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 Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Sat 14 May 2016, 21:06

Oops, lost my message when I returned from Google and it is not the first time that happens, although my message was already in "preview". Will ask Nordmann on the Technical forum...

Temperance,

thank you for mentioning the comments of Nordmann on Chesterton. But I will come back on Chesterton in my own thread.

And back to Paul.
I reread the whole thread and yes Chesterton is there too...
I have to admit Temperance that you and Nordmann know a lot more than I in all my superficial reading. Nor can I make references to the Bible as in my Roman-Catholic childhood there was little reference to the Bible, let alone to as you mention: Corinth nr and so on...
In our Roman-Catholic school it was not the Bible which counted, but the voice of the Pope we had to listen to Wink ...

But I met Paul in quite other circumstances...while I discussed in the time the work of Peter Brown on the BBC board:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Brown_(historian)
The Body and Society. Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity
http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=19015253029&searchurl=sts%3Dt%26tn%3DThe%2520Body%2520and%2520Society%26sortby%3D17%26an%3DPeter%2520Brown
http://www.amazon.com/Body-Society-Renunciation-Christianity-Columbia/dp/0231144075


There I learned that a Paul adapted the early Christian faith to the customs of the Roman elite from the time of August, to the Greek elite also part of the Roman empire. And adapting the religion to the ideas of Greco-Roman thoughts, he made it "salonfähig" among those elites. As I read the messages of Ferval and Nordmann about the unity in culture among the whole Roman empire, adapting to that culture was a very clever action to expand the particular religion allover the empire...and that is perhaps Paul's greatest achievement in the establishing of the new "church"?
And indeed when one reads about the customs about sexuality in the Rome of the first century of our calendar, one is struck by the similarities with the same educated behaviour to the early Christians, who especially are influenced by Paul.
And even when I in the Fifties went to a Roman-Catholic college in Belgium, then between twelve and fifteen, we were educated along the same lines of sexuality, as the young Romans 2000 years ago and the early Christians of that period. I only see it nowadays in the Opus Dei movement, but you don't hear that much anymore from them. Or are they that secret, that they don't appear in the open anymore... Wink ?

As a conclusion: Had it not been of the figure of Paul, early christianity would have disappeared in the Roman empire...?

Kind regards, Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Sun 15 May 2016, 11:29

Paul (not saint) wrote:
There I learned that a Paul adapted the early Christian faith to the customs of the Roman elite from the time of August, to the Greek elite also part of the Roman empire.



Did he? I should say quite the opposite. Getting away from the emphasis on sex and the citizen (see note to ferval below), Paul's comment in Galatians 3.28 - "There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus" is mind-bogglingly revolutionary: it sets Paul in opposition to some of the most powerful and dominant trends of his day. It must actually have sent shudders down the spines of members of the various elites of his world, Roman, Greek or Jewish.The reference to slaves and freemen is particularly interesting, given that Paul  is often seen as supporting the idea of slavery. But a crucial word in this man's thinking is "freedom" - do I hear snorts of derision? But it's there, if you read his letters: the idea that belonging God - in Christ - means you move - even if only metaphorically - from being a slave to being a free person. That presents the most radical change you could imagine in the ancient world. The idea of "you can't touch me" - you and all your armies and power and male ruthlessless - was crazily dangerous indeed.

The Roman imperial elite, of course, soon realised how dangerous this new thinking was and that, crazy or no, it was taking hold among the lower orders and the women: after a couple of centuries of struggling against it, they decided that if you can't beat them, join them - and so defeat them. Which, of course, is what they promptly - and with typical efficiency - did. The Romans - the princes of this world - always win, don't they? They are still winning, even in the 21st century.

But I ramble, as ever.

Haven't been to Church today: it's Pentecost and our little, quiet, sane church is out of action. They all going to a monster service in a nearby town. It'll be awful, full of happy-clappy ecstatic souls, happily and clappily drunk on the Holy Spirit. I can't cope with it all - God forgive me. I shall, this afternoon, get quietly drunk on chilled white wine and sit reading Christopher Hitchens in my summerhouse. I have to admit I do find him very witty and his prose style is excellent.

PS

@ferval wrote:
I was reading your post, Temp, when my granddaughter appeared at my shoulder and asked, "What does Was it all St Paul's fault mean, why is someone asking that?" As I tried to construct an answer suitable for an 8 year old and one from a proundly agnostic and feminist household, she said, "Who was St. Paul, was he a good man or a bad one?". To her credit, she didn't laugh as I stumbled out some stuff about him saying very good things about love and kindness being the most important qualities and some not so good, about women's place, for instance.


ferval - this is from the New Statesman article. Is it just Christian wriggling?

Paul’s own egalitarianism is, on the surface, somewhat shaky when it comes to relationships between men and women; but Armstrong is among those who believe that the most difficult passages on this subject (women covering their head in public, or keeping silent in meetings) are likely to be interpolations from a later and more anxious hand.


