'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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MrMacSon
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'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:07 pm

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David Bentley Hart has written a short (nine paragraph) essay for aeon -

Paul’s actual teachings...as taken directly from the Greek of his letters, emphasise neither original guilt nor imputed righteousness (he believed in neither), but rather the overthrow of bad angels. A certain long history of misreadings – especially of the Letter to the Romans – has created an impression of Paul’s theological concerns so entirely alien to his conceptual world ...

... For Paul, the present world-age is rapidly passing, while another world-age differing from the former in every dimension – heavenly or terrestrial, spiritual or physical – is already dawning. The story of salvation concerns the entire cosmos; and it is a story of invasion, conquest, spoliation and triumph. For Paul, the cosmos has been enslaved to death, both by our sin and by the malign governance of those ‘angelic’ or ‘daemonian’ agencies who reign over the earth from the heavens, and who hold spirits in thrall below the earth. These angelic beings, these Archons, whom Paul calls Thrones and Powers and Dominations and Spiritual Forces of Evil in the High Places, are the gods of the nations. In the Letter to the Galatians, he even hints that the angel of the Lord who rules over Israel might be one of their number. Whether fallen, or mutinous, or merely incompetent, these beings stand intractably between us and God. But Christ has conquered them all.

In descending to Hades and ascending again through the heavens, Christ has vanquished all the Powers below and above that separate us from the love of God, taking them captive in a kind of triumphal procession. All that now remains is the final consummation of the present age, when Christ will appear in his full glory as cosmic conqueror, having ‘subordinated’ (hypetaxen) all the cosmic powers to himself – literally, having properly ‘ordered’ them ‘under’ himself – and will then return this whole reclaimed empire to his Father ...
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Paul’s voice, I hasten to add, is hardly an eccentric one. John’s Gospel too, for instance, tells of the divine saviour who comes ‘from above’, descending from God’s realm into this cosmos, overthrowing its reigning Archon, bringing God’s light into the darkness of our captivity, and ‘dragging’ everyone to himself. And, in varying registers, so do most of the texts of the New Testament. As I say, it is a conceptual world very remote from our own ...

https://aeon.co/ideas/the-gospels-of-pa ... k-they-say

Stefan Kristensen
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Re: 'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:42 am

Interesting. I think that he touches upon something important (or interesting) for modern Christian interpretations within Western Christianity: the whole aspect with the spiritual population of the universe as described in the NT has been steadily and gradually side-tracked, especially since the Reformation. Or, as he sees it: "it is a conceptual world very remote from our own."

But I think he is too eager to go into the other camp and put too much emphasis on this aspect of the conquering Christ over the demonic rulers in Paul. I think he forgets to treat that important connection between the "bad angels" and the whole ethical aspect of sin/righteousness/faith in human beings descended from the fleshly Adam. He may be right that the Western Christian tradition (since Augustine?) has emphazised the human nature as the source of evil over against Satan and his minions as the source of evil, but Hart makes this into two whole separate conceptual frameworks. The apect of evil human nature can not be separated in this way from the demon-aspect, and the demon-aspect can not be separated from the aspect of evil human nature. Even though Paul doesn't work with the notion of 'original sin', and even though he sometimes speaks of the whole demon-aspect and the conquering Christ as a story-line that is independant from the story about the sinful human nature.

The only reason Paul cares about Christ's victory over Satan's forces is because it means that we humans can then live according to God's will, without death, but crucially also without sin.

Kunigunde Kreuzerin
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Re: 'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:05 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:07 pm
.
David Bentley Hart has written a short (nine paragraph) essay for aeon -
... For Paul, the present world-age is rapidly passing, while another world-age differing from the former in every dimension – heavenly or terrestrial, spiritual or physical – is already dawning. The story of salvation concerns the entire cosmos; and it is a story of invasion, conquest, spoliation and triumph. For Paul, the cosmos has been enslaved to death, both by our sin and by the malign governance of those ‘angelic’ or ‘daemonian’ agencies who reign over the earth from the heavens, and who hold spirits in thrall below the earth. These angelic beings, these Archons, whom Paul calls Thrones and Powers and Dominations and Spiritual Forces of Evil in the High Places, are the gods of the nations. In the Letter to the Galatians, he even hints that the angel of the Lord who rules over Israel might be one of their number. Whether fallen, or mutinous, or merely incompetent, these beings stand intractably between us and God. But Christ has conquered them all.
I eagerly desire to judge all those angels as Paul promised it :ugeek:

MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:07 pm
David Bentley Hart
Paul’s voice, I hasten to add, is hardly an eccentric one.
I hasten to disagree ;)

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MrMacSon
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Re: 'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:52 pm

