Introduction to New Testament History and Literature

Video Lectures

Displaying all 26 video lectures.
Lecture 1
Introduction: Why Study the New Testament?
Play Video
Introduction: Why Study the New Testament?

This course approaches the New Testament not as scripture, or a piece of authoritative holy writing, but as a collection of historical documents. Therefore, students are urged to leave behind their pre-conceived notions of the New Testament and read it as if they had never heard of it before. This involves understanding the historical context of the New Testament and imagining how it might appear to an ancient person.


January 12, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: This is Introduction to New Testament History and Literature. My name is Dale Martin. I've been teaching here at Yale for ten years now. I also was a grad student here in the '80s, in the Religious Studies Department. I then left, taught one year at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and then I taught eleven years at Duke and got in love with their basketball team. But then I came to Yale in 1999.

This is a course that introduces you to the New Testament literature, but also the history of other material from the very first one hundred years or so of early Christianity. The first question you need to ask yourself is why do you want, or why are you thinking about taking this course? Why do you want to study the New Testament? What is the New Testament and why should you study it? The first obvious answer that a lot of people would give is, "Because I'm a Christian," or "I believe the New Testament's scripture and, therefore, I'm here to learn more about this document that is scripture for me in my church." The problem with that answer is before you say something is scripture, you have to say why is it scripture, for whom is it scripture, and what does that mean? And, in Christianity, when you call the Bible scripture, what that means is that you're going to listen to it for the Word of God. You're expecting somehow the Holy Spirit or God to communicate to you and to your church and to your community through this document.

But the text of the Bible isn't scripture in itself, it's only scripture to a community of people who take it as scripture. The text itself, any text, is not itself holy writing. That's what scripture means to us. It actually just means "written stuff," from the Latin. But we take it to mean holy writing, sacred writing. But the writing itself is not holy. It's only holy to people who take it as holy. Now the problem is we're at Yale College. This is not a holy place. I know they might have told you that when you came, but you've learned differently, haven't you? This is also not a church. So what does it mean to read the New Testament as scripture is not something we're going to really pursue in this class, because this is not a religious community. So one of the things that-- if you're here to learn about the New Testament because it's scripture, the class may disappoint you, from that point of view. Somebody else might say, "Oh I'm here because this is a foundational document for Western civilization and I want to know something about the Bible."

[Professor directs incoming students]

Professor Dale Martin: But what does that mean also, if you say that the Bible is a foundational document for Western civilization? Does that mean you can't really get along in Western civilization unless you know something about the Bible? And think about that. Isn't a knowledge of lots of other things much more important for how you get along in Western civilization than knowing the New Testament? For example, it's much more important to know about cars. It'd be actually much more valuable for you to know how to fix your car than it is to know about the New Testament--right?--if you're getting along in Western civilization; or how to use computers, or sexual technique, or how to speak other languages. There are all kinds of things that it might be very useful for you to know as an inhabitant of Western civilization; and the New Testament, you might find out, would rank kind of down on the list of those kinds of things.

Besides that--okay, let's take a quiz first. Get out a piece of paper. This is your first exam. This'll determine your grade for the rest of the semester. Tell me if this is in the New Testament, is in the Bible, or is not in the Bible. All right? It's just a yes and no question. All you need is ten places to write yes or no. You can even abbreviate and put Y or N. First, which of these things are in the Bible? The Immaculate Conception? Now you may not know anything about the Bible. If you don't know, just kind of guess, just make a guess. I'm not actually going to grade these. Is the Immaculate Conception something that's in the Bible? (2) This quotation: "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." Is that quotation in the Bible? "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (3) At Jesus' birth three wise men or three kings visited the Baby Jesus. Is that in the Bible? (4) This quotation: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." (5) The Doctrine of the Trinity; is it in the Bible? (6) This quotation: "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." (7) Peter founded the church in Rome. In the Bible, not in the Bible? Peter founded the church in Rome. Make a guess. (8) After his death, Jesus appeared to his disciples in Jerusalem. Is that in the Bible? After his death Jesus appeared to his disciples in Jerusalem. No talking with your neighbor. [Laughs] (9) After his death, Jesus appeared to his disciples in Galilee. After his death, Jesus appeared to his disciples in Galilee. Tenth and Last: Peter was martyred by being crucified upside down. Oh hard one.

Okay, let's go back. Number One: Is the Immaculate Conception in the Bible? How many people think so, yes? How many people say no, it's not in the Bible? Somebody tell me what the Immaculate Conception is. Anybody know? Yes?

Student: Mary's conception.

Professor Dale Martin: Mary's conception. It doesn't refer to the miraculous conception of Jesus. That's what often people think. See, one of the things about this course is you'll learn a lot about the Bible and early Christianity, but the most important thing is you learn cocktail party conversation tips. [Laughter] So think about--you really want to impress that girl you're with. "Hey, did you know that a lot of people think that the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Jesus? It doesn't!" It refers to the conception of Mary as being without Original Sin. Immaculate means "without stain." So it refers to the conception of Mary, by her mother, Anna, without--according to tradition--without Original Sin being transferred to Mary; and that's because, according to Roman Catholic tradition, then she could transmit the birth of Jesus without Original Sin also. Now that's not actually in the Bible. It's part of Roman Catholic doctrine. It's something that Protestants don't accept. But a lot of people think it's one in the Bible, or a lot of people confuse it with the Miraculous Conception of Jesus, which is in the Bible, in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew.

Second: "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." How many people say it's in the Bible? Can anybody tell me where? Come on, there's got to be some fundies in here.

Student: 1 Corinthians 13.

Professor Dale Martin: 1 Corinthians 13. Good Sunday School education.

(3) Three wise men or kings visited the Baby Jesus. In the Bible? Not in the Bible? How many people say it's not in the Bible? You say it's not in the Bible. Why?

Student: I guessed. I have no idea.

Professor Dale Martin: You have no idea. It's not in the Bible. It's true that wise men or kings did visit Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, but it's only tradition that says that it's three of them. Why was the tradition developed that there were three kings that visited the manger of Jesus? Yes?

Student: The gifts.

Professor Dale Martin: The gifts; there are three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. And so tradition just said, "Well if there are three gifts, there must be three kings." So that's why we have that. But it's not in the Bible.

This quotation: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." In the Bible? Raise your hand. Not in the Bible? Raise you hand. Ah, couldn't trick you. Does anybody know where it is from? Yes?

Student: The Communist Manifesto.

Professor Dale Martin: Yes, Marx. [Laughter] It's from Marx. But a lot of people hear that and they think that's from the Bible.

The Doctrine of the Trinity. In the Bible? Not in the Bible? Okay, why are all you people saying the Doctrine of the Trinity is not in the Bible? That's usually a real good one. Somebody explain why the Doctrine of the Trinity is not in the Bible. You're right, it's not in the Bible.

Student: I thought it was thought up by the church to explain the paradox of the Son and the Father.

Professor Dale Martin: Exactly. The Doctrine of the Trinity is a doctrine that developed post-New Testament times to explain why Christians were worshipping Jesus and the Holy Spirit also as divine. So the Doctrine of the Trinity developed in the later centuries, after the New Testament. Now some people will say at least the Doctrine of the Trinity is hinted at in the Bible and that the later church was correct to read the New Testament to support it. And that may well be right theologically, but read historically it's not in the Bible.

"You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church." How many people say it's in the Bible? How many people say it's not in the Bible? It's in the Bible. It's in Matthew 16.

(7) Peter founded the church in Rome. Is it in the Bible? You all aren't sure. Is it not in the Bible? Ah, more people say it's not in the Bible. You're right, it's not in the Bible. It's part of tradition. It's a very strong part of Christian tradition but it's not in the Bible.

After his death, Jesus appeared to his disciples in Jerusalem. In the Bible? Raise your hand. A few people. Not in the Bible? You're wrong, it is in the Bible. It's in the Gospel of Luke and Acts.

After his death, Jesus appeared to his disciples in Galilee. Is that in the Bible? Yes, some of you say yes. Not in the Bible? Anybody who's brave enough to say it's not in the Bible? It is in the Bible. It's in the Gospel of Matthew. But now notice, the Gospel of Matthew, as we'll talk about later, has Jesus appear to his disciples only in Galilee, not in Judea, and the Gospel of Luke and Acts have Jesus appear to his disciples only in Judea but not in Galilee. Ah, that's an interesting problem we will have to get to at some point.

Tenth and last: Peter was martyred by being crucified upside down. In the Bible or not in the Bible? In the Bible? Not in the Bible? The not-in-the-Bibles have it; it's not in the Bible, but it's a very important part of Christian tradition.

Now I did the little quiz--these are all things that a lot of people out there would say, "Oh yeah, that's in the Bible, or it sounds like something that should be in the Bible." Right? Most of them aren't, or about half of them, I think, are not in the Bible, and yet they're very important for the history of Western Civilization. They're important for people's conceptions. They're important for the history of art. How many paintings are there of Peter crucified upside down, or depictions in Western Art? So it's very important for someone to know that there is an important tradition about Peter being crucified upside down, but it's not a part of the New Testament. It illustrates again this idea that how much of this ancient text is it important for you to know, on its own terms, in its historical context in the first century, or how is it important for you to know in the way it's been interpreted for the last 2000 years?

And what I am telling you is kind of contrary to the way I'm going to teach this course. I'm actually advertising against myself, and there'll be fewer of you here next time, right? Contrary to the way I'll teach this course, which is more on the history of the first century of these documents and what they meant in the first century, sometimes the most important thing about the Bible is its impact on the later history. And that's something that we'll talk about from time to time in the class, but it's something you'd get more out of, for example, if you studied an art history class, or if you studied a literature class that talked about some of these issues in later European times.

I could illustrate with a lot more other things. For example, if I said, "What do most people believe about what happens to you after you're dead?" And you'd get lots of different answers. "You're dead like Rover, you're dead all over." Some people say, "You go to heaven." Some people--there's all kinds of different things. If I said, "What do you think most Christian religious people believe about what happens to you after you're dead?" In other words, "Where is Aunt Martha at the funeral?" "Well she's up with the arms of Jesus. She's safe in heaven. Her soul is there." Most people would say that Christians or religious people believe in the immortality of the soul, and that is part of a good bit of Christian doctrine. That again is not something that's in the Bible, really, so--and it's not even the best interpretation of official Christian orthodoxy. According to official Christian orthodoxy, the form of your afterlife existence is the resurrection of the body. That's what the New Testament talks about, either the resurrection of the flesh or the resurrection of the body. That's contrary to what most people kind of assume is what people believe.

The point about this--and where do they get the idea of the immortality of the soul? Much more from Plato. So again it raises the issue, if you want to know most about the most influential aspects for Western civilization, would it be better for you to take an entire semester on Plato than it would on the New Testament? I'm saying it might, actually. The ironic fact is, because the New Testament is considered more important by people, there are a whole lot more people who take my New Testament classes than go over to the Classics Department and take a course in Plato. I'm not sure that's the way it should be, but that's the way it is. What this does is it brings up this issue of why are you here, what do you hope to get out of this course? And I want you to understand the method that we'll pursue in the course.

My point is to get you to see that when we study this text in this class, we're not going to be studying it necessarily as scripture, as the Word of God. We're not going to be studying it necessarily for how important it was for Medieval and Early Modern Literature, for example. We're going to look at what it meant in the first century. In fact, what I'm going to try to do is get you to come at the New Testament from the outside. I've been teaching this stuff for twenty years, and I tend to find two basic kinds of students who shop my classes for the New Testament Introduction course. One of them are the kinds of students who grew up in a religious household. They went to church. They maybe even have taken a lot of Sunday School, and so they feel like they know these texts from at least a Sunday School or a church kind of point of view. In some ways they kind of feel like, "Okay, I know what the New Testament is, and I already know sort of what I think about it." There are other people who come to these classes who grew up in a non-religious context; they know nothing about this. They've never read the Bible, and they come in and they think, "Well I'm taking it because I don't know anything about it." But, oddly enough, because they've been raised in our society, they still actually come at this text with some kind of pre-knowledge of the text. They have a conception of what the Bible is. They have a conception of what-- who Jesus is, who Paul is. And so they're coming at the text already with some kind of familiarity with the topic, at least in a popular conception.

Now the reason that is true is because we live in a post-Christian culture, and both aspects of that term are important. It's post-Christian in the sense that it's hard to live in America without having some kind of exposure to Christianity and without seeing its influence on our society, on our politics, on our culture and our art, and that sort of thing. But it's also post-Christian because you can no longer assume, in this culture, especially in a multivalent, poly-ethnic situation like Yale, that everybody here is going to be Christian. So we're in this kind of situation where we have the hangovers of Christianity still occupying the culture, without necessarily knowing a lot about it.

So I'm going to ask you to come at the New Testament, though, from the outside. If you feel like you know something about it, put those aside for the moment, because when we do the class we'll be trying to get you to see this document as if for the first time, to see early Christianity completely as if for the first time.

So let's do a little practice run through this. Come with me now, open up your New Testament as you're just going to look at it, and we're going to go through a rushed little survey, through the New Testament. How would it strike you if you knew nothing about it, if you had never heard of it before, if you open up the covers of this book for the first time?

At the very beginning is the Gospel of Matthew, and it starts like this: "The book of the origin" (or the genesis is the Greek word) "of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob. Jacob had Judah and his brothers. Judah had Perez and Zerah from Tamar." And you know how this goes, right? This is the begats, the famous begats, that start the Gospel of Matthew. So-and-so begat, so-and-so begat, so-and so, and it goes on like this for sentences and sentences and sentences. And, as a modern person, you're going, "What is this? What's going on with this?" And then you get to the birth narratives in Matthew, the stories of the Baby Jesus. If you lived during the time of Matthew himself, all of this stuff would seem fairly familiar to you, the idea that kings would come from far off and see a star, and that meant that the birth of someone great had been born.

This is actually part of propaganda culture of the Ancient World. If you were an ancient person and you picked up the Gospel of Matthew and you heard these stories about these kings from the East, following a star and arriving and finding this baby, that would sound--you know, okay, this is going to be somebody great. This is telling you that this is himself a king or somebody great. So it would sound familiar to you in the ancient world. Then you'd go on and read the rest of the Gospel of Matthew. It's a story of a man who travels around, giving speeches, sometimes talking to people or teaching. He's exorcising demons, performs a few miracles, he heals people. And, again, to us in the modern world, if you didn't already have some exposure to religious narratives like this, that would sound odd. In the ancient world, actually, it would've sounded familiar, because there are other stories of other kinds of teachers who'd healed and exorcised demons and performed miracles. That was not an uncommon way to talk about someone who was supposed to be great.

But then you get to the next book in the New Testament, the Gospel of Mark. Well, it's kind of the same story. It's shorter, there's less, fewer teachings in it but it's--so why do you have the second chapter of this book retell the same story that the first chapter of the book told? The Gospel of Luke, same thing. You get to the Gospel of John--John's kind of different, it sounds different, there's a different style. But again it's the same story of this same guy. Why do you have four different chapters of this book, all telling the same story? That's odd in itself, from our point of view; or it should look odd to us.

Then you get to The Acts of the Apostles. Now we're back on more familiar ground. It starts off like the Gospel of Luke, because it's written by the same guy who wrote the Gospel of Luke, and in fact it starts off with a paragraph that kind of encapsulates the way--how the Gospel of Luke ended. You know, like TV shows, "Last time on ER." And this is the way The Acts of Apostles begins. "Last time in Luke it ended this way. Now we're going to take up our heroes at their next point." Then it starts sounding like a Greco-Roman novel. And I have to tell you something about novels in the ancient world. There were Greek and Latin novels. Greek novels usually were about a man and a woman, young, rich, who see each other and fall madly in love and passionately want one another. And they might get married, or they might not get married, but they don't get to consummate their love. Instead, one of them gets kidnapped or has to go off to war or captured by pirates, and she's taken off by pirates and sold into slavery, and she goes all the way around the Mediterranean, and the young man follows her around the Mediterranean in chapter after chapter after chapter. They always almost connect and almost get to have sex, and then no, they're--she's bought by somebody else and taken into another slave job, or he's captured by pirates. So the whole novel is them chasing each other around the Mediterranean, with shipwrecks and battles and miracles and gods intervening, and all kinds of stuff.

And that's what The Acts of the Apostles kind of looks like. It's looks like an ancient Greek novel, except it lacks the one thing every good Greek novel had, sex. The Acts of the Apostles doesn't have sex. You might be disappointed there, but you also have other things that the novels don't have, such as the Holy Spirit being the main actor for the whole thing. But, notice, that would look kind of familiar to you in the Ancient World. It definitely looks odd to you in the modern world, if you don't read it as the Bible, and if you just read it as literature. And we also realize that The Acts of the Apostles is mistitled. It's not the acts of all the apostles, it's the acts basically of Paul, and Paul's not considered an apostle by the guy who wrote the Acts of the Apostles. This is another little clue here we'll from learn this semester. The titles of most of the books in the New Testament were not put there by their authors; they were put there by later Christian scribes. This will be very important.

Then you get to The Letters of Paul. And is it strange that most of the New Testament are actually letters? They're not like modern letters. They're quite a bit like ancient letters. They're usually addressed to groups of people, and they deal with sort of philosophical sounding issues, and they give advice on group problems.

Then you get to The Epistle to the Hebrews, or, in what a better translation would be, The Letter to the Jews. What's odd about it is that as you read this Epistle to the Hebrews, you realize two things. Number one, it's not a letter, it's actually a sermon. In fact, it doesn't even claim to be a letter; it looks just like a sermon. And, you realize this is not really addressed to Jews, it seems to be addressed to Gentile Christians to convince them that Jesus provides for them a liturgy that is superior to Judaism. It's actually neither a letter, nor is it addressed to Jews. This leads to an insight, though, by this time, when you're surveying your New Testament. These letters seem to be meant to be read out loud. So what--we'll ask this over and over again in this semester--what would it mean to read this letter out loud in a community, not alone in your dorm room, or just by yourself, in the library?

Then you get to 1 Peter. It's written not to one place, but it's a circular letter, meant to be circulated around. Then you get to 2 and 3 John, two letters that are written to "the elected lady and her children." What does that mean?

Then finally you get to the Revelation of John, The Apocalypse. The word "revelation" is just the Latinized, English version of the Greek word apocalypse. And apocalypse just means opening up, revelation. This document is really bizarre. It's not like anything you've confronted so far in the New Testament. It starts off with a narrative about a vision. This guy named John says, "I was on the Island of Patmos. I was in--the Lord's Day. I started having this vision and this angel appeared to me and this all happened." Then it has several letters, seven different letters, very short letters, addressed to seven different Christian churches. And then it goes into this wild videogame, MTV-style narrative of a heavenly journey of this guy John. He goes up into the heavens. He sees the throne room of God. He sees weird kinds of beasts and animals that had like--they're bodies of lambs, but they've got horns and they're bleeding all over the place. It's a story of catastrophes. It's a story of a cosmic battle between forces of good and forces of evil. It's like several installments of Star Wars. And finally it ends up with the establishment of a new world and a new City of God.

Now that's a long way--that's the end of the New Testament--that's a long way from the little Baby Jesus and the Three Kings in Matthew, isn't it? But the New Testament includes all that kind of diverse literature; 27 different books, written anywhere from the year 50 to the year 150. So a hundred-year period of time that these books were probably written in. They have different points of view, different situations, different theologies, different genres. They use confusing in-house language. I'll point out that in-house language throughout the semester, and we'll talk about how it should be interpreted. And these texts almost defy interpretation by a modern person, unless you have guidance from a historian and expert like moi.

Let's do this little trick again. Instead of looking at the documents from the outside, let's look at what would an early Christian church look like if you were just to stumble upon them? A little imagination. Let's pretend that you're a seamstress. You work in a clothing shop in the City of Corinth, in Greece, in the year 56. A guy next door to you, named Fred, works in a leather factory next door. He has just joined a new club and he's going to tell you all about it. First, they don't meet in the daytime; they meet either early before light, at dawn, or after dark, at night. There's only enough of them to fill a decent sized dining room, but they call themselves the "town meeting." You're not sure what they do at these meetings. They don't appear to worship any god or goddess that you can see. They use the term "god" sometimes, but this god doesn't have a name, and that's very bizarre to you. Remember, you're pretending you're a Greek person living in the year 56 in Corinth. In fact, these people don't look like they believe in gods at all, they look like atheists.

They have a very high respect for a criminal Jew, who led some kind of guerilla war and was executed long ago, somewhere in Syria. Fred says, though, that this Jew is still alive somewhere. In fact, Fred says that the Jew "bought" him, though you didn't know that Fred was even ever a slave. In fact, you're pretty sure that Steve wasn't a slave. So what does it mean that this guy bought him? At these town meetings they eat meals--which is not unusual since most clubs in your society eat meals--but they call the meals "the boss's dinner," or sometimes "the thank you." Some people say they eat human flesh at these dinners, but you doubt that because for some reason they seem to be all vegetarians. You kind of doubt whether vegetarians would eat human flesh. Fred says that to initiate new members into their club, they "dip them," naked, and then they "get healthy." Once you're in the club they call you "comrade," and you have sex with anyone and everyone, because it doesn't matter anymore whether you're a man or a woman; in fact, they kind of figure you're neither or both. That's this new group.

Now I constructed that little picture out of actual data from the New Testament, and what we have from writings about ancient Christians. This was the way at least a good many number of ancient people saw early Christian groups. Every one of the little details there I gave--I won't unpack them all for you now because it would just be boring and we need to move along--but every one of those details comes from some interpretation of a particular Greek term that Christians used. For example, I said this meal they have, it's called "the boss's dinner." We call it the Lord's Supper. But "the Lord" doesn't mean "God" necessarily, it means your boss. So the Lord's Supper, put back into normal Greek language, would be something like "the boss's dinner." Or, as I said, they call it, "the thank you." Episcopalians call the Communion, when they take it on Sunday, "the Eucharist," which is just from the Greek word meaning "thanks." So all of these different things-- the part about it, it doesn't matter whether you're a man and woman, Christians went around saying things like, "In Christ there is no male and female." [Galatians 3:28] What, no male and female? And some outsiders did interpret that as meaning that these Christians seem to kind of have sex with each other. They call each other "brother" and "sister" and yet they're always talking about love all the time. They have meetings at night, in the dark. Yeah, so there were all these rumors about early Christian groups like this.

So a lot of these things--I said they call you "comrade." Well Christians called each other "brother" and "sister." But that wouldn't have been sort of a normal, everyday way to talk about a stranger in the ancient world. It would sound somewhat odd, like in our thinking it would be somewhat odd, or Communist or something, to call somebody "comrade." So the language that different early Christians used about each other, and for themselves, was sometimes very common Greek language, but sometimes it would've also sounded strange and kind of in-house to other people. In other words, the Bible presents us with a very strange world, if we approach it without our normal preconceptions, if we approach it fresh and from the outside. This is an ancient collection of documents. It wasn't all put together right when they were written.

Next time I'm going to actually talk about how did these 27 different diverse documents come to be included in the New Testament? That's the whole history of the canon, and I'll talk about that in my next lecture. In fact, a good bit of the history of early Christianity, and the New Testament itself, was to take what was a diverse group of different people, all somehow being loyal to this guy they called Jesus. But they weren't all the same, and they were in different geographical situations, they had different beliefs. And early Christianity was an attempt to pull all these things into one unified movement, in some way, to get some kind of uniformity of belief and practice.

So this course is actually going to run counter to that historical tendency to make unity out of diversity. What we're going to do is we're going to take the New Testament, and we're going to take the different writings, and we're going to take them apart. And one of the major themes of the course will be the diversity of Early Christianity; in fact, the diversity of Early Christianities, is one of the ways I put it on the syllabus. We will look at all the different ways Jesus was thought of to be either divine or human or some combination of both. We'll look at different ways that early Christians dealt with the fact that this movement seemed to come out of Judaism. Well, does that mean we're Jews? If not, what does it mean we are? We'll look at all the different diversities. How they treated women, different ways that women could take a place in this movement. Or different ways that they treated slaves and other servants in their households. How did they react to the politics? How did they react to the powerful Roman Empire? We'll take all these different topics, at different points in the course, and we'll talk about the diverse ways that early Christians reacted to these social and cultural issues, and we'll read the New Testament in light of that. So what's going on is taking what is a unity, and pulling apart that unity to see the diversity of this early Christian movement and these documents.

Now I'm going to pause for a minute and let you ask questions, or make comments, or throw things, or whatever. Don't be shy. Yes?

Student: Are you going to talk at all about sort of how the decisions were made to what documents to include or what documents to exclude?

Professor Dale Martin: Yes. He asked if I was going to talk about how decisions were made about what to include in the New Testament and what not to include in the New Testament. And I'll talk about that actually the next lecture, when I talk about the history of the canon. Why were some books--there were a lot more early Christian pieces of literature that we know of. Some we're discovering all the time. The Gospel of Judas. You may have read in the newspapers and magazines that a new Gospel of Judas has just been published, that some people at Yale actually knew twenty years ago existed because it was shown to some people here. But most people didn't know about it. And it's just been published in an English translation. Why did the Gospel of Judas not make it into the canon? We'll talk about those issues next time. Yes sir?

Student: Are we going to go over the different translations?

Professor Dale Martin: Are we going to go over the different translations, and which one is best? We will raise the issue of translation periodically. For example, when I talk about the syllabus in just a moment, I'm going to talk about what Bible you should bring to class, and I recommend--I did recommend one particular study bible to the bookstore to buy, but I'm sort of hoping that not everybody will bring that same translation of the New Testament, because sometimes I'll say, "Well this translation says this in the English. Does anyone have a different translation?" And at particular points, when there is something important about the different translations, I'll bring that up, and I'll explain every once in awhile. That won't be sort of a major lecture in its own right. It's something that will come up over and over again. How does translation happen? How do debates about translation get resolved? Yes?

Student: Are you going to talk about the Old Testament at all, either sort of how [inaudible].

Professor Dale Martin: Am I going to talk about the Old Testament at all? I will when it's relevant. So, for example, next time I will also talk a bit about the canon of the Old Testament, and how there are different decisions about that from the New Testament. I'll talk about why the Jewish Bible is different from the Roman Catholic Bible, even with regard to what they consider the Old Testament. When we talk about apocalypticism, and the Gospel of Mark and Judaism, I'm actually going to--you have to read at least the last half of the Book of Daniel, from the Old Testament. And the reason is because Daniel is an older apocalyptic, prophetic text that was heavily influenced on early Christian literature. And I will give a lecture in about two more times on the history of Judaism in this Second Temple Period; that is, what did Judaism look like at the time of Jesus and Paul? And that will necessitate referring to the Hebrew Bible some. So I will every once in awhile.

But I'm not going to--I will, for example, talk about why did the Gospel of Matthew take this particular Hebrew Bible text to be a prophecy about Jesus? And we'll look back maybe and see how that difficult text would've looked in its original context. But-- so when it's relevant, I will refer back to the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. And for those of you who are not aware, what Christians call the Old Testament is simply what Jews call the Hebrew Bible. It basically refers to the same document. We just use different terms, because for the Jews, of course, Hebrew scripture is not old, in the sense of passé. Any other questions? Yes.

Student: Will we be talking somewhat about the legacy of the Bible on later literature or in the context?

Professor Dale Martin: Will we be talking about the legacies of the Bible in later literature? Not as much as I should. And that's why at the very beginning of this lecture--you may have come in a little bit late--I said this course will concentrate on the meaning of these texts in their early historical context. Every once in a while we'll bring up an issue of well, how has this been interpreted over the centuries? The one time we will get this very strongly is the one time where you go with your discussion section--I'll talk about the discussion sections in a moment. You're expected to all go to the Yale Art Gallery and go through the Art Gallery, with your discussion leader, and then you'll do a lot of looking at how are biblical themes and issues portrayed in later art. And that may bring up chances to talk about literature also. If you want to bring up those kinds of issues, feel free to. But I'm going to concentrate, in this course, on the meaning of these texts in their earliest context.

Anybody else? Questions? Okay, look at your syllabus. If you don't have a syllabus--are there any extras back there? Okay, well you can find the syllabus--if you want to--there are some more right here, if anybody needs one. If you, or a friend of yours, wants to see this syllabus after the class, and you don't have one, it's on the Classes v2 server. So you can go online and get the syllabus, and download it and print it.

One of the things I want to emphasize, that I've not emphasized already, is attendance here in the lectures is very much required. You will be expected to come to the lectures. Just because this is a large lecture course doesn't mean you can skip the lectures. Even if you're doing the readings from the textbook, you'll get stuff from my lectures that you won't get elsewhere. So you are required to come to the lectures. The section leaders, once they get to know you, they'll actually be looking to see whether the people in their section are missing a bunch of lectures; and I've asked them to take notes. If you're missing a lot of lectures, it could affect your grade. So please come to the lectures.

There are only three assignments: two six-page papers, that I'll explain how to do. One is a exegesis paper, and we'll spend a whole section discussion talking about what we mean by exegesis and teaching you how to do it. Another paper will be a thematic paper on some aspect of conflict among early Christians, such as Judaism and the Law, or women, or politics. And then the final. There will never be a sit-down final in class. Your final exam will be basically one or two questions that I'll give to you ahead of time. You take it home and you write basically an 8-page, double-spaced paper on the question, not doing research--we don't want you to run outside and do research. Using the material you've learned in class, you'll be expected to answer some big questions for an 8-page final paper that you'll turn in at a date to be assigned.

Procedures for evaluation are important. To make an A paper in my class, to make an A on a paper, not only does the paper have to have the right answers and fulfill the assignment, it has to be written elegantly and excellently. Every Yale student has access to free writing tutors. I don't know if you realize how rare that is, in a college. It certainly wasn't available to me or most people of my generation. But I know you have access to writing tutors. You can make an A in this class by writing your paper as far enough ahead of time that you can take it to a writing tutor and get the writing tutor to help you get the style better, and then turn that version in. That'll be much more likely to give you an A. If you write a paper that says all the right things, does all the right things, and yet it's not well written, it gets a B. If it's a C, that means it's even worse written, and Ds and Fs mean you didn't really fulfill the assignment.

