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6 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2009 - 10:09PM #1
koolpoi
Posts: 6,473
Is there any conflict between the writer of Paul's Letters and the Paul portrayed in Acts?Could they be different people?
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2009 - 10:09PM #2
koolpoi
Posts: 6,473
Is there any conflict between the writer of Paul's Letters and the Paul portrayed in Acts?Could they be different people?
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 12, 2009 - 6:58PM #3
MisterC
Posts: 1,865
"Paul" of Acts was a fictive creation of the author of Acts.

"Paul" of the letters was largely a creation of Marcion and of the Gnostics. (There might have been one, but certainly not of the wildly Gnostic and Marcionite "letters" (which aren't really letters, but diatribes, instructional literature, etc)  we have.)

Tha author of Acts used the "Paul" of the letters to create a Paul that mirrored that of the (again, fictional) Peter. If you will check it out, you will notice that the Peter of the gospels is not the Peter of Acts. (The dunce of Mark got a promotion, in response to the Marcionite Paul!) Acts was a response to Marcion's and to the Gnostics' Paul. There is no evidence of "Paul" before Marcion.

Remember, we are dealing with literature, not history... History as a "science" didn't begin until the nineteenth century.
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 12, 2009 - 11:01PM #4
koolpoi
Posts: 6,473
Very interesting post but if the Pauline letters were so Gnostic,why weren't they branded as heretical and kept out of the Bible (like other Gnostic writings)?
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 13, 2009 - 12:02AM #5
MarkDavidNJ
Posts: 6

MisterC wrote:

"Paul" of Acts was a fictive creation of the author of Acts.

"Paul" of the letters was largely a creation of Marcion and of the Gnostics. (There might have been one, but certainly not of the wildly Gnostic and Marcionite "letters" (which aren't really letters, but diatribes, instructional literature, etc)  we have.)

Tha author of Acts used the "Paul" of the letters to create a Paul that mirrored that of the (again, fictional) Peter. If you will check it out, you will notice that the Peter of the gospels is not the Peter of Acts. (The dunce of Mark got a promotion, in response to the Marcionite Paul!) Acts was a response to Marcion's and to the Gnostics' Paul. There is no evidence of "Paul" before Marcion.

Remember, we are dealing with literature, not history... History as a "science" didn't begin until the nineteenth century.


If that is true, I'm wondering what motive drove the authors of acts and the letters to invent fictional characters such as Paul.

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6 years ago  ::  Feb 13, 2009 - 3:28PM #6
MisterC
Posts: 1,865

MarkDavidNJ wrote:

If that is true, I'm wondering what motive drove the authors of acts and the letters to invent fictional characters such as Paul.


That was an interesting question. To some extent, all characters are fictive, whether they really lived or not. A study of Abe Lincoln showed that only about 16% of what he said can be historically linked to him. It is probably much the same with Samuel Clemens. We don't have one "Paul" out there. There are three separate Pauls:
1. The Paul of Acts of the Apostles (and the Acts of Pauls, the Revelation of Paul, etc.), superman to Christianity.
2. The Paul of the orthodox interpretations of the "letters."
3. The Paul of the Gnostic and Marcionite interpretations of the "letters."

These become easily  conflated. If one is a mainstream Christian, one generally sees "one Paul," because of this. If you will only contrast "Paul's" diatribe against Peter, James and John in canonical Galatians, you will see two distinct "Pauls." If you go one step further and look at a reconstruction of the Marcion text of Galatians, supposedly the person to find the text, you will see yet a different "Paul."

