BODY LANGUAGE IN 1 CORINTHIANS:
THE USE OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL MODELS FOR UNDERSTANDING PAUL AND HIS OPPONENTS
Mary Douglas offers a model for correlating attitudes to the physical body and corresponding structures in the social body. The physical body is a symbol of the social body: tight bodily control replicates strong pressure to conform to group norms, whereas weak bodily control (even emphasis on "spirit") denotes weak social systems and weak pressure for control. According to 1 Corinthians Paul demands strong control of (1) bodily orifices (the genitals, chs 5-7; the mouth for eating, chs 8, l0-11; the mouth for speaking, chs 12-14); (2) bodily surfaces (ch 11); (3) bodily structure (head and members, chs 11-12) and (4) bodily discipline (ch 9). The pneumatics appear to Paul to urge weak bodily control in accord with their ideology of individualism and freedom. Douglas' ideas on bodily control offer a cross-cultural model for appreciating Paul's strong sense of custom, structure and order in his churches, a model applicable not only to 1 Corinthians, but to all of his letters.
Of all of Paul's letters, 1 Corinthians is thoroughly and intensely concerned with BODY. 1. There is great concern for bodily orifices: (a) chs. 5-7 deal with the genitals, a major bodily orifice; (b) chs 8-10 and 11 are concerned with another orifice, the mouth for eating; and (c) chs 12-14 are likewise concerned with the mouth, under the rubric of tongues and prophecy. 2. Bodily surface is discussed in 11:2r-16, whether this refers to veils on the head or to hair styles. 3. The body as the prime image of the church is developed in ch. 12. 4. Head and feet are used to describe the relational position of God to Jesus (15:25-28); head also describes Jesus' relation to members of his body (11:3). 5. Discipline of an athlete's body serves as a model for Paul's advice in 9:24-27. 6. Whether in the resurrection there will be a body and what that body will be like are questions that are treated in ch 15. 7. Unified body members may "greet one another with a holy kiss" (16:20). BODY, then, is a constant point of reference in 1 Corinthians.
Yet in 1 Corinthians, there are two levels of issues. Particular bodily issues are discussed: whom one may not marry (ch 5), with whom one may not have sexual intercourse (ch 6), whether to marry and stay married (ch 7), what foods one may eat (chs 8-10), how the surface of one's head must be covered and which "heads" one should obey (ch 11). Besides these particular bodily issues, there is concern in 1 Corinthians for more general issues relative to the social body. The designation of the group as a "body" implies many things about membership, roles, structure, order, and authority in that same body. It is important, then, that we attend to the specific issues affecting the physical body as well as the more social view of the group implied by its designation as a body.
The understanding of BODY
in 1 Corinthians is complicated for us because Paul's position on specific
body issues is not universally shared by the Christians at
Issue Non-Pauline Position Pauline Position
incest (ch 5) boast (5:2) horror (5:6-7)
fornication (ch 6) freedom (6:12-13) pollution (6: 15-19)
idol meat (chs 8,10) freedom (10:23) restraint (10:24, 28-29)
head surface (ch 11) no restraint restraint (11:16)
& prophecy no restraint
This synopsis indicates that the Pauline position inclines to bodily control and to a sense of the group as influencing the individual, whereas the non-Pauline position favors little bodily control and a strong sense of individualism.
Whether in fact at Corinth Paul's opponents on one issue are the same as his opponents on another issue is a problem that cannot be addressed at this point. Paul's own reaction, however, to the series of issues and problems noted above is known. And, as I hope to show, it is coherent and consistent. The same claim can be made in regard to the opponents' position-at least from Paul's perception of it. Two attitudes to body, then, are found in 1 Corinthians, attitudes which are antithetical in terms of the degree of control appropriate to the body.
I. BODY LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY
I propose to study BODY issues and imagery in 1 Corinthians from the perspective of the noted British anthropologist, Mary Douglas. In a series of studies she has put forth a hypothesis about BODY as a diagram and symbol of the social system.
Building on the celebrated
essay of Marcel Mauss (1973:70-88),
The body is a model which can stand for any bounded system. Its boundaries can represent any boundaries which are threatened or precarious. The body is a complex structure. The functions of its different parts and their relation afford a source of symbols for other complex structures (1966:115).
Not only is ordering and structuring of the physical body a replication of social structuring, control of the physical body is an expression of social control:
Bodily control is an expression of social control-abandonment of bodily control in ritual responds to the requirements of a social experience which is being expressed (1973:99).
For example, concern with bodily orifices replicates social concerns:
Interest in its (the body's) apertures depends on the preoccupation with social exits and entrances, escape routes and invasion. If there is no concern to preserve social boundaries, I would not expect to find concern with bodily boundaries (1973:98-99; see 1966:124).
we noted earlier, just this issue of control or non-control of the body distinguishes
Paul and his opponents at
It is the purpose of this
essay to gather the remarks of
In her book, Natural
Symbols, Douglas developed a model for assessing the degree of control
or non-control over a social body. Social systems exert varying pressure on
a given social unit to conform to societal norms. The degree of this pressure
These abstract variables
can be more concretely expressed. Social groups have cosmologies, that is,
views of the world and one's place in it. Using broad and inclusive terms
from the field of cultural anthropology,
WEAK GROUP/HIGH GRID
STRONG GROUP/HIGH GRID
Purity. pragmatic attitude toward purity; pollution not automatic
Purity. strong concern for purity; purity rules define and maintain social structure
Ritual. used for private as well as personal ends when present; ego remains superior to the ritual process; condensed symbols do not delimit society
Ritual. a society of fixed rituals expressing the internal classification system of the group; ritual symbols perdure in all contexts of life
Personal Identity. individualism; pragmatic and adaptive
Personal Identity. a matter of internalizing clearly articulated social roles; dyadic personality; individual subservient to society
Body. viewed instrumentally, as means to some end; self-controlled, treated pragmatically
Body. tightly controlled; a symbol of life
Sin. basically caused by ignorance or failure, hence viewed as stupidity or embarrassment with loss of face, with individual responsible
Sin. violation of formal rules; focus on behavior rather than internal states of being; individual responsible for sin
Spirit Possession. not dangerous
Spirit Possession. dangerous; either not allowed or tightly controlled & limited to a group of experts
WEAK GROUP/LOW GRID
STRONG GROUP/LOW GRID
Purity. anti-purity posture
Purity. strong concern for purity, but the inside of the physical & social body is under attack; pollution present, and purification rituals ineffective
Ritual. anti-ritual; effervescent and spontaneous
Ritual. a society of fixed rituals, which are focused on group boundaries; great concern to expel pollutants from the social body
Personal Identity. no antagonism between society & self, but the old society from which individual emerges is seen as oppressive; self &/or social control low; highly individualistic
Personal Identity. located in group membership, not in the internalization of roles, which are confused; dyadic personality
Body. irrevelant; life is spiritual; purity concerns absent, but body may be rejected or freely used
Body. social and physical bodies are tightly controlled, but invaders have broken through bodily boundaries; not a symbol of life
Sin. a matter of personal ethics and interiority
Sin. a matter of pollution;
evil is lodged within the individual & society; sin is like a
disease deriving from the social structure; internal state of being
more important than
Spirit Possession. approved, even welcomed; no fear of loss of self control
Spirit Possession. dangerous: a matter of demonic possession; evil
A. COSMOLOGY OF A CONTROLLED BODY (strong "group")
1. Purity In a strong group situation, there is strong concern for the purity of the social and physical body. As we saw in the previous essay, purity refers to the ordering, classification, and structuring of the social world; it means an avoidance of all that violates that sense of order. In terms of the physical body, it means identification of and distancing of oneself from "dirt" (spittle, feces, menses) which socially means concern over persons and events that do not fit the group's ideals and sense of order, viz., things that violate its rules. 
2. Ritual There are fixed rituals for determining where the lines and boundaries of the ordered system lie and who is properly within the body and who is not, that is, concern over boundaries of the body. And there are ritual symbols which express the internal classification system of the group. Every body has a place and knows where it is; hence boundaries which define location are carefully drawn and entrances and exits into carefully defined space are guarded. Authority, status, and roles are clear and clearly expressed.
3. Personal Identity Identity here is non-individualistic and group-oriented. One's role and place in the group is assigned and learned.
4. Body Social and physical bodies are rigidly controlled. Along with a strong sense of purity goes a protection of the body from threatening pollutions.
5. Sin This is defined not simply as violation of rules but as pollution which invades the body and threatens to pollute its pure insides. Moral norms are well defined and are socio-centric, that is, learned from the group and measured in those terms.
