Fee on I Corinthians 13:12 – Our knowledge of Christ is partial but true

"a poor reflection as in a mirror"(648) This literally reads "we look through a looking-glass in enigma/έν αἰνιγματι". The setting or Corinth helps to sift out the particular nuance that seems to be intended. "Corinth was famous as the producer of some of the finest bronze mirrors in antiquity." Thus it is unlikely that "έν αἰνιγματι" is to be understood as a puzzle, or riddle, nor as a poor reflection as if the image of mirror produced was qualitatively deficient because of the mirror. Rather, the emphasis ought to be understood as emphasis falling on "the indirect nature of looking into a mirror as opposed to seeing someone face to face." This means that Paul is not degrading the craftsmanship of the Corinthians, nor is he suggesting that we have "a distorted image… in Christ through the Spirit". Rather the knowledge of Christ that we have is "indirect, not complete", and yet is not thereby any less accurate or true.


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