Does 2 Corinthians 3 provide a textual basis within the Pauline corpus for reader-response hermeneutics? This study engages that question by way of dialoguing with Richard B. Hays's monograph, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. Hays's work deals with the question of whether modern Christian readers can "read Scripture as Paul read Scripture." To that end Hays proposes numerous prescriptions and constraints, the most provocative of which is central to the major hermeneutical thesis of his work. He writes (191): "No reading of Scripture can be legitimate if it fails to shape the readers into a community that embodies the love of God as shown forth in Christ." This constraint not only resonates with so-called reader response theories, but is exegetically grounded in Hays's reading of 2 Corinthians 3. This study argues that Hays's community-focused reading of the text does not adequately account for the specifically apostolic and/or Pauline features of 2 Corinthians 2:14 to 4:6. Whatever the merits, on other grounds, of Hays's hermeneutical prescriptions for reading scripture as Paul read scripture, this study argues that a sound exegesis of 2 Corinthians 3 does not in itself provide the ground for the hermeneutical conclusions to which Hays finally comes. The difference between Paul the apostle and the Corinthians as readers of his letters (and us) cannot be so easily effaced.

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