This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Thomas Schmeller, the unity of 2 Corinthians, and Titus-Timothy

On 24th May 2010 I argued on this blog (see here) that 2 Cor 1-9 is conciliatory and has a warm tone because Paul did not want to jeopardize the collection that Titus was organizing.

Then, on 17th Nov 2012 Thomas Schmeller (of Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universit├Ąt) gave a paper at the 2012 SBL annual meeting. His paper is called "No Bridge over Troubled Water? The Gap between 2 Corinthians 1–9 and 10–13 Revisited" and is online here. The last two pages contain the important bits. He too argues that Paul adopts a conciliatory tone in 2 Cor 1-9 for the sake of the collection.

Then, on 30th Nov 2012 I emailed Schmeller, pointing him to my blog post and suggesting that he considered Titus-Timothy.

Then, in 2013, JSNT published Schmeller's piece, almost unchanged (JSNT 36(1) 73-84).

Then, on 27th July 2013 I emailed Schmeller again and expressed disappointment that he had not interacted with my blog post, either in his JSNT paper, or on the blog, or by email. He has responded to neither of my emails.

Now, Schmeller's proposal in his paper is not identical to that in my blog post. He is right, for example, to bring in the insights of Vegge. However, there is enough overlap that one should expect some kind of interaction. Maybe my communication with him was too late for him to cite my blog in his JSNT paper. But why present at SBL without leaving time to benefit from feedback? And why no replies to my emails?

This year, in his 2 Corinthians commentary (p31), Guthrie endorses Schmeller's JSNT piece, summarizing that the two parts of the letter have different tones because:
chapters 1-9 prepare for Titus's visit, but 10-13 prepare for Paul's own visit to Corinth. Titus's earlier visit had been successful, while Paul's earlier visit had been a disaster.
This is not quite right as it stands.

1) 2 Cor 12:16-18 prepares for Titus's visit.

2) The following texts from 2 Cor 1-9 prepare the Corinthians for visits and use the first person plural, so they most naturally refer to the future visits of Paul and his co-sender, Timothy. Titus is not in view, unless we equate Titus with Timothy (as we must).
"Are we beginning to commend ourselves again?" (2 Cor 3:1)
"... we commend ourselves...." (2 Cor 4:2)
"... we do not proclaim ourselves ..." (2 Cor 4:5)
"and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again" (2 Cor 5:11-12).
3) Timothy also travelled to Corinth, but there is no place for Timothy in Schmeller's reconstruction. If Timothy was not Titus we would suppose that his visit to Corinth had also been a disaster and that, like Paul, he probably travelled back to Corinth after the arrival of 2 Corinthians (see Rom 16:21). Thus, on Schmeller's scheme, we would expect that chapters 10-13 would prepare for the visits of both Paul and Timothy. So why does the first person singular dominate these chapters?

So I still prefer my proposal from May 2010.