Apostolic doctrine and apostolic advice in 1 Corinthians 7: a study in Sixteenth-century exegesis and hermeneutics

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Thompson, John Lee; American Society of Church History. Meeting (1992 : Washinton, D.C.)
History; NT; New; first; Corinthians; century; Hermeneutics; 16th; sixteenth; Bible; 62231381; Testament; Criticism; 1st; interpretation
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It may clarify my purpose here if I note, in passing, that my interest in this question has been occasioned by my earlier explorations in Corinthians commentaries. In a detailed examination of commentary on the matters of polity addressed in 1Cor. 11:1-16and 14:34-40 (specifically, on the liturgical and leadership roles of women), I found a fair degree of exegetical diversity -- a diversity expressed not so much as an openness to women in leadership, but as a spectrum of hermeneutical approaches? As anyone familiar with the various sixteenth century controversies over adiaphora could testify, great disputes often arose not over what the apostles said, but over what they did not say and over whether or not what they said or omitted was binding today and in what degree. In my own study, I found the treatments of 1Cor. 14:40 of particular interest. There, where Paul states that "all things should be done decently and in order," several commentators discovered a warrant for relativizing all the detailed instructions which Paul had spelled out for the preceding four chapters. Clearly, some exegetes had no problem setting aside -- in theory, at least -- some of Paul's instructions concerning church polity. The question this essay will pursue, then, is whether the equally tempting texts of 1 Cor. 7:6, 12, 25, and 40 receive similar treatment.