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Paul’s basket escape from Damascus (Robert Eisenman)

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  • Paul’s basket escape from Damascus (Robert Eisenman)

    I’ve been listening to the excellent Professor Robert Eisenman and I am currently reading one of his books about James, the brother of Jesus. He mentions this example of anti-Semitism in the Bible. One escape, two different accounts: In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul escapes from a representative of King Aretas, but in Acts 9, he escapes from Jews who want to kill him. Either Paul escapes from Damascus twice or Acts is shifting history into anti-Semitism.

    I would like this thread to be about the work and ideas of Prof. Robert Eisenman. This is a starting point. Particularly if you have read any of his works I am interested to know what you think and whether these and similar ideas are penetrating the twenty-first century Christian zeitgeist. Eisenman has a youtube channel here:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/EisenmanLecture
    “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” ― Oscar Wilde
    “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence” ― Bertrand Russell
    “not all there” - you know who you are

  • #2
    Even though I'm not at all familiar specifically with Eisenman's argument, I've heard the argument that the gospels are antisemitic, so I'm generally very privy to this argument and know it can easily be debunked. Funny thing is that Matthew's gospel has especially been leveled the charge of antisemitic when the fact is that the writer of Matthew was Jewish writing to Jews. The pro-Semitism and pro-Davidic king and pro-Israel proclamations peppered throughout Luke's gospel, especially in the beginning, would be contradictory to Eisenman's argument, but I'm sure Eisenman avoids that issue all together. Of course, I'm assuming he does as I have no desire to watch all those videos because it's frankly an amateurish argument.
    "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

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    • #3
      At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands. (2 Corinthians 11:32-33)

      Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. (Acts 9:22-25)

      The two brief anecdotes emphasize different aspects of the same event. Throughout Acts in particular, the Jews regularly used Roman "muscle" to try to squelch Paul's message, so presumably the same thing happened in Damascus.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by RBerman View Post
        At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands. (2 Corinthians 11:32-33)

        Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. (Acts 9:22-25)

        The two brief anecdotes emphasize different aspects of the same event. Throughout Acts in particular, the Jews regularly used Roman "muscle" to try to squelch Paul's message, so presumably the same thing happened in Damascus.
        If Paul was on a divine mission, his life was in no real danger. All he had to do was walk through the gates.

        I once heard a sermon in which the pastor criticized David's lack of faith in fleeing Saul. He told Michal that God had chosen him over her father. As such, there never was any danger of the illegitimate king killing the actual divinely appointed king.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by whag View Post
          If Paul was on a divine mission, his life was in no real danger. All he had to do was walk through the gates.

          I once heard a sermon in which the pastor criticized David's lack of faith in fleeing Saul. He told Michal that God had chosen him over her father. As such, there never was any danger of the illegitimate king killing the actual divinely appointed king.
          I would challenge that pastor on the grounds that not trying to flee might be considered to be testing God.
          "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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          • #6
            Jesus even said when people were to flee when in danger. Where does the Bible say you shouldn't escape danger when you can? Should you not go in the basement when there's a tornado? One should not presume on the extent of God's protection.
            If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Christianbookworm View Post
              Jesus even said when people were to flee when in danger. Where does the Bible say you shouldn't escape danger when you can? Should you not go in the basement when there's a tornado? One should not presume on the extent of God's protection.
              Yep. When the lightning rod was first invented, some Christians were against using them because they thought that it was trying to go against God's will. Same thing you just said applies there I think.
              "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by whag View Post
                If Paul was on a divine mission, his life was in no real danger. All he had to do was walk through the gates. I once heard a sermon in which the pastor criticized David's lack of faith in fleeing Saul. He told Michal that God had chosen him over her father. As such, there never was any danger of the illegitimate king killing the actual divinely appointed king.
                This is the same argument that Satan used to argue that Jesus should just jump off the top of the temple and let God save him. How did Jesus respond?

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                • #9
                  "You shall NOT TEST the LORD your GOD!!!"
                  If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                    This is the same argument that Satan used to argue that Jesus should just jump off the top of the temple and let God save him. How did Jesus respond?
                    Believers handling vipers would be more parallel. In the case of Paul, it wouldn't be an arrogant challenge for God to protect him but a simple demonstration of fearlessness. Quaffing poison sounds like a vaudeville act.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by whag View Post
                      If Paul was on a divine mission, his life was in no real danger. All he had to do was walk through the gates.
                      You're very insightful to recognize the humanness of the saints portrayed in the NT, as opposed to how they are portrayed in the later apocryphal legends. Christians can associate themselves to the human frailties and imperfections of the earlier portrayals.
                      "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Christianbookworm View Post
                        "You shall NOT TEST the LORD your GOD!!!"
                        I wonder if Paul knew God would reanimate the man who fell asleep during his sermon and fell out the window. Sometimes it's okay to put God on the spot, such as when calling down fire from the sky on Mt. Carmel. He certainly wasn't obligated to demonstrate his power there or bring that man to life after he broke his neck.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by seanD View Post
                          You're very insightful to recognize the humanness of the saints portrayed in the NT, as opposed to how they are portrayed in the later apocryphal legends. Christians can associate themselves to the human frailties and imperfections of the earlier portrayals.
                          That's a good point. Rather than Paul not wanting to "test" God, he was probably driven by raw survival instinct. That's actually more confirming of my point that, had he left the city confident about his mission, God wouldn't allow the Jews to kill him. Just imagine if the Jews killed him and how that'd throw off the whole plan to save Gentiles.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                            At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands. (2 Corinthians 11:32-33)
                            Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. (Acts 9:22-25)
                            The two brief anecdotes emphasize different aspects of the same event. Throughout Acts in particular, the Jews regularly used Roman "muscle" to try to squelch Paul's message, so presumably the same thing happened in Damascus.
                            Eisenman’s point is that the version in Acts makes no sense because Paul was supposedly sent to Damascus in the first place by the Jewish High Priest.
                            “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” ― Oscar Wilde
                            “And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence” ― Bertrand Russell
                            “not all there” - you know who you are

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by whag View Post
                              Believers handling vipers would be more parallel. In the case of Paul, it wouldn't be an arrogant challenge for God to protect him but a simple demonstration of fearlessness. Quaffing poison sounds like a vaudeville act.
                              Handling vipers would indeed be an example of flouting the commonsense secondary means by which God normatively protects us from harm. On what basis does one determine whether an act is a "simple demonstration of fearlessness" as opposed to "an arrogant challenge to God"? What is your rubric? Do you have some special insight into the ins and outs of the situation described tersely in Scripture concerning Damascus?

                              Comment

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