Paul's Dog and Pony Show

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robert j
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Paul's Dog and Pony Show

Post by robert j » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:38 pm

Part One of Three

Break a Leg Paul


The mid-first century Greco-Roman world in which Paul found himself was infested with itinerant cynic-philosophers, faith-healers, missionaries, magicians, evangelists, preachers, prophets, sophists, pneumatics, charlatans, con-men and hucksters of all stripes. Most trying to find a profitable niche in which to ply their trade and support their lifestyle --- and avoid trouble with the authorities.

Accompanying the advent of a new social movement will be the rise of professional advocates --- promoters and interpreters taking the message to the masses. An intelligent and well educated Jewish man that we'll call Paul --- with talent for rhetoric, writing, and interpreting the Jewish scriptures --- could support himself and a few partners with those skills. Perhaps that's just what Paul did. He saw a new opportunity, a niche that a well-educated Jew in the Diaspora could fill.

This new idea about Jesus Christ, a previously unknown mystery recently revealed in some Jewish circles in the Levant, included a message of spiritual redemption for all people. Paul saw some fertile territory in the mostly Gentile north-eastern Mediterranean provinces and became a traveling salesman and a franchiser, building his territory.

Paul and his partners developed a performance, a dog-and-pony show, a demonstration to establish Paul's authority when working new territory. Paul laid his claim as one entrusted with the true knowledge about this new good savior, this Jesus Christ, with a performance designed to demonstrate that he was truly imbued with the power of the holy spirit,
"My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the spirit and power, so that your faith might not be on man's wisdom but on God's power." (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).

"The signs of an apostle were performed among you in all endurance, in signs and wonders and miracles." (2 Corinthians 12:12).

"For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the holy spirit, and with much assurance." (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
robert j.
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robert j
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Re: Paul's Dog and Pony Show

Post by robert j » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:56 pm

Part Two of Three

Show Me the Money

Monetary compensation was a big issue for Paul. The Philippians appear to have been his primary source of income, and perhaps the Galatians contributed as well. The Corinthians were a much tougher sell for Paul.

When it comes to compensation, Paul’s language becomes flowery and a bit circumspect --- this was likely the polite way to address such issues at the time. Here are some passages regarding compensation:

1 Thessalonians

Paul reminded them that he had previously worked hard for them without compensation,
"For you remember our labor and hardship brothers, working night and day so we would not burden any of you … " (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
But then Paul encouraged them to work hard (1 Thess. 4:11), and to compensate him and his co-workers,
"Moreover we implore you brothers, to remember those who toil among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to consider them exceedingly in benevolence on account of their work." (1 Thess. 5:12-13).
This is Paul's polite language for soliciting financial support. Paul was gently working the Thessalonians, but it seems this Macedonian franchise hadn't begun to pay off yet.

Galatians

"Now the one who is taught the message must share all good things with the one who teaches." (Galatians 6:6).
Spiritual or financial? I think Paul was saying they must pay him for his work. And I think they had. Such would help to explain, at least in part, Paul's vehement defense of his authority against the threat from the competition, the circumcisers.

Philippians

"I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your care for me." (Philippians 4:10).

"… in the early days of the gospel when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the manner of giving and receiving except you alone. For even in Thessalonica, you sent twice for my needs." (Phil. 4:15-16).
These Macedonians were paying Paul again, but they had stopped for a while. Paul sent Epaphroditus, one of his partners, to make another collection from them (Phil. 2:25, see also 4:18).

Paul laid a guilt trip on the Philippians, blaming them for Epaphroditus' near death while he was working hard to,
"… make up what was lacking in your service to me." (Phil. 2:30).

The discussion of compensation occupies most of Philippians 4:10-20.

Corinthians


Paul's authority with the sophisticated Corinthian congregation was tenuous, and, if ever of much significance, it didn't seem to persist (2 Corinthians 3:1). And much to his chagrin, they weren't paying him. Paul had competition and the Corinthians had paid the competitors (1 Cor. 9:11-12). But Paul kept working them pretty hard.