The texts that I've ordered from the bookstore--unfortunately I ordered them late, but the Labyrinth Bookstore will have the textbook by Bart Ehrman, that you can also go online and just order it yourself. The information is here on the syllabus. I've ordered the Oxford Annotated Version of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. But, like I say, you're welcome to bring other translations, other versions. When we use the term version, of a Bible, that just means a different translation of the Bible into English. So if you want to use a Revised Standard Version, that is other than the New Revised Standard Version, that's fine. The New International Bible. There are several other Bible translations that are acceptable. I don't want you to use the old translations, such as the King James Version, or the Catholic Douay Version. Those have too many inaccuracies because they're just too old. I also would rather you not use the sort of paraphrases, like the Living Bible. But if you want to use other translations, that's fine. In fact, sometimes that'll help us because we'll compare translations.

Don't worry about discussion sections yet. I'm not sure whether we'll use the Classes server to have you sign up for discussion sections online, or whether we will do it the old-fashioned way and have you sign up on forms that we'll give you here in class. But we will organize you into discussion sections. There'll be a variety of times you can choose. So there'll be options about when your discussion section will meet. We'll try to make sure everybody's schedule is accommodated, and you'll either meet on Thursdays or Fridays, in discussion sections, and we'll organize those sections closer to the end of the shopping period, when we have a better idea who will be in here.

As I said, the rest of the organization of the class I think is pretty well self-evident. The class is organized first to teach you the methods of the historical critical approach to the New Testament, and help you learn how to do those through exegesis and historical study. And then the second half of the class, we turn our attentions to more of these issues of disagreement and debate within early Christianity, around issues such as Judaism and the Law, women's positions, politics, and the interpretation of scripture. So that's basically the semester. Any other questions? Comments? Outbursts? Last chance. All right, if you decide to take the course, I will see you same place, same time, on Wednesday.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 2
From Stories to Canon
Play Video
From Stories to Canon

The Christian faith is based upon a canon of texts considered to be holy scripture. How did this canon come to be? Different factors, such as competing schools of doctrine, growing consensus, and the invention of the codex, helped shape the canon of the New Testament. Reasons for inclusion in or exclusion from the canon included apostolic authority, general acceptance, and theological appropriateness for "proto-orthodox" Christianity.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 1-16


January 14, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: What is scripture, and what is canon? These are not necessarily the same thing. When you call something "scripture," what you simply mean is it's some kind of writing that is taken by somebody as holy and authoritative, somehow sacred. Now, different religions--some religions don't have what we would normally think of as scripture, in Islam, Judaism or Christianity. They might have lots and lots of holy writings, but they don't have a particular, bounded body of writings that they call scripture. They have lots of scripture. What makes something scripture, though, is that it's taken to be authoritative and holy by some particular community. Now, notice that does not necessarily mean it's canonical because scripture in some religions refers to a bunch of stuff. But they don't have a set list of things that make something the canon. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all have, basically, canons. That is it's the Qur'an for Islam. It's the Hebrew Bible for Judaism. And it's the Hebrew Bible, plus the New Testament--and we'll talk about some of the other writings, too--for Christians.

What does it mean to call something "canon" that makes it different from scripture? By calling it canon, we're saying there's an actual list that a religion body adheres to, with books that are either in or books that are not in. So "scripture" can refer to any kind of writing that a bunch of people consider holy or inspired or authoritative. But when you call something "canon," you mean that there's a group of writing that has boundaries to it. And, of course, it just comes from the Greek word canon, spelled with one "n," not two. This Greek word means a list. It can mean a rod, a staff. It can mean a measuring rod. And so it comes to be a list that accounts as authoritative in early Christianity. So that's what it means to call something "canonical." When you talk about something like the Shakespeare canon, the canon of Shakespeare or the canon of great Western Literature that's actually using the term in a bit of an expanded sense. Because we don't really consider Western Literature to have an actual closed canon of authoritative texts.

In Christianity, though, it means the list of texts that are scripture and recognized as different from other things. We have to first, also, recognize that the early Christians, it seems like, from the very early period, at least a lot of them, accepted Jewish scripture as their own. So for example, when the Apostle Paul says, "Scripture says," he's not talking about the New Testament. He's talking about Jewish scripture. So almost all the early Christians, they didn't know--the people writing the New Testament didn't know they were writing the New Testament. They just thought they were writing a gospel or a sermon or a letter or something like that. So when you see the term "scripture" in the New Testament, every time except, maybe, one time--and we'll talk about this when we get to it--it refers to Jewish scripture that Christians accepted, followers of Jesus accepted, as their own. The oldest materials that we have for Christianity--and so what the lecture today is going to be about is how did the particular twenty-seven books that came to be the New Testament canon, how did those get chosen? By whom--who made the decision? When did they make the decision? And what were the criteria they used? Why did they allow some books in and other books not in?

The oldest written materials of Christianity are actually the letters of Paul. This may come as a surprise, because you get to the gospels first in the New Testament. And most people assume, "Oh, the gospels, they're about the life of Jesus. That must be the oldest stuff." Well, the gospels are actually all written after the letters of Paul were written by 20 or 30 years. So the oldest material we have are the letters of Paul. And the oldest one of those letters is 1 Thessalonians, probably, dated to around the year 50 or thereabouts. Pretty quickly, though, different churches, probably Paul's churches, initially, started sending around copies of Paul's letters. Remember, there's no printing press in the ancient world. Whenever your church would get a copy of one of these letters from Paul, you would have scribes, often slaves, because slaves were especially trained to be scribes. They would take that letter, and they would make a copy of it. And then, they might keep the original, and they'd send the copy off to somebody else. Or they might keep the copy and send the original off to somebody. And so letters would be copied, and books would be copied and sent around from different communities. This obviously happened.

In Colossians 4:16, which is actually, I'll argue, not written by Paul, although it claims to be written by Paul. The writer says, "When this letter has been read among you, have it read, also, in the church of the Laodiceans, and see that you read, also, the letter from Laodicea." So notice this author--who I think is a pseudepigrapher. He's writing in the name of Paul, but not really Paul. He's saying that there's another letter sent by Paul to the Laodicean church. So let them send you their copy, and you send a copy of this letter to them. So we quickly see that even in the letters under Paul's name, this activity's being spread around.

Also, we see the letter of Ephesians--again, claims to be by Paul, but I'll argue is not by Paul when we get to that lecture, way into the semester. The letter to the Ephesians looks like it was not actually written to only one church. It looks like it was a circular letter meant to be circulated to different churches. And one of the ways we think this--one of the reasons we think this is because in some of the old manuscripts of Ephesians, "To the Ephesians" is not there. It's either blank or it's to somebody else. So some scholars have suggested that maybe the letter to the Ephesians was originally intended as a circular letter. And, maybe, the original writer, sort of, even left some copies blank so that somebody could fill in. "Oh, well, we're in Laodicea. Let's say 'To the Laodiceans,' and we can act like Paul sent it just to us." So the manuscript tradition suggests that it was a letter that was a circular letter in itself.

We also have imitations of Paul's letters developing. For example, I said, Colossians I don't think is written by Paul, but by a disciple of Paul, maybe after his death. Ephesians was written by a different disciple of Paul, and he was using as his model for a Pauline letter the actual letters of Paul, or at least some of them that he possessed and knew of. But he was, also, using the letter to the Colossians. So notice this guy, another guy sort of forging another letter by Paul. And he's using another forged letter by Paul as his model. In fact, he almost quotes it in places. So we can tell that the writer of the Ephesians seems to have been a different author. But he used the letter to the Colossians as one of his models.

So Paul's letters were being imitated, new ones were being written, and they were being circulated. Paul's letters actually became so famous and respected, and at least in some aspects of early Christianity, that they were called themselves "scripture." And this is the one exception I said to when in the New Testament you see the word scripture, it refers to Jewish scripture. The guy who wrote 2 Peter--again, not really Peter, but a writer writing in Peter's name--talked about Paul's letters as if--and he calls them scripture. He says, "There are many things in Paul's letters very difficult to understand. And some people twist them to their own destruction as they do other kinds of scripture." So already by the time 2 Peter was written, which was much later than the letters of Paul, Paul's letters have come to be regarded by at least some early Christians as scripture themselves. So collections of Paul's letters were gradually being made and copied and circulated. That's the first development of what you have a collection of what would be considered holy writing among Christians that was more than just the Jewish scripture.

We also know, though, about oral traditions in Paul's letters. And this gets us back to how did the gospels come about? So Paul's letters came about that way. How did the gospels come about? We know that there were oral traditions about Jesus. People would tell stories about Jesus in their churches. Sometimes, they would tell sayings. So in Romans 12:14, Paul says, "Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse them." Now, he doesn't say this is a quotation of Jesus. But it sounds an awful lot like you find in some of the gospels, like in Matthew 5:44. So Paul's saying this, probably, passing this along as a quotation of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, here I'll read this to you. Start bringing your Bible to class if you haven't today. Because, you know, you can't trust me, and so you have to check me out and make sure I'm not lying to you.

Oh, I should do this, now, perhaps, since it's the beginning of the semester. The official motto of the class--you have to memorize this: de omnibus dubitandum. Say it with me, please. De omnibus du…

Students: De omnibus dubitandum.

Professor Dale Martin: With feeling. De omni…

Students: De omnibus dubitandum.

Professor Dale Martin: About twice as loud.

Students: De omnibus dubitandum.

Professor Dale Martin: Write it down. Say it tonight, before you go to sleep. Say it in the morning, when you wake. Every day of the semester say it before you go to sleep. Say it when you wake. Can anybody tell me what it means? "Doubt everything." Doubt everything. Okay. And that includes me, because I'm going to lie to you a lot all semester long. Or, at least, somebody will accuse me of that I guarantee.

Okay. 1 Corinthians 11, if you've got your Bible follow along with me, verse 23. "For I received from the Lord," Paul says, "what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, he took the cup, also, after supper saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." Where did Paul get this? He says, "I gave it to you as I received it myself."

This is traditional Greek language of passing on tradition. So Paul knows he's passing on a bit of tradition, very, very early Christian tradition. But Paul was not a disciple of Jesus during Jesus' lifetime. Paul never saw Jesus, except in his visions. Paul saw Jesus in apocalyptic visions, but he never saw Jesus' flesh and blood. And so Paul was not his disciple. He must have gotten this from other disciples of Jesus. So what does this tell us? This tells us that different disciples of Jesus were remembering some of his sayings and passing them around to other people after his life.

Now, the first time--well, also, there's another interesting passage in 1 Corinthians 9:14, where Paul says this. "In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel." Now, we actually don't have a saying in the Gospels that Jesus actually says that. It does sound a little bit like, maybe, Luke 10:7. But this is a saying that Paul attributes to Jesus that's not actually in our gospels. It also shows, though--it's interesting, too, that Paul says preachers should make their living from preaching the gospel. That is, churches should support the preachers and missionaries. Paul says that's a command from Jesus. He, actually, doesn't obey it, though. Because he makes the point that he, himself, is not going to take money from his churches at that point.

So the earliest Gospel, though, that pulled together some of these things that we possess is the Gospel of Mark. It probably was written around the year 70. And in the next couple of lectures I'll show you why we think we can pinpoint around the date that the gospel of Mark was written. It's a very interesting little process. Then, Matthew and Luke were both written after Mark, and they used Mark as sources. When you get to the discussion section on the synoptic problem, which is your first discussion section, you'll learn all this theory about the relationship between Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Who was written first, who copied whom, who used whom, and that sort of thing.

The beginning of Luke, though, starts off like this. "Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I, too, decided after investigating everything carefully from the very first to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about what you have been instructed." Now, what does that tell us? That tells us that whoever wrote the Gospel of Luke--and again, I'll tell you that it wasn't the historical person called Luke, who's a companion of Paul, probably. But whoever wrote this says that he did some research. He collected other sayings about Jesus. He even looked at other written accounts. And from those different things, he, himself, compiled his own gospel.

So we can tell that the gospels start off with oral tradition that's being passed around, different sayings and stories about Jesus. And then, gradually, but only about 40 years after the death of Jesus, the Gospel of Mark is in the year 70. If Jesus was crucified around the year 30 that's a 40 year period of time between the death of Jesus and the appearance of the first gospel that we possess. Although there were other written materials being passed around during that time.

Now, what does this say about this? Some of this--we tend to think, as modern people, that a written text is actually the best thing. It's better than just rumor or hearsay or oral tradition. It's interesting, though, that some ancient people didn't think that. In fact, there's a guy named Papias. He's on your handout. He was a Christian leader who lived, probably wrote about some of this stuff around the year 130 or 140. And he says this about his own little research: "I shall not hesitate to put down for you with my interpretations whatsoever things I well learned at one time from the Presbyters," just meaning the old guys, elders, "and well remembered, confidently asserting truthfulness for them. For I did not take pleasure as the multitude does in those who say many things, but in those who teach the things that are true. Nor did I take pleasure in those who recall strange commands, but in those who recall the commands given by the Lord to the Faith and coming from Truth itself. But if, per chance, there came, also, anyone who had followed the Presbyters," the elders, "I made inquiry concerning the words of the Presbyters, what Andrew or what Peter had said, or what Philip or what Thomas or James, or what John or Matthew, or any of the other disciples of the Lord said. And what things Aristeon and the Presbyter John, disciples of the Lord used to say. For I did not suppose that the things from the books would aid me, so much as things from the living and continuing voice."

Notice what Papias says he's doing. He doesn't interview the actual apostles. He's too long after their death. But he tries to find people who are old men, who knew the apostles. And he says he questioned them about what they said Jesus had said. That's interesting, because it shows this continuing tradition. But it's also interesting that he says he trusted that traditional living voice more than he trusted written documents. So that's important to keep in mind.

The next time we see some development in how this New Testament starts coming about is around the middle of the second century. We have a guy named Justin Martyr. He's called that because he was martyred for the faith around the year 150. He mentions "the memoirs of the apostles." We think he's, probably, talking about the gospels, but he doesn't actually use that term as much as he talks about "the memoirs of the apostles." So he knows that there's written documents. We also know that around this time there are several different things being passed around that look like gospels. There is Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which are in our bible. But there's also the Gospel of Thomas that we know about very early on. And then, you've heard the news about the Gospel of Judas being discovered recently and published. So there's a Gospel of Mary. There are several other gospels that are floating around the second century. So that's how these written documents came about. How did they settle on these four, though?

First, then, we have to talk about Marcion. I think he's on your handout, is that correct? Yes, Marcion, who died around 160. Marcion was this guy from Asia Minor, modern day Turkey, and just get used to that term. Because whenever we say, "Asia Minor," we're talking about that section around the Mediterranean that now is called Turkey. But it was called Asia Minor, generally, in the Roman Imperial Period. Marcion came to Rome from Asia Minor. He seemed to be a successful businessman, a ship builder. He gave the Roman church a huge sum of money. And so he got a lot of honor.

But then, he started teaching some doctrines that struck other Christians in Rome as being a little bit off. For one thing, Marcion said that the God, who's mentioned in the Jewish scripture, the God who created the earth, is not the father of Jesus Christ. He's a bungling or evil or bad god. He gave all these people these bad rules. And he punished them if they didn't obey the rules. That's not the God that Jesus talked about as being the God of grace and love and mercy. So he said, "That God is not the father of Jesus Christ. That's not the God that Jesus was talking about. So what we need to do is throw away Jewish scripture." So he said, "Christians don't need Jewish scripture. That's all about a wrong god anyway. It's about a false god. We don't need that. What we need," he said, "is the gospel." And in fact, he chose one of these gospels. He took the Gospel of Luke. Why did he take the Gospel of Luke? Because he believed Luke had been a companion of Paul. And Luke correctly passed on Paul's gospel. Because Paul was Marcion's fave, fave apostle.

Marcion believed that Paul had been the only one of the different apostles who got it right. Because he taught people, "You don't have to obey the Jewish law." In fact, he taught people, "You shouldn't obey the Jewish law." So Marcion said, "Paul got it right." He threw out the Old Testament. He threw out the Jewish God, and he introduced the correct gospel of Jesus. And Luke recorded that in his gospel. So Marcion said the only thing that should be scripture for us is not all that Jewish scripture. Get rid of that. We just need the ten letters of Paul that he knew about. Now, there are actually thirteen letters of Paul--that claim to be by Paul--in our bible. Marcion seemed to know only ten of them. That might be interesting later on in the semester, too. But he seemed to only include ten letters in his list. So the ten letters of Paul, and Luke.

Now, you may have noticed if you've actually read any of the letters of Paul, and the Gospel of Luke, that these people seem to believe that the creator God mentioned in Jewish scripture actually was the father of Jesus Christ. Marcion noticed some of those places, too, like when Paul seemed to be quoting Jewish scripture. So Marcion said, "Aha. The other Jewish apostles, the bad apostles, got hold of Paul's letters. And they got hold of the Gospel of Luke, and they adulterated it. They put all this other stuff in." So Marcion claimed that he could edit out all the added stuff out of Paul's letters and out of the Gospel of Luke. And this edited version of the Gospel of Luke and the ten letters of Paul, that's what Marcion published as his canon.

This is the first time we have in Christianity someone attempting to say, "This is the authoritative list. And all these other things are not part of the list." Marcion, who came to be considered a heretic by orthodox Christians--remember that at this time, there's a lot of different kinds of Christianity. So how do you tell an orthodox Christian from a heretical Christian? Well, it's your judgment call or mine in the second century. You hadn't had, yet, the creeds that would try to settle these things for good, like you did in the third and fourth century--the fourth century. But a lot of Christians in Rome, the Bishop of Rome, a lot of other people, considered Marcion a heretic for this. They kicked him out of the church. They gave him back his money, that he had given to the church, and they kicked him out. And they declared this is heretical. The creator God really is God. The Jewish scripture really is our scripture, and the God of Israel is the God of Jesus Christ, also the father of Jesus Christ.

But Marcion seems to have really put the scare of bejesus into the Roman church. If you didn't accept Marcion's canon, his list, what was going to be your list? If you said that the other gospels were just as important as the Gospel of Luke, who said so and why? And who's going to pronounce this? Marcion, though, seemed to have spurred other Christian leaders to decide what they thought Christian scripture should do. So what do you do about the gospels? You have four different gospels accepted by some people, five or six by other people. Generally in Rome around this time, the four gospels that we have in our bible seem to have become the most popular accepted gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Now, some people still try to figure out that you've got four. Why do you have four?

So you have other people, like Tatian. He's on your handout list, too. He decided to take the four gospels and do an edition that would string all the stuff from the different four gospels into one book. So he made what we call the Diatessaron, which is a Greek word that means through four. He took four books and created one gospel out of it. You had other people who said, well, you accept the gospel of Mark because Mark was a disciple of Peter. This is the way Papias believed. Elsewhere, he said that Mark had traveled with Peter to Rome, and Mark wrote down Peter's version of the gospel. And so Papias said that's why Mark isn't reliable. Or people would say Luke wrote down the gospel that Paul had preached, so Luke was authoritative. They also said, well, Matthew was actually one of the disciples of Jesus. He's mentioned in the gospel. So the Gospel of Matthew is also by a good one. And John, also, was believed to be that.

Now, the problem with this is that Papias and these other people didn't really know what they were talking about. Papias, for example, thought that the Gospel of Matthew had originally been written in Hebrew, and only later translated into Greek. This is wrong. Any of us who know Greek and know Hebrew can tell that the Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek. It doesn't look like a translation from Hebrew. So we tend to doubt all of these different traditions. That Mark was the disciple of Peter who wrote Peter's gospel. That Matthew was written by the actual disciple Matthew. That Luke was written by the disciple of Paul. And that John was written by the disciple John.

Basically, what modern scholars believe is that all four of these gospels were anonymously published. They don't tell us who their author is. Notice, they're not pseudonymous. There's a difference between pseudonymous writings--easy for me to say--and anonymous. Anonymous means we don't know who wrote it. It's published without an author's name being listed. Pseudonymous means it's published with a false name, a false author attributed. The four gospels are not pseudonymous because the earliest manuscripts of these gospels, we believe, did not contain the titles, "Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Luke, Gospel of John." They just published the text as it was. If it ever did have an author's name attached to it, we don't have any evidence in the manuscript history. Nor do we have any evidence in any other historical place. What happened was, these names got attached to these documents. And that's, eventually, how they got included into the canon. People thought that these documents eventually were written by the people whose names that they possess. And therefore, they thought they had some kind of connection to the apostles.

Notice what the canon list eventually have. This is on your handout, also. Look at the Muratorian Canon. Remember, the word canon just means list. So this was a list of books that some author believed were scripture and should be read by Christians and churches. And he mentions others that he believes they should not. Sometimes he didn't believe they were bad books. Sometimes he believed they just weren't supposed to be included with the highest canonical books. There's a big debate about whether this canon list was composed around the year 200 or around the year 400. Scholars tend to line up on one side or the other. It used to be when I was in grad school that most people said, "Oh, it was written around the year 200." Now, I understand that probably the majority of scholars would say, "No. It comes from a later period." That's not really all that important for us because what's important for us is to see at this point, either 200 or 400, what was included and what was not.

This canon list includes these books that aren't in our bible: The Wisdom of Solomon, which is actually in the apocrypha--and I'll talk about that--and the Apocalypse of Peter. We do have an Apocalypse of Peter, along with the Apocalypse of John. It's just not in our bible. It's considered New Testament apocryphal writings. Also, this writer excluded these books that are in our bible. The Letter to the Hebrews, one letter of John, he rejects the Shepherd of Hermas, which is a book that we include in a groupings of writing we call the Apostolic Fathers. It was written in the second century sometime by a guy in Rome named Hermas, and it's called The Shepherd. And he excludes other books he calls gnostic books. We'll talk later in the semester about what does gnostic mean at this time. So notice that this could be a very early canon list. And it doesn't match our list. It does have the four gospels, though.

Then, the first time you get a list by any Christian that we still possess, that is extant, that survives, that has the twenty-seven books of the New Testament that is in our bible, is in the year 367. It's the Easter letter by the Bishop Athanasius, who was Bishop of Alexandria. Bishops at this time, especially of major cities, would sometimes send around what we call a paschal letter, an Easter letter. In which they'd give instructions or different kinds of things to their churches. And in one year when he's doing this, he says, "These are the books that you should read and should not read." And this is the first time that the precise twenty-seven books that he lists are the twenty-seven books that we list. It's interesting, though, he does list the letters of Paul last, behind the other letters, rather than before them, as we have in our list. And then, we don't really start getting any kind of consistency with this until into the third and fourth and fifth and sixth centuries.

So what I'm saying now is it took a long time for this to solidify. And one of the things we think made it solidify was the development of codices, a codex. What is a codex? Early books were all scrolls. So if you had a book as long as the Gospel of Matthew, it'd take up a pretty thick scroll. Now, what happens if you want to read not the whole book of Matthew, but you just want to read Matthew 13:13? Well, you have to unroll your scroll, and unroll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll, roll. You have to find the place, then, roll it all back up. And what happens if you want to move back and forth between a bunch of different letters? Well, you have to unroll different scrolls. Scrolls in synagogues, they didn't have books like this. They just had a basket or a box or a place called a geniza. And they just had scrolls all in it. So if you wanted to read Isaiah, it actually was more than one scroll. So you'd have to take that scroll out and undo it.

Now, what some scholars may have speculated--we don't know this for sure. Some time around this period of time, in early Christianity, somebody got the big idea, "Hey, let's cut up the scroll into pages, and sew the pages together. And then, put it all in a book. And that way you can flip around in it a lot easier." Some scholars have even speculated that Christians may have been the first to do this, because they were arguing with their friends, the Jews. Or their enemies, the Jews, in some cases. And if you want to prove that Jesus really was born of a virgin, well, you need to go to that passage in Isaiah where, at least the Greek version--it's not in the Hebrew--but the Greek version of the Jewish scripture said that this man would be born of a virgin. That's the prophecy that we read around Christmas time. A virgin will bear a son. But you might have to, also, refer to a Psalm over here or to another passage over here. And it's too difficult if you're unraveling scrolls and everything.

So some people believe that Christians, precisely because they wanted to proof text a lot, they wanted to run around through a lot of different texts, they actually invented the codex. I'm not talking about tampons. Codex, with a "d," okay? All that means is this is a codex. It just means pages sewn together and placed within the covers of a book. So when you see the word "book" in ancient Greek or Latin, they didn't think of this. They thought of scrolls. So when you see the word book, the mechanical thing they're actually talking about is a scroll. This was an interesting new invention of a new piece of technology. Maybe not quite as revolutionary as the computer, but close. Because all of a sudden, cumbersome scrolls--what would be contained in the codices we have--the plural of this is, is either codexes sometimes, or if you want to act like you actually know Greek--I mean, Latin, you'd use the old Latinized plural, codices. And you'll see both of those written in different sources. A Codex of the bible would be pretty big, maybe that thick and that wide. The ones we have, they are stored in the Vatican Museum. We have a few of them that survived from this period. They're pretty impressive looking. But they would be big, but still that would be a lot easier to transport and handle than a whole box or closet full of scrolls. So this was a very innovative piece of technology.

But one problem that this also caused is if you're going to put all the books, the documents that you think are scripture, between two covers and not just have a bunch of scrolls lying in a box or a closet--with the scrolls, you can take one out and put another in. If you decide that you think Daniel is not scripture, or you think the Revelation of John is not scripture, just take it out of the box. Put it somewhere else in the synagogue or the church. But once you start publishing things in between covers, you actually have to decide what goes in and what goes out. And so around this time, the third, fourth, and fifth century, we get different codices, different codexes, that is books. And we can tell, then, what sorts of books they included in their scripture.

And notice on your handout just some examples of this. The canon of Mommson, early fourth century canon, includes Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke, in that order. So it has our four and only our four, but in a different order. It excludes the Letter to the Hebrews, the Letter of James, the Letter of Jude. And this is one of the interesting things about it. It argues that the books must be exactly twenty-four, because Revelation 4:10 has twenty-four elders in God's throne room. Convincing argument; right? Codex Sinaiticus, which is around the year 350, we think, is one of the earliest codices of the bible we have. It includes the Letter of Barnabus, which we don't have in our bibles, but we do possess it, and the Shepherd of Hermas, which I already talked about. Which was written somewhere around the year 100 in Rome or right after that. It also excludes Jude. So it has two books that we don't include and excludes one that we do include. Codex Claromontanus from the sixth century, so in the 500s, includes Matthew, John, Mark, and Luke. Again, it has all four, but they're in a different order. It has the Letter of Barnabus, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Acts of Paul, along with the Acts of the Apostles, and the Revelation of Peter. So it has that Revelation of Peter, again. It excludes Paul's letter to the Philippians, which is in our bible, Hebrews and 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

Now, notice that means that some people would say that they use that 367 date, when Bishop Athanasius sent around his Easter letter. And they say that's when the Christian canon of the New Testament was set. Because it's the earliest that we have. But that's not really right. He was just bishop of one area. His letter was not binding on anybody else, except the churches in his Alexandrian diocese. So it didn't set the canon. 367 is simply the time when we get the earliest list that matches our list of twenty-seven books of the New Testament. But you can see when you look at all these different codices, different canon lists, from a century later in the 400s, two centuries later in the 500s, three centuries later in the 600s, you still get different lists. So it took a long time for the twenty books that we have to get settled on. And we'll talk about how that actually happened, also, still.

What really happened was consensus. Different bishops in different major cities and different councils would sometimes try to decide, and they'd put out decrees. But they never completely settled the question for all Christians everywhere around the world. This is surprising. But what counts as the bible is still not agreed upon by Christians around the world. So generally, the canon of the New Testament, our twenty-seven books, is accepted by all Christian churches, generally. Except that the Revelation of John is still not part of the lectionary or canon in some Eastern and Middle Eastern churches. So, for example, if you--I can't remember which of these there are--but there are churches all through the Middle East and the East, also. And some of them don't have the Revelation of John in their New Testament. The canon of all the scripture therefore has never been completely the same for all Christians everywhere.

The Western Roman Catholic canon, and the Greek Slavonic bibles, have for example, Tobit, part of the Old Testament, Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and the letter of Jeremiah, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. They also have a longer version of Daniel and a longer version of Esther. So the Western Roman Catholic canon and Greek and Slavonic bibles will include our canon that you have, probably. But they'll also, maybe, include things that if you grew up in a Protestant church, was not in your Protestant bible. The Greek and Slavonic bibles also accept 1 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151--they have another Psalm--and 3 Maccabees, another Maccabean book. You don't need to memorize all this. I'm just trying to give you an idea of the variety of different canons for different churches in different regions. The Slavonic and Latin Vulgate also accept Psalm 151 and 3 Maccabees. And the Greek canon also accepts 4 Maccabees.

Why is the Protestant canon like it is? Well, at the time of the Reformation, Roman Catholics had not only the 27 books of the New Testament canon that we now have, and they had what Protestants came to accept as the Old Testament. But they had several other books that we now call the Apocrypha, such as Judith or Tobit or the 1 and 2 Maccabees. When you buy your bible, if you buy the one I ordered, it's called the New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha. And they take these certain books, and they put them in a special section of the bible. To show that they're not exactly part of the Hebrew Bible, but they're also not part of the New Testament.

But early Christians accepted all these books. Early Christians didn't read the Hebrew bible in Hebrew. They all read it in Greek. So when they were first dealing with Jewish scripture, they didn't read it in Hebrew, they read it in Greek. There were several other Greek Jewish documents that weren't part of the traditional Hebrew bible. But they were still accepted by a lot of Jews, and therefore by a lot of Christians as scripture. Those books were accepted by Catholics, by Roman Catholics and by Christians up until the Reformation.

