Thursday, September 15, 2005

Epistle to the Corinthians: Introduction

Bumping this up to the top (is it a violation of the 8th commandment to alter the dates on blog entries? I can't figure out another way to move them to the top...).

Here's a little intro to get us all launched on our reading of Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians.

From Quasten:
"It is among the most important documents of subapostolic times, the earliest piece of Christian literature outside the New Testament for which the name, position and date of the author are historically attested.

"The outbreak of disputes within the Church of Corinth during the reign of Domitian impelled the author to intervene. Factions, so severely reprimanded on occasion by St. Paul, raged anew. Some arrogant and impudent individuals had rebelled against ecclesiastical authority and driven the incumbents from office. Only a very small minority of the community remained loyal to the deposed presbyters. Clement's intention was to settle the differences and to repair the scandal given to the pagans."

Quasten divides the letter into an introduction (chapters 1-3), a first main part (4-36), a second main part (37-61), and a recapitulation (62-65). Let's tackle the introduction and the first main part. The chapters are short, but there's a lot of them.

Quasten again:

"The introduction calls attention to the flourishing state of the Christian community of Corinth before the quarrel.... The third chapter, by way of contrast, points to the entirely changed condition of the community.

"The first main part is of a rather general character. It deprecates discord and envy ... exhorts to penance, hospitality, piety and humility ... then expatiates upon the goodness of God, the harmony existing in his creation, his omnipotence, the resurrection and the judgment; humility, temperance, faith and good works lead to reward, to Christ."


Anonymous amy said...

What strikes me reading the introduction to Clement's letter is how similar it sounds to Paul's letters to the Corinthians. These are the same old Corinthians - blessed with remarkable spiritual gifts, but plagued with envy, division, and sometimes, gross immorality.

It is a mystery that God pours such great gifts into such broken vessels; and no less a mystery that He often hides great holiness in complete obscurity. I look forward to the judgment when we will all be able to see with the eyes of Christ.

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Catharine said...

Hi. I am getting started a bit late but I'm trying to catch up!

I am reading Quasten but I haven't read the whole epistle. This part at the beginning struck me:

"You mourned over the transgressions of your neighhours: their deficiencies you deemed your own."

The community used to see itself as intimately connected - even in it's failings. Whenever we forget that we are one Mystical Body, we lose sight of the goal.

This sense of salvation as a group effort is a very Catholic ideal. It goes along with all the teachings about prayer and reparations for others' sins. While it doesn't explain it, it does show that the mystery of our connectedness in sin and salvation was already there in the early church.

10:32 PM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...


Do you think this sense of community still exists among Catholics, or among Christians in general? Are we living in different circumstances than the Corinthians?

11:17 AM  

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