Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 19:1 (Spring 2015)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Second Letter to the Corinthians. By Mark A. Seifrid. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014. 569 pp., $50.00 hardback.

Mark Seifrid is Mildred and Ernest Hogan Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Justification by Faith: The Origin and Development of a Central Pauline Theme and Christ, Our Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Justification.

Seifrid begins the commentary with a discussion of the interaction between the Apostle Paul and the church at Corinth. He traced this interaction from Paul’s first visit to Corinth during his second missionary journey to his third visit to Corinth during which he wrote his letter to the church of Rome.

He briefly discussed the identity of Paul’s opponents in Corinth, a “vexing conundrum.” Seifrid objected to the mirror-reading that often sidetracks interpreters. He would later describe this approach as “necessary, albeit precarious,” sometimes based “on mere supposition and guesswork,” and “likely to reveal more about the interpreter than about Paul or his opponents.” He urged that readers observe Paul’s actual descriptions of his opponents. Consequently, he rejected the notion that the opponents were Judaizers. They had Jewish credentials but “there is no indication that they appeal to Moses or the Law as a means to spiritual power” (xxix). Seifrid concluded that Paul’s statements do not reveal a developed theology of the opponents. Instead, Paul combats a practical theology that “legitimates apostolic mission (and thus Christian living) on the basis of the open display of rhetorical skill, deeds of power, and ecstatic visions” (xxix).

Seifrid rejected the theories that view 2 Corinthians as a composite letter. Such views were possible and not to be rejected a priori. However, the evidence for them is rather weak. Apparent disruptions were a product of Paul’s stormy relationship with the Corinthians rather than cutting and pasting by a later editor. Seifrid concluded: “At the end of the day, a coherent rhetoric may be discerned rather easily throughout Second Corinthians. The apparent disruptions make sense in context” (xxx).

Seifrid argued that the fundamental issue in 1 Corinthians remains the focal issue in 2 Corinthians, the identifying marks of a true apostle. Although, in the opponents’ view, ability as a communicator, miraculous activities, and visionary experiences were the marks of an apostle, Paul insisted that hallmark of the apostle is the message of the cross. But the message of the cross is not only proclaimed verbally by the apostle. He embodies the message by be...

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