At the Reformation, the reformers, Martin Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, they decided that--this was, remember, after the Renaissance and the beginnings of the rediscovery of the study of Greek and Latin text in the original documents. They wanted to go back to the Hebrew. So they learned Hebrew. They started reading the Hebrew Bible in Hebrew, not in Greek or Latin translation. They, also, tried to come up with the correct Greek text of the New Testament documents, by doing textual criticism. They were practicing what was burgeoning scholarship of the period, in the sixteenth century, to go back to the original texts, as close as they could get. What these reformers then did, they said, "Wait a minute. Look at all these Greek Jewish books that aren't part of the Hebrew Bible. They don't exist in Hebrew. They only exist in Greek." So they said, "We're not going to accept those as part of the Old Testament." They decided to go back to what the Hebrew texts of the Old Testament, and not accept the Greek Jewish documents. The Roman Catholics decided, "No. We're going to keep these documents, also." Which is why the Roman Catholic Old Testament is larger than the Protestant Old Testament. The Roman Catholic Old Testament has the same books that the Protestant Old Testament has, but they kept these other Greek Jewish documents. We call those the Apocrypha, "the hidden writings," is what it means. Yes, sir?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: When and how did Jewish scripture become settled? The Jewish bible started developing in the Rabbinic period. So what the rabbis--now, this is all after Jesus and Paul. So we're talking about the third, fourth and fifth, sixth centuries. They started teaching people that only the Hebrew scriptures in Hebrew should be used. In other words, the rabbis, eventually, started rejecting the use of the Greek bible, also. This took time, though. Because at the time of Paul and Jesus, more Jews actually had Greek as their first language than had Hebrew as their first language. Most Jews in the first century would've used Greek as their first language, not Hebrew or even Aramaic. So they read their scripture in Greek. And some people would believe--this is a debated question--I would even say that one reason the rabbis started using Hebrew more and taking the Hebrew Bible is because they were reacting against the predominance of Christianity, as it grew more and more strong. So as Rabbinic ideas and as Rabbinic practices developed in late antiquity, they taught that they should reject the Greek bible, not use the Greek bible. Except, I mean, you could use it, but not use it as authoritative. And they started teaching that the Hebrew Bible should be the one that Jews use. So the Jews today, what they call it is Tanakh, which is an acronym from Torah and then, prophet--the Torah, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. So they will call their bible Tanakh often, or just the bible. And it includes only those Hebrew documents that the rabbis eventually said were part of the Hebrew Bible. Good question.

So notice how Jews have one bible that's basically centered on the ancient Hebrew. Protestants have followed the rabbis, in a sense, and accepted the Hebrew Bible as being the Old Testament. Roman Catholics actually followed more what was ancient Christian tradition of accepting not only the Hebrew Bible, although it was translated into Latin and Greek most of the time, But also Jewish documents that came from that period and were surviving in Greek, itself. So that's why Christian, Protestants have one set of texts, Roman Catholics have another, and Jews have another. Now, what about those Episcopalians? As one of my friends says, "Those whiskey-palians." They decided to be in the middle. So they wanted to be somewhat Protestant and somewhat Catholic. So if you go to an Anglican church, they will also, most of the time, accept the Roman Catholic canon, along with Roman Catholics. Even though a lot of Episcopalians and Anglicans--a lot of them, not all of them--will consider themselves Protestant. So Anglicans follow the Roman Catholic canon a bit more. Protestants and Jews have different ones. That's kind of where we are right now. But notice how long it took us to get there, how many centuries it took.

Now, the big question is who did it and why did they do it? Basically, some councils in the early church, councils that would be called by the Emperor, for example, by Constantine or his successors. Sometimes they would get so tired of churches--you know how Christians squabble all the time. You know, when I was a kid growing up in Texas, one of our sayings was, "Let's make like a Baptist church and split." So, you know, Christians are always squabbling. So the emperors would try to call together councils to get them to agree on things. To get them to agree on doctrine, to get them to agree on the canon. So some councils did try to set the canon. And so you had some councils doing this. But generally, the canon developed over time through a process of general consensus. And then, as I said, through these different institutions of Christianity ending up coming to somewhat different decisions.

But why do they include things? Why were some texts included in the New Testament and other text not included in the New Testament? The reason is not the one that most modern people think is the reason. Most modern people say, "Why is this text scripture? Why is it canon?" And most Christians will say, "Because it is inspired." That's not what the ancients believed. They believed that inspiration--there were lots of texts that were inspired, and there were different levels of inspiration. So just because a text is inspired, or even if you believe it's inspired by God and that God told somebody to write it, that wasn't enough for ancient Christians to include it in their bible, in their canon.

So inspiration, contrary to modern assumptions was not the criteria you hear ancient people talk about. Apostolic authorship was one thing they talk about. So for example, Papias and other ancient writers, they said, "Well, we accept the Gospel of Mark because, well, if it wasn't written by an apostle, it was written by someone very close to an apostle. And it was Peter's gospel that Mark just published. Or Luke published Paul's gospel." So, often, some people in the ancient world, if there was a gospel they didn't like, they didn't want it to be included, they would argue against it being authored by an apostle. So that at least, they claimed for some that through these texts that they wanted apostolic authorship or close to apostolic authorship. The problem was we can tell historically that these texts were not written by apostles. Nor do we believe they were written even by the close disciples of apostles. They're anonymous texts. So if that was the reason they were included in the ancient world, it's not the reason they're still in now, because modern scholars don't believe the apostles actually wrote all of these texts in the New Testament.

Flexibly, here are the criteria. If it's not necessarily apostleship, and it's not inspiration, what are the real reasons? First, it seems that the text that at least these people believed were the most ancient and had the closest proximity to Jesus. Like I said, they wanted them to be traced back to the apostles. So even if they weren't, it's because that's what people believed about these texts. A second big reason was simply general acceptance. Apparently, the texts that were the most popular over a bigger geographical space tended to be the ones that got in. Now, it's true, there were different gospels that were popular in different parts of the Mediterranean. So for example, the Gospel of Thomas seems to have been especially popular in certain parts of the East. And in Rome there would be other document--or different parts of the Roman Empire. But, generally, as time went on, it seems like Christian leaders tried to include those gospels, those documents that were more generally accepted. In fact, if you wanted to argue against, say, the Letter of Hebrews being included, you could say, "But all the people in the East don't accept the Letter of Hebrews as part of their canon, so we shouldn't, either." So general acceptance was big.

But the most important criterion--this probably won't shock you, especially if you're as cynical as I am--theological acceptability. People tended to want to include the documents that matched their own theology. In other words, you believed something was apostolic if it taught stuff you believed. So, of course, documents that did teach that the creator God was an evil demonic god and not the father of Jesus Christ--and there are early Christian documents that teach this--they were excluded. Why were they excluded? Well, some of them claimed to be by apostles. Nobody exactly knew how old they were. They were excluded because they taught a doctrine that other Christians thought was heretical and not accurate. So when you say, though, theological appropriateness is what ended up being the most important criterion for including stuff in the canon, you actually have to say then, "Appropriate to whom?" And of course that means you have a judgment call.

But generally, the documents that came to be accepted were the ones that people we call the "proto-orthodox." This is a term that Bart Ehrman uses in his textbook. You'll see it. And he explains what he means by this. In the second century you can't really use the term "orthodox Christianity" versus "heretical Christianity," because there wasn't--orthodoxy hadn't been established, yet. It was all in a state of flux. People believed all kinds of different things. And what this class will do is talk about how did orthodox--what became orthodox Christianity--how did it become orthodox Christianity, rather than one of the other kinds of Christianity? And we'll talk about that repeatedly. In the second century, though, it's anachronistic to talk about orthodox Christianity versus heretical Christianity. So what some scholars have done is create this word "proto-orthodox." And all they mean is those Christians who believe the kinds of stuff that would later be proclaimed as orthodox in creeds and councils.

So what happened was the people who were the Christians in the second century, and the third century, who resembled what later became Nicean, Orthodox Christianity, they were the ones who had the most say, eventually, in what became part of the bible. So in the end, the canon is a list of the winners in the historical debate to define orthodox Christianity. Questions? Comments? Outbursts? Rantings and ravings? No? Yes, sir?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Okay. If the books were written anonymously how did the names that are associated with them…

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: [Who gave these documents their names and why?] Yeah, most of the stuff that we'll say has a wrong name attached in the New Testament is not anonymous, although there are some. It's pseudonymous. But there are some that are anonymous, too. The gospels we say are anonymous, because they didn't come attached with a name, as far as we know. How did those names get attached? By different people--partly it was because they wanted this text to be authoritative in some way, and so they tended to attach the name of a particular apostle to them or a particular disciple. Or in some ways, for example, the Gospel of Luke may have gotten its name Luke, because in the Acts of the Apostles, which is also written by the same author, Luke is an actual character who follows Paul around. So it may have been that the name Luke and the Acts of the Apostles got connected with the acts of the apostles, and the Gospel of Luke as its author. So sometimes, it's something in the text itself that may have prompted someone to think that. Often, we just don't know how it got it, and it just happened because somebody just said, "It's authoritative. It must've been written by an apostle." We have time for one more question. I think I saw a hand up. Then, we need to dismiss. No more questions? Okay. See you next time. Remember, we are meeting on Friday.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 3
The Greco-Roman World
Play Video
The Greco-Roman World

Knowledge of historical context is crucial to understanding the New Testament. Alexander the Great, in his conquests, spread Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean world. This would shape the structure of city-states, which would share characteristically Greek institutions, such as the gymnasium and the boule. This would also give rise to religious syncretism, that is, the mixing of different religions. The rise of the Romans would continue this trend of universalization of Greek ideals and religious tolerance, as well as implement the social structure of the Roman household. The Pax Romana, and the vast infrastructures of the Roman Empire, would facilitate the rapid spread of Christianity.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 17-35


January 16, 2008

Professor Dale Martin: Religion can't be divorced from social, political, and historical contexts and issues. And so what we're going to do today is do, one, the first of two lectures. Now these are going to be sort of dreary, boring, typical Martin lectures; dreary and boring historical surveys. And I just have to do this today on the Greco-Roman world, tell you everything you need to know about the Greco-Roman world, at least for this semester. And then next time, next Wednesday--because remember we're not meeting on Monday--next Wednesday, I'll do a similar kind of lecture for everything you need to know about Ancient Judaism, to put the New Testament into its historical context. So you'll just have to survive these two very historical survey lectures, because it's material that you need to know. I'll try to make it as interesting as I humanly can do.

We now find the New Testament in the same book as the Old Testament, as Christians call it; and as Jews call it, the Hebrew Bible or theTanakh. Clearly early Christianity has got to be studied in the context of Ancient Judaism, and so we'll do so next time. We'll look at the Jewish context, for example, for the development of the New Testament and early Christianity. But, to understand Judaism, of the time of Jesus and Paul, which is centuries after the chronological end of the Hebrew Bible, we need to understand Judaism as a Greco-Roman cult; it is a Greco-Roman religion. And that means we need to understand at least a little bit about the Greco-Roman world. For us, we can start not so all the way back at Classical Greece, but with Alexander the Great, and the beginning of Hellenization; that is, the Grecization of the eastern part of the Ancient Mediterranean. That's all Hellenization means, making it Greek.

Alexander the Great's father was Philip II, King of Macedonia, King of Macedon, and he conquered different Greek city-states by defeating Athens and its allies at Chaeronea in 338 BC. And I've got some of these names and some of these dates on the handout that you have before you. Alexander himself was born in 356, BCE of course. He was educated by Aristotle, beginning in 343. He was made king after the assassination of his father in 336 BCE. As your textbook points out, as Ehrman points out--and you probably already know, but for some of you this may sound like odd lingo--I'm using CE for the Common Era, which is exactly the same thing as AD, and I'm using BCE for Before the Common Era, which is the same dates as Before Christ. We in religious studies tend to like these terms, rather than BC, Before Christ, and AD, because AD actually stands for Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord. And because we in religious studies include people in our departments who are in Judaic studies, Islam, Hinduism, all kinds of religions--you can imagine that people who are in other religions might not want to call things "in the year of our Lord," since Jesus is not their Lord. So in simply the interests of reflecting the plurality of our own departments, we tend to use these terms, rather than BC and AD. But it means the same thing.

Alexander defeated the Persian Army, which at that time controlled all of Asia Minor, Modern Turkey, and had even threatened to control Greece. He defeated the Persian Army in Asia Minor at Granicus, the Battle of Granicus, in 334. That put Alexander and his Macedonian Army in charge of both Greece and Asia Minor. When Darius II died, who was the king of the Persians, Alexander himself took on Darius's title, which was Great King. After defeating the Persians again, he pushed his army all the way to the Indus River in India, to the western part of what's now India, and what was then called India also by Greeks. He wanted to go all the way to the Ganges River, but his army forced him to turn back. He died in 323, when he was not yet 33-years-old, and he died in Babylon of a fever, that is, of course, modern day Iraq.

After his death, his empire was divided up among his generals, and after some fighting and maneuvering and negotiations, four successors to Alexander the Great finally ended up splitting up his large empire into four smaller empires. And we call these four successors simply the Diadochi. And I think that's actually not on your handout, so I'll write it out for you. This is a Greek word that simply means the successors. So the Diadokhoi, the Greek plural of Diadochi, as we often refer to it, ended up splitting his army into four parts and four dynasties descending from the four successors. They were four generals of Alexander.

Now next time, in my lecture on introducing you to Judaism, I'll talk about the importance of at least two of these empires, because they're very important for the history of Palestine and Israel at this time. But for now all you need to know is that these four different kingdoms--one was where we now have Greece, another one was where Syria is, another was Egypt, and then there was another further north, but that's not as important for us. The Syrian-Greek Empire and the Egyptian-Greek Empire will become very important for the history of Judaism, and Jesus himself also. But for right now, all you need to know is that all of these generals, although they were Macedonians and spoke Macedonian and not themselves Greek, but they had, just like Alexander, they had adopted Greek language, Greek culture. They educated their children in Greek ways. Alexander, of course, had been educated by Aristotle, when he was young, and so he had adopted Greek language and Greek literature and a lot of other Greek ways.

What Alexander had wanted to do was to take all these different peoples, who spoke different languages and had different customs, and use a Greek layer to sort of unite his empire overall. Now he didn't really care about the lower class people so much. So they could just still live in their villages and out in the country and do their farming and speak their own local language. But if you were going to be elite--he wanted to establish cities throughout his empire that would be actually Greek cities, and he wanted to have the elite people all be able, at least, to speak Greek. You have therefore one world, and in fact this whole dream of Alexander--and it was a very self-conscious, propaganda campaign and a cultural campaign on Alexander's part. He wanted to make one world.

You really have, therefore, for in some way the first time in history, a dream of making all of his empire basically universal, a dream of a universal vision, for one world, under one kind of culture, one kind of language. This really hadn't been attempted. You see, in the previous empires, like the Assyrian Empire, or these kinds of--the Egyptian Empire, when people conquered other peoples, often all they wanted was tribute. They just wanted taxes and food and money and that sort of thing. They didn't really care about turning those people into Egyptians or into Assyrians. And Alexander didn't really care that much about the lower classes doing that, but he still wanted the elites.

And so he would plant Greek cities and settle his veterans in different parts of his empire in Egypt, in Syria, all the way over, and sometimes in the western part of India, and he would take his veterans of his army, and he would drum them out of the army, when they retired, and he would give them land and they'd build a city there, and that city would be just like a Greek city back home. And they all would speak what developed to be a common form of Greek, slightly different from Classical Greek, and we call that Koine Greek; and koine is just a Greek word that means common, or shared. So the Bible is actually written in Koine Greek, because this was the form of Greek that had become spread around the eastern Mediterranean by the time the Hebrew Scriptures were translated themselves, and by the time the New Testament writings were themselves written.

The Greek polis, which is simply the Greek word for city, had several institutions that are very important, and they'll become important for early Christianity and for Judaism. So you need to know what some of those are. The polis itself is just a Greek word for city. But you can't think of this as in huge cities like we have now. What they would call a polis might only be 1000 citizens or 5000. So it wasn't like millions of people. It wasn't nearly as big as Rome, which would consist of a million inhabitants fairly quickly around this time. The poleis--that's plural for a Greek city--the poleis or the polises, they were much smaller than that, but they would have several things. The city center, the town, would be the center of this, and that's where the institutions would be, that's where the government would be, that's where the different buildings would be that I'm going to explain later. But the polis also included the surrounding farmland, and the villages. So Athens was the polis for Attica, but it was also the polis for all of Attica, all that region around Athens, including villages and farms and other small towns too. So there was a rural dependency on these Greek cities.

They all practiced a certain kind of Greek education. The Greek word paideia, which is right there on your handout, means education, but it also means more than simply rote learning or memorization or learning to read, like we think. Paideia is the Greek word that means the formation of the young man. And I say young man because throughout all this it was mainly young men and boys who were educated. Girls could be given some education, if their families were wealthy enough, but the cities didn't really concern themselves so much with girls' education. Their family might, but the cities concerned themselves with the education of their boys. So paideia referred to the education of the young man, both mentally, but militarily--so you were taught to fight--and culturally; you might be taught other things about culture. You might even have some music training or something like that.

The place where this took place was the gymnasium. Now a gymnasium doesn't mean what it means to in English, the gymnasium, like Payne Whitney over there. It actually comes from the Greek word for naked, gymnos. And the reason it was called 'the naked place' is because, of course, young Greek men always exercised in the nude and played sports in the nude. And so this is where you did it. So where did you do this? That came to be called "the naked place," the gymnasium. But this also became the place where you would do other kinds of learning. So if you were learning rhetoric, for example, you might practice giving speeches at the gymnasium. But also men in town would just kind of gather there. It was kind of a place where men gathered, and they had gone to school at the same place. You would meet your friends. You might play some games, you might play like checkers and these kinds of--bones, bone knuckle bones games, that you can still see. If you travel around in Greek cities throughout the Ancient Mediterranean, you can see where they've carved little game boards into flagstones of different temples or buildings, in Greek cities. So this would all take place in the gymnasium.

You also had what they called the ephebeia. When you were a young boy, you would've studied just reading and writing Homer. When you got to be about the age of what you guys are here, you might enter the ephebate; you'd become an ephebe, and that just meant that you were past your sort of early secondary training and now you were being really in training to be a warrior and a citizen. So the ephebes were those boys who were between the age of maybe 16 or 17 and 20 or 22. You would march together in a parade in town. You would go on military training perhaps together. You would also engage in sports together, and you would develop a camaraderie because you were expected then to be the fighting force for your city, your city-state. So the ephebate, or the ephebeia, was this institution that every boy had to go through in order then to be a full citizen of a city.

You also had these political structures that are in your handout. The first political structure is the demos. Demos just means the "people," it's just a Greek word for "the people." But it actually referred more politically to all of the male citizens, and in Greek cities, by tradition, only men were citizens of a city. This will change in Rome, because in Rome women were citizens also, although that didn't mean they were equal to men. But in Greek cities men were citizens and women weren't citizens. But with the revolution of democracy in Athens, which also spread then to other Greek cities, partly because Athens did what George Bush tried to do in Iraq, they tried to force democracy on other Greek cities around the Eastern Mediterranean also. So democracies of some sort existed in different places. And a democracy--the demos meant all the men of adult citizenship; that is, it excluded men who lived there who came from elsewhere. It excluded foreigners, it excluded some laborers, it excluded slaves, and it excluded women. But all the men who were citizens had a vote, and the demos referred to that political body of voting men. Now democracies collapsed, obviously, later, and Philip of Macedon, and Alexander, did not promote democracies. But they kept this idea that the demos--that is, the adult citizen males of a city--were a political body. And that's when, if you had everybody come to the theater for a big debate about something, you could still have people voting on certain things that the city might decide to do, although they couldn't rule themselves completely by themselves.

Then you had a smaller council that might be 50 people. It varied, the size, according to the city. The council was called the boule, which is also in your handout, and that referred to a smaller council of older men, usually, who made decisions that they then would put before the whole, the demos, the whole voting population.

And then you had the term called the ekklesia, which is on your handout. That really did refer to the voting body of the citizens, or the gathered citizens together. Ekklesia is a Greek word, it just means "the calling out." Ekklesia therefore is what you would call the assembly, the Athenian Assembly, who would debate things and vote on things that the boule, the council, would put forward for a debate or a vote. That was called the ekklesia. This is very important because ekklesia, then, in our bible, gets translated as--

Student: Ecclesiastes.

Professor Dale Martin: Ecclesiastes does, but it's called Ecclesiastes because that means "the preacher," that's the translation from the Hebrew word, "the preacher," qoheleth, for the book. So Ecclesiastes means the preacher. But ekklesia is a term for the church. So this'll be odd, when we get to early Christian groups. Why did these early Christian groups decide to call themselves the town assembly? Because by that time it's the basic meaning of this term, ekklesia.

And then you have other social structures of any city-state. For example, you have a theater. The theater was a place where you had performances. By the first century, when Christianity was coming around, it was not so much the place where you'd go to see necessarily high theater, like Sophocles or Euripides or something like that. What you'd often do is go to see farces or comedies. Or sometimes the Romans liked to take a big theater and fill the central part of the theater, the cavea, with water and then stage naval battles and that kind of thing. So people have all kinds of entertainments in the theater. But it was also where often the demos or the ekklesia would meet to have meetings and holler at each other and have big debates. So the ekklesia was the city place, and it would often meet in a theater.

You also had games. So you had the gymnasium where games would take place, but also you had the hippodrome, which is in Greek, which basically just means "the horse running place." This was when you had this big track, and if you have wandered around different Greek cities that are dug up, some of them will have the hippodrome there, and you can see how huge they were. They had these huge stands, and it was sort of like a football stadium, except it was longer and narrower than what our football stadium would be. But it had rows of seats like that, usually made over a hill or dug into the ground in some way. And the hippodrome, which becomes the circus in Latin--that's just the Latin translation of hippodrome, because as you'll see, Romans started adopting a lot of these, which were originally Greek institutions, into their society also. So the hippodrome is the circus in Latin. And eventually, for the Romans, this would be very popular for big chariot races. That's the big thing for the Romans later.

And you'd also have baths; that is, public places, sometimes where only men could go, or sometimes women could go, or sometimes they would be mixed in some places. Or sometimes they might have men one day, women another time, and mixed at other times. So different cities had their baths differently. But the bath would be a place where at least especially the men would go, after they'd been working out in the gymnasium, and you go and--this is where the public toilets were too. You can't wander around any Greek city, or Roman city of the Ancient World, without seeing the latrine. You can always find the latrine. And they always had latrines and baths, and you'd have the cold room where you'd have cold water, you'd have the tepid room where you'd have kind of lukewarm water, and you'd have the hot room where you'd have hot water. So this is where you'd go to relax, to make a business deal, to meet your friends, to chat, to try to have sex, try to meet somebody. All kinds of things go on in these baths.

But those basic structures are part of any kind of Greek city in the Ancient World. And what Alexander and his successors did was they took that basic Greek structure, and they transplanted it all over the Eastern Mediterranean, whether they were in Egypt or Syria or Asia Minor or anyplace else. Which is why you can travel right now to Turkey or Syria or Israel or Jordan or Egypt, and you can see excavations of towns, and it's remarkable how they all look so much alike, because they're all inspired by this originally Greek model of the city. So that's one of the most important things about Alexander and his successors is they Hellenized the entire eastern Mediterranean, and that meant every major city would have a certain commonality to it. It would have a certain koine to it; that is, a Greek overlay, over what may be also be there, the original indigenous kind of cultures and languages.

The other thing you have is religious syncretism. I didn't put that down, so just in case [writes on board]. The Greek word synkresis means "a mixing together." When Alexander gets to Persia, or let's say when he gets to Egypt, he knows that there is this god Isis, this female god Isis, that's very important. You see statues of her all over the place. Well, Alexander just followed a custom that had been taught by philosophy and other kinds of things that, "Oh well, they worship Isis." But Isis is sort of like Artemis. So sometimes you'd see they'd make statues of Isis look like statues of Artemis back home. Artemis is the Greek goddess of--anybody know?

Student: The hunt.

Professor Dale Martin: The hunt. See all you guys really know your Greek and Roman mythology. That shows that you did well on your SATs I bet, didn't you? So, we'll talk a bit about what that means, with the different gods and goddesses, and how you learned all this in mythological courses and English in high school. But we'll get back to that. But Artemis is the Goddess of the Hunt. So these Greeks would say, "Well, we have another Goddess of the Hunt," and you'd find other Goddesses of the Hunt. Or when they'd get to Jerusalem, they'd see, "Oh, these people worship Yahweh. Well that's just Zeus, that's just another name for Zeus. It's the same god, they just have a different name for it." Alexander took this tendency of syncretism, of mixing together different religious traditions from different places, and he used it as a self-conscious propaganda technique.

He even identified himself, because he started claiming divine status for himself. He went around passing out rumors that his mother had actually been impregnated by the god Apollo, when he appeared as a snake in her bed. So, Alexander is putting himself forward as divine. Why? This is not a Greek tradition, but it's very much a tradition in the East for kings to be considered by their people to be gods. Alexander says, "Well, if they can be gods, I can be a god." So he starts spreading rumors that he is divine himself. He probably even believed it. I don't think he necessarily lied about it, he probably believed that he was divine. And so he had a god father, he had a human mother, and so then he would identify himself with whoever was a god in the different places. So he would identify himself as a Greek god with a Persian god. He would identify the goddess Isis with some Greek goddess. And so all the time these different gods from different places were basically all said to be simply different cultural representations, different names, for what were generally the same gods all over the place.

Also, though, what they would do is sometimes they wouldn't try to simply say these gods are the same. What they would just do is add on more gods. They'd just say, "Oh well, we got to Egypt and we found out there are a whole lot more gods than we knew about." Or they'd get to Syria, "Look at all these god that the Syrians worship. Well, we'll just add those into our pantheon of gods too." And this is part of what ancient religion was like, is that people were not exclusive. You didn't have to worry. Just because you worshiped one god doesn't mean you couldn't worship another god or several gods or five gods or a hundred gods. Gods knew that everybody was--they weren't particularly jealous, in that sense. So this is the way people did it. But what Alexander and his successors did was they made sort of a conscious, propagandistic decision to use religious syncretism to bind together their kingdoms. Now this will become a problem obviously when we talk about Judaism, because Jews--the Greek rulers, were trying to do the same thing with Jewish gods and Jewish figures, as they had elsewhere. And some Jews would go along with this and some Jews would resist it.

The Romans, when they came on the scene, in the East, and they gradually became more and more powerful, they destroyed Corinth in a big battle in 144 BCE. Pompey was the Roman general who took over Jerusalem in 63 BCE. So the Romans were in charge of Judea from 63 BCE on. And this is very important, because the Romans, as their power grew in the East, they simply moved increasingly into the eastern Mediterranean and they adopted the whole Greek system, the Greek world, and they didn't even try to make it non-Greek. So Romans didn't go around trying to get people in the East to speak Latin. They might put up an official inscription in an Eastern city in Latin, but they'd almost always, if it was an official inscription, it would also be listed in Greek. So Romans who ruled in the East were expected to speak Greek. And by this time all educated Roman men were expected to be able to speak Greek, well if possible. So the Romans didn't try to make the East Roman, in that sense, culturally, nor did they try to change the language. Greek language, culture, and religions, different religions and the syncretism, Greek education, the polis structure--all of these things remained in the East throughout the Roman rule of the East, all the way up until the time you had a Christian emperor with Constantine, and later.

But there's one thing that the Romans made even more of, than the Greeks had made of, and this is the patron-client structure. This is a bit more of a distinctly Roman institution, even a legal institution. But it's important for understanding both the Roman Empire, as well as early Christianity and its patron-client relations. The household structure of a Roman household was this--and I say "household," because our word "family," which we usually take to mean the biological family: the father, the mother, the children, maybe the grandchildren, maybe the extended family. But we usually mean by it the immediate, the nuclear family, with some extension. That use of the English word "family," although it comes from the Latin, familia, means something totally different in Latin. The Latin word familia didn't mean that biological kin group. It actually was originally used for the slaves of a household. The slaves and the freed persons of a Roman household were legally the ones who were the familia. But so when I say "family"--we try to avoid even talking about "the Roman family," because it means something so different to them than what it means to us. So I'll tend to talk about "the Roman household," because that's what's more meaningful sociologically when we talk about this.

The Roman household was constructed like a pyramid. Imagine this as a pyramid and not a triangle. At the top of it is the head of the household, the man, the paterfamilias. And increasingly you'll actually see this written in the New York Times or used in politics. But it comes from the Latin, and it referred to the head of the household; pater, father, familias is the household, the family. The paterfamilias is the oldest man of the household. Under him is his sons, his daughters, and then at the bottom are his slaves, and here are his freedmen, freed persons. And then also you consider, in some ways, free people who may exist as clients. But legally the word client in Latin refers to the freed slaves of apaterfamilias.

Now where's the wife in this picture? Notice, I didn't put the wife and the mother in there. Why is that? Because legally she's actually not part of this man's household. She remains part of the household of her father, and she's legally under the control of her father probably, or her brothers, if her father is dead; or her grandfather if her grandfather is still alive. But since life expectancy in the Ancient World was much less than ours, you didn't have usually several generations in these households, because older people just died.

The wife though is legally a part of her own household over here. Why did the Romans do that? That's very different from the Greeks, very different from other people in the Ancient Mediterranean. Why did they want to make sure that the daughters stayed in the households of their fathers? They did this because they didn't want the upper-class in Rome, who were the elite, they didn't want any one household, or any small group of households, to become too powerful. And if you have women marrying off into other families, and then they leave the household of their fathers, and they are officially and legally in a household with somebody else, that may end up increasing those households that have intermarriage coming in and not so much intermarriage going out.

By keeping women under the household of the men of their original family, the upper-class Romans tried to balance these different households in size and importance. They didn't care about the lower-class really. The lower-class didn't really count much. What they cared about--because the Roman Republic by this time was basically a bunch of very important households, wealthy men and their households, and they were the members of the Senate, they were the knight class, they were the people who ran Rome. So they didn't want one king to arise, and they didn't want a small coterie of leaders to arise. They wanted there to be some kind of balance of power among the several major households of Rome, the families of Rome.

Now slaves obviously are in [the household of] the paterfamilias. When a slave is freed--and in the Ancient World, in the Roman Empire, most slaves were eventually freed, unless they just died before long--they became a freed man. They didn't become a free man, they became a freed man, and that was legally different. So the status of slave was lowest, freed persons was next highest in Roman Law;, and free people were next. But even though they became freed, they were still considered a member of this guy's household, as his client and his freedman. And they owed certain duties to him. For example, they might--paterfamilias would often put a slave up in business, give a slave enough money to run a business. And the slave could keep a lot of the income from that business for himself, and the slave could actually gather together a bit of money for himself. He couldn't legally own the money; his master legally owned everything the slave owned. But, practically, and in some legal contexts, what they would do is they'd allow the slave the use of that money, and that's called the peculium.

