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2454Re: [Synoptic-L] The Conversion of Paul

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  • David Cavanagh
    Feb 1, 2010
      On 31/01/2010 20.54, brooks@... wrote:
      > To: Synoptic
      > Cc: GPG, WSW
      > In Response To: David Cavanaugh
      > On: The Conversion of Paul
      > From: Bruce
      > BRUCE: I think the bottom line here, uncomfortably enough for some, is
      > that (1) faith and reason don't mix, and that (2) academe is dedicated
      > to reason.
      DAVID: I beg to differ. This is the hoary old chestnut that faith is
      irrational. Not so: faith, in all major world religions (Christian,
      Buddhism, Muslim etc) has its reasons. Certainly there are
      presuppositions involved, but that is the case with all topics in which
      humans seek for (or create) meaning. That includes academe, which has
      its' own presuppositions -a good example of which is the a priori
      exclusion of the supernatural.
      > Visions
      > people see are real to themselves, and are reported as facts, and can
      > be dealt with by the academic historian accordingly.
      DAVID: Exactly: people have experiences which can be described as
      "visions". We don't have to subscribe to the content of the vision, but
      we do have to take the experience itself seriously. To my mind, to
      simply describe this as "symbolic" is to prematurely superimpose a
      modernist understanding of what is happening in "visions" and therefore
      a failure to maintain that "distance" and "critical disengagement" which
      is the academic ideal, and which would lead us to seriously investigate
      the nature and origins of that "vision".
      > DAVID: In any case, it's arguable that Paul did not become a Christian
      > only on the basis of a "supernatural vision" or encounter with the
      > risen Christ. After all, Galatians 1:17-18 may indicate a gestation
      > period of three years before Paul fully absorbed whatever happened on
      > the Damascus Road.
      > BRUCE: We don't have to take Paul's word for it, or for anything else.
      > It does make sense to notice what he says, or what he thinks is
      > happening to him. His take (by which I do not mean the Acts narrative)
      > is that his turnabout was sudden, not gradual. We might want to argue
      > with him, but I think his testimony as a witness is admissable.
      DAVID: I did not suggest that we "take Paul's word for it". I said it
      was "arguable" that his conversion was not completed in a moment. Paul
      certainly gives the overall impression that his turnaround took place in
      a flash, but Galatians does hint otherwise. That is part of the
      admissible witness, surely.....
      > BRUCE: That's for the list managers to say, always assuming they are
      > reading this stuff at all. If hauled before the Board to explain my
      > conduct in raising the question, I would answer in more or less this
      > way:
      > 1. It is given that a discussion of Mark, including the possibility
      > that Mark is a stratified text, is legitimate on this list according
      > to the list's own stated rules.
      > 2. I have previously presented, on this list and at SBL meetings both
      > local and national, a hypothesis of an accretional Mark, specifically,
      > a core narrative about half the present size gradually augmented by
      > new material. The successives waves of new material are there, it
      > turns out, to update the text so as to keep it current with prevailing
      > doctrine. That is, the layers of Mark give, like an ice core or a
      > stratified archaeological site, a mini-history of evolving Christian
      > doctrine at one center (the Markan community, wherever it was) from
      > very early times onward, for a total time depth of about 20 years,
      > including most of the career of Paul. If this is true, and standard
      > philological procedure seems to support it (I refer to my earlier
      > critique of Adela Yarbro Collins's stratification of only one portion
      > of Mark, which in my judgement respected standard procedures), then
      > the history of doctrinal evolution recovered this way from Mark can be
      > in turn an important new datum with which to approach other problems.
      DAVID: a fascinating defence of the relevance of the original question.
      I'll take it as your "vision" of the question, but, while I don't have
      time to look into it in depth (I should be reading on Buddhism this
      morning!) I have to say that I find it rather unconvincing, though I see
      connections to Ralph P Martin's hypothesis that Mark, far from being
      based on Peter's reminiscences, is heavily influenced by Paul.

      David Cavanagh
      Major (The Salvation Army)
      Florence (Italy)

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