Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

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gryan
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Re: Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

Post by gryan »

Re: The meaning of "as to zeal, a devout follower of the assembly," if that's the sense Paul intended.

Could it have meant that Paul the Pharisee had been a proselytizer, actively recruiting Gentile Godfearers to become Jewish in the fully observant sense, including of course circumcision?

Or something along those lines, as indicated here:

"In his classic but now somewhat outdated study titled Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era, Harvard scholar George Foot Moore argued that the existence of the God-fearers provides evidence for the synagogue’s own missionary work outside of Palestine during the first century A.D. The God-fearers were the result of this Jewish missionary movement. Although Jews may not have been actually sending out missionaries to proselytize the heathen, the influence of Jewish outreach was nevertheless felt in a world hungry for something more than mere empty religious forms."
https://www.baslibrary.org/biblical-arc ... iew/12/5/2
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Peter Kirby
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Re: Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

Post by Peter Kirby »

ABuddhist wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:52 am I cannot read Greek, but reading the English text that you quote, I interpret the reference to "as to zeal, a persecutor of the assembly" as fully consistent with Paul's broader purpose within this passage - if assembly be interpreted as referring to a cult about Christ. The passage means that Paul was such a zealous Jew that he persecuted what he understood to be a heretical/false form of Judaism.

Of course, this reasoning does not mean that the reference needs to be authentic - it could be an interpolation. I would be especially curious about learning whether Jews during Paul's lifetime would have persecuted other sects of Jews - especially if the potential persecutors were Pharisees.
Good question. Welcome to the forum!
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

Post by neilgodfrey »

ABuddhist wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:52 am I would be especially curious about learning whether Jews during Paul's lifetime would have persecuted other sects of Jews - especially if the potential persecutors were Pharisees.
I would imagine the evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests that disputants could say vile things about one another. I don't believe Josephus or Philo give us any reason to think that Jewish authorities jailed or whipped, certainly not executed, those who held unconventional views. The only violence that broke out that we know of was between Jews and non-Jews. Roman governance is one of the arguments sometimes used to dispute the historicity of the idea that Jerusalem leaders would send a force to Syria to arrest and punish those who had a different religious viewpoint.

Roman authors who wrote about things they disliked in Jews did not refer to them "persecuting" one another in the sense Paul is said to have done.

I would be surprised -- but very interested -- if there is any evidence of sectarian persecution in the sense of physical punishments.
rgprice
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Re: Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

Post by rgprice »

neilgodfrey wrote: Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:28 am
ABuddhist wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:52 am I would be especially curious about learning whether Jews during Paul's lifetime would have persecuted other sects of Jews - especially if the potential persecutors were Pharisees.
I would imagine the evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests that disputants could say vile things about one another. I don't believe Josephus or Philo give us any reason to think that Jewish authorities jailed or whipped, certainly not executed, those who held unconventional views. The only violence that broke out that we know of was between Jews and non-Jews. Roman governance is one of the arguments sometimes used to dispute the historicity of the idea that Jerusalem leaders would send a force to Syria to arrest and punish those who had a different religious viewpoint.

Roman authors who wrote about things they disliked in Jews did not refer to them "persecuting" one another in the sense Paul is said to have done.

I would be surprised -- but very interested -- if there is any evidence of sectarian persecution in the sense of physical punishments.
And beyond that, whether someone would list "persecution of sect" as a credential of their Jewish piousness? That's why the listing of persecution among these other claims seems so out of place.
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Re: Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

Post by Stuart »

Tribe of Benjamin is Israel (Samaritan) rather than Judah (Jewish). Ben has wondered if son of Joseph is not meant to be the patriarch Joseph, son of Jacob called Israel, by Rachel and brother of Benjamin, father of Manasseh and Ephraim. This is the Johannine lineage of Jesus, as opposed the Matthean which proclaims him son of David, son of Jesse, tribe of Judah. It is the Israel Messiah (of Ephraim, a son of Joseph) vs the Judah Messiah (son of David, root of Jesse).

This is a curious point, because if the author is identifying his Paul with the Johannine gospel and possibly the Marcionite as well, in rejecting the Jewish Jesus (son of David) we find in the Catholic opening of Romans 1:1-7, it means it's a theological rather than genealogical statement. It also means it predates the Catholic editorial layer of the Pauline letters.