PPS ferval again - Re Nicky Gumbel and HTB - check out a book (novel) called The Revelations by Alex Preston.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jan/29/revelations-alex-preston-review

"Preston succeeds in capturing this fundamentalist creepiness, poised to turn sinister...strikingly well-written and intriguing throughout" - Peter Carty, Independent.

“A devastating critique of how a fictional evangelical movement, with more than a passing resemblance to the Alpha Course, fails the young who have turned to it in order to find meaning in their dog-eat-dog daily lives. Instead they end up in a maelstrom of illicit sex and lies.” Katie Law, Evening Standard

“Preston writes with black-edged wit about the kind of spoilt, confused young adults bred during the boom years … [a] mature , tightly written exploration of the way spiritual yearning can become indistinguishable from the more destructive aspects of capitalism.” Amanda Craig, Prospect Magazine
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Sun 15 May 2016, 14:28

Temp wrote:
"There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus" is mind-bogglingly revolutionary

Is it? It sounds to me simply a subversion of the Roman dictum "all one in Rome" which was not only a part of every emperor's oath upon accession but also the basis in law of the Pax Romana, in which all previously perceived differences of race and creed, and all socially implied differences of status and gender were subservient to the fact that one was first and foremost Roman. If it was "revolutionary" it was in the replacing of the Roman emperor with a Jewish deity, but since such a blatant challenge to authority would hardly have gone unnoticed in early empire Rome and its author identified and dealt with I imagine this also is a rather liberal interpolation too.

I have become settled in the notion now that the only intelligent way to trace any semantic origin to New Testament scripture is to place the writings in the context of second century Roman society and later. They make sense as redacted sentiments safe to broadcast in the empire of negotiated elements as was Rome in the second century but hardly any sense in the empire of dictatorships that ran in succession throughout the first century.

In the second century there was a resurgence of analysis, reinterpretation and some very blatant political hijacking of Greek philosophy. The period saw the the emergence of new "schools" of philosophy typified by placing a "neo" before the name of a by then long dead philosopher, the striking difference between the "neo" version and the original being that each new school assumed political or religious affiliation, intentionally or simply because that was the nature of Roman society at the time. It may not have progressed philosophical thought much in any direction but it did open the doors to the possibility for proselytisation with relative impunity compared to before, since now even emperors (Marcus Aurelius - Meditations, always worth reading) were at it. In a period when theology had a much tighter grip on the coat-tails of philosophy than today such pseudo-intellectual departures from rational thought would have been almost obligatory, and were at least inevitable.

For me it's a no-brainer to conclude that this was the period and the circumstance in which any half-baked new theology might gain currency, and also the period in which it could be written down, interpolated, codified and assume any type of form that would lend itself to continuation, "christianity" included.

When attempting to extract the actual motives, meaning and philosophy behind the writings of Paul & Co it is probably best to confine the exercise to deducing the same of the people (whose names are largely lost to history) who actually did the writing down. And when doing so be aware of the very different society in which they lived compared to that which pertained at the time of the people and events they were attempting to interpolate for "modern" audiences. Any other approach when attempting to make historical sense of the theological claims is a complete waste of time, not to mention a blatant refusal to place any credence in the actual historical record.

If anything is to be ascribed "revolutionary" status it is incumbent to first understand the axis about which it might have rotated.
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Sun 15 May 2016, 19:10

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbhistory/NF2233809?thread=3174357&skip=50
And there I mentioned the link with St.Paul. And from further reading in the book, Peter Brown found that St. Paul was adapting his teaching to be more conform with the Roman attitudes of the first century Roman culture.
"Message 15
, in reply to message 2.
Posted by PaulRyckier (U1753522)  on  Tuesday, 20th June 2006
Erik,

I read the book some three years ago and found it now back in the catalogue of the library. I will borrow it again to make my points clearer from what I read about that particular point.

But as I remember it and from the discussion with lol beeble and mad mike in the time, it was more the description of the attitude of the "common" rich nobleman in the first century AD., the Roman/pagan attitude from the Roman Republic/Imperium.

Peter Brown used it IMO, but I will check it again, as a description of the attitudes before the entry of Christianity in the Roman nobility and it is restricted in time to the period of the first century. Brown uses this to explain the later Roman Christian attitudes directed by St. Paul. And if I remember it well, (I will check, St.Paul changed the gospel to fit more with the prevailing Roman pagan attitudes and the perception of manhood.

I read in the summary of the book on the internet, that the first church community was not that happy about these attitudes, as to hermits in the desert. The families had to do their duty and procure an offspring, especially for the Christian community.

Strangely this pagan Roman thoughts remember me of what I was learned in a Roman-Catholic "College" in Ostend Belgium 15 years old. The sexual strenght had to be kept for the marriage and masturbation, especially if frequent, had nephast consequenses on the later married life, while this was loosening of strenght. Perhaps it was more, what St. Paul made of it in his later teachings?

