1 Corinthians 5:5 is a curious passage which has been variously interpreted by scholars. For some, it denotes a magical curse which is designed to cause the physical death of the sinner. Others have found such an interpretation unpersuasive. Instead, they maintain that Paul's words at verse five are to be understood as a metaphor for exclusion from the Corinthian community. So, the errant Corinthian is not to die by a curse, but is to be excluded.
This work argues for the former interpretation by marshalling a range of the most recent-specialised-magical material, which has not been considered by other works in relation to 1 Corinthians 5. It fully acknowledges the weaknesses of previous magical interpretations, and metaphorical approaches to the passage. Instead, it presents a fresh magical reading of not only 1 Corinthians 5:5, but the whole of 1 Corinthians 5-within its wider context of the apostle Paul's letter to the Corinthians.
About the Author
Chris Keith is Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity and Director of the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible at St. Mary's University College, Twickenham, UK. He is the author of The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John and the Literacy of Jesus, a winner of the 2010 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise, and Jesus' Literacy: Scribal Culture and the Teacher from Galilee. He is also the co-editor of Jesus among Friends and Enemies: A Historical and Literary Introduction to Jesus in the Gospels, and was recently named a 2012 Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholar.
Table of Contents
Part one: 1 Corinthians 5:5: A Critical Reception History: this section considers previous interpretations of 1 Corinthians 5:5 and assesses these arguments for their strengths and weaknesses.
Part two: Jewish and Graeco-Roman Traditions of ('Binding') Cursing: part two offers a broad examination of Jewish and Graeco-Roman traditions of magic and cursing in order to demonstrate the common practice of magic and cursing in the apostle Paul's cultural milieu.
Part three: The Curse Interpretation-Reformulated: this section draws upon the previous two parts to offer a fresh interpretation of 1 Corinthians 5, avoiding the pitfalls of previous interpreters and drawing upon fresh material (considered in the previous part [two]).