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A Classic on the Social World of Paul's Community in Corinth Aug 8, 2006
This book comprises a number of essays translated from the German, which were first published in 1974 and 1975, as well as an introduction by the translator, John H. Schütz It was first published in English in 1982 and republished in 2004. Thus it does not contain developments in the last quarter of a century. However it is a classic in our understanding of the social world of early Christianity. It is still of value today in helping to gain insight into Paul's community in Corinth, its problems and Paul's suggested resolution of these.
Theissen develops the idea that Paul's followers were not all from the lower strata of society. While in Palestine the followers of Jesus were from the rural poor, in Paul's communities his followers were diverse. The majority of Paul's followers in Corinth were poor, but some were wealthy and educated. These were the leaders.
One aspect of the conflict between the strong and the weak in Corinth concerned eating meat sacrificed to idols. Paul notes that it is allowable to eat it privately, but not in public, to avoid scandalizing the poor, weaker followers. Some wealthy Christians, who were integrated into pagan society, had no problems about eating such meat at official gatherings. These few were strong, wise, powerful and Gnostic. Paul recommended that these wealthy, high status followers should eat privately and then at the common meal all should eat and drink the same.
Thus Theissen perceptively analyses the social world in Corinth and gives Paul's recommendations in this classic and pioneering social study of Paul's mission in Corinth.