Dating Paul's letters

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neilgodfrey
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Dating Paul's letters

Post by neilgodfrey »

What are the reasons for dating Paul's "genuine" letters pre-70 CE?
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Giuseppe
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by Giuseppe »

Three Arguments:

Arguments from Pillars
    • Paul mentions the Pillars.
    • The Pillars are assumed to be the first people to see Jesus.
    • Jesus is assumed to have been seen in pre-70 CE times.
    • Therefore the Pillars are from pre-70 times.
    • Therefore Paul is from pre-70 times.
    Arguments from nascent organization
      • In the epistles, the feeling is that Paul is giving a form the first time on the first communities in the Diaspora.
      • The second century communities, by their time, should have no need of someone who says them so banal instructions about organization, money, eating, etc.
    Arguments from connections with Imperial house
    • Paul mentions greetings addressed to Caesar's house.
    • In 2° century, Christians didn't enjoy so strict Imperial connections. Evidence: Apologies addressed to this or that Emperor.
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mlinssen
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by mlinssen »

neilgodfrey wrote: Sat May 29, 2021 4:35 pm What are the reasons for dating Paul's "genuine" letters pre-70 CE?
Exactly the circular reasoning demonstrated by Giuseppe.
But evidently, Paul is totally different from the canonicals: consider

search.php?keywords=All+of+the+nt&terms ... mit=Search
  • He talks about apostles only, not disciples - perhaps implying that he started only after the death of Jesus;
  • Romans mentions Jerusalem 4 times and Judea once, out of a possible Bethlehem / Judea / Jerusalem / Galilee / Samaritan (Samaria);
  • Heaven(s)? Twice in Romans, that's all;
  • Lord / master / king / servant / slave / Rabbi / teacher? Only slave and servant, and Lord
There's more there, but I'll try to keep the answer short

Paul is not only completely different from the canonicals, it is as if none of the two parties knew of the other's existence

I see no reason why any of the NT writings should predate Bar Kokhba. It is evident that they have been predated, but which major religious landslide would cause the creation of / demands for such a highly peculiar anti-Judean Judeo-Christian movement?
Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

Not attempting to be at all comprehensive, but to provide some foundation for the hypothesis:

We have a nearby thread here on the forum about the Aretas-Damascus reference (2 Corinthians 11:32-33); take that for what it's worth.

If Galatians is reliable, then Paul enjoys two well-spaced visits to Jerusalem during his apostolic career. Thereafter Jerusalem serves as a base and supplementary personnel source for his and Peter's contentious mission to Antioch. Jerusalem therefore seems to be in normal working order when Paul is flourishing.

There is also a larger "mosaic" of hypothetical dating estimates for each of the New Testament writings into which a mid-century estimate for Paul fits comfortably.

Realistically, of course, there is the additional factor that the guild is densely populated by believers in the basic historical grounding of Acts and in the basic harmony of the canonical literature (so, as Giuseppe mentions, Paul's "reputed pillars" become the gospels' leading disciples or kin).

The contrary case that might be founded in an ominous reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:16 ("... but wrath has come on [the Jews] to the uttermost") is somewhat blunted by a sulfurous stink of interpolation and its vagueness even if genuine.

Were you looking for anything in particular?
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by neilgodfrey »

Paul the Uncertain wrote: Sun May 30, 2021 4:04 am
Were you looking for anything in particular?
Other discussions have led me to think again about the possibility of second-century provenance of Paul's letters, and even of the figure of Paul himself. But I want to be sure I am not overlooking anything in the basics of why the conventional wisdom treats Paul's letters as coming from the 50s and 60s.

Giuseppe's points present a good refresher of key items and you have added more -- which I appreciate. Are there others?

miinssen points out the problem of circularity when we rely on internal evidence alone. Regardless of the problems we see in the arguments, however, I would like to have as complete an understanding of the basis for the conventional wisdom as possible.
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Irish1975
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by Irish1975 »

I thought about this for a while and came up with basically 2 considerations about the putatively oldest Pauline material that should factor into the debate: eschatological ripeness, and early influence. (I agree with some of mlinssen’s insights too.)

