Third Corinthians: Reclaiming Paul for Christian Orthodoxy

Vahan A Hovhanessian, Fordham University


Third Corinthians (3 Cor) is an alleged correspondence between the Apostle Paul and the Corinthian Church. Some of the churches in the East treated 3 Cor as a genuine letter of Paul and incorporated it into their canon of the New Testament. Chapter one of the dissertation examines the manuscript evidence of 3 Cor, the history of its use in the early Church, and reviews the pertinent scholarly literature concerning 3 Cor. The second chapter discusses the text and transmission of 3 Cor. It re-examines the relationship of 3 Cor with the Acts of Paul and concludes that it was not originally part of the Acts of Paul. It discusses the textual variations among the manuscripts of 3 Cor and demonstrates that the Greek text in the Papyrus Bodmer X is the closest to the original. A new English translation of the Greek text is offered at the end of chapter two. The third chapter examines the main theological themes discussed in 3 Cor: Christ's birth in the flesh; the creation of the world and mankind; the appeal to the prophets; and the resurrection of the dead. The study demonstrates that the author's main concern was the issue of the resurrection of the flesh. The dissertation concludes that 3 Cor is a second century pseudepigraphon written to argue for the corporeal resurrection of the dead against the Gnostics' claims of a pneumatic resurrection. It was an effort on behalf of the second century Church Fathers to rescue the Apostle Paul from the Gnostics and reclaim him into second century Christian Orthodoxy.

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Recommended Citation

Hovhanessian, Vahan A, "Third Corinthians: Reclaiming Paul for Christian Orthodoxy" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9825863.