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What was Paul's role in the history of Christianity?

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  • What was Paul's role in the history of Christianity?

    I consider Paul is the most influential person in forming the theological foundation of 'Traditional Christianity' today. Paul was Hellenist Jew from outside Palestine. I will argue that Paul transformed Christianity into a Hellenist Roman religion. Let's go for it in Apologetics 301, where it belongs.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

  • #2
    I'm inclined to think Paul's claim to be a "Hebrew of Hebrews" and "a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee" would indicate Paul was more traditional, and less inclined to embrace the culture he was in. But I'm interested in what others say, so I'll sit back and watch.
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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    • #3
      Since no one was interested in Mark Goodacre's podcast on the subject I posted in the other thread, I'll just repeat his main points here for why Paul, though certainly influential, was not the foundation of proto-orthodox/orthodox Christianity.

      1. The presence of Gentile converts in places like Antioch, Rome, and a great many converts in Africa before Paul had been there or had a chance to evangelize in those places is an indication that Christianity was already moving outside of Jerusalem and Palestine.

      2. While there is a lot of Pauline material in the New Testament, there is also quite a bit of non-Pauline material there as well. Revelation and Hebrews are examples.

      3. There is much agreement between Paul and other heads of the early church. Even in Galatians 2 where we see the row between Paul and Peter, this follows only after Paul describes the Jerusalem conference which ends with the agreement between Paul and James, John and Peter (verse 9).

      4. And there are other little signs of key agreement between Paul and early Christians. For instance, 1 Cor 15. where he says "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received...as of first importance what I also received", and then he goes into what was received; that Christ died according to the scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures... and Mark Goodacre says, what's really interesting about this is how he "stresses that this is something he also was told, and you can tell who it was who told him it because the people he goes on to talk about in that list of resurrection appearances of Jesus are people like Peter, and James again". So a lot of the stuff that Paul taught in his early preaching must have come from people like Peter and James.

      5. Paul spent 15 days with Peter, and they weren't discussing the weather. They must have talked about Jesus.

      6. People sometimes talk as if Paul is the one responsible for really stressing the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but what we see instead is that Paul is discussing a topic that he does not think at all controversial. Its a topic that his audience does not seem unfamiliar with. The idea of Jesus' death for people's sins according to the Scriptures, the idea of his resurrection, these are not controversial topics among early Christians.

      Paul is one very very key figure in the early Jesus movement, but he is not the founder of Christianity.

      Oh, for those who are interested in the podcast, here you are http://podacre.blogspot.com/2010/10/...ounder-of.html
      Last edited by OingoBoingo; 03-03-2014, 10:30 PM.

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      • #4
        Mmhhhh, fascinating subject Shunya.

        One thing that will definitely help, and speed up the debate, is to state your basis for what qualifies for a "Hellenist Roman Religion" and justify it, since one cannot just simply equate the "pietas" towards Iupiter with the "pietas" toward Tutatis, and call them both "Hellenist Roman Religions". That way, at least a common premise is established (assuming the others even accept them in the first place), and we can see if such a phenomenon can truly be referred to as "Hellenist-Roman" in the first place.
        Ladino, Guatemalan, Hispanic, and Latin, but foremostly, Christian.

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        • #5
          Amen to the responses so far. I'll check out that podcast later.
          "Faith is nothing less than the will to keep one's mind fixed precisely on what reason has discovered to it." - Edward Feser

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          • #6
            As per Andius, you'll not only need to sketch a definition for "Hellenistic Roman religion", but also for "Jewish religion" so that the discussion can be constructive.

