Dating Paul's letters

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neilgodfrey
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by neilgodfrey »

Stuart wrote: Thu Jun 03, 2021 1:17 pm
There are other clues that 5:3-4 is a redaction. Paul is no longer present in body. This implies he is dead, a figure of the past. The body is meeting in his spirit, and invoking the power of Jesus in Paul's absence, in order to perform the task which Paul simply executes in the Marcionite.

None of this touches on the midrashic rewrite point you make, but it strongly suggests it is pre-Catholic. It is Paul who has changed (died it seems). Interesting passage.

You are way ahead of me in this type of analysis. We are approaching the letters from quite different perspectives but I do not think either can be said to be right or wrong -- let's just see where they lead and how well the explanations pan out in the long run. I know my perspective at this stage still has many gaps to fill.

As for the "absent in body" reference, a point I have wondered about (again, from a quite different perspective from yours) is that is in part a cue to give scriptural authority to the letter form which is replacing the old model of law-giving. I'm open to the possibility that there was no literal church in Corinth (or any other church) which the author of the letter was addressing. So many possibilities. I simply don't know. I would be interested to return to the approach you are following when a more complete study is done. -- or do you have something more complete already?
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by mlinssen »

neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Jun 03, 2021 2:21 pm I wonder if Paul was constructed by a third party that was also producing the earliest gospels. Marcion, anti-Marcionites, gnostics, whoever -- all the ones left in the record -- picked up these original Paul and gospel constructions and took them in directions quite different from their original intentions. But that's nothing more than a "sense" that keeps filtering through my mind. I think people like Charbonnel are on to something when they see Paul and Jesus originating as midrashic efforts to write a newly relevant scripture in the wake of the loss of something (whether 70 or 135) and that this original function was too soon lost from view -- by Marcionites, "gnostics", and those "proto-orthodox".
I'll agree to the quite different direction that an original was taken into. I just don't see why Paul started something that was deeply embedded in Judaism, given all his struggles and refutation - he is already acting against something fairly "Gentile" and anti-Judaic

a newly relevant scripture in the wake of the loss of something (whether 70 or 135) indeed is what he's after, he is taking something existing and fitting it into the mold of Judaism

Take the Church fathers and revert everything they claim - then you get back at the origin
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by neilgodfrey »

Isn't that the story of all the OT Scriptures and on into the NT? Ongoing rewritings for the ever "new" Israel of the "current" generation?

(Of course, it's always possible that the conventional view is right! -- who'd have thought? -- and that what Paul is seeking an alternative to is a temple that is still standing)
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by Stuart »

Neil,

I like to dig down to the root of the text to see who wrote what. I'm not satisfied looking at the finished product after multiple revisions and saying "yes, this was the original intent."

As for the factory concept, I think you are creating new language for something conceptually already out there (e.g., Jesus communities which Q people love to speculate about). But the way you stated it sounds like a centralized factory as opposed to distributed sources. And you give it a directive or specific purpose, which may in fact be only coincidental. It's a localized version of the intelligent universe concept, if you will (said tongue in cheek). All the various Nationalist Jewish movement hijacked and Flavian conspiracy theories of the NT origin are based on the concept of a mastermind, an intelligence directing a factory. A twisted version of special pleading for Christian uniqueness IMO.

I prefer to think of the process more along evolutionary lines. A lot of trial and error, many forms failing. But those concepts which found an audience and which resonated with some community or other stuck. A lot of cross pollination, a lot of false starts. There did not have to be a directed mission for it to form. A mold colony doesn't need a brain or a directive grow in the most efficient way to fill it's local niche. For me it's more a case of each step along the way, the (source) document had to serve a purpose in order to survive and propagate long enough to be picked up and reused in new form until finally it landed in the NT.
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GakuseiDon
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

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neilgodfrey wrote: Tue Jun 01, 2021 11:22 pmFwiw, I fully accept that the phrase means "biological brother" and have pretty much always done so, but that is entirely irrelevant to the point raised here.
It's not irrelevant to the question of dating Paul's letters, surely.
neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Jun 03, 2021 2:57 am
GakuseiDon wrote: Wed Jun 02, 2021 1:16 am but a biological brother limits the time range. If it is original to Paul, it dates his letters. If it is the work of an interpolator, it gives us an idea of when the interpolator thought the letters were written.
You exclude all the possibilities and instead limit yourself to a choice that will give you a date you want either way. That's not now source documents are assessed in non-biblical history departments.
If it means "biological brother", what other possibilities are there with regards to the timing of Paul's letters? Whether original to Paul or not, it limits the time range in which Paul's letters were written or thought to have been written. What possibilities am I excluding that you consider are reasonable? I'd appreciate understanding that if you have time.
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by davidmartin »

