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The Conversion of Paul

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  • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
    To: GPG Cc: Var On: The Conversion of Paul From: Bruce I have found out something. It is possible to go to your library, take off the shelves everything with
    Message 1 of 11 , Jan 30, 2010
      To: GPG
      Cc: Var
      On: The Conversion of Paul
      From: Bruce

      I have found out something. It is possible to go to your library, take
      off the shelves everything with "Paul" in the title, pile them by a
      chair, and read through them, say 3000 or 4000 pages, without getting
      the answer to the first question a child is likely to ask about Paul,
      or even having that question come up at all. That question is:

      Why did he change?

      I suspect that the answer is ultimately the same as the answer to this
      question:

      Why did Mician logic emerge in the 04c?

      But at this moment I am interested in what answers other people may
      have thought of (or found convincing) to the Paul question. Paul's
      conversion was probably experienced by him, and it was certainly
      represented by later writers, as an instantaneous and supernatural
      vision. I take that as symbolic, including the possibility of
      symbolism in the mind of the person to whom the change of view is
      happening. But what precisely is being symbolized? What does that
      change consist of, and what produced it? What did it solve, in the
      mind of Paul?

      Any suggestions or references welcome.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • David Cavanagh
      ... I m left wondering why it is supposedly more objective and exemplary of academic distance to insist that what Paul experienced as a supernatural vision
      Message 2 of 11 , Jan 31, 2010
        On 31/01/2010 5.48, brooks@... wrote:
        >
        > To: GPG
        > Cc: Var
        > On: The Conversion of Paul
        > From: Bruce
        >
        > I have found out something. It is possible to go to your library, take
        > off the shelves everything with "Paul" in the title, pile them by a
        > chair, and read through them, say 3000 or 4000 pages, without getting
        > the answer to the first question a child is likely to ask about Paul,
        > or even having that question come up at all. That question is:
        >
        > Why did he change?
        >
        > I suspect that the answer is ultimately the same as the answer to this
        > question:
        >
        > Why did Mician logic emerge in the 04c?
        >
        > But at this moment I am interested in what answers other people may
        > have thought of (or found convincing) to the Paul question. Paul's
        > conversion was probably experienced by him, and it was certainly
        > represented by later writers, as an instantaneous and supernatural
        > vision. I take that as symbolic, including the possibility of
        > symbolism in the mind of the person to whom the change of view is
        > happening. But what precisely is being symbolized? What does that
        > change consist of, and what produced it? What did it solve, in the
        > mind of Paul?
        >
        I'm left wondering why it is supposedly more objective and exemplary of
        academic distance to insist that what Paul experienced as a
        "supernatural vision" was really "symbolic" rather than taking it at
        some kind of face value. Granted that academic study deals in
        objectives, this still comes uncomfortably close to a Dawkins-like
        reductionism for my liking, given that visions are -by their very
        nature- a subjective phenomenon.

        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.

        And -as a parting consideration- doesn't this discussion belong on
        "Corpus Paulinum" or a similar forum rather than "Synoptic-L" ?

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


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
        To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, WSW In Response To: David Cavanaugh On: The Conversion of Paul From: Bruce I had wondered why Paul changed, from being a persecutor of
        Message 3 of 11 , Jan 31, 2010
          To: Synoptic
          Cc: GPG, WSW
          In Response To: David Cavanaugh
          On: The Conversion of Paul
          From: Bruce

          I had wondered why Paul changed, from being a persecutor of early
          Christianity to being a zealous apostle of Early Christianity, and
          invited opinions or references.

          DAVID: I'm left wondering why it is supposedly more objective and exemplary of
          academic distance to insist that what Paul experienced as a
          "supernatural vision" was really "symbolic" rather than taking it at
          some kind of face value. Granted that academic study deals in
          objectives, this still comes uncomfortably close to a Dawkins-like
          reductionism for my liking, given that visions are -by their very
          nature- a subjective phenomenon.

