Pierson on the two Pauls

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Irish1975
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Pierson on the two Pauls

Post by Irish1975 »

Allard Pierson (1831-96) is reckoned among the founders of the Dutch radical school. In 1886 he published a book with the philologist Samuel Naber called Verisimilia: Lacertam Conditionem Novi Testamenti, of which I have translated a few bits for my own amusement. My confidence in the translation extends to perhaps 90%, so please make allowances. I left one passage untranslated that I could not comprehend.

From the Preface

However highly we esteem what we owe to past interpreters of the New Testament, nonetheless we do boldly assert that it contains many things, not only in the other books but also in those epistles that are received under the name of the Apostle Paul, which lie hidden in the darkest obscurity. The Sacred Scroll, which we read and reread on account of the exceptional greatness of its subject matter, will never give the soul a pleasure unsullied by the tincture of some particular sorrow. How many things do we encounter in it again and again, which are dark and wholly unintelligible (2 Peter 3:16)!

From the chapter on Galatians

1. He denies that there are two Gospels, and writes of the Gospel that he impugns that it is no other than his own.

2. He curses others with great severity; deinde sicuti benevole monentes et suadentes solent, iterat, quod semel dixisse omnino satis erat.

3. He has no desire to be pleasing to other men, but the disciples will judge whether or not his ministry may be followed.

4. From his mother's womb he was set apart and called through the grace of God, and until well into his adulthood he excelled in Judaism and persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

5. He speaks of Jesus as of an image or leaven, which lay hidden a long time in his breast, and again speaks of Jesus as of a mortal man whose brother he knew.

6. No one who practices circumcision belongs to Christ, and he patiently accompanied Titus into a situation that risked his being circumcised; even extends the hand of fellowship to those who can demand circumcision.

7. Through revelation he receives the true Gospel, and likewise a revelation sends him to Jerusalem to inquire whether he has received the true Gospel.

8. He has labored in vain if his disciples follow the same men that he had sought out to discern whether he might have labored in vain.

9. He calls false brethren those who had come to spy upon his freedom; then offers the hand of fellowship to those who would not tolerate his most precious freedom unless he made concessions on this side and that.

10. He did not hinder those of great repute from sitting in judgment of him, nor did he care who they were, although the only matter on which they could pass judgment lay in the actions of his previous life.

...

Thus we hear these two Pauls, of whom one is severe and divinely inspired, while the other is mild and pleasing and deferential to another church's authority.

Last edited by Irish1975 on Thu Sep 23, 2021 7:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Pierson on the two Pauls

Post by Giuseppe »


which [Paul] lay hidden in the darkest obscurity

This alone is fatal to the historicity of Paul.
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Re: Pierson on the two Pauls

Post by neilgodfrey »

Irish1975 wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:12 pm
5. He speaks of Jesus as of an image or leaven, which lay hidden a long time in his breast. . . .

I would like to learn more of what he had to say about this point.
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Re: Pierson on the two Pauls

Post by flowers_grow »

Thanks for this translation! I have read Pierson's "De Bergrede en andere synoptische fragmenten" but the Latin isn't accessible to me.

In "De Bergrede" Pierson does discuss the authenticity of Galatians for a bit, which influenced Loman. I will try to find some time to translate that section. (The book itself is mostly about the synoptic problem and doesn't assume Markan priority, but does have a lot of interesting insights.)
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Re: Pierson on the two Pauls

Post by gryan »

RE: Paul curses others with great severity.

In Galatians, one "anathema" seems entirely enough, and to repeat it seems excessive:

Gal 1:8-9
But even if we or an angel out of heaven should preach a gospel to you contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let him be anathema! As we have said before, even now I say again: If anyone is preaching a gospel to you contrary to what you received, let him be anathema!

