How can somebody suddenly change his tone? ask many a theologian and commentator of 2 Corinthians. Paul strikes a different sound starting in chapter 10, an almost strident voice as he deals with false teachers.
From their high ivory tower, and full of theories to please publishers and employers, the academics imagine the work of a redactor who has spliced two letters into one. (If someone thinks this portrait overly harsh, consider that some scholars see as many as six letters or fragments stitched into one.)
But watching any young mother deal with small children in the middle of a conversation with an adult ought to solve the mystery quickly. People can change their tone at once, depending on any number of factors, such as audience and circumstances.
Today’s New Testament reading is 2 Cor. 10. Paul ended the previous section with thanksgiving, with confidence in the Corinthians, with high principles of sowing seed come from God and of righteous fruits. Then, suddenly, talk filled with irony and sarcasm, of war, boasting, and comparisons.
Maybe that strong language influenced the FMag editorial today, “God 2.0 Tweaks Grace, Deletes Hell, Updates Heaven.” The Missus said it differed in tone from the usual articles. But if Paul can do it in the same letter, can’t an editor do it from one week to the next?
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