Eschatogical Ripeness It is well known and a familiar thought in NT studies that the Paul of 1 Thessalonians expected an immediate eschaton. This mood of immediacy dims in the other epistles, but never entirely. By contrast, many NT texts have a “post-eschatological” flavor: Luke, John, Ephesians/Collossians, the Pastorals, the Catholic epistles. It is, furthermore, natural to try to situate the Paulines between earlier Jewish apocalyptic such as 1 Enoch and DSS on the one hand, and the turn towards a more Hellenistic/Egyptian/Gnostic metaphysics such as we see in the Nag Hammadi texts. It is hard to imagine authentic Paul being as early as the former material or as late as the latter material. As a general rule, since no one in this discussion is entitled to simply assume a historical Jesus as a fixed buoy in these troubled waters, it would be better to find a broad argument for situating Paul historically, more in terms of the evolution of ideas than in terms of those notoriously shakey historical moments (the crucifixion, Aretas, or political events known only through Josephus).

Early Influence I don’t see how one can avoid accepting as an axiom that the Pauline material exerted a formative influence on much (although not all) of the remainder of the NT material. It had to have been around for a while before gMark, Ephesians, or 1 Peter, or the Pastorals, were worked up. And it is fair to take it more or less for granted that the other 3 Gospels and Acts came some decades, or generations, after gMark. If the axiom of early influence is rejected, then it is difficult or impossible to outline a historical trajectory for the composition of the NT.

___
Ideally, no desired conclusion would dictate how we read the evidence. The question should be: do we have reason to be cautious, agnostic, or skeptical about the traditional pre-70 dating of the Pauline material, which after all is a tradition encoded within the New Testament taken as a whole.

It would be far easier, and perhaps more sound, to argue that the reasons for dating the Paulines pre-70 are not as compellling as they have always been taken to be. Maybe no firm dating is possible at all. Some kind of input from the 2nd century is in evidence, but we don’t know how thoroughly that influence undermines a pre-70 dating of the bedrock material. I take it that Detering’s book (available as an ebook in English transation) The Fabricated Paul is one of several potential starting points for the skeptical approach.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by Giuseppe »

What do you think about the following argument?
  • If a prophecy fails, then it was probably spoken.
  • Paul predicted the advent of the anti-Christ in connection with the temple.
  • The anti-Christ couldn't be the Roman emperor, because Paul was pro-Roman.
  • No Jewish anti-Christ came in the temple.
  • Therefore the prophecy of the coming of the Jewish Anti-Christ is genuinely pauline.
  • Therefore, Paul doesn't like the reconstruction of the temple.
  • Therefore, the temple was destroyed when Paul was writing.
Hence, Paul was writing after the 70 CE but still in 1° century.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by Giuseppe »

In addition to the argument above supporting a Paul post-70 but still in first century CE, I would add another argument along the same lines:
  • Paul introduces his revelation of Jesus Christ. He uses the Greek term apocalypsis.
  • This resembles someway the revelations received by the original author of the Book of Revelation.
  • The Book of Revelation dates back, in his original layer, to period between 70 and 100 CE.
  • Therefore Paul also has to be dated back in some time between 70 and 100 CE.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by Giuseppe »

Arguments from "Church of God" to date Paul.
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mlinssen
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Re: Dating Paul's letters

Post by mlinssen »

Irish1975 wrote: Sun May 30, 2021 8:54 am Early Influence I don’t see how one can avoid accepting as an axiom that the Pauline material exerted a formative influence on much (although not all) of the remainder of the NT material. It had to have been around for a while before gMark, Ephesians, or 1 Peter, or the Pastorals, were worked up. And it is fair to take it more or less for granted that the other 3 Gospels and Acts came some decades, or generations, after gMark. If the axiom of early influence is rejected, then it is difficult or impossible to outline a historical trajectory for the composition of the NT.
I'll pretend to be completely ignorant (which is not that hard to do, really) but doesn't Paul locate himself after the death of Jesus?
And doesn't Mark write about a living Jesus?

Then how is Paul assumed to be written prior to Mark?

And the only argument I've ever heard for the 70 CE is the alleged prediction of the destruction of the Temple - by copying Thomas logion

71 said IS : I will overturn this house and there-is-not anyone will be-able build he [again the(PL) other occasion]

and applying it to the Temple - which strictly seen is wrong, because Mark makes the comment when they are leaving the temple:

Mark 13:1 And of Him going forth out of the temple, one of His disciples says to Him, “Teacher, behold what stones and what buildings!”

Needless to say, it is Matthew who explicitly mentions the temple - but that likely is Markan damage control like most of Matthew

Devil's advocate: what in Paul is guaranteed to demonstrate that Mark relies on him? Honestly
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