Over the last century, many interpreters have argued that there was an influential ascetic faction in the Corinthian church. Many have pointed to the apparent slogan of such a group in 1 Cor 7:1, which is said to represent the opinion of a group who rejected sex or marriage on theological grounds. Some have pointed to the slogan about the resurrection of the dead in 1 Cor 15:12 and concluded that the same group is evident there, expressing a preference for the disembodied soul over a future embodied existence. This article freshly examines 1 Cor 7 and 15 and concludes that the hypothesis of an ascetic faction in the Corinthian church is exegetically unnecessary and unpersuasive. Specifically, 1 Cor 7:1 is seen to present Paul’s own position, in a way that is designed to provoke and correct detractors in Corinth. It is conceded that 1 Cor 15 does seem to suggest a Corinthian assumption of a disembodied afterlife; but it is demonstrated that the Corinthians held no preference for such a state. This article argues that it is time for the “ascetic hypothesis” to be dismissed.

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