Now when this slave is freed, by the owner, the slave could take the peculium with him, and then he could set up his own business, but he'd still be a client of the owner, because he's still officially part of his household. So this maintained, even when--why would a person free a slave? Well if you have a slave, that slave can't actually sign contracts. The slave might be your business manager, but all the slave could do is the paperwork. But if you need a slave representing your business, and you live in Rome and you need somebody in Ostia, the port city of Rome, to be able to be there and watch your imports and your exports of your business, you need someone who can sign contracts, who can lend money, who can borrow money, who can do things like that. Slaves can't do that legally, but freedmen can. So rich Romans were often freeing slaves for their own purposes. It was not like they were giving them a great deal, this was part of constructing their own business expansion.

Sons and daughters, though, were still part of the household, as long as the paterfamilias was alive. So sons legally were still under their paterfamilias. Now this is all legally and officially what's the case. You wouldn't really see this working all like this. For example, I said wives were not really part of their husband's household. Legally, that's correct, but you see cases in letters and all kinds of stuff from the Ancient World that women actually were more unofficially part of their husband's house. They ran it when he was away, for example. They told his slave--she might have her own slaves and her own property, the wife had her own property that was separate from the husband's property. But in practical purposes most of the time, they didn't--they just mixed these together and they might use different things. So the legal situation was set up to try to keep the wife's ownership as part of a different family, and so her money didn't go to her husband, and his money didn't go to her. But this was a legal situation to try to keep this balance of power among households. Practically, sons didn't all live in the same place with their father. They would get married and move off to an apartment or someplace down the street, or to another city. But this is the legal situation.

Now when you go to jail--I mean when you go to court, slaves of course can't represent themselves in court at all, they don't have any legal standing. But if you're a freedman you're--the other thing I should tell you is that in Roman law if you're manumitted as a slave, you're made free, if you're manumitted in the normal way they did it, that makes you a Roman citizen, if your owner was a Roman citizen. Notice what this means. Only in the Roman Empire could slavery actually start being a way that you can move up in society, because you could--if you were a talented slave, your owner might free you, probably would free you. When he freed you, if he was a Roman citizen, you would automatically become a Roman citizen also, and your children would be Roman citizens. And although you were a freedman, which was lower in status than a free person--there were some privileges you couldn't have--your children would be, if they were born after you'd been freed, would be free people, not freed.

So within a couple of generations people could move up from being the lowest slaves to two generations of being free Roman citizens. So Roman slavery and the freedom of that was actually one way that a few people in the Ancient World recognized some kind of social mobility, which was very rare in the Roman Empire. Any questions about any of that?

Now why is this important for the rest of this stuff? This will be very important because Christians started out as house churches, and their house churches fit sometimes the model of a Greek ekklesia, an assembly, but sometimes the model of the Roman household. And so this household structure becomes very important for the growth and structure and even the theology of Christianity eventually.

This is also important though for Roman politics, because if you're if a freedman, or even if you're a free person--sometimes see freemen would connect themselves to a powerful Roman who was higher status than them, because they could use him for important things. For example, say you want to take your neighbor to court, because your neighbor is starting impinging on your land. Well if you're of lower status, lower social status, the judge is going to look at you and say, "Come on, you're poor, your neighbor's rich, I'm going to side for the neighbor." Because Roman legal structures--and they even said this in Roman laws--if you're a judge and you have a rich man and a poor man in your court, of course you're going to decide for the rich man, because the poor man has incentive to cheat; he's poor. But the rich man already has money, he doesn't have any incentive to cheat. That's their logic. [Laughs] But so Roman legal system was really geared toward the wealthy and the people of high status.

For that reason, if you wanted to win a court case, it helped--or have somebody represent you in politics or all kinds of things--it helped to have strong patrons. So you'd have a patron who would be higher class, richer, more powerful, have some political power, and you would be loyal to your patron, and your patron would then represent you in court, try to get you jobs, try to get you more business, do all the kinds of things that patrons do for their clients. Also, if your patron wanted to run for a city office, your patron would expect you to be loyal and vote for him. So lower-class people--now what happens, though, when you have--see your clients, your freedmen, your sons, your daughters, all these are part of this pyramid structure, and they all benefit from a strong paterfamilias, and he benefits by having a strong household and a large household.

But most of the free citizens of the Roman Empire, of Rome, were poor people--free, and even citizens, but they were poor people who weren't part of any rich household. So what do you have with all these other people, these other Romans around here, who don't have a powerful patron, who don't have a powerful paterfamilias to help them out? This is where Julius Caesar was quite the genius. Julius Caesar came from a patrician family--that is, a family, an aristocratic family--but he started siding with a party in Rome called the populares. And I think this is on your handout; correct? The Roman Senate, in the late part of the Republic--yes--started dividing itself into two sort of parties; not official parties, but factions. The optimates, meaning "the best," tended to support the interests of the wealthy senators and the few wealthiest families. The populares started representing the interests of everybody else in Rome. Populares just comes from the word for "the people." Julius Caesar was from one of these aristocratic, patrician families, although his family didn't have a lot of money, they weren't really, really wealthy. But he had great birth, and so he started getting more power politically and financially by setting himself up as the patron of the patronless. Also, generals ran their armies this way.

So Julius Caesar--if you were really going to be important in Rome, you had to serve as a general at some point. Julius Caesar capitalized on his role as a general of a large army that was at the time winning battles in Gaul, modern France. One example about this is how--Julius Caesar was the patron, the paterfamilias, in a sense, of his army, his soldiers--is that one time the Senate, who got nervous about Julius's growth in popularity and power, they wanted to take some legions, some Roman legions, away from Julius Caesar in Gaul, and send them to another general in Syria. The reason they did this was because they wanted to take some of Julius's power away. They were afraid he was going to set himself as dictator, which of course he did. So they took these Roman legions away, and they sent them to Syria. When they left, Julius Caesar, out of his own pocket, gave every soldier in those legions a year's pay. This is what patrons do, you see. He bought the loyalty of his soldiers, when they were being taken out of his control. This is the patron-client structure at work in the Roman army.

Julius also, then, set himself up in the city, when he started gaining more power in Rome. Actually he gained power in Rome mainly by military might, by kind of making the Senate nervous and winning a few battles, and that was against the law. It was against the law for Julius Caesar to do that, but he did it anyway. He tried to consolidate his power, though, by putting forth policies that moderately helped the lower classes. He didn't cancel debts, but he mitigated debts. He eased some of the strains on the poor. He was assassinated by conservative Senate forces--you know, Brutus and Cassius and others--on the Ides of March, as you all know, March 15th, 44 BCE.

He had adopted another Roman, Octavian, and Julius Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, then formed an alliance with Mark Antony, who had been Julius Caesar's friend, and a lesser known figure named Lepidus, whom you don't really need to remember. Because at the end it turned out that Mark Antony and Octavian fought a civil war. Octavian won, and Octavian defeated Mark Antony. And by this time Mark Antony had palled up with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and Octavian beat both of them, and he became the sole ruler of the empire in 27 BCE.

He refused the title of king, and he took the traditional Republican titles. One of his propagandists said this about him: "The pristine form of the Republic was recalled as of old." Or Augustus--he had taken the title Augustus by this time, which means "the great"--he himself said, "I transferred the Republic from my power to the dominion of the Senate and the people of Rome." In other words, in his propaganda, Augustus basically said, "I'm not a king, I'm just another senator, and I'm giving the Senate and the people all their power back." A lie, all lies. See, lying in government didn't start with our government. So Augustus actually reconstituted the Senate, and it was just that, a Senate reconstituted by the emperor. He became more and more the patron of all the people. And this is the way the emperor would forever then try to present himself. He and his family, the emperor's family, was, in a sense, the patron for the whole people of the Roman Empire--at least for all the Romans--the paterfamilias of the entire empire.

This led to what we famously call the Pax Romana, "the Roman Peace," because you had the end of long, hundreds of years of civil wars and other wars, at least within Rome itself. There were always battles and wars going on, on the boundaries, the frontiers of the Roman Empire, but within the center of the empire there was an amazing period of peace.

Most people saw this peace--many people in history say it is good. It's debatable whether it was good for everybody. Non-Romans and poor people may have seen the Pax Romana as more oppressive than a liberation, just like people saw the Pax Americana that way, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and before the beginning of the Iraq War. The Romans maintained peace, for one thing, by leaving local populations pretty much alone when it came to local customs, religions, and living arrangements. When they thought it was necessary, they maintained peace by destroying communities and forcibly moving populations. But they tried to do that only when they needed to do so to keep their absolute control.

The Romans prospered by taxation. They did hold censuses, not universal ones as mentioned in the Bible, but local censuses, in order to keep taxes high and fully paid. But they didn't--the Romans themselves didn't want to be bothered with collecting taxes. So they would have local, sort of higher class, local elites, would bid for the right to collect local taxes, and so the Romans would take the highest bid. In other words, if I'm a rich, wealthy person in Corinth, I would say, "I'll be the local tax collector, and I'll guarantee you I'll send to Rome this amount of money for a year." Of course, the Romans didn't care then how much I charged you, the people of Corinth in its area. Actually the City of Corinth wouldn't have been taxed because it was a Roman colony, and one of the benefits of being a Roman colony is that you didn't have to pay taxes, or at least the citizens didn't have to pay taxes. But the people in the outlying villages and towns and farms and everything would pay taxes.

And if I'm the tax collector, the way I make a profit is by charging you a lot more than I need just to send to Rome. The Romans didn't care about this. They just knew it was going to happen. This was the way they collected their taxes. This is why the word "tax collector" is such a bad word, for everybody but the Romans; why you'll see in the gospels the term "tax collectors and sinners." Why? Because the Jews didn't like the tax collectors because they were being ripped off by them. Is your hand up?

Student: Did Matthew come from a rich background then?

Professor Dale Martin: Well, number one, we'll talk about who the historical Matthew is. The figure in Matthew, in the Gospel of Matthew, we don't know much about his actual history. He just appears. But when it calls him a "tax collector," it doesn't necessarily mean that he was the one who owned the right for that whole area. It just means he was--he could've been hired by somebody to sit at a roadside and collect taxes and tolls and stuff. So the word "tax collector" didn't necessarily mean that the person themselves were wealthy, but whoever had the tax--what's the thing I'm looking for?--franchise, whoever had the tax franchise for that area would be someone from a wealthy background. But then you'd hire out other people to do the taxes. So these people, of course, were very unpopular. The Romans maintained peace to a great extent by keeping the poor poor. So the Pax Romana may have sounded great, if you were an elite, but if you were not in the elite, it may have seemed more oppressive than anything.

There were some other benefits, though, that the Romans did. They made travel much easier. Pompey had cleared the Mediterranean of pirates, which is something that our governments can't seem to do. They built roads, maintained some communication. They had a mail service, although it was for official use only. But this meant that you could get--at least the Roman officials could get mail delivered fairly quickly. They used even a horseback relay that could go a hundred kilometers a day. Soldiers were expected to be able travel thirty kilometers per day, in full pack. And that was only possible because, besides using the sea, the shipping lanes for travel, which was much faster than overland travel, the Romans maintained roads. They didn't really care about roads for everybody else. They wanted the roads for their Army, just like the US Interstate system was originally created in case the Army needed to be moved across the country very quickly if the Soviets attacked. So this is the same way with the Romans. They built roads for the army, but of course other people used the roads too. This was why Christianity and other things were able to spread so easily, why Paul was able to travel around the empire. He would prefer to go by sea, if possible, because it's much quicker, but at least he could travel on the roads that the Romans built and maintained.

As far as religion--Ehrman talks about this in your textbook, so I won't go into a lot of detail--but the common Hollywood idea that the Romans were kind of oppressive of other religions, or the Christians, is just that, a Hollywood idea. The Romans actually were very tolerant of local religions. They didn't care what gods you worshipped. The Romans actually were very pious in the sense that they believed that whatever land they were in, they should provide sacrifices and honors for the local gods, especially the important ones. So the Romans would honor local gods, other people's gods. Every people was allowed to use their own gods. Jews, for example, since the time of Julius Caesar, who befriended the Jews because they helped him out politically a lot, he gave them certain privileges. Jews didn't have to--they could observe the Sabbath, they didn't have to do things on the Sabbath that they didn't want to. They didn't have to serve in the army. They got to observe their own religions. They weren't expected to sacrifice, either to the emperor or to other gods.

So the Romans, basically, were very tolerant. When they weren't tolerant was when some religious group or club started looking like they might be rebellious. If they started looking like insurrection would happen, the Romans didn't do it. So the Romans, for example, outlawed volunteer fire departments, in local places, because they were afraid that volunteer fire departments could be a place where locals, especially maybe lower-class locals, could get together and then start gossiping about what they could do to cause trouble for the Romans. So the Romans were only concerned about religions when it looked like those religions were going to cause political problems.

As we'll see next time, Jews fell into the system in many different ways. Sometimes they were relatively happy clients of the Romans. Sometimes they were subversive enemies of the Roman order. As I said, they were officially recognized by the Romans, but this caused problems for Jews sometimes. In Alexandria, the local Egyptian population resented the Jews because they were recognized as a legal ethnicity in Alexandria, and they weren't given complete privileges of the Greeks in--Alexandria was a Greek city. So they were Greek speaking, maybe people of Greek descent. But if they had fully adopted Greek customs, they were considered Greeks.

The Jews were not considered Greeks, but at least they were higher in status in Alexandrian law than local Egyptians. The Egyptians were the lowest in the city. So the local Egyptians resented the Jews, because the Jews were recognized as their own ethnicity and given some privileges. So this is why you sometimes had Jews getting in trouble with local groups and had violence with Jews in different places. And sure enough, pogroms arise in places. Local people would attack the Jews, or the Jews would try to set up an extra big meeting house for themselves, and it would cause local problems. But these were not problems brought on by the Romans, these were local problems, and part of it was precisely because the Jews had been recognized by the Romans as having a special status in some places, and this caused some kind of local resentment.

As we'll see, though, the very fact that the Romans had allowed this one universal empire, that had been created by Alexander originally, and with a Greek veneer, and they allowed the West to stay Latin and the East to stay Greek, and they melded these two different things--all of this was one of the reasons that Christianity was able to spread at this time in the way it did. In fact, you might even think that had Jesus come and had Paul lived, had they tried to spread this new group, this new movement, at a time 500 years before this, or 500 years afterwards, it may have never happened. Because it was precisely because of this one world, run by the Romans and maintained by the Romans, that allowed the spread of Christianity, to a great extent, both ideologically and thought-wise, as well as simply physically. Any questions? Okay, time's up. See you, not on Monday, but on Wednesday.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 4
Judaism in the First Century
Play Video
Judaism in the First Century

Of the four kingdoms that arose after Alexander's death, those of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies are most pertinent to an understanding of the New Testament. Especially important is the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who forced the issue of Hellenism in Jerusalem by profaning the temple. Jews were not alike in their reaction to Hellenization, but a revolt arose under the leadership of the Mattathias and his sons, who would rule in the Hasmonean Dynasty. After the spread of Roman rule, the Judea was under client kings and procurators until the Jewish War and the destruction of the temple in 70 CE. Revolt was only one Jewish response to foreign rule; another was apocalypticism, as we see in Daniel and also in the Jesus' teaching and the early Christian movement.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 36-55

Bible: The Book of Daniel (from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible)


January 21, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: The chronological end of the Old Testament, Hebrew Bible, takes place in the sixth century BCE that is in the 500s BCE. I say the chronological end of the text is that because that's actually not the latest that our literature comes from. It's just that's the end of the story. What happens basically is that the Jews are taken out of Judea, they're taken into captivity, or at least the upper class is, in Babylon, and then they wait 70 years and then they're brought--they're allowed to come back into Judea to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem, and it's the rebuilding of the temple and the walls of Jerusalem that are narrated in the books Ezra and Nehemiah. That's kind of where the story of the Jews or the Israelites ends, at the end of the sixth century BCE.

That's not actually the latest document because, as we'll talk about a little bit later today, the book of Daniel, which claims of course to be written in Babylon, Babylonian captivity, but also by a guy named Daniel who lived in the sixth century. It's actually not written then, it's written around the year of 164 BCE, so that's the latest document that we have that's in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. So there's a difference in the actual timing of the documents and the chronological end of the story. I'll remind you of what we talked about last time with Alexander the Great just very briefly. Alexander the Great, remember, wanted to set up a one world, a universal empire. He taught a sort of syncretism of religion, he taught a common language, Greek, he set up these Greek cities all around, these things will all be very important for us. That process is what we call Hellenization, so the Hellenization of the world in that time means that we even call that period Hellenistic Greek, the Hellenistic Period. To differentiate it from classical Greek period, say classical Athens in the sixth and fifth century, and then the Greco Roman Period which will come later, the period of Rome.

The reason Hellenism is so important for us is because Alexander--what happened to his empire after he died. After much confusion and fighting among his major generals, after his death, Alexander's kingdom ended up being divided up into four major empires. For our purposes only three of those really matter, and on your handout you'll see the names Seleucus, Antiochus, and the Seleucids. Seleucus was one of the Generals of Alexander and he ended up getting the part of his empire that had been Babylonia, that is modern day Iraq, and Syria. What happens is, you'll find over and over again, a man named Seleucus will have a kid named maybe Antiochus, who will have a kid named Seleucus, who will have a kid named Antiochus. The Seleucids is what we call their dynasty, their family name, they tended to use those two names Seleucus and Antiochus a lot, so you'll see just Seleucus I, II, III; Antiochus I, II, III, and IV. Those two names were used quite--in their family over and over again, so it gets very confusing in historical literature when it's hard to keep them straight but that's the reason.

His general Ptolemy II got the Kingdom of Egypt, which was very, very important because Egypt was one of the wealthiest parts of the ancient world. Ptolemy II took Egypt and set up his own sort of Greco-Egyptian kingdom there, so when we talk about these things--sometimes you'll hear us talk about the Syrian Empire or the Greco Syrian Empire, or simply the Greek Empire. That's because there was a Greek sort of veneer over what would have been local differences. You'd have Egyptians speaking ancient Egyptian languages but the elites in the cities would be speaking Greek, so the culture, the elite culture would still be Greek and the same way in Syria. The Ptolemies are easier to keep straight because they tended to all be named Ptolemy. They might have a nickname, like Ptolemy Philadelphus is a very famous one, but then they would give them numbers. Ptolemy II was the first general who ruled Egypt, and then his descendants would be named II, III, and IV and that sort of--and so forth. The other empire that was important, but we'll not talk about it too much today, is what was Macedonia and Greece itself and the General Antigonus Gonatas was the one who took that. That would be its own sort of area until the Romans defeated the different Greek rulers there and took over Macedonia and Greece.

What's important for us though is really the Seleucids and the Ptolemies because if you draw a line separating Syria from Egypt, the line goes right through Palestine. The Jews were kind of caught, therefore, on the border, so Judea at this time was on the border between these two empires and they were constantly fighting trying to aggrandize their own kingdoms. The Jews were often, therefore, caught right in the middle. Antiochus IV Epiphanes reigned from 175 to 164 BCE. He's called the IV obviously because he's the fourth Antiochus. Epiphanes though is a sort of nickname and it means "manifest," it's just the Greek word for "manifest." What Antiochus was doing with his name is saying he was claiming divine honors for himself, because what he's saying is, "I'm Antiochus, God made manifest among you." This was not that unusual. As I said last time, Alexander had sort of claimed divine honors for himself. He was following the lead of a lot of eastern monarchs and rulers who would claim to be the descendants of a god and claim to be a god themselves, and would receive cult and worship. Antiochus IV, though, was ruling at that time and he had control, he had gained control of Judea.

At one point he almost conquered Egypt, as a matter of fact, again they were always these battles, but then Rome intervened. Rome was not in control of eastern Mediterranean at this time but they started getting more and more powerful, so Rome came to Egypt, and a Roman general basically said, "You've got to withdraw," and forced Antiochus IV to pull out of Egypt.

Why did Rome do that? Well Rome wanted--Rome didn't want any other empire in the Mediterranean to get too powerful so they wanted small--they didn't want to really control all the eastern part of the Mediterranean at this time, they would have been stretched too thin, but they wanted these two kingdoms to balance each other out, so they didn't--they weren't particularly for Antiochus IV, they just didn't want him to destroy the Egyptian Ptolemies and him to take over Egypt because it would make him too powerful. Rome, though, shows that they have enough power that they kind of play the referee between different kingdoms even in the east at this time.

While Judea, though, was under Antiochus control a lot of Jews tried to figure out how do you deal with this whole process of Hellenization? In other words, if you want your own kids to get ahead in the world, in this time, and you're going to have an elite family yourself in a town, in a city, it makes sense for your kids to get a Greek education. You want your sons, for example, to be able to speak, and read, and write Greek. Why? Because that's the lingra franca of the elite--of business, and of government, and all that sort of thing. It's precisely the way it is now with English around the world. Elite families want their kids to have English education, they want them to be familiar with American culture, and, if possible, they'll even send them to a university in the States, or to graduate school in the States, and this is partly because there are good universities in the States, but it's also partly because they know that to get ahead their kids need to use English, they need to become, in some sense, to some extent Americanized.

This is what's going on even in places like Jerusalem at this time. Jerusalem wasn't a huge city but it was important enough that there were elites there themselves, and so they responded to this urge of Hellenizing culture to have their kids educated in the gymnasium. Remember? So they would themselves get this sort of Greek rhetorical education. In fact, what we'll call for the purposes, liberals and conservatives in Jerusalem, because there was conflict in Jerusalem at this time over how much Hellenization you should go along with. Apparently, a majority of the priests and the lay nobility supported the Hellenizing group, that is the Jewish leaders who wanted to bring more Hellenization into the Jerusalem itself.

The high priest at this time was named Jason, his name is on here, and in 175 he built a gymnasium in Jerusalem. Why did he build a gymnasium in Jerusalem? Well if you're going to have Greek education you have to have a gymnasium. This--he also founded a Greek polis, that is as Greek city structure and Jason apparently paid Antiochus for the privilege of having Jerusalem recognized as a Greek city. This would have consolidated the power of those Jewish leaders who wanted to press Greek culture more rather than those Jewish leaders who wanted to hold back on Greek culture. If you control the gymnasium, and you control the means of education, you actually control the citizenry because you can't become a citizen of a Greek polis, a Greek city, unless you yourself have Greek education, so sons would--sons of people would go to the gymnasium. Notice what this would do also, it would disenfranchise those leading families who didn't want to have their sons Hellenized. By holding the control of the education, you disenfranchise conservative Jews who are resisting this Greek influence.

About this time, apparently, Antiochus offered citizenship status to the Jews, but, like I said, admission to the gymnasium and the ephebate--remember the ephebate we talked about how the boys around the years 18 to 22 or so, around the age that you guys are, you would be enrolled in this sort of quasi education, quasi military training club sort of thing of the town. That was the ephebate, and you had to go through that to be a citizen. Jason and his party controlled this, and in fact, they renamed Jerusalem "Antioch of Jerusalem." There are lots of different cities named Antioch in the ancient world, and they were all done in honor of some Antiochus, so Jerusalem was renamed Antioch of Jerusalem. The high priesthood was the main ruler of the Jews at this time. They didn't have a king, and they didn't have a direct governor, so whoever controlled the high priesthood was sort of the political ruler also at this time.

But Antiochus was the one who had the privilege of appointing the high priest. Menelaus, another leading Jew, his name is on your handout, seems to have offered Antiochus more money for the priesthood trying to get it away from Jason, and he couldn't afford it. In order to pay for his own priesthood he took gold vessels and instruments out of the temple treasury, and this seems to have caused a riot. Now notice, "Jason," is that a good Jewish name? No, that's not a good Jewish name. "Menelaus" is that a good Jewish name? No, Jason and Menelaus are both famous Greek names. You have two guys fighting for the high priesthood in Jerusalem, both with Greek names, not traditional Hebrew names, and both of them apparently trying to get in with this Hellenizing process.

They get into a big fight. To settle things down in Jerusalem, Antiochus takes control of Jerusalem and he stationed Syrian troops, that is the Greco-Syrian troops, in Jerusalem in 167. Now things are heating up. Around this time changes were made to the temple in Jerusalem. It may have been basically to accommodate the soldiers. They may have had to house soldiers from the Greco-Syrian Empire, and they may have used the temple mount apparently to house some of them. This caused changes to the temple. At this time Menelaus is in charge, and his Hellenizing party, which we could call the radical reformers, they saw--this is the beginning of the anti-Judaism laws.

About this time several laws were passed that forbade circumcision, you can't circumcise your boys anymore; you're forbidden from observing the Torah, the Jewish law; it may have been that even a pig was sacrificed on the altar in Jerusalem in the Holy of Holies, and the temple was turned into a syncretistic Jewish pagan grove. In traditional Greek religion and other religions having a grove of trees is sort of considered the sacred area. Like when you walk through a forest now and you come upon a nice open kind of grove of trees, and all of sudden you just kind of feel like some nymph or something is going to jump out at you, and God is there, so the Greeks liked these sorts of groves of trees, so this is often what they would use as a sacred area. They did this to the temple, and it was renamed as a shrine to Zeus Olympus.

Now notice what's happening, I talked about syncretism last time. If you're one of these liberal Jews, you may not really believe you're doing anything bad. You're not forsaking Judaism, you're just updating it, you're just bringing it up to the modern era. You might say, "Well what's wrong with calling it Zeus Olympus? We all know these are just different names given to the same god anyway, there's just one supreme God." So they may well have identified the Jewish god Yahweh with this god Zeus Olympus and said it's just two different names, one Greek name and one Jewish name for the same Jewish god. That may have been what they were thinking about. They could also have been thinking about the Syrian god Baal, that Baal Shamin was a Syrian god, so they're just saying we'll have an altar here, Antiochus will be happy because we're worshipping this Syrian god here, the Greeks are happy we're worshipping Zeus Olympus, and the Jews will be happy because it's identified as Yahweh.

This whole process of Hellenization, therefore, I'm interpreting this--in a lot of history books, sometimes, you'll get the idea that the Jews were all good loyal Jews just trying to keep the law, trying to keep Torah, and that Antiochus IV Epiphanes is putting all this on them and forcing Greek religion and Greek culture on them. That's not really the way it happened. I've told the story the way I--I've proceeded--if you read between the lines of some of these ancient Jewish texts, it's more like it's a debate that's going on within Judaism itself. How Greek should we be? How much do you accommodate the dominant culture? Precisely the way you get a lot of this kind of debate in the modern world, our time, of how much do you want your kids, your Jewish boys and girls to assimilate to be just as American as everybody else? How much intermarriage do you want to have or do you allow? If you're a Muslim immigrant to this country, the first generation, do you let them listen to hip hop? Do you let the women stop covering their hair? Where do you draw the line? What I'm arguing is that this is what was going on, and it was an internal Jewish conflict that was going on.

There were several responses to Hellenization, therefore, among Jews. It wasn't just that the Helleni--that Greeks are here putting this onto Jews, but there were responses within Judaism itself. As I've already said Menelaus and the liberals accept it and promote it. Another priest that had been dislocated from the high priesthood earlier, his family had originally been the high priesthood family. Onias, I think Onias IV is on your hand out there. Onias IV actually withdrew from Jerusalem and went off and built a new temple. He says, well if you're going to destroy the existing Jewish temple we're going to have an alternative temple elsewhere. You also have these people that come to be called the Hasidim, it's on your hand out, that's from a Hebrew word meaning the holy ones or pious ones or something like that. It--and they're not to be confused with the modern Hasidim who live in Brooklyn and who come from Eastern Europe. That's a modern movement that came about in the medieval period and has come to--but it's the same word used for these people. These weren't Jews who decided to be very strict and they seemed to reject a lot of Greek culture. They certainly rejected Greek religion and Greek sacrifice. They seemed to promote the speaking of Hebrew, the use of Hebrew text, and particularly pious observations of Jewish law.

You even have a group of high priests, former high priests, who have been dislocated and other priestly families withdrawing from Jerusalem and apparently going out in the desert and maybe building a community out there, and we find out about them in the twentieth century when the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in the late 1940s. A lot of the theories are these Dead Sea scrolls were the writings of a sect of Jews led by people who had been priestly families, who moved out into the desert, set up camp on the shores of the Dead Sea, and had their own little sort of maybe quasi monastic community there, very strict in their observation of the Law, they keep their documents--they have some documents in Greek, some in Hebrew, some in Aramaic. So that may have been another way to respond to this increasing Hellenization to just pull away and form a different community.

Then you have the reaction of Mattathias. Mattathias was a priest from Jerusalem who had settled in a village called Modein, in the hill country of Judea. Apparently, according to the text that had come down to us, some of which had to be sort of legends and that sort of thing, hero worship, the story goes that Mattathias was in his village and a priest and a soldier come from Jerusalem to the village, and they're trying to force the Jews to sacrifice on an altar. Now what an altar is most of the time is--do you all see this little base over there in the corner? There's just a little pillar that might be this high, and to offer something--you don't actually have to sacrifice a chicken or anything like that, you can obviously sacrifice animals, but you can just pour out some wine or you can pour some grain or something like that on the altar, burn it up, and that will suffice as an offering to a god, without killing an animal. Something like this may have been going on.

Mattathias, it is said, took the sword away from the soldier and killed this priest and the soldier for encouraging Jews in his village to sacrifice to the gods. This was, of course, against the law, so Mattathias runs off to the hills, taking his family with him, his sons, he had several sons, and this is the beginning of the war that comes to be called the Maccabean Revolt. It's called Maccabean because after Mattathias died, shortly thereafter, he was the leader of the revolt in the beginning, his son Judas becomes the head general of the bunch, and Judas, early on earned the nickname Maccabeus. We're not really sure what the nickname means or where it comes from, it could be something like "the hammer," so he could be "Judah the hammer," but it may have been an attribute from him being a very good general and winning a lot of battles.

