Did Paul really make it to Rome?

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rgprice
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Did Paul really make it to Rome?

Post by rgprice » Tue Jan 05, 2021 4:35 pm

I just finished reading Paul's Letter Collection by David Trobisch, which is excellent and I highly recommend. He concludes that Paul himself edited and published Romans, 1 Cor, 2 Cor and Galatians as a collection to the congregation in Ephesus, most likely right before going to Jerusalem to face the leaders of the Jerusalem church, possibly to face charges there. Paul seems to have been fearing for his life when he published the letters.

I find his case quite persuasive, its based on a lot of research and some sound analysis of ancient letter writing.

Now, one can easily argue that we hear nothing from Paul after this. It's hard to know. Of course Acts of the Apostles and other various writings have Paul leaving Jerusalem unharmed and going on to Rome. But did that really happen? And Acts doesn't really give any indication about Paul facing the leaders of the church there. In Acts of course Paul is arrested and has to face the Sanhedrin, but the letters imply that Paul feared for his life going to Jerusalem to face James, John and Peter. Yet, of course, there is no conflict between Paul and these in Acts.

I certainly trust the letters far more than Acts. But if Paul was going to Jerusalem to face James, Peter and John, and he feared so much that he put together a collection of his letters and sent them to his friends in Ephesus for safe keeping or possibly posterity, the fact that Acts doesn't even mention anything about such a conflict is a clear indicator that the Acts narrative isn't being true to events in Jerusalem.

So is there ANY evidence that Paul went to Rome? Is there any reason to think that Paul never left Jerusalem? Can we imagine how Paul may have died in Jerusalem, either by execution, thuggery, or just imprisonment, and such a thing would not have become part of a tradition?

Charles Wilson
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Re: Did Paul really make it to Rome?

Post by Charles Wilson » Tue Jan 05, 2021 5:10 pm

RGP --

I do not wish to bore you with much more of this but...

From the "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Names" or whatever (The existence of which wanders about the Internet these days...):

[Edit Note: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/moa/acl312 ... 1=mucianus
From:
"A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. By various writers. Ed. by William Smith. Illustrated by numerous engravings on wood.
Author: Smith, William, Sir, ed. 1813-1893.
Publication info: Boston,: Little, Brown and co., 1867."

See Note also below.]

"The last circumstance recorded of Mucianus is that he persuaded Vespasian to banish the philosophers from Rome. He seems to have died in the reign of Vespasian, as his name does not occur either under Titus or Domitian..."

In short, Mucianus drops off the radar after giving everything to Vespasian.

Acts 28: 16, 30 - 31 (RSV):

[16] And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier that guarded him.
***
[30] And he lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him,
[31] preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered.

On such a slim reed are some Theories built but for such an important character, I would expect more than this. There is a clue. "Paul" lived in Rome "...at his own expense..." Creation of a New Religion must have had some profit in it.

As for Mucianus, apparently the history of the man who held Imperial Power in his hands and gave it all to Vespasian left little at the end...

Best to you,

CW

[Edit Note 2: There are some areas that I'll never be able to get to and this is one. Some of the NT appears to have written by people who had access to Imperial Roman Archives and their contributions reflect imperfect rewrites of what they found in those Archives. Here, Mucianus disappears from the scene and *IF* a reasonable supposition could be made that Acts is a rewrite from these texts, a small fabrication must be made that "Paul", who performed fantastical acts while younger, lives quietly and REASONS about proving deification of Jesus from the OT.

Another example is Dio, Epitome 64:

"Again one soldier would have a private conversation with an opponent: "Comrade, fellow-citizen, what are we doing? Why are we fighting? Come over to my side." "No, indeed! You come to my side." But what is there surprising about this, considering that when the women of the city in the course of the night brought food and drink to give to the soldiers of Vitellius, the latter, after eating and drinking themselves, passed the supplies on to their antagonists? One of them would call out the name of his adversary (for they practically all knew one another and were well acquainted) and would say: "Comrade, take and eat this; I give you, not a sword, but bread. Take and drink this; I hold out to you, not a shield, but a cup. Thus, whether you kill me or I you, we shall quit life more comfortably, and the hand that slays will not be feeble and nerveless, whether it be yours that smites me or mine that smites you..."

This, of course, is the Eucharist, framed in the Civil War between Vitellius and Vespasian. Where did Dio obtain this?

What leads me down this path is that with the simple act of renaming a Priest and making him into a savior/god, no one will ever look at the Clues pointing to the Roman Production of the kind, peaceful, tax-paying "Jesus".

Alas, though Mucianus may have been the Template for this material, "...the dog didn't bark" is not enough here. There are lots of times when dogs don't bark, though not often enough. Mucianus lived the last few years of his life in Vespasian's reign, almost invisibly. "Paul" lived quietly in Rome, not performing miracles but "reasoning".

