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AM, 2016 11:May

Historical Paul: What Have Christians Said About Paul?

St Augustine of Hippo,Letter 40, to Jerome (397):
“If it be possible for men to say and believe that, after introducing his narrative with these words, ‘The things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not’, the apostle (Paul) lied when he said of Peter and Barnabas, ‘I saw that they walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel’,… [then] if they did walk uprightly, Paul wrote what was false; and if he wrote what was false here, when did he say what was true?”

St Jerome,Letter 112, to Augustine (404):
“Porphyry … accuses Paul of presumption because he dared to reprove Peter and rebuke him to his face, and by reasoning convict him of having done wrong; that is to say, of being in the very fault which he himself, who blamed another for transgressing, had committed…. “

St Thomas Aquinas,Summa Theologica, I-II, Q.103, Art.4, Reply Obj.2 (1272):
“According to Jerome, Peter [in Gal 2:6-14] withdrew himself from the Gentiles by pretense, in order to avoid giving scandal to the Jews, of whom he was the Apostle; hence he did not sin at all in acting thus. On the other hand, Paul in like manner made a pretense of blaming him, in order to avoid scandalizing the Gentiles, whose Apostle he was. But Augustine disapproves of this solution.”

Desiderius Erasmus,In Praise of Folly (1509):
“There are many things in St. Paul that thwart themselves…. I was lately myself at a theological dispute, for I am often there, when one was demanding what authority there was in Holy Writ that commands heretics to be convinced by fire rather than reclaimed by argument; a crabbed old fellow, and one whose supercilious gravity spoke him at least a doctor, answered in a great fume that Saint Paul had decreed it, who said, ‘Reject him that is a heretic, after once or twice admonishing [him].’”

Sta Teresa of Avila,Accounts of Conscience, XVI (1571):
“It seemed to me that, concerning what St. Paul says about the confinement of women—which has been stated to me recently, and even previously I had heard that this would be the will of God—[the Lord] said to me: ‘Tell them not to follow only one part of the Scripture, to look at others, and [see] if they will perchance be able to tie my hands.’”

Blaise Pascal,Pensées, 673 (1660):
“Saint Paul … speaks of [marriage] to the Corinthians [I-Cor 7] in a way which is a snare.”

John Locke,The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695):
“If all, or most of the truths declared in the epistles, were to be received and believed as fundamental articles, what then became of those christians who were fallen asleep (as St. Paul witnesses in his first to the Corinthians, many were) before these things in the epistles were revealed to them? Most of the epistles not being written till above twenty years after our Saviour’s ascension, and some after thirty. … Nobody can add to these fundamental articles of faith.”

Matthew Henry,Exposition of the New Testament (included in Biblio.29; vol.V, 1721):
“Paul took [Timothy] and circumcised him, or ordered it to be done (Acts 16:1-3). This was strange. Had not Paul opposed those with all his might that were for imposing circumcision upon the Gentile converts? Had he not at this time the decrees of the council at Jerusalem with him, which witnessed against it? He had, and yet circumcised Timothy.”

Ferdinand Christian Baur,‘The Christ Party in the Corinthian Church, the Opposition between Petrine and Pauline Christianity in the Ancient Church, and the Apostle Peter in Rome’ (1831):
“What kind of authority can there be for an ‘Apostle’ who, unlike the other Apostles, had never been prepared for the Apostolic office in Jesus’ own school but had only later dared to claim the Apostolic office on the basis of his own authority?”

Søren Kierkegaard,The Journals (1849):
“In Christ the religious is completely present-tense; in Paul it is already on the way to becoming doctrine. One can imagine the rest!… This trend has been kept up for God knows how many centuries.”

Søren Kierkegaard,The Journals (1850):
“When Jesus Christ lived, he was indeed the prototype. The task of faith is … to imitate Christ, become a disciple. Then Christ dies. Now, through the Apostle Paul, comes a basic alteration…. He draws attention away from imitation and fixes it decisively upon the death of Christ the Atoner.

”John Henry Newman,Apologia pro Vita Sua (1864):
“Appendix 7: St. Paul circumcised Timothy [Ac 16:1-3], while he cried out ‘Circumcision availeth not.’ [Gal 5:6]”

Adolf von Harnack,History of Dogma, I (1885):
“The Pauline Gospel is not identical with the original Gospel…. The empty grave on the third day … is directly excluded by the way in which Paul has portrayed the resurrection (1 Cor. XV)…. Paul knows nothing of an Ascension…. Every tendency which courageously disregards spurious traditions, is compelled to turn to the Pauline Epistles—which, on the one hand, present such a profound type of Christianity, and on the other, darken and narrow the judgment about the preaching of Christ himself.”

William James,The Varieties of Religious Experience (Gifford Lectures, 1901):
“This is the religious melancholy and ‘conviction of sin’ that have played so large a part in the history of Protestant Christianity…. As Saint Paul says: self-loathing, self-despair, an unintelligible and intolerable burden … [—a] typical [case] of discordant personality, with melancholy in the form of self-condemnation and sense of sin.”

Albert Schweitzer,Paul and His Interpreters (1912):
“The system of the Apostle of the Gentiles stands over against the teaching of Jesus as something of an entirely different character, and does not create the impression of having arisen out of it…. It is impossible for a Hellenized Paulinism to subsist alongside of a primitive Christianity which shared the Jewish eschatological expectations…. “

Rudolf Bultmann,Jesus and the Word (1926):
“Jesus did not attack the Law, but assumed its authority and interpreted it… It was some time after his death when Paul and other Hellenistic missionaries preached to the Gentiles a gospel apart from the Law…. Jesus desires no … sexual asceticism. The ideal of celibacy indeed entered Christianity early; we find it already in the churches of Paul. But it is entirely foreign to Jesus. “

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin,The Divine Milieu (1927):
“The mystical Christ, the universal Christ of St. Paul, has neither meaning nor value in our eyes except as an expansion of the Christ who was born of Mary and who died on the cross. The former essentially draws his fundamental quality of undeniability and concreteness from the latter. However far we may be drawn into the divine spaces opened up to us by Christian mysticism, we never depart from the Jesus of the gospels.”

Walter Bauer,Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (1934):
“The name of Paul is nowhere mentioned by Justin;… not only is his name lacking, but also any congruence with his epistles…. If one may be allowed to speak rather pointedly, the apostle Paul was the only arch-heretic known to the apostolic age…. We must look to the circle of the twelve apostles to find the guardians of the most primitive information about the life and preaching of the Lord…. This treasure lies hidden in the synoptic gospels.”

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