Dating Paul's letters

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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Re: Dating Paul's letters

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Stuart wrote: Sun Jun 06, 2021 2:09 pm Neil,

I think you dodged the main question, which is explain what you mean by a factory. Is there a directive going on? To me that seems rather conspiratorial, so I'm disinclined to accept such speculation.

That is the conceptual problem I see.
neilgodfrey wrote: Sun Jun 06, 2021 4:25 pm
You used the word "factory" but I prefer the word "scribal schools" which one finds often enough in the literature. I don't know where anything conspiratorial enters the question. We do know that there were scribal debates relating to the writings in the second temple era and afterwards.

With respect to the OT writings we see at some point a collation of different ideas within a single writing so that contradictions exist side by side (e.g. creation in Genesis 1 and 2). Leaving motives and intentions aside, do we not see some indications of a comparable process with NT writings -- though in the case of the gospels we find contradictory accounts accepted into a single canon.

(You said I was studying the letters as finished wholes -- but my illustrations have only ever addressed subsections. I would have thought that if a section is cogently explained, and with extensive detail, as originating as a coherent literary unit then it is more likely than not to have been composed originally as such a unit. I would have thought such a study to be useful when undertaking a quest to see what line was original, what secondary, etc.)

There are other options to consider besides "scribal schools".

In antiquity there were exercises in rhetoric and, supposedly, even schools in rhetoric -

.
...the secondary school, or school of grammar, centered on readings from classical authors as elucidated by explanations from all areas of knowledge. The school of rhetoric gave students a practical mastery of the art of the word. The beginning program of studies in schools of rhetoric consisted of progymnasmata, which were preliminary exercises in the composition of fables, narratives, chrias, maxims, refutations and confirmations of stories, amplifications, and reproofs. The basic course included declamationes, speeches on invented topics, in the form of exhortations (suasoriae) or addresses in fictitious legal cases (controversiae). The school of rhetoric was intended to prepare its pupils primarily for a political career—which was impossible without the skill of oratory—but as time passed, the school’s cultivation of verbal art became a goal in itself; this drew sharp criticism from practical orators, including Cicero, Quintilian, and Tacitus.

The rhetorical school exerted a great influence on late classical literature.

https://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary ... +School+of
.


Moreover, students in more general schools in higher echelons of Greco-Roman society progressed through stages -

.
Grammaticus
Main article: Grammarian (Greco-Roman world)

At between nine and twelve years of age, boys from affluent families would leave their 'litterator' behind and take up study with a Grammaticus, who honed his students' writing and speaking skills, versed them in the art of poetic analysis, and taught them Greek if they did not yet know it. Poetry analysis continued to use the same poems and poets the students were exposed to in Ludus, such as Phoenissae by Euripides. By this point, lower-class boys would already be working as apprentices, and girls—rich or poor—would be focused on making themselves attractive brides and, subsequently, capable mothers.

Daily activities included lectures by the Grammaticus (narratio), expressive reading of poetry (Lectio) and the analysis of poetry (partition). The curriculum was thoroughly bilingual, as students were expected to both read and speak in Greek as well as in Latin. Assessment of a student's performance was done on-the-spot and on-the-fly according to standards set by his particular Grammaticus, as no source on Roman education ever mentions work taken away to be graded. Instead, pupils would complete an exercise, display their results, and be corrected or congratulated as needed by the Grammaticus, who revelled in his self-perception as a "guardian of language". ....

... the freedman Marcus Verrius Flaccus...gained imperial patronage [being hired by Augustus] and a widespread tutelage due to his novel practice of pitting students of similar age and ability against each other and rewarding the winner with a prize, usually an old book of some rarity.


Rhetor

The rhetor was the final stage in Roman education. Very few boys went on to study rhetoric ...

The orator, or student of rhetoric, was important in Roman society because of the constant political strife that occurred throughout Roman history. Young men who studied under a rhetor would not only focus on public speaking. These students also learned other subjects such as geography, music, philosophy, literature, mythology, and geometry. These well-rounded studies gave Roman orators a more diverse education and helped prepare them for future debates ...