B. COSMOLOGY OF AN UNCONTROLLED BODY (weak "group")
1. Purity There is a reactionary or weak concern for purity. This implies considerable tolerance for diversity and plurality.
2. Ritual Again there is a rejection of strong entrance rites into the group or of clear boundaries around it. There tends to be a weak internal classification system, implying fluid social status. Effervescence and spontaneity are valued here.
3. Personal Identity Society is seen as oppressive; assigned roles are rejected. Personal and social control are devalued, and so individualism is pronounced.
4. Body The body is not perceived as a bounded system and there is no sense of protecting its orifices and its purity. The body is not a symbol of life, for life is spiritual.
5. Sin This is a matter of personal ethical decisions and interiority, rather than a violation of socio-centric norms.
From these contrasting cosmologies, we can describe contrasting attitudes to the body. Where there is strong "group" pressure, the body is perceived as a bounded system, strongly controlled. It is considered as a "holy" or "pure" body and so it guards its orifices (eyes, ears, genitals) and maintains firm and clear boundaries. Its concern for order and clarity make it fear unconsciousness, fainting, or any loss of control; it will tend to take a negative view of ecstasy or spirit possession. It is a regulated and harmonious body whose individual parts are disciplined and coordinated for group action, as in the case of an athlete.
Where "group" pressure is weak, the body is not perceived as a bounded system nor is it strongly controlled. There is no fear of pollutants around the body and so there is no control over its orifices and boundaries, viz., what is sees, hears, to whom it joined in marriage or sexual union. Porosity to its environment is accompanied by a celebration of freedom of movement and spontaneity of individual members of the body. Trances and spirit possession are looked upon favorably.
to show the replication of attitudes between physical and social bodies,
Smooth/shaggy express much the same as formal/informal. Smooth is appropriate where group ideals are clear, where roles are defined, and where ladders of authority or pyramidal structures exist. Shaggy denotes individualism, criticism of the system, less commitment to role or structure (1973:102). Structured/unstructured are terms borrowed from Talcott Parsons. In highly structured situations there is a minimum of possible responses other than the ones required by the norms of the situation. The less highly situations are structured, the .more informality is valued, the greater the tendency to abandon reason and follow crazes, and the more license for bodily expressions of abandonment (1973:102-103).
2. Strong "group" may be described as smooth, formal, structured, and ritualized; weak "group" is shaggy, informal, unstructured, and tending to effervescence.
3. The control of the physical body mirrors social control, which shows itself according to the cosmologies noted above.
We can take this model
and now apply it to the perceptions about BODY in 1 Corinthians. The hypothesis
of this study may be clearly stated. 1. There are two different views of
physical and social body at
Strong "group" pressure:
Weak "group" pressure:
Strong control of social body Weak control of social body
Strong control of physical body Weak control of physical body
II. BODILY ORIFICES
A: The Sexual Orifice
As we noted earlier, Paul's concern with BODY focuses on three areas: 1) bodily orifices, b) bodily surfaces, and c) bodily imagery. In 1 Cor 5-7 Paul is concerned with sexual problems and issues, i.e. with the sexual orifice of the body and with the proper/improper crossing of that orifice. The first issue is the problem of the incestuous marriage in 5:1-8.  Two attitudes are immediately evident: a) some are "puffed up" approvingly over the marriage (5:2a) but b) Paul recoils in horror at it (5:1,2b). Bodily control is scorned by some and expected by others.
The key to Paul's viewpoint is contained in the metaphorical remarks about leaven in 5:6-8. The incestuous marriage in the Christian group is like leaven, which is perceived as a pollutant threatening the body. "Leaven means "the old leaven of malice and iniquity" (5:8); if it enters the pure batch of flour it will "leaven the whole lump" (5:6), i.e. pollute it. On the contrary, Christian believers are called to be a new lump, holy, pure, and unleavened in virtue of Christ's passover sacrifice (5:7-8). No polluting impurity should be found in the midst of the Corinthian "saints." Paul, then, judges from the standpoint of purity and pollution.
The incestuous marriage
is a pollution of such magnitude that it is "not found among the pagans"
(5:1). This pollution threatens the social body, as the "leaven"
metaphor  in 5:6-8 makes clear. It also pollutes the Christian
partner; for, when a man joins himself to a woman, "the two become one
flesh" (6:16). If one partner is impure and polluting, the other partner
will be corrupted. This corrupting sexual union, therefore, represents an
illicit crossing of the sexual orifice; the holy social body of the church
and the individual Christian body is threatened. The strategy in this crisis
is clear. The threatened social body must expel the pollutant by excommunicating
him (5:2b-5, .7, 13). As
sexual orifice. The depolluted Christian may then re-enter the holy group (5:5; see 2 Cor 2:5-7). The control of individual bodily orifices replicates the group's concern with its social boundaries, as
In the treatment of fornication in 6:12-20 we discover that two views of body are again operative. According to some, the body is uncontrolled: 'All things are lawful to me" (6:12). For them, the body is neutral  -it is not a bounded structure whose inside is pure and must be guarded. This is brought out in the analogy made between eating food and fornicating. "Food is made for the stomach" (6:13); that is, any food may cross the orifice of the mouth and enter the stomach; eating is a neutral action which has nothing to do with purity. Likewise with fornication, the sexual orifice is neutrally conceived; anything may pass across it; any sexual union is permitted. Like eating, carnal intercourse is perceived as having nothing to do with purity or boundary violations.
For Paul, however, two different principles are operative. First, the physical body of the believer is not neutral but holy. "The body is not meant for immorality but for the Lord and the Lord for the body" (6:13); the body, in fact, is a "member of Christ" (6:15). Like the Christian social body (3:18), the physical body is expected to be a container of holiness: "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you" (6:19). Second, the body is a bounded and controlled system. All is not "lawful" for it, for some things may "enslave" it (6:12), and so bodily control is an appropriate strategy. Paul is concerned with the body's purity and so there are corresponding rules controlling the orifices of the body and regulating what crosses them.
As we saw in 5:1-8, when a holy person is joined to an unclean partner, the resulting "flesh" is corrupted. In the case of sexual commerce with a prostitute, the resulting "flesh" is polluted (6:16). The example of prostitution serves to explain the evil of fornication: it is a sexual union which is seen as polluting the Christian partner. Alternately when a person is joined to the Lord who is holy, the resulting union is holy (6:17). Fornication, like prostitution, is perceived as a pollution, for the resulting body cannot be holy; its pollution makes impossible a holy union with Christ.
The concern in 6:12-20 is with the pure interior of the body. Every other sin is committed "outside" the body, that is on the outside of the boundary which maintains the purity of the inside. Such sins, while evil, are not called pollutions or abominations. But sexual sins are perceived as attacking one's own body (6:18); that is, they cross the boundary or orifice and threaten the holy inside. This implies that illicit sexual commerce is a pollution that occurs within the "one flesh" which results from the joining of the two. In the case of fornication, prostitution, and incest, the sexual orifice and the organism's boundary should be vigorously guarded and not illicitly crossed. The result will be a pollution of the body's interior. 
Rules for the body and
its orifice, moreover, are appropriate because for Paul individual bodies
are not neutral or free but controlled. "Your body is not your own; you
were bought with a price" (6:19). Freedom, even freedom for the body,
may be the shibboleth of some at
The issue of marriage taken up in ch-7 has further bearing on the sexual orifice of the body. The ideal is stated repeatedly: absolute non-crossing of the sexual orifice is highly desired either in virginity or celibacy.
1. "It is well not to touch a woman" (7:1). 
2. "It is well to remain single as I do" (7:8).
3. "He who refrains from marriage will do better" (7:38).
Implicit in this posture of guarding the sexual orifice is a view of sex as somehow inherently polluting.
The rationale for this is hinted at in 7:32-35. The unmarried person is perceived as joined to the Lord, totally concerned "how to please the Lord" (7:32) and "how to be holy in body and spirit" (7:34). Married persons are "divided" in concern for the Lord and their spouses (7:34b). Dividedness  is inherently destructive of a body, a point which will be made evident in the discussion of ch 12 which follows. And it is implied that loyalty is a limited good; as much as is given to a spouse, that much cannot be given to the Lord. Married persons may be holy in spirit, according to Paul, but being holy in body as well is problematic for them (7:34-35).
