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  1. This is one of the coolest blog entries I have stumbled upon! Love it, love it, love it. It is great fun to unravel the mysteries of the life and times of the people who lived out Scripture. What I love more, though is to figure out the Roman society as it related to the church. Really enjoyed this one! Thanks for posting it!
    PS … Wonder what they were arguing about? Obviously something juicy.

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  2. Thanks, Heidi.

    Thinking about, it might be that during this time, the local church met in different homes. Maybe factionalism and favoritism was destroying the fellowship. Maybe Bob wouldn’t go to Mike’s house on Saturday because last week, they served chicken. But, Bob will go to Cindy’s house because they do. But Sally won’t go to Cindy’s house because they serve lamb, but will go to Mike’s house.

    So, instead of it being the house of God, it became the house of Mike and Cindy, Bob, and Sally.

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  3. I have always thought that Lydia also was head of her household, as was Nympha and the elect lady. Perhaps widows were not that uncommon. I don’t know.

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  4. Lydia was a seller of purple, a rare trade, but not necessarily a widow. Perhaps she was an only child who gradually took over the business from her aging father. That would give her more years to do her selling than if her husband died and left her a business – unless her husband died young.

    Just throwing in two more bits for a great conversation.

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  5. I’m using Ben Witherington’s commentary to study through 1 Corinthians this month, and he tells it similarly to you, Joel, regarding Chloe’s place as head of a household. He comes at the factionalism from a different angle, though (which I think is defensible from the first few chapters of Corinthians), about the factionalism being about the how ‘presentable’ of the absent tent-maker Paul was compared to local religious leaders like Apollos.

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  6. Sorry, yes, he was. Both Apollos and Paul were absent; in their absence, factionalism appeared based on their images. His understanding seems to be that Apollos was in Corinth more recently than Paul. He so argues that the factionalism was based on the fact the Romans saw ‘wise men’ as people who didn’t do hard labour – professional philosophers. He doesn’t present any evidence that Apollos is one of these (aside from the letter itself); it seems to be independent of Paul’s knowledge of rhetoric and Greek language.

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  7. If followers of Paul and Apollos were causing the divisions, then it is reasonable for Paul to refer to himself and Apollos as those causing division. Witherington claims noting figurative language is a rhetorical device making note that those listening are being childish (I assume you’re speaking of Ch.4?).

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  8. True, True, Joel. I do wonder at Witherington’s fixation on rhetoric, often.

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  9. I think it’s valuable, as his use of rhetoric reveals a lot about his purposes. It’s clear that Paul used rhetoric, even if it was lost on some of his followers. I’ve certainly benefited from Witherington on that account, if only from his sections on Greek rhetoric and how it functions in Paul’s letters.

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  10. Just a hunch… but I’d guess Paul was no more a trained rhetorician than I am a professionally trained scholar. I’ve picked up a lot. So did they. So what? They were amateurs, not graduates of the Lyceum.

    Like I said, just a hunch. A common one, I’m sure…

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  11. Also a very good commentary on 1 Corinthians is from the NIGTC series, by Anthony C. Thiselton (2000).
    This “sees the epistle as largely a conflict between “apostolic” authority (Paul) and “prophetic” authority or autonomy (especially liberated women at Corinth as prophets). Paul uses a rhetoric of power to dissociate thought (theirs) from reality (his); private from public to constrain women’s freedom; self from community; and “flesh” from “Spirit”. (page 45 footnote)
    Fr. R.

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  12. Joel, I’d tend to agree with premise that Chloe’s household or Chloe’s people referred to a home in which a church met, and their leader or head of the household. I would tend to say leader, because it it’s evident that there are female leaders in the Corinthian church considering the confusion about the place of females within the congregation that is addressed later on.

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  13. Teephphah

    What I think is quite funny (or perhaps ironic) is that the replies to this very blog entry begin to follow the exact same pattern Paul was trying to address in the letter. Although here you have “I agree with Witherington,” or “I follow Thiselton” instead of Paul or Apollos.

    At least in my admitted layman’s perspective. My best guess is that Paul is trying to deal with factionalism that springs up when ANYONE beyond “Christ and Him crucified” becomes the focus of people’s faith and worship, whether that be Paul himself or the (as my musty old study bible says) more eloquent Apollos.

