I Corinthians/I Clement not evidence for a church at Corinth

Satyricon Chapter the Fiftieth

[scene: Trimalchio’s dinner: The cook has just theatrically gutted a stuffed hog.] The whole household burst into unanimous applause at this; “Hurrah for Gaius,” they shouted. As for the cook, he was given a drink and a silver crown and a cup on a salver of Corinthian bronze. Seeing that Agamemnon was eyeing the platter closely, Trimalchio remarked, “I’m the only one that can show the real Corinthian!” I thought that, in his usual purse-proud manner, he was going to boast that his bronzes were all imported from Corinth, but he did even better by saying, “Wouldn’t you like to know how it is that I’m the only one that can show the real Corinthian? Well, it’s because the bronze worker I patronize is named Corinthus, and what’s Corinthian unless it’s what a Corinthus makes? And, so you won’t think I’m a blockhead, I’m going to show you that I’m well acquainted with how Corinthian first came into the world. When Troy was taken, Hannibal, who was a very foxy fellow and a great rascal into the bargain, piled all the gold and silver and bronze statues in one pile and set ’em afire, melting these different metals into one: then the metal workers took their pick and made bowls and dessert dishes and statuettes as well. That’s how Corinthian was born; neither one nor the other, but an amalgam of all. (emphasis added)

In this extract from Satyricon, written in the 50s or 60s CE, we learn that Corinthian bronze was an alloy. Corinthian bronze was famous as a precious metal. This popularity means that the term “Corinthian” could have been understood by the public as referring to mixtures in general.

I Clement (to the congregation at Corinth) and I Corinthians are pastoral letters that concern the management of factions, i.e., ‘mixtures’ of doctrines within a congregation. Is the address of these letters to the church at Corinth just a coincidence? It seems to me more likely that the name “Corinth” immediately indicated to the readers/audience the topic of the letters.

Given this possibility, these letters become weaker as evidence for the existence of an orthodox congregation at Corinth in the first and early second centuries.

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