This week I read an essay on Paul’s Gospel that was an exegetical summary of 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. This seems strange to me. Does this section summarize Paul’s Gospel?
Now, if I were to ask Paul to summarize his Gospel he might say something like “the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.” Unfortunately, I don’t have access to Paul, so his letters will do. Paul’s Gospel may present these events as the pinnacle or climax of Paul’s message, even a condensed summary, but a complete representation? What about Jesus’ teachings, his messianic identity, his miracles and exorcisms, his empowerment by the Spirit, his ascension, his present reign and priestly advocacy, and his appearing? Would Paul have thought these things to be secondary or peripheral? I doubt it.
When we read Paul’s letters we cannot forget that these letters are occasional. When he wrote to the Church in Thessaloniki he addressed eschatological concerns. When he wrote to the Church in Galatia he addressed the difference between Covenants Old and New, especially as this relates to the Spirit. When he wrote to Rome he summarized how the Gospel unites Jews and non-Jews under the reign of Christ. When he wrote to Corinth he had to correct some things, including the idea that although Jesus may have resurrected from the dead, there is no future resurrection.
Paul writes, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believe in vain.” These words may sound like he is about to summarize the Gospel he preached, but that doesn’t seem to be what he does at all. Instead, Paul appears to remind them that he has preached the Gospel, it was received, and it is that which continues to save them, so now, let me remind you of those things that are of “first importance” or those things Paul presented to the Corinthians first of all (ἐν πρώτοις): Jesus died. Jesus was buried. Jesus resurrected.
Paul is saying that he began his proclamation with this message. This was his opening proclamation: Jesus, Israel’s Messiah, he was dead, even buried, but God has resurrected him from the dead. Everything follows from this, but that does not mean that everything else is unimportant.
It was not the chapter I read that alone made me revisit Paul’s words, but my recent post on evangelicalism (A Dialogue between a Catholic and an Evangelical: Why I am an E/evangelical) caused me to revisit the definition of “the Gospel,” since it seems “Evangelicals” might want to take seriously the content of the “Evangel” itself. Similarly, I’ve mentioned Paul many times on this blog and I realize that there remains an misperception among admirers and detractors of Paul that his Gospel was radically divorced from Jesus’. Now, if Paul’s Gospel is “justification by faith” or even the death, burial, and resurrection without the context of Jesus’ person and message then yes, there is a disconnect. I don’t think this is the case though. Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom and Jesus acted as the coming King of that Kingdom. Now, the Father’s plan included allowing the King to die, then vindicating the King by means of an apocalyptic, eschatological resurrection before the anticipated great resurrection, but that doesn’t mean Jesus’ Kingdom message doesn’t matter. Instead, Jesus’ Kingdom message was made unique by the means of God establishing his chosen King. Paul on the other side of the resurrection understood this. Therefore, Paul emphasized it, which is not surprising since the Evangelists do the same thing. All four of our earliest, preserved Gospels give more attention to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection than to the rest of his story. We may not be able to explain how Jesus understood his death (though he appears to have anticipated it), or his resurrection, but we do know that after the resurrection Jesus’ earliest followers reinterpreted all of his words and deeds in light of God’s action on his behalf. If one affirms that the resurrection happened it makes sense to presume that Jesus himself would have come to fully understand his life, mission, and identity more fully than before he had overcome death (if you struggle with accepting that Jesus learned propositionally, then at least we should acknowledge experientially/existentially).
In your blog above I didn’t see any reference to what Paul was fighting against: The presumption by Jews who opposed Christ that they’d be justified by works of the Law such as circumcision, which they thought gave them standing as the people of God. Instead, Paul is clear that the people of God are those who have faith in God like Abraham did. The good news is that the promise (salvation, resurrection, etc.) made to the faithful remnant of Israel was being fulfilled or about to be fulfilled, and those who were presumptuous and thought that they could represent God without being faithful to him were about to be put to the sword. Translating that into a lesson for 2013 is what is causing the problem because there are no more Jews beholden to the elements of the Mosaic worship system (though without real faith in God like Abraham’s) threatening Christians.
