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Sex, Christ, and Embodied Cognition: Paul's Wisdom for Corinth
Robert H. von Thaden Jr.
Publication Date
March 2017


A sociorhetorical analysis of First Corinthians

Robert H. von Thaden Jr.’s socio-rhetorical analysis examines Paul’s construction of sexual Christian bodies in First Corinthians by utilizing new insights from conceptual integration (blending) theory about the embodied processes of meaning making. Paul’s teaching about proper sexual behavior in this letter is best viewed as an example of early Christian wisdom discourse. This discourse draws upon apocalyptic and priestly cognitive frames to increase the rhetorical force of the argument. Reading Paul’s argument through the lens of rhetorical invention, von Thaden demonstrates that Paul first attempts to show the Corinthians why sexual immorality is the worst of all bodily sins before shifting rhetorical focus to explain to them how they can best avoid this infraction against the body of Christ.


  • A programmatic application of conceptual integration theory using a sociorhetorical mode of interpretation
  • A vivid account of key aspects of conceptual integration theory and how they function in sociorhetorical interpretation
  • A detailed application of these strategies to interpret 1 Corinthians 1–4; 6:12–7:7

Robert H. von Thaden Jr. is the chair of Religious Studies at Mercyhurst University. He is an active member of the Society for Biblical Literature where he serves as chair of the Cognitive Linguistics in Biblical Studies section. He is also serving as the current president of the Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society. He is the author of numerous essays and articles.

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