Later in Roman history, the practice of declamation became focused more on the art of delivery as opposed to training to speak on important issues in the courts. Tacitus pointed out that during his day (the second half of the 1st century AD), students had begun to...focus more of their training on the art of storytelling.


Philosophy

A final level of education was philosophical study. To study philosophy, a student would have to go to a center of philosophy where philosophers taught, usually abroad in Greece ... Romans regarded philosophical education as distinctly Greek ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_ancient_Rome
.


Such education included the use of progymnasmata - a series of preliminary rhetorical exercises -

eg. the sequential progymnasmata of Aphthonius -
  1. Fable (mythos)
  2. Narrative (diēgēma)
  3. Anecdote (chreia)
  4. Maxim (gnōmē)
  5. Refutation (anaskeuē)
  6. Confirmation (kataskeuē)
  7. Commonplace (koinos topos)
  8. Encomium (enkōmion)
  9. Invective (psogos)
  10. Comparison (synkrisis)
  11. Personification (ēthopoeia)
  12. Description (ekphrasis)
  13. Argument
  14. Introduction to law (nomou eisphora)
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

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Stuart wrote: Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:18 pmI see this change from Marcionite form to Catholic form as an example of church growth between the two versions more than anything theological. There is no doubt the proto-orthodox held in their arsenal their skill of exegesis of the OT to support their arguments. This is less a case of the material being used to illustrate a particular theological point than being used for organizational control purposes, or politics if you will.
That's one way of approaching the letters and I am always interested to see what it comes up with. Another approach is far less common -- I suspect I'm right out on a limb with it yet not entirely alone -- is that the very concept of the figure of Paul was created out of Jewish texts. There is some reason to see him as being created as a second Moses who was primarily responsible for expressing the tenets of the "new covenant". This origination would be pre-Marcionite, of course. I wonder if its possible to see both the NT gospels and Pauline epistles as being misunderstood from the moment they were taken up by both Marcionites and the "proto-orthodox".
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

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MrMacSon wrote: Mon Jun 07, 2021 2:52 pm
There are other options to consider besides "scribal schools".

In antiquity there were exercises in rhetoric and, supposedly, even schools in rhetoric - . . . .

.
Grammaticus
Main article: Grammarian (Greco-Roman world)

. . . . .

Philosophy

A final level of education was philosophical study. To study philosophy, a student would have to go to a center of philosophy where philosophers taught, usually abroad in Greece ... Romans regarded philosophical education as distinctly Greek ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_ancient_Rome
.

Indeed "scribal schools" are but one option. As for the relevance of popular philosophers I posted some suggestions in this direction in recent posts: https://vridar.org/2021/06/03/jesus-and ... tradition/ and https://vridar.org/2021/06/06/ancient-p ... -and-paul/
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

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neilgodfrey wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:56 am
Stuart wrote: Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:18 pmI see this change from Marcionite form to Catholic form as an example of church growth between the two versions more than anything theological. There is no doubt the proto-orthodox held in their arsenal their skill of exegesis of the OT to support their arguments. This is less a case of the material being used to illustrate a particular theological point than being used for organizational control purposes, or politics if you will.
That's one way of approaching the letters and I am always interested to see what it comes up with. Another approach is far less common -- I suspect I'm right out on a limb with it yet not entirely alone -- is that the very concept of the figure of Paul was created out of Jewish texts. There is some reason to see him as being created as a second Moses who was primarily responsible for expressing the tenets of the "new covenant". This origination would be pre-Marcionite, of course. I wonder if its possible to see both the NT gospels and Pauline epistles as being misunderstood from the moment they were taken up by both Marcionites and the "proto-orthodox".
Ah, the old "lost in translation" paradigm. This is the "they were really trying to promote Judaism and it went off the tracks, hijacked by people who didn't understand what was being taught, even perverting it" argument. It's the same argument, the same basis as the various conspiracy theories, be they for Jewish Nationalism or Flavian Intrigue. Sorry I can't go there. Misunderstood implies a wrong turn rather than an evolution.

What the passage indicates to me is that the process of using the OT to build parallels was not lost even in the late 2nd century by the proto-orthodox. They did not lose sight of where the religion came from. I think that is self evident in the creation of the rules of order and their Deuteronomy source.