Erik, tomorrow I will borrow the Brown book again from the local library, if it is available""

PS: And memories Temperance: Erik Lindsay who was still on JIGLU in recent years, passed away last year and was mentioned overthere. I don't know if you were already on the BBC boards in 2006 and read messages from Erik?

And that don't contradict perhaps that St. Paul was for an egalitarian society?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Apostle

Kind regards, Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Sun 15 May 2016, 22:20

@nordmann wrote:
Temp wrote:
"There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus" is mind-bogglingly revolutionary

Is it? It sounds to me simply a subversion of the Roman dictum "all one in Rome" which was not only a part of every emperor's oath upon accession but also the basis in law of the Pax Romana, in which all previously perceived differences of race and creed, and all socially implied differences of status and gender were subservient to the fact that one was first and foremost Roman.



Really? Surely that was only true if one were fortunate enough to be a Roman citizen - and male? What about the rest - the non-citizens living under Roman rule and the huge slave population? And the women of the Empire, even if citizens, actually had few legal rights, I believe, even after the reforms of Augustus?

Your comments seem rather dismissive. I actually got these wild ideas from Rowan Williams's 2015 book, Meeting God in Paul. Williams's first chapter is "Outsiders and Insiders: Paul's Social World", several pages of analysis of the differences in law between citizens, non-citizens and slaves in the Empire at the time of Paul's travels. Williams, as an ex-Archbishop of Canterbury and theologian, is probably not a man whom you respect, but given his standing as an academic - he is now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge - one can surely be forgiven for assuming his scholarship is secure - especially his understanding of Greek texts and his knowledge of the ancient world. He is a classicist of some repute after all.


@nordmann wrote:
If it was "revolutionary" it was in the replacing of the Roman emperor with a Jewish deity, but since such a blatant challenge to authority would hardly have gone unnoticed in early empire Rome and its author identified and dealt with I imagine this also is a rather liberal interpolation too.


Paul did not go "unnoticed" and he was "dealt with" - on numerous occasions. The man was always in trouble of one kind or another and indeed was often arrested and flogged. Being a Roman citizen got him out of trouble several times - just. No one is absolutely certain what happened when he went to Rome, but don't most scholars agree he was probably, after a couple of years as a house prisoner, beheaded under Nero? Being a citizen entitled him to the more merciful death. Peter, as a non-citizen - as his Master had been - was crucified. Guilty of sedition, the lot of them and dealt with accordingly.

I am still mulling over the rest of your post.


Paul,

I did not know the Eric whom you mention. I joined the BBC much later than others here. I still wonder what happened to some of the old posters though - Minette and TwinProbe and Andrew Spencer. We had some great discussions. And Catigern - Lord, what a character he was!

Paul did not reinterpret the Gospels to suit himself by the way. His letters came before the Gospels were written. The Gospel authors in fact were very much influenced by Paul's theology. Paul's epistles (the authentic ones) are the earliest Christian writings. Not many people realise this. See this article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcus-borg/a-chronological-new-testament_b_1823018.html
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Mon 16 May 2016, 07:05

PS


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-j-rossano/the-christian-revolution_b_878151.html



“Stated in its most elementary and buoyantly positive form, my argument is ... that among all the many great transitions that have marked the evolution of Western civilization ... only one — the triumph of Christianity ... can be called ... a ‘revolution’: a truly massive and epochal revision of humanity’s prevailing vision of reality...”


So states philosopher and Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart in his book “Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies” (Yale University Press, 2009, p. xi). Hart is an unapologetic apologist. As he sees it, Western Civilization is numbly shedding its Christian heritage and someone ought to remind us of the baby that is being tossed out with the presumably now-useless bath water. That the messenger is not a dispassionate observer should not immediately or necessarily discredit the message. It was Christianity, he contends, that bequeathed to humanity an entirely new vision of the human person. That vision, he worries, lies prostrate upon modernity’s chopping block in its haste to excise all things illiberal. So what was this new vision of humanity?


The ancient pagan world, Hart argues, had no conceptual tools for envisioning human worth apart from social station. As an illuminating example, consider the following from the Roman historian Tacitus (“Annals XIV,” pp. 42-45). In AD 61, Pedanius Secundus was murdered by one of his slaves. This incident, Tacitus informs us, initiated the tradition of killing all household slaves when one of their number murders their owner. In the Secundus’ case, this meant killing no less than four hundred innocent men, women and children. Later, public protests prompted the senate to reconsider the merits of such a gratuitously bloody tradition, concluding, in the end, that ancient customs must be honored, lest the empire risk social disorder. Tellingly, any notions of divine justice were utterly absent from the senate’s deliberations. Pagan religion was simply irrelevant to the morality of killing innocent slaves.



Oddly enough I have just read these quotations which seem to me to be relevant. Hitchens put them at the beginning of his chapter Havana versus Prague:

Within the Revolution, everything. Outside the Revolution, nothing. - Fidel Castro

Ex ecclesia, nulla salus. (Outside the church, no salvation.) - Thomas Aquinas

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, the true revolutionary is moved by true feelings of love. - Ernesto "Che" Guevara.