It seems to me that Paul’s argument in favor of justification by faith in Christ over against works of the Law has more to do with defending and supporting the implications of his Gospel than it is his Gospel. I don’t want to make a hard and fast distinction there, but if Paul’s Gospel is as Romans 1 presents it, namely, God has chosen his Davidic Messiah, his Son, and this has been made known when God raised Jesus from the dead by the Spirit, then the debate over works of the Law follows this, but it isn’t one and the same with it. That’s why I didn’t discuss that specifically.
Ultimately, with Paul, I think there is the question “What Gospel (exactly) was Paul proclaiming?”
I believe Paul proclaimed a Godly message, drivien by His love and relationship of Yahshua – however I’m convinced the latitude Christian’s take with his message, sometimes conflicting, suggests broadly, that Christian’s themselves don’t know the Gospel he proclaimed. (Thus, the Piper/NT Wright debate has been fascinating as it exposes this clearly).
Christian ‘doctrine’ has been imposed on Paul’s message – and while certainly some of it is true, and correct – not all of it is. Accordingly, how do we recover what Paul wrote, and what he meant. Recovering what he wrote is exegesis 101 – go back to the biblical languages. However it is more – see how he cites the OT and gauge its original context against the context he uses. Christian’s don’t do this often. How we regain what he meant is a little tougher though.
I recommend we identify and discard the theological language we’ve imposed onto the text and read the original Greek, plainly, honestly, and against the framework not of the language of theology, but the language of plain (meaning secular) Greek speaking Hebrews. This requires we give up comfortable habits, and language, but what we gain is oh so much richer!
Great post. Paul certainly had the saving significance of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and exaltation as the heart of his message, but he clearly emphasized various aspects of that message depending on the situation he faced. Looking at the way Paul contextualizes the gospel has been a helpful reflection on how we might do the same today. A couple of questions occurred to me. Do you think there is a particular passage that provides a more comprehensive summary? Or, do we have to pull the pieces together from various passages to get a full view? If our only option is to pull it together from various texts, what (if any) problems might arise with a composite definition of the gospel?
I recommend we identify and discard the theological language we’ve imposed onto the text and read the original Greek, plainly, honestly, and against the framework not of the language of theology, but the language of plain (meaning secular) Greek speaking Hebrews.
Absolutely , but how does one do this when it goes against the doctrines we confess as truth? How many sacred cows must we sacrifice ?
What do we do with the fact that they didn’t speak Greek to each other?
I would add that while Paul might not quote from Jesus’s teachings as much as we would like, he still shows familiarity with them and seems to be influenced by them. The most obvious example is on divorce, but it’s not the only one. Some of his exhortations in Romans 14, for example (do not repay evil with evil, etc.), would fit right in with the Sermon on the Mount even if they’re not straight from it.
What makes you think they were hindered by language. I believe their native tongue was hebrew but one of the tools given by The Holy Spirit was the gift of speaking and interpreting tongues . I believe all of Paul’s was authored in greek,except Hebrews which Paul may have been apart of writing it, Acts and Luke were probably authored in Aramaic and Matthews in Hebrew , John and greek Matthew in whatever Justin compiled and authored it in. and Mark in greek for those who wanted Peter’s sermon in Rome in writing.
But what Andrew is saying is follow the grrek that we have it in instead of being told what it says by people with doctrinal agendas, you would be surprised what the greek actually says!
That’s a pretty eclectic choice of language for different books. I’ve never seen that configuration before. But, my point was more toward the environment of the ministry of Christ itself. If everything that he taught the masses was done in Aramaic (which I think it probably true) then how do we get absolutely grammatically inerrant text in Greek? You can’t perfectly communicate the Hebrew/Aramaic verb system to Greek and the vocabulary requires some interpolation, so I don’t understand how Greek texts to us are any more useful than Romanian or German ones.
