2 Corinthians: A Social Identity Commentary
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Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of Pages: 440
Width: 13.8 cm
Height: 21.6 cm
Philip F. Esler provides a comprehensive coverage of the issues in 2 Corinthians from the perspective of social identity, with a focus on Paul’s leadership. Esler enlists social identity theory—in critical dialogue with existing scholarship—to show how Paul sought to persuade the Corinthian Christ-followers to adopt certain views on four critical issues that had arisen in his relationship with them, with his discourse demonstrably reflecting the ancient Mediterranean culture they shared. Two introductory chapters set out those four issues, summarise the events reflected in 1 and 2 Corinthians, make an initial case for the integrity of the letter against partition theories, explain and defend the use of social identity theory in biblical interpretation, and describe the social identity approach to leadership. In the commentary, Esler explores how Paul re-establishes his leadership role by reconnecting with the Corinthians, urges their participation in the collection for Jerusalem, and defends his position against recently arrived opponents, all the while reinforcing his addressees’ social identity as Christ-followers. Prominent features of the commentary fostered by its social identity perspective include its cumulative case for the letter’s unity, for Paul’s opponents being similar to those in Galatia, and for the interweaving of social and theological dimensions in the text.
While "social identity" is the underlying guiding focus, Esler's commentary provides a well-informed and illuminating analysis of the letter as a whole and the rich Pauline theology it expresses. * The Bible Today * Philip Esler's 2 Corinthians: A Social Identity Commentary is not only a careful and sensitive reading of a very difficult and complex Pauline letter, but is effectively a primer for Social Identity Theory, illustrating what new insights SIT has to contribute to understanding the interactions between the Corinthian Christ group and its prototypical values on the one hand, and Paul's role as an exemplar and entrepreneur on the other. Esler engages an impressive array of exegetical and theoretical issues, and yet produces a clear and readable commentary. * John S. Kloppenborg, University of Toronto, Canada *