Shame all revolutions end the same way. People - whether Communists or Christians or any other idealists - always seem to mess it all up. Then the b*stards take over.

Observe: 'tis the mild Idealists
Who plan our social Revolutions;
Then come the brutal Realists
And turn them into - Executions!

And first ad foremost on their lists,
Appear the mild idealists!
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Mon 16 May 2016, 11:52

Temp wrote:
No one is absolutely certain what happened when he went to Rome, but don't most scholars agree he was probably, after a couple of years as a house prisoner, beheaded under Nero? Being a citizen entitled him to the more merciful death. Peter, as a non-citizen - as his Master had been - was crucified. Guilty of sedition, the lot of them and dealt with accordingly.

I read those stories too. Interesting pedigree to them. In around 90CE (first century) the earliest reference to Peter's demise is to be found in a letter from Clement. No place is mentioned. No martyrdom of any kind either, he simply suffers a few labours and then goes "unto the place of glory set for him". Clement just probably forgot about the bishop bit and being put to death etc. Interestingly he mentions Peter as a member of his own generation. A little later, at the start of the second century, Ignatius in a letter claimed that Peter was Bishop of Rome. Not until around 195CE and Tertullian do we start getting more details. Tertullian has Paul beheaded (first reference to the lad's demise we have) and places the event in Rome along with an oblique reference to Peter having been there too. It takes Eusebius writing over a century later again to introduce a crucifixion for Peter.

Now Rowan Williams, if his interest in classics extends to establishing provenance, has - like all scholars - a simple choice to make. Does he make assumptions which, like Eusebius was prone to do, will confuse conjecture with fact in order to present a pseudo-historical account from which he can then draw whatever conclusions he wishes, or does he allow an honest admission that the actual historical data is so thin and so based on conjecture itself to lead him to deduce that we now cannot say with certainty that these people lived lives exactly as that ancient conjecture and invention has claimed? In fact it may be that the reason he, and anyone else among the hoards of scholars, find themselves reduced to such a reliance on conjecture is simply because they are looking in the wrong place and time to find the real historical roots of the phenomenon they are attempting to understand.

Rather than calling me "dismissive" because I attemptedly place a higher value on history than I do on obvious fable grown in the telling, I would suggest that maybe you take as hard a clinical look as you can at how much of what you yourself deduce based on conjecture too in this regard. And I stand by the remark that I made - it is an examination of the proselytisers operating in second century Roman society and later which, if one has not "dismissed" the notion of actual historical research, will yield greatest dividend in any attempt to understand what was really going on in early christian communities. Including why they apparently felt the need to back-date martyrdom, not to mention so many other important details they felt their theology was lacking.

PS: A Roman slave was still a Roman, and very much "one in Rome" indeed - as he or she would quickly discover if attempting to behave otherwise. No one said the Pax Romana was meant to be a happy place for everyone. And the more it wasn't the more its substitution with a Pax Coelorum appealed to the superstitious, especially the ones at the wrong end of the ladder. This had always been so, and nor were the christians the first to model their theology on existing political statehood, mores, ideologies and structures. Which of course is also why such a seemingly "revolutionary" concept as the one you mentioned above and which is ascribed to Paul led ultimately to a theology and a church that could so seamlessly dovetail itself into that entire structure and system when the opportunity eventually arose.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Mon 16 May 2016, 12:52

@nordmann wrote:
Rather than calling me "dismissive" because I attemptedly place a higher value on history than I do on obvious fable grown in the telling, I would suggest that maybe you take as hard a clinical look as you can at how much of what you yourself deduce based on conjecture too in this regard.


Now that's unfair and dismissive. You are obviously p*ssed off/immensely irritated by my wilful ignorance, but I now feel rather like Rita when she asked the irate Frank, "Is that you putting your foot down?" Regret I'm not very good at the required "hard clinical looks", but, believe it or not, I do actually try with all this history v. theology stuff. I avidly read both sides of the - er - story and so drive myself mad. But trying to be reasonable and balanced is always a mistake, isn't it - you end up being beaten up by the fundamentalists from both camps. Why bother?

You do rather remind me of Saul himself who went about - "breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples." No arguing - or attempting to discuss rather -  with men like him.

Oh well, I didn't drink my bottle of chilled white Burgundy yesterday: think I will this afternoon.

Kindish regards - oh look, a German pun - from,

Temp, also well p*ssed off.

PS You've made a spelling mistake: it's hordes, not hoards. (Sorry, I know it's a typo, but couldn't resist - so rare you make an error - just like the Bible in fact (joke). I don't do inerrancy, biblical or other. Wish I did - it would make my life a damn sight easier.
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Mon 16 May 2016, 13:28

It is neither unfair nor dismissive. Any person who values historical research should rightly feel less than comfortable when presented with historical data which in fact is less than solid, and data purporting to be historical but which in many cases is traceable back only to assertions is not very solid at all. However why the assertions are made, when and by whom, are all valid and valuable lines of historical inquiry in their own right. If deductions are to be made therefore, especially ones which may embrace many of the subjects of these assertions as assumed fact, then it would be more prudent to arrive at those which arise from these lines of inquiry first, and that was my simple point.