    For what it’s worth though, I’ll say that this interpretation of things makes sense to me because Paul mentions the fact that he spoke plainly (and the reason why) when he was in Corinth. So, I can see the hipsters in the Corinthian church being fed their boring old spiritual “milk” by Paul, and then when the sophisticated Mr. Apollos comes in with his perhaps more “grown up” theology, they maybe get swept up in it and begin to play favorites. Keep in mind, Greeks and Romans didn’t have TV, but they did have public speakers. Public speaking, for them, was a form of entertainment, so I do think they’d be able to appreciate the nuanced style of one rhetorical speaker over another.

    All that being said, as regards my introductory statement about the replies to this blog entry beginning to head in the same direction as the Corinthian church, I think it’s actually (hopefully) more of a “solid food” discussion, not wanting to get accusatory or anything, but the observation did strike me a little funny.

    And THAT being said, thanks for the info on “Chloe’s people,” which is what I actually came here for!

    God Bless!

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    1. Benjamin Phillip

      Though I’m four years later in my comments, perhaps some of you will still read this. Teephphah, I would be careful not to equate regard for a certain person’s expertise and scholarly work with “factionalism.” They are very much two different things. On the other hand, it is true that these types of matters are sometimes decided for us on account of simply liking one teacher above another, which is fair to warn against. We are only ever to follow a person “as they follow Christ.”

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  14. Not sure about either of those – yet – but I have thought that the Elect Lady was the Church (although I understand the disputes in that.)

    Considering that churches were held in homes, and that Chloe was obvious someone ‘powerful’ enough not to be touched if things went sour for Paul, what else does that say, if anything?

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  15. Thanks, Bill and Damian.

    I haven’t read Witherington yet. I don’t get how that would be an acceptable conclusion, however. Could you add some detail? Wouldn’t Apollos have been absent as well?

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  16. Interesting premise, Damien.

    Not sure I would agree with Damian, pointing to the fact that Paul used himself and Apollos as stand ins for those causing divisions. If it had actually been Paul and Apollos, would he have then noted his own figurative language?

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  17. I am.

    I see what he is saying, Damian, but I would disagree with it – however it comes down, factionalism still played a large part, more than it should. We can agree on that!

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  18. Maybe it’s because he is a Methodist? :)

    Honestly, while I understand that Paul’s use of rhetoric is useful to examine in his speechs in Acts, I am unsure as to the value of it, especially if one takes the view that the primitive church was generally made up of the lower classes, unlearned, in which Rhetoric might be lost on them?

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  19. Maybe it’s because he is a Methodist? :)

    Honestly, while I understand that Paul’s use of rhetoric is useful to examine in his speeches in Acts, I am unsure as to the value of it, especially if one takes the view that the primitive church was generally made up of the lower classes, unlearned, in which Rhetoric might be lost on them?

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  20. Damian, Fr. Robert – we may never safely know the root of the factionalism, but, given the NIGTC thought, then how does that explain Chloe’s status?

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  21. According to Thisselton, it should be translated or mean “Chloe’s people” (NRSV, Moffatt, NJB). Also Theissen reminds us that members of ‘a family’ would normally be identified thru the name of the father (not mother), even if he was deceased. And exception could be made if Chloe was well known at Corinth, “but it remains more likely that “Chloe’s people” are business associates, business agents, or slaves acting on her behalf. Perhaps they represented the business interests of this weathly Asian woman, traveling between Ephesus and Corinth for her”, (Fee). Whether or not Chloe had church connections, probably her agents belonged to the Church at Ephesus and had regular links with the church at Corinth. On their last return to Ephesus, as Fee vividly expresses it, hey gave Paul an “earful” about the state of the church at Corinth. “The mention of Chloe’s people gives credence to the report received by Paul. The report was not hearsay.” (Page 121 paragraph 1, Thiselton’s Comm.)
    Fr. R.

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  22. PS..Sorry Thiselton (one of my typos) He was professor of Christain theology and head of the Department of Theology at the University of Nottingham, England.

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  23. Fr. Robert, I wouldn’t worry about typos…. I make too many to count.

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  24. Faithwillwin

    hi heidi, Corinth was a port city with lots of diversity and the comings and goings of many people. in the Corinth church many “non-locals” in attendence were talking in foreign languages. there were many misunderstandings and disruptions as they were often all talking over one another. Paul said that when speaking in different tongues, there must be order. one should speak at a time and then interpreted, then another person can reply and be interpreted and so on. to further calm things down, Paul suggested that if the women had a question about what was said, that they should wait until later and ask their husbands. many misinterpret this as Paul saying women should be always be silent in church, but that is not what he was saying. he was trying to help the congregations have peaceful and productive services, therefore, edifying the church. hope this helps. blessings to you

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  25. Gary

    Thank you for this bit of information which has led me to research more on my on…you struck a match in which a fire that burns within me.

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