Perhaps more than any other Pauline letter, 1 Corinthians is known for affording insight into the nature and world of the earliest Christian communities. Whether it concerns Corinthian disputes over wisdom, debates over speaking in tongues, or questions about resurrection, 1 Corinthians shows us the early church—warts and all. And that is what makes it such exciting—and relevant—reading today! Eminent New Testament scholar C. K. Barrett makes the text come alive both in its original setting and in the life of the church today. Barrett's arguments will challenge even the most seasoned scholars to rethink their interpretation of the many controversial passages.
“Thus Paul asserts that a church speaking with tongues but not practising love is a meaningless phenomenon; more than that, it is mere paganism.” (Page 300)
“Not the manner but the content of ecstatic speech determines its authenticity” (Page 279)
“The head-covering which symbolizes the effacement of man’s glory in the presence of God also serves as the sign of the ἐξουσία which is given to the woman’ (pp. 415 f.). That is, her veil represents the new authority given to the woman under the new dispensation to do things which formerly had not been permitted her.” (Page 255)
“But to eat and drink unworthily (in the sense indicated above) is to contradict both the purpose of Christ’s self-offering, and the spirit in which it was made, and thus to place oneself among those who were responsible for the crucifixion, and not among those who by faith receive the fruit of it.” (Page 273)
“This means that it was not fortuitous, but willed and determined by God, and that it formed part of the winding up of his eternal purpose, that is, that it was one of those eschatological events that stand on the frontier between the present age and the age to come, in which the divine purpose reaches its completion.” (Page 338)
This is a commentary which is both scholarly and religious, both readable and erudite. . . . Barrett has a marvelous gift of helping the reader to see not only what Paul is saying, but what he is saying it about. . . . a commentary destined to be subject to the rigorous test of constant use.
—G. B. Caird, Expository Times
C. K. Barrett (1917–2011) was emeritus professor of divinity at the University of Durham in England, and a determined Methodist. His work is held in very high regard and is featured prominently in many contemporary publications.
C. K. (Charles Kingsley) Barrett first studied at Shebbear College but soon transferred to Pembroke College to study theology. Barrett then trained for the Methodist ministry at Wesley House in Cambridge. In 1945, he was appointed lecturer in divinity at the University of Durham where he was eventually elected professor in 1958.
Barrett was especially known for having authored numerous scholarly articles and books, including commentaries on The Epistle to the Romans, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, and The Second Epistle to the Corinthians in the Black’s New Testament Commentary (BNTC) series, as well as On Paul: Essays on His Life, Work, and Influence in the Early Church and the titles in Select Works of C. K. Barrett (7 vols.).