Against all odds, this rag tag bunch of basically guerilla fighters, up against a far superior army of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, they beat them, they retook Jerusalem, they didn't actually beat them in Syria, they just beat them several battles in Judea, and Judas was able to recapture Jerusalem and the temple. In the year 164, they cleansed the temple of the profanation, the pollution of having maybe pigs and things like that sacrificed, it being polluted as a Greek temple, and so 164 is the beginning of the celebration of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. The Hanukkah song now--no we won't sing the Hanukkah song. So 164 in the cleansing of the temple is what Jews celebrate with Hanukkah.

Judas Maccabeus reigned as not an official king at that point but he reigned over Judea of this time, and there was still battles that raged between him and his family, and his army [on the one side], and Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and then other descendants [on the other]. After he died, his brother--one of his brothers became the leader, and then another brother became the leader, gradually these different people of this family came to set up their own dynasty of rulers themselves. Their family name was not Maccabeus, that was just a nickname, the family name was Hasmoneus and so we call this the Hasmonean Dynasty, that's the descendants of Mattathias. Some of them actually were then proclaimed king, they were recognized as--with the title king by the later rulers of the neighboring areas like the Syria--Greco-Syrian Empire. The Hasmonean Dynasty was in power from the year 165 to the year 60 BCE.

Now, that's the way one people responded to this, they revolted against the rulers. Another way some Jews responded was by believing that military revolt wasn't the way to go, that God would somehow intervene miraculously that God would send an angel or some kind of heavenly figure down to earth and an army of heavenly figures would defeat Antiochus and usher in the new Kingdom of Israel. And that's where you get the story of that from the book of Daniel. I asked you to read Daniel, at least the last part of Daniel for today, if you've got your Bibles take it out and turn with me first to Daniel 8:20. Now the book of Daniel is in two halves. The first half of it tells about the adventures of this young man Daniel who's very, very wise and very smart and very loyal, and who refuses to worship the Persian god. Of course this--these are morality stories written for Jews who were living under Greek domination encouraging them not to worship Greek gods but its past in the distant past.

Then the second half of Daniel is a whole series of visions and prophecies. Daniel says, "I was in a dream, I was in a vision on a day, and I saw this, and this angel told me to do this and this person told me this," and so it's the narration of the history of humankind that's part of which has already happened by the time of Daniel, but most of which is to happen in the future for Daniel. Some of this stuff actually does happen. So for example, and he tells about different beasts. There's the ram that does this, there's the beast that does this, but you know that these beasts represent different kingdoms because in Chapter 8:20 he says, "As for the ram that you saw [in your vision] with the two horns, these are the Kings of Mede and Persia." There was the kingdom of the Medes and the kingdom of the Persians who came together under Cyrus. "The male goat is the King of Greece, and the great horn between its eyes is the first king," so that would be Phillip, Alexander's father. "As for the horn that was broken in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation but not with his power." This is Alexander, he's broken, and his kingdom is divided up into four empires, like I told you about earlier, but none of those four empires enjoys the same power that Alexander the Great enjoyed with his.

Notice how you're already given a clue, right here in Daniel, that these different images, these different beasts are to refer to kingdoms that are going to come in the future from Daniel's perspective. We know, actually, that they already did. Then what happens in Daniel is each different chapter, the last part of Daniel, in a sense tells the story over again. He has another vision and instead of reading it chronologically, as if Chapter 9 told about one century, and then Chapter 10 or Chapter 11 is the next century, and the next century, you actually have to read them cycles because what Daniel is doing he's giving you a prophecy of what's going to happen politically related to Judea, but he's giving it to you in several different visions that all tell the same story, just in different kind of symbols.

Turn over now to Chapter 11. Here again it's sort of like the fourth--Chapter 11:2, "The four shall be far richer then all of them when he has become strong to his riches, he shall stir up all against the Kingdom of Greece," so this is actually talking about the Persian ruler who will attack Greece. "Then a warrior king shall arise who shall rule with great dominion," that's Alexander, "While still rising in power,"--Alexander remember was still young and increasing his power when he died--"his kingdom shall be broken and divided to the four winds of heaven but not to his posterity." Alexander had a child but the child dies, and Alexander's kingdom did not go to any of his own offspring, they went to these other four generals.

Then notice in verse 5, "The King of the South shall grow strong," and the next verse, "The daughter of the King of the South shall come to the King of the North to ratify the agreement." What's the King of the South? Who's the King of the South? Ptolemy, some Ptolemy, one of the Ptolemies. So whenever you see King of the South in Daniel it's always referring to the Ptolemaic Dynasty, one of the Ptolemies. Who's the King of the North? Seleucus or Antiochus, so whenever you see the King of the North it refers to one of the Seleucids. So over and over again in Daniel, you're going to get the King of the North, the King of the South, the King of the North, and notice how it says, "The daughter of the King of the South shall come to the King of the North to ratify the agreement." If you look down--if you have a study bible and you look at your footnotes it'll actually give you the names of these different people that historians can identify. This may be Berenice because we know that she was a daughter of Antiochus or Seleucus, she was married to one of the Ptolemies. If you follow in your study bible--now it has to be a good critical study bible. I mean if you--by real scholars--if you use these bibles that take all this as prophecy that relates to the Soviet Union or to Russia they might tell you things like, "Well the King of the North here refers to the head of Politburo or something like this," and so if it's a bible by a contemporary church that takes all this is referring to our time or the time immediately to the future, which of course a lot of Christians do, then their footnotes might be different. But the footnotes in any good study bible will place these people to the history of what's going on in Judea as this time.

Now go over to 11:29 because I'm not going to lead you through all the stuff that happens in Chapter 11 because if you read it, and you read it with the footnotes, it's basically telling you a history of the battles and alliances between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies and where Judea was caught in the middle at different times. "At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south," this is one of the--this is Antiochus, not Antiochus IV, "But this time it shall not be as before for ships of Kittim shall come against him and he shall lose heart and withdraw." Who are the Kittim? Romans, exactly. "The Kittim" is a term that's used in Hebrew, and in a lot of different ancient Jewish texts, and sometimes it seems to refer to the Greeks, and here it clearly refers to the Romans because the Romans come and they force the King of the North back.

Notice what it says, "Forces sent by him--he shall turn back and pay heed to those who forsake the holy covenant." Antiochus IV will pay attention to the Jews who have forsaken the Torah, "Forces sent by him shall occupy and profane the temple and the fortress. They shall abolish the regular burnt offering and set up the abomination that makes desolate," or in some modern English translations, "the abomination of desolation." That term will be used also in the New Testament in several places. "He shall seduce with intrigue those who violate the covenant." That is, the bad Jews who have violated the Torah will be in cahoots with Antiochus.

"But the people who are loyal to their God shall stand firm and take action. The wise among the people shall give understanding to many; for some days, however, they shall by fall by sword and flame and suffer captivity and plunder." Who are the wise? The author of the book. Remember he spent the whole first part of the book setting up Daniel as a wise man. So this author writing under the name of Daniel, a wise man, identifies other wise Jews of his own day and he says they're going to oppose Antiochus IV and some of them will die because of it. "When they fall victim they shall receive a little help and many shall join them insincerely." Some scholars believe that this "little help" may be this author's reference to Judas Maccabeus. It may be that he knows that there is an armed resistance, and it's a little bit of help, but he doesn't believe, himself, that the answer to Antiochus IV is going to be an armed revolt, he believes it's not going to ultimately succeed. Why? Because God's going to be the one who will intervene, not Judas Maccabeus.

"The king shall act as he pleases. He shall exalt himself andconsider himself greater than any god,"--remember Antiochus Epiphanes? "God manifest"?--"and shall speak horrendous things against the God of gods. He shall prosper until the period of wrath is completed for what is determined shall be done. He shall pay no respect to the gods of his ancestors or to the one beloved by women; he shall pay no respect to any other god, he shall consider himself greater than all." So it's all about setting himself up.

Now look, "He shall come into the beautiful land," obviously we're talking about Judea, "And tens of thousands shall fall victim but Edom and Moab, and the main part of the Ammonites shall escape from his power, he shall stretch forth his hand against the countries and the land of Egypt shall not escape." In other words, Antiochus IV this time is actually going to capture Egypt, he's [this author] predicting. "He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall follow in his train." Not only will he overrun Egypt he's going to go west of Egypt and take Libya and south of Egypt and take Ethiopia. "But reports from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go out with great fury to bring ruin and complete destruction to many. He shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea,"--what's the sea? the Mediterranean, thank you, somebody is awake--"and the beautiful holy mountain," what the holy mountain? Say it, Zion, Mount Zion which is where Jerusalem is founded. "Yet he shall come to his end with no one to help him."

"He shall come to his end"--wait a minute, he conquers Egypt, takes Libya, takes Ethiopia, comes back through Judea, sets up camp, somewhere in that coastal area between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean and there he dies. That didn't happen. Antiochus IV never took all of Egypt, he never took Ethiopia, he never took Libya, and he did eventually die, but he died way over in Babylon. He didn't die here.

How do we know that this document was written around the year 164? Because this author doesn't know the end of the story. Notice how throughout the history he's gotten everything right--well not every detail--but he gets a lot of it right. He knows when Antiochus the so and so wins a battle, he knows when one of the Ptolemies wins a battle, he knows when they tried to have a treaty between them and marry off one of their daughters to each other to establish peace. He knows when they called truces. He knows when the Romans intervened and stopped battles between them. He knows all--he knows that Antiochus profaned the temple, so this has got to be written after 167 because he's telling us all about this stuff that happened with the temple. He knows everything that happens up to 167, and there may be a little hint that he even knows about Judas Maccabeus, but he doesn't know about anything what happened to the cleansing of the temple. He doesn't know about the victory of Judas which happened in 164.

Notice how this is wonderfully convenient for us modern scholars. He gets everything right up to 167 and everything wrong at 164, because notice what happens then, in Chapter 12, right as Antiochus IV dies according to his prophecy, "At that time Michael the Great Prince, the protector of your people,"--Michael's an angel, the greatest angel-- "shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish." In other words, this is when all hell breaks loose, the heavens come down, Michael swoops in on a chariot from the sky with angelic armies, and they are the ones who bring the final victory. God breaks into history and brings the final victory. Judas Maccabeus doesn't win the battle.

This is how we date apocalyptic literature. Daniel is one of the earliest cases of what we call apocalyptic literature. It gives--apocalypticism gives you this vision of what's going to happen in the very near future, and it answers the problems of suffering and the answer is not "arm yourselves and fight the battle yourself," because the odds are overwhelmingly against you. You can't defeat all of Rome, you can't defeat all of Greece, you can't defeat Antiochus IV Epiphanes by yourself, but God can. And so angelic armies will break into history and bring about the solution to the problem. The apocalyptic writer sets himself up usually, far in the distant past, like this guy says he's Daniel writing in the sixth century, and they narrate history through the age--and you can tell he's got it all right. Daniel foresaw this stuff writing way back in the year 580 [or whenever]. And yet he's--he knows about the Persians, he knows about the Medes, he knows about the Greeks, he knows about Alexander, he knows about the splitting up of Alexander's kingdom, he knows about Berenice, he knows about the Romans, and so you think he knows all this stuff, he got it all right, and you pick it up and you're reading it in the year 164 yourself, or 165, and you think well he must be right about what's going to happen next. And you think God's going to break in any day, we're going to be saved, we don't have to fight ourselves, we're going to be saved.

This is how we date apocalyptic literature. Where do they get the history right, and then when does the history go pfffffft. When does the history just all of a sudden go wrong? That's when it's dated because they're writing up to that point. That kind of apocalyptic mentality, that apocalyptic world view will become very important for early Christianity because what I'll argue in the rest of this course is, who else was an apocalyptic prophet? Jesus. Who else was an apocalyptic prophet? Paul. All of the earliest followers of Jesus seemed to have been apocalyptic minded Jews, and that's the beginning of early Christianity. Early Christianity starts off as an apocalyptic Jewish sect. They all were reading Daniel, and when they read other prophecies from the Hebrew Bible they also read those apocalyptically. The apocalyptic response is another one of these responses to Hellenization.

In 63, about a hundred years after the cleansing of the temple--first are there any questions about any of that so far? I'm giving you a lot of both confusing history and confusing terminology. A hundred years after the cleansing of the temple, mas o menos, in the year 63 BCE, Pompey, the Roman general Pompey, enters Jerusalem, and this is when you have the beginning of Roman control of Judea. Herod the Great gets himself appointed as King of the Jews by the Roman Senate. Only the Senate at this time can proclaim anybody a king, so the Senate would sometimes would have client kings on the different--the edge of frontiers of their control. They couldn't--they didn't want to be bothered with controlling everything themselves with their own armies directly, or their governors, so they would appoint local kings, whether in Asia Minor, Greece, different parts.

Herod the Great was appointed king by the Roman Senate and he ruled from the year 37 to year 4 BCE. After Herod the Great died, his kingdom was split up first among his different sons, but Judea itself eventually was placed under direct Roman rule under procurators that were appointed by the Senate or sometimes by the Emperor, and this is what Pilate's job was. Pontius Pilate, who was the governor of Judea, his actual title wasn't governor, he was a procurator, but he was the one in control of Judea during the life--during the time that Jesus was killed himself. Pilate was one of these direct Roman rulers of Judea. Galilee was ruled by a son of Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, and different descendants of Herod would rule in different parts of Palestine for many years after that.

During the first century there were sporadic uprisings among the Jews, some of them were apocalyptic, that is, they seem to have been Jews who were expecting the end to come but sometimes they seemed to have expected that they were supposed to start it. So, for example, you have Josephus tell us about Jewish prophets who arise and say, follow me to Jerusalem, follow me to Jerusalem, and then stand on the Mount of Olives, which is this mountain that's right opposite the main mountain of Jerusalem, and they'd say, okay tomorrow we're going to go out and we're going to march around the walls of Jerusalem and the walls are all going to fall down. Sound like anything you're familiar with? The walls of Jericho in the Hebrew Bible falling down after the Israelites marched around it for seven days and then seven times the last day.

Prophets were arising, using inspiration from Jewish prophets from the ancient past, and they were setting themselves up again as prophets, and, again, expecting God to break through. Sometimes these prophets arose, and they were themselves apocalyptic prophets, announcing the end of the known world soon. Sometimes, also, they seem to have been setting themselves up as king of the Jews, and that would make them a Messiah. Because the word messiah in Hebrew just means "the anointed one," and what do you do when you make someone a king in the ancient world? You put oil on their heads. That's how you anoint a king. If someone's called "the anointed one," that's a kingly title. Now this is very dangerous because what did I just say about how did you get to be a king and run a controlled area? The Senate had to appoint you. Anybody who set himself up as king, without being appointed king by the Senate, that was itself an act of treason. There were, though, other Messianic figures who would rise and try to provoke some kind of revolt.

The most important revolt of the Jewish people during this time, started the year 66. Now we're in the Common Era, so this 66 CE. It started in 66 with Jews in both Judea and Galilee revolting against Roman rule, they drove the Roman squadron out of Jerusalem, and in the year 70 the Romans finally, after four years of warfare, they had surrounded Jerusalem for a full two years, they finally took Jerusalem itself. They flattened--they destroyed the temple. So the destruction of the temple is the year 70, and that's probably the most important date for this course because a lot of important things in Christianity, the early Jesus movement, happened either before 70, and they're one kind of event, some of them happened right around the year 70, and we'll talk about that when we get to the gospel of Mark in a couple of times, and then some of them--most of the things happened after the year 70.

The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 is not only hugely important for Jews, right? because ever since then Jews have not had a sacrificial cult. If you are a Jew now where do you go to sacrifice? You can't go to the temple there's--Dome of the Rock sitting on where it's supposed to be. Jews substituted different forms of piety, reading the Torah, studying, praying, meeting in synagogues, meeting in other places, so Judaism changed radically beginning in the year 70, precisely because the place where you sacrificed was destroyed. Every ethnic group around the Mediterranean in the ancient world had its religion as some part of sacrifice. They all did. Sacrifice was just common among different groups around the Mediterranean. The year 70 caused the Jews to stop being primarily a sacrificial people, because they had nowhere to sacrifice. The end of the Jewish war is dated by most people to 74, because that's the time when the final battle took place, and the fortress that fell was called Masada. So if you go to Israel now Masada is a shrine. It's a tourist spot and a shrine that celebrates the defeat of the last of Jews at Masada, the fortress that Herod the Great had built.

After that Judaism changes you have--I'm not going to go into much detail because the way rabbinic Judaism--what you know as Judaism today, if you know anything about it at all, is a result of developments that happened after 70. It's the result of the rabbis recognizing that the temple cult is no longer there. The rabbis, who are teachers of the law and commentators of the law, they become the central organizing feature not the priests. The priesthood--you still have Jews named Cohen, right, which means "priest," but priests in Judaism don't really do much anymore. It's the rabbis who become important. At the beginning of--around the year 200 you have the rabbinic Judaism starting to develop its written text, the Mishnah, the Babylonian Talmud, the Jerusalem Talmud, and this is the birth during these centuries of rabbinism. That is rabbinic Judaism as it comes to be important.

There was another Jewish revolt in 132 to 135 called the Bar Kokhba Revolt, but that was suppressed by the Emperor Hadrian in 135, and that you had the complete destruction of Jerusalem. It was leveled, it was renamed Aelia Capitolina, a Roman name, and Jews after that were forbidden even to enter Jerusalem for a long time. What's important about all this--I told you--I warned you last time that last lecture on the Roman Empire, the Greek world, was going to be some just boring historical narrative and you've had some of the same thing this time where I just had to tell the story of what was going on in these centuries.

Why was this all important for us? Here are the main things to take away from it. Hellenization was extremely important because it united the Mediterranean world, the eastern Mediterranean but then the Romans even took over some of the aspects of Hellenization when they took over all of the Mediterranean. By Jesus' time, all of Palestine was Hellenized to some extent, only to different degrees. Yes, if you lived in a village or out in the country you you may not have spoken Greek, you may have spoken Hebrew or Aramaic. But if you were an elite person in any city, even in Palestine's time, you were expected to be able to speak Greek. You had some exposure to Greek culture. Syncretism was very important. The idea that religions around--religions borrowed from each other, religions were mixtures of things, and cultures borrowed from each other, so syncretism was very important.

There was also conflict within Judaism. I've tried to emphasize that. Jews weren't all agreed about how to respond to the things, the politics and the cultures around them. Jews conflicted with Jews over how to adapt to Greek and Roman domination and culture. Political, social, religious, linguistic, cultural issues were all affected in some way.

The next really important thing is the smallness of Judea. From the modern world we tend to think of Jerusalem and Judea as being very important because of course that's where Judaism started off and that's where Christianity started off. But by the standards of the Greek and Roman worlds, Judea was a kind of insignificant backwater. It wasn't a big important place economically or politically, and Jerusalem was not that terribly important. Judea was relatively unimportant from a world historical perspective, but--and this is also very important for how this lecture plays out for the rest of the course--the Jews were never truly independent during this time nor were they ever truly powerful during this time. Even when the Hasmoneans, Judas Maccabeus and his brothers and their descendants, were ruling for 100 years or so, they never were politically very powerful outside of that narrow area of Judea. They were never truly independent; they always had to fend off the greater power of Syria, or Egypt, or Rome.

The difference--the important thing, though, is Jews had an ideology that supported imperial pretensions. Go back and read the first few Psalms, where God says, "To my anointed one," and here he's either talking to King David or whoever is supposed to be sitting on King David's throne, "You are the King of the world. I will make all the nations flow to Jerusalem, all of them will come and worship Me in this holy place." The Psalms are full of language that implied that whoever is in control in Jerusalem is the king of world, and yet the Jews looked around themselves and they're going, we haven't had anybody who approached that in centuries. The Jews had an ideology of empire and world domination embedded in their scripture, and yet their social and political situation was just the opposite, and it's in that maelstrom of Jewish ideology not fitting reality, that Jesus is born.

No sections this week. Look at the syllabus. On Monday you'll be asked to come in with lists of historical events as you see them in Acts and lists of historical events as you see them in Galatians 1 and 2. Come in with your lists on paper because we're going to put it up on the board. Be prepared to tell me what you do for your homework, and do the homework for Monday. Okay? It's not very difficult; it won't take you a long time, but follow the syllabus instructions and come Monday ready to talk.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 5
The New Testament as History
Play Video
The New Testament as History

The accounts of Paul's travels in The Acts of the Apostles and Galatians seem to contradict each other at many points. Their descriptions of a meeting in Jerusalem--a major council in Acts versus a small, informal gathering in Galatians--also differ quite a bit. How do we understand these differences? A historical critical reading of these accounts does not force these texts into a harmonious unity or accept them at face value. Instead, a historical critical reading carefully sifts through the details of the texts and asks which of these is more likely to be historically accurate.

Reading assignment:

Bible: Acts 9-15; Galatians 1-2


January 26, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: All right, I ask you to come in with definite lists of where Paul was when, according to two different sources. The purpose of the lecture today is to get you to see what you may think of as a historical text as actually not a very reliable historical text. This is not to say anything about your faith; it's not to say anything about how you might use this text religiously or theologically. In other words, it is not my intention to attack the reliability of the Bible for theological reading or for faith, or your personal beliefs about the Bible.

What we will do is demonstrate a difference today between reading this text theologically as scripture, and reading it as historical source, simply as a text, or a series of texts, actually. Because as you know by now the New Testament is a collection of texts. If you all you had were these documents about the first several decades at the beginning of Christianity, and as a matter of fact, all you have as documents for the first few decades of Christianity are the New Testament texts. There are documents not in the New Testament but they tend not to tell us anything we want to know about, for example, the very beginnings of Christianity as a movement. What you've got in the New Testament comprise at least for some of the earliest material we have. If you want to know about the life of Jesus, for example, the four canonical gospels with perhaps the Gospel of Thomas, which we'll be reading later, give you basically the only information about Jesus of Nazareth available to historians, the same thing for Paul.

There are second century sources that talk about Paul, or that claim to be letters by Paul, but most of us scholars don't believe they have any historical, reliable information. What we've got about Paul is what you had in the New Testament. I'm going to try to get you to use two of those sources, Galatians and the Acts of Apostles, and then we're going to talk about what can we know about Paul from these two texts. Now take your lists out that you made for Acts. When is the first time we see the Apostle Paul in Acts? Chapter and verse. I'm a former fundamentalist, which means I want chapter and verse on everything. Chapter and verse, when is the first time we see Paul? Yes sir.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: 9:1, and where is he?

Student: On the road to Damascus.

Professor Dale Martin: On the road to Damascus. Starts off in Jerusalem--now is that actually the first time we see Paul in the book of Acts?

Student: In 7:58.

Professor Dale Martin: In 7:58, so we actually see him before then. Where is he there?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: That's right, he witnesses the stoning of Stephen, who, by tradition, is the first Christian martyr, the first person to die for Christianity in Acts. And he's in what city? Where is he? Come on folks, quicker, quicker. Where is he--

Student: Jerusalem.

Professor Dale Martin: He's in Jerusalem, thank you. Now let's just read that first part there, "They dragged him out of the city," that is Stephen, "Began to stone him, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul," who the writer of Acts will later tell us is also named Paul, so Saul is--Acts depicts Saul as his Jewish name and Paul as sort of his Greek and Roman name. "While they were stoning Stephen he prayed," and so on and so forth. Look at 8:1:

And Saul approved of their killing him. That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him, but Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house, dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.

So Saul, as he's known here, is fairly active in Jerusalem as a persecutor of the followers of Jesus. He causes several of them to be arrested, they know who he is, they would recognize him, he's got a reputation, so that's the first time we see Paul in 7:58. Then we--the Acts, as we'll see, does a lot of other things and then comes back to Paul now at 9:1. After 9:1, when is the next time we see Paul in Acts? He's on the road to Damascus--did you all do this homework? Yes sir in the back.

Student: 12:25.

Professor Dale Martin: 12:25--where is that?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Okay, Barnabas and Paul go back to Jerusalem. Let's back up a bit though. I think we're missing some stuff. I want every detail of time, every detail of place--look at 9:26.

When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He spoke and argued with the Hellenists [that is, Greek speaking Jews]; but they were attempting to kill him. When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

Notice in Chapter 9 you've got several chronological and spatial details about Paul. That's what I wanted you to notice. Not just read it quickly, don't read this stuff like college students, read it as really critical readers, not just to get the reading done but notice the details. I'm stressing this now because over and over again in this semester we'll try to push you to read it much more carefully. Noticing details, that's the only way to practice close reading. We've got him in Jerusalem, we have him in Damascus, but before 12:25 we have lots of other material with him being in Jerusalem. Introduced to the church there--when is this chronologically? You don't have to know the year but how much time are we talking about between this Damascus period and this time Barnabas introduces him to the rest of the church and gets him accepted by the church. Yes.

Student: It says in verse 23, "After some time had passed."

Professor Dale Martin: "After some time had passed." There's one place where it says he's three days in Damascus after he sees Jesus, before he's baptized, so we have three days, then he's baptized, and then he disputes with other people in Damascus, so basically it's just after some time. It can't--we're probably not talking several years here. You get the impression when you're reading this that it may be months, it may be weeks--this is time in Jerusalem. What happens after Barnabas introduces him in Jerusalem? Look at 9:30, "When the believers learned of it they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus." Again, before we get him in Jerusalem here, he's in Caesarea, which is a city on the coastline of Palestine, and he's in Tarsus. Why does he go to Tarsus do you think? That's his home, exactly. According to Acts, Paul is from Tarsus. Now when we get further I'll point out when we have information about Paul that we get from his letters, and when we have information about Paul that we only get from Acts. The question I'll ask you is, are they both reliable? Are they both equally reliable? If you have one piece of information from Paul's letters and a different kind of piece of information from Acts, is one of them more likely to be historical? Those are the kinds of questions we'll ask. Yes sir.

Student: Where is Tarsus?

Professor Dale Martin: Tarsus is in the very eastern part of what is now Turkey. It's not far from the border of eastern Turkey and western Syria, it's in modern Turkey. At the time--at that time it was in the area called Cilicia, and that'll be important because when we get to Galatians Paul talks about going to Cilicia at one point, and I'm going to say, "Why did he go to Cilicia and where is that?" And some smart person's going to say, "Well isn't Tarsus the main capital city of Cilicia in the Roman Empire?" I'll say, "That's brilliant! You made a very important connection there."

Okay, so he goes to Tarsus, now you don't hear much about Paul because then you have other kinds of stuff, and then look at 11:19, "Now those who were scattered because of the persecutions that took place over Stephen," notice how--we'll get this when we get to the Acts of the Apostles, the lecture on that, there is as bit of a jump here in the period of time. The stoning of Stephen was way back there at the end of Chapter 7, beginning of Chapter 8, then you had a lot of other material, now the author is kind of taking you back to that stoning of Stephen episode. This is like one of those things that--it's a cutaway; it's a time lapse sort of in the filming here.

. . . [they] traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men from Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul.

Again, before we get this, we have Saul going to Antioch, again Barnabas being the important figure who does that. When he came he saw the grace of God, etc.

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called "Christians."

At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem. [So we have one year here in Antioch before the next incident happens.] One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the brothers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

So in 11:30 we have Paul going from Antioch with Barnabas to Jerusalem, taking with them funds to alleviate famine--for famine relief in Judea, from the disciples in Antioch. When's the--now after that do we have another we see Paul? That's when you get to 12:25, "Barnabas--after completing their mission Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem and brought with them John, whose other name was Mark." Actually, I think that may need to be returned from Jerusalem; there's a manuscript debate over whether they returned to Jerusalem or from Jerusalem. In any case, they're in Jerusalem, and then 13:1 we find them back in Barnabas, Barnabas and Saul there. Chapter 13 has Barnabas and Saul in Antioch again.

While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart from me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

They went by the Holy Spirit, they went to Seleucia, then we have what's called the first missionary journey. This is the first missionary journey, Barnabas and Paul, they travel through that part of central and southern Turkey that we call Asia Minor in the ancient world, called Turkey now. What happens next? After 13:1 where does Paul go? Yes sir.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Okay, so they have a confrontation with a magician called Bar-Jesus. Where else? Yes.

Student: Cyprus

Professor Dale Martin: Cyprus.

Student: Salamis and Paphos.

Professor Dale Martin: Yes, Cyprus and Salamis, they're traveling around. Where else? Where do they end up?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Iconium, that's another place they go too. Next?

Student: Lystra.

Professor Dale Martin: Lystra.

Student: Derbe.

Professor Dale Martin: Derbe, next?

Student: Perga.

Professor Dale Martin: Perga. Next?

Student: Attalia.

Professor Dale Martin: Attalia. Where do they end up after that first journey, at the end of the journey?

Student: Antioch.

Professor Dale Martin: Back in Antioch. We're going to just include all those places you said in the first missionary journey, and they end up in Antioch. Where is the next place they go?

Student: Jerusalem.

Professor Dale Martin: Jerusalem. What do they do this time in Jerusalem?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Sorry? They have a debate. The whole--the leaders of the church get together, they debate, what's the topic of the debate?

Student: Circumcision.

Professor Dale Martin: Whether Gentiles have to be circumcised to be members of the community, and who makes the decision?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Pardon? Who makes the decision?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Somebody say it out loud enough.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Sorry?

Student: James.

Professor Dale Martin: James. They all make the decision together. In fact, they say, "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us." That's an interesting way of putting it because in the Book of Acts the Holy Spirit is actually the main actor of the whole book. The Holy Spirit does all this kind of stuff in the Book of Acts, so that's why "The Acts of the Apostles" is almost a mis-title. It should actually be called "The Acts of the Holy Spirit," much more accurately for the narrative. The Holy Spirit, with all the believers, and James, who's considered the leader of the church in Jerusalem actually announces a decision, but it's a decision they all came to by consensus.

Everybody agrees that, no, Gentiles don't have to be circumcised and they make some rules. They say that they shouldn't eat meat sacrificed to idols, they shouldn't eat blood, they shouldn't commit fornication or sexual immorality, so they make some rules that they expect Gentile followers to follow. They get those rules from the Jewish tradition that these were the rules that were given to Noah after the flood. Therefore, all people in the world, because all people of course that now exist came from the people who lived through the flood. All people of the world were given these rules, even Gentiles, and so even pious Gentiles should keep these rules, although they do not have to be circumcised, so that's the way that happens. Where does Paul go after that? We're going to move quickly now.

