Having done a bit of work on Pauline ethics, I think about his approaches from time to time, wondering about the extent to which he is repeating classic admonitions of his heritage, or doing something new. Recently I was looking again at 2 Corinthians (yes, that’s TWO Corinthians – apparently it exists) 12:20-21, and thinking to myself that Paul Barnett goes too far in thinking that the issues Paul mentions in verse 21 can serve to reconstruct a situation in ancient Corinth behind the letter. Don’t get me wrong – Barnett is always a great read, so I don’t think he goes too far on everything. But in relation to this passage, I just don’t think that Paul’s vice lists are responding to particular problems in Corinth.
Enter Nijay Gupta’s recent article in JSNT: “Mirror-Reading Moral Issues in Paul’s Letters.” It’s a good read. Nijay attempts to broaden Barclay’s methodical approach to mirror-reading, in order to apply it to ethical issues (such as appears in 2 Corinthians 12:20-21). He is appropriately measured and cautious, while providing some sensible ways forward. Give it a read!