I don’t spend much time here anymore, but let me give it a try. The Acts Seminar has addressed the reasons for the writing of Acts, at length. The author of Acts attempted to define a “Paul”  in a way that made him palatable to the orthodoxy. The Marcionites (and Gnostic groups) were the earliest we really have evidence of using the Paulines as a letter writer, the primary, even the only apostle of their sects. Marcion was the first proto-Christian to have a canon, which included ten Paulines and a version of a gospel similar to Luke. Their Paul preached a gospel of “Christ” that was more compelling to many than the orthodoxy. Marcion chopped off the Hebrew scriptures from his idea of who Christ was. (When I use the word “Christ” I am speaking of a supernatural being sent from God.) He saw the Jewish Law and god as inferior. In particular, the god of the Jews was the creator of an imperfect world, the law as put in place because of the inferiority of the human “flesh.” The god of the “spirit,” the real God, sent Christ to die, representing the curse of the law so that that humanity could be elevated to adoption by the real God. (Incidentally, all of this is found in Galatians, which, in turn was found by Marcion. The canonical copy merely has a bunch of catholic garbage about “sin” and “evil world” and the law not being that bad in it.) The full blown Gnostics, Valentinius, Balisides and others created a wonderful cosmology, actually using the Hebrew scriptures… Several sects even saw the serpent of the Garden of Eden story as the savior, wisdom in the face of the demiurge (the creator god). Incidentally, I appreciate their wonderful literature.

So, the orthodoxy was faced with a problem. “Jesus Christ” was being stolen from them. Their wonderful Judaism, which was so important to them for very evil reasons (in other words, their use of Judaism was just to say they had superseded it and that it was now dead) was being eroded by the Marcionites. So, we have the creation of a “Paul” in Acts that is made to look like “Peter,” who is also fictional in Acts, made into an erudite spokesperson for Christianity. (Contrast with the dunce of the synoptics.) That is the “Paul” of Acts. In the same century, various tales were written about the “acts” of Paul, even making him greater. There was even a Revelation attributed to him.

Now, let’s look at the “letters” or “epistles” of Paul. Christianity has a paradigm dealing with these letters that accepts a certain number (seven) of them without questioning, without even doubting for a moment that they authentic. Let’s just say that, from the appearance of Luke/Acts (120 ce – 150 ce) through the third century, there was a huge problem with them. Church Fathers had to defend them, since they were interpreted differently by the “heretics” I have mentioned before. It is almost as if they were blindsided by “Paul.” Information about Paul is non-existent in the first century, in the seventy to 120 years between when he “lived” and when he became a part of Christianity, as far as we have information.

Today, “Paul” is not a topic for serious inquiry because without him there would be no Christianity as we know it. Most Pauline studies are exegetical (see Crossan, Ludemann and others), not historical. This wasn’t always so. As early as the eighteenth and certainly through the nineteenth century, the Paulines were called into question. The pastorals were thrown out, Hebrews, Colossians and Ephesians were thrown out, for various reasons. They weren’t written by “Paul.” The Tubingen school’s FC Baur noted that Colossians and Ephesians were written later than, and were heavily dependent on the four letters he considered authentic: Galatians, Romans and 1,2 Corinthians. He, for various reasons, had whittled the number to four. His student, Bruno Baur, in his research saw that none were authentic. This was backed up in the Netherlands, by the so-called “Dutch Radicals,” (a polemic term the scholars wore with pride), Loman, Van Manen and others.

I have been researching the myriad of problems the Paulines present thinking people for some five or so years. At present, elsewhere I am looking specifically at Galatians. There are many, many problems with the authenticity of the letters, but Christian scholars generally don’t accept anything other than the normative paradigm. He lived, he wrote wonderful theology, he died. I find that a travesty, a bias that can only be overcome from outside Christianity. Christians who can accept a historical Jesus nothing close to the gospels accept “Paul” without any reservations, though there is probably less reason to than to look at “Jesus” historically!

Anyway, back to the story… We come to the years around 1900….

Then, tragedy hit. People started getting very defensive about their Christianity, because of such as Wallace and Darwin, Mendel and the discovery of the ovum (don’t know the name attached to that). This caused a backlash called fundamentalism, which made it difficult in the twentieth century for scholars to work, especially if connected with religious institutions. (One reason the Jesus Seminar was formed was to make available the knowledge about the “historical Jesus” (not Paul) that had been hidden in the universities for a long, long time! Beginning in 1985, there was a public view of a historical Jesus, more conservative than the scholarship hidden for the last hundred or more years.)

