Leadership in 1 Corinthians: A Case Study in Paul's Ecclesiology

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This study proposes that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in part to encourage the church as a whole to take responsibility for its own leadership. This monograph contributes to three current discussions in scholarly circles: socio-historical scholars of Greco-Roman Corinth have been studying the impact social phenomena such as patronage and a fashionable interest in competitive rhetoric might have had on the Corinthians’ conception of leadership; theological investigators have focused on Paul’s response to the church members’ zeal for eschatology and spiritual gifts; and a third group has examined Paul and politics.


“The study is both practically motivated (Hiigel himself wrote the manuscript while serving as a pastor) as well as engages contemporary scholarly discussions on the topic….Hiigel’s book shows that social and rhetorical analysis can be fruitfully combined with theological analysis in the study of Paul’s letters to result in a rich appreciation of the way in which early Christians related the gospel to their own life and experience.” – Judith Gundry-Volf, Yale University Divinity School

“In this welcome book, John Hiigel helpfully surveys previous contributions to the field, but moves beyond them in two ways. First he proposes that theological factors are also at work in social and cultural influences. Second he analyzes more explicitly the key dimensions of leadership that reflect the person and work of Christ. There is much here to challenge and provoke the contemporary church, even those sections of it where ‘servant-leadership’ has become the guiding motif.” – Robert Banks, Director and Dean, Macquarie Christian Studies Institute, Australia

Table of Contents

1. Introduction (this study’s place in the current discussion
Toward a Pauline framework for discussing questions of leadership)
Part One: The Leadership Situation in the Corinthian Church as Paul Writes
2. The Congregation’s Size and Social Make-up
3. Roles Being Fulfilled Which May have Entailed Leading the Church (Prophets, Leaders, Others)
4. Leadership as Being the People’s Rallying Point
5. Leadership as Social Strength and Prestige: Secular Social Factors
6. Leadership as Social Strength and Prestige: Theological Influences
7. Forms of Leadership which Paul Envisions and Endorses but Does not Find Actively Present in the Church
8. Conclusions Regarding the Leadership Situation in the Corinthian Church
Part Two: Paul’s Intention for Leadership in the Corinthian Church
9. Does Paul Envision a Hierarchy?
10. The Church’s Future: Leadership by Paul or by the Members?
11. Monitory, Adjudicatory Leadership
12. Articulating and Fostering the Community’s Values and Purposes
13. Conclusions: Paul’s Intention for Leadership in the Corinthian Church
Index of Modern Authors
Index of Scripture and other Ancient Writings

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