          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. If study of the early Christian movement is to occur at all
          in an academic context, it is going to be on what David calls an
          "objective" basis. This excludes taking miracles literally. Visions
          people see are real to themselves, and are reported as facts, and can
          be dealt with by the academic historian accordingly. Historians need
          not share a belief to record it and treat it as part of the record.
          Napoleon's feelings or lack of feelings for Josephine are as
          subjective as you get, I should suppoed, but no historian shrinks from
          making them (when appropriate) part of the story. It is just that the
          historian does not need to feel about Josephine exactly as Napoleon
          did. In this distance, in standing at one remove from the people in
          the story, while trying to report them as accurately as possible,
          history as a discipline gets whatever credentials it may have as an
          academic discipline.

          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: And -as a parting consideration- doesn't this discussion belong
          on "Corpus Paulinum" or a similar forum rather than "Synoptic-L?"

          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.

          3. It is, or ought to be, relevant to even the most narrow construal
          of "synoptic" to display evidence in favor of a synoptic hypothesis,
          however remote the evidence in question may be from synoptic data per
          se. My Paul question was asked in hopes (now seen to be vain) of
          eliciting evidence along that line, without exactly saying what the
          bearing of the evidence on the question would be. I will now state
          what it would be, or would have been.

          4. Paul had a "zealous" temperament, to use his own term. His zeal was
          at first directed against the young belief, and then with equal energy
          exercized on its behalf. What changed him? (I ask the question that
          way as respecting Paul's own account, of an event happening to him,
          and not a decision of his own). Was it guilt for those he had killed?
          There is no sign of it in his writings. Was it the acquisition of a
          larger human outlook? Again, no sign; Paul is narrowly focused from
          beginning to end. I think it may be that the Christianity Paul at
          first opposed did indeed deeply offend his Pharasaic sesnsibilities,
          but that a later version, which he encountered after a period as a
          persecutor of primitive Christianity, made more of an impression on
          him, creating an inner cognitive dissonance which, given his logical
          mind (logical of a certain sort, but not shrinking from the
          conclusions to which logic leads: one has to concede Paul his courage)
          would have sooner or later produced a break. That is, it is possible
          that Christianity A struck him as merely offensive, whereas
          Christianity B raised questions about Judaism which in the end he
          could only answer by agreeing with them. Hence the intellectual
          explosion and reconfiguration.

          5. What might that logical challenge have been? We have two kinds of
          clue. One is the point of doctrine Paul most stresses in his earliest
          letters (minus their interpolations, the prior question on which some
          good recent work has been done). Whether or not his emphasis later
          changed is not decisive; what counts is his first convictions. As
          David points out, these may be lost to us in a Nabatean mist, but we
          can only work with the nearest thing we have.

          6. The second is the series of doctrinal changes that the stratified
          Mark reveals to us as taking place in at least one locale of early
          Christianity.

          7. If the two match, that is, if the difference between Christianity A
          and Christianity B should fit what we see in Paul's earliest
          doctrines, then we might have something interesting, I submit that
          such a result would also be interesting in the specifically synoptic
          sense, as tending to confirm a synoptic theory.

          Respectfully submitted,

          Bruce

          E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
        • David Cavanagh
          ... 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
          Message 4 of 11 , 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)


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
            To: Synoptic Cc: GPG In Response To: David Cavanagh On: Accretional Mark From: Bruce The nature of Paul s vision seems to me, for reasons earlier given, not
            Message 5 of 11 , Feb 1, 2010
              To: Synoptic
              Cc: GPG
              In Response To: David Cavanagh
              On: Accretional Mark
              From: Bruce

              The nature of Paul's vision seems to me, for reasons earlier given,
              not really amenable to discussion in an academic context, and I
              forbear accordingly. Its content, on the other hand (about which there
              are different early opinions) seems to me a matter of great and
              discussable interest. As to my theory of Mark, we had the following:

              DAVID: I have to say that I find it rather unconvincing, . . .