Paul's permission for sexual intercourse is but a pragmatic concession. He will allow a lesser evil to avoid a greater pollution: "Because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife" (7:2). Or, if a man's "passions are too strong, and it has to be, let him marry" (7:36). The ideal would be to remain celibate and virginal so as to be totally concerned with the Lord and to be holy in body and spirit.
The ideal of sexual abstinence cannot be maintained. Hence sexual union is permitted. But it is wrapped in controls and subject to numerous regulations. First, there will not be promiscuous crossing of boundaries or orifices: "Each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband" (7:2). Second, sexual relations are themselves subject to control: "The wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does" (7:4). A third rule is given in 7:5-6. It is not permitted to refuse sexual intercourse "except by agreement for a season," in this case to do something truly holy, such as "devoting yourself to prayer." The reason for this limited concession is fear of pollution, i.e. "lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control" (7:6). Purity concerns lead to guarding of bodily orifices and to regulating the proper crossing of that orifice; that is what "self-control" means in this context. Protection of boundaries is appropriate to a body perceived in this way.
Paul's teaching on divorce (7:10-16) repeats much of his concern for orifices and his perception of the body as a bounded, holy system. (1) On the one hand, he categorically prohibits divorce (7:10-11, 27-28). When two bodies join and become one flesh, that "one flesh" is a whole or holy body. And like all bodies it must resist unwarranted entrances into it as well as the threat of being rent asunder. This rule, although ascribed to the Lord (7:10), is coherent with Paul's viewpoint of a regulated body. (2) Even in the case of exogamous marriages (where two pagans married and one subsequently became a Christian), Paul does not act according to the prescriptions in Ezra 9:1-2, 11-15 and try to break those marriages (7:12--13).  Divorce is perceived as a worse pollution than the mixed marriage. But pollution is the appropriate concept here, for the issue is one of purity and pollution. Why not break this marriage? Paul says that the pagan (unholy) partner may be "made holy" by the holy partner and so the "unclean children" become "holy" (7:14). This is a reversal of the leaven image of 5:6-8, but it clearly indicates that pollution language governs Paul's discussion of marriage and divorce. (3) Yet as great a pollution as divorce is for Paul, he permits it (7:15-16). Why? The unbelieving partner desires to separate, that is, the partner who is unholy. The holy inside of this "one flesh is already polluted in some way; the union is already split. Now Paul's concern is to preserve the holiness of the believing member: "Let them separate" (7:15). A higher law of purity is operative; a lesser impurity (divorce) is tolerated in fear of a greater pollution (apostasy, loss of Christian membership). As in the case of the offending eye, hand or foot in Mt 5:28-30, let the boundaries be redrawn to exclude the offending pollutant. In this case the divorcing person is seen as amputated from the holy divorced person; and the body's integrity is maintained.
B: The Mouth (for eating)
A second orifice, the mouth, becomes the focus of the discussion in 1 Cor 8-11. The problem concerns eating and what mayor may not cross the orifice of the mouth. To appreciate Paul's perspective, let us first examine 10:14-22, where his viewpoint regarding body and mouth is clearest.
It is important to note the principle laid down in 10:14-22. Rules are given concerning eating: some food is prescribed (vv. 16-18) and some food is proscribed (vv. 19-22). The orifice of the mouth is regulated! But what principle determines the food which mayor may not pass the oral orifice?
The permissible food is the "holy" food of the Eucharistic meal. The cup of blessing which Christians drink is "participation in the blood of Christ" and the bread which they break is "participation in the body of Christ" (v. 16).  The Eucharistic food is permitted to cross the boundary of the mouth and to enter the body; in doing so it reinforces the body's purity. The image here is like the "leaven" in 5:6-8. If what goes in is good, it does not contaminate but strengthens purity; but if what is ingested is corrupting like leaven, it pollutes the holy inside of the body and so it is proscribed. The Eucharist is inherently holy; it is prescribed food. But there is another kind of food which is proscribed, as Paul notes: "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons" (10:21). Foods sacrificed to idols certainly are not "holy"; and in view of Paul's view of the body as a bounded system threatened by pollution, such foods are a pollutant which will corrupt the individual because they will mean being "partner with demons" (v. 20). Paul once more perceives the issue on the basis of purity and pollution.
The logic here is similar
to that in chs 5-7. By eating and drinking at a cultic table, a person has
koinonia with the cultic lord (10:16, 20) and becomes "one body"
with the lord (10:17). This is analogous to the "one body" which
is formed in sexual commerce: the two become "one flesh" (6:16).
Even with virginity, the person who joins him/herself to the Lord forms a
new unity with the Lord (6:17). This "one body" may be holy or unclean
depending on whether the partner to whom one joins oneself is clean or unclean
(see 6:15-16). Incest and fornication involve a koinonia which corrupts;
Christian marriage results in a koinonia which sanctifies. So with
foods. Sharing the body and blood of Christ means koinonia with the
holy Lord; and this "one body" is holy. But sharing the cup and
table with demons means koinonia with an unholy demon; this union is
Collective social body Individual
koinonia with cultic Lord koinonia with husband
Just as in marriage there cannot be two husbands, so there cannot be two Lords of the covenant, Jesus and demons. Hence one cannot eat at both tables. The pure and the polluted are mutually exclusive realms.
Issues relating to food and eating continue to occupy Paul's attention in 11:17-34, the discussion of behavior at the Eucharist. The Eucharist for Paul is the holiest of times, things, and activities. Time: Paul operates with a map of time, indicating that the time when the group gathers to celebrate its holiest rite is the most important time for them. Violation of this map of time is as much a pollution for him as was Jesus' violation of Sabbath for the Pharisees (see previous essay; Mk 2:23-3:6). Object: the Eucharist, because it is the body and blood of the Lord (see 10:16-17) is the holiest of objects and must be treated with utmost purity. Activity: the celebration of the Eucharist express the group's identity, cohesion and boundaries.  It is the premier ceremony of ordering and classifying this group of people, and so its proper celebration requires absolute holiness among its participants.
But its holiness is threatened
on two fronts. First, the problem is focused on the orifice of the mouth and
on foods, secular and holy, which are being consumed. Second, the problem
of the physical body represents a problem in the social body. When the church
assembles, it is presumably to express the unity of the body, the union among
the participants and between them and their holy Lord. But it is reported
in 11:18-20 that the body which gathers is not holy. "Divisions"
are occurring in the body (11:18); any “division” of a body is a violent threat
to its wholeness and hence to its holiness. In
The bodily problem, insofar as it is expressed, deals with the divisiveness of intemperate eating and drinking at the Eucharist: "In eating each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk:' (11:21; see Gal 5:20-21). This deregulation of the oral orifice is compounded by some becoming drunk, which is itself an evil (see 6:10), for excessive wine pollutes  and is typical of pagan meals and cultic practices.
The crisis over the oral
orifice of the physical body reflects a crisis over the boundaries of the
social body. Discriminatory eating and drinking manifests distinctions being
made between social levels of those present, thus establishing artificial
boundaries within the group to exclude the poor, the hungry or the weak: "Do
you despise the
There is probably great
irony in the remark in v. 19 that "there must be factions among you in
order that those among you who are 'genuine' may be recognized." This
means that those causing the faction or division are perceived as doing so
for the purpose of distinguishing themselves as "genuine" or elite
members of the group. Some, such as those who are puffed up at the incestuous
marriage (5:2) and who boast of freedom to eat anything (10:23), would see
no harm in their unregulated eating and drinking at the Eucharist; on the
contrary, it may distinguish
them as the strong in the group as opposed to the weak, the foolish, and those easily offended. Eating and drinking in their minds has nothing to do with pollution. Not so with Paul, who is concerned with the "division" in the holy body of the Lord caused by intemperate eating and drinking: "Do you despise the
This behavior pollutes the Eucharist itself as well as the holy group. "When you meet together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat" (11:20). This is so, not because they are using the wrong formula, but because they are desanctifying the rite. Receiving it when drunk or in a disorderly fashion meals profaning the holy Eucharist: "Who eats the bread and drinks the cup unworthily sins against the body and blood of the Lord: (11:27). One who does so brings "judgment", not holiness, upon himself (11:29); one is thereby liable to condemnation (11:32-34)-that is, being publicly rendered "unclean." The holy Eucharist which is received in an unholy person is rendered ineffective; it loses its holiness. It is profaned.
