A joint project of the Graduate School, Peabody College, and the Jean & Alexander Heard Library

Title page for ETD etd-11242014-192238

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Goh, Meng Hun
Author's Email Address menghgoh@gmail.com
URN etd-11242014-192238
Title The Middle Voice of Love in I Corinthians: Reading Singularity and Plurality from Different Cultures
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Daniel Patte Committee Chair
Annalisa Azzoni Committee Member
Fernando Segovia Committee Member
K. K. Yeo Committee Member
Kathy Gaca Committee Member
William Franke Committee Member
  • Paul
  • Love
  • 1 Corinthians
  • the Lords Supper
  • the Idol Food
  • the Spiritual Gift
Date of Defense 2014-10-29
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation highlights the modes of existence (autonomy, relationality, and heteronomy) of the threefold contextual choices that readers privilege in their perception of the self and the other/Other. Examining Paul’s vision of love in 1 Corinthians, we find that the religious (or heteronomous) dimension of love has been overlooked in critical biblical studies. While, out of their contexts, traditional biblical scholars render Paul’s love as theologically and ethically authoritative (for individual believers; cf. autonomy), recently an increasing number of scholars treat it as rhetorically and ideologically utilitarian (in community and social life; cf. relationality). However, if honor and shame are pivotal values in ancient Mediterranean cultures, where honor has “felt” (in religious experience; cf. heteronomy), “claimed” (by individuals; cf. autonomy), and “paid” (in social relations; cf. relationality) aspects, then we must not sideline the heteronomous aspect of Paul’s love. Coming from a group-oriented and honor-and-shame Chinese cultures in Malaysia, where everyone is always already interrelated, we argue – through a structural semiotic exegesis – that for Paul love is cruciform and as such charismatic, typological, eschatological, and performative. From a communal perspective, these non-objectifying features of Paul’s love are a religious experience expressed in the “intransitive and non-reflexive” mode of middle voice where the “subject,” “object,” and “receiver” in the giving and receiving of love cannot be objectified. In light of this middle voice (cf. heteronomy), Paul’s notion of the body of Christ as “parts beyond a part” (1 Cor. 12:27b) embodies a love that conceptualizes and configures plurality in the figure of common good without marginalizing singularity. In the middle-voice mode, singularity and plurality are a dynamic and hyphenated relation, just as the body of Christ co-arises with individual body members. Thus our structural semiotic analysis of the Lord’s Supper (11:17-34), the “idol food” conflict (8:1–11:1), and the “spiritual gifts” problem (12:1–14:40) shows that Paul coherently undergirds these issues with a cruciform love that deconstructs the Corinthian believers’ attempt to objectify their knowledge into a system that pigeonholes the believers’ relationship with the other/Other.
  Filename       Size       Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds) 
 28.8 Modem   56K Modem   ISDN (64 Kb)   ISDN (128 Kb)   Higher-speed Access 
  Goh.pdf 3.13 Mb 00:14:28 00:07:26 00:06:30 00:03:15 00:00:16

Browse All Available ETDs by ( Author | Department )

If you have more questions or technical problems, please Contact LITS.