It is mere frustration with the absence of such a simple and self-evidently worthwhile practice in much that I have read too by people (scholars all, if you believe what they tell you) attempting to work out the whats, whos and whens of scripture in a historical context which motivates me to advise you not to follow the same pointless route and to be aware when you are being invited to follow them down that garden path. Forgive me for implying I might be hoarding scholars, and I might then find it in my heart also to forgive you for confusing me with what appears to be a semi-apocryphal conjectural figure presented as a real historical person who allegedly said (when done breathing out murderous threats) "Let a woman learn in silence in all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent."

Chilled white Burgundy sounds nice. When I feel like erring in that manner I often opt for a Cru Village St Paul myself. Every cloud ...
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Mon 16 May 2016, 19:00

@nordmann wrote:
Forgive me for implying I might be hoarding scholars, and I might then find it in my heart also to forgive you for confusing me with what appears to be a semi-apocryphal conjectural figure presented as a real historical person who allegedly said (when done breathing out murderous threats) "Let a woman learn in silence in all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent."


He may well have had a point. Not that I have anything against women priests in principle, but some of them are unbelievably bossy and irritating - and noisy. I go to Church for a bit of peace and quiet.

I did not mean to offend you, saying you were like Saul of Tarsus. I was not alluding to your appearance. Onesiphorus - or Onesie, as he was known to his friends - tells us that Paul was bandy-legged, bald and had a big nose. I did not have that in mind - just that you do come across as so bloody intellectually secure - just like Paul in fact. I'm just jealous.

Seriously, I do appreciate your warning about the road to historical hell being via the garden path. You could well be right.
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Mon 16 May 2016, 23:29

Even jellicles are as intellectually secure - and I'm not jealous - in truth, I call it by another name. I  do greatly admire those  perceptive enough not to be blinded by total conviction since proven fact is not  utterly unassailable and total faith is in need of grounding. And I don't care if no one understands any of  that because I do.
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Tue 17 May 2016, 08:48

@Priscilla wrote:
I do greatly admire those perceptive enough not to be blinded by total conviction

Me too. If only more people worked out how to think before what to think - the world would be so much a better place, wouldn't it?
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Tue 17 May 2016, 10:13

I thought you were a totally convinced atheist?
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Tue 17 May 2016, 10:16

That would imply I have something to be convinced about. I save my convictions for things that actually matter.
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Tue 17 May 2016, 10:31

Ah,  matter over mind. That makes sense of an atheist.
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Tue 17 May 2016, 13:28

Temp wrote:
Seriously, I do appreciate your warning about the road to historical hell being via the garden path.

Not hell, but certainly pointlessness. As I get older I get more angry at being duped into pursuing blind avenues of reason - one becomes ever more conscious of wasted time when time itself becomes a rarer commodity available to one. When I advise the same to others it is out of respect for their intellect, not in any way an admonition.

@Priscilla wrote:
Ah,  matter over mind. That makes sense of an atheist.

What an insulting remark. If I have a prominent flaw (and I have many to choose from) I would suggest that it is a tendency to apply my mind probably too strenuously to any proposition - material, ethereal, venereal or otherwise existentially expressed - before deciding what I think about it, if I ever even get to that point. Others, and I frequently observe people who are apparently secure in their religious convictions as prime examples of this, arbitrarily excuse themselves from that necessity it seems, and therefore have much more time (and indeed conviction) to pursue what are often base material aims, while at all times enjoying the alleged safety of having their "spiritual side" accounted for thanks to their often default membership of a popular cult.

Indeed if the accusation of "matter over mind" should be insultingly cast at anyone, it would seem more apt that it be hurled in their direction, not that of people whose only distinguishing commonality is that they simply choose not to invest credence in the supernatural. Among such people I am sure can be found many grades and combinations of intelligence and materialism, though untrammelled as they are by obeisance to supernatural assertions, probably in a better position to exercise the very minds you scornfully imply they under-employ.
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Tue 17 May 2016, 21:00

As ever, I seem to be the P under the many layered matrices of of your mind - and other matters.

Just trying to define an atheist -  so what about this for your hymnal?

               No god in my head nor in my understanding
               No god in my eyes nor in my looking
               No god in my mouth nor in my speaking
               No god in my  heart nor in my thinking
               No god at my end nor at my departing
               The End..................
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Tue 17 May 2016, 21:38

What about getting back to the thread subject and cutting out the personal jibes? They're not humorous, not very intelligent and all rather tiresome, not to mention disrespectful to those wishing to address the topic in polite and meaningful discussion.

Temp wrote:
He may well have had a point.

