"Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face."

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
gryan
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:11 am

"Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face."

Post by gryan » Fri Feb 12, 2021 9:10 am

Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, accompanied by Barnabas. I took Titus along also.
I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.
But I spoke privately to those esteemed, for fear that I was running or had already run in vain.
Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek
(This issue arose because of the false brothers who had been smuggled in under false pretenses
to spy on our freedom
in Christ Jesus, in order to enslave us).
[We did not yield] We yeilded in submission for a "time"
(hṓra – properly, an hour; figuratively a finite "season"; a limited time or opportunity to reach a goal, to fulfill a purpose)
so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
But as for the esteemed—whatever they were makes no difference to me;
God does not show favoritism—those esteemed 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 esteemed 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.
They only asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

However, when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face,
because he stood to be condemned
(For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles).
But when [they] he [Cephas] arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself, fearing those of the circumcision.
The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
When I saw that they were not walking in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all,
“If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

(Galatians 2:1-14)

------

Interpretation: Just as--for the sake of the Gospel--Paul had accommodated to the majority Jewish culture of the Jerusalem church, he thought that Cephas--for the sake of the Gospel--should accommodate to the majority Gentile of the church in Antioch.

In this re-reading of the context for Paul's words to Cephas "to his face,"
1) Cephas had already--before his arrival!--decided not to eat with Gentiles.
This based on a decision in favor of the textual variant "when he arrived."
2)The "men from James" alludes to the previously mentioned "the false brothers who had been smuggled in under false pretenses to spy on our freedom"
3)"James" of the "esteemed pillars"--"James, Cephas and John"--was one of "the twelve" of Mark 3:18, "James the son of Alphaeus."
4)"James"--the authority figure for the "men from James,"--was "James the Lord's brother" (Gal 1:19, Cf Mark 3:6, who had not been one of "the twelve").
5)Paul had "yeilded in submission for a time" while in Jersalem, where Jews were the majority, this in conformity with is principle of accommodation: "To the Jews I became like a Jew... I do all this for the sake of the gospel" (1 Cor 9:20, 23).This positive reading is based on a textual variant attested only in D, but defended by Tertullian (against Marcion's preference for the negative reading), Victorinus, and Ambrosiaster. Jerome wrote against the positive reading of this variant, Cf. Augustine. For a further inference that this "yielding" entailed the circumcision of Titus as well, see, Irenaaeus, Tertullian, Victorinus and later Pelagius. The positive textual variant was advocated at length by Zahn, but is only available in German (Der Brief des Paulus an die Galater, 287-96) For an explanation of the variant in English, I consulted FF Bruce's Commentary on Galatians, 113-15. (This bibliography, above, is thanks entirely to S. A Cooper, from his Translation of Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians).
6)Paul confronted Peter "to his face" when he arrived in Antioch, because the same principle of accommodation, this time in reverse--In an area where Gentiles are in the majority--"To those without the law I became like one without the law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the law" (1 Cor 9:21).

Thoughts?

gryan
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:11 am

Re: "Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face

Post by gryan » Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:10 am

A personal note in memory of Paul John Achtemeier (3 September 1927 – 28 January 2013) :

In the school year '89-'90 I was a student at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and Dr. Achtemeier was my teacher for two of his classes: 1) A survey of Paul's letters and 2) A Greek reading seminar on 1 Peter (He was working on his Commentary on 1 Peter, in the Hermenia series, which came out in '96).

That same year, Achtemeier was president of the Society of Biblical Literature. His book, Paul and the Jerusalem Church: An Elusive Unity had been published in '87, and his exegesis of Galatians 2:1-11 was a centerpiece of that little book.

One day, I was out on a walk and I happened to meet up with Dr. Achtemeier walking the same direction. We fell into step together for maybe five minutes. During that walk, he shared how the thesis for his book, Paul and the Jerusalem Church came to him. As memory serves, and memory is of course flawed, the thesis struck him suddenly while he was out on a walk. Since we were walking together when he shared this with me, and it was just the two of us, there was a rare feeling of intimacy.

