Inclusio and Integrity in 2 Corinthians 2:17 and 12:19

The clause “we are speaking before God in Christ” (katenanti theou en Christo(i) laloumen) appears only twice in the Pauline corpus, in 2 Cor 2:17 and 12:19. Such exact repetition within the literary context of a single letter might be expected to invite a reading of the phrase as an inclusio, framing the intervening material as primarily addressed to God, and only overheard by the Corinthians. The prevalence of partition theories for 2 Corinthians, however, has mitigated against the exploration of this possibility. The identification of an inclusio is supported by the presence in the context of 12:19 of allusions to the three principal topics treated in canonical 2 Corinthians: the character and goals of Paul’s apostolic ministry (12:12–15; cf. 2:14–7:16), the collection for Jerusalem he has organized as a part of this ministry (12:16–18; cf. chaps. 8–9), and the ministers whom Paul opposes (12:11; cf. 10:1–12:10). Recognition of this inclusio invites a reconsideration of arguments against the letter’s integrity, especially in light of research on ancient rhetoric and epistolography undertaken since partition theories gained ascendance.