Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church have left a mark on Christian Scripture in a way that could never have been predicted. Here the pastoral issues of a first-century Christian community in what Chrysostom identified as “still the first city in Greece” stand out in bold relief. How was a community shaped by the cross to find its expression in a city that Chrysostom knew to be “full of orators and philosophers” and that “prided itself . . . above all on its great wealth?” How was church unity to be maintained in a setting where prominent believers, bending truth and morality to their own advantage, divided the body of Christ? Here lay the challenge for the apostle Paul. And as the apostle writes, the fathers lean over his shoulder, marveling and commenting on his pastoral wisdom.
This Ancient Christian Commentary on 1-2 Corinthians opens a whole new way of reading these New Testament texts. The pastoral and theological interpretation of the fathers offers spiritual and intellectual sustenance to those who would read Paul again with open minds and hearts. Here we find the Pauline wisdom of the cross generating an effective heritage of Christian interpretation.
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Gerald L. Bray is a professor at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and director of research at Latimer Trust. He has written and edited a number of books on different theological subjects. A priest of the Church of England, Bray has also edited the post-Reformation Anglican canons.