Friday, March 19, 2010

A Dozen Questions I'd Ask Paul

Over six years ago on the Corpus Paulinum mailing list, Jeffrey Gibson initiated the following thought experiment:
"Imagine if you will that

(a) we had the mid 60's CE Paul before us for an hour or two and that

(b) we were able to make ourselves understood by him, and that

(c) he had agreed to answer anything about himself, his career, his beliefs, and his writings about which we might be inclined to inquire,

what questions would you put to him?"
I've blogged so much about Paul in the past five years, and on the most controversial issues which I naturally think I'm right about, but could never rest completely satisfied without TARDIS-traveling back to the 60's and getting answers from the horse's mouth. Jeffrey had set a limit of five questions, but I'm going with a dirty dozen. Here they are, followed in many cases by links to the way I understand Paul on these points. Other bloggers are invited to participate in the exercise.

(1) What was it about Christians that pissed you off so much before your conversion? Did you loathe them for worshiping a crucified criminal, appearing seditious, eating indiscriminately with Gentiles -- or something else?

(2) Please clarify what you meant when you said to the Corinthians that "flesh and blood would not inherit the kingdom of God". (See here.)

(3) What exactly did you mean by pistis Christou? Should people be putting their faith in Christ or copying the faithful Christ? (See here.)

(4) What exactly did you mean by dikaiosyne? Are righteous people acquitted and restored to fellowship, do they lead a new life in Christ, or are they simply privileged and blessed? (See here and here.)

(5) Do you believe that anyone other than Abraham experienced faith-righteousness before the coming of Christ? (See here.)

(6) Were the "weak" in I Cor 8 and the "weak in faith" of Rom 14-15 predominantly Christians or non-Christians? (See here.)

(7) Do you believe that male homosexuality is as bad as temple prostitution and pederasty? And what about lesbianism?

(8) Just who do you think you are in Rom 7:7-13 and 7:14-25? Adam? Medea? Yourself? (See here and here.)

(9) What did you mean by Christian "fulfilment" (pleroma) of the law? (See here.)

(10) What did you mean when you said that "all Israel" would be saved? And please define "Israel". (See here.)

(11) Fess up: The collection which you so altruistically maintain you were eager to take up actually galled and chafed you at first, didn't it? The pillars were strong-arming you, no? (See here and here.)

(12) Fess up (take 2): It must have burned you at Antioch, not being able to call out Peter and James for the liars they were, for going back on their word and breaking the Jerusalem deal. "Hypocrisy" is quite an understatement, no? What did you say to Peter when you got him alone out of earshot of everyone else? (See here.)

Thanks for your time, dude.


Blogger Stephen C. Carlson said...

Great list, Loren. I wonder how much Paul had actually that far on some of tem.

Blogger Bill Heroman said...

Nothing about his people? About the state of the churches? Nothing about his own life and how he managed to make it through such difficult challenges?

I mean, I think I get the point of the exercise, and I certainly admit those are great questions we today could benefit from hearing Paul's answers to... but my own thought experiment is to wonder how Paul would take it if those were really the top twelve questions you wanted to know about.

Just something else to consider.

Thanks for the post.

Blogger Bill Heroman said...

forgot the check box

Anonymous Brad said...

I'd certainly have to ask him his opinion on who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews.


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