Re: PNEUMATIKA as used Paul

Gregory Bloomquist 3027 (
Wed, 28 Aug 1996 16:52:22 EDT

Perhaps I am missing something here, but there seem to be a lot of
hidden assumptions. The largest of these assumptions seems to me to
be that PNEUMATIKOS automatically means "spiritual gifts". Gordon
Fee certainly thinks that it might but is very willing to engage
other possibilities, to wit, "spiritual people". Fee bases his
entire argument on the "thing" side on the basis of 14.1 but very
unfortunately omits any reference to 14.37, which would seem to
suggest the reading "person".

In any case, the discussion of the meaning of PNEUMATIKOS in this
very concrete section of 1 Cor. ought at least to consider the
possible relevance of the extensive use of the word elsewhere in 1
Cor. In fact, so much so is this the case, that I wonder if this is
not one of the main cruces of the entire letter, ie., what DOES Paul
mean when he talks about the PNEUMATIKOS? Perhaps this question
will help to unravel not only 14 but 1 Cor as a whole.

Let me suggest that what Paul seems to ME to be talking about is a
series of hierarchies that are judged by the benchmark of things
PNEUMATIKOS, and that these hierarchies are not so much of gifts but
rather of power structures that the individual persons are living by.
They include on the one hand the TRUE hierarchical division that
Paul accepts, namely, the apocalyptic criterion of this world / the
world to come (E. P. Sanders). But, they also include the FALSE
hierarchical divisions that that pneumatic experience makes possible,
experiences that allow certain individuals to claim extraordinary
powers over those who share with them the same spirit.

Thus, Paul, in the letter opening, can underscore his desire that the
whole Corinthian community share in the spiritual experience that
characterises pneumatic experience, he can return in chaps. 12-14 to
criticise the use to which that experience is put.

Anyway, for what it's worth.

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