I picked up Paul’s letter to the Corinthians because of Vince Vaughan. I was watching “Wedding Crashers” and at one point the character he plays said that the priest at the wedding they were at was going to recite a verse from first Corinthians. I was disgusted that this base comedy was better read than me so I reached for my bookshelf.
I liked Corinthians more than any of the gospels I’ve read (Jude, Ecclesiastes, Luke and Revelations). The first part is dry and preachy but the second picks up a lot. It blends narrative with expansive moral philosophy rather than simply cataloging pious rules like I’ve found is customary of the other apostles. Paul writes much better than his peers referencing actual people, places and events, constructing a forceful story rather feigning authority and judgment. Here are a few demonstrative examples:
“…with open face beholding…”,”…the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”, “…by love unfeigned…be ye enlarged.”,“…what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness?” and “…be perfect, be of one mind…the God of love and peace.”
To be completely honest I might have been a bit swept up in Paul’s writing and forgotten to read critically for content (he uses the words “exhortation” and “lasciviousness” completely naturally). To this point, I omitted a verse contradicting one of the above-mentioned ones. “…If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s,” Paul writes. This would appear to be completely the opposite of his stance on righteousness/unrighteousness fellowship.
I’ll ask a real theologian some time about the contradiction but from a writer’s perspective – albeit a fiction writer’s one – the work still sings. It’s vivid and engaging. It’s hard to read Corinthians and not feel like you’re in the Roman Empire at the time of Paul watching a new ideology – one based on personal merit rather than rank and power – sweep up the eastern coast of the Mediterranean to exaltation of the people. Corinthians – the second part at least – is cheerful and uplifting compared to the other, more pedantic gospels.