Where Acts Got Paul Right

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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robert j
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Where Acts Got Paul Right

Post by robert j » Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:07 pm

In the following table are examples of one concept for which Acts (limited to the portions cited) actually reflects Paul’s letters accurately. In these passages, perhaps Acts revealed more than intended, not only of Paul’s methodology, but also of Paul's actual source of knowledge about his Jesus Christ.

ActsPaul

According to Paul’s custom, he went in to them … reasoned with them from the Scriptures, opening and setting forth that it was necessary for the Christ to have suffered and to have risen from the dead, and (saying) that “this Jesus whom I proclaim to you is the Christ.” (Acts 17:1-3)


From morning to evening he [Paul] was explaining and solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets.” (Acts 28:23)
… the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe … (Romans 3:21-22)

… so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written … (1 Corinthians 4:6)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on wood (ξύλου)". (Galatians 3:13, derived from Deuteronomy 21:23 and 27:26)

(He) who was delivered over for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification. (Romans 4:25, derived from Isaiah 53)

… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures … (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was written in the past as having been suspended on a stake. (Galatians 3:1)

I think the last verse from Paul cited above (Galatians 3:1) is the cherry on top of the cake --- though snatched away by what I believe to be obfuscating translations before readers might savor the essence of the passage.

The crux of the verse centers on the verb προεγράφη (proegraphe), translated above as “was written in the past”. The verb is in the aorist, indicative, passive, 3rd person, singular --- a past tense.

This translation poses somewhat of a problem for the concept of a Jesus roughly contemporary with Paul. This translation can very reasonably imply that Jesus, not as prophesy or foretelling, but was suspended on a stake in the distant past as demonstrated in 'black and white' in the Jewish scriptures. Passages the Galatians had seen themselves when Paul was with them.

Paul did not spend much ink in his occasional letters on the specific passages in the scriptures that demonstrated the actual suspension of his Jesus on the wooden stake. I think Paul likely spent a significant amount of time on that topic during his evangelizing visit with each congregation --- a concept they apparently accepted else they wouldn’t have much use for Paul at all. Paul’s letters were focused on questions, problems, challenges, monetary collections, and the implications of that salvific death for the behavior and formation of his converts as a “new creation”.

However, within a few short verses following Paul’s reminder that the Galatians had seen with their own eyes the suffering of Jesus on the stake as written in the scriptures (3:1), Paul reminded them of the implications of that suffering by conflating two verses from Deuteronomy --- “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on wood (ξύλου)" (Galatians 3:13).

But does my translation of προεγράφη (proegraphe) find significant support? The primary and most literal definition of the infinitive form of the verb προεγράφη is “to write before”. But the term in the noun form was commonly used for a written public notice that was posted for viewing. And in the verb form as found in Galatians 3:1, secondary uses include the act of publicly posting a written notice. But what was Paul’s intention here?

The verb occurs only 4 times in the New Testament. In both Ephesians 3:3 and Romans 15:4 (whether written by Paul or not) the verb is clearly used in the sense of something written in the past that the readers of the passages might have seen or read. In Romans 15:4, the exact same form of the verb (προεγράφη) is used as clearly referring to the Jewish scriptures. In nearly all bibles, for both verses, the translators use some form of “written before” or “was written in the past”.

In Jude 1:4, the translation of the verb in a past tense and proceeded by “long ago” is variously translated as “was/were written”, “was recorded”, “having been designated”, “the scriptures warned”, “were marked out”, etc. I think that the “condemnation of the ungodly ones” that “was written long ago” in Jude 1:4 is reflected in the related letter 2 Peter --- “But there were also false prophets among the people, as there will be false teachers among you also …” (2 Peter 2:1). Many critical investigators understand the “was written long ago” in Jude 1:4 as a reference to the Jewish scriptures or to 1 Enoch.

