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Re: [ematthew] Matthean vs Pauline Soteriology

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  • Ekaputra Tupamahu
    dear Malcolm, Thank you for your thought. I think that, of course, I have to begin with our personal assessment of what the text is saying. Without that we
    Message 1 of 6 , Sep 12, 2005
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      dear Malcolm,

      Thank you for your thought. I think that, of course, I have to begin
      with our personal assessment of what the text is saying. Without that
      we will not have enough basis for our theological articulations.

      Actually i came to this problem when i did an exegetical research on
      Matthew 7:15-23. Especially in verses 21-23, Matthew warned the false
      prophets by using an eschatological dialogue between Jesus and them.
      Matthew puts this eschatological 'conversation' as the climax of the
      whole section on the danger of the coming of false prophets. It is
      interesting because Matthew based his eschatological judgement on
      doing the will of God. This should be noted that Jesus even does not
      care about their acknoledgement that he is Lord. The faith in Jesus
      as Lord is not counted as determining point for salvation. It is in
      "doing" (o poiwn - the one who does) the will of the father, people
      would be justified in the eschatological judgment.

      In this discussion, i then encuontered Luz and Ehrman' position that
      this was obviously another school developed in early christianity in
      "contrast" with Pauline school. If Ehrman is right, then we still
      have a representative (perhaps plus James) of non-Pauline tradition in
      the Bible that saw salvation as something gained by works not merely
      faith. Through this discussion, I just want other biblical scholars,
      like yourself, to help me understand this contradiction.

      best wishes,
      Ekaputra


      On 9/12/05, malcolm robertson <mjriii2003@...> wrote:
      > Dear Ekaputa,
      >
      > If you are going to come to terms with what is what re Pauline and
      > Matthaean soteriology then might I suggest that you first begin with an
      > assessment of what the text is actually saying for your own self. Luz,
      > Ehrman et al have done as much - with more or less success - so why in the
      > world would you wish to blindly follow the dicta of persons you hardly know?
      >
      > Cordially,
      >
      > Malcolm Robertson
      > _____________________________________
      >
      >
      > Ekaputra Tupamahu <ekaputrat@...> wrote:
      > Hi all,
      >
      > I just finished reading Ulrich Luz' The Theology of The Gospel of Matthew.
      > I
      > found that he frankly acknowledges that there is a clear contradiction
      > between Matthean and Pauline soteriology. On one hand, Pauline soteriology,
      > as has been articulated by Reformers in 1500s, is Justification by faith
      > and
      > not works. But on the other hand, Matthew seems to represent another
      > non-Pauline tradition in early christianity (p. 47). For Matthew,
      > especially
      > in his discussion on the Sermon on the Mount, the judgment of God is not
      > based on people's "faith" to Jesus. It is obviously based on their works.
      > Luz argues, "to put it blunt;y, it is not faith that determines whether we
      > are saved or damned, but works."
      >
      > I think that Luz has tried to be honest to the text. Because of their
      > theological background, some scholars are trying hard to read Matthean
      > theology through the perspective of Pauline concept of justification by
      > faith. We, of course, cannot do this. it is really an unfair attitude to
      > Matthew because we do not let him speak for himself. He has his own agenda
      > in writing his Gospel and this agenda cannot be determined by Pauline
      > theology.
      >
      > According to Bart Ehrman (in his book: The Lost Christianities), this
      > school
      > of thought, i.e. Matthean school, (later represented by Ebionism) in the
      > church history was claimed as heretic by those who called themselves as
      > orthodox Christians. I am still struggeling with this because The whole
      > dabate in early church to determine orthodoxy and heretics was very much
      > politically manipulated (at least according to Ehrman). Do we have to
      > depart
      > from orthodox Christianity?
      >
      > What do you all think about this?
      >
      > Best wishes,
      >
      > Ekaputra Tupamahu, MA
      > Asia Pacific Theological Seminary
      > 444 Ambuklao Road
      > Baguio City - Philippines
      >
      >
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      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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    • malcolm robertson
      Dear Ekaputra, If one asks the wrong question one will arrive at the wrong answer. Is the question as posed the correct one? Is the discourse that Jesus
      Message 2 of 6 , Sep 13, 2005
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        Dear Ekaputra,

        If one asks the wrong question one will arrive at the wrong answer. Is the question as posed the correct one? Is the discourse that Jesus articulated a contrast with Paul or others - Pharaisees. Sadducees, Herodians, et al?

        It can hardly be maintained - based on one pericope - that Matthew's gospel supports a works righteousness or justification before God based on merit. My point was and still is that our dialogue sould be based on one between the text and ourselves - not with so called scholars.
        Ehrman and Luz both have missed the contrast that Jesus has made in his own discourses - plain and simple.

        In addition Ehrman is hardly one I would look to for solutions based on his own unprincipled and haphazard textual appraisals revealed in his *Orthodox Corruption of Scripture.* In fact his understand and espousals in the recently released 4th ed. of Metzger's *The Text of the New Testament* show me a very serious lack of serious interaction and understanding of soundly forged text critical understanding. In my opinion the value of the 3rd ed has sky-rocketed because of what is set forth in modified form in the 4th ed.

        Finally, I think you will find that in any internet based discussion group that the serious interaction with theological issues is hampered by a very limited assessment of of both data and interpretive alternatives. Many run with the first discovery of what they think they understand. Also the arrogant (and yes impious) arbitration that many exhibit in their opinions as Besserwisser causes me to limit interaction with their musings.

        Please remember that the NT is an historical document and not a compilations of theological surmisings divorced or separated from history. Those who think so err greatly cutting off their nose to spite their face.

        Cordially,

        Malcolm Robertson
        ____________________________________
      • Ekaputra Tupamahu
        Dear Malcolm, Thank you very much for your response. I do appreciate it. it really hits the heart of the problem. I do understand that we have to let the
        Message 3 of 6 , Sep 14, 2005
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          Dear Malcolm,

          Thank you very much for your response. I do appreciate it. it really
          hits the heart of the problem. I do understand that we have to let
          the text speaks in its own. Perhaps the issue, i.e. Matthean vs
          Pauline soteriology, becomes more problematic because of my "personal"
          bias that sees the Bible as a whole.

          However, I have some further questions for you - only for clarifying
          your point. Do you mean that we cannot (or should not) reconstruct
          the historical and theological relationship between Matthew and Paul?
          Did they not have any relationship? did they not know each other?
          Since christianity at that time was not as huge as christianity today,
          is there not any possibility that Matthew was aware of Pauline
          latters/theologies? is it methodologically wrong if we try to
          reconstruct their relationship? Please help me understand this. I am
          still struggeling with those questions.

          Because i was simply thinking that there must be a relationship
          between them (Paul and Matthew) in the early church, Luz and Ehrman's
          opinion became very attractive for me. Maybe i am wrong...

          Once again thank you for spending your time to discuss this with me.

