Paul's political strategy in 1 Corinthians 1-4: constitution and covenant

Bradley J. Bitner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This volume examines 1 Corinthians 1-4 within first-century politics, demonstrating the significance of Corinth’s constitution to the interpretation of Paul’s letter. Bradley J. Bitner shows that Paul carefully considered the Roman colonial context of Corinth, which underlay numerous ecclesial conflicts. Roman politics, however, cannot account for the entire shape of Paul’s response. Bridging the Hellenism-Judaism divide that has characterized much of Pauline scholarship, Bitner argues that Paul also appropriated Jewish-biblical notions of covenant. Epigraphical and papyrological evidence indicates that his chosen content and manner are best understood with reference to an ecclesial politeia informed by a distinctively Christ-centered political theology. This emerges as a "politics of thanksgiving" in 1 Corinthians 1: 4-9 and as a "politics of construction" in 3: 5-4: 5, where Paul redirects gratitude and glory to God in Christ. This innovative account of Paul’s political theology offers fresh insight into his pastoral strategy among nascent Gentile-Jewish assemblies.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP)
Number of pages351
ISBN (Electronic)9781316104910
ISBN (Print)9781107088481
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameSociety for New Testament Studies Monograph Series


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