Not nearly enough for correspondence but suggestive.]

John2
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Re: Did Paul really make it to Rome?

Post by John2 » Wed Jan 06, 2021 11:22 am

rgprice wrote:

... the letters imply that Paul feared for his life going to Jerusalem to face James, John and Peter. Yet, of course, there is no conflict between Paul and these in Acts.

I certainly trust the letters far more than Acts. But if Paul was going to Jerusalem to face James, Peter and John, and he feared so much that he put together a collection of his letters and sent them to his friends in Ephesus for safe keeping or possibly posterity, the fact that Acts doesn't even mention anything about such a conflict is a clear indicator that the Acts narrative isn't being true to events in Jerusalem.

Are you saying that Paul was afraid to face James, Peter and John in Jerusalem? If so, where does he say that? I ask only because I can't think of anything offhand and am curious to know.

My impression of Rom. 15:31 (if that's something you have in mind) is that the "unbelievers in Judea" refers to non-Christian Jews rather than to James, Peter and John. In other words, I take Paul's fear of "unbelievers" and his hope that his contribution to "the Lord's people" in Jerusalem would be "favorably received" are separate issues. Do you disagree with this understanding and/or is there something else I'm overlooking?

Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord's people there ...

rgprice
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Re: Did Paul really make it to Rome?

Post by rgprice » Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:18 pm

Yeah, I share your view. Trobisch questions whether those referred to in Romans 16:17 are James and the Jerusalem sect.

"17 I urge you, brothers, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them. 18 For such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded."

What Trobisch lays out is basically that 1 & 2 Cor describe his conflict with Peter. Galatians is written as an affidavit presenting his side of the conflict. Romans is written at a time when doubts about his safety were growing. He tried to sum up his theology in Romans prior to going back to Jerusalem due to doubts about his safety, though he was hopeful that he'd be able to make it on to Rome and Spain. Before going on to Jerusalem, though, he created and edited the collection that includes all of these writings and sent it to his friends in Ephesus. The actual main issue at the root of Paul's fears wasn't theological, it was his handling of the money he'd been collecting. He was being accused of improperly handing his finances and asking for money when he shouldn't have, and it was unclear if money from his ministry was going to be accepted in Jerusalem anyway. Perhaps a charge of Paul giving the group a bad reputation financially or having somehow improperly handled the collections.

I'm not totally on board with all of this, but I think his case that Paul made the collection an sent it to Ephesus is pretty solid. But it also seems that, for whatever reason, we may never hear from Paul again after his closing statement in Romans 16 (Which is actually not a part of the original letter to the Romans, Romans 16 is the cover letter to the Ephesians.)

It seems that if Paul had ever made it to Rome, he would have produced some letter there or that there would have been some more realistic tradition associated with his ministry there. Instead it seems that all of the accounts of Paul in Rome are total fabrication. The one in Acts looks like its just made up as a way of having Paul spread his message to the Gentiles to "ends of the earth", and that all later traditions just build off of Acts. Luke's ending, of course, also gives closure to Paul's most famous letter to the Romans. If Paul never made it to Rome, then it makes him look like a failure, because clearly he stated in Romans that he wanted to visit there. If he died in a Jerusalem prison then, in essence, he failed. So that wouldn't be very fitting for the ending of Acts. The ending of Luke is pretty anti-Jewish. If Paul died in a Jerusalem prison then "the Jews won", and that wouldn't be very fitting. The ending of Acts is: The Jews may have killed the Messiah, but they couldn't stop his message...

John2
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Re: Did Paul really make it to Rome?

Post by John2 » Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:25 pm

rgprice wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:18 pm
Yeah, I share your view. Trobisch questions whether those referred to in Romans 16:17 are James and the Jerusalem sect.

"17 I urge you, brothers, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them. 18 For such people do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded."

I see Rom. 16:17-18 as referring to Christians like the "false brothers" mentioned in Gal. 2:4-5 and see them as being like the Christians who oppose Paul in Acts.

This issue [of Gentile circumcision and Torah observance] arose because some false brothers had come in under false pretenses to spy on our freedom in Christ Jesus, in order to enslave us. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.



And while Paul may not have had any special regard for the status of James, Cephas/Peter and John, he says they approved of his mission to the Gentiles.

But as for the highly esteemed—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—those leaders added nothing to me. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted to preach the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. For the One who was at work in Peter’s apostleship to the circumcised was also at work in my apostleship to the Gentiles.

And recognizing the grace that I had been given, James, Cephas, and John—those reputed to be pillars—gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.

What Trobisch lays out is basically that 1 & 2 Cor describe his conflict with Peter.


Not to argue with you, since you said you aren't entirely on board with it, but for me, given what Paul says about James, Cephas/Peter and John above, it would make more sense if Paul is attacking "false brothers" in 1 and 2 Cor (i.e., Christians who insisted that Gentiles be circumcised and observe the Torah, again like those who oppose him in Acts).

