Thursday, August 20, 2009

John Knox on Pauline Chronology

The American scholar John Knox in his little book Chapters In a Life of Paul, comments on Gal 1:18-22 about Paul's denial with an oath that he had never seen any of the other apostles except James:

"Sometimes the scholars argue as to why Paul felt constrained to take a solemn oath to the truth of his statement here. I am tempted to suggest that he did so because he had some premonition that most of the books to be written about him in the centuries afteward were going to say to him in effect: 'You are wrong about this, Paul. Of course you are not deliberately lying, but quite obviously you are mistaken. For the Acts of the Apostles gives a quite different story. It was written, we have good reason to believe, by Luke, who was a traveling companion of yours and therefre, you will agree, could hardly have been mistaken on a point like this.' As if to forestall such an answer, Paul took a solmen oath; but certainly to little avail; nine out of ten of the 'lives of Paul' have preferred Luke's version." (p. 37)

I think that scores a 12.6 on the sarcasmometer when it's only meant to go up to ten!


Bruce J. Russell, Sr. said...

Please interpret your inside NT Studies jokes for the great unwashed.

Richard Fellows said...

I find Knox baffling here. Paul here is referring to a time BEFORE the famine visit, so there is no contradiction between Gal and Acts. Paul's point in Gal 1:18-24 is that he was well known for preaching his gospel even before he had had much contact with the Judean church. He is answering the charge that his gospel had been inherited from church leaders from Judea.

The evidence from Paul's letters is that the collection from Galatia was during the sabbatical year of 48/49 (not ~7 years later as the followers of Knox assume). This fits Acts but contradicts the Knox chronology, which has nothing to commend it, in my view.