Which Paul made the point though? According to a recent article by a Professor of Christian Origins (sic) James Tabor, our familiar "hordes of scholars" have long come to the conclusion there are four Pauls who, according to Tabor, can be classified thus:

1) Authentic or Early Paul: 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, and Philemon (50s-60s A.D.)

2) Disputed Paul or Deutero-Pauline: 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, Colossians (80-100 A.D.)

3) Pseudo–Paul or the Pastorals: 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (80-100 A.D.)

4) Tendentious or Legendary Paul: Acts of the Apostles (90-130 A.D.)


Pseudo-Paul certainly thought women deaconesses a dodgy proposition and was all for Timmy making sure such an aberration didn't start in Crete. Authentic Paul however is all for them, well at least he was all for Phoebe being one in Romans 16 - which of course some scholars have said really belongs in Ephesians, which would then mean it was actually Disputed Paul who liked the idea of bossy and irritating Phoebes being as loud as they liked (assuming some things haven't changed).

Tabor deftly evaded speculation about who Disputed and Pseudo Paul might actually have been, though I would wager this too would most likely find a second century solution if seriously investigated (Tabor's dates above are averaged out from the horde). Tendentious Paul is assumed by many, even from the horde, to have had his origin there in any case.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Wed 18 May 2016, 09:31

The more I read about all this - both here and elsewhere - the more I realise how little I know. That is not a little display of false modesty, but is a genuine acknowledgement that I need to find out more. I have never heard of James Tabor, but I will check on Friday whether any of his books are available from Exeter library.

I knew that many of Paul's letters were not written by Paul himself, and I am aware of what I believe is called pseudepigrapha, although my understanding of the term is limited. Bart Ehrman, in this article, is scathing about it. So what was going on in the second century, do you think, and who, as far as is known, was "Luke" - or the various "Pauls"? Who are the possible candidates from all those early "bishops"?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/the-bible-telling-lies-to_b_840301.html



Most modern scholars of the Bible shy away from these terms, and for understandable reasons, some having to do with their clientele. Teaching in Christian seminaries, or to largely Christian undergraduate populations, who wants to denigrate the cherished texts of Scripture by calling them forgeries built on lies? And so scholars use a different term for this phenomenon and call such books “pseudepigrapha.”


You will find this antiseptic term throughout the writings of modern scholars of the Bible. It’s the term used in university classes on the New Testament, and in seminary courses, and in Ph.D. seminars. What the people who use the term do not tell you is that it literally means “writing that is inscribed with a lie.”


And that’s what such writings are. Whoever wrote the New Testament book of 2 Peter claimed to be Peter. But scholars everywhere — except for our friends among the fundamentalists — will tell you that there is no way on God’s green earth that Peter wrote the book. Someone else wrote it claiming to be Peter. Scholars may also tell you that it was an acceptable practice in the ancient world for someone to write a book in the name of someone else. But that is where they are wrong. If you look at what ancient people actually said about the practice, you’ll see that they invariably called it lying and condemned it as a deceitful practice, even in Christian circles. 2 Peter was finally accepted into the New Testament because the church fathers, centuries later, were convinced that Peter wrote it. But he didn’t. Someone else did. And that someone else lied about his identity.


The same is true of many of the letters allegedly written by Paul. Most scholars will tell you that whereas seven of the 13 letters that go under Paul’s name are his, the other six are not. Their authors merely claimed to be Paul. In the ancient world, books like that were labeled as pseudoi — lies.



Gulp. What is so very frustrating is that few people in Church circles seem prepared to discuss these things honestly. One gets blank looks (or worse) - disapproval triggered by ignorance or by genuine horror that anyone would be foolish/tactless enough to raise such issues. It is driving me mad - and away. Discussion should not be a threat; if it is there is something very wrong.


PS I must add - against my better judgement - that I am dismayed at the latest rub of feelings above. I tend to see - or rather have always seen - you and Priscilla as brilliant Beatrice and Benedick figures around here: "There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her: they never meet, but there's a skirmish of wit between them." Sincerely wish you could both get back to being "merry" in your war of words. But then, it's none of my business; I'd best stick to fretting about Paul.

PPS I've crossed swords with a couple of exuberant and extremely confident Phoebes recently: prefer Priscilla - the one here and Paul's chum:


Priscilla was a woman of Jewish heritage and one of the earliest known Christian converts who lived in Rome. Her name is a Roman diminutive for Prisca which was her formal name. She is often thought to have been the first example of a female preacher or teacher in early church history. Coupled with her husband, she was a celebrated missionary, and a friend and co-worker of Paul.[2]

While the view is not widely held among scholars, some scholars have suggested that Priscilla was the author of the Book of Hebrews. Although acclaimed for its artistry, originality, and literary excellence, it is the only book in the New Testament with author anonymity.[3] Hoppin and others suggest that Priscilla was the author, but that her name was omitted either to suppress its female authorship, or to protect the letter itself from suppression.[3][5]

