More Information
ISBN: 9781839735912
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 18
Publication Date: 28/02/2022
Pages: 330
Series: Studies in New Testament
Language: English

Paul’s Suffering and Weakness in 2 Corinthians

Reading from a Disability Perspective


Missionary, theologian, and church leader, the apostle Paul is one of the giants of the Christian faith. He is also, Dr. Royal L. Pakhuongte suggests, a person who suffered from disability.

Combining a disability perspective with rhetorical and sociological criticism, Pakhuongte explores 2 Corinthians through the lens of a disability hermeneutic. He examines Paul’s conflict with the Corinthian church against the sociological backdrop of Jewish and Greco-Roman culture, both of which rejected those deemed disabled as unfit for leadership, corporate worship, or, in some cases, life itself. Pakhuongte demonstrates that the depth of Paul’s suffering is best understood in the context of this stigmatization, which, far from being peripheral to Paul’s ministry, had profound impact on Paul’s gospel message.

Author Bios

Royal L. Pakhuongte

ROYAL L. PAKHUONGTE has a PhD in New Testament from the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, Bangalore, India. He teaches New Testament at Trinity College and Seminary, Sielmat, Churachanpur, Manipur, India, and is Assistant Theological Editor for the South Asia Study Bible.


Royal Pakhoungte takes his readers on a tour de force with a passionate, engaging, and critical reinvestigation of Paul’s apostolic suffering from a disability perspective. As a skilled exegete, aided with sociological and rhetorical tools of interpretation, he brings the relevant passages from 2 Corinthians to life from their original social context that stigmatized the disabled bodies. By examining Paul’s suffering compounded by his physical disability, Royal successfully exhumes the mostly overlooked liberative theological insights embedded within the text to affirm the dignity of a disabled person. Hence, he invites the church to be the alternate space in the world celebrating the physical differences without hierarchy and stigma. I highly recommend this book for all, both students and theologians.

Roji Thomas George, DTh
Professor of New Testament,
South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, Bangalore, India

This interesting book focuses on Paul’s narration of suffering and weakness in 2 Corinthians from a disability perspective, analysing the mental and psychological pressures that Paul experienced in his life and ministry. The author has developed a disability hermeneutic that critically examines the effect of societal attitudes, which are themselves disabling for a person who is already struggling with physical challenges. His thorough investigation is an important contribution that fills the gap in Pauline scholarship in the area of disability discourse.

Susan Mathew, PhD
Professor of New Testament, Faith Theological Seminary, Manakala, India
Founder-Director of Deepti Special School and Rehabilitation Centre, Manakala, India

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Abbreviations
  3. Chapter 1 Introduction
    1. Statement of the Problem
    2. Elaboration of the Problem
    3. Rationale
    4. Literature Survey
      1. Weakness and Suffering of Paul in 2 Corinthians from Different Perspectives
      2. Important Literature Applying Disability Perspectives to Pauline Texts
    5. Research Questions
      1. The Primary Question
      2. Secondary Questions
    6. Scope and Limitations
    7. Structure of the Thesis
  4. Chapter 2 Disability Hermeneutic
    1. Introduction
    2. The Term “Disability”
      1. The Ambiguity of the Term “Disability”
      2. Justification for the Use of the Term “Disability”
      3. Multiple Approaches of Defining the Term “Disability”
      4. The Definition of the Term “Disability” for this Study
    3. Trends of Disability Hermeneutics (DHs) in Current Biblical Studies
      1. DH Focusing on a Medical Diagnostic Perspective
      2. DH Focusing on a Theological Perspective
      3. DH Focusing on a Socio-Cultural Perspective
    4. Developing a Viable Method of DHs
      1. Disability Hermeneutics: Rhetorical Criticism Explained
      2. The Sociological Approach of DHs Explained
    5. A DH Pressed into the Reading of 2 Corinthians
    6. Summarization
  5. Chapter 3 Disability in the Greco-Roman, Jewish World
    1. Introduction
    2. General Attitudes towards Disability among Greeks, Romans, and Jews
      1. Disability and Ancient Greek Society and Culture
      2. Disability and Ancient Roman Society and Culture
      3. Disability and Ancient Jewish Society and Culture
    3. Disability in Corinthian Society
      1. A Brief History of the City of Corinth
      2. Evidence of Disability in Corinth
      3. The Attitude of Corinthian Society towards the PwD
    4. Paul and Disability
      1. Paul’s Own Testimony
      2. Evidence from the Acts of Paul and Thecla (APT)
      3. Establishing Paul as a PwD
    5. Summarization
  6. Chapter 4 The Socio-Rhetorical Context of Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians
    1. Introduction
    2. Authorship and Date
    3. Occasion and Purpose of Paul
    4. The Social Matrix of the Corinthian Congregation
    5. The Corinthians’ Attitude towards Rhetoricians and Disability
    6. Literary Unity of 2 Corinthians Correspondence
      1. The Letter Is a Compilation
      2. The Letter Is Not a Compilation
      3. The Integrity of 2 Corinthians from a Disability Perspective
    7. Opponents of Paul in Corinth: Identities and Hypothesis
      1. Judaizers
      2. Gnostics
      3. Θειος ἀνηρ (Divine Men)
      4. Pneumatics
      5. Sophists
      6. The Opponents from a Disability Perspectives
    8. Summarization
  7. Chapter 5 Excavating Insights for Disability Theology in 2 Corinthians: An Exegetical Exploration of the Selected Passages
    1. Introduction
    2. Applying a DH to the Exegetical Analysis of 2 Corinthians 1:3–11
      1. Establishing the Rhetorical Unit: Paul’s Self Defence of His Disability
      2. The Rhetorical Problem: The Issue of Disability
      3. Paul’s Statements in Defence of His Disability
    3. Applying a DH to the Exegetical Analysis of 2 Corinthians 4:1–18
      1. Rhetorical Unity of 2 Corinthians 4:1–18
      2. Probatio: Paul Defends His Apostolic Ministry
    4. Applying a DH to the Exegetical Analysis of 2 Corinthians 6:3–13
      1. Rhetorical Unit of 2 Corinthians 6:3–13
      2. Probatio: Paul Defends Himself to the Corinthians
    5. Applying a DH to the Exegetical Analysis of 2 Corinthians 10–13
      1. Rhetorical Unit of 2 Corinthians 10–13
      2. The Rhetorical Exigence: Corinthians’ Negative Attitude to Paul’s Disability
      3. Probatio: Paul Defends Himself
    6. Summarization
  8. Chapter 6 A Critique of Paul’s Sufferings and Weaknesses in 2 Corinthians from a Disability Perspective
    1. Introduction
    2. The Socio-Anthropological Dimension of Paul’s Suffering and Weakness
    3. Paul’s Disability Is at the Heart of His Suffering for His Ministry
      1. Paul’s Disability as Crucial Components of His Ministry
      2. DHs on the Christological Dimensions of Paul’s Suffering and Weakness
    4. The Purpose and Functions of Paul’s Suffering and Weakness in 2 Corinthians
      1. Interpreting His Suffering and Weakness as a Symbol of His Strength
      2. Paul’s Suffering and Weakness Was for the Corinthians’ Salvation
    5. Summarization
  9. Chapter 7 Conclusion and Implications
    1. General Conclusion
    2. Implications
      1. The Use of DHs within New Testament Studies
      2. Implications for Pauline Studies
      3. Contributing to Disability Studies in Christian Academia
      4. Implications to the Church and Her Members
  10. Appendix 1 Index of Some Rare Greek Words for Disability
  11. Bibliography