Paul’s Use of Temple Imagery in the Corinthian Correspondence and the Formation of Christian Identity: A Contextual Reading from the Perspectives of A Chinese Malaysian

In his Corinthian correspondence, Paul draws on the temple imagery in addressing the conflicts and problems of his readers in 1 Cor 3:16-17; 1 Cor 6:19 and 2 Cor 6:16. The power in the use of imagery lies not only in the mind of the author but also in how the audience understands and interprets the imagery within their symbolic universe. If one were to live in such an environment where temple worship and rituals are closely associated with one’s symbolic universe, culture, and existence, and where its activities are clear demonstration of one’s social network and participation in the communal life, how would one, who comes from this social and cultural background, have reacted and responded to Paul’s use of temple imagery in the Corinthian letters? What function does temple imagery that represents the powerful expression of one symbolic universe and existence play in the identity formation of the audience? By drawing on the theory of social identity formation as part of the interpretative framework, this paper will offer a contextual reading of Paul’s use of temple imagery in light of the formation of Christian identity from the perspectives of a Chinese Malaysian who lives under the shadow of the Chinese temples.