Rules, then, must be laid down to guard more closely the orifice of the mouth and so to protect the holiness of the Eucharist itself and the .social body whose cohesion and holiness is threatened. Rules proscribe certain food and drink and regulate the consumption of others. No drunkenness is allowed (11:21); consumption of food at the feast must be done all at the same time ("when you come together to eat, wait for one another," (11:33). Lest intemperate eating cause a problem, "if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home" (11:34) By regulating the orifice of the mouth, these rules aim at restoring the health of the social body by healing divisions (11:18) and by eliminating humiliations (11:22). Other rules enjoin self-examination on the offending parties to see if their interior is holy enough to receive the Eucharist worthily (11:27-28) and to discern whether they are the cause of any harm to others. In other words, the proper governing of the orifice of the mouth at the Eucharist is the prime way to guard the holiness both of the Eucharist and of the group receiving it.
When we approach the issue of eating' idol meat in chs 8-10, several of Paul's principles should be clear:
The issue of idol meat in chs 8-10 is more complicated than that of the Eucharist, for the Eucharistic food can be argued to be intrinsically holy. Rules for its proper reception are appropriate. But the early church de-sacralized food in its abolition of Jewish dietary laws (Mark 7:19; Acts 15; 1 Cor 10:25-26). Yet no appeal is made in 1 Cor to this ecclesial decision as the basis for the eating of idol meat. As we shall see, such an appeal to authority is totally out of character for those who urge that idol meat be eaten. On the contrary, the arguments seem to reflect a view of the body which is radically different from Paul's, a view which was described earlier under the cosmology of an uncontrolled body.
Among the chief arguments
urged in favor of eating idol meat, the dominant one seems to be freedom from
laws and taboos. "Am I not free" is the slogan urged twice for the
validity of eating (10:23; see 6:12 and 8:9). Paul admits the validity of
this "freedom" to eat (10:29) but
indicates that it is not the overriding value here. By arguing in ch 9 that he himself relinquished his rights and freedoms, Paul indicates that freedom is not an absolute value for him as it is for others in
"knowledge" (8:1, 10). The claim to special insight serves to redraw boundaries within the group, dividing the elite who have this "knowledge" from those seen not to have it (8:7, 11). The knowledge claimed has to do with a judgment on the neutrality of foods, that is, how they are no longer evaluated according to the old Jewish laws. Inasmuch as "food is made for the stomach and the stomach for food" (6:13), food is neutral. To eat it may even be a way of demonstrating that one is beyond the old legal and purity concerns. The nature of Paul's cautious remarks in chs 8-10 indicates his sensitivity to the strong individualistic claims made by those who eat and who disregard any consequences such eating might have on the weaker members (8:7-13). No holiness, no group concerns, no regulation of freedom color their thinking. Paul understands these arguments, but they do not represent his viewpoint at all.
The bottom line in Paul's remarks are rules which regulate the orifice of the mouth so as to protect the holiness of the body. Under certain circumstances eating is proscribed: "You may not eat" (me esthiete, 10:28). Specific circumstances when one may or may not eat are also clearly enunciated. One may eat when invited out: "If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner. ..eat whatever is set before you" (10:27). But one may not eat if eating would genuinely scandalize a fellow Christian. The circumstances are clear; one may not eat a) at table in an idol's temple (8:10) and b) when the weak-conscienced member explicitly says "This has been offered in sacrifice" (10:28).
Not only the regulations but the arguments which support them are similar to what we have seen in regard to Paul's regulation of the oral orifice in 10:14-22 and 11:17-34. Paul has strong purity concerns. First, even the weak-conscienced member of the church is holy in virtue of Christ's purifying death (8:11). The paramount concern is chs 8-10 is to prevent this weak but holy member from being "defiled": "Some eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled" (molyntai, 8:7). Second, Paul repeatedly concerns himself with the interior space of the persons involved, their conscience and especially the threatened "weak conscience" (8:7,10,12; 10:28-29). Just as Paul worried about the polluting leaven entering a pure batch of flour, so he is on guard lest the holy interior of a member be defiled by sight of another eating idol meat or by actual ingestion of it. "Conscience," then, speaks to the holy interior which is threatened with defilement. And so, Paul concludes, "if food is a cause of my brother's being scandalized, I will never eat meat, lest I scandalize my brother" (8:13). "To Scandalize" means to cause the loss of interior holiness in the affected person, i.e. to pollute (see Mt 18:6, 8-9).
Implied in Paul's argument is the same concern found in 7:12-14, 10:14-22 and 11:17-34, viz., to protect the social body from division. Paul perceives a lack of concern for the integrity of the social body in the position of those who would eat ("the strong"), which disregards the effects of their eating on "the weak." Such behavior becomes a stumbling block to some (8:9); "sinning against your brother. ..you sin against Christ" (8:12). This "sin against Christ" is none other than an attack on the body of Christ, the church (Murphy-O'Connor, 1978:563-564). Paul's concern with the guarding of a bodily orifice once more communicates his concern for the boundaries of the social group.
In Paul's argument in
chs 8-10, we find other elements of the cosmology of a controlled body, which
arguments are radically different from those urged by "the strong."
(1) Freedom: Although freedom to eat is nominally endorsed, Paul proceeds
to wrap that freedom in constraints and to circumscribe it with regulations.  Freedom is not an absolute or overriding value
for Paul. He claimed for himself a series of individual rights (9:.1-15),
which he sees as circumscribed by the needs of the social body. He affirms
that he is indeed free: 'Am I not free? Have I not seen the Lord?" (9:1).
But that freedom is controlled by what is good for the social body: "For,
though free, I have made myself a slave to all" (9:19) for the benefit
of the body of Christ (9:20-23). (2) Personal Identity: A certain individualism
describes those who have knowledge and would eat. They are concerned basically
with themselves. Paul, however, is concerned with what is good for the group:
"Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor" (10:23),
and again, "I try to please all men in every- thing I do, not seeking
my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved" (10:33).
The gnosis of the strong only "puffs them up" (8:1); it does
not yield any advantage for the group. (3) Ethics: The ethical norm
of those who would eat is that of individualistic freedom: 'All things are lawful to me" (10:23; 6:12). For Paul, the clue is found in what "builds up" the group. "Love," or concern for the group's unity, "builds up" (8:1); it is better than knowledge which puffs up. Although all things are lawful, "not all things build up" (10:23). And so what strengthens group boundaries is of higher value than the freedoms of individuals.
Paul's regulation of the eating of idol meat and the reasoning which underpins it stand in sharp contrast to the behavior and attitudes of those who would eat in freedom. We can conveniently sketch the differences in the cosmologies of Paul and his opponents which will summarize the discussion thus far:
no concern for purity PURITY strong purity concerns
porous boundaries RITUAL concern over what crosses
a bounded system, BODY
no protection needed, guarded against pollution,
no concern with orifices concern with orifices
and boundaries and boundaries
PERSONAL strong group orientation,
freedom unrestrained IDENTITY freedom governed by "love"
personal ethical decision SIN pollution
C: The Mouth (for speaking)
In 1 Cor 12-14, the orifice of the mouth becomes the focus of Paul's attention. As we shall see, Paul establishes rules for this orifice, but it is important to note the reasons which accompany his regulation of it. The question here is not like that of idol meat, i. e. what crosses the mouth and enters the body, but what comes out of the mouth and enters the ears of the assembled body. The regulation will be of the mouth of the speakers.
First we note that there
are operative in ch 14 two different views of the body and of tongues. For
expect to find a very loosely structured community, group boundaries unimportant, social categories undefined" (1973:109). Spirit possession indicates a lower degree of social structure and control, as well as strong individualism. In this context freedom must prevail, for one should never "quench the spirit" (1 Thess 5:19). Nor would one ever consider governing the orifice of the mouth or structuring this gift in the life of a community: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17). The cosmology of those who prize speaking in tongues is highly individualistic and freedom-oriented; no rules are appropriate to this uncontrolled body.
Paul's cosmology, however,
is that of a controlled or structured body. In this context other remarks
The dominant argument urged by Paul for the regulation of speaking in tongues is group cohesion (recall Personal Identity in the cosmology of a controlled body). A value judgment is made on the relative importance of tongues and prophecy. Those who speak in tongues "edify themselves," but those who prophesy "edify the church" (14:4). "He who speaks in prophecy is greater than he who speaks in tongues" because prophecy edifies. (14:5). "Edification" is a persistent value for Paul; "let all things be done for edification" (14:26). Eating idol meat dis-edifies, abstinence edifies (8:1,10); seeking one's own good may dis-edify another, so "let no one seek his own good but the good of his neighbor" (10:23-24). "Edification" indicates that one's personal identity and behavior is group, not individualistically, oriented. "Edification," moreover, is a term which denotes purity concerns. Dis-edification causes scandal and pollutes the conscience (8:7); edification strengthens the wholeness and holiness of the individual conscience and the group. Paul is expressing a purity concern, then, when he tells the congregation to "be babes in evil" (14:20). This means, be innocent of dis-edifying behavior which is consequent to unregulated speaking in tongues. Edification, then, serves group identity, purity concerns, and regulation of personal freedoms-the cosmology of a controlled body.
