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The Theology of the First Letter to the Corinthians (New Testament Theology) [Paperback]

By Victor Paul Furnish (Author) & James D. G. Dunn (Preface by)
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Item description for The Theology of the First Letter to the Corinthians (New Testament Theology) by Victor Paul Furnish & James D. G. Dunn...

Overview
This study shows that the common view of 1 Corinthians as mainly about "ethics" and therefore of little importance for "theology" needs correcting. Many other studies of the letter focus mainly on the details of the Corinthian situation and the moral teachings Paul conveyed to his congregation. While not ignoring these, Furnish's primary aim is to explore and clarify the theological orientation of 1 Corinthians, and what it can contribute to an understanding of Paul as a theologian. Furnish concludes that 1 Corinthians is important for both ethics and theology.

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Item Specifications...


Studio: Cambridge University Press
Pages   188
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.47" Width: 5.49" Height: 0.38"
Weight:   0.51 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 19, 2007
Publisher   Cambridge University Press
ISBN  0521358078  
ISBN13  9780521358071  


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More About Victor Paul Furnish & James D. G. Dunn


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! VICTOR PAUL FURNISH is University Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, of New Testament at Southern Methodist University. His other books from Abingdon Press include 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians in the Abingdon New Testament Commentaries series, of which he is the General Editor. (2008)

Victor Paul Furnish has an academic affiliation as follows - Southern Methodist University, Texas.

Victor Paul Furnish has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Abingdon New Testament Commentaries
  2. New Testament Theology
  3. Understanding Jesus Today


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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General


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Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General



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Reviews - What do customers think about The Theology of the First Letter to the Corinthians (New Testament Theology)?

Taking Paul's theological pulse, 4.5 stars  Mar 31, 2004
Furnish does masterful work in laying out the theology of 1 Corinthians. From the opening section covering the details of Roman Corinth to the end section discussing the use of 1 Corinthians' theology for today Furnish is solid, easy to read and insightful. He takes us through the narrative of letter, beginning to end, to unravel Paul's thought along the way (a much preferred method than simply dumping all the "theology" into one chapter and arranging it systematically or thematically) and the journey through it is both revealing and enjoyable.

Furnish is eager to correct what he sees as a distorted view of theology by attempting to show that 1) 1 Corinthians is rich in theology and 2) is a better place to take Paul's "theological pulse" than in his supposedly more theological letters to Romans and Galatians. The first point he makes well. Furnish argues that even taken together Paul's letters do not constitute nor provide for a theological system. Instead, each letter, like 1 Corinthians, is a response or a situational contextualization of Paul's gospel. In 1 Corinthians itself he tries to show that a disparate view of "ethics" and "theology" cannot be maintained but rather that it is precisely reflection upon Paul's gospel that allows him to give the instructions to the church that he does. Within these instructions Furnish identifies what he calls three areas of "intense theological reflection." These are the talk of the wisdom and power of the cross (God's power and purpose to save), the primacy of love over spiritual gifts (the realm or medium of God's saving power), and the resurrection of the dead and God's final victory over sin (the end to which God saves us). These three areas provide the posts upon which Paul lays the rest of his thoughts and instructions in the letter.

Furnish's second point is very intriguing, but it only remains so. He claims that 1 Corinthians is a better place to get to the heart of Paul's gospel than say Romans or Galatians because it represents the nexus of what we would call theology and ethics and because it is done on the ground in a church that Paul himself started. This idea is very powerful but Furnish does little to develop it more. He merely reiterates some points at the end and leaves it be which is unfortunate because that line of thought holds such promise.

This in itself really shows the one main weakness of the book: it is too short. Everything Furnish writes is great and it leaves me wanting more. 1 Corinthians is one of Paul's longest letters; Furnish could have written twice as much as still have a summary of the the theology.

I have given this book 4.5 stars, something I've never done before, because the book really is excellent, it only lacks more of the same. But that notwithstanding, this is a great book and I wish there were more like it in the series.

 
Feeling Paul's theological pulse, 4.5 stars  Mar 26, 2004
Furnish's handling of the material in 1 Corinthians is first-rate. His writing style and presentation is solid and he gently but purposefully moves the reader along to follow his line of thought. Even though Furnish is dealing with sometimes weighty ideas, I found him easy to read at all times.

This book follows the flow of the NT book it covers, each chapter progressing through the narrative of the letter. While this may not be possible to the same degree for every NT document, this process is much preferred to the otherwise more standard procedure in other books of dumping all the "theology" into one chapter and then sorting it systematically or thematically. It seems especially important for 1 Corinthians that a narrative method is used and it helps unravel the flow of the letter itself.

Furnish is careful to avoid broad generalizations in his book. He rejects the idea that Paul left behind a systematic theology (or even a basis for one) and this rejection surfaces throughout the rest of the book. Furnish will not bring himself to say definitively, in most cases, "This is what Paul was thinking," or "This is why Paul would have said/written this." Instead, he offers clues to seeing what he calls the heart of Paul's gospel. These clues, in 1 Corinthians, he identifies as excurses of intense theological reflection throughout the letter. Three excurses in particular are identified: the talk of the wisdom and power of the cross near the beginning of the letter (and how this reveals the power and purpose of God to save), the supremacy of love over spiritual gifts (and thus the medium or means through which God saves), and the resurrection of the dead and the defeat of death (the final victory of God, the ends to which God saves). On these three posts Paul hangs the body of his letter, not in a definitive but in an expressive way.

This approach to the letter allows the nexus or interplay between Paul's admonitions to the church and his theological reflection to be clearly seen. This is at once Furnish's strength and weakness. His contention throughout is that 1 Corinthians is a better place to take what he calls Paul's theological pulse than his more "theological" letters like Romans and Galatians. This is, he contends, because Paul is demonstrating how his thinking worked on the ground in the setting of a church that he himself had founded. This is quite a sweeping charge, one not usually held, but it is intriguing and holds promise, especially when seen in the light of holding all theological systems loosely. However, it is precisely here that I wished for more information, for a more sustained argument concerning this idea, because it seems appealing (and somewhat accurate) but I have little else to go on than a few summary comments at the end of the chapter.

This is indicative of the one weakness of the book as a whole: it is too short. In every section surveyed ideas that could presumably take twice as long to fill out better were given less treatment that I would have liked. For example, in is discussion on spiritual gifts and the church, little is said spiritual gifts themselves and the content of chapter 14 is almost entirely skipped over - the one place where Paul gives his most detailed account of the life of one of his local churches. Furnish did such a good job of explaining and drawing me into the letter but it did not always go as far as I had hoped. I don't usually give half-star ratings, but I did with this book because I felt that it was excellent and superbly written, but that it lacked enough material to really give me enough.

Overall, Furnish's book is top notch. From his discussion of Roman Corinth to his survey of Paul's thought in the letter, Furnish provides a very satisfying look at the theology of 1 Corinthians.

 

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