She is the only Priscilla named in the New Testament. The fact that she is always mentioned with her husband, Aquila, disambiguates her from different women revered as saints in Catholicism, such as (1) Priscilla of the Roman Glabrio family, the wife of Quintus Cornelius Pudens, who according to some traditions hosted St. Peter circa AD 42, and (2) a third-century virgin martyr named Priscilla and also called Prisca.[6]
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Wed 18 May 2016, 16:25

Thank you for my 'mention in dispatches, Temps' but for goodness sake, peace and harmony stay on track. Oh dear, said to be of small intellect and of simple wit I bring no honour to my namesakes of yore - but useful lion fodder, yes, perhaps. Get back to St Paul, a writer of many an acerbic post to the  fool hardy wayward. I wonder if they had any effect?
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Wed 18 May 2016, 17:08

I've been wondering what Philomena Cunk would make of all this. One can imagine her comments - Cunk On the History of Christianity - perhaps offered to a bemused, but always polite, Diarmaid MacCulloch:

"It's not very nice calling Saint Paul a pseud, is it? Not very Christian. And were there really several Saint Pauls? Was that Oregano bloke one? And why did he do that operation on himself? He was anaesthetized by the Second Council of Constantinople, wasn't he, so perhaps it didn't hurt him too much. Did all the Saint Pauls do the operation on themselves? Did you have to before they'd let you be a Saint Paul?"

Philomena would possibly also note that "the first female bishop in history was in fact not Phoebe, but Polly (Carp)".

Cunk, I suspect, would conclude that Saint Paul wrote all the really good bits of Saint Paul, and that some other miserable old so-and-so in Antioch (or somewhere equally awful) wrote all the nasty, bad-tempered bits after he'd chopped his own bits off. As good a solution as any the scholars have come up with, I suppose.


Cunk On Philosophy


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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Thu 19 May 2016, 09:03

One last thing - just for the record. Diane Morgan, the creator of our much-loved Philomena, said in an interview for the Guardian: “It’s like wearing a suit of armour. If you’re Cunk, nothing can hurt you."

Not a learned comment about Saint Paul, I'm afraid, but nevertheless there is wisdom in Morgan's remark. Stupidity has its uses.

PS If you want to read some real lunacy, try the Wiki entry on the Second Council of Constantinople. A bunch of old men arguing about nothing that really mattered.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Council_of_Constantinople


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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Thu 19 May 2016, 09:06

Temp wrote:
So what was going on in the second century, do you think

Not sure if that was rhetorical or not - but just in case ...

I personally haven't a notion what was "going on" with relation to who was doing the writing and why - and in fact as far as I can see neither has anyone else, despite the all too numerous descriptions of assumed events as fact that litter the so-called "scholarship" applied to the period, and I would describe that period in fact not just as the 2nd century but right up to the point where the church emerged with at least one dominant faction organised enough to start codifying those texts which have survived.

Official church history helps a bit, but not a lot. Some of the details in the official history seem extremely counter-intuitive, if not outright suspect, when applied to what we might deduce from comparison with other ideologically inspired developments in human history that have led to an organisational structure which eventually lent itself to being incorporated into a complex political state structure. However from these "facts" we can still deduce much, even if we suspect some of them of not having been presented with accuracy, and are aware that all too many facts simply never made it to the table for assessment at all due to intentional omission, misrepresentation, or simply temporal erosion. There is no doubt that the "church" took many diverse forms in its early centuries of existence, and that the focus of its initial development was heavily concentrated on two primary issues - isolating and weeding out components deemed as competitors to whichever faction regarded itself as the true guardians of the theology at any one moment, and defending itself against being identified as a threat to the state, at least to the extent that such unwelcome scrutiny might tip over into pogroms.

What can be reliably inferred therefore is that this must have been extremely flexible an interpretation of organisation, and moreover one that invited wholesale and ongoing redaction of information related to its core values throughout the entire period, not least when addressing what were to be defined as these core values in the first place. An essential part of this redaction must have been the judicious and deliberate use of "back-dating" current theological interpretation to past events, real and imagined, along with all the usual reinterpretation, promotion and demotion of past players, also real and imagined, which typically accompanies any humanly evolved ideological structure as its dogma is refined.

We therefore have quite a few dilemmas of interpretation ourselves when confronted with the "official" history, even if it is the one which is largely accepted (this on faith I would suggest) by the majority of biblical scholars. The "Little Peace" period for example, a time which in the official history is presented as a breather between times of Roman persecution during the closing decades of the 2nd century, should really be examined with a far more critical eye than it normally receives. Peace for who exactly? We know, for example, that this was by no means a time of peace for the Christian factions which were deemed heretical, and that it also contained some very strong tensions and disagreement between what were emerging as an "eastern" and "western" faction which each saw themselves as core believers and guardians of the faith, though not necessarily in accord on some very important issues to both sides. On a general scale nor was it a remarkably peaceful time in Rome's history for anybody in any case, one particularly ugly episode seeing many of the Christian communities in Asia Minor finding themselves unwilling hosts, along with their non-Christian neighbours, to a particularly bloody military power struggle fought out in the region resulting in the assassination of Florianus at Tarsus and much civilian tragedy wrought in its lead-up and in its wake. This however became the "Little Peace" in Christian lore.