The Romanian or German ones are based on greek,latin or aramaic of which only date to 4th century so which the latin and aramaic is most likely based on the greek. The best we can do is make sure doctrinal bias is not interpreting the translations , seek reproof by early historical writings which present no motive when quoting bible and use the whole bible to reprove.
Some may feel the early writings should be ignored but properly using them will expose when a belief came into existence but one must still be very diligent to make sure they are properly translated
Robert said “Absolutely , but how does one do this when it goes against the doctrines we confess as truth? How many sacred cows must we sacrifice ?”
It depends upon how we establish what is true or not. We (meaning most reasonable people), have two types of truths. We have presuppositional truth, axiomatic premises we simply hold or reject on faith, or conclusive truth, assertions we derive from that first set using logic and reason (deductively, inductively, or abductively).
It is easier to amend conclusive truths since those assertions have been derived from logic, show the logic false, or the premise invalid and the conclusion is unwarranted. However the axiomatic premises, our presuppositions are much tougher. Those ones can only be tackled through a much more rigorous exploration of the sum collection of other axioms (and this is done typically only abductively which is a weaker type of reasoning).
Therefore to answer your question, we have to be primarily committed to reaching ‘truth’ whatever the cost, and we cannot be nostalgic about the truths we hold. We must be humble and consider the alternatives. I suggest that lack of humility is the primary reason people typically aren’t willing to give up doctrines dear to them – though I confess another reason might be that as long as reason is sound, conclusive assertions can only be discarded by disproving the underlying axioms they are built upon (which, as I said, is difficult to do).
doug wilkinson said “What do we do with the fact that they didn’t speak Greek to each other?”
Great question. Certainly this is a bit tougher. It’s true Hebrew and Aramaic ideas are what have been preserved in Greek – I don’t think the Greek text is devoid of all trace of this. One tool I used in the LXX. The LXX preserves direct correlation between Hebrew thought and idiom, and Hebrew thought and idiom expressed in Greek. Since we have the LXX in Greek and most of the underlying Hebrew texts, we can compare NT Greek ideas with the language expressed in the LXX against the underlying Hebrew. This isn’t perfect, but its certainly fruitful compared to ignoring the issue. Two examples:
[Romans 11:25] has the tough phrase “… ἄχρις οὗ τὸ πλήρωμα τῶν ἐθνῶν εἰσέλθῃ” often translated “…until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” which means little to us in English. However, this is a Hebrew idiom. Look at ἐθνῶν (G1484) in the LXX where it always seems to representation the Hebrew “גוי” (H1471) as in [Isa 49:6] “nations” or [Amo 6:1].
What about the word “πλήρωμα” (G4138), found before? In the LXX we see it used in [Psa 24:1], [Psa 89:11]. What Hebrew word is “πλήρωμα” representing? From [Psa 23:1] it represents the Hebrew word “מלא” (H4393) – same with [Ps 89:11].
The expression fullness of Gentiles which means little to us, in Hebrew would be “מלא הגוים” which is an expression we find in [Gen 48:19] nearly exactly.
Not only have we recovered a Hebrew idiom from the Greek – we make Paul’s Roman argument make more sense by clarifying it. [Rom 11:25] should be translated something like “For I would not have you ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own conceits; that a partial blindness has befallen Israel, until the ˻multitude of nations˼ is come.“. Paul is directly referencing Israel’s fate in the new covenant as a function of the Abrahamic promise and is directly referencing [Gen 17:4-5] and [Gen 48:19] – yet simply translating from the Greek into English muddles it .. (how about that?)
