Date of Graduation

Summer 2017


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Mark Given


anthropology, symbolic boundaries, Paul, 2 Corinthians, interpolation, super-apostles, sarx, sōma, pneuma

Subject Categories

Biblical Studies | Biological and Physical Anthropology | Comparative Methodologies and Theories | Rhetoric | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Joseph A. Fitzmyer’s “Qumran and the Interpolated Paragraph in 2 Cor 6:14-7:1,” originally published in 1961, argued that 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 was an interpolation from an undiscovered Qumran text. Fitzmyer’s thesis was the prevailing scholarly opinion for over a decade, and while several counter-arguments have convincingly challenged Fitzmyer’s theory, scholars are still hard-pressed to explain how the passage fits into its context. Not only does 6:14-7:1 seem to lack any organic connection to the verses immediately prior or following, but it also contains unique vocabulary and what seems to be uncharacteristic use of standard Pauline terms. However, all of these features can be explained by a properly contextualized reading of the passage which accounts for Paul’s use of anthropological language throughout the passage and the rest of 2 Corinthians. This project demonstrates that 6:14-7:1 is an integral, authentic part of 2 Corinthians by applying the concept of symbolic boundaries to Paul’s rhetoric in the first half of the letter. My reading shows—contrary to the majority opinion among current scholars—that the unbelievers to whom the Corinthians are “improperly yoked” are Paul’s apostolic rivals, the “super-apostles,” and that prior to and throughout 6:14-7:1, Paul uses anthropological language to delineate a symbolic boundary between himself and these false ministers of the gospel. This anthropological language unites 6:14-7:1 with its immediate context and explains many of the passage’s unusual features.


© Nii Addo Kobina Abrahams

Open Access