He played the poor-me card,
"At the present hour we both hunger and thirst, we are poorly clothed, mistreated and homeless, we toil, working with our own hands …" (1 Cor. 4:11-12).
Then he continued to lay the guilt trip on pretty thick through more than 14 verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 9;
"… don't we have the right to eat and drink … is it only Barnabus and I who have no right to refrain from working? … who shepherds a flock and does not drink milk from the flock? … if we have sown spiritual things for you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? … ".
Nothing seemed to work, so Paul played his trump card. He made it an order from the Lord, as if he had a copy of the commandments of Jesus in his hip pocket,
"… the Lord has ordered that those who preach the gospel to earn their living by the gospel." (1 Cor. 9:14).
Paul wasn't shy about claiming he spoke for the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37), but even the Lord didn't seem to convince the Corinthians to pay Paul.

Paul (falsely) claimed superiority,
"For we are not like the many peddling the word of God …" (2 Corinthians 2:17).
And regarding his right to compensation for his spiritual work, Paul wrote,
“However, we did not use this right, instead we endure everything so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ." (1 Cor 9:12)

“But I have used none of these (rights), nor have I written these things to make it happen that way for me. For it would better for me to die than for anyone to deprive me of my boast.” (1 Cor 9:15)
However, Paul’s disclaimer is empty rhetoric. Why would it be so noble to work for the Corinthians without compensation, only to be supported by the Philippians?
"Or did I commit sin… because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches having received support to minister to you … the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my needs ….” (2 Cor 11:7-9).
robert j.

robert j
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Re: Paul's Dog and Pony Show

Post by robert j » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:00 pm

Part Three

The Poor Saints


Paul chided the Corinthians for their riches and their surplus (2 Cor. 8:9 and 8:14), and he tried to convince them to make a collection for the "saints" in Jerusalem. Paul tells the Corinthian congregation that he had already implemented such a collection from the Galatians (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

And in a bit of guilt-tripping, Paul told the Corinthians that his congregations in Macedonia had made collections for the "saints" in Jerusalem characterized as, “the wealth of their generosity". (2 Cor. 8:1-4 and 8:20).

Paul continued to work the Corinthians for a donation for the "saints" in Jerusalem in most of 2 Cor. chapters 8 and 9. But after all that, the Corinthians didn't appear to trust Paul, and apparently implied that Paul and his envoy Titus were trying to take advantage of them,
“I did not burden you, yet being crafty I caught you by deceit. I did not take advantage of you by anyone I sent you. I urged Titus and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take advantage of you.” 2 Corinthians 12:16-18
It's not clear if the Corinthians ever chipped-in, other than a brief (and questionable) mention in Romans 15:26. There is absolutely no mention in any letter of Paul of any sum ever having been delivered to Jerusalem, beyond vague plans to deliver it soon (Romans 15:25-28).

It's interesting that the Corinthian letters are the only letters of Paul, save the brief and questionable mention in Romans, in which any mention is made of a collection for the saints in Jerusalem. Perhaps Paul was only working the wealthy Corinthians with this scheme, since they weren't paying him anything directly.

By many twists of fate, are one man's ‘donor-letters’ now revered by millions as the unerring word of God?

Granted, so far this essay has been mostly one sided. To provide some balance, compensation for those delivering spiritual endowments was a standard practice in many circles, as it is now. At the time of Paul, financial contributions most likely provided honor for both the giver and receiver.