Sorry – that was only one example which took more space than I expected. I’ll forgo the second example …
Those are good questions. I don’t think there is one place where Paul summarizes his Gospel. I know we heard this said more times than we care to have heard it, but the saying reminds true, “Paul was not a systematic theologian.” All we have is occasional letters. Yet, in some places like Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 15 he does seem intent on clarifying his Gospel. So maybe (though I haven’t thought deeply about this) we should begin with those places, then ask if other aspects of his letter seem to be adding to that core message or applying the message.
Also, I think we must ask what Paul is doing when he says “there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free.” Is this the Gospel or the implication of the Gospel? Paul’s words about Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, a son of David, who died, who was buried, who was resurrected by the Spirit seems to be the innermost core to me. The epistles to Thessaloniki and places like Romans 8:18-32 show us that the eschatological aspect of the Gospel is very important. Then in Romans, Galatians, and Philemon the removal of barriers to make one new people seems vastly important. On the other hand, what about eating meat offered to idols, or divorce and remarriage, etc? I think these are example of Paul trying to apply his Gospel.
Absolutely, Paul’s message has many echoes of the Jesus we meet in the Gospels.
“Then in Romans, Galatians, and Philemon the removal of barriers to make one new people seems vastly important.”
Have you ever really researched why Paul used Greek instead of Gentile? Or have you researched how judaism was contrary to the actual Words of The Covenants ? What relationship the Gentiles had with Israel of Hosea who it was said would be reconciled to YHWH? What relationship this one new people had with the rejoining of Israel with Judea to become one people again?
Have you studied the manmade laws of judaism to understand what Paul was actually referencing when he spoke of days,months and years,the Sabbath,festivals and new moons, food and drink that may or may not have been dedicated to false gods, how circumcision was never a requirement to hear the Word preached and a few more?
Should I read these questions as interrogatives or declaratives? I sense that there may be many ways to answer “yes” and “no” depending on what you are seeking. Do you have something you’d like to say about these things?
.. and I wonder if Paul wrote letters we no longer possess. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
I think the letter to the Laodicians would be particularly helpful (as well as the two other to the Corinthians that probably existed).
It does seem from Paul’s epistles to Corinth that there were epistles written that we do not posses.
They are just questions I have formed from some of your statements. You can elaborate if you chose in answering them.
Brian said “Also, I think we must ask what Paul is doing when he says “there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free.” Is this the Gospel or the implication of the Gospel?”
Given that the quote by itself is part of a broader argument Paul’s making about how Paul’s audience (including Paul) were held bound by the law ([Gal 3:23]) before faith, its neither the Gospel, nor an implication of the Gospel but a tautology: the idea being that as one tautology is true, so is the other because it is symmetric. The unspoken, but strongly implied, tautology is that in condemnation there is neither Jew, nor Greek, nor male, nor female, nor slave nor free, but all (from the bit “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin”).
Therefore there is also neither Jew, nor Greek, nor male, nor female, nor slave nor free any longer under the guardian (the law) so no longer enslaved by the law. One tautology implies the other.
The mistake people make is assuming this comment equates to an invalidation of God’s covenant relationship to His people. Or worse (from the perspective of exhibiting understanding) Paul’s comment is also not saying those distinctions no longer exist. We know from Jeremiah 31 that Gods covenant relationship to His people will stand forever (i.e. never amended).
The relationship being expressed here is people’s relationship to the law, not their relationship to each other. The law is a feature of the covenant, so those covered by the covenant might be free, or slaves, or male, or female …etc. likewise, those excluded by the covenant, or those under its curse of condemnation might still also be slave, free, male, female, etc.
Basically, it’s saying whether or not those distinctions exist, they are not the ones that count.
very interesting take
Oh, and the reason Paul says ‘Greek’ is because that represents the particular group the Jews were rejecting. So the question is which group of so-called Greek Galatians had formerly been under the law, who Paul considered his brothers, and who Paul recognized as having worried about whether or not they were descendants of Abraham?
Certainly not Greek pagans, and certainly not Jews (since Paul says Greeks) …. that leaves only one possible group, who strangely would explain much prophecy ..
