Monday, September 28, 2009

Paul as Apostle to Gentiles and Jews

I have just finished the first draft of an essay entitled, "Paul: Apostle to Gentiles and Jews". Find it here. I welcome any comments, corrections, and feedback!


Geoff Hudson said...

Paul was Jewish, so it seems strange that we do not know the name of Paul's father. He came from Tarsus, remote from Judea, and he supposedly met his end in Rome. What can one conclude from that? We really don't know very much about Paul.

Geoff Smith said...

I posted a link to your article on my blog.

Good stuff. I found the entire article helpful.

And Geoff Hudson, you make the most bizarre and unhelpful comments of all time.

Steven said...

You forgot about Paul as apostle to kings (Acts 9:15).

Richard Fellows said...

Michael, here are some thoughts.

On page 4 you write, "Timothy was a ELLHN who had not been circumcised (Gal 2:3), even though he was technically Jewish since his mother was Jewish and Jewish identity is transmitted through the mother (Acts 16:1-3)". You seem to be confusing Timothy with Titus here, but I applaud you for doing so, since I am convinced that Timothy was Titus renamed! It is incorrect to say that Timothy was technically Jewish. See S.J.D. Cohen, ‘Was Timothy Jewish (Acts 16:1-3)? Patristic Exegesis, Rabbinic Law, and Matrilineal Descent’, JBL 105/2 (1986), pp. 251-68

I agree that Paul evangelized in Arabia. Acts 9:25 abruptly introduced "his disciples". This is strange as there has been no mention of conversions. It is also odd that we have here uniquely the expression "HIS disciples". It is all explicable if Paul had acquired these disciples while working in Arabia. He could have been working alone in Arabia (unlike in Damascus where he would have been part of a team) so this explains "his". Also Luke's failure to mention the conversion of these disciples is now explicable as an inevitable consequence of his decision not to mention the trip to Arabia. Probably Luke avoided mentioning Arabia because Paul got into trouble with the civil authorities there (Aretus). Notice how Luke is silent about Aretus's involvement in the attempt to arrest Paul. Luke tends avoid any hint that the Christians were trouble makers (presumably to protect the community from persecution). Also, if Paul had made disciples in Damascus or had spent significant time there, this surely would have become known to the believers in Jerusalem and they would not have been afraid of him (Acts 9:26).

On page 16 you say that Peter separated himself on the arrival of certain men from James. However, Carlson has shown that Gal 2:12 reads "he came", not "they came". This is important because it gives us the following sequence: Peter came to Antioch and ate with Gentiles and returned to Jerusalem; men from James arrived in Antioch; Paul went to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1-10=Acts 15); Paul returned to Antioch; Peter returned to Antioch and withdrew from table fellowship. The men from James should now be equated with the men from Judea of Acts 15:1. This gets James off the hook since these men had not received the blessing of the Jerusalem church to preach circumcision.

Richard Fellows said...

Further thoughts:

Page 17. The churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth were founded in 49-50, not 51-54. Paul left Corinth in 51 or 52 at the latest.
Page 17. You say that Paul began work across the Aegean with Barnabas, but south Galatia is not on the Aegean.

There are not "clear frictions at the Jerusalem meeting". I suggest that both Peter and Paul preached to both Jews and Gentiles prior to the Jerusalem meeting. When Peter recognized Paul's calling, it was decided that there should be a division of labour between them. Paul would henceforth focus on the Gentiles (though not exclusively), and Peter go back to being the apostle to the Jews, which he had been from when Jesus gave him his name "Rock" until his Cornelius experience. That Peter's initial calling is alluded to here is confirmed by the fact that Paul calls him "Rock" here and only here. Such a division of labour would make sense because it would have been difficult to appeal to both Jews and Gentiles. Now, I imagine that Peter was glad to be able to off-load his Gentile-related responsibilities to Paul. There is no evidence here of friction between Peter and Paul. The idea that there was friction rests on questionable assumptions about the background to Galatians and Paul's rhetorical purpose.

You may be right that Paul did not receive his gospel fully formed at his conversion. This fits Gal 2:1-2, which says that Paul discussed his gospel with the Jerusalem church leaders 14 years after his conversion. The implication is that Paul's gospel had not been discussed in 37 or indeed during the famine visit.

Don't forget the conversion of Crispus. Also note that there was a wave of conversions following the defection of Crispus and that Paul was in danger from the Jews thereafter. All this makes sense if Luke could assume that his readers would know that the wave of conversions would have been from among the God-fearers.