International Symposium: Paul in His Jewish Matrix location:Rome date:20-22 May 2009
To speak of Paul, Moses, and the Veil in the Second Letter to the Corinthians is to focus our attention on 12 problematic verses in the third chapter of his epistle, viz. 2 Cor 3:7-18, in which Paul seems to offer his own interpretation of the Exodus narrative recounting Moses' shining face after his descent from Mount Sinai with the second set of tablets (Exod. 34:29-35). The subtitle of this paper, "Paul's Perspective on Judaism in Light of 2 Corinthians 3", fits well with a sentiment uttered by Prof. Sanders that Paul offers something of an evaluation of Judaism in 2 Corinthians 3 (another passage being Philippians 3:3-11).
In order to examine this claim further, we take as our starting point the position of Hans Windisch. In his influential 1924 commentary on 2 Corinthians, Windisch characterized the section of 2 Cor 3:7-18 as a 'Christlicher midrash' where "Christentum und Judentum, nicht Paulinismus und Judaismus, sind die großten Gegensätze " and whose "Stoff ist unabhängig von der brieflichen Situation konzipiert". There are three important aspects to this position. First, Windisch maintained that Paul radically reinterpreted the Exodus narrative of Moses' glory. In this Paul's katargeo-sayings in vv. 7, 11, 13 and 14 were central to the thesis that Paul adapted the Exodus account. For Windisch these were 'targumic-like entries' which ran counter to the biblical narrative. Related to this, Paul's use of telos in v. 13 refers to the glory on Moses' face that was coming to an end, such that the veil serves the purpose of Moses willfully hiding this fact from the Israelites. Second, this meant that Paul's reinterpretation was a Christian midrash. The fact that it is Christian is because Paul's experience of Christ allows him to, as it were, read Scripture against the grain. Lastly, and what has made the most impact on studies of this passage, Windisch's insight that 3:7-18 was only loosely connected to its immediate epistolary context, has led scholars to search for a pre-Pauline tradition and Vorlage. We can mention in this context the essay by Siegfried Schulz on Moses' veil, and in more recent times the monograph by Linda Belleville on a possible Moses-Doxa tradition.
So influential has been the legacy of Windisch that all future studies of 2 Cor 3:7-18 have in some way acted as responsa to his position. This will become evident when we examine more closely the various exegetical options that exist when considering Paul's use of katargeo and telos in this passage. Following this, we briefly comment on Paul's use of kalymma, the veil. Reimund Bieringer will address the more weighty issue of doxa in Part 2 of this contribution.