I would stand with most commentators on Paul’s use of “Greek”(Ἕλλην), i.e. Greek customs and language was thought by many to be the pinnacle of culture. Sometimes Paul contrasts Greeks with Barbarians. Sometimes Paul contrasts Greeks with Jews with Greeks representing the non-Jewish nations.
As far as “Judaism” being contrary to the words of the Covenants, that is quite broad, and I’m not sure what you mean. Similarly, I don’t have much to say about Hosea’s prophesies. I know Paul borrows from the language and imagery, but I tend to read Paul’s interpretation of the prophets as uniquely Pauline. I don’t find Paul trying to reconcile the authorial intent with current situations. Paul’s use of Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans and Galatians is a good test case.
I really wish you would research the early church writings, you really have a very good comprehensive skill.
Brian, would you agree that my suggestions is just as valid (even of not popular), or that yours is simply assumed but not proven – to be fair – would you not?
No, I wouldn’t see them as equally viable.
“but I tend to read Paul’s interpretation of the prophets as uniquely Pauline”
If Paul reinterpreted the Prophets then he was not a man of the Elohim. He would be calling Him a liar.
Your take is the very same I came up with after studying the Prophets in light of NT quotes
Ok – my claim is not without justification, so allow me to expose my premises:
Strabo, in speaking of the Cappadocians (which included the Galatians), makes it clear though these people spoke Greek, they were not Greek. (Strabo Geography, Book XVI, Chap 1)
Herodotus likewise makes it clear these Greek speakers he considered ‘Syrians’ saying “The Cappadocians are known to the Greeks by the name of Syrians. Before the rise of the Persian power, they had been subject to the Medes; but at the present time they were within the empire of Cyrus, for the boundary between the Median and the Lydian empires was the river Halys” (Herodotus i, 72) and “This people, whom the Greeks call Syrians, are called Assyrians by the barbarians … In the same fashion were equipped the Ligyans, the Matienians, the Mariandynians, and the Syrians (or Cappadocians, as they are called by the Persians)” (Herodotus vii, 72).
So, would you agree that if Paul was writing ‘Galatians’ (as suggested by the letter name), he was also writing Cappadocians, in other words Greek Assyrians, who the Greeks did not consider Greeks (according to 2 ancient Greek historians)?
Would you also agree that he calls these Greek speaking Galatians – “brothers” [Gal 1:11; 3:15; 4:31; 5:11; 6:1, 18].
Would you also agree that these Greek speaking, Assyrian Galatians were worried about status under the law?
Have I err’d in my reasoning so far? If correct that Galatians were Cappodocians who were Assyrians, would you agree that Paul could not then be talking about the Greek people but only a people who had adopted Greek customs? So the question is, why would Paul be talking to Cappodocians about Greek relationships to the House of Judah instead of Cappodocian (meaning Galatian) relationships to the House of Judah?
My thinking is far, far simpler: Paul would not have thought this deeply about Greek identity. Like many other ancient writers who lump together “Greeks” he would have done the same. His epistles show no concerns for identity politics at that level.
Hang on – Paul says “Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of the promise.” [Gal 4:28]
That is a very specific claim Paul makes to and about his audience. How could Paul possibly say such a thing to a pagan Greek?
How do you justify ignoring the implication his audience shared a common ancestry?
How do you justify that Paul was writing to a people about their standing under the law when pagan Greeks never had any such concern?
How about he speaks of the Promises which belonged to Israel?
Paul didn’t need to think deeply at all about Greek identity. It was the historical reality of his day.
Is it correct to say since all Texans are American, all Americans must be Texans? Effectively, you’re saying since all Galatians were Greeks, its ok to suggest all Greeks must be Galatians. Remember – Paul was writing to Galatians! During this time, Greeks didn’t consider Galatians to be Greek even if they spoke Greek. Only we make that mistake (or at least Christian scholars ignorant of the history of the Seleucid–Parthian wars do).
