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Re: [Synoptic-L] Christological Peculiarities

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  • Jeff Peterson
    ... The point is, the upstart Paul did oppose Cephas et al., but on an aspect of their behavior, not their doctrine. Your ordinary follower of Jesus would
    Message 1 of 36 , Oct 2, 2010
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      On Sat, Oct 2, 2010 at 8:49 AM, Ronald Price <ron.price@...> wrote:

      > . . . Cephas and James and
      > John had known Jesus in the flesh, and the ordinary follower of Jesus would
      > have found it difficult to believe that they had not understood all about
      > Jesus and his mission, whereas the upstart Paul had understood it.
      >

      The point is, the upstart Paul did oppose Cephas et al., but on an aspect of
      their behavior, not their doctrine. 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; yet that didn't inhibit Paul from opposing Cephas and the Jewish
      Christians in Antioch when he thought their actions warranted this. This
      makes it a reasonable conclusion that when Paul says he and the Pillars were
      in agreement on the Gospel, that's in fact the case.


      > That there was a clear distinction between what Paul proclaimed and what
      > the
      > 'pillars' believed is surely evident from Gal 1:11 (Paul received his
      > gospel
      > be revelation, not from human testimony), and Gal 2:2 (he had to explain
      > his
      > gospel to James, Peter and John). For although Paul claimed that these
      > apostles blessed his mission, he gave no indication that his explanation of
      > his gospel had led them to adopt it in their own mission.
      >

      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) and found this message or the behavior it justified
      (or both) grounds to oppose them forcefully; Paul's vision of the risen
      Jesus (1 Cor 9:1 et al.) served to convince him of the truth of this
      proclamation by showing him that Jesus had indeed been raised from the dead
      and led him to a re-evaluation of the gospel he had opposed and of its
      implications.

      Bultmann famously said that the range of the term "gospel" embraced both the
      content of the proclamation and the act of proclamation; his existential
      interpretation of the latter sense doesn't make a lot of sense as an
      historical exegesis of Paul, but he wasn't wrong to observe the semantic
      range of the word EUANGELION, which Paul uses to refer both to the message
      proclaimed and to the act of proclaiming it, which he also refers to as his
      APOSTOLH (the expressions in parallel to one another in Gal 2:7�8).


      > > 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.
      >
      > I'm not sure what you mean by "hiding the ball". But if you mean using
      > subtle rather than open criticism, then surely any subtle statement would
      > be
      > impossible to falsify because of the ambiguity. We must bear in mind also
      > that we're discussing the first century, not the 21st. century. A first
      > century inhabitant of Galatia would surely have found it extraordinarily
      > difficult to verify anything relating to people or events in Antioch or
      > Jerusalem.
      >

      By "hiding the ball" I mean "systematically concealing the fact that he and
      the authorities in Jerusalem differed fundamentally on the content of the
      gospel," which I maintain is implausible given the evidence of the letters
      for contacts between the Pauline mission and Christians in Jerusalem,
      Antioch, and Rome.

      Your last sentence neglects the extent of travel in the early Empire, and
      the use made of this mobility to connect early Christian communities;
      Michael Thompson's essay in Bauckam's *Gospels for All Christians* is a good
      survey. We know that Paul organized Corinthians and Macedonians for an
      embassy to Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:3�4; 2 Cor 9:4), and by Thompson's
      calculations travel from South Galatia to Jerusalem would have taken about
      the same amount of time as travel from Philippi; North Galatia was somewhat
      more remote, but in either case it's not unreasonable that Paul would have
      anticipated or even encouraged travel between the Galatian churches and
      Jerusalem, as he did in the case of his Macedonian converts.

      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?"

      To take us back to this List, Peter's christology was depicted as primitive
      > and reprehensible by the author of Mark's gospel (8:27-33) who was, in
      > Goulder's terminology, a Pauline. If the Mark of Phm 24 was the author of
      > this gospel (and why falsely attribute authorship to a nonentity?), then
      > the
      > first gospel's implied criticism of Peter's christology would have been
      > derived directly from Paul.
      >

      This seems a rather narratively insensitive way to read Mark; 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).

      In historical terms, once Jesus is executed, a Christology like that
      ascribed to Peter in 8:27�33 becomes untenable unless one goes the Docetist
      route (which seems unlikely for Jews who knew Jesus in the flesh); if Jesus
      was a human being who was crucified (whatever else he was), you can offer an
      interpretation of his death, or you can de-emphasize his death and direct
      attention to his teachings (as *Thomas* does), or you can reject him as a
      false prophet (as did a majority of Jews who knew anything about him), but
      you can't any longer maintain that he's the Messiah and deny that
      crucifixion was part of God's paradoxical will for him. What would such a
      Christology look like?

      Jeff Peterson
      Austin Graduate School of Theology
      Austin, TX


      [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;

        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
        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
        converts.

        > 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
        narrative.

        > 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
        surname.

        Ron Price

        Derbyshire, UK

        http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
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