That statement about being a Hebrew of Hebrews and especially what follows we may be looking at a later rewrite of the passage with 1 Corinthians 9:20 (and surrounding verses) in view. Only here in Philippians the author wants to conform with the Saul story in Acts, and to make Paul circumcised and a Jew. These are points contested by the authors rival sects. What is at stake is the history and legacy of Paul. Or as the old Russian saying goes, the future is secure, only the past is uncertain.
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Re: Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

Post by ABuddhist »

rgprice wrote: Tue Jul 27, 2021 10:48 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:28 am
ABuddhist wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:52 am I would be especially curious about learning whether Jews during Paul's lifetime would have persecuted other sects of Jews - especially if the potential persecutors were Pharisees.
I would imagine the evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests that disputants could say vile things about one another. I don't believe Josephus or Philo give us any reason to think that Jewish authorities jailed or whipped, certainly not executed, those who held unconventional views. The only violence that broke out that we know of was between Jews and non-Jews. Roman governance is one of the arguments sometimes used to dispute the historicity of the idea that Jerusalem leaders would send a force to Syria to arrest and punish those who had a different religious viewpoint.

Roman authors who wrote about things they disliked in Jews did not refer to them "persecuting" one another in the sense Paul is said to have done.

I would be surprised -- but very interested -- if there is any evidence of sectarian persecution in the sense of physical punishments.
And beyond that, whether someone would list "persecution of sect" as a credential of their Jewish piousness? That's why the listing of persecution among these other claims seems so out of place.
Well, certain modern religious denominations and movements regard such persecution as a manifestation of piety, so in theory Paul could have belonged to a similar Jewish sect. But I understand your point, because the scenario that I contemplate would need evidence for it in order to be more than a hypothetical.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

Post by neilgodfrey »

ABuddhist wrote: Tue Jul 27, 2021 1:38 pm
rgprice wrote: Tue Jul 27, 2021 10:48 am And beyond that, whether someone would list "persecution of sect" as a credential of their Jewish piousness? That's why the listing of persecution among these other claims seems so out of place.
Well, certain modern religious denominations and movements regard such persecution as a manifestation of piety, so in theory Paul could have belonged to a similar Jewish sect. But I understand your point, because the scenario that I contemplate would need evidence for it in order to be more than a hypothetical.
Which ones are you thinking of? I don't deny your point but wonder if a survey of them might give us a useful insight or comparison with Paul's setting and claim.
ABuddhist
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Re: Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

Post by ABuddhist »

neilgodfrey wrote: Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:14 pm
ABuddhist wrote: Tue Jul 27, 2021 1:38 pm
rgprice wrote: Tue Jul 27, 2021 10:48 am And beyond that, whether someone would list "persecution of sect" as a credential of their Jewish piousness? That's why the listing of persecution among these other claims seems so out of place.
Well, certain modern religious denominations and movements regard such persecution as a manifestation of piety, so in theory Paul could have belonged to a similar Jewish sect. But I understand your point, because the scenario that I contemplate would need evidence for it in order to be more than a hypothetical.
Which ones are you thinking of? I don't deny your point but wonder if a survey of them might give us a useful insight or comparison with Paul's setting and claim.
In all fairness, the religious movements that I am thinking of are quite different from anything that I know about in connection with Judaism, but here are three that come to my mind off-hand.

1. Various factions within Geluk Buddhism persecuting each other (even unto murder!) about whether true Geluk Buddhists should worship the Dharma-protecting deity Dorje Shugden. This may actually parallel Paul's persecution of Christians (if authentic!) - it would be part of disputes about whether Christ should be part of "true Judaism".

2. Roman Catholicism providing lengthy justifications for why pious Roman Catholics should arrest and kill unrepentant heretics within a Roman Catholic state. Some Traditionalist Catholics still endorse such views.

3. The Islamic State and related movements in the Near East - efforts to establish true Islamic states are presented as requiring the mass execution of Shia Muslims and others.
andrewcriddle
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Re: Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

Post by andrewcriddle »

neilgodfrey wrote: Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:28 am
ABuddhist wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:52 am I would be especially curious about learning whether Jews during Paul's lifetime would have persecuted other sects of Jews - especially if the potential persecutors were Pharisees.
I would imagine the evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests that disputants could say vile things about one another. I don't believe Josephus or Philo give us any reason to think that Jewish authorities jailed or whipped, certainly not executed, those who held unconventional views. The only violence that broke out that we know of was between Jews and non-Jews. Roman governance is one of the arguments sometimes used to dispute the historicity of the idea that Jerusalem leaders would send a force to Syria to arrest and punish those who had a different religious viewpoint.

Roman authors who wrote about things they disliked in Jews did not refer to them "persecuting" one another in the sense Paul is said to have done.

I would be surprised -- but very interested -- if there is any evidence of sectarian persecution in the sense of physical punishments.
If seekers of smooth things are Pharisees then the Nahum Pesher claims that Alexander Jannaeus the Lion of Wrath crucified his Pharisaic opponents, See Josephus Antiquities 13

Andrew Criddle
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Re: Philippians 3: "persecutor of the church"

Post by StephenGoranson »

Quite right, Andrew.
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