Since writing my exegesis of the text (above) I have reread Achtemeier's published exegesis. Although my view is very different than his, I feel that somehow his influence gave me the sense of appropriate method for the task of reading the text new way. So I dedicate this exegetical hypothesis for Gal 2:1-11 to him. I hope he would be proud. RIP

gryan
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:11 am

Re: "Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face

Post by gryan » Wed Feb 17, 2021 2:19 am

gryan wrote:
Fri Feb 12, 2021 9:10 am
Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, accompanied by Barnabas. I took Titus along also.
I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.
But I spoke privately to those esteemed, for fear that I was running or had already run in vain.
Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek
(This issue arose because of the false brothers who had been smuggled in under false pretenses
to spy on our freedom
in Christ Jesus, in order to enslave us).
[We did not yield] We yielded in submission for a "time"
(hṓra – properly, an hour; figuratively a finite "season"; a limited time or opportunity to reach a goal, to fulfill a purpose)
so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
But as for the esteemed—whatever they were makes no difference to me;
God does not show favoritism—those esteemed 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 esteemed 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.
They only asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

However, when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face,
because he stood to be condemned
(For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles).
But when [they] he [Cephas] arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself, fearing those of the circumcision.
The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
When I saw that they were not walking in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all,
“If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

(Galatians 2:1-14)

------

Interpretation: Just as--for the sake of the Gospel--Paul had accommodated to the majority Jewish culture of the Jerusalem church, he thought that Cephas--for the sake of the Gospel--should accommodate to the majority Gentile of the church in Antioch.

In this re-reading of the context for Paul's words to Cephas "to his face,"
1) Cephas had already--before his arrival!--decided not to eat with Gentiles.
This based on a decision in favor of the textual variant "when he arrived."
2)The "men from James" alludes to the previously mentioned "the false brothers who had been smuggled in under false pretenses to spy on our freedom"
3)"James" of the "esteemed pillars"--"James, Cephas and John"--was one of "the twelve" of Mark 3:18, "James the son of Alphaeus."
4)"James"--the authority figure for the "men from James,"--was "James the Lord's brother" (Gal 1:19, Cf Mark 3:6, who had not been one of "the twelve").
5)Paul had "yeilded in submission for a time" while in Jersalem, where Jews were the majority, this in conformity with is principle of accommodation: "To the Jews I became like a Jew... I do all this for the sake of the gospel" (1 Cor 9:20, 23).This positive reading is based on a textual variant attested only in D, but defended by Tertullian (against Marcion's preference for the negative reading), Victorinus, and Ambrosiaster. Jerome wrote against the positive reading of this variant, Cf. Augustine. For a further inference that this "yielding" entailed the circumcision of Titus as well, see, Irenaaeus, Tertullian, Victorinus and later Pelagius. The positive textual variant was advocated at length by Zahn, but is only available in German (Der Brief des Paulus an die Galater, 287-96) For an explanation of the variant in English, I consulted FF Bruce's Commentary on Galatians, 113-15. (This bibliography, above, is thanks entirely to S. A Cooper, from his Translation of Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians).
6)Paul confronted Peter "to his face" when he arrived in Antioch, because the same principle of accommodation, this time in reverse--In an area where Gentiles are in the majority--"To those without the law I became like one without the law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the law" (1 Cor 9:21).
RE: [We did not yield] We yielded in submission for a "time", Marcion's text said "We did not yield, but Turtullian's text said, We yielded in submission for a time. This is what Turtillian had to say on the meaning of the text:

He therefore made some concession, as was necessary, for a time; and this was the reason why he had Timothy circumcised, and the Nazarites introduced into the temple, which incidents are described in the Acts. Their truth may be inferred from their agreement with the apostle's own profession, how "to the Jews he became as a Jew, that he might gain the Jews, and to them that were under the law, as under the law,"----and so here with respect to those who come in secretly,----"and lastly, how he became all things to all men, that he might gain all." [6] Now, inasmuch as the circumstances require such an interpretation as this, no one will refuse to admit that Paul preached that God and that Christ whose law he was excluding all the while, however much he allowed it, owing to the times, but which he would have had summarily to abolish if he had published a new god. Rightly, then, did Peter and James and John give their right hand of fellowship to Paul, and agree on such a division of their work, as that Paul should go to the heathen, and themselves to the circumcision. Their agreement, also, "to remember the poor" was in complete conformity with the law of the Creator, which cherished the poor and needy, as has been shown in our observations on your Gospel. [7] It is thus certain that the question was one which simply regarded the law, while at the same time it is apparent what portion of the law it was convenient to have observed. Paul, however, censures Peter for not walking straightforwardly according to the truth of the gospel. No doubt he blames him; but it was solely because of his inconsistency in the matter of "eating," which he varied according to the sort of persons (whom he associated with) "fearing them which were of the circumcision," but not on account of any perverse opinion touching another god. For if such a question had arisen, others also would have been "resisted face to face" by the man who had not even spared Peter on the comparatively small matter of his doubtful conversation. But what do the Marcionites wish to have believed (on the point)? [8] For the rest, the apostle must (be permitted to) go on with his own statement, wherein he says that "a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith: " faith, however, in the same God to whom belongs the law also.