Was Paul sincere? Was Paul a true believer, an embattled advocate unselfishly sharing his faith with others for barely enough money to provide food, shelter, and traveling money for himself and his fellow evangelists? In a very personal sharing with his community at Philippi, do we see a true believer, a lost man, sincerely seeking answers to life's deepest mysteries?
"… that I might gain Christ and be found in him … to know him and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings, embodying his death, if by such means I might attain the resurrection from among the dead." (Philippians 3:8-11).
To each his own, but Paul becomes a little easier to understand if we move safely away from the great Saint Paul and move closer to the lost man ---- and remove the sacred patina from his words.

robert j.
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toejam
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Re: Paul's Dog and Pony Show

Post by toejam » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:13 pm

^Sometimes I imagine Paul as something of an L.Ron Hubbard-type character - an extremely intelligent masterful charlatan. I.e. Paul saw the gullibility of gentiles who were attracted to this new form of Judaism and exploited it for all it was worth and effectively started his own cult. I can't say that is what I believe, but it remains a viable option.
My study list: https://www.facebook.com/notes/scott-bignell/judeo-christian-origins-bibliography/851830651507208

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DCHindley
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Re: Paul's Dog and Pony Show

Post by DCHindley » Sat Aug 30, 2014 5:05 pm

In later rabbinic Judaism, there was a patriarch who resided in Galilee and he was granted the right to continue to collect the goodwill offerings for the poor in Judea. Those who collected the contributions were known as "apostles" because they were sent overseas for the purpose. Prior to the war of 66-73 CE the offerings from the diaspora that were sent to Jerusalem before the war were brought by similar individuals, although we do not have any idea whether they were formally called "apostles".

In my "oh-he has-to-be-wrong" POV, this is the role Paul saw himself performing this apostolic task for the sake of the "God-fearing" gentiles he encouraged. By organizing the collection, which he would then present to a high/chief priest for the relief of the poor in the hope that he could get the offerings accepted as if from diaspora "Judeans," he wanted to validate his position that God-fearing gentiles were "brothers" with their circumcised co-fearers, on the basis of faith in God's promise that Abram's descendants would inherit the promise land.

Whether these "apostles" were permitted to make use of a percentage of the offerings for the sake of their transport to Jerusalem is not known. The analog would be the director's of "charities" which receive salaries to manage donations. We have modern charities that routinely pay staff 80% of the contributions collected in order to distribute the 20% as promised. I'm not saying Paul was like that, but it seems as though Paul was trying to avoid that kind of charge, that he was a profiteer.

I would rather think that Paul and his associates were retainers of wealthy diaspora Judeans (maybe Herodians or members of the households of the powerful Adiabenite princes Izatus or Monobazus or the dowager queen Helena), conducting routine business for their patrons, on some sort of retainer or salary. They worked their "apostolic" duties "on the side," as it were.

His approach to include God fearing gentiles as much a part of "Israel" as circumcised descendants, was probably controversial in diaspora Judean circles. If "anyone" could claim to be a heir to God's promise of the promise land to Abram's descendants on the basis of faith alone, and not on circumcision and taking on the observance of the law of Moses, in a way that "cheapened" the brand. Over the years Judeans everywhere had been granted privileges by the Roman emperors (mainly on the basis of what Herod and his father Antipater had done for the first few emperors) that exempted them from being pressed into Roman military service and from performing civic religious duties non-Jews were obligated to do. They could freely assemble for collective expression of their ancestral beliefs, something that could easily get a non-Judean arrested for plots against the state. It was a "good deal" for them to have these privileges. Paul indicates that some diaspora Judeans had opposed his views and frustrated his attempts.

This is how the book of Acts presents Paul, as bringing a free-will offering from his God fearing gentile associates which a priest had in-fact accepted for distribution to poor folks who were attempting to fulfill Nazirite vows (the head shaving part). The disturbance that followed probably showed that Judeans of Judea felt he (and the priest involved) had gone too far.

