My academic journey began with a critical examination of the body metaphor, especially "the body of Christ" in 1 Cor 12:27 and elsewhere in Paul's letters. Eventually, my dissertation about this topic was published by Fortress Press in 2008: Christ's Body in Corinth: The Politics of a Metaphor (Fortress, 2008). This book is one of the earliest volumes in the Fortress series Paul in Critical Contexts. Since then, many researchers and theologians have referred to my work. In fact, my reading of "the body of Christ" is unique and sound, as the book was reviewed by some:
Although much has been written on the Pauline notion of the "body of Christ," this contribution by Presbyterian scholar Kim offers a thoughtful and provocative insight worth considering. Kim observes that the Pauline metaphor can be interpreted as setting boundaries or differentiations between the Christian community and those outside. However, if we consider the "body of Christ" as the crucified body of Christ it can be seen as a means of dissolving boundaries and being more inclusive, particularly of those who are pushed to the margins or who suffer. Kim draws out from this key Pauline symbol the implications for the church and society today, particularly in the Gospel call for solidarity with those who are marginalized. --Donald Senior, The Bible Today, 47(2) p.141. (Mar-Apr 2009)
Thanks also for calling attention to your book on the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians. I read the attachment that you sent, and it sounds like your interpretation and ours are very supportive of each other. I do think the body image is about inclusive egalitarianism in the new life in Christ, and not about sharp social boundaries. -- A message from Marcus Borg (May 21, 2009).
Why I wrote this book
Introduction: The Price of Unity
2. How is a different reading of this metaphor possible or legitimate?
3. In today’s personal or public experiences in this world, does the use of this metaphor (body of Christ) raise any concerns?
Chapter 1: Community as “Body”
2. Can you name examples of each approach in today’s life experience (church, school, society and the world) to the conception of the community?
3. What are some hidden ideologies at work in the level of interpreters?
4. Is it possible to have an alternative vision of community than the mentioned other approaches?
Chapter 2: Community as the “Body of Christ”
2. What pros and cons can you find in each approach?
3. Can you name some examples of each approach in today’s life experience?
4. What is an alternative approach or understanding about the body of Christ? How can you
Chapter 3: Community “in Christ”
2. How does “in Christ” have to do with Paul’s rhetoric that he uses to address the Corinthian problems?
3. Can you find the Greco-Roman parallels to which Paul’s cynical language of “in Christ” might refer (1 Cor 4:10)?
4. Is the modal relation of “dying with Christ” consistent in Paul’s theology or in his letters in general?
Chapter 4: The Body Politic and the Body of Christ
democratic-inclusive body politic? Point out ideologies (philosophy) that support each body politic.
2. Which side of the body politic do you think Paul takes? Why?
3. What do you think is the central cause of the Corinthian problems mentioned in the letter? (divisions, sexual immorality, eating meat sacrificed to idols, etc).
4. Paul does not claim his rights as an apostle (benefits such as financial support). Does this rejection of financial support reflect his protest to the social system of patron-client in the Greco-Roman world?
Chapter 5: The Life of the “Body of Christ” in First Corinthians
2. Compare and contrast various genitive cases applied to the body of Christ? Namely, between 1) the objective genitive (a body belonging to Christ as an organism metaphor), 2) the subjective genitive (Christ’s own body as physical), 3) the attributive genitive (Christlike or Christic body).
3. Do inverted parallelisms in the analysis of the whole letter work in supporting the argument of the chapter and thesis of the whole book?
4. How can you account for the possible transformative relationship, if any, between the metaphor of the body of Christ, Paul, and the Corinthian community?
5. What do you think about the difference between Paul's use of the metaphor of "the body of Christ" in 1 Corinthians and the later use by the authors of the so called Deutero-Pauline letters such as Ephesians and Colossians?
Chapter 6: Practicing the Diversity of Christ’s Body
2. How is different, if any, between the notion of differences and of diversity?
3. Is it possible to have a phrase like “critical diversity”? If possible, how can we get there?