---------------------

My rereading of the context supports the Western text used by Tertullian against the text used by Marcion (Marcion's text
being the version that appears in our NT's today, without so much as a footnote). Tertullian's text presents a picture of Paul that happens to conform better with Acts. IMHO, this is because "We yielded for a time" is the authentic text, and in this respect at least, the author of Acts knew, or with out explicitly knowing, conformed to the authentic textual tradition.

Thoughts?

davidmartin
Posts: 727
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:51 pm

Re: "Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face

Post by davidmartin » Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:54 am

You make a good case here

What's interesting to me is that a Marcionite reading ended up becoming the official one
Were Paul's letters were not widely published prior to Marcion but that an earlier copy existed?

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8566
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: "Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Feb 18, 2021 6:24 am

davidmartin wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:54 am
What's interesting to me is that a Marcionite reading ended up becoming the official one
There is a large swath of Marcionite readings which are also found in various textual streams (the Western, the Old Latin, the Syriac, and so on), which is what has led a lot of modern researchers to conclude that Marcion was part of a textual stream himself. Marcion was not the origin of any of the works he published; rather, he published what was available to him in his time and place, and the Marcionite text looks strange to us only because we are getting a snapshot of an earlier stage in the textual tradition than we are accustomed to. Marcionite readings (not the manuscripts, but their readings) predate even our earliest manuscript finds.

davidmartin
Posts: 727
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:51 pm

Re: "Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face

Post by davidmartin » Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:13 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 6:24 am
davidmartin wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:54 am
What's interesting to me is that a Marcionite reading ended up becoming the official one
There is a large swath of Marcionite readings which are also found in various textual streams (the Western, the Old Latin, the Syriac, and so on), which is what has led a lot of modern researchers to conclude that Marcion was part of a textual stream himself. Marcion was not the origin of any of the works he published; rather, he published what was available to him in his time and place, and the Marcionite text looks strange to us only because we are getting a snapshot of an earlier stage in the textual tradition than we are accustomed to. Marcionite readings (not the manuscripts, but their readings) predate even our earliest manuscript finds.
well, that sure makes it hard to jump to conclusions!
what about Acts? do you think it's possible to say if the author's church feels threatened by Marcionites? Like by placing him firmly in their camp and telling his story but not so much dwelling on his theology - which the Marcionites presumably would have been doing quite a lot
It's hard for me to read Paul and imagining he is preaching against the Hebrew deity, almost impossible, it seems crazy. was Marcion on drugs?

PS I wonder what became of the Pauline letters in codex Tchacos. These never did seem to see the light of day

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 8566
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: "Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Feb 18, 2021 9:15 am

davidmartin wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:13 am
what about Acts? do you think it's possible to say if the author's church feels threatened by Marcionites? Like by placing him firmly in their camp and telling his story but not so much dwelling on his theology - which the Marcionites presumably would have been doing quite a lot
My current judgment is that Marcion is a bugbear for the (proto-)orthodox. Was he an important figure in early Christianity? Yes. Was he as important as the heresiologists made him out to be? No.

I am still trying to sort out to what extent Marcion was an innovator and to what extent he was merely a popularizer, but I currently think that he was not all the way over on the "innovator" side of the spectrum at the expense of "popularizer." Rather, he represented a pattern of thought already in existence. We already know from multiple sources that Asia Minor was a battleground over the matter of how much Judaism a Christian ought to engage in. This debate dates all the way back to Paul and the Galatians, and it involved circumcision, the Jewish calendar and feast days, the correct day to celebrate Easter on, whether or not eating idol food is okay, the meaning and import of the Hebrew scriptures, and so on. For a long while there would have been a plethora of shifting positions on the Judaistic spectrum, and Marcion would have fallen toward the "do not Judaize" side of that spectrum. Only in retrospect would the debate over Judaizing come to be viewed in terms of clearly opposed and mutually exclusive binary factions (Marcionite versus orthodox, Quartodeciman versus Roman tradition, and so on), and it seems inevitable to me that later commentators, both Marcionite and orthodox, would have exaggerated Marcion's own opinions in their own favor. In other words, Tertullian and his Marcionite contemporaries (however much or little he knew of them) may have been further apart than their respective intellectual forbears two or three generations before their time, with the rift widening over time.

So, when it comes to Acts, I am not sure, to be honest. Was Acts written against Marcionism in the fuller sense? That is, was the editor of Acts thinking of Marcion and his followers by name when he compiled the book? Maybe. Or was Acts written against the stream of anti-Judaistic tradition which Marcion merely came to represent? Maybe. I am still in the middle of making those decisions, and want to keep my options open until the evidence itself shuts them down.

This has probably been of no help at all, sorry, but there you have it.

