Thursday, 30 April 2015

Jennifer Strawbridge: ‘Not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit’: Early Christian use of 1 Corinthians 2.13-14 and the Emerging Role of the Spirit in Exegesis and Progress

The most frequently used Pauline pericope within pre-Nicene Christian writings is an excerpt from 1 Corinthians 2.  This text is employed by early Christian writers to differentiate between the wisdom of God, available only to those endowed with the Spirit of God, and the wisdom of this world. The Spirit is the facilitator who enables one to move from knowing only in part to grasping the mysteries of God. Within the writings of Clement of Alexandria, for example, the Spirit is likened to a ship’s navigator whose final port of call is the mysteries of God. For Origen, the Spirit is an essential element that enables the hermeneutist to know the secret and hidden wisdom of God and to see beyond what is written in the words of Scripture. Thus, the Spirit has a quasi-apocalyptic role, complementing Paul’s language about wisdom in the discernment of that which is hidden, secret, and mysterious, revealed only to those who have received the Spirit of God. Offering an overview of the use of 1 Corinthians 2.13-14 in pre-Nicene Christian writings, this paper will examine the necessity of the Spirit for understanding both the words of Scripture and the wisdom of God. In other words, only through wisdom and knowledge of Scripture as revealed by the Spirit can one exegete difficult texts and progress from one level of wisdom to another.

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