Vernon K. Robbins

Sociorhetorical Interpretation

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1 Corinthians: Recitation

Paul: 1 Corinthians

An example of recitation where words are omitted in a saying occurs in 1 Corinthians. The scriptural verse underlying Paul's discourse is Jeremiah 9.24:

'But in this let him who boasts boast, understanding and knowing that I am the Lord who does mercy and justice and righteousness on the earth; for in these things are my will', says the Lord.

Paul's discourse skillfully abbreviates this verse: 'Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord' (1 Cor. 1.31). The rhetorical effect of its abbreviated form is, of course, remarkable. Again the recitation has not added new words to scripture; rather it has conveniently removed words. Now the verse can function as a short, crisp proverb to support Pauline argumentation in more than one context (cf. 2 Cor. 10.17). It is disappointing that even interpreters who have focused on the intertexture of 1 Corinthians 1.26-31 have given the impression that Pauline discourse repeats the scriptural text without significant modification (cf. O'Day 1990: 267). Wording in the verse is both abbreviated and rearranged for rhetorical purposes in Pauline discourse.


From: Vernon K. Robbins (1996) The Tapestry of Early Christian Discourse: Rhetoric, Society and Ideology, London: Routledge: 104.

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