Did the Corinthians ever write back?

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Dear Cecil: Did the Corinthians ever write back? Mary and Ted, Chicago

Cecil replies:

How many times do I have to tell you people? You write the questions, I’ll write the jokes.

However, now that you bring it up…

Dear Cecil:

Of course the Corinthians wrote back. Internal evidence shows that what we call “I Corinthians” is at least Paul’s second letter — cf. I Cor. 5:9ff., which refers to a previous effort, evidently largely misunderstood. Scholars think that II Cor. 6:14- 7:1, patently an insertion that interrupts the flow of Paul’s thought, may well be a fragment of this lost “first letter.”

More to the point, some scholars have theorized (admittedly in an attempt to save Paul from some of the epistle’s more sexist attitudes) that much of I Corinthians is Paul’s quoting of a Corinthian letter, with his own reply appended. The mention of “reports” in I Cor. 5:1 hints at this. The best example is chapter 14, where vv. 33b-35 represent “quoting” from the Corinthian letter and vv. 36-40 are Paul’s liberal reply. Take it for what it’s worth.

— David T., M.A. (Oxon.), Montgomery, Alabama

Cecil replies:

This is very interesting, David. But I’ll bet Mary and Ted, the ones who asked whether the Corinthians ever wrote back, are glad they didn’t pop their little joke on you.

Cecil Adams

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.