[XTalk] the trial of Paul (was Jesus the Taxpayer)
- Jan Sammer wrote:
> I have just returned from the vault and a reading of Liz's article on[snip]
> taxcollectors and the temple incident. An interesting example of how the
> same evidence can be marshalled in the defense of two quite different
> theories. In examining the gospels it is important to understand the
> circumstances under which they were written and the purpose for which they
> were written; if we succeed in doing that we have a handle on what to
> discount and what to accept as historical. Since the earliest NT writings,
> including Q, GMark and the "we" source of Acts date by all indications to
> ca. 60 A.D., it is important to consider the political pressures of the
> time, and the very purpose for which these earliest NT writings were
> composed. The key event for the early Christians in that period was the
> trial of Paul.
An intriguing thesis. But before I can even begin to buy into any of it, I need
have clarification on a couple of points.
If I've understood you correctly, you claim that the key event not only in early
Christian history but by implication for Judaism of the 60s was the trial of
Paul, since the issue of that trial was whether or not "Christianity" would
supplant Judaism in the eyes of Roman officialdom.
It seems to me, then, that if such a thing was being mooted -- by Paul or by any
one else within the early Jesus movement -- it would surely have left some trace
in the histories and literature of the time. What is your evidence that after
Paul's trial Christianity was regarded by Romans as in (unsuccessful)
competition with Judaism? Is there any evidence that suggests anything other
than that among Roman elites -- even by the time that Christianity and Judaism
began to have a separate existence and identity -- the Jesus movement was viewed
not as separate from or as in competition with, but as a form of Judaism?
Furthermore, what is your evidence that anyone in the Jewish community in
Jerusalem, let alone the Christian one, knew, not to mentioned cared, what was
happening to Paul in Rome. Surely if Paul's trial was something which was
engineered in order actually to deprive Judaism of its status as a religio
licta, we could expect to find some record of the knowledge of this seminal
event -- or some discussion of its significance -- in Jewish sources of the
period? But to my knowledge, nothing like this exists.
Any explanation for this?
Jeffrey B. Gibson
7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
Chicago, Illinois 60626