DCH (first post was sent prematurely, and thus incomplete ... boo hoo!)
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steve43
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Re: Paul's Dog and Pony Show

Post by steve43 » Sat Aug 30, 2014 5:21 pm

Every male Jew over the age of 19 was required to tithe to the second Temple the amount of one half shekel every year- during the first fruits day of the Passover. A measure of the first fruits of the field, and livestock, was also required- usually brought by a delegation from the town, who usually brought money from those Jews who could not attend.
All in Josephus.
They were NOT called Apostles.
The Synagogues in the smaller cities and town likely had a similar method of support- either donations or people chipping in to do what needed to be done.

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DCHindley
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Re: Paul's Dog and Pony Show

Post by DCHindley » Sat Aug 30, 2014 6:22 pm

steve43 wrote:Every male Jew over the age of 19 was required to tithe to the second Temple the amount of one half shekel every year- during the first fruits day of the Passover. A measure of the first fruits of the field, and livestock, was also required- usually brought by a delegation from the town, who usually brought money from those Jews who could not attend.
All in Josephus.
They were NOT called Apostles.
The Synagogues in the smaller cities and town likely had a similar method of support- either donations or people chipping in to do what needed to be done.
So, what were they called then? Unless you KNOW FOR SURE what they WERE called, you DO NOT KNOW FOR SURE what they WERE NOT called.

We do know that offerings of considerable sums were being transported from the provinces to Jerusalem. At least one Roman magistrate was concerned enough by this to confiscate the money, which prompted the emperor to confirm this was in accordance with the edicts of preceding emperors and had the money released.

This money was not in a sealed marine shipping container, but was likely found in the possession of a Judean who was escorting it on the journey. Considering how the rabbis tried hard to "imitate" the ideal practices of the 2nd temple, them calling such representatives "apostles" is likely a throw back to 2nd temple practice. It just so happens that neither Josephus, Philo or non-Judean writers whose works have survived ever gives the technical term for them. Boo hoo! "Oh woe is us, as we can never know anything for sure, so it is better to know nothing at all!"

I do not think you actually know anything at all about who tithes were legally required from, the difference between a tithe and a free-will offering, or how they were delivered to Jerusalem from in and out of country, and into whose hands these tithes, temple taxes and offerings were deposited, much less how they might have been directly utilized by those "hands". That some sort of formal, or informal, bureaucracy existed to achieve these goals can be assumed without too much objection.

The Pharisees attempted to voluntarily observe tithing as if it applied to all Judeans everywhere in the holy land, not just the lands subject to the temple state. What about tenant farmers of imperial or royal estates managed by Judean and non-Judean elites? These lands were NOT subject to any tithe rules. What about the Judean ruled tetrarchies of Galilee (Antipas), or the Hauran (Philip)?

The Judean elites in charge of these many regions not directly subject to the temple state, but possessing the means to voluntarily tithe (or force tenants to tithe) what they were not legally obligated to do, were the Pharisees. This is why they were more numerous in Judea than in Galilee and the Hauran.

DCH

Ulan
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Re: Paul's Dog and Pony Show

Post by Ulan » Mon Sep 01, 2014 6:33 am

robert j wrote:Nothing seemed to work, so Paul played his trump card. He made it an order from the Lord, as if he had a copy of the commandments of Jesus in his hip pocket,
"… the Lord has ordered that those who preach the gospel to earn their living by the gospel." (1 Cor. 9:14).
Paul wasn't shy about claiming he spoke for the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37), but even the Lord didn't seem to convince the Corinthians to pay Paul.
This is one of the very striking aspects of Paul's letters. How often does he quote Jesus? Twice? Three times? And one of the quotes is "please, pay your preacherman".

Clive
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Re: Paul's Dog and Pony Show

Post by Clive » Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:16 pm

Might Paul have used that alleged miracle still used in orthodox churches, with phosphorous?
"We cannot slaughter each other out of the human impasse"

steve43
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Re: Paul's Dog and Pony Show

Post by steve43 » Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:00 pm

Josephus never calls the folks who brought the offerings and first fruits to the Second Temple "apostles."

Not once.

Deal with it.

End of Winged Frog Theory #1209a.

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