Besides articulating prophecy's
value in edifying the group, Paul devalues speaking in tongues. Speaking in
tongues is fundamentally unintelligible (14:9) and unfruitful (14:14): "If
I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful" (14:14).
For, "five words spoken with my mind" are worth more than "ten
thousand words in tongues" (14:19). By this language Paul clearly values
consciousness and clarity; he favors group-edifying and group-regulated behavior.
Speaking in one's "mind" betokens these values. But praying in one's
"spirit" is unconscious and unintelligible; it is highly individualistic
and uncontrolled behavior. Mary Douglas (1969:69-72) evaluated just these
terms, "mind" and "spirit," in view of their relationship
to the social body. She argued that "philosophical controversies about
the relation of spirit to matter or mind to the body be interpreted as exchanges
of condensed statements about
the relation of society to the individual" (1969:69). The "body" or the "flesh" in her argument represents society; "mind" and "spirit" represent the individual. She then articulates her theory of the relation of society to individual, body to mind and spirit:
To insist on the superiority of spiritual over material elements is to insist on the liberties of the individual and to imply a political program for freeing him from social constraints. In the contrary view, to declare that spirit works through matter, that spiritual values are made effective through material acts, that body and mind are separate but intimately united, all this emphasis on the necessary mingling of spirit and matter implies that the individual is by nature subordinate to society and finds his freedom within its forms (1969: 69).
Paul's preference for praying "in mind and spirit" expresses his view of personal identity as dyadic and group-oriented; it implies regulation of freedoms. Those who glory only "in the spirit" may be said to be individualistic people for whom freedom is an absolute, unrestrained value.
As Paul sees the issue, the consequences of speaking in tongues are important for its evaluation. As we noted above, prophecy edifies the group; the effect of tongues is just the opposite. Tongues, like intemperate eating and drinking at the Eucharist, play havoc with the body's unity. When someone speaks in unintelligible tongues, the result is an artificial but deleterious re-drawing of boundaries within the group: "I shall be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me" (14:11). Since speaking in tongues betokens spirit possession and is seen as a sign of elite status, its unregulated practice disrupts the unity of the body, causing factions and divisions (see 12:21). The wholeness of the body is thereby jeopardized, as it was in 11:18-22. And if outsiders and unbelievers observe this unregulated practice, "they will say that you are mad" (14:23). They will be confirmed as outsiders and lose the chance to be made holy by membership in the holy body of Jesus.  While not positively polluting, speaking in tongues can function to re-draw boundaries within and around the group, preempting God's prerogative to say who is in or out of it. Thus the wholeness of the body is harmed and its holiness is threatened.
Given Paul's cosmology of the church as a bounded system where identity is group-determined and where purity concerns dictate the maintenance of boundaries, Paul's regulation of the oral orifice is consonant with his view of the church as a controlled body. He establishes clear rules for the governance of the mouth. As regards tongues, only two or three at most may speak in tongues at a given meeting. Even this rule is phrased so as to avoid all loss of control: "If any speak in a tongue, let there by only two or three at most, and each in turn (14:27). It is even possible to close the orifice completely: "But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silence in church and speak to himself and to God" (14:28).
Those who prophesy are
likewise regulated. "Let two or three prophets speak" (14:29). And,
"if a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent"
(14:30). As with the rules for tongues, Paul permits no loss of control. The
principle is clear that even if a bounded
body is filled with a free and uncontrollable spirit, order and control are not to be sacrificed: "The spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets" (14:32). Control is never to be sacrificed in regard to the body.
III. BODILY SURFACE, HEAD, HANDS AND FEET
In 11:2-16, there is a discussion of bodily surfaces. In this I am following the study of Murphy-O'Connor (1980:482) that the issue was over hairdo's: men wearing unmasculine hairdo's and women wearing unfeminine ones.
As with the case of incest
and fornication, two contrasting views of body are operative in the discussion.
The primary fact seems to be that some men were wearing their hair long and
coifed in an unmasculine fashion and some women were wearing their hair loose,
unbound, which was contrary to societal customs. Long and coifed hair for men denoted effeminacy and possibly homosexuality; uncoifed hair for women suggested freedom and perhaps sexual license. At least, the novel hairdo's tended to blur sexual identity and to confuse sexual and societal roles assigned to men and women. This, of course, would not be objectionable to those who saw that "in Christ there is no male or female" (Gal 3:28) and to those who proclaimed that in Christ "we are all free"- from Torah, law, and custom (see 1 Cor 6:12; 10:23). The blurring of sexual roles and. identity because of unmasculine/unfeminine hairdo's is but the external symbol of the view of body as a free organism, without clear boundaries, and without concern for purity and rituals to maintain that purity. No sense of dishonor (i.e. pollution) threatening the individual or the social body attends the blurring of sexual roles and distinctions by novel hairdo's.
Inasmuch as we are well aware of Paul's view of body, let us see what he makes of the issue of novel hairdo's. The woman's hair should be plaited, braided, and wrapped around her head. That is what is lacking according to Paul in 11:5,6,15. Plaited hair which is wrapped around the head in orderly fashion symbolizes control over the surface of the body, the part of the woman which is in direct contact with the social world. Plaited and braided hair denotes a clear social role and clear sexual differentiation; the braiding of hair exemplifies the social concern for matronly chastity and for modesty.  This type of hairdo is appropriate where the body is perceived as a controlled structure, where boundaries are guarded, where roles are clear, and where purity is prized. For those with this view, then, uncoifed and unbound hair suggests just the opposite view of body: freedom, loss of control, and blurring of clear sexual roles. Loose hair suggests loose morals and therefore takes on the appearance of a pollutant.
Where the physical body is perceived as a system requiring control, a mans hair is expected to be short and natural. Thus he will be perceived in masculine terms and not be confused with women (whose hair is customarily long, see 11:6). Nor should the man dress his hair, curl it, or make it resemble a woman's hairdo (Murphy-O'Connor, 1980:485). Such hair styling suggests confusion of sexual identity and/or loss of bodily control, and so is seen as a pollutant, i. e. a danger to the social order. Hair rules replicate social rules dealing with sexual differentiation and roles; such rules are appropriate to a bounded body.
Paul's perception of the
issue of unacceptable hairdo's is couched in terms of purity and pollution.  The offending man "dishonors" his head
(11:4,14), as does the offending woman (11:5). This irregularity is a "disgrace"
(11:6). Since such hairdo's blur the lines which define masculine and feminine
roles and status, they are a pollution. They are doubly offensive at a worship
service where "praying and prophesying" occur (11:4-5,13) and where
holy time demands holy behavior and holy attire. Paul consciously refers to
this in 11:10 when he expresses his reason for proper hairdo's-"...because
of the angels." Apropos of this verse, Joseph Fitzmyer (1957:55-56) explained
that worship was perceived as taking place before the angels and mediated
by them (Ps 137:1 ax and Rev 8:3). As a participation in the heavenly
liturgy at which the holy angels presided, human worship demanded that "unclean
or polluted members be excluded "for holy angels are present," as
the following text from
Nor shall anyone who is afflicted by any form of human uncleanness whatsoever be admitted into the assembly of God; nor shall anyone who becomes afflicted in this way be allowed to retain his place in the midst of the congregation. ..for holy angels are (present) in their (congre)gation ...let him not enter, for he is contaminated (lQSa ii.3-11).
Just as eating and drinking at a Eucharist were matters of purity and pollution (11:17-34), so also were hairdo's.
Paul clearly intends to regulate the surface of the body, the hair. He prescribes that women should wear their hair long, braided and coiled; men should wear their hair short and undressed. Hair styles which confuse gender roles and status are proscribed.
The discussion centers
around hairdo's, i.e. control of the body surface. Involved here is the issue
of role differentiation in the church and society. As Mary Douglas indicated,
where formality, smoothness and ritual are accentuated values in one's cosmology,
one will tend to find
well defined roles, social control and a strong commitment to a structured system. Where informality, shagginess, and effervescence are dominant values, there tends to be less role differentiation, little control, and loose adherence to a structured system. Where personal identity is group-oriented, roles will be clearly defined; where individualistic, a weak internal classification system is evident.
