In this article historical criticism, rhetorical criticism and ethnicity theory are combined to interpret Paul’s boasting about his ethnicity
in 2 Corinthians 11:22. Partition theory helps to establish the historical/social context that 2 Corinthians 10-13 is a fragment of the
“tearful letter,” which represented the low point (high conflict) of Paul’s relations with the Corinthians. Rhetoric – the theatrical
“Fool’s Speech,” which contains irony, self-praise, and comparison – helps to understand Paul’s boastful argumentation in his selfdefence;
and ethnicity theory helps to interpret Paul’s construction of his ethnic identity. Paul boasted of his ethnicity by taking up rhetorical comparison and self-praise. But he did so in the so-called “Fool’s Speech”, which is full of irony: his ethnic heritage was part of his argument that he was equal to that of his opponents, but – here is the chief irony – his ethnicity “in the flesh” ultimately meant nothing to him.