Student: Antioch.

Professor Dale Martin: Pardon?

Student: Antioch.

Professor Dale Martin: Antioch, back to Antioch. Then he and Barnabas have a falling out--have a disagreement. What's the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas about in Acts?

Student: Whether to take John Mark.

Professor Dale Martin: Whether to take John Mark with him on them on the next journey they go. Paul wants to--Barnabas wants to take Mark, Paul doesn't, is that the way it goes? Yeah. Then they split up. It's a very amicable split in Acts, right? It's a personnel decision. They don't have any debates about doctrine. They don't have any disagreements about what the Gospel means. They don't have any disagreements about eating or circumcision. Barnabas and Saul, and Paul, split up simply over a personnel decision about whether to take John Mark on the next missionary journey. So that's--notice what we've got. How often is Paul in Jerusalem before that--before this main Jerusalem counsel? How many times?

Student: Once.

Professor Dale Martin: One, two, three, four, five--he's in Jerusalem five times before the general counsel that we sort of ended up our little narrative there.

Now look at Galatians. We don't have to go all the way through Galatians, but we're going to read the part of Galatians much more carefully and closely. It's only basically the first two chapters that we need. Again, we're going to put the details up on the board, because I want you to pay much closer attention to this than apparently some of you paid anyway.

1:11, "I want you to know brothers," and it may say, "and sisters" in your English translation, but it doesn't in the Greek, "That the Gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin, for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." First Paul starts out in the letter saying, "I didn't get my Gospel from any human person, I got it straight from Jesus." Now, remember, Paul didn't know Jesus during Jesus' own lifetime, so he's referring to a revelation experience that he had when he saw Jesus in some kind of visionary experience, or another place he says he was lifted up into the third heaven, so we'll talk at some point about what kind of experience was this that Paul had, but that's where he got his Gospel.

You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when God, who had set me apart before I was born, called me through his grace, was pleased so that I might proclaim among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being.

Now where is Paul at this point according to his own statement? We don't know, right? But we know one place he's not, and where is that?

Student: Jerusalem.

Professor Dale Martin: Because then he says, "I did not, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who are already Apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia and afterwards I returned to Damascus." That's how you know where he was. "I returned to Damascus." Where is the first place we see Paul, chronologically, geographically, according to his letter, is Damascus. Let's keep--then he says, "I went to Arabia." Arabia at this time refers to the part of the other side of the Jordan River from Judea, so it's what we would call modern Jordan mainly, maybe eastern Syria, western Jordan but that's what was Arabian desert that's--so he's talking about he went away to that area that we would now call eastern Syria or Jordan. Remember Damascus is one of the large cities in Syria, so that's where he goes.

"Afterwards I returned to Damascus. After three years," we get a nice little chronological note, "I did go to Jerusalem to visit Cephas." Who is Cephas? Peter, exactly. Cephas is the Aramaic word for "rock" or "stone," and Peter is the Greek word for "rock" or "stone." Again, we have two different names. He goes to Jerusalem to meet Peter, but he says, "And I stayed with him for 15 days." This first trip in Jerusalem takes 15 days. Notice what he says then, "But I did not see any other apostle except James, the Lord's brother."

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Is that Jesus' brother? Yes, somebody said. According to Roman Catholic tradition Jesus didn't have any brothers, but according to the New Testament he did have brothers and maybe sisters, according to some manuscripts. James is called the brother of Jesus in the Book of Acts. Don't confuse this with James, son of Zebedee who was one of the twelve apostles, that's a different James. There are several James' because it was a very common name in the ancient world. You know of course, "James" is just the Anglicization of Jacob, so it's actually Jacob in the Greek and that's the word it is. It becomes "James" in English. "James, the Lord's brother. In what I'm writing to you before God I do not lie." What--why does Paul have his panties in a wad? Confirming that he only was there fifteen days, and he only saw Peter and James. I swear it, I swear it, I swear it. "Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia." Why do you think he went to Cilicia?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: That's where Tarsus is. Maybe that's a clue that he actually was from Tarsus, although Paul doesn't ever tell us he's from Tarsus, so we don't know that's his hometown from him but that's what Acts says is his hometown. So maybe he went to Tarsus, we don't know. He just says he went to Syria.

I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy. And they glorified God.

"I was not known by sight,"--they heard my reputation, they heard that I had persecuted followers of Jesus, but nobody, no follower of Jesus in Judea knew what I looked like except Peter and James. He swears it, he's very adamant. "Then after fourteen years," so we have a fourteen year period of time, "I went up again with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me; I went up in response to a revelation." Why does he say he went up in response to a revelation? Anybody have an idea? Yes, no.

As we'll see throughout this letter, Paul wants to make it very clear that he is not playing second fiddle to anybody in Jerusalem. He didn't get his gospel from those disciples, he didn't get it from Peter and James, he got it straight from Jesus, he didn't check his Gospel out with them at this point. He got it from Jesus. Paul is trying to establish his independence from the church in Jerusalem and he's eventually going to try establishing that "I'm just as much an apostle as they are." "I went up in response to"--in other words he went up in response to a revelation. God appeared--God told Paul, according to him, "Go to Jerusalem." He didn't go because the Jerusalem authorities said, "We need to check you out and see if you're going to come to Jerusalem." They did--this was not a command performance he's insisting.

I laid before them (though only in private meeting with the acknowledged leaders), the Gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running or had not run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false believers secretly [he calls it false brothers] secretly brought in who slipped in to spy out the freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us--we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the Gospel might always remain with you. And from those who are supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) . . .

Notice again Paul is really kind of anxious about not wanting to cede any authority to these Jerusalem leaders except as they are local leaders.

. . . those leaders contributed nothing new to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the Gospel for the circumcised (for he worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised, also worked through me and sending me to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, [this is James the Lord's brother, Cephas Peter, and then the disciple John] who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right and the fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.

Now there's a big question here. Is what Paul is describing here basically this Jerusalem conference? Is it his version? It's quite different the way Paul--Paul acts like it's mainly him and sort of the leaders of the Jerusalem church who get together. It's not--it wasn't brought about by some crisis. Paul went because God told him to do, so they could all just make sure that they have an agreement. They make an agreement, Gentiles don't have to circumcised, nobody pressured, except these false brothers, Titus to be circumcised. The pillars Peter, James, and John did not insist that Gentiles be circumcised, they agreed with Peter's--with Paul's gospel.

The next thing that happened though--so look how--what Paul says, he starts in Damascus, he was in Arabia, and here's Damascus. Three-year period of time; he's in Jerusalem but only fifteen days. He only sees Peter and James. Then he goes back--goes to Syria and Cilicia, and then after fourteen years later--some scholars say, well is this fourteen years including the three years? That is, is this fourteen years from his revelation or do we have seventeen years? When you try to figure out the chronology for Paul's ministry in life you have to make that decision. I think that much more likely is this fourteen years is considered to be fourteen years after these three years, so you've got seventeen years. That would put this Jerusalem meeting about seventeen years after Paul's own conversion if he was converted--he seems to be converted very early or called to be an apostle very early. Jesus died around the year 30 perhaps. Paul--let's just say Paul got his revelation at 34, so you would be talking seventeen years after say 34 or 35, is when you have this Jerusalem conference. Then you have the next thing. Now what happens next though?

Now, what that basically is saying--let's just stop here and let me say, how do you make this fit this? How do you make this fit this? Over here you have Paul starting off in Jerusalem, and he's persecuting the disciples. How can he then say over here that they had never seen his face? Were all of them dead by this time? He swears they didn't know his face, which seems to me to say that Paul is claiming he wasn't in Jerusalem when he was persecuting the church. He was persecuting Christians in Syria. He was persecuting followers of Jesus in the Jewish Diaspora, not in Judea at all. That's what Paul's claiming. And then he goes to Damascus, he goes to Jerusalem for fifteen days but only sees these people, and it's seventeen years total is the first time he's seen publicly in Jerusalem by many different followers of Jesus. That just doesn't seem to fit here. Here he starts off in Jerusalem, he's in Jerusalem again, he goes to Damascus, but it seems like it's only in a matter of weeks or months perhaps. He's in Antioch for a year, he goes back to Jerusalem, then he's in Antioch for a year, he goes back to Jerusalem here, he's back to Jerusalem here, back to Jerusalem here, he's in and out of Judea and Jerusalem all the time.

Which one of these is accurate? Or do you believe that--you can find really, really brilliant fundamentalists who believe that the Bible has to be historically and scientifically true in every one of its details, and you know what, they can kind of figure out how to harmonize all this, but it takes a lot of very brilliant work. It's much more likely isn't it that one of these accounts is more accurate than the other. Which one do you believe? That's a real question, which one do you believe? Somebody make me an argument. Decide. Come on break out of that undergraduate shyness and just make an argument. Yes.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: You believe Acts, why would you believe Acts? Say it loud.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Acts sounds like a historical account, doesn't it? It doesn't seem like it has a big axe to grind. In Galatians, Paul is--obviously has an axe to grind. He's going all over himself saying, "I'm not lying, I'm not lying, I'm not lying." This fellow says, maybe Paul's protesting too much in Galatians and Acts sounds a bit more like an impartial account. Do the rest of you buy that? Everybody nods their head that sounds good to everybody? Yes sir.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Galatians is a firsthand account. I mean Acts was written by someone we don't know--even know who wrote it, but it obviously wasn't written by someone who saw this stuff. He says he used other sources, so when we get to the Gospel of Luke and Acts, which were both written by the same person, we'll see that this author admits that he used other sources. He was not an eyewitness of any of this stuff, at least this stuff that he tells about here in this part. There's some debate about whether he maybe was an eyewitness for some of the travels of Paul later in Acts, but at this point he doesn't even claim to have been there. As a historian, wouldn't you take an account by an eyewitness, the person who actually experienced this, over an account written later? This gentleman over here says, no, Paul's account is better historical source because he was there. Anybody else make an argument? Well what about the idea that the writer of Acts is just telling a story. Paul clearly has an axe to grind, not to make a pun. Yes.

Student: The writer of Acts [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: That's right. The writer of Acts could be having an axe to grind, which is to make the church sound more harmonious and united, and all that sort of thing. It may also be that the writer of Acts wants to emphasize the center of Jerusalem and Judea, and the leaders there as the central authority for the early Christian movement. And so he's exaggerating Paul's presence in Jerusalem, and exaggerating the role of these leaders in Jerusalem. That's a good point. The writer of Acts, we should all know that every written account of anything, no matter how historically good it is, still has a point of view, still has an agenda. Yes.

Student: Was Paul aware [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: No, Acts was written after the life of Paul, so Paul doesn't have access to the Book of Acts as one of his sources. Now the other question is did the writer of Acts have access to Paul's letters? We don't know. The basic--it's time for me to wrap up here, the basic question here is whether you decide to trust more Acts or Paul on this issue is a historical question. But the basic point also is to get you by a very, very close reading of this text to see that it's much a better historical practice as a historian to not text--not take any of these texts as simple straightforward history. What I will argue, eventually, is that Paul is probably telling what is more accurately the case. Yes, he has a reason to stress it, but he says it so forcefully and he writes it in a letter, and if he had actually been in Jerusalem as much as Acts says, couldn't the people who received his letter have checked this out? Yeah. They could basically say later, no, Paul, in spite of saying that you do not lie, you're a liar. We know, we've checked it out.

Paul's letter, I would say, is much more likely to contain better historical evidence, but we can argue about that until the cows come home. The main point is that you still have to sift these documents with a lot of careful sifting to get any reliable historical data out of them. For example, later when we get to Galatians for some of these things, we'll talk a bit about what really happened in Antioch that caused the split between Barnabas and Paul. In Acts it's all like, oh no they just had a personnel disagreement, but they parted perfectly in agreement about the basic gospel. According to Galatians, no, Barnabas and Paul disagreed strongly over whether Jews could continue in table fellowship with uncircumcised Gentiles, and Barnabas went along with Peter and some disciples from James in Jerusalem in saying, no, not even Jewish followers of Jesus shouldn't share meals with uncircumcised Gentiles. Paul believes that Barnabas got that wrong. So according to Paul's letters, Paul split with Barnabas on a serious disagreement over a doctrine in practice in the early church. And again, Acts kind of slides that over because Acts tries to make the church look completely harmonious.

This is historical criticism. Reading these texts just like you would read any other ancient text with just the same amount of scrutiny and suspicion that you would any text. That's what we're going to do in this semester. It's different from reading the text as scripture. This is not to say that I believe reading the text as scripture is bad or wrong. I believe it's just a different way of reading. I think you can come up with good, true, Christian theological readings of the New Testament and you can come up with very decent historical readings of the New Testament. They just always won't be the same kind of reading. What this class is going to do for the most part is talk about that historical reading, and when we get to Paul, when we get to Acts we're going to pick these texts all apart, we're going to ask questions like, is any of this historical? If so what and why? So start thinking that way, and then I'll see you on Wednesday.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 6
The Gospel of Mark
Play Video
The Gospel of Mark

The Gospels of the New Testament are not biographies, and, in this class, they are read through a historical critical lens. This means that the events they narrate are not taken at face value as historical. The Gospel of Mark illustrates how the gospel writer skillfully crafts a narrative in order to deliver a message. It is a message that emphasizes a suffering messiah, and the necessity of suffering before glory. The gospel's apocalyptic passages predict troubles for the Jewish temple and incorporate this prediction with its understanding of the future coming of the Son of Man.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 56-91

Bible: The Gospel of Mark


January 28, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: What is a Gospel and how should we read it? Popular opinion may think that the Gospels are biographies of Jesus, but they're not biographies, at least not anything like the modern sense. We don't get much of a personal portrait of Jesus from the Gospels. We don't know anything about how he developed, how he went from being an obnoxious teenager to being an apocalyptic prophet. We don't know about his relationship to his parents, his brothers and sisters, we don't know all kinds of things that a modern biography would automatically be expected to tell you.

The Gospels aren't biographies. Somebody once said, a scholar once called Mark, a passion narrative with an extended introduction. What's a passion narrative? Passion comes from the Latin passio which doesn't mean just desire, it could mean that in the ancient world, but it also means "suffering." "Suffering" is what passio means and so it's the suffering of Jesus that happens at his arrest, his trial, his crucifixion, and then the resurrection. All of that's part of what scholars call the passion narrative. If you notice, that occupies a huge part of the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Mark is our shortest Gospel that's in the canon. It's only sixteen chapters, of course the chapters and verse numbers weren't there in the original manuscripts, it was just written. In fact, they didn't even divide up words, and they have very little punctuation. It was just one capital letter after another, which is one of the reasons that ancient tended to read text out loud. They didn't read silently to themselves. One of the reasons is because it's easier to read a text that had no word divisions, it was all capital letters, no punctuation, it wasn't divided up into sentences, it was much easier to read that if you read it out loud to yourself, so that's the way ancient people read. We don't have chapter numbers and verse divisions, those are all later creations that came about in the Middle Ages in Christianity.

By modern reckoning, therefore, there are sixteen chapters in Mark, that's the shortest Gospel, and of that, one-third of Mark is just the last week of Jesus' life, the passion narrative part of it. As this scholar said, Mark is really a passion narrative with an extended introduction. Notice what you get if you have an outline of Mark. Chapter 1, verse 1 is the title, "the euangelion," or "the gospel according to Jesus Christ," and it doesn't say "according to Mark" in the title because that name was added later. That's the title of the book. Then for the next few verses from 1:2, that is Chapter 1, verse 2 to verse 13, you get an initial introduction to Jesus, just a little bit about him. Then from 1:14 to 9:50, so nine chapters is Jesus' Galilean ministry, his healings, his teachings, his traveling around, his miracles that all take place in Galilee which is where he is from. That's of course the northern part of Palestine, whereas, Judea is down in the southern part of Palestine. Then Chapters 11 through 15 are all just the last week in Jerusalem, again, five chapters just on his last week. Then Chapter 16:1-8 is rumors of the resurrection.

Why do I say rumors of the resurrection? Because if you'll notice in the Gospel of Mark, if Mark ends at Chapter 16:8, and there has been some controversy about whether it really is supposed to end there, but in most of your modern editions it ends at 16:8. If that's true, you don't actually see the resurrected Jesus. You just get--he doesn't appear on the stage so to speak. You only get reports that he has been raised, or one report that he's raised. Then the women are told by this young man, who's sitting at the tomb, probably supposed to represent an angel, to go and tell the other disciples that he's raised and he'll go before them to Galilee. Notice the women don't tell them, it says that the women were afraid and they ran away. You don't even get many reports about Jesus' resurrection in Mark; you just get the one young man at the tomb telling the women that he's been raised. A huge bulk of the book tells us about the last week of Jesus' life, and even in the previous ten chapters of the book, you have Jesus talking about his upcoming crucifixion. These passion predictions, we call them, that occur in the Gospel, you have several of those in the Gospel of Mark. There are several references to Jesus' upcoming death. That focuses our attention even more on the last part of the book. Is that important? Does that tell us anything about what sort of thing Mark's Gospel is if it's not a biography? Let's look at the ending also. Mark 16, now remember, I want you to bring your Bibles to class. Why do I want you to bring your Bibles to class? Yes?

Student: Because you're going to lie.

Professor Dale Martin: Because I will lie to you. I may something that's not true and you need to check me out, de omnibus dubitandum.

When the sabbath was over [Mark 16] Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices, so that they might go an anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they looked up, they say that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid.

Now you'll notice there's--and maybe some of your Bible's there will be a paragraph under that titled, "A Shorter Ending of Mark."

All that had been commanded of them they briefly told to those around Peter. And afterwards Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.

Then you'll notice there's maybe a few paragraphs, called by your editors, "The Longer Ending of Mark," and it has several verses. I'm not going to bother to read that to you, but if you look at that, the little incidents--several of the incidents in that longer ending of Mark could sound familiar to you if you know the other Gospels, how they end. What scholars now believe is that probably the Gospel of Mark really did end at Chapter 16:8. Some people said, well that's no way end a book, the women don't tell anything, it just says they were afraid and they ran away, that's it. Even the Greek that it ends in is a very short little sentence that's an odd way to end a book in Greek. Some people--scholars have said well maybe that wasn't originally the ending, maybe Mark was writing along and he got to 16 and he fell over an died of a heart attack. Or maybe he left the manuscript out and some mice ate the end of it, because you roll up the scroll and you just have the leftover parts at the back. Or maybe it got in a fire and burnt, maybe the last few verses--the last part of the Gospel burnt.

Obviously ancient people had the same sense of uneasiness with the way--with Mark ending at 16:8 and what you've got in that shorter ending and the longer ending were later compositions of scribes, Christian scribes, who thought you can't end Mark's Gospel that way, so they made up those other verses and they put them at the end of the manuscript they were copying. Because you remember before printing presses all manuscripts had to be made one by one, by somebody sitting down with a quill, and ink, and a papyrus and just copying it word by word, so other scribes when copying this over must have added that on. In fact that looks very much like the longer ending, it was scribes who knew some events from the Gospels, and they took some events from Matthew, Luke, and John, and they stuck them into a little paragraph and they said, well that must be the way Mark really intended to end his Gospel.

In the twentieth century, basically, modern scholars have come to pretty much reject most of those theories. At least we take the Gospel of Mark as ending at 16:8, even intentionally. But if you do that then you still have to explain why end a Gospel this way, it's not a normal way to end a book, and it's not the way the other Gospels end at all. The very ending of Mark is one of the problems of the text that scholars feel like we have to deal with.

This all demonstrates though that scholars don't read the Gospels as biographies or as even straightforward accounts of events. Last time I tried to show you how you can't take the Book of Acts and Paul's letters as simply being a historical description of what happened, because each of these documents had agendas, these authors had things--points they wanted to get across. We learn to read these Gospels in twentieth century by using the method of historical criticism. The criticism part of that doesn't mean necessarily being critical of it, that is criticizing the text, it just means reading it with critical eyes, with questioning eyes, with, if you were, doubting eyes in some cases. What we do is we read these texts not for what they tell us about the events in the past, although you can read this, but we actually read the text as if they were intentional documents written by authors who had points they wanted to make and they tell the story the way they tell the story because they have a message.

The important thing is not what really happened or what lies behind the text for modern scholars most of the time, unless you're doing historical Jesus research, and I'll lecture about that at one period later. But most of the time we're saying, what did Mark as an author want to do? Therefore we say, why would end the Gospel this way if he did that? Now that's--notice this historical critical method, which is what I'm teaching in this class, is somewhat different from several other ways of reading text. I'm not implying by this that historical critical method is the correct method or will give you the correct meaning of the text. I believe that it's perfectly legitimate for Christians, for example, to read these texts to get something religious out of the text for their lives. For personal guidance, for doctrine, for images of Jesus, to help their relationship to God, whatever. That's a perfectly legitimate way, in my view, to read a text, to read it theologically. But a theological reading of the text is not the same thing as a historical critical reading of the text. The historian is what I'm playing my role here in this class.

I don't care whether these texts have anything theological to say to you or to me personally. What I care about is what kind of theological message was this original writer intending to give, and to whom was he intending to give it? The theological way to reading is one way, perfectly fine way, but it's not the historical critical reading necessarily. There are also literary ways of reading these texts and this has been a very common thing in English departments for people to write an account of the Gospel of Mark, it's been a particularly significant Gospel for modern literary people to retell or talk about the Gospel of Mark, do a literary reading of it. There they're looking for things like the plot of it, the way it accomplishes its story. Are there figures and characters, and what kind of thing does this character represent, or what kind of thing does this event represent symbolically or literarily. Just as you know how to do a literary reading of a novel, some modern scholars will do a literary reading of the Gospels. It's a perfectly legitimate way to read the Gospels; it's just not the one that I'm going to concentrate on in this class. There are many others, you could say, I'm going to do a deconstructionist post-structuralist reading of Mark and they have been done. You can go buy books that have done it. You can do a structuralist reading of Mark, and those are the dullest ones of all.

Lots of different ways to read these texts and I'm going to teach you this historical critical reading, which means certain things. It means we're not going to read the Gospel of Mark through the lens of Matthew, Luke or John. We're going to take Mark's own Gospel as standing on its own. So we're not going to rush off to another Gospel, or to Acts, or the letters of Paul to provide an interpretative clue for how to read Mark. We're going to read Mark as Mark by itself, and that's one of the fundamental rules of historical criticism is don't harmonize different texts in the Bible. Take them each individually. Another one is you have to avoid anachronism that is you can't attribute a meaning to the text of Mark that doesn't make sense in the first century in his own context.

For example, if you're a Christian, you're going to read some of the Psalms in the Hebrew Bible as being about Jesus, probably, most Christians do. When the Psalmist says, "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand and I will make your enemies your footstool." Christians have traditionally said the first "Lord" there is God, and the second "Lord" is Jesus, and this is an Old Testament reference to God the Father and God the Son. This is a christological Psalm, that's a theological way of reading the Psalm. It doesn't pass the test of historical criticism because historians will point out, look the original Psalmist didn't know anything about Jesus. He wasn't prophesying about Jesus personally, he was talking probably to the David the King, the Psalms meant to talk to David, or to David's descendants who sit on the throne of Judah. Anachronism has to be avoided in historical critical readings.

There are several other kinds of clues that you're doing a historical reading rather than a theological reading, or a literary reading, and you'll pick up on those as we go through the class. In fact, in your sections not this time but next time, you will actually talk about how to write an exegeses paper, because you'll all be writing one, and your section leaders will lead you through this method and try to get you to see how it's done.

If we're going to do that, though, let's imagine what kind of community this ancient guy we're going to call Mark, we're going to continue to call him Mark even though we don't believe that it was the historical John Mark who wrote the Gospel, but for convenience sake we'll just call them the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for convenience sake. What did Mark want to do with this text? Who did he want to do it with? What kind of historical context do we imagine?

First we see--immediately we see a bunch of problems with this text. There's first the problem--one of the most famous problems of the Messianic secret. This is when over and over again in Mark, and it happens sometimes in the other Gospels, but it's--it happens more in Mark then a lot of other places. You get Jesus doing something, and then he tells somebody to be quiet about what he's just done. Look in 1:25, Mark 1:25, he's just cast--he's confronted an unclean spirit. The unclean spirit cried out, "What have you to do with us Jesus of Nazareth, have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." In other words, the unclean spirit has just made a correct christological confession according to the Gospel of Mark. "But Jesus rebuked him saying, 'Be silent and come out of him.' And the unclean spirit convulsing and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him." Look at 1:34, chapter 34 right below that, "He cured many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons, but he would not permit the demons to speak because they knew him." Wait a minute, if Jesus is going around and we're supposed to think that he's announcing that he is the Messiah, the Christ, when people recognize this, why doesn't he let them speak? Why does he tell them not to speak? He does with demons a lot, but it's not just demons that he commands to silence, he also does it to people. Look at 1:43, "Immediately the leprosy left him," this man at verse 42,

And he was made clean. After sternly warning him, he sent him away at once saying to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go show yourself to the priest, offer your cleansing what Moses commanded as a testimony to them."

It's a testimony to the fact that he's now no longer a leper, but he tells the man, don't tell anybody about the miracle. Now 5:53, also notice what happens right below that in verse 45,

But he went out [the man did] and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the word so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly but stayed out in the country and people came to Him from every quarter.

So Jesus does some great act, he tells the person--the demon or the person, don't tell anybody, the person goes out and tells people anyway. It's a pattern. This is what we call--one of the old theories about the Messianic secret was a modern scholar in the early twentieth century said, well here's what happened, the disciples of Jesus, they say the writer of the Gospel of Mark, knew that Jesus wasn't proclaimed openly and widely as the Messiah during Jesus' own lifetime. He was proclaimed as the Messiah by Jesus' disciples after his death. Why didn't all these people recognize Jesus was the Messiah during his lifetime? This scholar said, well the writer of the Gospel of Mark decided it must have been because Jesus kept it a secret. Jesus wanted to keep it a secret. Now the problem with that theory is? Can you pick out the problem with that theory? The reason we have the Messianic secret in Mark is because people knew that Jesus was not openly proclaimed as the Messiah during his lifetime, so this was a literary device to explain why Jesus wasn't known in his lifetime is because Jesus kept it a secret. What's wrong with this theory? Yes, ma'am.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: There's one place where he does say, go tell. The binding of the strong man. Other problems with the theory?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: The people tell anyway. It doesn't explain that Jesus wasn't proclaimed the Messiah because all the people that he tells to be quiet go and proclaim him anyway, and he just says his fame spread. There have been a lot of other theories about this Messianic secret. What does it mean? Why does he tell people to be quiet? What is it that he wants them to keep quiet? Why do they go tell about him anyway? What does that mean for the story? That's the first problem.

The second problem, the problem of misunderstanding. Look at Mark 2:16:

When the Scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard this he said to them, "Those who are well . . ."

Is that what I want to read? Well okay, look at 15:34, I think I can make this point better with a couple of other texts. The point I'm making is that people tend to misunderstand Jesus, his sayings, and often events. "At three o'clockJesus cried out with a loud voice [this is when he's crucified], 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?'" which means--it's Aramaic--it means, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" "When some of the bystanders heard it they said, 'Listen, he's calling for Elijah.'" Well he's not calling for Elijah; it's just that the word--the Aramaic word eloi, eloi sounds like the name Elijah, so people standing around misunderstand things that are happening.

It's not just people standing around, the disciples--in Mark, the disciples themselves, the people who are closest to Jesus, are the ones who get it wrong the most. I hope you noticed this when you were reading this text before class, is that, repeatedly, Jesus has to explain things to Peter, and James, and John, his closest disciples. 4:41, "He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?'" In other words, they've already seen him do all kinds of miracles by this point in Mark. "And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, 'Who then is this? That even the wind and the sea obey Him?;'" Well we're the readers; we're going, you learned that in the first verse, Son of God. All the way through here Jesus has been telling people what He is, or at least demons have and other people and people have been confessing, and yet the disciples don't understand.

6:52--now notice my point about this is not to say that historically Jesus' disciples actually didn't understand. We're not looking for what happened, what we're looking for is the narrative structure. What kind of story the author tells and why does he tell it this way. 6:52, start reading at 51, "Then He got out of the boat," this is when Jesus is doing another kind of sea miracle. "He got out--into the boat with them and the wind ceased, and they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves but their hearts were hardened." In other words, Jesus had multiplied loaves and fishes in a previous scene. They should have picked up on that that he's somehow special. Somehow they didn't understand what's special about Jesus. It goes all the way--7:18--8:17-21. Over and over again, when you're studying Mark, go through and mark the different times when somebody gets it wrong even when they should not have gotten it wrong. There are people who recognize him. The first person who recognizes Jesus in the Gospel of Mark is you, because the very first verse announces, "The beginning of the good news," euangelion in Greek, meaning "good announcement, good news" of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Now some manuscripts don't have that verse quite like that, but if that's the original wording of that verse, you have been told from the very first verse that Jesus is the Son of God.

It's not a mystery to you the reader, that's part of the fun of the Gospel--Mark and John both play with this. They let you, the reader in on certain kinds of jokes and puzzles that the people in this story don't get. That's one of the things that Mark is doing is letting you in on some things, but still it's very difficult for us to figure out this whole Messianic secret thing and this lack of understanding, even though we've known the secret. The last person to know who Jesus is, and to recognize him and not to misunderstand is the centurion at the cross. In 15:39, the Roman centurion, when Jesus dies says this and I'll do it the way "The Greatest Story Ever Told," the movie--this scene is played by John Wayne, he's the Roman centurion. You don't really see John Wayne clearly, you just see his shadow with the sun coming in, and Jesus has just died on the cross, and then you hear this over-voice, "Surely this was the Son of God." My John Wayne imitation for you. The centurion, though, recognizes that Jesus is the Son of God, at least according--if that's the way we read that. The other people who recognize Jesus and understand are demons, at least they recognize him.

