditions in 1 Cor 10:1– 13 have understandably focused on Paul’s preceding and subsequent polemics against food sacrificed to idols (1 Cor 8:4-13; 10:14-22).4 By doing so, however, less attention has been devoted to the only explicit OT citation found in this passage: “As it is written [γέγραπται], ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play’ “(1 Cor 10:7b; cf. Exod 32:6b). Socio-rhetorical approaches to 1 Corinthians, for example, have tended to overlook the literary context of the OT passages used by Paul in 1 Cor 10:1-13 in favor of analyzing his historical situatedness or his use of Greco-Roman rhetoric.5

Even among those who acknowledge that the OT context of Paul’s quotation fr...

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