What is the purpose of St. Paul’s discussion of gender and marriage in 1 Corinthians? Why is he seemingly ambivalent about the status of Roman slaves? On what basis does he chastise his disciples for airing their grievances in the Roman court system? How does his critique of ‘speaking in tongues’ or his discussion of idolatry and Roman religion (summarized in his excursus on infidelity) relate to these questions? Not surprisingly, the series of pastoral issues presented in Paul’s letter are systematic and interconnected with his overall argument. 1 Corinthians hinges on the question of one’s allegiance and the ruthless priority of the gospel in all things. As usual, the discussion leads Richard and Fr. Marc to some uncomfortable conclusions.
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