EABS Annual Meeting location:Lisbon date:3-6 August 2008
“You yourselves are our letter,” (2 Cor 3:2) writes Paul to his Corinthian community in a refutation of letters of recommendation. Embroiled in a conflict with rivals and trying to win back an alienated community onto his side, Paul’s choice of writing a letter instead of making an immediate visit to deal with the conflict has led some to speak of Paul’s ‘epistolary presence’, his assertion of apostolic presence and voice without a physical appearance (Johnson 2006). Employing Social Memory theory along the lines of what has been done in the Gospel of John (Thatcher 2005), this paper explores possible reasons why Paul wrote this particular letter to Corinth. Perhaps some answer lies in the idea of Paul’s letter as a locus of community-identity (Asano 2005 on Galatians) and the hypothesis that 2 Corinthians 3 is the theological narrative Paul uses to legitimize his community’s physical relocation out of the synagogue and into the house-church (Blanton 2007). Engaged in rallying people onto his side, this paper aims to investigate Paul’s role in identity construction and memory modulation for the sake of in-group purposes.