Bi. 217


I Corinthians

Spring Semester 2002

Class Meetings: Mondays and Fridays 8:30-10:00 a.m. Room 204 McMillan

Instructor: John Alsup (Office Tel. 472-6736 Ext. 244/Email:

Home Tel. 512-863-2040/: )

Assistant and Webmaster: Sheri Stice (cf. Office Telephone and Email)

Course Description: Quite apart from general interest in Paul and his writings, every student of the New Testament has discovered through courses of basic introduction, interpretive methodology, and exegesis that questions of Christian beginnings and the role of epistles as genre play major roles in the study of the New Testament. In Bi 216 we have already studied Christian beginnings in relationship to the genre gospel and the Gospel of Mark. Now in this course we turn to a study of the genre of Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians in a quest to understand apostolic, written communication prior to the composition of any written gospel. When compared to other "epistles" of the New Testament and its environment, this document is of special interest because of its unusual length and its critical place in the life of primitive Christianity. We shall attempt to engage its varied theological content which spans sixteen chapters, to decipher its peculiar historical location within Paul's ministry, and to confront with integrity the classical issues of faith in crisis with which it pulsates.

A Brief Prologue: In keeping with the goals and requirements of the course (cf. below) the participants in the course will engage in a form of cooperative learning that depends on the contributions of the collective membership and that - hopefully - will model a style of exegetical cooperation that will reproduce itself in future pastoral settings. On an experimental basis, and to the degree that class members are able to support the enterprise, assignments for preparation and contributions to our work together will be made available in the "topics" area of the Bi 216 website: (

Class Participation: Active participation in every class is a basic presupposition. In addition to reading and translating the Greek text of I Corinthians and other relevant texts, we shall all select and consult on a regular basis different major commentaries on I Corinthians and one major monograph on Paul. Each participant will also read two journal articles relevant to the work of the course (cf. requirements below) and be responsible for adding all four voices in a critical way to class discussions.

The Goals of the course are, therefore: 1) to gain a better understanding of the genre of epistle and the historical/theological place of I Corinthians in the pauline corpus; 2) to practice the skills of listening in the context of advanced New Testament exegesis; 3) to focus our cooperative exegetical work individually on a project of one's choice (cf. "requirements").


1) Participation in a cooperative Greek translation project.

2) Participation in class discussions based on exegesis and critical interaction with selected publications.

3) A final project due by 5 p.m. on the Monday of Finals Week (May 17, 2002), except seniors for whom the due date is 5 p.m. on the Friday of Reading Week (May 15, 2002). The final project, written or oral, might take one of the following forms: Three written sermon manuscripts with exegetical precis (each sermon plus precis being ca. 10 pages in length) based on texts of one's choice from I Corinthians; a term paper with a 20 page limit ( = regular option) or a paper with no page limit ( = thesis option); a didactic project for the local church (project size is negotiable, but should approximate the size of the first two mentioned above (ca. 20-30 pages); an oral discussion over a period of ca. 1 to 2 hours on a mutually agreed upon topic and shaped through meetings during the semester to insure a quality conversation; an html-related project designed to enhance the long-range goals of the course for distance learning. Students are invited to submit a rationale for other individual choices. Projects shall be submitted during the semester or as stated above or, in the case of the oral discussion, negotiated for a time during Finals Week (as noted above compliance with deadlines for graduating seniors is presupposed).

Grading is based on the equation: 50% class participation (#'s 1-2), 50% final project (#3).

Class Schedule: (adjustments will be made as class dynamics require)

#1 - (M) Feb. 4 - Syllabus discussion and approval

#2 - (F) Feb. 8 - The Text and its Genre (comparative examples from the papyri).

#3 - (M) Feb. 11- Introductory Questions based on a reading of Acts 16-18 and an initial look at our Secondary Literature

#4 - (F) Feb. 15 - Theological Perspectives: cf. L. Goppelt, Theology of the New Testament, II.

#5 - (M) Feb. 18 - Calling and Commissioning

Ch. 1

#6 - (F) Feb. 22 - Ch. 1 con't.

#7 - (M) Feb. 25 - Wisdom and Foolishness

Ch. 2

#8 - (F) Mar. 1 - Ch. 2 con't.

#9 - (M) Mar. 4 - The Oikos

Ch. 3

#10 - (F) Mar. 8 - Under-rowers and Householders

Ch. 4

[Break Week - Mar. 11 - 15]

#11 - (M) Mar. 18 - Porneia

Ch. 5

#12 - (F) Mar. 22 - Ch. 5 con't.

#13 - (M) Mar. 25 - What is Lawful and What is Beneficial

Ch. 6

Holy Week - no class Mar 29 and April 1

#14 - (F) April 5 - Relationships within the Household

Ch. 7

#15 - (M) April 8 - Idolatry

Ch. 8

#16 - (F) April 12 - Apostolic Calling and Identity

Ch. 9

#17 - (M) April 15 - What is Lawful and What is Beneficial II

Ch. 10

#18 - (F) April 19 - The Lord's Supper

Ch. 11

#19 - (M) April 22 - Spiritual Gifts

Chs. 12 and 14

#20 - (F) April 26 - A Portrait of Love

Ch. 13

#21 - (M) April 29 - The Resurrection Kerygma

Ch. 15

#22 - (F) May 3 - Final Communications

Ch. 16

Reading Week May 6-10

Finals Week May 13-17

Initial Working Bibliography:

All: Greek Text: Nestle 27th edition

Commentaries Monographs Other Studies/Articles

J. Albright Anchor, Fee, Hays Selby, Understanding of Paul

J. Alsup Schlatter, Hays "Imagination" NTS

P. Cobb Mcarthur Ramsay, Paul the Traveller

D. Schaller Conzelmann Scroggs, Paul New Day

P. Schaller Anchor Rigaux, Letters of Paul Barton "Place" NTS

C. Schofield IDB Greeves, Christ in Me

Becker, Paul

J. Sharpe Furnish (II Cor) Luedemann, Opposition

B. Thompson Barrett Mouna/Neyrey, Portraits

Additions: cf. Goppelt, Theol. II, pp. 37f; Bornkamm, Paul; Deissamnn, Paul; Jackson/Lake, Beginnings, 5 vols.;