Bernard Muller
Posts: 3715
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 6:02 pm
Contact:

Re: "Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face

Post by Bernard Muller » Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:29 am

to gryan,
He therefore made some concession, as was necessary, for a time; and this was the reason why he had Timothy circumcised

In Acts, the Timothy's circumcision occurs before the dispute in Antioch & the council of Jerusalem. That circumcision happened when Paul was travelling with Silas, an esteemed member of the church of Jerusalem. So there is no surprise about what Paul did to Timothy, a gentile.

Accordingly, the false brethren who were the spies of their Christian liberty must be thwarted in their efforts to bring it under the yoke of their own Judaism before that Paul discovered whether his labour had been in vain, before that those who preceded him in the apostolate gave him their right hands of fellowship, before that he entered on the office of preaching to the Gentiles, according to their arrangement with him. He therefore made some concession,

These spies (Galatians 2:4) were operating in Corinth before, in time, the council of Jerusalem.
And in Galatians Paul never said he made concession then.

Tertullian is very confusing and probably was confused himself.

Cordially, Bernard

gryan
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:11 am

Re: "Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face

Post by gryan » Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:36 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 9:15 am
davidmartin wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:13 am
what about Acts? do you think it's possible to say if the author's church feels threatened by Marcionites? Like by placing him firmly in their camp and telling his story but not so much dwelling on his theology - which the Marcionites presumably would have been doing quite a lot
My current judgment is that Marcion is a bugbear for the (proto-)orthodox. Was he an important figure in early Christianity? Yes. Was he as important as the heresiologists made him out to be? No.

I am still trying to sort out to what extent Marcion was an innovator and to what extent he was merely a popularizer, but I currently think that he was not all the way over on the "innovator" side of the spectrum at the expense of "popularizer." Rather, he represented a pattern of thought already in existence. We already know from multiple sources that Asia Minor was a battleground over the matter of how much Judaism a Christian ought to engage in. This debate dates all the way back to Paul and the Galatians, and it involved circumcision, the Jewish calendar and feast days, the correct day to celebrate Easter on, whether or not eating idol food is okay, the meaning and import of the Hebrew scriptures, and so on. For a long while there would have been a plethora of shifting positions on the Judaistic spectrum, and Marcion would have fallen toward the "do not Judaize" side of that spectrum...
That seems plausible! I'll buy it.

As I argue above viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7661, a more coherent reading of Galatians results from the textual variant where Paul says, "We yielded for a time."

However, Papyrus 46 (circa 200) a Pauline letters collection that included Col, Eph and Hebrews may have been a copy (of a copy?) of a letters collection that predated Marcion's canon. Is there a mainstream view on this? If so, I do not know what it is.

P46, and its many allies, agree with Marcion on Paul in Galatians--that he was was saying: "We did not yield in submission for a time."

My hypothesis is that Marcion inherited an already widely published misreading that made the "Paul" of Galatians look not as adaptive to Jewish ritual as the "Paul" of Acts was.

There is probably evidence to the contrary I don't know about.

gryan
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:11 am

Re: "Esteemed pillars" vis a vis "men from James": Re-imagining the context for the way Paul spoke to Peter "to his face

Post by gryan » Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:52 am

Bernard Muller wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:29 am
to gryan,
He therefore made some concession, as was necessary, for a time; and this was the reason why he had Timothy circumcised

In Acts, the Timothy's circumcision occurs before the dispute in Antioch & the council of Jerusalem. That circumcision happened when Paul was travelling with Silas, an esteemed member of the church of Jerusalem. So there is no surprise about what Paul did to Timothy, a gentile.

Accordingly, the false brethren who were the spies of their Christian liberty must be thwarted in their efforts to bring it under the yoke of their own Judaism before that Paul discovered whether his labour had been in vain, before that those who preceded him in the apostolate gave him their right hands of fellowship, before that he entered on the office of preaching to the Gentiles, according to their arrangement with him. He therefore made some concession,

These spies (Galatians 2:4) were operating in Corinth before, in time, the council of Jerusalem.
And in Galatians Paul never said he made concession then.

Tertullian is very confusing and probably was confused himself.

Cordially, Bernard
Bernard: You seem to be referring to Acts 15:

1Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.

My reconstruction of events is first concerned with a coherent reading of Galatians. In Galatians, Paul went to Jerusalem "in response to a revelation"--no mention of the circumcision party yet. Paul's message in Jerusalem was proactive, not defensive: to "set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles." According Galatians--as I read it-- it is in Jerusalem that he first encountered opposition from the "circumcision party". That pressure seems to have followed him. Apparently they had made their way to Galatia! Thus the letter.

I think our different reading of events comes from a different method of weighing evidence from Acts vs Galatians. I that my reading of Gal does not sync well with Acts, but neither does your view of Acts sync well with Galatians, as I read it. So there is no perfect fit. I further admit that your view is mainstream, and mine is far from mainstream.

Thoughts?

Post Reply