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            • #7
              This is a general sketch on the key areas where second-Temple Judaisms differed from Greco-Roman religions of that period, and how Christianity of the same period compares.
              Divinity Monotheism; God known primarily through historic acts such as Exodus and Exile, but also through Scripture. Other gods are idols and are no gods Syncretic polytheism, with various texts and oral traditions; main pantheon were the Olympians, with many variations and many local cults; rise of the imperial cult Monotheism; God as primarily known through Jesus and his life; early Trinitarian concepts
              Temples and sacred spaces Only one Temple, with sacrifices and rituals that can only be performed there; the land of Canaan as inheritance from God and Jerusalem in particular Many temples and shrines with sacrifices and rituals; certain cities/places where the gods acted in the past Temple, and its sacrifices and rituals no longer emphasised; same for idea of inherited land, though there probably was some controversy over this; destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple coupled with the prophecies of these events attributed to Jesus likely key factors
              Eschatology Varied, but common focus on the privileging of Israel as God's people; at the end of the age there would be eventual judgment where Israel would be vindicated and the evil people judged, resurrection of the dead, elevation of Israel above other nations, coming of the Messiah, new covenant None, generally. Jesus as Messiah; his resurrection, while vindicating him and his message, precedes the general resurrection at the end with the general judgement; new covenant has been inaugurated; etc
              Adherence to Torah Proper adherence to Torah marked out the true people of God, especially circumcision, purity and food laws, and separated Jew from Gentile None Great controversy over whether circumcision, food and purity laws apply but growing recognition and agreement that they are not binding and thus there is no separation between Jew and Gentile; for sacrificial laws see above
              Covenants Focus on Mosaic covenant, with expectation of new covenant to come None New covenant inaugurated
              Last edited by Paprika; 03-04-2014, 11:54 AM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                I consider Paul is the most influential person in forming the theological foundation of 'Traditional Christianity' today. Paul was Hellenist Jew from outside Palestine. I will argue that Paul transformed Christianity into a Hellenist Roman religion. Let's go for it in Apologetics 301, where it belongs.
                I think Paul was a vital link in the chain, but whether he was the vital one I am not so sure.

                However, I agree that he turned it into a form that was acceptable to the Roman world (eg, getting shot of all those awkward dietry prohibitions and circumcision), and in that sense a Hellenist Roman religion.
                My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  I think Paul was a vital link in the chain, but whether he was the vital one I am not so sure.

                  However, I agree that he turned it into a form that was acceptable to the Roman world (eg, getting shot of all those awkward dietry prohibitions and circumcision), and in that sense a Hellenist Roman religion.
                  That would make it non-Jewish in certain senses, but hardly Hellenistic or Roman.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                    This is a general sketch on the key areas where second-Temple Judaisms differed from Greco-Roman religions of that period, and how Christianity of the same period compares.
                    An important issue of differences, which your table neglected concerning the Divinity in Christianity. Christianity believes in the Trinity and Jesus Christ as the incarnate God, which is a major departure from Judaisms, and distinctly more compatible with Greco Roman religions.
                    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                    go with the flow the river knows . . .

                    Frank

                    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                      An important issue of differences, which your table neglected concerning the Divinity in Christianity. Christianity believes in the Trinity and Jesus Christ as the incarnate God, which is a major departure from Judaisms, and distinctly more compatible with Greco Roman religions.
                      I missed that out. Yes, it is a major departure from second-Temple Judaic thought, but I would argue not incompatible. Also, for Christianity, you have God becoming flesh, whereas in the Greco Roman religions it tends to be the other way round, where men or demigods becoming gods. Whenever a god assumes the guise of a man it is always temporary.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                        I missed that out. Yes, it is a major departure from second-Temple Judaic thought, but I would argue not incompatible. Also, for Christianity, you have God becoming flesh, whereas in the Greco Roman religions it tends to be the other way round, where men or demigods becoming gods. Whenever a god assumes the guise of a man it is always temporary.
                        One could argue that Jesus was temporary.
                        I'm not here anymore.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
                          One could argue that Jesus was temporary.
                          That's not the issue at hand

                          The question is whether or to what extent Paul transformed Christianity to a Hellenistic Roman religion. If the Godness or humanness of Jesus is to be brought into the discussion, one would have to look at how Paul treated the nature of Jesus compared to other Christians of his day vis-a-vis Jewish conceptions of God and Hellenistic Roman conceptions of gods and demigods.
                          Last edited by Paprika; 03-04-2014, 11:49 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
                            One could argue that Jesus was temporary.
                            Most of us agree that Jesus was temporarily incarnate, so, as a "man", yeah.
                            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
                              One could argue that Jesus was temporary.
                              Two words. Glorified body.

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