‘He Will Rescue Us Again’: Affliction and Hope in 2 Corinthians 1:8–11
Author(s)Sean F. Winter
Religions. Mythology. Rationalism
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AbstractDark times can generate crippling despair all too easily. Resources for resistance to despair and for the discovery and articulation of hope are not always readily apparent. This essay considers Paul’s account of his own immersion in such a situation: An ‘affliction' that left him ‘unbearably crushed’, ‘despairing of life itself’ (2 Cor 1:9), and under a ‘sentence of death’ (2 Cor 1:10). Making a speculative proposal about the nature of Paul's experience, the essay goes on to argue that Paul identified two fundamental resources for hope. The first is a conviction about an eschatological act that undoes the sentence of death and effects the possibility of rescue or deliverance. The second is a form of human solidarity that generates potential reorientation to the reality of ‘rescue’. While the essay explores these ideas within the terms and framework of Paul's rhetoric in 2 Corinthians, it will do so with one clear eye on the potential resources that Pauline theology offers those who live in inexplicably dark times today, not least by considering the potential resources for political optimism.