Wisdom and foolishness in 1 Cor 1:18-2:5 : towards an interactional model of interpretation

Van Rooyen, Reon (1995-03)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 1995.

Some pages may appear illegible due to the condition of the original microfiche.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study on wisdom and foolishness was done in the realization that our descriptions of language in terms of single decontextualized sentences could never hope to reveal the true essence of the structure and use of natural language. A sentence is not a purpose unto itself. Sentences occur in situations, they are embedded in discourse, they are surrounded by sentences and perhaps pictures or actions and gestures with which they must link. In order to understand why Paul has chosen to describe the cross event in seemingly mutually exclusive terms we must reckon with overall text strategies and with the links of the sentence with its textual, discoursal and situational environment. Once you are committed to describing language in terms of processes, a text becomes a communicative interaction between its producer and its consumer within relevant social contexts. The moment one canalizes a text as communicative interaction one is under an obligation to develop a proper apparatus or model which will take into consideration concepts such as strategies (a goal determined weighing of various alternatives) and tactics (the choice of words and sentence patterns). Hence the development of the interactional model. Working and analyzing wisdom and foolishness within this model I have found it to be two strategic phrases in Paul's strategy to achieve the double edged goal of defending his apostleship and provoking the Corinthian reinterpretation of their calling. Through the use of irony Paul attempts to implement a system of value that is itself ironic. As prospected by 1 Cor. 1:18-2:5, the world of God's calling takes to itself and transcends the appearances of the realities that occur within it. In that world foolishness expresses the value of wisdom and wisdom foolishness. Strength expresses the value of weakness and weakness expresses strength. Wisdom and foolishness become two important terms through which Paul would enable his reader to perceive the world's realities and their value in terms of their opposites. What Paul intends to achieve through the ironic use of wisdom and foolishness can best be understood by means of the different strategies he employed. His apologetic strategy is to concede his limitation of wisdom and strength, a limitation which has already engendered criticism of Paul or constitutes an accusation he anticipated. In establishing an ironic perspective in 1: 18-2:5 of the cross, Paul takes hold of the very categories of the controversy and gives them paradoxical values. When interpreted in the light of the cross Paul's apparent lack of wisdom and so called foolishness becomes ironic testimony on his behalf. It is these realities, he would claim, that demonstrate God's backing of his apostleship. Paul engages the Corintians not at the point of whether he lacks wisdom or whether he is foolish, but at their valuation of wisdom and foolishness. He engages his readers not over the evidence, but over the criteria, the system of values, which shapes their interpretation. Paul's epideictic strategy is to juxtapose and maximise the tension between what he considers to be the reality of the Corinthian calling and what he understands to be their perception of it. What is proven in the calling of the Corinthians is God's and Paul's ironic system of values, namely wisdom that is foolish and a foolishness that is full of wisdom.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie proefskrif en basiese voorveronderstelling ten grondslag van hierdie studie was om aan te toon dat teks en konteks interafhanklik is. Navorsing in die verlede het gepoog om die terrne wysheid en dwaasheid vanuit 'n sogenaamde historiese konteks te bepaal. Die wyse waarop die historiese konteks van die twee begrippe dikwels gekonstrueer is, gaan egter mank aan 'n gebrekkige taalbeskouing. Om die twee begrippe te verstaan moet daar rekening gehou word met oorhoofse teks strategieë sowel as die interaksie tussen teks en konteks. Die vraag na hoe die interaksie tussen teks en konteks daaruit sien word beantwoord met behulp van die interaksionele model. Hierdie model het insigte vanuit die leser georiënteerde vakdissiplines soos pragmatiek, resepsiekritiek en retoriek geïntegreer en die leser in staat gestel om die teks van 1 Kor 1:18-2:5 te lees teen die agtergrond van 'n kommunikatiewe interaksie tussen teks en konteks. Hierdie funksionele interaksionele model het die leser verder in staat gestel om die begrippe wysheid en dwaasheid as strategiese begrippe te verstaan. Strategies in die sin dat Paulus deur hulle aanwending en gebruik nie net sy apostoliese gesag verdedig nie, maar tegelykertyd ook sy lesers noop tot herbesinning ten opsigte van hulle roeping en die uitlewing daarvan. Wysheid en dwaasheid funksioneer binne hierdie strategiese raamwerk boonop ironies. God se wysheid veronderstel 'n dwaasheid en God se dwaasheid veronderstel 'n wysheid. Ironie lei hier tot disassosiasie. Die gevolglike disassosiasie bied aan Paulus die geleentheid om 'n herwaardering van waardes te maak. So verstaan is die begrippe wysheid en dwaasheid dus die noodwendige uitvloeisel van bepaalde teksstrategiee. Daar is eerstens Paulus se apologetiese strategie wat daaruit bestaan dat hy sy lesers gelyk gee in die opsig dat hy nie geleerd of welsprekend is nie. Tog weerspieël die skynbare gebrek aan geleerdheid en status in 'n ironiese sin nie net die sosiale status van sy lesers nie, maar dit bevestig tegelykertyd dat Paulus werklik 'n apostel van Jesus Christus is. Beide die gekruisigde Christus en Paulus illustreer immers tiperende kenmerke van die dwase wyse man. Gesien teen die lig van die Kruisgebeure word Paulus se eie gebrek aan geleerheid en status 'n ironiesebevestiging dat hy die ware evangelie verkondig. Paulus se epideiktiese strategie bestaan weer daaruit dat hy deur middel van die begrippe wysheid/dwaasheid 'n herwaardering maak van sy Jesus se onderliggende waardes en hulle belewing daarvan. Wat die roeping van die lesers eventueel illustreer, is 'n wysheid wat dwaas is en 'n dwaasheid wat vol wysheid is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/58749
This item appears in the following collections: