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Re: [ematthew] Matthean vs Pauline Soteriology

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  • 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 1 of 6 , Sep 16, 2005
      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.


      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,

      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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