Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Incident at Antioch (Gal. 2.11-14) - Who was to Blame?

What I find it genuinely amusing is the way many scholars disagree as to who is to blame for the incident. For example, C.J. den Heyer (Paul: A Man of Two Worlds [London: SCM, 2000], 94) notes that although Peter is called the “rock” in Mt. 16.17-19: “There [in Antioch] he was no rock, and proved not to be capable of coming forward with authority and providing leadership for a community in confusion.” In contrast, John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed (Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts [San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2001], 41) say of Paul: “Paul’s position … was akin to machine-gunning butterflies. James, Peter, Barnabas, and all the others who agreed with him were right at Antioch. Paul was wrong at Antioch”.

I wonder if the question of who one blames depends on one's Protestant or Catholic bias?

1 comment:

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Perhaps the more interesting question is whether Paul won or lost the argument at Antioch. It seems to me that Paul lost in the short term. When Barnabas and Peter joined the men from James, Paul was utterly isolated.

I think Paul's rhetoric in Galatians is "machine gun" like partly because he was very much on the defensive.

Paul won the argument in the long term. The Jewish-Christian element of Christianity faded away, leaving us with one church that does not observe the law of Moses. Meanwhile, Paul's position on the law had become a little less strident by the time he wrote to the Romans — perhaps because he was no longer on the defensive.