If this letter was written to uncircumcised Cappadocians (who had hailed from Assyria), isn’t it anachronistic and therefore incorrect to say Paul was writing to Greek people when he was really only writing to a specific subset (Greek speaking people) relative to Judeans?
Basically, you’re suggesting we have to ignore historical context and the reality of the audience he was addressing which seems like a somewhat dogmatic position to take. If your claim is true (that Paul ignored the context of history) how do we explain that he concluded his blessing to the ‘Israel of God’ (in [Gal 6:16])? Are you suggesting he was equating Greek people (who his audience wasn’t) to the ‘Israel of God’?
I think Paul would be very interested in how the Prophecies for the restoration of Israel would be fulfilled and the identity of the Northern Kingdom. His use of Hosea prophesy and Jeremiahs prophesy of the renewed Covenant .
Acts 1 :6 show it was even expected by those who were taught personally by Yahshua.
I will never understand how replacement theology became mainstream ,it requires ignoring most of the Prophets
As I’ve said before, I find your views on this matter to be straining credulity. You know how these questions are going to be answered. I have nothing to add that other commenters haven’t said on this subject. I know you’d like to use this blog to promote your schtick, but I’m not interested in the discussion. If it is something we’ve all missed terribly then maybe (as I’ve said before as well) you should start a blog dedicated to your ideas.
I agree Robert. That’s more or less what I’m suggesting.
Basically, Judeans and Greek speaking Cappadocians (who the Greeks did not see as Greeks, and who had hailed from Assyria, and are listed specifically in 1 Peter 1:1) were collectively worrying about who really had a relationship to God – the circumcised Judeans who had been to Babylon and back (because they were circumcised and continued on the in the law) or the uncircumcised Israelites who had been to Assyria and had abandoned the law but converted to Christianity.
Paul was showing them that the stick of Judah had been joined to the stick of Israel (ala [Eze 37]) under the anointed Messiah. Tell me the “bone for bone and sinew from sinew” found in [Eze 37:7-10] is not the body of Christ, with many members having been made alive by the Spirit (or breath of Ezekiel) described in [1 Cor 12]?
The fact it explains prophecy precisely is simply the cherry on top. The idea Paul was writing to pagans about pagan standing to the law is popular in Christian theology, ignorant of Paul’s concern, completely oblivious to the context in which Paul wrote and simply makes no sense.
Some ‘Greeks’ were the pagan Hellenes from the Greek isles; some ‘Greeks’ were any old non-Jews; some ‘Greeks’ were Hellenized Jews; and some ‘Greeks’ were the God-fearing almost proselytes who for whatever reason chose not to convert to Judaism but believed its truths and worshipped YHWH. It was clear to Paul to whom he was addressing or speaking about. It’s either not always clear to us or we forcibly apply the term onto whomever reinforces our prejudices.
Brian, I know that’s what you think – but I don’t know why. I’m pressing you to justify your belief, not promote my schtick. You’re saying that Paul was writing to pagan Greeks, and I’m questioning that. Since truth bares scrutiny you must have something more than mere dogma.
Either the Galatians were Greek speaking Assyrians as Strabo and Herodotus suggest, so not actually Greek, doesn’t that influence how we read Paul’s message? Such a detail cannot be incidental to how we understand Paul. It’d be like us focusing on the Crucifixion as an example of Roman jurisprudence, rather than focusing on the Crucifixion as God’s redemptive plan – one view kind of misses the point. So why not either address my claim or justify yours, instead of simply avoiding it because its inconvenient (and getting frustrated with me).
I have nothing to lose by you proving me wrong. What do you have to lose (save perhaps for a false notion? Dialogue is how we rid ourselves of false belief or build up true belief. Given that people debate about the meaning of Galatians, isn’t the pursuit of meaning worthwhile?