              BRUCE: Not surprising, since the theory wasn't presented, only one of
              its results. Someone interested in that theory, or in theories of that
              type, can start out by consulting Adela Yarbro Collins' reconstruction
              of what she calls the Pre-Markan Passion Narrative, at the back of her
              recent commentary on Mark. I think she stops too soon, but as far as
              she goes, I generally agree with her result.

              DAVID: . . . though I see connections to Ralph P Martin's hypothesis
              that Mark, far from being based on Peter's reminiscences, . . .

              BRUCE: Don't know Martin's work, but I doubt that any serious
              investigator needs help in ignoring, at least at the outset, any
              author statements whatever that are made about an ancient work.
              Authorship is typically the least certain point, and thus the least
              satisfactory place to begin research. Maybe at the end. What matters,
              or anyway what it is usually the most fruitful to investigate, is what
              the text is and what it says.

              DAVID: . . . is heavily influenced by Paul.

              BRUCE: I wouldn't say "heavily." I think it likelier that Paul was
              heavily influenced by the kind of Christianity that is reflected in
              the later layers of Mark. As to things going the other way, I do find,
              after years in which it seemed frivolous to me, that there may after
              all be something in Loisy's suggestion that the rival exorcist of Mk
              9:38f is a reference to Paul, the rival preacher par excellence.

              It's just that this suggestion, like so many other isolated ones, is
              best judged after a certain amount of acquaintance with the whole
              text. Isolated ideas are generally hard to work with; it is easier to
              take them in groups and bunches. For the general principle, see Bryan
              Van Norden (ed) Confucius and the Analects: New Essays (Oxford 2002)
              163-215.

              Bruce

              E Bruce Brooks
              Warring States Project
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
            • David Cavanagh
              ... Maybe it is just that I am younger and less experienced, but I would agree with your past self -Loisy s hypothesis is frivolous and indeed I would
              Message 6 of 11 , Feb 1, 2010
                On 01/02/2010 11.56, brooks@... wrote:
                >
                > I do find,
                > after years in which it seemed frivolous to me, that there may after
                > all be something in Loisy's suggestion that the rival exorcist of Mk
                > 9:38f is a reference to Paul, the rival preacher par excellence.
                >
                Maybe it is just that I am younger and less experienced, but I would
                agree with your past self -Loisy's hypothesis is "frivolous" and indeed
                I would suggest it is eisegesis.

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


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Chuck Jones
                Bruce, A couple of comments on Paul s conversion. First, it seems historically safe to conclude that Paul did in fact experience a vision of Jesus. Second,
                Message 7 of 11 , Feb 1, 2010
                  Bruce,
                  A couple of comments on Paul's conversion.
                  First, it seems historically safe to conclude that Paul did in fact experience a vision of Jesus.
                  Second, referring to Paul as converting to Xnty is anachronistic and incorrect.  Paul lived and died as a Jew, having (often heated) conversations with other Jews about whether Jesus was the Messiah and whether and on what basis Gentiles could join the (Jewish) messianic community.  At most one could say that Paul joined the sect of the Way, but he doesn't seem to think of it that way, since he describes himself as a Pharisee, not a former Pharisee.
                  Third,  I believe the problem Jesus solved for Paul--and for many, many diaspora Jews--was I just can't believe that my God-Fearer friends, whom I love like family, are really going to be condemned by God.
                  Rev. Chuck JonesInterim Executive DirectorWestar Institute___________________________
                  Bruce wrote:

                  Paul's

                  conversion was probably experienced by him, and it was certainly

                  represented by later writers, as an instantaneous and supernatural

                  vision. I take that as symbolic, including the possibility of

                  symbolism in the mind of the person to whom the change of view is

                  happening. But what precisely is being symbolized? What does that

                  change consist of, and what produced it? What did it solve, in the

                  mind of Paul?






