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19473Paul and James

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  • John E Staton
    Aug 20, 2005
      Your assessment of the relations between these two figures seems to have
      some resemblance to the reconstruction of AJ Wedderburn, "The History of
      the First Christians". The weakness of Wedderburn's reconstruction is,
      however, his treatment of the relationship of Acts 15 to Galatians 2. He
      insists that these two passages record the smae event, whereas it is far
      more probable that Galatians 2 = Acts 11: 27ff. His reasons for
      rejecting this solution are far from convincing. He argues that Luke
      mentions no discussion of Paul's gospel. This is of little relevance. It
      would not suit Luke's literary purpose to record a discussion of Paul's
      gospel at this point, because he was about to record such a discussion
      in Acts 15. And it would not suit Paul's purpose in writing Galatians to
      speak too much of the famine relief aspect of the visit. All he was
      concerned to do was to record discussions about his gospel with the
      apostles. In addition, it would accord with the picture of Jewish
      administration potrayed in Burtcheall's "From Synagogue to Church" to
      see this as a meeting of the "notables" of the Jewish Christian
      synagogue, prior to the meeting of the Council of Yahweh in Acts 15.
      Whenever major councils were held in Judaism in that day, the matter was
      usually discussed, and even sown up, by a meeting of the main
      protagonists beforehand. Thus Paul records this prior meeting, and Luke
      the set piece.

      But why does Paul not mention the Acts 15 event? In the context of his
      argument in Galatians 1-2 he could not conceivably omit to mention *any*
      visit to Jerusalem. The answer is that the Acts 15 event had not yet
      occured, and that Galatians was written to the churches of his first
      missionary journey prior to his departure for Jerusalem. Wedderburn
      speculates about an irreconcilable split between Paul on the one hand,
      and Peter and James on the other, purely on the basis that the
      disagreement in Galatians 2:11ff occured *after* the Acts 15 council. If
      it occured before, things look very different, and it would appear
      reconciliation had been achieved. There would always have been tnesions,
      of course, but not such a deep and irreconcilable split as you and
      Wedderburn suppose.

      Best Wishes

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