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Re: [Synoptic-L] Christological Peculiarities

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  • Jeff Peterson
    If Paul felt free to say, I opposed Cephas to his face because he was self-condemned, . . [the Jews in Antioch] were not walking correctly with respect to
    Message 1 of 36 , Oct 1, 2010
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      If Paul felt free to say, "I opposed Cephas to his face because he was
      self-condemned, . . [the Jews in Antioch] were not walking correctly with
      respect to the truth of the gospel, . . . Barnabas too was drawn into their
      hypocrisy, . . . so I said before all them . . . ," I don't see why he
      couldn't have said "Cephas and James and John have misunderstood the gospel"
      if in fact he thought they were wrong in theory, as opposed to wrong about
      the gospel's implications for practice.

      Instead, he's careful to distinguish the Pillars from the false brothers
      (who required circumcision of gentile converts on principle, a position the
      Pillars, who "added nothing" to Paul, did not support in Jerusalem), and he
      only criticizes a Pillar when his practice of separating himself from
      gentile Christians at table (evidently out of deference to what may have
      been no more than the discomfort of James' representatives with a concrete
      situation they had not encountered in Jerusalem) in practice belied the
      Jerusalem accord which recognized Paul's gentile converts as members of the
      eschatological people of God. (In the matter of table fellowship, Paul
      maintains that separate isn't equal.)

      On a more general level, we differ about the degree to which Paul could
      engage in "hiding the ball" in Gal (and likely elsewhere); I think a serious
      consideration of the rhetorical situation of the letter demands that Paul
      make no claims the Galatians couldn't verify.

      Jeff Peterson
      Austin TX

      On Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 12:57 PM, Ronald Price <ron.price@...> wrote:

      > Jeff Peterson wrote:
      > > With his credibility and his relations with the churches in a whole
      > region
      > > on the line, Paul asserts that from the outset of his ministry the
      > churches
      > > of Judea recognized the gospel that he preached as the same faith to
      > which
      > > they adhered (Gal 1:23),
      > Jeff,
      > This verse cannot be properly understood unless we take into account the
      > context in 1:6-9. Here Paul expressed his astonishment that the Galatians
      > were turning to a different gospel. In Peake's revised commentary, J.N.
      > Sanders commented thus (and more eloquently than I could have expressed
      > it):
      > "There is only one genuine gospel, that which he had preached. That to
      > which
      > the Galatians are so quickly turning is a spurious substitute, however high
      > the authority of those who preach it".
      > There is only one earthly authority which could have trumped that of Paul,
      > namely the authority of the "pillars". So although Paul dare not say so
      > directly, the "different gospel" must have been the gospel proclaimed by
      > the
      > original Jesus movement led by James and Peter.
      > Thus "the faith" in 1:23 probably referred not to the (Pauline) gospel, but
      > to the general faith in Jesus which was the lowest common denominator of
      > the
      > faith shared by James, Peter and Paul.
      > > ..... he reports that he and the Jerusalem Pillars were
      > > in agreement on the content of the gospel and mutually recognized one
      > > another's apostolates (Gal 2:1�10),
      > Paul did not explicitly say there was agreement on the content of the
      > gospel. His careful reference to "the gospel for the circumcised" and "the
      > gospel for the uncircumcised" (which need not be the same), together with
      > the corresponding distinct spheres of influence (v.9) gave Paul the green
      > light to follow his main aim to convert gentiles (1:16). The apparent
      > accord
      > in vv. 9-10 (more likely a diktat by James) amounted at best to little more
      > than an agreement to keep out of each others' way. (And if Acts 18:26 and
      > 19:8 are to be believed, Paul didn't keep his side of the accord.)
      > > ..... To make assertions about his
      > > relations with Jerusalem which would not be confirmed by authorities
      > there
      > > would be to risk losing the Galatian churches needlessly.
      > Paul didn't seem to care what the authorities thought (1:8). But he did
      > realize that there was a limit to how harshly he could criticize them,
      > hence, for instance, the rather subtle barb in 2:9 : "those reputed pillars
      > of our society" (NEB).
      > Ron Price
      > Derbyshire, UK
      > http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Ronald Price
      ... Jeff, What I m trying to say here is that one can accept a hero who has minor flaws, such as the earnest but fallible Peter who emerges from a casual
      Message 36 of 36 , Oct 3, 2010
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        Jeff Peterson wrote:

        > ..... Your "ordinary follower of Jesus" would
        > have found it just as difficult to believe that while the Pillars didn't
        > understand how followers of Jesus should conduct themselves at table, Paul
        > did;


        What I'm trying to say here is that one can accept a hero who has minor
        flaws, such as the earnest but fallible Peter who emerges from a casual
        reading of the gospel of Mark. But a follower of Jesus can't accept a hero
        who is fundamentally on the wrong track christologically. So Paul could not
        have portrayed Peter in this way without upsetting many of his Galatian

        > I think the reality described by 1:11 is more complex than Paul having had a
        > visionary experience which included a command to "Preach this," with a list
        > of propositions appended. Rather, as persecutor he had already heard what
        > Jesus' followers were proclaiming about him (viz., the crucified Messiah had
        > been raised and enthroned with God, inaugurating the age of deliverance
        > promised in Scripture) .....

        James and Peter were expecting the kingdom of God to come with power
        (Mk 9:1, derived from logia saying C12), i.e. the overthrow of the Roman
        occupiers and the establishment of God's kingdom on earth. This clearly
        hadn't happened when Paul came on the scene. Paul's supporter, Mark, had to
        replace the hopes of the original disciples for the establishment of a new
        Israel (saying C21, c.f. Mt 19:28) with a reward in the life to come (Mk
        10:29-30). This echoed Paul's promise of eternal life (e.g. Rom 6:22-23).
        The idea that the kingdom had been inaugurated by the coming of Jesus arose
        after the deaths of the original disciples when it began to look as if the
        return of Jesus was delayed and might be delayed a lot longer.

        > Your last sentence [regarding the ability or otherwise of the Galatians to
        > check Paul's claims] neglects the extent of travel in the early Empire, and
        > the use made of this mobility to connect early Christian communities;
        > ..... We know that Paul organized Corinthians and Macedonians for an
        > embassy to Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:3–4; 2 Cor 9:4),

        Travel was indeed facilitated by the Pax Romana, and also by the widespread
        Roman roads. But it was still slow. Your example above concerns a journey
        which Paul regarded as most important. Travelling several days merely to
        check on the truthfulness or otherwise of Paul's assertions in Galatians
        would have been a lot less palatable.

        > It was very shortsighted of Paul to maintain that he and the Pillars agreed
        > on the gospel if contact with their followers was a real possibility for his
        > converts, and if the reaction of a Jerusalem Christian to an acclamation
        > like "Praise be to the God and Father of our crucified Messiah Jesus, who
        > raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand" would have been,
        > "Come again?"

        But as I indicated earlier in this thread, I don't think Paul claimed that
        the pillars agreed on the gospel.

        > ..... Peter and the
        > other disciples are depicted as uncomprehending regarding Jesus' impending
        > death and resurrection during his ministry, but their eventual enlightenment
        > and proclamation of these events is clearly anticipated (9:9; 13:9–13; 14:9,
        > 27–28; 16:7).

        I don't see 9:9 or 14:9 as indicating eventual enlightenment.
        As for 14:28 and 16:7, I take these verses as early interpolations designed
        to rehabilitate Peter. They are quite inconsistent with the rest of the

        > In historical terms, once Jesus is executed, a Christology like that
        > ascribed to Peter in 8:27–33 becomes untenable .....

        I agree. But my understanding of what transpired is that James, Peter et al.
        changed to a 'Son of Man' christology (see my reconstruction of the logia),
        Paul faced up to the inconsistency by glorying in the crucifixion (e.g. 1
        Cor 1:23 : "we proclaim Christ crucified"), but playing down the belief in
        Jesus as messiah by (for the most part) using "Christ" merely as a sort of

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

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