Well, I must say this week’s section was a veritable treasure trove of revelations and twisted logic. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians is boring as hell, but the First Epistle… wow.
In Dutch these books are De Eerste (en Tweede) Brief van Paulus aan de Korintiërs, with eerste meaning first and tweede meaning second. In Dutch too all these epistles are generally referred to by just the name of the people addressed.
1 Corinthians 1 starts off perversely amusing: Paul laments what appears to be the first schism in the church. People are boasting about which apostle they follow, which Paulus (quite rightly, I suppose) argues is not the point. Still, I find it funny that this already happens, at the time of someone who was alive while Jesus himself was (allegedly) alive. Given the amount of different Christian churches these days, and given how long ago this started, I’m kind of surprised there aren’t even more splinter groups.
Moving swiftly on to 1 Corinthians 6, where Paul talks about seeking justice. You shouldn’t seek justice from heathens or the injust, but if I understand it right you should find a wise man who can speak judgment between brothers. Except you’re not supposed to even bring court cases against your brothers; you should rather suffer injustice. Because the unrighteous won’t inherit the Kingdom of God anyway. Or something like that. I kind of just sat there going ‘wait, what?’
And then I got to 1 Corinthians 7. Oh boy. ‘On marriage’, is the header. Let me try and summarise this, because it’s quite possibly the sickest excuse for marriage I’ve ever read.
So… It is good for a man not to be bound to a woman, but in light of whoring everyone should have their own woman, and every woman should have her own man. They should fulfill their marital obligations towards each other, and not withhold this, except to devote themselves to prayer. After that they should come together again (oo-er), because of lack of self control. It would be better if everyone was like Paul (i.e. celibate, I presume), and for widows and unmarried people it is good to be like that. However, if they cannot control themselves, it is better to marry than to burn with desire.
I mean, what the fucking fuck? That’s the only valid reason you can think of for marriage? To ensure that you don’t, I don’t know, randomly rape people in the street because you can’t control your animal lust? Much as I’ve been bitching at the Old Testament, at least Jacob married Rachel for love, as did Boaz and Ruth and a bunch of other people. To marry just so you have a hole to poke your stick in is… Shit, I can’t even find the right word for it.
1 Corinthians 9 made no sense, and having read through it just now, it still doesn’t. I’m not even going to try and summarise it – if you’re really that bothered just type in ‘1 Corinthians 9’ into Google and I’m sure you can find a page somewhere that spells it out. I’m just getting more and more pissed off with Paul here, the self-righteous, smarmy bastard.
1 Corinthians 11 neatly puts women in their place: The head of each man is Christ, the head of each woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. Should a woman pray with uncovered head she brings shame unto herself, for she would be the same as one who has been shorn, and she might as well cut her hair short. (Someone once told me that the significance of short/shorn hair for women at the time was that they were prostitutes, but I cannot in my five minutes of research* find anything to corroborate that). Anyway, in the same vein men should never cover their head while praying, because that brings shame on them. Men should not grow their hair and women should not cut it. Hair is for women like a veil, and they have to cover their head because of angels. (It seriously says that: 1 Cor 11, verse 10.) Incidentally, I also find this funny because the classic image of Jesus shows him with hair to at least his shoulders. I tried to find an image to put here, but most of them seem to come from Bible bashing sites, so I suppose I’d better not.
*Hey, I’m lazy, okay?
And then after all of that you come to 1 Corinthians 13, which is probably one of the best known sections of the Bible. If you don’t know it, it’s the whole bit about how love is bigger than everything else. It ends with the line ‘So then remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.’ It’s a beautiful ode to love, and it feels completely out of place in amongst all the incomprehensible drivel and random dictats in the rest of this Bible book.
We’re back to normal in 1 Corinthians 14, where Paul says that it is good to speak in tongues, for then you speak with God. You should strive for prophesy, for then you will teach the people. Fuck knows how you’re supposed to achieve this ‘speaking in tongues’ thing, because Paul doesn’t explain that. Magic mushrooms? Or should you just hope that the Holy Ghost feels like possessing you that day? Who knows. God, probably.
1 Corinthians 16 spells the end, and it hilariously orders you to ‘be manly!’ Okay, Paul, I shall go and marry a woman in very manly fashion, just in case I cannot control my stick and end up uncontrollably whoring my way through the streets of Corinth.
Unfortunately 2 Corinthians isn’t nearly so interesting, I got to chapter 9 without anything to say about it.
Let’s see what other ludicrous decrees Paul can come up with next week!