Galatians is written as an affidavit presenting his side of the conflict.

I think Paul pushed the envelope regarding Torah observance but I see his view as simply being the opposite extreme of the "false brothers" in Galatians and those who insist on Gentile circumcision and Torah observance in Acts. And while Paul and the "false brothers" were entitled to their opinions, Jewish Christian leaders are presented in Acts as taking the middle course between them, i.e., that Gentiles should observe four things and can learn about and presumably observe more of the Torah if they choose to. I think this is what the conflict in Galatians was about.

Paul doesn't think Gentiles (or Jews, but he says he was willing to at least pretend to be observant for them in 1 Cor. 9:20) need to observe the Torah even by choice, and he is annoyed that Cephas/Peter and the people sent by James are setting an example that Torah observance is still necessary for Jews and that Gentiles should follow their example if they choose to. Paul is saying that they shouldn't choose to and that even Jews don't need to, for which he was reproved by those sent from James and in my view by James in his letter.

But this isn't the same thing as rejecting Paul, just like the "false brothers" in Galatians and those who oppose Paul in Acts weren't rejected for their "extreme" views. Paul may not have been happy that his view did not ultimately prevail with Cephas/Peter and the other Jews in Antioch, but then he didn't have to be, I suppose, and he makes it known in Galatians.

It seems that if Paul had ever made it to Rome, he would have produced some letter there or that there would have been some more realistic tradition associated with his ministry there. Instead it seems that all of the accounts of Paul in Rome are total fabrication. The one in Acts looks like its just made up as a way of having Paul spread his message to the Gentiles to "ends of the earth", and that all later traditions just build off of Acts. Luke's ending, of course, also gives closure to Paul's most famous letter to the Romans. If Paul never made it to Rome, then it makes him look like a failure, because clearly he stated in Romans that he wanted to visit there. If he died in a Jerusalem prison then, in essence, he failed. So that wouldn't be very fitting for the ending of Acts. The ending of Luke is pretty anti-Jewish. If Paul died in a Jerusalem prison then "the Jews won", and that wouldn't be very fitting. The ending of Acts is: The Jews may have killed the Messiah, but they couldn't stop his message...

If all we have is Acts and you don't buy Acts, then yeah, I guess there's not much to go on. I for one suspect (for reasons I won't go into here) that Acts was written by the follower of Paul mentioned in Philippians named Epaphroditus c. 95 CE and that he was thus in a position to know some things about Paul and Christianity. I also suspect that 1 Clement was written by Flavius Clemens c. 95 CE (who was executed by Domitian for having "drifted into Jewish ways" as per Cassius Dio) and I put some stock in what it says about Paul as well.

5:5-7: Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects.



I think these are great sources for Paul being in Rome, but I gather you don't view their provenance the way I do and you bring up some fair questions to ponder in any event.

rgprice
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Re: Did Paul really make it to Rome?

Post by rgprice » Thu Jan 07, 2021 3:20 am

@John2

What Trobisch is saying is that Paul says, "Hey, they approved of my mission, but then conflict arose. They said what I was doing was okay, if they don't like what I'm doing now it's on them, its not my fault!"
Jewish Christian leaders are presented in Acts as taking the middle course between them
Yes, Acts definitely attempts to pave over many disputes.
If all we have is Acts and you don't buy Acts, then yeah, I guess there's not much to go on. I for one suspect (for reasons I won't go into here) that Acts was written by the follower of Paul mentioned in Philippians named Epaphroditus c. 95 CE and that he was thus in a position to know some things about Paul and Christianity. I also suspect that 1 Clement was written by Flavius Clemens c. 95 CE (who was executed by Domitian for having "drifted into Jewish ways" as per Cassius Dio) and I put some stock in what it says about Paul as well.

I think these are great sources for Paul being in Rome, but I gather you don't view their provenance the way I do and you bring up some fair questions to ponder in any event.
Certainly a reasonable counter point.

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DCHindley
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Re: Did Paul really make it to Rome?

Post by DCHindley » Thu Jan 07, 2021 6:15 pm

Actually, I don't think T concluded that, he did not go that far. IIRC, he cited some sources that document that certain elite Romans had edited collections of their own letters. T as good as says he would like that to be the case with the letters of Paul, although Paul was no Roman elite.

I like Trobisch, and have exchanged e-mails with him a couple times, but I'm sure he thinks I waz a nut case.

Now I believe the letters do speak of a desire to visit a congregation of Judeans in Rome, and said he wanted to go on to Hispania. I have long suggested that Paul may have been an artisan retainer of a Herodian household. Antipas had been deposed around 41-44 CE and his tetrarchy, along with former Tetrarchy of Philip the Romans had been keeping warm for a suitable Herodian prince, were added to that of newly appointed prince Agrippa I who was Tetrarch of Judea/Samaria/Idumea.