If that is how you read the text that is fine. Maybe you will save all of us idiots who misunderstand Paul. Maybe. Someday.
This blog is a public forum, so I read many, many views coming from all over the map. I engage those that make sense to me and that I perceive to be sensible and potentially fruitful. I have to pick-and-choose and your view (as elaborate as it is) is one of those views that is not the best use of my time. Sorry. You know I am not interested in following your trail of thought. I’ve expressed that many times. That’s all I have to say on the matter.
Rick, would you say that a prejudice that favours an author’s intended meaning to the exclusion of others is a prejudice not worth having?
…the good news is there does seem to be a few people who are interested in your perspective and who share some presuppositions. Why ignore them? I don’t have to be part of every discussion that happens on this blog.
Brian, I am not suggesting you are an idiot. I respect both the depth and breadth of your knowledge. I also respect your patience with your readers.
However, that this line of reasoning, for what ever reason, is sensitive to you, and seems to raise your ire – is proof it defines a boundary, and not just any boundary but an emotive one.
Avoid it if you must, but know this – our boundaries are what limit us. I won’t press you further (at least not in this thread)
Thank you, I appreciate you willingness to avoid further pressing my sensitivity and emotions.
It’s self interest .. hopefully one day you’ll return the favour …
I’m not quite sure that is possible.
“As far as “Judaism” being contrary to the words of the Covenants, that is quite broad, and I’m not sure what you mean.”
What I am asking is what do you base your assumption “the removal of barriers” on? Have you researched second temple judaism to understand Yahshua’s and Paul’s problems with the scribes and pharisees ? Do you think Yahshua or Paul ever broke or taught against the Sabbath or any command in any way contrary to the Law given to Moses? Have you studied the Oral laws of second temple judaism to see if they were and are contrary to The Commandments given to Moses?
All good questions. I don’t have answers for you at this time.
Let me note for readers something important: when I post on a topic I have time to discuss that topic. I know people come to a post and that post may lead them to think about related or adjacent topics. Sometimes those topics are closely related enough for the transition to make sense. Far too often, as with Robert’s long list of questions or Andrews effort to drive every conversation about Paul back to his ideas on Jewish and Greek identity as it relates to Paul’s views of the prophets, these topics are not what I addressed in the post. Feel free to ask questions or chat among yourself if adjacent ideas come to mind, but I’m not the Bible Answer Man. I don’t try to make the whole of the Bible into one coherent message where every loose end ties together. Often, I won’t be as interested at trying arrive at clean, crisp conclusions with no sharp edges. If I tried to engage such a project I wouldn’t be able to focus on topics that matter most to me.
So, that said, chat on, answer each other’s questions, arrive at new conclusions, and as often as possible I will participate. If you want to talk with me the best thing that can be done is discuss the topic I address in the post. That is a cue that I am thinking about that topic and that I am ready to discuss that topic.
You certainly should be at liberty to choose what to discuss just like all that read and post here does.
If you do decide to answer my questions let me know so I dont miss them.
Brian – that’s an unfair accusation. I don’t try to drive every conversation to Paul’s ideas on Jewish and Greek identity. However, I do recognize that comes up but more often than not because the line of conversation exposes people’s presuppositions.
When someone makes a comment about some position that presupposes something to be true, if that presupposition isn’t in fact true – it is germane to the discussion.
There is an exegetical lens betwixt us that relies on whose presuppositions are most accurate. I reject the idea that Christian theology should be built up from the false notion the biblical writers were trying to unite Israelites with pagans, as that ultimately makes God out to be a liar of sorts. Also, I reject Christianity which falsely equates Israelites and Judeans because the bible itself doesn’t. The bible is slightly more nuanced than than, and really, to do so is simply poor scholarship.
So because you represent my challenges to you to confront your assumptions (when they are germane to the discussion) as trying to drive conversations a particular direction constantly – is polemic.