Persecution by the Roman state we are aware of, but how many are aware of what might well have been Christian-originated persecutions of their own errant factions during this time, especially Gnostic offshoots as they were to be interpreted by contemporary Christians in less marginalised areas of Roman rule? In fact the event that tipped the state under Diocletian and Galerius into what we think of as large-scale persecution of Christians was an intervention by them in Alexandria against the Christian "heretical" Manicheans following civil unrest there blamed on this faction. What we don't hear much about from the official history is how much this could well have been instigated by Christians in Diocletian's own organisation, of which we know at that point there were several, who held positions of authority in his household (including his private guard) and who were Eastern Roman in origin, the corresponding Christian community being the one most vociferously opposed to Gnostic heresies. After all, Diocletian's motive in being there had been simply to sort out the grain dole, and Galerius (often portrayed as the more rabid anti-Christian of the tetrarchate) wasn't even there at all.

The other thing we don't hear much about is how the "general" persecution that followed seemed suspiciously centered in fact on Nicomedia, not only Diocletian's "power base" at the time (he had been crowned emperor there) but also an important bishopric and centre of dissemination for "eastern" Christian orthodoxy. The persecutions came to an end when this sect had been largely purged, However it seemingly immediately bounced back into life and indeed prominence, begging the question of whether or not this coincided with a possible elevation of surviving Christian imperial employees in Diocletian's own train, and therefore whether these also assumed positions of authority or influence in the reconfigured Nicomedian church. Diocletian, we know, was certainly assiduous enough to ensure that properties confiscated from Christians caught in the crossfire should be returned to them by state decree once the objective had been met, whatever the true nature of that objective actually had been. Hardly the action of someone seemingly intent on destroying all of Christendom as the traditional inferences suggest, though these anomalies are largely ignored and Diocletian's apparent about-face rather glossed over in the normal recounting of that period's events.

Interestingly, there persisted among Christians in what later became the Orthodox faith a tradition of counting the years and centuries not from Jesus's birth but from the onset of Diocletian's reign, a practice which only died out in modern times. Whether you accept the official non-Orthodox version that this was because the emperor's persecutions had eventually been overcome and that this was triumphal recognition of the fact, or the unofficial version that Orthodox Christianity retained an acknowledgement of the faith's debt to his intervention in their affairs, it is still a strong reminder that even as late as the early years of the fourth century the measuring of epochs, at least to Roman Christians in the heartland of where the faith had originated in the Levant, Egypt and Greece, had somehow as yet to allow traditional modes of temporal measurement to be supplanted in importance by any based on specific historical or pseudo-historical claims emanating even from within their own faith. Which of course makes one wonder just how many of those tenets had actually acquired the lustre of canon that they were later to enjoy, including Jesus's biographical identity, and which we are invited to believe they had already enjoyed for more than a century already by then, based largely on assumed philological timelines?

After Diocletian's time, the immediate fallout from his radical intervention (and that it was radical is at least something that the official history seemingly verifies) certainly seems to have been an improvement in east-west accord on matters of dogma and creed, and this in turn apparently facilitated greater efficiency in dealing with heresies afterwards. This reforged identity which owed much, it could be said, to Rome's intervention would almost certainly have had as a component a huge incentive to stress the western Christian (ie. Roman)  "ownership" of important traditional personalities hitherto associated with eastern (ie. Greek) dogma and tradition, the western perspective being ultimately the theological "victors" in a Christian context, its purveyors' structure and theology largely having been omitted from the radical reformation which had been imposed on the eastern end of things, and the resultant automatically closer identification with Rome itself most likely interpreted by nearly all Christians afterwards as a considerable boost to the chances of their theology's protection from further indiscriminate and devastating state intervention in the future. Paul, who already by tradition had been travelling further west in terms of relevance to the faith, probably at this point acquired his Roman martyrdom. Peter, we know, definitely acquired it in the decades that followed.

This is just one example of where the official history lets us down and leaves us with more questions than it answers. A complex and fluid organisation of disparate elements which not only defied a unifying definition but actively worked against establishing one for centuries through incessant identification of heretical elements in their ranks is hardly a good source for an unequivocal account of their own history anyway. This gets even less secure a source after the adoption of the theology by the state, something more inclined to destroy further any unhelpful traditional references remaining rather than correct the historical record, such as it was by then. And nor is such a thing unique in history, we are used to the challenge of addressing data redacted by eventual victors. The difference in the Christian context is that we are invited to ignore this obvious warning when assuming any data presented from that source as fact.
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Thu 19 May 2016, 14:16

Thank you for bothering to post such a detailed and erudite reply, nordmann.

Philomena's well impressed - really.
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PostSubject: Re: Was It All Saint Paul's Fault Then?   Fri 20 May 2016, 00:09

So was I but I had better not say so.
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