Now let's look at the turning point in the Gospel, and what I'm going to do is show you how I, as a brilliant modern scholar ,have posed these problems, the Messianic secret problem, the problem of misunderstanding and all this sort of thing, and the problem of the ending which I'll get to in a minute, and I'm going to make it all makes sense for you. There are other scholars who might not think I'm so brilliant and might have other explanations, but this one's mine and I'm sticking to it. 8:27--follow along with me, in your hymnals, 8:27 "Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that I am?'" Nice little introduction, you're smart readers, as soon as you get to this part you go, okay we're getting to the climax of this book, because all the way through the book up to this point we've had this issue of who is he, who do people say he is, how do they understand him, so your antennae should be picking up that this story is going to be an important story for you.

And they answered him, "John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and still others one of the prophets. He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." He sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

There it is again. Peter confesses correctly, "You are the Messiah," and Jesus says, okay don't tell anybody. Jesus is not a very good evangelist, apparently. He's not Joel Olsteen or whoever that guy is in Houston. He's not the kind who's proclaiming it all out, at least according to the Gospel of Mark. Then he began to teach them. Now wait a minute that might be important. He just did this command to silence, what does the next verse say? "Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering." Then he began to teach them, then he began to teach them--not before--"

Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, be rejected by the elders, the chief priest, the Scribes, and be killed and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly.

Mark is a clever writer. He puts little short sentences like this in his gospel at interesting places, and you the reader are supposed to go, okay he's talking right to me. "He said this openly," it's not closed anymore, this part's opened, this part's not closed. It's not going to be the end of the problem. "Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples he rebuked Peter." Peter is of course saying something like, "No, no, no, no, Jesus, you didn't get it. We just said you're the Messiah. The Messiah doesn't suffer and die on a cross; the Messiah comes with angels and rules the world. The Messiah overthrows the Romans. The Messiah sets up the new reconstituted Israel, and all the nations will flock to Jerusalem now. You're the Messiah, that's what you do. No, you don't suffer and die, that's not what Messiah's do."

There's no Jewish expectation in the ancient world that the Messiah would suffer and die. Modern Christians think, well that's--of course it's all the way through the Old Testament, but those prophecies and things, those statements and poems in the Old Testament, they weren't taken to be about the Messiah they were taken to be about other prophets, or holy men of God who might have to suffer, who might be persecuted. The Messiah passages don't have suffering and death in them; they just refer to this coming King, the descendent of David. No Jews in the first century this time expected that the Messiah would be crucified. It just was absolutely against common sense. Messiahs don't suffer, Messiahs aren't crucified, Messiahs aren't beaten.

Peter actually quite understandably thinks that Jesus has got it wrong. Peter says, You're the Messiah, you're not going to be killed and suffer, and that's when Jesus turns around and rebukes Peter looking at His disciples--is that an interesting clue? that Jesus is looking at his disciples and he rebukes Peter? "Get behind me, Satan, for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." That's a very interesting story in itself. What is Jesus rebuking Peter for and calling him Satan?

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulteress and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his angels--of his Father with the holy angels." [That's what Messiah's were expected to do, is come in glory with holy angels.] And he said to them, "Truly I tell you there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.

What's going on here? You have the correct identification of Jesus, even according to Mark as the Messiah. You have the charge to secrecy in 8:30; you have the passion prediction--one of the passion predictions and the first of several that we'll see in Mark. Jesus saying, this is going to happen, and then you have this word, "And he said this plainly and clearly to them," a nice little clue. Then you have Peter's misunderstanding, but what does Peter misunderstand? That's what we'll ask. What was Peter expecting different? Well he was expecting the Messiah to come with angels and triumphant. Then you have an emphasis on suffering that everybody has to suffer, not just the Son of Man, but everybody has to suffer and you have a prediction of future eschatological glory. Eschatology is just a fancy theological word meaning the end times, the study of the end times. Eschaton is just a Greek word meaning "the end." You'll see this if you read much about the Bible or ancient religion, the eschaton will come up apocalyptic contexts, and eschatology means any study or doctrine about the end of the world as we know it. In fact I used to direct a little singing group in the Divinity School when I was a grad student here, and we called ourselves "The Eschatones." A joke that only divinity students would get. The prediction of the eschatological glory that comes after the suffering and then right after that, 6:2:

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, led them up to a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi it's good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings [three tabernacles, three tents], one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He did not know what to say for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore but only Jesus. [The next verse:] "As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one what they had seen [--again that secrecy motif--] until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

And again an emphasis on death. What's going on with all this? What's going on is that Mark is trying to make an important point, maybe even to his fellow believers at the time. Apparently, what Peter doesn't understand about Jesus is that Jesus has to suffer and has to die, and if that causes a redefinition of Peter's notion of what a Messiah is, so be it. Peter needs to work with a redefined notion of the Christ, the Messiah, if he doesn't include the necessity of suffering in that notion.

Let's imagine the context for this kind of message. The rapid fire style of Mark is one of the--if you notice--did you notice how many times "immediately" is used, the word "immediately"? The writer of the Gospel of Mark needed a good Yale college editor or a writing tutor, because there's kind of a rapid fire, it's not reading very good Greek style either. It's rapid fire, he says, immediately this happened, then immediately this happened, and then immediately this happened. You get the idea reading the Gospel of Mark that the narrative is pulling you along, it's shoving you along, is rushing you along. That's actually part of, I think, this apocalyptic style of Mark, because the Gospel of Mark is also apocalyptic in its message. It talks about angels coming at the end; it talks about a big war that's going to happen, so you have demons and a battle of Jesus with the strong man, another apocalyptic story. You have the emphasis on suffering and persecution, and that's a common theme of Jewish apocalyptic. Not that the Messiah would suffer but that the Jews themselves might have to suffer before the fabulous kingdom of the end time. Remember you saw it in Daniel, when we read Daniel two classes ago, Daniel predicts suffering for the righteous, and only after the suffering would you have the goodies, heaven, the Kingdom of God.

Now we'll look at Mark 13 and we're going to analyze it pretty carefully. Again some of these things will come into play. The basic message I'm saying is that people misunderstand about Jesus is that they misunderstand the necessity of suffering that must be there before you--must precede glory. Yes, God promises them glory, they're going to be glorified in the end, they're going to win in the end, but they have to go through a period of suffering. Jesus is the first one who does this, he accepts suffering and death before he himself is glorified but the glory will come, it has to be preceded by suffering. But Jesus also in Mark tells the disciples over and over again, you also will have to suffer first, but if you endure you will experience glory also. Now look at Mark 13.

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to Him, "Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!" Then Jesus asked him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down." [He's predicting the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.] When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are to be accomplished?" Then Jesus began to say to them, "Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, "I am he!" and they will lead many astray.

False prophets, Jesus predicts there will be false prophets, maybe even false Messiahs, although he doesn't use that term here in Mark. It will occur in other places.

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come.

So just when people have--when times are bad and there are wars that's not necessarily the end yet, you've got to have a few of those.

For nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs. As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to counsels; and you will be beaten in synagogues.

Again this theme of suffering. You have all these terrible cosmic events, terrible wars and disasters, earthquakes and all that sort of thing, but also he says, you're going to have to suffer; they're going to hand you over for persecution. In 13:10, "And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations," so Jesus is predicting that, before the end comes, his message, the Gospel message, will be proclaimed all around. Even though you have worse things happening, 13:12:

Brother will betray brother to death, a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name, but the one who endures to the end will be saved.

In other words, familial divisions even, that households will be torn apart by the suffering, by the conflict. Then 13:14, "But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be," now here's one of those little phrases, "Let the reader understand." The author is giving you a very, very clear clue that this is when you really better be paying attention, "let the reader understand." "When you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be." Have we heard that before? The abomination of desolation is the King James English translation of it. The desolating sacrilege is often what is translated in more modern Bibles; it all refers to the same language.

Where have we heard about the abomination of desolation being set up where it ought not to be set up before? Daniel; the words come right out of Daniel. They occur three--Daniel was written in a combination of Hebrew and Aramaic and this is in Greek, but this is the Greek translation. You have it in Daniel 9:27, Daniel 11:31, and Daniel 12:11, so this Jesus has read his Daniel. Then you have warnings and woes, verses 15 through 13, so you have all this stuff. What happens after that?

The one on the housetop must not go down into house and take anything away; the one in the field must not turn back to get the coat. Woe to those who are pregnant, to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not be in winter. For in those days there will be suffering such as not had been from the beginning of creation that God . . . and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved.

Now notice, we're not getting any more historical events here, we're not getting any more stuff happening except right then he says, "If anyone says to you, 'Look! Here is the Messiah!' or 'Look! There he is!'--do not believe it." False Messiahs, false prophets, so there's more false besides false prophets. "In those days after that suffering," now here's where you really get the cataclysmic end, the world crashing down:

The sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, and stars will fall from the skies, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then you will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great glory and power. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

When does it happen? Right after the abomination of desolation is set up where it ought not to be. What is the abomination of desolation? Well, we don't know. Obviously if Jesus is reading Daniel, and this is where he's getting this, he also believes that something's going to happen in the temple. That author Daniel believed it was something that Antiochus IV Epiphanes may be sacrificed a pig on the altar or he desecrated somehow the altar in the Holy of Holies in the temple. Jesus doesn't believe that that event was the end event as Daniel thought it was. Jesus is predicting that this is going to happen, something's going to happen in the temple that is going to be so awful, and it's going to be an abomination, and once that happens then all hell breaks loose and when all hell is broken loose the worst, then the Son of Man will swoop down in the clouds with angels and put a stop to it all. That'll be the glorification.

When does this happen? Well Mark has told us one thing: it's going to happen during your own generation. Jesus has said, "This generation will not pass away before this stuff happens." The apostles asked him, so he said, "Well it will be within a generation. Then he says, nobody's going to know the exact time, but once you see the abomination of desolation set up in the temple where it ought not to be, that's when it's going to happen. Now did this happen? Well, we're not narrated anything about it. What does Mark not narrate in this section that we as historians know happened with the temple? What? What does he not narrate happening? Its destruction. Jesus predicts the destruction, Jesus prophesied about destruction, but Mark doesn't tell us that the temple in Jerusalem are destroyed. He doesn't tell us explicitly about the Roman armies led by Vespasian and Titus surrounding Jerusalem and besieging it for two years. He doesn't tell us that in the year 70, the Romans actually did take Jerusalem and burn the temple destroy the temple.

If Mark knew about that why didn't he tell us about it? This is why scholars--a lot of scholars believe this is exactly like Daniel. Remember how we said, how do you date Daniel? You figure out when does has his history gone right? When does his history not go right anymore? If you applied that same standard of text to this text, what you've got is a prediction of the temple destruction, so at least the writer knows that it is likely to happen. He can see it happening in the future but he doesn't narrate it happening. Yes sir?

Student: I was just wondering about a timeline; the version I have has "a generation" translated also as "race."

Professor Dale Martin: Yes. Conservative Christians know that more than one generation has happened since that time; many, many, many generations. They've taken the Greek word translated here as "generation," which I think is the right translation, and they say well, you can take that to mean "race of people." Of course what race would they then be referring too? The Jews, and so conservative Christians who don't believe--who believe this has to be an accurate prediction of something that's going to happen in our future also, translate that as race or say, the generation doesn't refer to a generation of time of forty years or so, it means they're a race of the Jews. As long as there are Jews in existence then this thing can still go on and it hasn't happened yet, so that explains the translation. Quite frankly, I think the translation's just wrong. It seems to me that what Mark's intention is to put some kind of time limit on this. He's trying to get his readers to see a time. Well if you just say the race of the Jews, then that doesn't give you any sense of time. Did you have a question? Okay, so where are we now?

I think what's going on is this, let's just think of--imagine this happening. 16:1-8 I've already read. What happens in 16:1-8? The women are told that Jesus has been raised from the dead, as Jesus predicted he would be, and the young man tells the women, go tell his disciples that he will go before them to Galilee, go meet him in Galilee. In fact earlier, in Mark, in one of these sorts of passion predictions, Jesus had told the disciples, once I'm dead I will go before you to Galilee. Implying that they're supposed to follow him to Galilee, but then 16:8 ends. One possible reconstruction for all of this, and this is just an interpretation put out by some scholars, accepted by some, rejected by a whole lot of others.

What if Mark himself is writing right before the year 70? He knows--maybe he's even writing in Galilee himself, or in someplace close to Galilee. He knows--the Roman army went through Galilee first in the year 66 and 68 and destroyed lots of stuff, and they won their battles against the Jews in Galilee first. They won through Galilee on their way to Jerusalem, they get to Jerusalem around 68, and for two years they're besieging the city of Jerusalem. What if Mark has written right at that time, before Jerusalem had actually been taken, before the temple had actually been destroyed, because he has Jesus predict, like Daniel predicted, some abomination of desolation happening in the temple, but we don't know of anything like that really that happened as a historical event right then. The temple was simply destroyed by the Romans. We might think, well maybe he thinks that they're going to set up a Roman standard there or do something, but we're not narrated what actually happened.

In this scenario Mark writes his Gospel with this message, "Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better, and just like they got a lot worse for Jesus before they got better, they're going to get a lot worse for us before they get better." You need to be prepared, because if you think that the Romans are going to win and we're all going to be carried off into slavery, you don't have the right faith. Jesus told us this. Jesus told us it wouldn't be all pie in the sky by and by, it wouldn't be all good stuff, we're going to have to suffer just like He suffered. He writes this Gospel message that over and over again has Jesus saying, suffering must precede glory, suffering must precede glory. He even has Jesus predict around the time when all this will happen, when you see Jerusalem--if Jerusalem is surrounded by Roman armies who are pagans, you can pretty well guess that something's going to happen.

I believe that the Gospel of Mark may have been written right before 70 or right around 70, but the destruction of the temple has not sunk into consciousness yet or is not known to happen. Maybe even Mark himself and his disciples are themselves in Galilee. Maybe this is why he says, we're supposed to be Galilee waiting for Jesus, and then He will appear to us. When all is worse, when it just seems like everything couldn't get worse, I tell you he's going to come in on the clouds and he'll destroy the Romans, and he'll set up the Kingdom of God. If he's doing this it makes a lot of sense for the document also ending where it ends. It says, "Tell them to go to Galilee and wait," and Jesus goes to Galilee to meet them. In a sense, Mark's telling his readers, all we have to do is stay here and he'll come for us.

That's one historical reading of the Gospel of Mark that places it in one, not provable time; some scholars believe Mark was written in Rome. Some people believe it was written after 70. I would say if Mark was written 70, very long after 70, I would clearly expect him to narrate the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, as Luke does. When you read Luke, who used Mark as one of his sources, you'll notice that the writer of the Gospel of Luke uses this passage out of Mark and he edits it, to add in the destruction of the temple before Jesus comes back. The reason? Because the writer of Luke knew that the temple had been destroyed. Why doesn't Mark tell about it? Because he doesn't know yet that it's been destroyed. Questions?

Okay, I have to make a couple of announcements about the sections. You're supposed to have your first section meetings tomorrow and Friday. The problem is I haven't heard yet where you're supposed to have these. It may have been because of the bad weather, people may not be in their offices doing all the kind of bureaucratic work that we need. I'm still waiting to hear where your sections will meet. Here's the plan, if I hear anything about it by the time of sections tomorrow I will immediately email you over the classes server and tell you where your sections will meet. The list of the sections and the names to them are also on the classes server if you are unclear about which section you're assigned too, which time and which day. That's on the classes server. I will email you the classes server where the sections are to meet. If I don't hear anything by the time sections meet I will also email you that we won't be having sections this week, because we don't have any place to meet them. That means that we would have to double up on the assignment for the sections this week and do two different assignments for next week. Those of you who already started praying that I don't hear anything back about the assignment of classrooms, stop doing that, because I'm praying that we do hear back about assignment of classrooms, and my prayers are more powerful than yours because I'm closer to God.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 7
The Gospel of Matthew
Play Video
The Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew contains some of the most famous passages that both Christians and non-Christians are familiar with. However, Matthew also presents itself paradoxically as preaching a Torah observant Christianity and a Christian mission that seeks to reach gentiles. The figure of Jesus in Matthew is that of a teacher, the founder of the Church, and the model for the apostles and Matthew's own community. Matthew seems to be writing for a church community that needs encouragement to have faith in a time of trouble.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 101-120

Bible: The Gospel of Matthew


February 2, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: The Gospel of Matthew, from the second century on, has been pretty much the most popular famous of the Gospels, that's probably why it's first in our Bible, simply because it was the most populous. It's certainly the Gospel that's most familiar to people nowadays and pretty much throughout history, if people were familiar with the text at all. Both for Christians and non-Christian often, so for example, you have the familiar birth story. Joseph has a dream, he's warned, the star appears in the east, the Magi, the wise men, come and they go to Herod first. This is Herod the Great, so they go to Herod the Great's palace in Jerusalem and they say, where do we find this new king that's been born because we want to go and worship him and bring him gifts. Herod gets all worried because he doesn't want to [lose] his own throne. Remember this story? He tells the wise men, well I think you have to go Bethlehem--his wise men, his own wise men, they looked it up in the scriptures, and they say go to Bethlehem. But he says, come back and tell me once you visit him because I want to go worship him too, and the wicked evil king does not want to go worship Jesus, the baby Jesus, he wants to kill the baby Jesus. The wise men are warned in a dream not to go back. You know the story, right? The whole thing about that, the Egyptian sojourn, the holy family goes to Egypt to escape the wicked king. The slaughter of the innocents.

The beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted, blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth." All these blessed, there are some in Luke, but if you start saying them and somebody starts picking it up after you, and repeats it and they--it shows at least they know it enough so they can kind of finish one every now and then. They almost always finish it in the Matthew form, not the Luke form. The beatitudes are slightly different in Matthew and Luke, and people are--they're famous in their Matthean form. Turn the other cheek, that's also in Luke 6:29, but most people know it from Matthew 5:39.

In Matthew, the Pharisees are called, over and over again, hypocrites, and in fact if you look up the word "Pharisee" in a dictionary, an English dictionary, "hypocrite" will be one of the definitions you'll find for it. Now this is all part of a long tradition of Christian anti-Semitism because of course the word Pharisee doesn't mean "hypocrite" to most Jews, but who traced back Rabbinic Judaism to the pre-seventy Pharisees themselves, Gamaliel in the Book of Acts is considered a Pharisee, and he's a famous rabbi in rabbinic materials. Jews don't think of the word Pharisee as being a bad term, but in a lot of English, and a lot of languages it is because Christians used it. They took it straight out of Matthew, where the Pharisees are called hypocrites over and over again, and they just take that into their own language.

Then you have the great commission that ends the Gospel of Matthew, that people might recognize, Matthew 28:18: Jesus meets the disciples in Galilee after his resurrection, and he says,

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you and remember I am with you always to the end of the ages."

That's a very famous verse that's called "the Great Commission" because this is Jesus telling his disciples after his resurrection, go out and proclaim the Gospel throughout the earth, not just to the Jews.

All these things make Matthew look very familiar even to people who may not know much about Christianity because this is stuff that you see in our culture over again. Matthew, therefore, is at the same time unfamiliar to people if they start reading it carefully because it's the most Jewish of the Christian Gospels that are in the canon, that is. There are some other Gospels from the ancient period that are even more Jewish than Matthew, but they didn't make it into the New Testament. It's the most Jewish, and yet it's also at the same time, one of the most universal of the Gospels because you precisely have an ending with Jesus commanding the apostles to make disciples of all nations, that is all the Gentiles too. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus limits his ministry during his lifetime pretty much to Israel, he's going to Jews. He makes a point of this in the Gospel of Matthew. After his resurrection then the message is supposed to go out.

Look also at the way that Matthew begins. I talked about this the very first lecture of class. Matthew begins with, "The book of the genesis of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham." Notice he calls him son of David, as a descendant of the great king of Israel, son of Abraham as the father of the Jews. Even the Greek word there, "the book of the genesis;" "the genesis" means "the beginning", and of course it's the Greek term that was given for the first book of the Hebrew Bible when they translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek, genesis just means "the beginning." Of course in the Hebrew Bible it's the beginning of the world, the beginning of earth, the beginning of history. Matthew appropriates that term, and he begins his own text with that same word, probably meaning for his readers to recall the book of Genesis in a way.

Then you have what we call an Haggadah on Moses. The term Haggadah is used in rabbinic scholarship. Rabbinic work often divides up a lot of rabbinic materials into Halakah and Haggadah. Halakah refers to the teachings that are about how you should live. Haggadah, though, are stories that are about the patriarchs or great figures, and they're meant to make a moral lesson or something like that, but they don't give straightforward teachings. They tell stories and that's how Matthew starts out. All that stuff about the evil king wanting to kill the baby Jesus because he's afraid that it'll be a threat to him. Think of--who does that remind you of? Who does that sound like? The child that comes out of Egypt, who does that sound like? These are all meant to remind you of Moses and so Moses--Jesus is portrayed over and over again like Moses or like Joseph, also from the Hebrew Bible.

Then again you have the fulfillment-of-scripture motif. Now notice that in spite of the fact though that Matthew has throughout Christianity been interpreted as actually a rejection of the Law, the Jewish law, or it presents Jesus as a new Moses, but Christians they'll often taken that to say that Jesus is not only the new Moses who can--fulfills Moses, He displaces the old Moses. So Matthew's may have been put first in the canon because it was read by Christians as being sort of almost like the new Law, the new Torah. And so you have Jesus talking about the Law, the Jewish law Torah, and also getting new commandments. Christians have taken that to mean the displacement of the Jewish Torah with now a new Christian Torah, and that actually puts Matthew in a very odd position.

Of the different Gospels in our canon it's the most Jewish looking and sounding, and I'll emphasize later in the lecture today, but Matthew has also been the source of some of the worst Christian anti-Semitism. Precisely by portraying Jesus as rejecting the Law of Moses, in much of Christian interpretation, and substituting his own law that's Christian anti-Semitism. Notice it's from--as I said it's from Matthew that you get the idea that Pharisees are all hypocrites, and then that gets transferred to being that all Jews are hypocrites. You get the idea in Christianity traditionally that Jesus rejected the Law because that's legalism. The Jews are all legalistic and we Christians are all full of grace and truth. So this idea that the Old Testament represents a God of anger, and a God of strictness, and a God of judgment, and the New Testament represents a God who's a father, and loving, and full of grace. This dualism that's so much a part of European history, even common sense, even people who are not religious will often come up with this caricature that the Old Testament God is the God of anger and judgment, the New Testament God is a the God of grace and forgiveness. Well that's just not true. If you read either testament with any care at all. The Gospel of Matthew has been one of the texts that's been used in this way. Remember it's in the Gospel of Matthew that you get the most anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic line that's been used throughout Western history, when the Jew--when Pilate wants to release Jesus from being crucified the people, the Jews say, "His blood be upon us and our children." That became the Christian charge of deicide; the Jews were then accused of killing God, and especially in medieval Europe. So Matthew is in this very peculiar place when it comes to the history of the interpretation of the New Testament. It is at the same time the most Jewish of our canonical Gospels, in many ways, and yet it's been used in Christian anti-Semitism more than any other Gospel, possibly maybe with the Gospel of John being a rival for that.

Look at the structure of Matthew though. Some people have even suggested that Matthew is intentionally structuring his Gospel to make it look like the Torah, the Jewish law. There are five speeches by Jesus in Matthew. These same sayings--you learned about the synoptic problem last week. If you take a synoptic problem kind of analysis of a lot this stuff that are in some of these speeches in Matthew, a lot of these sayings might have occurred in another context in Luke or in Mark. Matthew seems to have taken tradition--materials that were traditional to him, that he found either in written sources or in oral sources, and he combines them into five separate speeches. Some people say maybe he meant to reflect the five books of Torah; the Pentateuch is the Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Pentateuch is just the Greek word meaning "the five," so the first five books of Jewish scripture are called the Pentateuch and maybe Matthew is imitating that and making five separate speeches for Jesus and his Gospel.

First, chapters 5-7 you have Jesus giving--with the famous Sermon on the Mount. Then chapter 10, you have him giving a speech to his disciples about the mission to Israel, so all of chapter 10 is here's how you're supposed to do your mission when you go out to preach to Israel. You'll be persecuted; this will happen, do this, do that. Chapter 13 in Matthew is all parables. The parables that you'd find in different places in Mark or Luke, Matthew kind of groups them into one chapter and has Jesus kind of give it as one sort of speech. He likes neatness like this. If you look at chapter 18, it's another speech by Jesus, again to His disciples, and this one is mainly about church rules. Jesus talks about when you're neighbor does something that you don't like, go to the neighbor first, try to settle it peaceably, if your neighbor won't receive you or won't settle, take it to the church and let the church handle it. That sort of thing. Jesus is giving instructions about how the church should behave itself and what the church will be like.

Then in chapters 23-25, you get a very long speech by Jesus which includes a big synoptic sermon. Remember last time I talked about Mark 13 and about Jesus' prophecies of all this happening when the end of time would come, and the Messiah would swoop down in the clouds. Matthew takes over that speech from Mark, where he finds it, he adds a lot of materials on his own, he also brings it up to date, because remember I talked about last time, Mark didn't explicitly tell us about the destruction of Jerusalem in his Gospel. You'll find that when we get to Matthew and Luke, they put more stuff in there that shows they were writing after the time of Mark, and using Mark as a source. That's all in that chapter, but then there's all these long woes to the scribes and Pharisees. Woe to the blah, blah, blah; woe to you who do this, there's a whole section of that speech. So five different speeches that some scholars have even suggested may be designed to imitate the five books of the Pentateuch.

As I said, the ending of Matthew is universalizing. It takes this Israelite vision that you've seen all the way through the book and then universalizes it to the whole world. It's a universalism to all that's firmly anchored in Judaism and the Torah. What does the Torah, the Law, mean in Matthew? Look at 5:17; I hope you did bring your Bibles. Remember, we're all bringing our Bibles to class all the time because you have to check me out. Most Christians are taught, and most people just under the influence of Christianity have the idea that what Christianity is, is the supercession of Judaism. The thing that makes Jews and Christians alike, they both worship the same God. One of the things that make them different is not only the worship by Christians of Jesus, but also the neglect by Christians of the Jewish law. Christians can eat shellfish, bacon, and pork; don't have to keep the Sabbath. Is that the view of the Law we find in Matthew? 5:17:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

Now in a lot of Christian doctrine what you're taught is that Jesus did fulfill the law in his own person. But that's not what he says here. Notice, "Until heaven and earth pass away," that's what he's talking about the fulfillment of it.

Therefore whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them, will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus is not saying, okay I've come, now you don't have to keep the Jewish law. He's actually teaching his own disciples--remember if Matthew didn't want this as a message to the members of his church he wouldn't have put it in his Gospel.

One of the things that I'm trying to teach you in my lectures is: what does it mean to do an exegesis of this text? Because you're going to have to write exegesis of your own and this Friday your section leads will walk you through how to write an exegesis paper. There are a couple things that are not exegesis. It's not exegesis to try to figure out what actually happened. Did Jesus actually say this? Did Jesus actually believe that? That's part of the historical Jesus quest which we'll talk about later in the semester too, but exegesis doesn't do that. Exegesis doesn't assume you're trying to read the text to get behind the text for something that happened in history. Nor does exegesis try to figure out is this true or not. We don't care if it's true or not in an exegesis class. What we want to do is what did the writer--what was the writer trying to do with this text? You have to imagine yourself in an ancient context. What would he have been saying to members of his own Christian community in the first century?

This obviously means that we read this text as not Jesus necessarily teaching this. We don't know yet whether Jesus actually taught this. Matthew could have gotten it from some written source, from some oral source, or he could have just made it up. We'll talk about that problem later when we talk about the historical Jesus. Right now we're not going to concern ourselves, we're just going to say, Matthew could have written this but we're trying to figure out what did Matthew want to do with it. What was this testament to them? Obviously it means this writer believes that the proper Gospel and the proper church should be a Law abiding church. He's expecting people in his church not to do away with the Jewish law. Look at "the antitheses," we call these, the Matthean antithesis, 5:21: "'You have heard that it was said to those in ancient times you shall not murder, and whoever murders shall be liable to judgment. But I tell you that the time of the law is over and it's okay to murder.'" That's not what it says, right? What does it say? Just shout it out. What?

Students: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Don't even be angry. "'If you are angry with a brother or a sister you will be liable to judgment, and if you insult a brother or sister you'll be liable to the counsel. If you say, 'You fool,' you'll be liable to hell of fire.'" A lot of us are in trouble, a lot of us are in trouble. He's not saying I'm not--I'm getting rid of the law, murder's okay now. Keep going 5:27: "'You have heard that it was said you shall not commit adultery, but I say that's okay, adultery is just fine.'" No! He says, "'But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'" Wait, what? Well I'm gay so I'm okay about that, but a lot of guys are in a lot of trouble. He's basically saying not only is adultery not okay, even desiring her if she belongs to another man is not okay. That's not getting rid of the law.

Look at 5:38:

"You have heard that it was said an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, but I say do not resist an evil doer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek turn the other also, if anyone wants to sue you take your coat, give your cloak as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile go the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow anything from you."

These antitheses have been read throughout Christian history by many people as implying that Jesus is doing away with this bad, strict, legalism of the Jewish law, and he's teaching you a law of grace, instead, and forgiveness. That's not what's going on here, right? What Jesus has said, he's not doing away with the Law here, he's intensifying it. If it's hard not to commit adultery, and believe me for a lot of people it is hard not to commit adultery, it's even harder not to lust. If it's hard not to murder someone, and if you knew some of the people I have to work with around here you'd know that it is hard not to murder someone, it's even harder not to be angry with them. And if it's hard not to retaliate when someone knocks you down, it's even harder to let them knock you down again. Jesus is intensifying the Jewish Torah and making it almost impossible to keep. But he's still expecting His disciples to keep it. What Matthew presents Jesus is doing is not getting rid, at all, of the Torah, the Jewish law, he's intensifying it.

There are a couple of places where it sounds like Jesus is going again. You have a hand washing incident, let's look at that, that's in chapter 15:17--well I think I have to start reading a bit earlier. Where is it? Yeah, the very first part of the chapter:

The Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat." He answered them, but why do you break the commandment . . .?

And He goes onto this sort of thing and He basically says that they're not keeping the law perfectly themselves, that they should keep it better. Verse 10,

He called the crowd to him and said to them, "Listen and understand. It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles the person.