          Best Wishes,
          Ekaputra


          On 9/13/05, malcolm robertson <mjriii2003@...> wrote:
          > Dear Ekaputra,
          >
          > If one asks the wrong question one will arrive at the wrong answer. Is the
          > question as posed the correct one? Is the discourse that Jesus articulated
          > a contrast with Paul or others - Pharaisees. Sadducees, Herodians, et al?
          >
          > It can hardly be maintained - based on one pericope - that Matthew's gospel
          > supports a works righteousness or justification before God based on merit.
          > My point was and still is that our dialogue sould be based on one between
          > the text and ourselves - not with so called scholars.
          > Ehrman and Luz both have missed the contrast that Jesus has made in his own
          > discourses - plain and simple.
          >
          > In addition Ehrman is hardly one I would look to for solutions based on his
          > own unprincipled and haphazard textual appraisals revealed in his *Orthodox
          > Corruption of Scripture.* In fact his understand and espousals in the
          > recently released 4th ed. of Metzger's *The Text of the New Testament* show
          > me a very serious lack of serious interaction and understanding of soundly
          > forged text critical understanding. In my opinion the value of the 3rd ed
          > has sky-rocketed because of what is set forth in modified form in the 4th
          > ed.
          >
          > Finally, I think you will find that in any internet based discussion group
          > that the serious interaction with theological issues is hampered by a very
          > limited assessment of of both data and interpretive alternatives. Many run
          > with the first discovery of what they think they understand. Also the
          > arrogant (and yes impious) arbitration that many exhibit in their opinions
          > as Besserwisser causes me to limit interaction with their musings.
          >
          > Please remember that the NT is an historical document and not a
          > compilations of theological surmisings divorced or separated from history.
          > Those who think so err greatly cutting off their nose to spite their face.
          >
          > Cordially,
          >
          > Malcolm Robertson
          > ____________________________________
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ________________________________
          > YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
          >
          >
          > Visit your group "ematthew" on the web.
          >
          > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > ematthew-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
          >
          > ________________________________
          >
        • malcolm robertson
          Dear Ekaputra, I think you are correct to view the Bible as a whole. This will invariably open us up to the issues involved in what is known as Biblical
          Message 4 of 6 , Sep 16, 2005
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            Dear Ekaputra,

            I think you are correct to view the Bible as a whole. This will invariably open us up to the issues involved in what is known as Biblical theology. A common turn of phrase that is used within such biblical theological circles is that the biblical authors evidence both a unity and a diversity in their writings. However, what one understands by such a phrase can be quite diverse and wholly opposite in conceptualization. Some understand such as blatant contradictions and wholly irreconcilible views within the apostolic corpus. Others see these writings as thematically unified yet offering different perspectives upon common themes. I personally view the Bible as *the History of Salvation* not as a mere compilation of disconnected subjective religious surmisings.

            For example because Martinus Luther could not see the value of James' view of faith and works and their unavoidable inter-relatedness because of his own enlightened understanding and conversion produced understanding at Romans 1:16f he was forced to regard this apostolic document as *a right strawy epistle* compared to Paul's justification by faith alone. However, Paul too had a place to for works in his theology (cf Rom 3:8 etc).

            Even your example at Matthew 7:15-23 does not betray the thematic unity of the apostolic witness nor its unified perspective upon either "false prophets" nor salvation in Christ based upon faith (cf e.g. Mt 23 and 24; Acts 15:27; 20:28-31; 2 Pet 2; Jude; 1 Jn). In fact the NT corpus does not fail to contrast it's own witness against the historical heretical onslaughts against it at every turn. Remember that the self same person who called Matthew (10:1f) also called Paul (Acts 9, 22, 26). Again the one who does *the will of my Father in heaven* needs to be answered. Jesus hardly meant a simple keeping of the Decalogue (cf Mt 6:10; 7:21; 12:50; 18;14; 21:31; 26:42 with Jn 5:30; 6:38-40; 7:17). Jesus made it plain throughout Matthew's portrayal of the gospel narrative that he was the object of belief and both the cause and end result of belief (faith)(cf Mt 5:17-19 with 1:21 and 16:13-20 and 28:16-20 and in fact the whole Matthaean narrative).

            Nowadays it is common to hear that the gospel narratives are ficticious theological surmisings divorced from historical occurences and objective reality. So for example Gerd Luedemann believes such things as Jesus' body rotted in the grave and the resurrection accounts are nothing but a fictitous pia fraus. This view however is not new but has it's origins centuries ago. Or one will hear that Luke's writings are quite irencic and were produced to smooth over a rife between the Petrine and Pauline missions. Again a view that dates back at least to F.C. Baur. Or one will hear that Paul is the author of Christianity. The list is almost endless. It can be assessed however quite simply - belief and unbelief. The Bible speaks for itself - if one will but listen.

