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Re: [XTalk] F C Baur

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Crosstalk In Response To: Coleman Baker On: Paul at Corinth From: Bruce COLEMAN: Despite Baur s too simplistic view of Christian origins, particularly at
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 19, 2010
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      To: Crosstalk
      In Response To: Coleman Baker
      On: Paul at Corinth
      From: Bruce

      COLEMAN: Despite Baur's too simplistic view of Christian origins,
      particularly at Corinth, his detection of the conflict between Peter and
      Paul (and later Petrine and pauline groups) remains rather convincing, at
      least to me!

      BRUCE: No argument; indeed, I should think it's convincing to everyone. But
      to detect that there was a conflict between Peter and Paul requires, after
      all, only that (1) one have some idea of which texts are relatively secure
      as direct testimony to Paul's feelings, and (2) that one read those texts.
      It is not some kind of breakthrough. And it is a *deleterious* breakthrough
      if one stops there, and fails to take note of other oppositions, not only at
      Corinth (Paul/Apollos) but elsewhere (Paul/Barnabas, Peter in the early
      layers of Mark vs Peter in the later layers of Mark; and so on and on).

      So yes, I would agree that Peter and Paul were in some kind of tension. But
      what then? I always recommend John Knox's "Chapters" as a good exercise in
      clarifying what that tension was, exactly, and what were its historical
      conditions, without getting too sugared up with the Acts I view of things.

      The thing with the NT texts (not to mention the major and obviously relevant
      noncanonical Christian texts) is that in addition to portraying conflicts
      such as the Peter/Paul one, they themselves conflict. They argue
      passionately (2 Peter is a convenient example; so is 1 John) on one side of
      some issue, against those who hold the other side. The interest of this, for
      me, is not to say which is right (let alone which is orthodox in the sense
      of modern orthodoxy), but what these people were up to, and what that one
      particular confrontation means in the whole sweep and panorama of Early
      Christian controversy, both internal and external.

      How it fits in, and (final metaquestion) what exactly it fits into. The
      author of Acts II certainly had a picture of the large great progression of
      Christianity to a point of triumph and final decision about its nature and
      destiny. As an interpretation of Christian history, it is admirably done.

      It's beautiful. But it's beautiful like a church window, which does not
      depend for its effect on whether this picture of Esau, over here in the
      lower left corner, is historically accurate. It makes its best effect from
      about 10 yards away, when Esau (or whoever) gets lost in the blaze of color
      and the progression of the design.

      Upward and outward; that is the message of Acts II. That picture has almost
      wholly dominated thinking on Christian history ever afterward. We are only
      now beginning to dig out from under it, and to recover some of the pieces (a
      few of them embedded in Acts itself) which speak more directly to a somewhat
      more complicated, but probably more accurate, situation.


      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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