I am trying to keep up with my Greek this semester by reading 1 Corinthians and supplementing it with Rosner’s and Ciampa’s commentary. Michael Bird has a good summary of the commentary. This is my first commentary on 1 Corinthians that I have read and the first thing I noticed is that they claim that he central theme of 1 Corinthians is not unity, but purity. Here is Bird’s summary of the framework they use.
There are so many good 1 Corinthians commentaries. Fee and Thiselton are the must-reads, but one can hardly neglect Garland, Hays, and Witherington either (then there’s Blomberg and Morris which ain’t bad either). And Richard Horsley’s and Jerome Murphy O’Connor’s studies on 1 Corinthians are worth checking into too. But I have to say that Ciampa and Rosner have added another excellent book to the list of top Corinthian reads by producing a solid commentary that contains several unique approaches.
Ciampa and Rosner (henceforth CR) see the problems in Corinth emerging from the inability of the Corinthians to let the gospel message shape their gentile and Graeco-Roman lives and consequently misunderstand the message and misbehave. So the problems are fundamentally about relating to cultural values rather than, say, theological like Gnosticism or over-realized eschatology. The main subjects of 1 Corinthians according to CR are wisdom, sexuality, worship, and resurrection/consummation. The OT is key in Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians, esp. Deuteronomy and Isaiah. CR do not apply the categories of ancient rhetoric to 1 Corinthians since such rhetoric was rarely applied in letters (though see my Expository Times essay for a qualified approval of using rhetorical categories to letters). Another feature is that the authors apply the categories of verbal aspect to the Greek text though they seem to cautiously accept that Greek verbs do have tense unless contextually cancelled. CR believe that 1 Corinthians provides some good resources to enable Christians to meet the challenges of postmodernism. They summarize the argument of 1 Corinthians as follows:Paul’s attempt to tell the church of God in Corinth that they are part of the fulfillment of the Old Testament expectation of worldwide worship of the God of Israel, and as God’s eschatological temple they must act in a manner appropriate to their pure and holy status by becoming unified, shunning pagan vices, and glorifying God in an obedience to the lordship of Jesus Christ (52).