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:05 pm
David Bentley Hart wrote: Paul’s voice, I hasten to add, is hardly an eccentric one.
I hasten to disagree ;)
Therefore you don't agree with what he wrote next? -
David Bentley Hart wrote: John’s Gospel too, for instance, tells of the divine saviour who comes ‘from above’, descending from God’s realm into this cosmos, overthrowing its reigning Archon, bringing God’s light into the darkness of our captivity, and ‘dragging’ everyone to himself. And, in varying registers, so do most of the texts of the New Testament.
or previously? -
David Bentley Hart wrote: For Paul, the cosmos has been enslaved to death, both by our sin and by the malign governance of those ‘angelic’ or ‘daemonian’ agencies who reign over the earth from the heavens, and who hold spirits in thrall below the earth. These angelic beings, these Archons, whom Paul calls Thrones and Powers and Dominations and Spiritual Forces of Evil in the High Places, are the gods of the nations. In the Letter to the Galatians, he even hints that the angel of the Lord who rules over Israel might be one of their number.

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Re: 'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:09 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:52 pm
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:05 pm
David Bentley Hart wrote: Paul’s voice, I hasten to add, is hardly an eccentric one.
I hasten to disagree ;)
Therefore you don't agree with what he wrote next? -
...
or previously? -
Sorry, it had nothing to do with the context and was offtopic. It was just the claim that Paul would be not eccentric that catched my eye and made me smile.

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MrMacSon
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Re: 'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:25 pm

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:09 pm
It was just the claim that Paul would be not eccentric that caught my eye and made me smile.
Aha, cheers. You think there were others like Paul, writing similarly in and around the first century?

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Re: 'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:33 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:25 pm
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:09 pm
It was just the claim that Paul would be not eccentric that caught my eye and made me smile.
Aha, cheers. You think there were others like Paul, writing similarly in and around the first century?
No, I think that Paul was a very eccentric person and that there were no one like Paul.

Giuseppe
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Re: 'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:25 am

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:33 pm
No, I think that Paul was a very eccentric person and that there were no one like Paul.
Maybe Heidi Wendt may help to classify Paul in the class of ''freelance experts in religion''. According to Wendt, his letters serve as an important witness to this class of people in antiquity.

While there are reasons to be skeptical of elements of these accounts—for instance, the Roman satirist Juvenal describes a litany of these figures preying on the “superstitions” of women while their husbands are out—sources such as the Pauline Epistles confirm that households were, in fact, a prominent venue for self-authorized specialists of many varieties
https://www.westarinstitute.org/blog/re ... idi-wendt/
She drives yet another nail in the coffin of the idea that Paul (and Christianity) was somehow distinct from the world in which he lived (it emerged), and convincingly presents Paul as one of many freelance experts in religion
http://symposia.library.utoronto.ca/ind ... 8099/20565
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Giuseppe
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Re: 'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:52 am

Curiously, she says (in the last link above):
That being said, Josephus famously mentions both Jesus and John (though without linking them) in a section of the Antiquities that is replete with stories about self-authorized religious experts and the problems they posed in Judea and Samaria over the course of the first century. These references are not without substantial problems, but it may be notable that Josephus and other independent witnesses to Jesus and/or John do characterize them in terms that are consistent with how they treat
freelance experts on other occasions.
Obviously I don't think that the testimonia are genuine in Josephus. But note the anomaly: under the historicist paradigm Paul would be a self-authorized expert in religion who would have glorified another self-authorized expert in religion (the historical Jesus). This sounds to me as if a liar has some reason to exalt not himself, but another liar. It is more expected that similar people exalt themselves, not other people like them. At any case, these are only my personal observations.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

robert j
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Re: 'Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong'

Post by robert j » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:04 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:25 am
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:33 pm
No, I think that Paul was a very eccentric person and that there were no one like Paul.
Maybe Heidi Wendt may help to classify Paul in the class of ''freelance experts in religion''. According to Wendt, his letters serve as an important witness to this class of people in antiquity.

While there are reasons to be skeptical of elements of these accounts—for instance, the Roman satirist Juvenal describes a litany of these figures preying on the “superstitions” of women while their husbands are out—sources such as the Pauline Epistles confirm that households were, in fact, a prominent venue for self-authorized specialists of many varieties
https://www.westarinstitute.org/blog/re ... idi-wendt/
She drives yet another nail in the coffin of the idea that Paul (and Christianity) was somehow distinct from the world in which he lived (it emerged), and convincingly presents Paul as one of many freelance experts in religion
http://symposia.library.utoronto.ca/ind ... 8099/20565
"Paul and the Reader of Animal Entrails"
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1387
robert j wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:40 am
Was Paul any different from the ranks of professional itinerant cynic-philosophers, faith-healers, magicians, astrologers, pneumatics, temple priestesses, charismatics, diviners, and readers of animal entrails that plied the streets of 1st C. Greco-Roman cities?
Last edited by robert j on Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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