                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • David Mealand
                  Bruce writes that none of the books in his library answer the question why did Paul change? My memory is that some books do at least have a go at this. I
                  Message 8 of 11 , Feb 7, 2010
                    Bruce writes that none of the books
                    in his library answer the question
                    why did Paul change?

                    My memory is that some books do at least
                    have a go at this. I called in G----- books
                    to help out my memory, and duly found a more
                    recent item by Theissen referring to the earlier
                    work I remembered. (key: Paul & vision in
                    author Theissen). A very brief annotated
                    result follows:

                    A theory of primitive Christian religion? - Page 334
                    Gerd Theissen - 2003 - 393 pages
                    (also cites an earlier work of 1987 by Theissen on psychological
                    aspects of Pauline theology)
                    The subjective vision theory has been renewed most recently by Gerd
                    Lu"demann...
                    .... (Theissen then engages with this...)
                    Then he discusses whether Paul's vision has any relation to a prior
                    unconscious conflict with the law....

                    My own view would be that we do need to ask
                    why Paul was hostile, before asking why he changed.
                    That might then not be so distant from
                    the problems of some of those Synoptic passages
                    indicating mutual antipathy between Synoptists
                    and "scribes".

                    David M.

                    ----------
                    Bruce wrote
                    ----------
                    I have found out something. It is possible
                    to go to your library, take
                    off the shelves everything with "Paul"
                    in the title, pile them by a
                    chair, and read through them, say 3000
                    or 4000 pages, without getting
                    the answer to the first question
                    a child is likely to ask about Paul,
                    or even having that question come
                    up at all. That question is:

                    Why did he change?
                    ---------



                    ---------
                    David Mealand, University of Edinburgh


                    --
                    The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
                    Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
                  • Dennis Dean Carpenter
                    One might also ask whether it was Paul who changed, or whether those who copied the Paulines over time, those who represented what became the orthodoxy
                    Message 9 of 11 , Feb 7, 2010
                      One might also ask whether it was "Paul" who changed, or whether those who copied the Paulines over time, those who represented what became the orthodoxy "changed."

                      Dennis Dean Carpenter
                      Dahlonega, Ga.

                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
                      To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, WSW In Response To: David Mealand On: Paul s Change of Mind From: Bruce Thanks to David for the reference to Theissen, and especially the
                      Message 10 of 11 , Feb 7, 2010
                        To: Synoptic
                        Cc: GPG, WSW
                        In Response To: David Mealand
                        On: Paul's Change of Mind
                        From: Bruce

                        Thanks to David for the reference to Theissen, and especially the
                        tantalizing capsule "Then he discusses whether Paul's vision has any
                        relation to a prior unconscious conflict with the law...." I will look
                        it up when I next can. Also:

                        DAVID: My own view would be that we do need to ask why Paul was
                        hostile, before asking why he changed. That might then not be so
                        distant from the problems of some of those Synoptic passages
                        indicating mutual antipathy between Synoptists and "scribes".

                        BRUCE: Surely both. To explain a change means to explain both its
                        ends. Either Paul restructured his prior understanding on further
                        contact with Jesus converts, or, as I am currently suspecting, he
                        encountered at some point a second variety of Jesus doctrine which had
                        a different, and catalytic, effect on him.

                        Whether it was (1) a prior unacknowledged conflict with the law (not
                        at all impossible for a Diaspora Jew), as I gather Theissen suggests,
                        or (2) a new concept of Jesus that fitted in differently with his
                        understanding, not only of the law, but of the tradition in which the
                        law was embedded, or (3) something else, is to me still open. My
                        current suspicion is the second alternative. Jesus as a teacher of a
                        revised Mosaic rule would presumably have offended the conventional
                        Paul, who accepted the minute later additions to Moses, and justified
                        his persecutions, not least since it fits Paul's own characterization
                        of himself as zealous for the traditions of the fathers (Ga 1:14; I
                        repeat that Jews in the early lit sometimes accuse Christians of
                        impiety toward Moses, which is otherwise unintelligible), whereas
                        Jesus in the context of saving atonement, reaching as it would past
                        Moses to Abraham and to the primary promise of God to Israel, would
                        put the law itself in a new context, and tap into a deeper sense of
                        what Judaism, and ultimately what God and Man, were all about. It
                        would dethrone the law as a definition of religious identity, which is
                        exactly the point at which Paul seems to have changed most dramatically.