            Ekaputra, the source of our faith is the Bible. It is not to be found anywhere else. Doubtless there is room for a difference of opinion when it comes to *historical reconstructions* (i.e. was Paul converted in 31 A.D. or 34-37 A.D.? Or who authored Hebrews? Was it Paul, Barnabas or Apollos or someone else?). Why was the 2nd century so profuse in it's heretical sects and writings? What do the 1st century apostolic writings tell us as well as the early non canonical Christian compositions (Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, Papias)? And what of the 2nd century Christian apologists Justin and Irenaeus?

            But be careful and ask yourself the right question always and question both yourself and others. One's presuppostions cannot be divorced from either an understanding of the text or how one asks questions in relation to the text. If I were you I would read read and read the Bible. All your answers and indeed the origin of your questions can be found therein. Tolle lege.

            Cordially,

            Malcolm Robertson
            ________________________

            Dear Malcolm,

            Thank you very much for your response. I do appreciate it. it really
            hits the heart of the problem. I do understand that we have to let
            the text speaks in its own. Perhaps the issue, i.e. Matthean vs
            Pauline soteriology, becomes more problematic because of my "personal"
            bias that sees the Bible as a whole.

            However, I have some further questions for you - only for clarifying
            your point. Do you mean that we cannot (or should not) reconstruct
            the historical and theological relationship between Matthew and Paul?
            Did they not have any relationship? did they not know each other?
            Since christianity at that time was not as huge as christianity today,
            is there not any possibility that Matthew was aware of Pauline
            latters/theologies? is it methodologically wrong if we try to
            reconstruct their relationship? Please help me understand this. I am
            still struggeling with those questions.

            Because i was simply thinking that there must be a relationship
            between them (Paul and Matthew) in the early church, Luz and Ehrman's
            opinion became very attractive for me. Maybe i am wrong...

            Once again thank you for spending your time to discuss this with me.

            Best Wishes,
            Ekaputra


            On 9/13/05, malcolm robertson <mjriii2003@...> wrote:
            > Dear Ekaputra,
            >
            > If one asks the wrong question one will arrive at the wrong answer. Is the
            > question as posed the correct one? Is the discourse that Jesus articulated
            > a contrast with Paul or others - Pharaisees. Sadducees, Herodians, et al?
            >
            > It can hardly be maintained - based on one pericope - that Matthew's gospel
            > supports a works righteousness or justification before God based on merit.
            > My point was and still is that our dialogue sould be based on one between
            > the text and ourselves - not with so called scholars.
            > Ehrman and Luz both have missed the contrast that Jesus has made in his own
            > discourses - plain and simple.
            >
            > In addition Ehrman is hardly one I would look to for solutions based on his
            > own unprincipled and haphazard textual appraisals revealed in his *Orthodox
            > Corruption of Scripture.* In fact his understand and espousals in the
            > recently released 4th ed. of Metzger's *The Text of the New Testament* show
            > me a very serious lack of serious interaction and understanding of soundly
            > forged text critical understanding. In my opinion the value of the 3rd ed
            > has sky-rocketed because of what is set forth in modified form in the 4th
            > ed.
            >
            > Finally, I think you will find that in any internet based discussion group
            > that the serious interaction with theological issues is hampered by a very
            > limited assessment of of both data and interpretive alternatives. Many run
            > with the first discovery of what they think they understand. Also the
            > arrogant (and yes impious) arbitration that many exhibit in their opinions
            > as Besserwisser causes me to limit interaction with their musings.
            >
            > Please remember that the NT is an historical document and not a
            > compilations of theological surmisings divorced or separated from history.
            > Those who think so err greatly cutting off their nose to spite their face.
            >
            > Cordially,
            >
            > Malcolm Robertson
            > ____________________________________









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