But, who was “Paul?” We’ll never know. The Gnostics and Marcion began under the umbrella of Christianity and were tossed or quit. They obviously were the first to appreciate “Paul.” When one reads the canonical Paulines, one can find massive amounts of  Gnostic or Marcionite blocks of literature. According to Pagels, the thin book of Galatians has twenty-two references... A reconstruction of the original Marcionite Galatians gives one a totally different Paul, one that makes sense on its own, without thinking back and conflating Acts, Romans, and so forth. Romans has around fifty such references and 1 Corinthians has over sixty. The first five chapters of 2 Corinthians also contains much material which can be considered Gnostic or Marcionite.  That Paul, however, is not the literal Paul of pulpits and pews. One gets a sanitized “Paul,” fit for human consumption but not fit for spiritual consumption… At least, that’s how I see it.

Back in another month, unless there are some more interesting questions. I hope that helped.
Dennis

Gene, as you can tell by reading this, my cognitive functions are a bit slow this half of the week. I have all kinds of notes for my next section of "Galatians: The Missing Sitz-em-Leben," but with a fever, raging sore throat, headache and so forth, I can't think divergently... As you see in this, I was totally "in the box" and offered nothing new. I hope to get started putting my defense together next week for the H. group.

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6 years ago  ::  Feb 15, 2009 - 8:46PM #7
teilhard
Posts: 51,081
OF  COURSE
there "was" more than simply ONE ( simple ) "Paul,"
just as ALREADY
there is MORE than ONE ( simple ) "Charles Darwin" ...
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 16, 2009 - 11:40AM #8
RJMcElwain
Posts: 2,955
Interesting post Dennis. It definitely goes further than I have ever ventured regarding Paul. However, three mythological Pauls makes sense, given the lack of much historical evidence to the contrary. I wonder how many authors contributed to the various Paul images that we have. And I wonder what the entire time frame was for these Pauls to evolve.
Robert J. McElwain

"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." (Supposedly)Thomas Jefferson

"He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral."
St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. Plato
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 16, 2009 - 6:47PM #9
MisterC
Posts: 1,865

RJMcElwain wrote:

Interesting post Dennis. It definitely goes further than I have ever ventured regarding Paul. However, three mythological Pauls makes sense, given the lack of much historical evidence to the contrary. I wonder how many authors contributed to the various Paul images that we have. And I wonder what the entire time frame was for these Pauls to evolve.


Furthermore, if you want to add a fourth one, Chris Shea, in the Fall 2008 "Seminar Papers" shows that there is another myth out there... that of "Saul." Here is his conclusion:

"Since 13 is the only place in Acts where the name of the character Saul and the name of the character Paul are equated - and that with a formula suspiciously reminiscent of the "Sergios te kai ho Paulos" of Galen - we may have to consider that we have (at least) three characters here: (1) Saul, the hero with the folktale name redolent of lost kingdoms, who represents Jews who first reject then adopt Christianity; (2) Paul, the letter-writer; (3) and the character whose actions are reported in Acts only after 13, our little Roman, Paul."

Dennis

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6 years ago  ::  Feb 16, 2009 - 6:47PM #10
MisterC
Posts: 1,865

RJMcElwain wrote:

Interesting post Dennis. It definitely goes further than I have ever ventured regarding Paul. However, three mythological Pauls makes sense, given the lack of much historical evidence to the contrary. I wonder how many authors contributed to the various Paul images that we have. And I wonder what the entire time frame was for these Pauls to evolve.


Furthermore, if you want to add a fourth one, Chris Shea, in the Fall 2008 "Seminar Papers" shows that there is another myth out there... that of "Saul." Here is his conclusion:

"Since 13 is the only place in Acts where the name of the character Saul and the name of the character Paul are equated - and that with a formula suspiciously reminiscent of the "Sergios te kai ho Paulos" of Galen - we may have to consider that we have (at least) three characters here: (1) Saul, the hero with the folktale name redolent of lost kingdoms, who represents Jews who first reject then adopt Christianity; (2) Paul, the letter-writer; (3) and the character whose actions are reported in Acts only after 13, our little Roman, Paul."

Dennis

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