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The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth Paperback – September 21, 2004
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About the Author
Gerd Theissen is Professor of New Testament at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He is also the author of 'Sociology of Early Palestinian Christianity' and 'A Critical Faith: A Case for Religion' John H. Schutz is Professor Emeritus of Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature group working on the Social World of Early Christianity and he is the author of 'Paul and the Anatomy of Apostolic Authority'
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Theissen develops the idea that Paul's followers were not all from the lower strata of society. While in Palestine the followers of Jesus were from the rural poor, in Paul's communities his followers were diverse. The majority of Paul's followers in Corinth were poor, but some were wealthy and educated. These were the leaders.
One aspect of the conflict between the strong and the weak in Corinth concerned eating meat sacrificed to idols. Paul notes that it is allowable to eat it privately, but not in public, to avoid scandalizing the poor, weaker followers. Some wealthy Christians, who were integrated into pagan society, had no problems about eating such meat at official gatherings. These few were strong, wise, powerful and Gnostic. Paul recommended that these wealthy, high status followers should eat privately and then at the common meal all should eat and drink the same.
Thus Theissen perceptively analyses the social world in Corinth and gives Paul's recommendations in this classic and pioneering social study of Paul's mission in Corinth.