Aug 15, 2010

"What's Love Got to Do With it": Another Hays' Quote on 1 Corinthians 13

"The first task for the interpreter of 1 Corinthians 13 is to rescue the text from the quagmire of romantic sentimentality in which popular piety has embedded it. The common use of this text in weddings has linked it in the minds of many with flowers and kisses and frilly wedding dresses. Such images are far removed from Paul's original concerns. He did not write about agape in order to rhapsodize about marriage; he was writing about the need for mutual concern and consideration within the community of the church, with special reference to the use of spiritual gifts in worship. It may be legitimate to appropriate his words in another context to speak of the love that binds man and woman in marriage, but only if we are clear about the hermeneutical transfer that we are performing when we do that. Most members of our congregations will find their thoughts about love challenged and sharpened if they are invited to reflect in a sustained way about the connection between 1 Corinthians 13 and its original historical context. The passage is originally an impassioned vision of the ‘more excellent way’ in which members of the Corinthian church should treat one another."

Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation (Louisville: John Knox, 1997), 231.

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