Let us now use Paul's
remarks about hairdo's to see what is said about role differentiation in the
discussion in 11:2-16. The slogan in Galatians, "in Christ there is no
male or female" (3:28), is in considerable tension with Paul's remarks
in 1 Corinthians; for in the latter letter he
argues for differentiation of the sexes-Gal 3:28 notwithstanding.  Alluding to the original order of creation, Paul points out how even then the sexes were differentiated. "Man was not made from woman but woman was made from man" (11:8,12a); "man is the image and glory of God but woman is the glory of man" (11:7-8). In the new creation in Christ, there are some changes stated: "In the Lord woman is not 'different' (choris)  from man nor is man 'different' (choris) from woman" (11:11) (Murphy-O'Connor, 1980:497), But sexual differentiation is by no means totally abolished in the new creation. For Paul states at the beginning of the passage a principle which undergirds the hierarchical differentiation of man and woman:
The head of every man is Christ
the head of the woman
is her husband,
and the head of Christ is God (11:3).
points to some differentiation according to gender and role. We know that
in the abstract men and women are equally chosen by God and are equal recipients
of grace and gift-both "pray and prophesy" in the church (11:4,5).
This equality, however, is not entirely replicated in the
social body. It is stated that "a woman ought to have authority (exousia) over her head" (11:10) because "woman was made from man for man" (11:8,9). For Paul the sexes are still differentiated; and so totally different hairdo's are appropriate to the respective sexes (11:13-15).
Further evidence of Paul's
sense of role and status differentiation in 1 Corinthians is appropriate here.
The reader is reminded that as regards social roles, Paul called upon the
Corinthians: "Let every one of you lead the life which the Lord has assigned
him and in which God has called him" (7:17). And "in whatever state
each was called, there let him remain with God" (7:24). Slaves maintain
their same social role and rank of slaves; Jews are still Jews; Gentiles remain
Gentiles. Again in ch 12, Paul reminds the church that there is no radical
blurring of roles in the body of Christ: "If all were a single organ
where would the body be?"
(12:17). If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? (12:17b). Differentiation of bodily organs is expected and desired. This configuration, moreover, is God's doing: "But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them as he chose" (12:18). Finally, roles within the social body are very clearly articulated by Paul; there is no blurring: "first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues" (12:28a). The maintenance of roles and sexual differentiation in regard to hairdo's in 11:2-16 is replicated in 1 Cor in Paul's maintenance
of roles and status differentiation in the body of Christ.
Returning to 11:3, the
term "head" (kephale) is not devoid of importance. Although
Murphy-O'Connor insists that it not be translated as authority or supremacy
(1980:491-93), perhaps that point needs to be revised in the light of the
present discussion. Despite the freedom
slogans found in the letter ('Am I not free?" 9:1; 'All things are lawful for me," 6:12, 10:23), Paul by no means sees authority abolished in the new creation (see 16:15-16). From the point of view of body symbolism, "head" denotes high position, rank, and authority (Schwartz, 1981: 51-
52). So when Paul says that "the head of a woman is her husband" (11:3), "head" denotes higher authority and rank attributed to husbands. This is repeated in 11:10 where woman, who is from man and for man, ought to have "authority" (exousia) over her head. She is situated "lower" than
man: she is "from" man and "for" him; he has exousia "over" her. Every man, too, is subject to authority for "the head of every man is Christ (11:3).
This sense of rank and
authority occurs in the description of the body of Christ in ch 12. "Feet"
are said to complain that they are not "hands": "Because I
am not a hand, I do not belong to the body (12:15); "eyes" lord
it over "hands" and "heads" over "feet": "I
have no need of you" (12:21). Yet in spite of the problems reflected
in the discourse in 12:14-21, Paul does not favor abolishing distinctions
of rank and status in the body: "If all were a single organ, where would
the body be?" (12:19).
Body imagery affords still another clue to rank and authority. Even Christ is said to have a "head" over him: "The head of Christ is God" (11:3). In 1 Cor 15:20-28 Christ is spoken of as the new Adam-the new head/source. On one level the argument simply states that as all die in Adam, so all-rise in Christ (15:21-22). But the passage says much more: like Adam, Christ has dominion and rule over all creation (15:24; Gen 1:26-28). His "headship" is visualized by his having "all things in subjection under his feet" (15:25, 27). Christ is "head" as source and as ruler. Yet even Christ-as-head is perceived to be in a structural relationship with God: .
When all things are subjected
to him (Christ)
then the Son himself will also be subjected
to him who put all things under him,
that God may be everything to everyone (15:29).
On one level this serves as an answer to the Corinthians who espoused an overly realized eschatology: the last enemy, death, has not yet been subjected. But terms such as "head. ..feet" and "subjected" are body language suggesting role differentiation, structural relationships, even authority and hierarchy. I suggest that this language in 1 Cor 15:20-28 serves other purposes: 1) to reassert concepts of control where pneumatic freedom threatens communal cohesion, 2) to support authority where it is weak, and 3) to affirm structure where it is blurred. If Christ, truly risen and genuinely free, is perceived as "subjected to him who put all things under him," then the free and spirit-filled Corinthians can see a model for their own structural relationship to Paul's authority and that of other leaders of the group (see 16:16). "The head of Christ is God" (11:3) implies that even Christ has a structured relationship to God; he himself is not absolutely free of authority and control. So, when men and women are said to have "heads" over them, they are no worse off than Christ. .
In summary, we began with a discussion of hairdo's in 11:2-16. The simple fact emerged that Paul sees control of the body surface as appropriate and so enjoins it. But regulation of body surfaces correlates with Paul's regulation of body orifices. Yet the regulation of hair styles symbolizes also sexual and role differentiation in the social body. The fact that control in 11:2-16 is exercised over the "heads" of men and women pointed to the place of authority and rank in a structured body cosmology, a point amply verified in chs 11, 12, 15. The upshot of this investigation was to define further Paul's controlled body cosmology by seeing the correlation between regulation of body surfaces and social classification systems. Control of the "head" and regulation of specific hairdo's for men and for women replicate role differentiation and authority structure which is appropriate to that type of social body.
IV.THE BODY OF CHRIST
Besides concern for orifices of the body and its surface, Paul speaks at great length about the "body of Christ" which is the church. The social body of the church is a holy body, the body of Christ (12:12; 6:15). Its holiness consists, moreover, in being filled with a "holy" Spirit (12:4-11,13; see 3:16 and 6:19). But the holiness of the body is likewise perceived in terms of its wholeness, viz. unity. One of the functions of the holy Spirit in 12:4-11 is to unify the cornucopia of gifts given to the body's diverse members. It is through "the same Spirit" that wisdom is given to one, knowledge to another, and prophecy to still another (12:8-10). Not only is diversity of gifts unified in "the same Spirit," but diversity of races and roles is unified in "the one Spirit": "By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit" (12:13). Unity is touched upon in the remarks which indicate that the "same" Spirit, Lord and God are the dispensers of different gifts (12:4-7). All of the gifts, moreover, have a unifying purpose; they’re "for the common good" (12:7), that is, for the "building up" of the body (see 1 Cor 14:3-5, 12, 26). The body, then, is holy in virtue of its "holy" Spirit, and its holiness is perceived in terms of its wholeness. As wholeness is a mark of the purity of the physical body, so unity manifests the holiness of the social body.
The greatest threat to
a holy body is pollution; the most dangerous threat to a whole body is division.
Paul repeatedly expresses concern with "divisions" in the church
over them: "I belong to Paul...I belong to Apollos...I belong to Cephas...I belong to Christ" (1:12; 3:4). Divisions, moreover, are made between strong and weak (1:18-29), wise (knowing) and foolish (8:1-3), free and unfree (8:10-13), sated and hungry (11:18-22). Jealousy and strife
are rampant (1:11; 3:3). Some even "puff themselves up" against others (4:6, 18-19; 5:2; 8:1). Some look only to their own good and not to the good of their neighbor (10:24,29). The premier unifying event is the Eucharistic meeting: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one
body, for we all partake of the one bread" (10:17). But even this unifying event is "divided" by factions (11:18-19). The body at
In the description of the body of Christ in 12:14-26 the threatening pollutants are already within the body. Two different sets of anatomical parts speak in 12:15-16 and 21. The first set speaks from a sense of inferiority, expressing the feeling that they are not welcome in the body.
