Paul and James
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
JOHN E STATON
- In your response this date to Ron Price's suggested equation of Acts 15
= Gal. 2 (i.e. Paul's visits to Jerusalem), I find your
statement most interesting in that you say " ... whereas it is far more
probably that Galation 2 = Acts 11: 27ff." I am most curious about your
use of the word "probable" - upon what basis or bases do you consider it
more "probable"? Perhaps you mean "preferable"? In any event, I do not
see your giving us any reason for your evident preference. In point of
fact, your preference entails many complications, to say the least ...
perhaps even contradictions, as John Knox explored/explained in his
splendid little book, "Chapters In A Life Of Paul." Instead of my
attempting to lay out any precis of his excellent presentation I would
suggest that your might find reading it useful, but in case you have I
would then appreciate your addressing his arguments rather than
Wedderburn as Dr. Knox's presentation is one of the classics on this
Clive F. Jacks, Th.D.
Professor of Religion, Emeritus
(but now happily retired back home in the metro Atlanta area!)
P.S. To this list's moderators, I have been wondering if it might be
time to remind those postings opinions that it is most helpful (not to
mention an important part of this list's protocols) for listers to
identify themselves other than by just name when posting their comments ...?
Ron wrote, "Fortunately we also have Matthew's
gospel, and its author was quite conservative, retaining some of the sayings
of Jesus which offended many other Christians. Thus we know that Jesus
believed in the permanence of the Jewish 'law' (Mt 5:18) and in confining
the mission to Jews (Mt 10:5; 10:23). There should be no doubt that his
brother agreed. So the movement led by James did not want to include
Gentiles."Do I assume then that you regard the last three verses of Matthew's gospel as inauthentic? I see no reason for so doing. Indeed, I believe a more careful reading of Matthew's gospel shows that he did expect the inclusion of Gentiles into God's people after the resurrection. The other problem you have is that the letter of James is in the canon. Given that the second century church called Paul *the* apostle, if there had been anything like the great split between James and Paul you (and others) suggest, it is extremely doubtful James would have got into the canon. The problem with some of these theories about Christian beginnings is that they are often quite vague about how the church of the second century emerged from these projections. In addition everything we hear about James - not just from Luke but also from Hegessipus - suggests he is a conciliatory figure on the Jewish Christian side rather than a hard-line partisan.Best wishes
JOHN E STATON (BA Sheffield; DipTheol. Bristol)
Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UKSent from my iPad
[XTalk] Re: Paul and JamesI had written:
" ..... So the movement led by James did not want to include Gentiles."
John Staton replied:
Do I assume then that you regard the last three verses of Matthew's gospel as inauthentic?
Yes. They were probably composed by the author of Matthew's gospel. They convey the challenge of the Church's mission. But the target audience ("all nations" as opposed to "Israel") and the rite of admission to the community (baptism as opposed to circumcision) indicate fundamental differences from the missions envisaged by Jesus and his brother James.
The other problem you have is that the letter of James is in the canon.
Eusebius regarded the "Epistle of James" as one of the "disputed" books. It does seem strange to me that it was eventually canonized, but only because its teaching in places seems directly aimed at criticizing Paul's emphasis on faith. I guess the canonization was because the epistle was thought to have been written by an apostle. In any case by that time everyone's knowledge of James the brother of Jesus and his relationship with Paul would have been coloured by the somewhat biased presentation of Acts.