In my rereading of Gal, Paul's doubly harsh "anathema" seems targeted to the "brother" of Jesus "according to the flesh". To perhaps nuance the scenario, Paul says in a subsequent letter that he could "wish" to become "anathema" himself:

Rom 9:2-3
"I have deep sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish myself to be anathema, separated from Christ for my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh..."
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Irish1975
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Re: Pierson on the two Pauls

Post by Irish1975 »

flowers_grow wrote: Thu Sep 23, 2021 4:17 am Thanks for this translation! I have read Pierson's "De Bergrede en andere synoptische fragmenten" but the Latin isn't accessible to me.

In "De Bergrede" Pierson does discuss the authenticity of Galatians for a bit, which influenced Loman. I will try to find some time to translate that section. (The book itself is mostly about the synoptic problem and doesn't assume Markan priority, but does have a lot of interesting insights.)
Glad to be of use. I would certainly be interested to see your translation from the Dutch.
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Irish1975
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Re: Pierson on the two Pauls

Post by Irish1975 »

Giuseppe wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 9:04 pm
which [Paul] lay hidden in the darkest obscurity

This alone is fatal to the historicity of Paul.
Sorry, it should read, "which lie in obscurity."
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Irish1975
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Re: Pierson on the two Pauls

Post by Irish1975 »

gryan wrote: Thu Sep 23, 2021 5:51 am RE: Paul curses others with great severity.
As we have said before, even now I say again
How could "as we have said before" refer to the immediately preceding verse? Writers do not refer in this way to something they have just written, but only to something they had discussed earlier and are now returning to. But then these words would have to refer to something that the apostle had spoken to the Galatians in person on some prior occasion. But the pretense of the letter is that Paul is only now, in writing, addressing the Galatians' lapse into a false gospel.
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Re: Pierson on the two Pauls

Post by gryan »

Irish1975 wrote: Thu Sep 23, 2021 7:58 am
gryan wrote: Thu Sep 23, 2021 5:51 am RE: Paul curses others with great severity.
As we have said before, even now I say again
How could "as we have said before" refer to the immediately preceding verse? Writers do not refer in this way to something they have just written, but only to something they had discussed earlier and are now returning to. But then these words would have to refer to something that the apostle had spoken to the Galatians in person on some prior occasion. But the pretense of the letter is that Paul is only now, in writing, addressing the Galatians' lapse into a false gospel.
Yes, I had not thought of that before, but I see that International Standard Version even makes the sense you suggest explicit:

"What we have told you in the past I am now telling you again..."

Re: "But the pretense of the letter is that Paul is only now, in writing, addressing the Galatians' lapse into a false gospel."

Now that you have put a fine point on that particular problem (which had not occurred to me), I find myself inclined read it this way:

"What we have forewarned in the past, I am now telling you again..." (Cf Gal 5:21 where the same word, προλέγω, in present tense is translated, "I forewarn you...").

--------

PS. I take the "I am surprised... unless some are troubling you..." (Gal 1:6) to mean that Paul is not surprised, since some are indeed troubling them.
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Irish1975
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Re: Pierson on the two Pauls

Post by Irish1975 »

Translating a bit more--

  • Paul marvels (1:6) that his readers have abandoned the Gospel, which he had taught to them as God's own message and the revealed truth (cf. 1:9, ὡς προειρήκαμεν); but after the passage of 17 years [since receiving the Gospel], he relates to his disciples the most serious matter, that this Gospel was indeed the revealed truth (1:11).
  • He was together with them (1:9), but his disciples have heard only from others how at one time he was proficient in Judaism (1:13, Ἠκούσατε).
  • He is unknown by appearance (1:22) to those whom he persecuted (1:13).
  • He demands faith in the Gospel announced to him (1:8), but thinks it necessary to swear an oath to God that he is not lying when he writes about his own life.
We conclude that so many and such deep contradictions indicate a two-fold origin for all these matters. To the mild "bishop Paul" I would attribute what we read in 1:1-10, plus the journey to Jerusalem to seek approval from the highly reputed apostles. But everything else interwoven pertains to the doings of a certain apostle, in whom we recognize a vastly different character and manner of speech. To this one I would attribute verses 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 22...

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