The foot, because it is not the hand, says "I do not belong to the body" (12:15) and the ear, because it is not the eye, says "I do not belong to the body" (12:16). The second set speaks from a sense of superiority, expressing the view that they are the only worthy members of the body. The eye says to the hand, "I have no need of you," and the head says the same to the feet (12:21). Both of these postures are polluting because they would corrupt the body for the same reason; they attack its basic wholeness, and so its holiness. Inferiority attitudes make that person an outsider to the rest of the group (recall 14:11) and superiority attitudes, which foster individualism and elitism, humiliate others (recall 11:22). If left unchecked, the social body will be tragically divided by these attitudes; and a divided body is corrupt.
The view of the church as a body expresses other important aspects such as differentiation, roles and ranking. There is no doubt that the organs and parts of the body are in fact differentiated. "If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?" (12:17). As it is, there are head, hands, and feet as well as eyes, ears, and nose. This differentiation, moreover, is part of the way things should be; it is ordained by God in creation: "But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose" (12:18). God, then, has drawn the official map of the physical body.
The differentiated parts
of the body are also ranked. The head is greater than the feet; the eye is
more important than the ear; the hand is above the foot. Paul even admits
that in the body there are honorable and less honorable parts, presentable
and inferior parts, stronger and weaker
members (12:22-24). The ranking of the differentiated parts is related to the roles ascribed to the members of the church: "first there are apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then...then... then..." (12:28b). This, too, is God's doing for "God has appointed" them (12:28b). God has
also drawn the map of the social body. Even the charismatic gifts can be differentiated and ranked: prophecy over tongues, and charity over all (12:31; 13:13).
The body of Christ, then,
is a structured and differentiated body. It is, moreover, a holy body whose
wholeness is threatened with polluting division. In ch 5 the remedy for such
a threatening pollutant was to expel it; but that is not appropriate here
for it would cause the very
thing Paul wants to prevent, viz., a divided body. The remedy proposed by Paul has to do with a renewed sense of personal identity which is characteristic of a controlled body. As we noted in regard to chs 8-10, individualism in regard to eating idol meat denoted a sense of identity
contrary to Paul's group-oriented viewpoint. On the other hand, "building up the body" and "not seeking one's good but the good of others" (10:24) are actions commensurate with a sense of identity which is group oriented.
So with the body of Christ in ch 12. The members who most clearly tend to individualism are urged to be more group oriented, to seek the good of others. The honorable parts of the body are to invest with greater honor those parts they consider less honorable; the presentable, the unpresentable parts; the superior, the inferior parts (12:23- 24). In short, they should not seek their own good but the good of others, since God has "adjusted the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part."
This advice is repeated in the discourse on agape in 13:4-7. For the elite, "love" should mean building up (8:1); it means seeking the good of others. Love, therefore, is "patient and kind...not boastful, arrogant or rude." The inferior parts, too, are told to think of the good of others and not to be "jealous...resentful...but to bear all things and endure all things." A principle is stated which applies to superior and inferior attitudes alike: "Love does not insist on its own way" (13:5). This strategy should produce a salutary result in the body, viz., a healing of division and genuine unity: "That there be no discord in the body, but all the members may have the same care for one another" (12:25). This sense of group identity is correspondingly applied to the gifts which are the subject of the discussion in chs 12-14. Although there are "varieties of gift... varieties of service...varieties of working" (12:4-6), each of these is given "for the common good" (12:7).
V.THE RESURRECTION BODY
One final text interests us: the discussion of "with what kind of body" are the dead raised? (15:35ff). The perspective of these remarks is anthropological, so questions of gnosticism or Greek background in the Corinthian argument over whether there is a resurrection (15:12) cannot be addressed here. Rather I am interested in why Paul emphatically insists on BODY as the appropriate characteristic of the risen state: "It is raised a spiritual BODY. If there is a physical BODY, there is also a spiritual BODY" (15:44).
From the perspective of this essay, one would expect that there might be two contrasting views of the resurrection, views which perhaps are compatible and consistent with the Pauline and non-Pauline positions discussed throughout this work. And in fact, critical scholarship has suggested a coherent reconstruction of the non-Pauline viewpoint of the Corinthian pneumatics.  Briefly, then, the pneumatics are 1) credited with espousing an overly realized eschatology (4:8), 2) whereby they are beyond the body, which is at best neutral (6:12-13), and into things spiritual; 3) the result is the abolition of all control and the celebration of radical freedom: "All things are lawful!" (6:12; 10:23), 4) which results in a denial of social and sexual differentiation (5:1-2; 11:2-16); 5) in this perspective, "resurrection" would be perceived as a spiritual condition unrestrained by and unrelated to the physical and social BODY.
This perspective is reflected in 15:45--49. A radical contrast is made between Adam and Christ, which would imply that in the eschaton, when Christ and his followers are "resurrected," what results is "spirit" and not body.
First Adam Second Adam
1. The first Adam became a "living 1. The last Adam became a "life-giving
being" (psychen); spirit" (pneuma);
2. The physical (to psychikon) is first, 2. then the spiritual (to pneumatikon);
As was the man of earth so are 3. and as is
the man of heaven, so
those who are of dust; are those who are of heaven.
A radical distinction is made between what is (a) a "living being...physical...of earth" and (b) "a life-giving spirit...spiritual...of heaven." Although this is probably Pauline in origin, it is certainly capable of being co-opted by the pneumatics, especially 15:45 where it says that "the last Adam (the risen Jesus) became a SPIRIT." Historical questions aside, my interest lies in what correlation there might be between one's view of body and of resurrection. In the case of Paul's opponents, it would seem that resurrection as SPIRIT would adequately express their eschatological perspective and reflect their typology of a non-controlled body.
The Pauline perspective
on eschatology differs on every point from that of the pneumatics at
discourse on "what kind of body occurs in the resurrection" is governed
by a basic purity principle. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the
The substance of Paul's argument occurs in 15:35-44, when a series of three contrasts is presented. First, dried and dead seeds are contrasted with living plants (15:36-37); then terrestrial bodies are contrasted with celestial bodies (15:39-41); finally, un-resurrected bodies are contrasted with resurrection bodies (15:42-44). But the common denominator in the analogical argument is the fact that living plants, celestial phenomena, and resurrected persons are all described in somatic language as BODIES:
1. "What you sow is not the BODY which is to be, but a bare kernel" (15:37).
2. "There are celestial BODIES and there are terrestrial 'BODIES" (15:40).
3. "It is sown a physical BODY; it is raised a spiritual BODY. If there is a physical BODY, there is also a spiritual BODY" (15:44).
is this so? As God gave bodies at creation, so God will also allocate bodies
in the eschaton: "God will give it a BODY as he has chosen" (15:39).
The holy, immortal, and imperishable God himself gives an appropriate BODY
to what is mortal and perishable so that it may come into
God's holy space.
Commentators  often remark that Paul's idea of a "spiritual body" contains the sense of "a total person controlled by God's spirit" (Sider 1975:434). "Control" is the operative concept here, for just as Paul would see a charismatic body on earth acting orderly and in control (14:32), so should a spiritual body in heaven. The idea of order and control is communicated in the insistence that what is raised is a BODY. Paul's insistence on BODY even in the resurrected state replicates his general body typology. The "bodies" which are described in 15:36-41 are differentiated bodies which may be ranked in a hierarchy. The classification system on earth ranks bodies as 1) human, 2) animal, 3) bird, and 4) fish; this, or course, is based on God's work at creation. There is a corresponding classification and hierarchy in "celestial bodies": 1) sun, 2) moon, and 3) stars. Even among heavenly bodies, "star differs from star in glory" (15:41). One should see this alongside other remarks about Christian resurrection where there is order, pattern and differentiation: "In Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ" (15:22-23). In heaven, there will be a distinct hierarchy among its inhabitants: God, Christ, then Christians. In the risen state in God's presence, moreover, there will not be a total abolition of authority and structure. True, "every rule and every authority and power" will be put under Christ's feet (15:24), but then Christ will be under God's feet (see 15:28). For the head of Christ is God; the head of man is Christ. As it is on earth, so it will be in heaven.
According to Paul, then, the heavenly world will maintain important elements of the earthly world. As God differentiated the parts of the physical and social body (12:18, 24), so "God will give it a (risen) body as he has chosen" (15:38). As there is a hierarchy of "heads" and authority on earth (11:3), so Christ will be subject to God even when the end comes and all is put under his feet (15:24-28). As there was BODY on earth, which implied order and control, so Paul maintains that there will be BODY in heaven as well. The order of God's creation will not be abolished in heaven.
