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The Theology of the First Letter to the Corinthians (New Testament Theology)

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521358071
ISBN-10: 0521358078
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This small volume is an excellent primer for the student who is beginning a study of Pauline theology and will benefit all students of the Pauline letters." Choice

"...a careful exposition of 1 Corinthians with perhaps more attention to theological themes than one generally finds in commentaries of this length." Word & World

"This is a thoughtful, carefully written book. I plan to have it on my reading list for next semester's course on Paul." Theology Today

"...an elegant and very readable style...This book is truly multum in parvo." Southwestern Journal of Theology

"...all students - teaching and preaching pastors especially - will benefit from reading attentively this well-wrought work of historically informed theological exegesis." Pro Ecclesia

Book Description

This study shows that the common view of 1 Corinthians as mainly about 'ethics' and therefore of little importance for 'theology' needs correcting. Many other studies of the letter focus mainly on the details of the Corinthian situation and the moral teachings Paul conveyed to his congregation. While not ignoring these, Furnish's primary aim is to explore and clarify the theological orientation of 1 Corinthians, and what it can contribute to an understanding of Paul as a theologian. Furnish concludes that 1 Corinthians is important for both ethics and theology.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Testament Theology
  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (June 13, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521358078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521358071
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,139,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Furnish does masterful work in laying out the theology of 1 Corinthians. From the opening section covering the details of Roman Corinth to the end section discussing the use of 1 Corinthians' theology for today Furnish is solid, easy to read and insightful. He takes us through the narrative of letter, beginning to end, to unravel Paul's thought along the way (a much preferred method than simply dumping all the "theology" into one chapter and arranging it systematically or thematically) and the journey through it is both revealing and enjoyable.
Furnish is eager to correct what he sees as a distorted view of theology by attempting to show that 1) 1 Corinthians is rich in theology and 2) is a better place to take Paul's "theological pulse" than in his supposedly more theological letters to Romans and Galatians. The first point he makes well. Furnish argues that even taken together Paul's letters do not constitute nor provide for a theological system. Instead, each letter, like 1 Corinthians, is a response or a situational contextualization of Paul's gospel. In 1 Corinthians itself he tries to show that a disparate view of "ethics" and "theology" cannot be maintained but rather that it is precisely reflection upon Paul's gospel that allows him to give the instructions to the church that he does. Within these instructions Furnish identifies what he calls three areas of "intense theological reflection." These are the talk of the wisdom and power of the cross (God's power and purpose to save), the primacy of love over spiritual gifts (the realm or medium of God's saving power), and the resurrection of the dead and God's final victory over sin (the end to which God saves us).
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Format: Paperback
Furnish's handling of the material in 1 Corinthians is first-rate. His writing style and presentation is solid and he gently but purposefully moves the reader along to follow his line of thought. Even though Furnish is dealing with sometimes weighty ideas, I found him easy to read at all times.
This book follows the flow of the NT book it covers, each chapter progressing through the narrative of the letter. While this may not be possible to the same degree for every NT document, this process is much preferred to the otherwise more standard procedure in other books of dumping all the "theology" into one chapter and then sorting it systematically or thematically. It seems especially important for 1 Corinthians that a narrative method is used and it helps unravel the flow of the letter itself.
Furnish is careful to avoid broad generalizations in his book. He rejects the idea that Paul left behind a systematic theology (or even a basis for one) and this rejection surfaces throughout the rest of the book. Furnish will not bring himself to say definitively, in most cases, "This is what Paul was thinking," or "This is why Paul would have said/written this." Instead, he offers clues to seeing what he calls the heart of Paul's gospel. These clues, in 1 Corinthians, he identifies as excurses of intense theological reflection throughout the letter. Three excurses in particular are identified: the talk of the wisdom and power of the cross near the beginning of the letter (and how this reveals the power and purpose of God to save), the supremacy of love over spiritual gifts (and thus the medium or means through which God saves), and the resurrection of the dead and the defeat of death (the final victory of God, the ends to which God saves).
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I needed this book for a class. While I certainly read a lot of theology books, this book did not keep my attention. Some authors have a way of writing that keeps you engaged. This book sadly did not read easily to me. I found myself going back and re-reading it over and over. I was so thankful after I wrote my book review and put this book on the shelf!
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An easy read, clearly written, although repetitive. The book's purpose is accomplished. A good aid in learning and understanding the theology if Paul.
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The Theology of the First Letter to the Corinthians (New Testament Theology)
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