Stuart wrote:
The Catholic editor changed this direct action of Paul into one that required a deliberative process carried out locally. And one where Paul is giving up his authority to make the final judgement. This is the deferential and unsure Catholic Paul, not the self assured and unassailable Paul with no equal of the Marcionite text.
This fits the hypothesis that the catholic church of the 2nd century was a merger of the Pauline church and those that traditionally deferred to Peter. I would argue that this church probably didn't plan on using any of Paul's epistles (hence why Acts doesn't mention them). But Marcion's influence changed that. For this to work Paul has to be 1st century with a competing and contemporary Peter based church
Sure, it's possible to have permutations with all this happening later... but the simplest and cleanest approach is to date Paul early within the traditional dating period but this doesn't mean he was the only game in town
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by mlinssen »

neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:21 pm Isn't that the story of all the OT Scriptures and on into the NT? Ongoing rewritings for the ever "new" Israel of the "current" generation?

(Of course, it's always possible that the conventional view is right! -- who'd have thought? -- and that what Paul is seeking an alternative to is a temple that is still standing)
True that, every story is always trying to "tell the correct story". And given the centuries of story telling on top of story telling for these two collections, they all display "lessons learned" and retrofit them "onto history"

They're like dictionaries, really: the main story line remains intact while details change along with the times: some items gradually get phased out and new ones get introduced - and fine-tuned eventually

I'm sure that the conventional view expressed "the finished product". Everything is created, birthed, and then goes through stages of infancy, adolescence, and finally reaches maturity

A temple still standing - it is possible, I think. But what would drive this new religion then? What would necessitate abolishing the food laws of Judaism, and replacing Judaic Law by Catholic dogma / ritual?
Mere convenience? Or the going mainstream of an idea?

I grew up a Roman Catholic, and it's a very relaxed religion really. You say your prayer before dinner, go to church once a week, and you get saved! I'm not being sarcastic, it's a form of religion that allows for billions to practice it. Judaism will never grow big, there just are too many rules - it interferes with regular life, or rather, average life

Perhaps it's just that, and Hellenisation prepped Judeans for the Roman way of life where religion exists in the background instead of the foreground. As very many of us exercise the "not invented here" paradigm I can imagine that conversion to Roman religion was not a real option, and perhaps all that needed to happen was "an authentic story of religion", something not only new but also young, to open the ways to the "aurea mediocritas" in between Judaism and Greco-Roman religion
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by andrewcriddle »

GakuseiDon wrote: Tue Jun 01, 2021 5:03 pm
neilgodfrey wrote: Mon May 31, 2021 4:14 amHistorical inquiry begins with testing the reliability of sources.

If Marcion did not have that key passage in his version of Galatians then we would expect Tertullian -- who elsewhere seems never to fail to castigate Marcion for chopping out passages he does not like -- to make hay of that omission.
Actually, no we wouldn't. I think you misunderstand Tertullian's approach to Marcion there. For example, as Tertullian explains in Book 4 of "Against Marcion" about the Gospel of Luke, both parties believe that the other's had been changed:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... an124.html

We must follow, then, the clue of our discussion, meeting every effort of our opponents with reciprocal vigor. I say that my Gospel is the true one; Marcion, that his is. I affirm that Marcion's Gospel is adulterated; Marcion, that mine is.

So Tertullian isn't starting from the position that Tertullian's group has the original literature. I think anyone can see the problem with that approach, including Tertullian. His starting position is that BOTH groups are claiming to be using the originals. (For the Gospel of Luke, Tertullian uses the approach of arguing that his version of Luke was the earlier one, thus more likely to be the original. He's not just asserting it; he's trying to PROVE it.)
neilgodfrey wrote: Mon May 31, 2021 4:14 amEspecially since its presence -- if it was present in Tertullian's version -- would have done so much to demolish Marcion's teachings. One may think this is the same sort of silence as that of the dog that does not bark.
No, in this case, the dog that didn't bark in the night was doing what was expected. So we can assume that the reference to James as "brother of the Lord" wasn't in Marcion. Whether it was in Tertullian's we can't tell, but it certainly wasn't in Marcion's otherwise, as you say, Tertullian would have mentioned it.

