Abstract

A topic of scholarly debate in recent decades among interpreters of Paul's letters has been the degree of interpretive competence and effort that Paul expected of his readers in understanding his letters and (in particular) the meaning of his scriptural citations and allusions. In this article, I begin with some brief reflections on 2 Cor 1:13–14 as an indication of Paul's communicative intentions and expectations in the letter and on the kind of exegesis required for theological interpretation that accords with those intentions and expectations. I then examine Paul's citation of Ps 112:9 in 2 Cor 9:9 as a case study in the possibilities for theological interpretation of an exegesis that reads Paul's letters as communications intended for patient, communal, and intertextual interpretation. The focus of my inquiry is the ambiguous reference of the "he" in the scriptural citation and its rhetorical function within 2 Cor 8–9 and the larger context of canonical 2 Corinthians. I conclude that the surface ambiguity of Paul's language functions within an attentive reading community to provoke an enriched understanding of the relationship between divine and human grace and righteousness, which arises out of the social and intertextual process of resolving the ambiguity. The implications of this reading for theological interpretation of 2 Corinthians include a strengthening of the argument that Paul's description in 2 Cor 5:21 of believers "becom[ing] the righteousness of God" has in view not merely a transformation of status but a transformation of character and conduct.

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