As for Paul, perhaps I use a different terminology. But I see him, much like I see Mark (Marcion?), Luke, John, Peter/Cephas, Jacob (James), Simon, Philip, Matthew/Matthias and all the others, as a legend from the distant past, now a patron saint, claimed as a founder of a movement (sect). The name carried authority so was readily used by authors, collectors and editors. Posthumous proxy battles are waged in the literature between these legends, sects attaching points of emphasis they want, drawing up exegesis or their own midrash to insert in the text the "truth" as they see it.

Certainly Christianity branched away from Judaism to be it's own thing. The question is when? In my view it happened quietly long before the writings, or nearly all the writings, of the NT. But even long after they retained midrashic and exegetical skills. Sects used these skills to craft passages and stories to their liking. Few of these date back to "pre-Pauline" era.We shouldn't diminish the creative skills of these late 1st to late 2nd century writers. They are concerned with their Christian rivals not the echoes of similar Jewish debates of earlier or even contemporary era.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

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neilgodfrey wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 2:09 am ... As for the relevance of popular philosophers I posted some suggestions in this direction in recent posts: https://vridar.org/2021/06/03/jesus-and ... tradition/ and https://vridar.org/2021/06/06/ancient-p ... -and-paul/
Sure, but I'm not alluding to established philosophers, I'm alluding to schools of rhetoric and the exercises budding 'rhetoricians' did in those schools -

.
... The progymnasmata were taught in order, increasing in difficulty as the course advances. The courses were organized to begin with story-telling and end with making an argument. There was a focus on literature as a supplement to the course, paying close attention to models of rhetoric and literature ...

Fable (mythos)
Aesop's fables were popular at the time rhetoric became a common topic of study. There are three forms of fable: (i) the rational form (where characters are men and women), (ii) the ethical form (where animals are protagonists), and (ii) a third form involving both. What all three have in common is they each have a moral, stated before the story begins or after it has concluded. In Aphthonius's handbook, the first exercise was to create a fable that followed the three forms.

Narrative (diēgēma)
This elementary assignment was to simply write a narrative (not to be confused with fable). It is assumed that this training is a result of Aristotle's theory of categories and introduces students to the four values of narrative, which is perspicuity, incisiveness, persuasiveness, and purity of language. The content of the narrative exercise in the progymnasmata is either political, historical, or based on fiction. Just as diegesis indicates the narrative plot of a film, the so-called narrative of a speech or oration moves the content forth.

Anecdote (chreia)
Students were asked to take an action or saying of a famous person and elaborate on it. They were to develop the meanings of these actions or quotations with the framing under the headings of praise, paraphrase, cause, example of meaning, compare and contrast, testimonies, and an epilogue; anecdote is something that is frequently used in the Bible.

. . . < . . snip . . >

Personification (ēthopoeia)
Students used personification or ethopoeia by forming a speech ascribed to the ghost of a known person or of an imaginary or mythological character from past, present, or future times. This exercise was intended to request students to perform it with clarity, conciseness, and floridity.

Description (ekphrasis)
When asked to use ekphrasis to describe a person, place, thing, or time, students were obliged to produce a description that was complete. Included was detailed information about a person from head-to-toe, an action from start to finish, etc. This form is seen in many classical literature and historical writings ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progymnas ... Aphthonius

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neilgodfrey
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

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Stuart wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 2:49 pm
Ah, the old "lost in translation" paradigm. This is the "they were really trying to promote Judaism and it went off the tracks, hijacked by people who didn't understand what was being taught, even perverting it" argument. It's the same argument, the same basis as the various conspiracy theories, be they for Jewish Nationalism or Flavian Intrigue. Sorry I can't go there.
Um, no. I'm beginning to think that you seem hell-bent on distorting or twisting every comment I make here, that you bring a "hostile reading" to everything I say, that you cannot admit of multiple reasonable approaches to the evidence. This is the second time I've simply stated an appreciation for your approach and a reason for following mine to see where it leads and the second time you've jumped on me for being "wrong" and suggesting "yours" is the valid approach.
Stuart wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 2:49 pm Misunderstood implies a wrong turn rather than an evolution.
I thnk if you survey the history of ideas and religious writings you will find this statement is problematic at a number of levels.