If Paul was a retainer of Antipas then he was cut adrift. Paul may have followed him into exile for a period. I think that Antipas was at first sent to exile in Gaul, and later to Hispania.

A whimsical post from a while back outlines this scenario:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3460&p=75233&hilit= ... pas#p75233

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7074&p=110731&hilit ... as#p110731

DCH
rgprice wrote:
Tue Jan 05, 2021 4:35 pm
I just finished reading Paul's Letter Collection by David Trobisch, which is excellent and I highly recommend. He concludes that Paul himself edited and published Romans, 1 Cor, 2 Cor and Galatians as a collection to the congregation in Ephesus, most likely right before going to Jerusalem to face the leaders of the Jerusalem church, possibly to face charges there. Paul seems to have been fearing for his life when he published the letters.

I find his case quite persuasive, its based on a lot of research and some sound analysis of ancient letter writing.

Now, one can easily argue that we hear nothing from Paul after this. It's hard to know. Of course Acts of the Apostles and other various writings have Paul leaving Jerusalem unharmed and going on to Rome. But did that really happen? And Acts doesn't really give any indication about Paul facing the leaders of the church there. In Acts of course Paul is arrested and has to face the Sanhedrin, but the letters imply that Paul feared for his life going to Jerusalem to face James, John and Peter. Yet, of course, there is no conflict between Paul and these in Acts.

I certainly trust the letters far more than Acts. But if Paul was going to Jerusalem to face James, Peter and John, and he feared so much that he put together a collection of his letters and sent them to his friends in Ephesus for safe keeping or possibly posterity, the fact that Acts doesn't even mention anything about such a conflict is a clear indicator that the Acts narrative isn't being true to events in Jerusalem.

So is there ANY evidence that Paul went to Rome? Is there any reason to think that Paul never left Jerusalem? Can we imagine how Paul may have died in Jerusalem, either by execution, thuggery, or just imprisonment, and such a thing would not have become part of a tradition?

Steven Avery
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Re: Did Paul really make it to Rome?

Post by Steven Avery » Fri Jan 08, 2021 4:24 am

2 Timothy 4:22 (AV)
The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit.
Grace be with you. Amen.
The second epistle unto Timotheus,
ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians,
was written from Rome,
when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.

Philippians 4:22 (AV)
All the saints salute you,
chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.

Acts 27:24 (AV)
Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar:
and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

Acts 28:19 (AV)
But when the Jews spake against it,
I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar;
not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.

Then the various evidences from the book of Romans.

Then we have the connection to Seneca as well.

andrewcriddle
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Re: Did Paul really make it to Rome?

Post by andrewcriddle » Fri Jan 08, 2021 7:57 am

As previously mentioned by Steven Avery Philippians seems to be from Rome and the same may be true for Philemon.

Andrew Criddle

rgprice
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Re: Did Paul really make it to Rome?

Post by rgprice » Fri Jan 08, 2021 9:38 am

Actually, The Authentic Letters of Paul puts Philippians in Ephesus.
A similar extension of meaning is apparent in the case of the expression “Caesar’s household.” For example, in the course of his account of the subversive scheming of Herod the Great’s son, Antipater, Josephus says that Herod’s first impulse upon learning of his son’s duplicity was to put an end to him on the spot for plotting against him “and for having corrupted the household of Caesar” (Antiquities 17.5.8 [142]). In this passage the phrase plainly refers to Herod’s family and household staff in Judea, not to the emperor’s in Rome. As this example illustrates, it had become customary to refer to a provincial ruler’s family and to all in his employ, from high officials to menial servants, as “the household of Caesar.” Obviously, then, the occurrence of that expression in Phil 4:22 does not constitute compelling evidence that Paul wrote these lines while he was in Rome.

McGaughy, Lane; Dewey, Arthur J.; Hoover, Roy W.; Schmidt, Daryl D.. The Authentic Letters of Paul
If the hypothesis that Paul wrote Philippians from Rome seems doubtful, is it possible to identify a more probably place of origin? A rather good case can be made for the possibility that Paul wrote his letters to the Philippians from Ephesus. Paul himself says that he had been imprisoned a number of times (2 Cor 6:5; 11:23), but he never specifies where these confinements occurred. The one location that Paul does mention by name as a place where he had experienced an especially difficult, even life-threatening time and that could have been the place from which he wrote Philippians is Ephesus.

McGaughy, Lane; Dewey, Arthur J.; Hoover, Roy W.; Schmidt, Daryl D.. The Authentic Letters of Paul
Anyway, I'm pretty skeptical of the authenticity of Pauline letters beyond Romans 1 & 2 Cor and Galatians anyway. The whole business of letters from prison seems pretty suspect to me.

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