As Tertullian notes in Book 5 while examining Marcion's use of Galatians:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... an125.html

Fie on Marcion's sponge! But indeed it is superfluous to dwell on what he has erased, when he may be more effectually confuted from that which he has retained.

And Tertullian is right! It is superfluous to dwell on what Marcion had erased, since the Marcionite response would be to claim that they had the true originals and it was Tertullian's group that had just added stuff.
neilgodfrey wrote: Mon May 31, 2021 4:14 amThen later we read in a work by Irenaeus what appears to be a very careful word for word quotation of Galatians 2:1 and the word "again" is omitted -- as if Galatians originally only spoke of one visit by Paul to Jerusalem. That also is a pointer, even if small, to the absence of that passage from Marcion's and Tertullian's copies of Galatians.
I can't find "again" missing in the English language version on the earlywritings website. This is Irenaeus in Book 3 of "Against Heresies":
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... book3.html

But that Paul acceded to [the request of] those who summoned him to the apostles, on account of the question [which had been raised], and went up to them, with Barnabas, to Jerusalem, not without reason, but that the liberty of the Gentiles might be confirmed by them, he does himself say, in the Epistle to the Galatians: "Then, fourteen years after, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking also Titus. But I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that Gospel which I preached among the Gentiles."

Are you talking about a variant?

.........................................
Irenaeus is listed in the standard textual commentaries as a witness to the omission of PALIN again in Galatians 2:1. This omission is widespread in the Western/Latin textual tradition.

I doubt if this indicates an earlier (non-Marcionite) text with only one Jerusalem visit. Tertullian knows of an earlier visit
Prescription
But the fact is, having been converted from a persecutor to a preacher, he [Paul] is introduced as one of the brethren to brethren, by brethren — to them, indeed, by men who had put on faith from the apostles' hands. Afterwards, as he himself narrates, he went up to Jerusalem for the purpose of seeing Peter, Galatians 1:18 because of his office, no doubt, and by right of a common belief and preaching.
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GakuseiDon
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by GakuseiDon »

andrewcriddle wrote: Sat Jun 05, 2021 9:39 pmIrenaeus is listed in the standard textual commentaries as a witness to the omission of PALIN again in Galatians 2:1. This omission is widespread in the Western/Latin textual tradition.

I doubt if this indicates an earlier (non-Marcionite) text with only one Jerusalem visit. Tertullian knows of an earlier visit
Prescription
But the fact is, having been converted from a persecutor to a preacher, he [Paul] is introduced as one of the brethren to brethren, by brethren — to them, indeed, by men who had put on faith from the apostles' hands. Afterwards, as he himself narrates, he went up to Jerusalem for the purpose of seeing Peter, Galatians 1:18 because of his office, no doubt, and by right of a common belief and preaching.
Andrew Criddle
Thanks for the information, Andrew!
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by neilgodfrey »

Stuart wrote: Thu Jun 03, 2021 4:03 pm Neil,

I like to dig down to the root of the text to see who wrote what. I'm not satisfied looking at the finished product after multiple revisions and saying "yes, this was the original intent."

As for the factory concept, I think you are creating new language for something conceptually already out there (e.g., Jesus communities which Q people love to speculate about). But the way you stated it sounds like a centralized factory as opposed to distributed sources. And you give it a directive or specific purpose, which may in fact be only coincidental. It's a localized version of the intelligent universe concept, if you will (said tongue in cheek). All the various Nationalist Jewish movement hijacked and Flavian conspiracy theories of the NT origin are based on the concept of a mastermind, an intelligence directing a factory. A twisted version of special pleading for Christian uniqueness IMO.

I prefer to think of the process more along evolutionary lines. A lot of trial and error, many forms failing. But those concepts which found an audience and which resonated with some community or other stuck. A lot of cross pollination, a lot of false starts. There did not have to be a directed mission for it to form. A mold colony doesn't need a brain or a directive grow in the most efficient way to fill it's local niche. For me it's more a case of each step along the way, the (source) document had to serve a purpose in order to survive and propagate long enough to be picked up and reused in new form until finally it landed in the NT.
Fwiw, yes, I am looking at the finished product but that does not at all preclude consideration of what appear to be discretely added sections, redactions, etc. I am at the moment attempting to understand the most likely context in which the letters and gospels were conceived and from there took various directions. I see that context as most likely well prior to Marcion. The only certain external contexts I can identify so far are Jewish writings, both what became canonical and apocryphal. But until I can find a way to decide if Paul's letters originated in the mid first century or the later first century or the second century some time then I have to remain completely open to questions that hang on knowing that much.
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