VI. A MODEL: THE ATHLETE'S BODY
Paul's attitude to the physical body and its replication of the social body is never clearer than in the athletic metaphor he uses in 9:24-27. As far as the metaphor goes, the physical body is subject to strong regulation. Every athlete "exercises self control in all things" (9:25); an athlete "regulates" his body and "subdues" it (9:27). No individual member of the body escapes this control: the legs do not run aimlessly nor do the fists box the air (9:26). This points to strong coordination of the individual members toward a common goal, for the common good.
The metaphor serves as the final point in Paul's argument to the knowledgeable ones who proclaim freedom to eat idol meat. He has shown in ch 9 that he himself is as "free" as anyone in regard to specific items, such as support; he has a right (exousia, 9:4,6,12) which is validated in tradition, Jesus' words and the Law. Yet Paul voluntarily regulates this right and foregoes its privileges (9:15,17) for the sake of the common good, viz., the preaching of the gospel (9:23). Paul seeks not his own good, but the good of others, "I have become all things to all men that I might save some" (9:22). He presents his own behavior as a model for those who would eat idol meat: restraint of freedom (vs. exercise of rights) for the sake of communal cohesion (vs. individualism).
The athlete metaphor reinforces this argument by showing circumstances where discipline, self-control, regulation of the body, and group-oriented behavior are appropriate. Paul's use of the athlete metaphor implies that it is appropriate in his life as a general principle, not just in regard to his rights and freedoms. And so, Paul implies, life is an athletic contest and the discipline, regulation, self-control appropriate to athletic training are perennial norms structuring one's life. This, of course, is the predictable attitude to the body from the viewpoint of a strong "group" or controlled body cosmology.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Mary Douglas' remarks
on BODY and her anthropological model prove to be an accurate and useful heuristic
device for evaluating the contrasting attitudes to body in 1 Corinthians.
In particular, Paul's viewpoint in the letter may be accurately described
according to the cosmology ofa controlled body (strong "group"/high
"grid"), whereas the position attributed to Paul's opponents in
1 Corinthians fits the cosmology of a group which is weak "group"/low
"grid." Valuable also is the insight into the correlation of physical
and social body, viz., how attitudes to the physical body are replicated in
the way the social body is perceived.
1. unity, cohesion 1. wholeness, bodily integrity
2. clear roles, status, & classifications 2. hierarchy of bodily parts, especially head & members
3. boundaries marked & guarded 3. orifices & surfaces regulated
Alternately, the chief evil in Paul's world is "pollution," which likewise is expressed in both social and physical terms.
Social Pollution Physical Pollution
1. factions, divisions 1. split or deformed bodies
2. confused roles; weak authority 2. weak bodily discipline or differentiation of body parts; confused gender indication
3. porous boundaries 3. unguarded orifices & surfaces
successful application of
One might ask, however,
whether Paul's perspective in 1 Corinthians is typical of him? Is the model
applicable to other Pauline letters? It is beyond the scope of this study
to pursue these important questions. But a quick glance at the Pauline corpus
suggests places to test the model
in other Pauline letters and to ascertain whether the positions taken in 1 Corinthians are typical of Paul elsewhere. For example, (1) Paul's concern in 1 Corinthians with holiness of the body should be compared with his remarks on holiness in Rom 12:1-2; 13:12-14, Phil 1:20 and 1 Thess 4:1-8. (2) His concern with regulating bodily orifices in 1 Corinthians might be compared with remarks about eating in Rom 14-1S (esp. 14:21) and about marriage in 1 Thess 4:4-7 and 2 Cor 6:14-7:1. (3) The understanding of the church as a "body" in Rom 12:4-8 could be compared with the use of that metaphor in 1 Cor 12. (4) One might also wish to reevaluate the designation of the members of Paul's churches as "the saints" in the light of this material. (S) The importance of authority in 1 Corinthians might be compared with Paul's advice to be obedient to legitimate authority in Rom 13.
Besides these specific
body issues, a comparison could be made of Paul's attitudes to related topics
in 1 Corinthians and the other letters. For example, the value given to roles
and rank within the church and in the secular world might be assessed; one
thinks immediately of Rom 13:1-7, but also of PhiI2:1g.-30. The contextualized
understanding of freedom in 1 Corinthians might profitably be compared with
the language of "slaves of God...and of righteousness" in Rom 6:13-22,
especially in light of the diatribal false conclusion that Christians might
be "lawless." Gal 5:1 and 13-15 deserve to be assessed in this light
as well. The perception of pollution threatening the group could also be investigated,
whether this means pollution as seduction (see 2 Cor 11:1-3, 12-1S) or as
threat to unity (see Gal S:1S, 22; Phil 3:1-11 (esp. 6-7)). The personal identity
of members of the church as group oriented might be tested in
PhiI2:1-S, 14-18 (esp 2:3-4) and in 1 Thess 1:3 and 4:9-12.
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 I am deeply endebted to
Sheldon Isenberg (1977:7--8) and Bruce Malina (1978a:102-103) for the following
chart which they put together to systematize
 Paul speaks of persons
and things as "holy" (hagios) in a variety of ways: a) Christians,
as opposed to non-Christians, are "holy"; they are "the saints...
a people set apart (1:2; 3:17; 6:1-2; 14:33; and 16:1,15); b) what is not
diluted or divided is "holy... as in the case of an unmarried person
being "anxious about the affairs of the Lord (7:34); such a one is "holy
in mind and body." On totality and holiness, see
 It is debated just what Paul is referring to in 5:1 (see Conzelmann 1975:96); it is unlikely that this sexual union is incest or an adulterous relationship of a man with his stepmother. The reference to a man's "having" his father's wife suggest a more permanent relationship such as marriage or concubinage. It is, however, a sexual union which Paul considers illicit.
 On the metaphorical character of leaven, see Windisch (1964:904-05); and Philo, Q. Ex. I.15 & II.14.
 Jerome Murphy-O'Connor
argues from a purely literary perspective that 6:13,18 and 8:12 represent
a slogan at
 The material in 5:9-13 confirms Paul’s concern with purity of the body. While the focus in 5:9-13 is the maintenance of a firm, clear boundary between what is clean and unclean, the issue is not, as Paul says, "the immoral of the world" (5:10), but the unclean within the group ("anyone who bears the name of brother who is guilty of immorality, etc." 5:11). Let God judge "outsiders," but "those inside you are to judge" (5:12). The inside of the holy social body must be kept pure by expelling the pollutant beyond its boundaries (5:13). This concern with social boundaries is replicated in Paul's concern with the orifices of the physical body.
 It is debated whether
7:1 is a slogan of some group at
 On dividedness (or lack
of "totality"), see note 2 above and
 On exogamous marriages, see David Bossman, "Ezra's Marriage Reform: Israel Redefined," BTB 9 (1979) 32-39.
 In 10:1-4, other food
and drink is permitted. After
 For further remarks on the way the Eucharist is a boundary making phenomenon in the early church, see Meeks (1983:159-162).
 See Gen 9:20-21 and Philo's remarks on these verses in Plant. 142-48.
 The divisions at the Eucharist may be analyzed on the basis of differences in social rank and economics; see Theissen (1982:124-132, 153-162).
 See Conzelmann (1975:195 note 22) on the common censuring in classical times of "divisions" at banquets caused by individualism and the lack of commensality; on the anthropology of commensality, see Feeley-Harnik (1981:85-91).
 For an excellent treatment of "freedom" from a social-science perspective which brings out the contrasts between Paul and his pneumatic opponents, see Malina (1978b:62-76).
 There is a strong missionary motive expressed here and in the argument against divorce in 7:12-14. Although Paul regularly views the church and the human body under the rubric of purity and pollution, his strong missionary sense leads him to be flexible about the group's boundaries where there is the possibility "that I might win the more" to Christ (see 9:19-23).
 On the character of purity associated with hair. see Derrett (1977 :171-75) and Leach (1958: 147-M).
 See David Daube, "Disgrace," The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism (New York: Arno Press 1973) 301-303.
 On angelic liturgies, see Strugnell (1960:318-45).
 This text is fast becoming
the shibboleth of various liberation groups in
 See Kurzinger (1978:270-75).
 See Thiselton (1978:512-25) and Horsley (1978b:203-31).
 Jeremias (1955:151-54) offers important biblical parallels which extend the purity/pollution sense of “flesh and blood” as sinful; see also Philo Somn. I.148 and Fuga 59.