So, should the προεγράφη in Galatians 3:1 be understood differently than the other 3 occurrences of the term in the NT? I would answer ‘not likely’ considering the very broad and consistent context in all of Paul’s letters in which his Jesus Christ is mostly evidenced by the Jewish scriptures.

Why the different translations in nearly all bibles and why does the circle of NT scholars cling to those translations? I don’t want to assign motives beyond my own observation of cherry-picking.

robert j



nota bene: Granted, not in the best spirit of starting a new thread, but it's quite possible that I may not be in a position to follow-up or respond here for quite some time, so no offense intended if I don't respond to anyone that might comment, question, or challenge this post or others.
Last edited by robert j on Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Where Acts Got Paul Right

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:20 pm

robert j wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:07 pm
So, should the προεγράφη in Galatians 3:1 be understood differently than the other 3 occurrences of the term in the NT?
Yes, because the sense of the other 3 usages is practically impossible here. Galatians 3.1 says that the verb ("writing before") happened before the Galatians' eyes; therefore, it cannot have happened in the distant past. I know you and I have dealt with this before, but I am getting the obviously correct alternative to your interpretation on record here for the sake of lurkers who have not read those past exchanges.
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robert j
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Re: Where Acts Got Paul Right

Post by robert j » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:39 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:20 pm
robert j wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:07 pm
So, should the προεγράφη in Galatians 3:1 be understood differently than the other 3 occurrences of the term in the NT?
Yes, because the sense of the other 3 usages is practically impossible here. Galatians 3.1 says that the verb ("writing before") happened before the Galatians' eyes; therefore, it cannot have happened in the distant past. I know you and I have dealt with this before, but I am getting the obviously correct alternative to your interpretation on record here for the sake of lurkers who have not read those past exchanges.
Yes, we disagree on this translation. A literal translation into English sounds a bit awkward, but what the Galatians saw before their eyes was the ancient writings in the Jewish scriptures.

It's not "writing before", but rather "written before".

Galatians 3:1 ---

οἷς κατ' ὀφθαλμοὺς
before whose eyes

Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς
Jesus Christ

προεγράφη
was written in the past

ἐσταυρωμένος;
having been crucified


I'll leave you with the last words.
Last edited by robert j on Mon May 27, 2019 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Where Acts Got Paul Right

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:57 pm

robert j wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:39 pm
I'll leave you with the last words.
Thanks, but no need. The concept speaks for itself.
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Bernard Muller
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Re: Where Acts Got Paul Right

Post by Bernard Muller » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:35 pm

to robert j,
I don't think προεγράφη in Galatians 3:1 should be understood as an exact (technical) word from Paul. He used often language which looks as imagery, aimed to give an impression (what he called spiritual words: 1 Cor 2:13) at first listening (let's say that most Galatians, like other people then, would not be able to read).
So, I think Paul meant (and was understood to mean):

οἷς κατ' ὀφθαλμοὺς
among you

Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς
Jesus Christ

προεγράφη
was depicted, set forth (by Paul)

ἐσταυρωμένος;
having been crucified
However, within a few short verses following Paul’s reminder that the Galatians had seen with their own eyes the suffering of Jesus on the stake as written in the scriptures (3:1), Paul reminded them of the implications of that suffering by conflating two verses from Deuteronomy --- “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on wood (ξύλου)" (Galatians 3:13).
The two verses from Deuteronomy 21: 22-23 has written the one to be hanged on a tree is a man who committed a sin deserving of death, something certainly Paul did not want to be thought of Christ. So it is hard to think Paul made the (educated) Galatians read these verses.
And I do not see any mention of sufferance in the two verses. Someone can be hanged on a tree after being killed.

Cordially, Bernard
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Papist
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Re: Where Acts Got Paul Right

Post by Papist » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:02 pm

Perhaps it could be, since “before your very eyes” could mean “to you”, To you it was shown that Jesus the Messiah was forewrittsn to be hung on a tree?
But the better translation is “publicly proclaimed” since immediately after is St. Paul talking about his personal interactions with the Galatians.

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