Blind men speaking of colors: Paul's recollection and the self-image of early thirteenth-century theologians

Ayelet Even-Ezra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul writes: It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows - how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. (2 Cor 12:1-5 nkiv) This brief and enigmatic account is caught between multiple dialectics of power and infirmity, pride and humility, unveiling and secrecy. At this point in his letter Paul is turning to a new source of power in order to establish his authority against the crowd of boasting false apostles who populate the previous paragraphs. He wishes to divulge his intimate, occult knowledge of God, but at the same time keep his position as antihero that is prevalent throughout the epistle. These dialectics are enhanced by a sophisticated play of first and third person. The third person denotes the subject who experienced rapture fourteen years ago, while the first person denotes the narrator in the present. Only after several verses does the reader realize that these two are in fact the same person. This alienation allows Paul the intricate play of boasting, for of such a one I will boast, yet of myself I will not boast.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)425-446
Number of pages22
JournalHarvard Theological Review
Volume107
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2014 President and Fellows of Harvard College.

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