Saturday, September 29, 2018

Why Is "the Body of Christ" (σῶμα Χριστοῦ) Important to Paul?

I thank God and all who have helped me one way or another. 10 years have passed since my first book published by Fortress in 2008, and 13 years have passed since I embarked on a new second career in this job. During this time period, about a dozen books (I don't count anymore) showed up in my name, roughly one book a year. I still find myself doing more than this. So I thank God and feel more responsibility for my job as a teacher and writer. Lord, help me and use me!


My debut book, Christ’s Body in Corinth: The Politics of a Metaphor (Fortress, 2008), has made a significant contribution to the study of 1 Corinthians by presenting a new argument on the metaphor. Now is the good time to review it and extend to cover diverse concepts and uses of “the body of Christ” in Paul’s undisputed letters, including the Corinthian correspondence, Romans and Galatians. I am planning a new book about the body of Christ and Paul.

1 Cor 12:27 was a verse for my dissertation and I revisit it: Ὑμεῖς δέ ἐστε σῶμα Χριστοῦ καὶ μέλη ἐκ μέρους. This verse contains the gist of Paul's embodiment theology. What do you think? How do you translate it?

My new translation: "You are the Christic body and parts constituting Christ."

The Christic body is what I argued in my dissertation. It is an attributive genitive like "the body of sin" as "the sinful or sin-ruled body" in Rom 6:6. My conviction is that the Corinthians must embody Christ individually and communally.

I also read μέλη ἐκ μέρους as "body parts individually," which means constituting Christ individually. I am not reading "the body of Christ" as a metaphorical organism, but as a metaphor "for a way of living."

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