The Dissonance of Developmentalist Discourse in 1 Corinthians 13

This paper seeks to expose and examine dissonances within conventional readings of 1 Corinthians 13. In particular such dissonance that occurs between the hermeneutic of discourses of power and status within the Corinthian community, and the hermeneutic of developmentalism evident in readings of the ‘child’ metaphor in 1 Corinthians 13:12. I argue that the influence of developmentalist constructs exists as a pervasive hermeneutical lens. Yet, if located historically accurately, such a lens is shown to be inappropriate in much Pauline scholarship. Alternatively, I will suggest that re-orientation around Paul’s own rubric of the counter-claims of Christ Crucified as the inaugurated structural paradigm of the new community offers, not only a consonance, but a model of vulnerability, reciprocity and relationality which is positively paralleled in the metaphor of ‘child’. In doing so, I suggest that placement of the ‘child’ as metaphor in the midst of the Corinthian contests of spiritual elitism corresponds to Jesus own practice in Matthew 18.