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Paul’s Sexual and Marital Ethics in 1 Corinthians 7

An African-Cameroonian Perspective


Alice Yafeh

Paul’s Sexual and Marital Ethics in 1 Corinthians 7: An African-Cameroonian Perspective provides readers with an innovative interpretation of Paul’s pastoral and pedagogical approach and solutions to the multifaceted ethical problems presented to him by the Corinthian community, revealing a wide-ranging, complex, and flexible decision-making process. Alice Yafeh’s analysis also illuminates two different evaluations of the same ethical problem may be simultaneously relevant where operating assumptions diverge: first as a community in pursuance of the goal of undistracted devotion to the Lord, and, second, as individual members who must pursue that goal within the specific lifestyles in which they have been called.
The author argues that Paul’s pastoral and theological approach, which is deeply motivated by a desire to inspire faithful Christian living and witness, can serve as a new model for evaluating pre-conversion polygyny; a model that is oriented toward positive and substantive change in the lives of women and children. Consequently, the implication of Paul’s approach and judgments for contemporary Christian communities suggests the same believing community may adopt different ways of faithfully living out the practical implications of Christian view of marriage extended by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7.
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Chapter 2 The Cultural and Linguistic Context of 1 Corinthians 7: Intertexture, Social, and Ideological Textures


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Intertexture, Social, and Ideological Textures

Text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning … but a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash.1

[W]e today will only begin to understand the language in the text if we understand the use of the language of the text, that is, the language in its vocabulary, syntax, and idiom as it was familiarly used and heard by the writer and listener of the text.2


In chapter 1, I focused on the dimension of 1 Cor 7 that is called “inner texture,” according to socio-rhetorical strategies of analysis and interpretation.3 In this chapter, I will focus my analysis and interpretation on the dimensions of intertexture, social and cultural texture, and ideological texture.4 While the boundaries of inner texture are generally restricted to the literary and rhetorical analysis of the inner argumentative texture of a text itself, the boundaries of the other textures are expanded to include the world outside of the text; that is, other texts and socio-cultural phenomena are brought to bear on the primary text. This chapter therefore continues to unravel the thickly woven tapestry of 1 Cor 7 by exploring the social and cultural location of ← 53 | 54 → the discourse’s language and the kind of social and cultural response that is expected of...

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