Maria A. PASCUZZI, First and Second Corinthians. New Collegeville Bible Commentary Series, vol. 7, ed. Daniel DURKEN, Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2005, pp. 152. $6.95 pb ISBN-13-0-81462866-9 and ISBN-10: 0-8146-2866-4.
Reviewed by Craig PRICE, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 3939 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70126

In her commentary on the Corinthian letters, Maria Pascuzzi writes in a very smooth and readable style while handling critical issues with clarity and conciseness. She offers the reader a well-written background for each letter and draws from the latest scholarship in the areas of social and rhetorical criticism in her analysis. Pascuzzi exegetes the crucial issues for each chapter of both letters and she states her positions clearly. The Corinthian letters reflect many of the challenges 21st century congregations are facing. Pascuzzi offers the reader helpful and frequent contemporary applications drawn from her exegesis of the text.

The author argues that 1 Corinthians is a classical form of a deliberative speech. She sees the nascent church’s struggle as an attempt “to discover its identity, ethos, and behavior,” rather than an apostolic battle against opponents or a congregational focus on “over-realized eschatology.” Thus, Paul seeks to correct the Corinthian’s misunderstandings and establish church unity. He does so by employing techniques of persuasion and/or dissuasion on issues of morality, marriage, worship, spiritual gifts, the resurrection, and eschatology. The Apostle’s directives are founded in Jewish tradition, but enriched by his Christological understanding of what God has done in Christ.

Arguing for the canonical unity of 2 Corinthians, Pascuzzi explains the Apostle’s rhetorical approach as that of a classic forensic speech. This apologetic form is dramatically different from that evidenced in 1 Corinthians. The second letter is Paul’s defense of his apostolic authority in the face of his declining relationship with the church. Certain intruders have created a very difficult situation for Paul. He expounds his theology of suffering in the dialectic of weakness versus power. Suffering is not an end in and of itself for Paul. Sharing in the sufferings of Christ is the cruciform existence through which Paul lives out the gospel. Personal acceptance of his hardship becomes a demonstration of the love, glory, and power of God. Rather than nullifying Paul’s apostolic authority, suffering authenticates it.

The New Collegeville Bible Commentary Series employs the revised New American Bible text (1991) which is displayed conveniently for the reader at the top of each page. The author has marked the biblical text and provided a cross reference to passages treated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Included is a very helpful section of review aids and discussion topics prompting the reader to focus on key ideas and concepts treated in the commentary. Maria Pascuzzi has made a solid contribution to the New Collegeville Bible Commentary Series. First and Second Corinthians is affordable, attractively bound, and promises to be welcomed by a wide range of readers. Students, teachers, pastors, and laity will all find this commentary to be a valuable resource in New Testament studies.

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