Stuart wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 2:49 pm Certainly Christianity branched away from Judaism to be it's own thing. The question is when? In my view it happened quietly long before the writings, or nearly all the writings, of the NT. But even long after they retained midrashic and exegetical skills. Sects used these skills to craft passages and stories to their liking. Few of these date back to "pre-Pauline" era.We shouldn't diminish the creative skills of these late 1st to late 2nd century writers. They are concerned with their Christian rivals not the echoes of similar Jewish debates of earlier or even contemporary era.
In your opinion how does this differ from or contradict anything I have proposed? Some of the ideas in the current model can be explored more deeply than than they have commonly been.
Last edited by neilgodfrey on Tue Jun 08, 2021 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

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Stuart wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 2:49 pm As for Paul, perhaps I use a different terminology. But I see him, much like I see Mark (Marcion?), Luke, John, Peter/Cephas, Jacob (James), Simon, Philip, Matthew/Matthias and all the others, as a legend from the distant past, now a patron saint, claimed as a founder of a movement (sect).
do you mean that the maximum we can know about Paul (and Jesus and the others) is that he was considered by the earliest Christians of your knowledge as: a person lived "in the distant past". Period.

Where "distant past" is equivalent to Ianneus times, for example, surely not Pilate times.

Is this what you are saying? Please correct me if I am wrong. Your point that the introduction of a misunderstanding in the process of evolution (by the conscious or unconscious action of particular insiders) is a masked form of Christian exceptionalism is interesting.
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

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Giuseppe,

Distant past means beyond living memory of those mid-2nd century Marcionites who collected and edited the text. Their own founder, or rather the one they claim as founder, was probably none other than the legendary apostle Mark, whom they said was their first bishop. I'm not at all convinced the pseudo biography of Marcion is any more accurate that that of anyone else. (For example, I'm of the opinion there was no person named Valentinus, rather the name is derived from Latin valens "strong", as a group separating themselves from the weak ἀσθενής/ἀσθενέω in the church, and that the name is probably an aptronym of a fictitious founder.)

In this sense I agree very much with Neil, that Paul (Latin Paulus = "humble") is the one who passes on the knowledge of Christ. He is the Christian Ānanda (in Buddhism). He may well be a stylized fiction, a character invoked to pass on insight gleaned from the about Christ. This fits well with Neil's comments about the Pauline literature being Midrashic, or rather derived from Midrashic rewrites. In the synoptic Gospels, Simon (name roughly means "he who hears the Lord") plays that role which Paul does in the Pauline collection. But I'd say Paul goes farther, in that he also plays something of the Bishop as well.

My difference with Niel is one of proximity. Neil suggests (he hedges, so I wont say 'says') a connection to the great Palestinian Judaism debates (I use the term Palestinian to mean Judea, Samaria, and Galilee; not wishing to restrict it further, so that it's a bit more universal). I however think the context is more immediate to the Greek mainland (today Turkey and Greece) and the debates of political rivalry within the Christian ranks; that Judaism is in the rear view mirror already and parallels to Jewish debates are more coincidental because they are drawn from the same texts and to some extent cover the same organizational type issues any religious organization would face. I guess I'm following the principle of parsimony here.
Last edited by Stuart on Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

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Interesting. En passant, I am thinking about Galatians 1, 2 as based midrashically on Moses' story and the Pillars as new Pharaon, who in the same time "is considered someone" and is a tyrant.
  • As the Moses' story goes, Moses does some vain efforts to persuade the Pharaon, without success. This may have some reflection in Paul's first visit to Jerusalem, when he tries the first time to talk with Peter, apparently without success.
  • The second visit of Paul to Jerusalem may be the analogous of Moses persuading the Pharaon (by the ten plagues of Egypt), just as Paul was able by this time to persuade the Pillars about his mission to Gentiles.
  • Then, just as Pharaon changed bluntly intention and attacked the Israelites during their passage from Egypt, so "some sent from James" attacked Paul by persuading Peter to eat with the Judaizers in Antioch. The Pillars broke bluntly the temporary alliance with Paul.
  • Moses who divided the waters is Paul who entered in conflict with Peter publicly in Antioch.
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