As a blogger, you are in the opinion business. As a blogger who permits others to interact with your opinion, you must be prepared for those instances when your opinion is itself challenged. When you indicate ‘enough’, either directly or through the tone of your response (which is typically, but not always gracious), I respect that. But I’m hardly commandeering the discussion.
What would happen if … we did find Paul’s missing letters, and were able to convincingly prove they were indeed Paul’s? Do we include them in the bible, or would controversy simply prevent consensus?
That depends on if the letters support or witness against the doctrines of the first possessor whether we would ever hear of them. There is a letter of Eusebius called Quaestiones ad Stephanum et Marinum that wasnt even translated to english till 2011 because it went against sunday resurrection of orthodoxy.
I find it very strange that Tertullian as late as mid- late second century didnt know or didnt believe Paul claim to be an Apostle and the source of this claim came from Marcion .
Nothing is without an origin except God alone. In as much as of all things as they exist the origin comes first, so must it of necessity come first in the discussion of them. Only so can there be agreement about what they are: for it is impossible for you to discern what the quality of a thing is unless you are first assured whether itself exists: and you can only know that by knowing where it comes from. As then I have now in the ordering of my treatise reached this part of the subject, I desire to hear from Marcion the origin of Paul the apostle. I am a sort of new disciple, having had instruction from no other teacher. For the moment my only belief is that nothing ought to be believed with- out good reason, and that that is believed without good reason which is believed without knowledge of its origin: and I must with the best of reasons approach this inquiry with uneasiness when I find one affirmed to be an apostle, of whom in the list of the apostles in the gospel I find no trace. So when I am told that he was subsequently promoted by our Lord, by now at rest in heaven, I find some lack of foresight in the fact that Christ did not know beforehand that he would have need of him, but after setting in order the office of apostleship and sending them out upon their duties, considered it necessary, on an impulse and not by deliberation, to add another, by compulsion so to speak and not by design. So then, shipmaster out of Pontus, supposing you have never accepted into your craft any smuggled or illicit merchandise, have never appropriated or adulterated any cargo, and in the things of God are even more careful and trustworthy, will you please tell us under what bill of lading you accepted Paul as apostle, who had stamped him with that mark of distinction, who commended him to you, and who put him in your charge? Only so may you with confidence disembark him: only so can he avoid being proved to belong to him who has put in evidence all the documents that attest his apostleship. He himself, says Marcion, claims to be an apostle, and that not from men nor through any man, but through Jesus Christ.a Clearly any man can make claims for himself: but his claim is confirmed by another person’s attestation. One person writes the document, another signs it, a third attests the signature, and a fourth enters it in the records. No man is for himself both claimant and witness. Besides this, you have found it written that many will come and say, I am Christ.b If there is one that makes a false claim to be Christ, much more can there be one who professes that he is an apostle of Christ. [Against Marcion 5.1]
Considering Tertullian put this question solely to Marcion must mean he was unaware of this claim meaning this passage was probably added by Marcion to exalt his Paul over the one in Acts. I really never realized that Marcion may have been the author of the anti-hebrew passages in some of Pauls writings which the universal church accepted because of their hatred of the jews.
How is it people use Tertullian to show Marcoin edited Luke when most scholars will agree that Marcion,s gospel shows he left the most damaging to his belief in it. There is really not that much difference between Mark and Marcion,s gospel. Most of Marcions beliefs are in line with much of Paul,s anti-jew statements in his letters which was retained by the church. plus how is it people accept Tertullian’s feelings toward Marcion but ignore his statements and beliefs that Paul’s claim to be an apostle to be a false claim . Dont get me wrong I am no follower of Marcion but do believe he delivered a gospel unedited but probably edited a large portion of Paul’s letters which was then probably re-edited by Rome enough to hide Marcion’s additions but not totally removing them
Wow, that was a waste of time. I thought the discussion would come back to the topic of the post (which I enjoyed reading and I reckon is important).
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