                        Thus the current hypothesis. As I think I earlier suggested (those who
                        were at the 2007 SBL session will have gotten the full details), there
                        is reason in Mark to conclude that the doctrine of the atonement is a
                        second development in early Jesus theory. Then the possibility of two
                        types of Jesus communities, the second of which Paul encountered only
                        after a certain amount of zealous persecution of what for him was mere
                        Moses deviationism, has a second leg to stand on. The evidence of
                        other early Christian documents (not here repeated, but the emphasis
                        in some of them on Abraham rather than Moses is surely suggestive) is
                        the third leg.

                        Or so it looks from here.

                        Bruce

                        E Bruce Brooks
                        Warring States Project
                        University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                      • brooks@asianlan.umass.edu
                        To: Synoptic Cc: GPG, WSW In Response To: Dennis Dean Carpenter On: Paul s Change of Mind From: Bruce DENNIS: One might also ask whether it was Paul who
                        Message 11 of 11 , Feb 7, 2010
                          To: Synoptic
                          Cc: GPG, WSW
                          In Response To: Dennis Dean Carpenter
                          On: Paul's Change of Mind
                          From: Bruce

                          DENNIS: One might also ask whether it was "Paul" who changed, or
                          whether those who copied the Paulines over time, those who represented
                          what became the orthodoxy "changed."

                          BRUCE: I would agree, I have in the past often asserted, that on this
                          or any other problem, the first step is to check the nature of the
                          texts we are working from. If they are spurious, or if they are
                          composite, or if they were later scribally corrupted, all bets based
                          on simple integral readings are off.

                          But the possible problems are wider than just scribal errors (the
                          province of the "lower criticism"), they include early manipulation of
                          the Pauline texts before they went public (the job of the "higher
                          criticism"). There has been some good work done on these matters,
                          unfortunately widely ignored by an increasing number of modern people,
                          but still helpful for those who want to see what was actually
                          happening at the time. P N Harrison's contribution is fundamental on
                          the Pastorals and related issues; William O Walker is very good - and
                          also systematic - on interpolations in the genuine Epistles. And what
                          is the result? One result is that there are tendencies IN THE
                          INTERPOLATIONS which suggest why they were made (in most cases, to
                          legitimize and enshrine later church practices and structures). All
                          this must be subtracted before we can begin talking about Paul.

                          That he changed, Paul himself says (in the surviving, noninterpolated
                          portions of the genuine epistles). We don't need to treat it as a
                          retrospective hypothesis. Orthodoxy changed, or rather it formed and
                          impinged, and thus complicated the text record, but the good news is
                          that the text record can be cleaned up, at least to quite an extent,
                          and thus can tell its part of the story more clearly.

                          On that purified corpus of what can now be called primary evidence, we
                          can now hope to see what Christianity was when Paul first positively
                          encountered it, and also what contributions he himself later made to
                          its content and direction.

                          (And only then can we begin to take up such topics, prematurely and
                          therefore rashly discussed by many, as the "Paulinism of Mark." It's
                          the same in Sinology: we don't know the Chinese doctrine of the state
                          until we get rid of the Empire texts masquerading as pre-Empire texts
                          (eg, Han Feidz), and identify intrusive portions in the pre-Empire
                          texts (all the others), and then put the whole material on a
                          chronological basis, that we have a chance of saying where the idea of
                          the Empire came from, and how it was realized in practice).

                          So it looks from here.

                          Bruce

                          E Bruce Brooks
                          Warring States Project
                          University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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