The divisions in the Corinthian church are catalogued by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:12: "Each of you says, `I follow Paul,' or `I follow Apollos,' or `I follow Cephas,' or `I follow Christ.'" White shows how these splits are found in the milieu of 1st-century Graeco-Roman education. By consulting relevant literary and epigraphic evidence, White develops a picture of ancient education throughout the Empire generally, and in Roman Corinth specifically. This serves as a backdrop to the situation in the Christian community, wherein some of the elite, educated members preferred Apollos to Paul as a teacher since Apollos more closely resembled other teachers of higher studies.
White takes a new and different direction to other studies in the field, arguing that it is against the values inculcated through "higher education" in general that the teachers are being compared. By starting with this broader category, one that much better reflects the very eclectic nature of Graeco-Roman education, a sustained reading of 1 Corinthians 1-4 is made possible.