Now in Mark's version of this story, right around here, Mark adds a little sentence. Remember when I talked about Mark, he gives you little clues that you're really supposed to pay attention. Here Mark gives a little parenthetical comment he says, "By saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean." In other words, Mark does a good little Gentile Christianity move. He takes this saying of Jesus and he says, Jesus was declaring all foods clean so we don't have to keep kosher.

Matthew doesn't do that, he saw that sentence in Mark, but you read this whole chapter, that sentence which Matthew knew was in Mark is not in Matthew. Matthew took that out. Why? Because he didn't want Jesus to declare all foods clean; because in his Gospel Jesus teaches that Christians have to continue keeping the Law. Matthew has Jesus disagree with the scribes and Pharisees, but what he says here is that it's much more important--sure, keeping kosher may be important but it's much more important what's going on in your heart and your mind, it's much more important what you say. So Jesus spiritualizes in a way or he--again he intensifies the law and he's saying, yeah it's important to wash your hands perhaps but that's not a big deal. It's important to pay attention to the kosher but that's not a big deal. He makes it a moral lesson. That's not anti-Jewish, that's not at all--you have all kinds of Hebrew prophets in the Old Testament doing that kind of stuff all over the place saying things like, God doesn't want just your sacrifice he wants your heart. This is the way Jesus is presented in Matthew as--just like a Jewish prophet, an Israelite prophet who is intensifying the law, giving it a moral teaching, but he never teaches anything about giving it up.

Jesus, though, also besides being the one who teaches about Torah, and He's being presented as Moses, and Matthew presents Jesus more than any other Gospels as the founder of the church. In fact, if you look for the word "church" in some of the Gospels it's very hard to find it because it's anachronistic. Jesus didn't go around in his own life talking about the church, the church developed after His death; Matthew retrojects the conversation about the church, and even the foundation of the church, and sort of laws about the church into the mouth of Jesus.

Look at 16:17, and this is one we already read very carefully in Mark, the same story. Remember in Mark, Jesus says to the disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" Peter says, "Some of them say the Elijah, or some of them say one of the prophets, or John the Baptist." Jesus said, "But who do you say that I am?" and Peter says, "You're the Messiah." Jesus tells him, "Be quiet," and then Jesus rebukes him when Peter tells him that he's not supposed to be crucified. Matthew takes that story again from Mark, but notice how Matthew changes it. Verse 13, "When Jesus came from the district of Caesarea of Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" You get the story again. When Simon Peter says, "You're the Messiah, the Son of the Living God," look what Jesus says in verse 17, now in Matthew's version. Remember in Mark's version Jesus said, okay don't tell anybody.

Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth on will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Between the command to silence, which came right after the confession in Mark, Matthew puts all this foundation-of-the church stuff. Now this is a very famous text that has caused all kinds of disagreement between Roman Catholics and Protestants. Roman Catholics take this text as teaching that Jesus, particularly selected Peter as the first Pope, and that when he says, I'm giving you the keys to the kingdom, it means the Pope or the Bishop of Rome is the one who has the right to bind or loose that Jesus is talking about here. Protestants rejected that interpretation and they said well no he's talking--sure he's talking to Peter in one sense but he was really talking to all the apostles, and in fact, the issue of binding and loosing is not--is given to the apostles not just to Peter. So there's a debate among--between Protestants and Roman Catholics traditionally over this passage. I think the debate kind of misses the point because I think Matthew's point is basically just to have Jesus be the one who founds the church and puts it into the hands of his disciples.

That's definitely one of the things that Jesus does. And then in Chapter 18, as I've already pointed out, you have a whole chapter where Jesus gives rules to the disciples for how the church should be run, how it should be organized. The church is also this mixed group. Over and over again, Matthew--you'll have--you'll see a phrase that's only in Matthew where Jesus talks about "little ones." He also talks about people of little faith. Matthew also has a parable about a man goes out and throws a field with seed. And during the night his enemy comes and sows brambles and weeds seeds in and when it all comes up the wheat comes up but it's all mixed in with brambles and thorns, and weeds. And so the servants--the slaves of the man come to the master and they say, What should we do? Should we try to weed out all the weed stuff so we can gather the wheat? Should we try to trim it all out now? Matthew says, no don't worry about it now because if you try to pull up all the thorns and the brambles, you're bound to pull up some of the wheat too, we'll just wait until the end, until it's all ready, and then we'll harvest the whole thing and then we'll separate it out and the wheat we will keep in storehouses, and the brambles and thorns will burn in hell! You're getting the last little hellfire and brimstone sermon at the end.

The main part of the parable is that Matthew is saying is that the world, and possibly even the church, is a mixed bag. In other words, not everybody you see around you is truly who you think they are. There's good and there's evil mixed together but the--you're just going to have live with that. The church is an organization that has both people of little faith and people of greater faith. It has maybe even weeds and wheat in it, so these are all concerns of what kind of--there's a whole group of parables in chapter 13 that we call the "mixed group" parables of Matthew. They're particular to Matthew because Matthew seems to be making the point with these mixed group parables that the church itself is sort of a mixed group.

Another important theme of Matthew--I'm giving you several different major themes in Matthew because I'm going to ask in a moment, why are these things here? What is Matthew trying to do with these different things altogether? For example, why is Jesus the law giver and still Jewish and teaches the acceptance of the Jewish law, and yet this universalistic message at the end of the Gospel of going to all nations. Another thing that exegesis is, is finding problems in the text and then using the text itself to try to find answers to those problems. That's what exegesis does. Why I'm setting up some of themes of Matthew, because these are going to be the problems that then I, as the wonderful scholar and exegete that I am, am going to swoop in with my angels on the clouds of heaven at the end of the lecture and give you answers to all the problems of Matthew, and then you'll do that with your exegesis papers later.

One of the things that Jesus is, also in Matthew, is a teacher. Mark had told us in his Gospel that Jesus was a great teacher, and people said, Wow, he's a great teacher, He teaches not like the scribes and the Pharisees. He teaches as one with authority. Mark didn't really tell us much of what Jesus taught. There are a few parables, a few controversies, but Mark tells you that Jesus is a great teacher without presenting Jesus teaching a lot. Matthew not only tells you Jesus is a good teacher, he presents a lot of teaching of Jesus, and so you get a lot of that.

Then you get this interesting passage in 13:51. Turn in your hymnals to 13:51 "Have you understood all this?" This is towards the end of this big long parable chapter. Remember I told you that chapter 13 in Matthew is where Matthew puts a ton of parables. So toward the end of this parable chapter Jesus asked them,

"Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of keaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." When Jesus had finished these parables he left that place.

This is a parable that Matthew is putting in there, I think, to give a hint to his readers. This is what Jesus was, Jesus was a good scribe. That's why Jesus talks about things like, you have heard it said, but I say to you. Jesus is taking out of the Jewish scripture and taking out of the Jewish law the most important parts of it and emphasizing those, and then adding some of his own teachings. He's taking some of the old and some of the new, and that's what a good scribe is like. But Matthew also believes that he and his fellow disciples in his church should be that way too. He writes his Gospel to help people figure out how to imitate Jesus in being a good scribe. How do discern what of the old you should use and what of the new you should use.

On of the last problems that I want to give is this really big problem in Matthew because Jesus is also something--well just right on the surface Jesus comes across as a big like a coward in the Gospel of Matthew. Look at 4:12 in Matthew, in the first part of this chapter 4 you get Jesus going around preaching the gospel, doing some miracles and that sort of thing. He becomes very famous so that people hear about Him. But then you get to 12, "Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he got on his white charger and He rode to the prison and he sprang his friend John the Baptist out of prison." Indiana Jesus, no that's not what it says, right? "He withdrew to Galilee," the word "withdraw" here is the Greek word for "retreat." He retreated to Galilee because he had heard that John had gotten arrested. "He left Nazareth, make His home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulin and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken to the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled," and then he quotes that--verse 17 "From that time Jesus began to proclaim, 'Repent for the kingdom of keaven has come near.'" In other words, Jesus retreats in the face of danger, he doesn't go toward it, but instead of retreating and hiding, he goes to another place and then he starts giving the message out. This is when He really starts his own preaching ministry, after John the Baptist is arrested.

Notice what happens there, look again at--now look at 12:15, Matthew 12:15. Reading just a little bit above that, Jesus is disputing with the Pharisees and verse 14 says, "But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him how to destroy him," another threat this time from the Pharisees against Jesus. Verse 15, "When Jesus became aware of this he departed," again he withdrew, there's that word again, "Many crowds followed Him and He cured all them, and He ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill. . . ." Notice again Jesus withdraws in the face of danger but the withdrawing in a sense increases the ministry in an odd paradoxical way. Then look at 14:13--well I won't read that one, 14:13 if you can look it up, that's another case of danger and Jesus withdrawing.

Let's do spend a little more time looking at chapter 12 because, have you noticed that the Gospel of Matthew likes to foreshadow things and fulfill things? The Gospel of Matthew likes to have Jesus do something, and then he'll tell you something that was not in Mark. He'll say, This was to fulfill the scripture that said--for example when Jesus and the holy family run off to Egypt he then quotes to the fact when they come back he says, "Out of Egypt I will call my Son," the prophecy. Matthew takes an Old Testament reference, a Jewish scripture reference, because remember it's not the Old Testament yet, it's just Jewish scripture, and he takes a quotation in that and saying it's fulfilled by Jesus. In the same way in Matthew 2:13-14 "After they had left," this is after the wise men left, "An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said get up, take the child and His mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about." They flee, there's that word again, withdraw--even Joseph with Jesus retreats in the face of danger to Galilee. Then when he hears they come back in verse 22 of the same chapter.

Now why is all this--Jesus retreating? The other thing is if you look at 10:23, we again get this same word. When you're doing an exegesis you might want to use a concordance. You'll learn on Thursday or Friday in your sections what a concordance is, and you'll learn how to use it. Basically a concordance is a book that takes all the words of the Bible and shows you where they occur. If you looked up "withdraw" in an English concordance it would tell you every time in a certain English translation that the word "withdraw" occurred in Matthew, or Mark, or Luke; you can test them out. You'll also learn how to use an analytical concordance, even if you don't know Greek, which will kind of give you an idea, once you learn how to use it, what's the Greek word lying behind these English words. If you did that you could find out that these different English words that I've been reading from translate the same Greek word "withdraw" anakoresis. This word is here too, and in 10:23 you have Jesus and his instructions to the disciples telling them that they also should retreat in the face of danger.

What is all this going on? How do we take these different issues? Jesus is almost a new Moses, Jesus is teaching the disciples should keep the Torah, the Law, but then Jesus when he faces troubles he withdraws from trouble, and he goes off someplace. But when he withdraws he ends up preaching more. And the Gospel then is expanding, and then the disciples, Matthew believed, will be the next version of Jesus. They also will be threatened. They also will be taught to retreat. They also will then go preach, and they'll eventually go preach to the entire world in the form of the Gentiles. All of this is Jesus functions as a model for the disciples, the apostles, and the apostles function as a model for Matthew and the members of his own church. What is all this doing here and why is it--what's the context in which this kind of picture of Jesus would make sense?

We're going to spend a bit more time on one important passage, Matthew 14:22. This is the famous story called "The Stilling of the Storm." Now you will have--if you remember this you could look at Mark 6:45 and it has the same story. If you took your parallel columns, one from Mark and one from Matthew, and you did your little colored pencil exercises you did last week for your section, it's very interesting to see what does Matthew add to Mark's story? If you figure out what Matthew added to Mark's story you can really get an idea about what was Matthew's own editorial interests. Why did he take something out of Mark, tell it differently, add new stuff to it? That gives you a great clue for what Matthew wanted to say. Remember each of these writers is not just telling you stuff that happened because it happened, they each are writing a book intending to put across a theological message.

If you compare what Matthew says to what he gets from Mark, and see what he adds and what he takes out, you have a really good idea of what his editorial message is, what his editorial concerns are, and we call this Redaction Criticism. Redaction is just a fancy word for editing. Why did scholars not call it "editing criticism"? Because we like two-bit words when one-bit words would work just as well. So it's Redaction Criticism is what you'll see in the scholarship. It just means paying attention to how the Gospel writers edited their sources to get out their own message. So look at 14:22, and if you want to you can flip over to Mark 6:45 and see the change, or if you have Throckmorton you can look it up in Throckmorton sometime. I'll indicate some of it.

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat [this is after one of the feedings of a bunch of people] and go ahead to the other side while he dismissed the crowds. After he had dismissed the crowds he went up to the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came he was there alone, but by this time the boat battered by the waves was far from the land for the wind was against them.

Notice for the wind was against them, the boat is battered, the wind is against them. Some of these details won't be in Mark, the basic story will be there, but this thing about the boat being battered by the wind, the wind is against them, I don't think that's in Mark if I remember right.

And early in the morning he came walking toward them out on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. Immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; Do not be afraid.

In Mark, Jesus then gets in the boat, stills the storm, and Mark ends it with his own clue that they didn't understand, they still didn't understand, so that's part of Mark's theme about the misunderstanding. That's not the way Matthew ends it here. Notice what he says:

Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord save me!"

"Lord save me!" Now the Greek word for "save me" can mean just "rescue me"--save me from illness, but it also can mean "save me" like I need salvation. The same Greek word means both.

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith [that's a Matthian clue, see Matthew likes this little faith theme so that's one of the things you see he's added here] Why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

Now if you compare this what you've got is some important different changes. First, for example, I said the boat is beaten by the waves, that's not in Mark. Why did Matthew add that? Then you have this whole verses 28-31, the whole thing with Peter and all that sort of thing, that's not in Mark. Matthew added that whole little chunk. And then in verse 33 in says, "They worshipped him," and they have this confession, "Truly You are the Son of God," which is a Christian confession.

A famous German scholar, Günther Bornkamm, whom you don't need remember, and one of his students wrote a very famous article published in the 1950s in which they analyzed this story. And they said, if you read this carefully this story's not about Jesus walking on the water and stilling the storm and that sort of thing, this is a story Matthew intends for you to see the boat--it's almost--it's like an allegory, it's almost like an allegory. The boat represents the church, and Matthew sees the church as being persecuted, we've seen that theme throughout Matthew. Jesus prophesied the disciples would be persecuted. So the boat is persecuted and that's represented by the storm, and the winds, and the waves buffeting them, and they're afraid. Peter, who represents every Christian says, I want to be like you Jesus and I want walk on water. I want to overcome all these problems. He gets out of the boat, but he doesn't have enough faith, he has a little faith, and his doubt causes him to start sinking. When he does that, what should he do? He should cry out to Jesus and Jesus will save him. Then Jesus gets in the boat, calms the storm, and they worship him and confess him.

Bornkamm used this Redaction Criticism, he was one of the first pioneers of using this method and calling it by this term to say, compare Matthew with what he gets from Mark and what you do is you see that--what was just a miracle story, just a basic story about the power of Jesus, has now become a moral story about the church. And it's now become something that Matthew is writing to encourage his own church. They are small, lonely, people of little faith, they're a mixed group, remember, some people in the church seemed to have a lot more faith than other people in the church. Some people in the church may not even be true disciples after all. They're not yet perfect.

Matthew has a saying that is different from Luke; they seem to both get it from Q. Luke's version says, "You should be merciful as Your Father in Heaven is merciful." Does anybody happen to know what that comes out in Matthew, it's in the Sermon on the Mount? "You should be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect." Matthew has perfect and Luke has merciful. Again, we see little bitty clues of how they write this. But that's Matthew telling his church I know you're not perfect now, but God--Jesus calls you to perfection. They need more faith and according to Matthew's story they do it by focusing on Jesus and worshipping him as the Son of God as they should.

What I've done is walk through several different passages in Matthew. An exegesis wouldn't ask you to do all of those things together. You could write an exegesis paper on just one section of any of those things that I talked about. Notice what I've had to do. I've had to compare Matthew with Mark and Luke, I've tried to figure out why did Matthew include what he included, and why did he leave out stuff, why did he change things from Mark? I've also said he probably used Q, this hypothetical document because we find that by comparing Luke and Matthew. And I might guess at how--whether Matthew has the more original version of Q or whether Luke does, and I might try to imagine what was in Q and how Matthew may have changed that--edited that. That's all of course pure speculation because we don't have Q as a physical document to actually compare it with like we've got Mark as a physical document, but scholars still do that. But the purpose is to--all the way through to figure out what did this author want to do? It's not concerned with whether he's telling us the correct history; we'll leave that for another day. It's not to say whether it's true or not.

Notice this: it's also not to come up with sappy Sunday school kinds of readings. This is the hardest thing for people to learn, and, notice, it doesn't matter whether people have grown up in churches or not. Modern people have just come to think that when you read this book you're supposed to get Sunday school type sappy answers out of it. What is the meaning of this story? Well Jesus is teaching us to love one another. Well, okay yeah maybe so, but dig deeper. Try to figure out--try to imagine a historical context in which a human author is writing the story this way in order to do something socially in his own early community. We imagine an early Christian community, and we imagine what problems they had, by reading the text, and then we see the text as being written consciously by an author to address those problems. With Matthew what you get is this: Matthew teaches that a Torah observant form of discipleship to Jesus.

Now this will be very important because one of the themes of this whole course is that the diversity of different early Christianities. It's anachronistic in the first century to even talk about "Christianity" as one thing, because as we'll show, there were different views of Jesus, there were different views of the Jewish law. And what you'll see very quickly in this course is Matthew has one--has a very different view of what Christians should do with the Jewish law than does Paul, or Luke, or Mark, or John, or several of the other writers. One of the things that makes Matthew present a peculiar kind of Christianity when judged by the standards of Paul's kind of Christianity is that Matthew teaches Jesus as teaching a Christianity that observes Jewish Torah. Even if Gentiles come in, which the Gentiles do come in, Gentiles must be expected to keep the law also. Whereas Paul spent his whole career trying to get Gentiles to understand, no you don't, you're not supposed to keep the Jewish law if you're a Gentile, Jesus absolves you from keeping the Jewish law, Matthew's not that way. He sees Gentiles coming into the church but still being Torah observant. He has a Torah observant form of Christianity, with Jesus as the recognized Messiah. Gentiles are included in Israel, they're not included as a separate church, Gentiles are brought into Israel, it looks like for Matthew, and Matthew presents a church that is in conflict with other forms of Judaism.

I think Matthew was written after the year 70, certainly after the destruction of temple in Jerusalem, that seems pretty clear. Most of the scholars date it to somewhere in the 80s, maybe not earlier then the year 80, maybe not later than the year 90, we're guessing on this, but it seems to be--it has to be after 70, but he's in conflict with whoever is--there are still Pharisees around, there are still scribes, there are other who are offering a slightly different version of what it means to be Jewish, and that's the last thing that I'll say about this, is that Matthew is not presenting a new religion. He thinks what we would call Christianity is simply the right way to be a Jew. What Matthew is presenting is a different sect within Judaism from the form of Judaism that's represented by the Pharisees or the Sadducees perhaps. A lot of people think that the Sadducees may have become extinct after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem because the Sadducees were very--they're power base was the temple, but if the Sadducees are still around Matthew is presenting a different form of Judaism than they followed. He's presenting a different form of Judaism represented by the Jewish writer Josephus, or Philo, but he is presenting a form of Judaism. In fact, scholars nowadays say, Matthew does not represent a new religion with his Gospel; he actually represents a different Jewish sect. Any questions? Yes sir?

Student: Does Matthew believe Gentiles should be circumcised?

Professor Dale Martin: Does Matthew believe that Gentiles should be circumcised? I think so because I can't imagine him teaching a completely law observant--when he says not one dot or tiddle, or jot of the law will pass away until heaven and earth passes away. Well, any Jew at the time pretty much would have thought that circumcision was a very important part of Jewish law not just a dot or a tiddle. So I think so, you'll find lots of scholars who disagree with me, but of course they're all wrong. Any other questions? Okay, see you on Wednesday.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 8
The Gospel of Thomas
Play Video
The Gospel of Thomas

We have known of the existence of the Gospel of Thomas from ancient writers, but it was only after the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Codices that the actual text became available. The Gospel of Thomas is basically a collection of sayings, or logia, that sometimes seem similar, perhaps more primitive than sayings found in the canonical Gospels. Sometimes, however, the sayings seem better explained as reflecting a "Gnostic" understanding of the world. This involves a rejection of the material world and a desire for gnosis, a secret knowledge, in order to escape the world and return to the divine being.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 195-223

Bible: The Gospel of Thomas


February 4, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: One of the themes of the course, maybe the main theme of the course is the diversities of early Christianity. In fact, a lot of scholars like to talk about not "Christianity" in the first one hundred years but "Christianities." This is one of the themes also of Bart Ehrman's textbook, so you should have picked up on this. There's lot of different kinds of Christianity and we're going to talk about those kinds. Today, we get to one of the most interesting differences to most people, because most modern people are not at all familiar with the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of Thomas is not in our canon for several reasons, but we can talk about that at some point at the end of the lecture if you want to know. The Gospel of Thomas has become very famous, though, in the last part of the twentieth century because it was rediscovered and published and created something of a sensation.

According to the tradition, according to the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus had a twin brother and his name was Didymus Judas Thomas. Now Didymus is simply the Greek word for "twin," it's also used as the Greek word for "testicles" for obvious reasons; there are usually two of them. Didymus is the Greek word for "twin" and Thomas is from a Semitic word, either Hebrew or Aramaic, or Syriac, which are all three similar languages, "Thomas" would look like in "twin" in those. The guy's name is Judas, the Hebrew version would be Judah, the Greek word would be Judas, and the English version is Jude, so you sometimes see it in English translations Didymus Jude Thomas but it's the same word, Judah or Judas. His real name is Judah or Judas and Didymus, and Thomas are his nicknames, one Greek and one Semitic or Aramaic. He was the twin brother of Jesus, according to early Christian tradition, now just one strand of early Christian tradition that is Thomasine Christianity, the forms of Christianity, popular especially in Syria and the east which traced their existence back to the Apostle Thomas. There really was an Apostle Thomas among the 12 of Jesus' disciples and having the nickname "twin." Traditional orthodox Christians don't believe he was Jesus' twin brother, they just believe that he had the nickname twin because he was somebody else's twin brother. But in Thomasine Christianity he was connected to Jesus himself as Jesus' twin.

According to some forms of eastern Christianity therefore, especially the early forms in Syria, Mesopotamia, and India--and yes there was very, very early forms of Christianity in the west coast of India. And if you meet an Indian person who's from that part of India and who considers themselves Christian, and they've been Christian for generations they will tell you, yes, Thomas was the apostle who brought the Gospel to India the first time. There are ancient traditions about this and modern Indian Christians still trace their church back to the Apostle Thomas.

There are all kinds of Thomas literature from the ancient world. It's not all alike, it doesn't all represent one kind of Christianity or one church, or even one region. Besides the Gospel of Thomas we know of the infancy Gospel of Thomas, this is a wonderful documentary if you took my historical Jesus class you get to read the fragments of the infancy Gospel of Thomas that we still have. It shows Jesus--everybody wonders, well what was Jesus like as a kid? What games did he play? Did he play cops and robbers? Did he play with dolls? What did Jesus do as a kid? Well Thomas tells you, it tells you for example, that he made a bunch of clay pigeons, and when this Jew--it's kind of anti-Jewish document, this Jew comes up and says, you're not supposed to be doing that on the Sabbath, so Jesus claps his hands and the pigeons all fly off, the clay pigeons fly off. Or when one of his buddies get--when he gets mad at one of his buddies so he strikes the kid dead and then has to raise the kid up again. When one of his teachers criticizes him, he says, what do you know you bimbo? And strikes the teacher dumb and blind or something. Jesus as a little kid in the infancy Gospel of Thomas, is kind of a little rat but that's the way people imagined him as a child.

There's the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, there's the Acts of Thomas which are very interesting. Thomas comes across as very anti-marriage, anti-family, there's the Hymn of the Pearl or the Hymn, as it's also called, the Hymn of Jude Thomas the Apostle in the Country of the Indians; same document. We tend to call it the Hymn of the Pearl. There's the Book of Thomas the Contender Writing to the Perfect. So all of these different texts sprang up in early Christianity, most of them in the second century. The second century was a time of a lot of Christian literature arising in different places that didn't make it into the Bible. Before the discovery though of the Nag Hammadi codices, and you probably already know how to spell Nag Hammadi because you've seen it in your textbook; it's just the name of a village in modern Egypt. I don't remember how many i's, and d's, and m's and d's it has but it's something like that. Is that right? Dylan, who is one of our teaching assistants, he's an expert on all this stuff, so he can correct me. Nag Hammadi is a village in Egypt, and in 1945, while they were digging for some clay and that sort of thing, an Egyptian peasant found thirteen large books. Remember, the word codex or codices I've talked about in one of the early lectures means the kind of book that has the--has pages and sewn up on one side to distinguish it from a book that's in a scroll form. By this time, he found these books, they had been buried there probably sometime in the fourth century, so in the 300s, and they had probably been hidden there because that's about the time that certain forms of Christianity were being outlawed and declared heretical.

There are thirteen of these big books, and its right along the Nile River, and we call these the Nag Hammadi Library or the Nag Hammadi Corpus, the Nag Hammadi Text, and that's just because the modern village near where they were found is Nag Hammadi. Before this 1945 discovery, and the Gospel of Thomas is one of many, many different texts that were discovered in this library material. Before this, we knew that there was a Gospel of Thomas because early Christian writers would talk about it, usually to condemn it. We had a few papyrus fragments, three papyrus fragments, that had Greek versions of just parts of the Gospel of Thomas, just pieces of it from Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. The Nag Hammadi discovery was really very, very exciting because it greatly increased our knowledge of some forms of Christianity that the only thing we had known about them was by orthodox writers condemning it.

When one kind of writer is condemning another bunch of people you can't necessarily trust what they say. Orthodox writers, for example, claim that Gnostics, who they took to be these heretics that we--we talk about Gnosticism in this lecture, they said they have these wild sex orgies, and they drink blood, and they have cannibalism. Regular Christians were accused by their enemies of doing precisely the same thing. We don't believe everything, but when we found these Nag Hammadi texts, we had sort of firsthand text from these people who understood Christianity differently then what would come to be orthodox Christianity. Now the modern study of Gnosticism, therefore, has been completely revolutionized by this study because it brought to light a complete version of the Gospel of Thomas, although it was a Coptic translation of the Greek. It was originally written in Greek, translated into Coptic which is an ancient Egyptian language. It also brought to light all these other texts, not all by the same people, not all reflecting the same views. Some of them, for example, are just pieces of Plato, or parts of the Bible, and that sort of thing.

These texts, the texts we actually have, the Nag Hammadi codices, were written around the time 350. And we know this because the cardboard that was used to bind these things was made out of papyrus fragments and paper fragments, they were older. So by dating some of the pieces of paper that were used to make the cardboard that bound these things, we can tell when at least these books were put together. We think that a lot of these texts were actually written in the second century, and the Gospel of Thomas most scholars would say is written before the year 200. Some scholars believe that the Gospel of Thomas goes all the way back to the first century and may even be as early as Mark or Q or even earlier. I think probably the majority of scholars don't believe that. I think the majority of us believe that the Gospel of Thomas was probably first written in Greek in the first half of the second century, so between 100 and 150, but we don't really know. It's just a complete guess.

Some of the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas look actually older. Bart Ehrman talks about why you would think a certain--a saying in one form might be older then a saying in another form. That's debatable but some of us, if we just compare the sayings side by side, those in the Gospel of Thomas to some people would say, well this actually looks like an older version of this saying of Jesus, or an older version of a parable of Jesus that we find in Matthew or Mark. And so some people have said, even if the Gospel of Thomas itself comes from the second century it may well contain what are more ancient versions of sayings of Jesus. This is why when people do historical Jesus research, that is, trying to figure out from the multiple gospels that we have, what did the historical Jesus really say and really do, historically determined, people will use the Gospel of Thomas sometimes to say, well this is actually more likely what Jesus actually--close to what Jesus actually said and the canonical gospel writers have edited it up a bit. It's very debatable about that but that's part of the value of the Gospel of Thomas is that for a lot of scholars we believe it takes us back at least close to the time of Jesus in some of its sayings, but necessarily in all of its sayings.

There are 114 sayings, as you by now know, in the Gospel of Thomas, and as I said last time, scholars like to use two-bit words when one-bit words would do just as well. Instead of calling these sayings you will often see them called logia, that's the plural, logion is the singular. Logion is just Greek for a saying, so logia is just Greek for sayings. So often in scholarship and your textbooks sometimes it'll say "logion 114 from the Gospel of Thomas," and that just means "saying 114." There are 114 of them, and in fact, they're introduced--the gospel is introduced by just the words, "These are the obscure" or "the hidden sayings that the living Jesus uttered and which Didymus Jude Thomas wrote down." It gives you sort of this little title right there at the beginning. Notice, there's no passion there, there's no description of the death of Jesus, there's no resurrection, and actually most people think that Jesus speaks as if he's already been resurrected. Does this author intend us to think that this is the post-resurrection Jesus or did he just assume that even before his death Jesus just talks this way? You have to use your imagination because the author doesn't really tell us much.

Now comparisons with other gospels; get out your text, your Gospel of Thomas and read with me through some of these things. Look at logion 9, this is the parable of the sower:

Jesus said, "Listen, a sower came forth, took a handful, and cast. Now some fell upon the pathway and the birds came and picked them out. Others fell on a rock but they did not root in the soil and did not send up ears. Others fell upon the thorns, and they choked the seed; and the grubs devoured them. And others fell upon good soil, and it sent up good crops and yielded sixty per measure and a hundred and twenty per measure.

That's actually an example of when you have a saying that sounds more primitive, perhaps, in this gospel because notice how that saying is shorter and a bit simpler then the same parable would be in either Matthew or Luke, an example of why some people say well maybe it's more primitive. That one sounds very, very much like what you've got already in the canonical Gospels so it should sound familiar to you.

Look at number eight right above that:

What human beings resemble is an intelligent fisherman, who having cast his net into the sea, pulled up the net out of the sea full of little fish. The intelligent fisherman, upon finding among them a fine large fish, threw all the little fish back into the sea, choosing without any effort the big fish. Whoever has ears to hear should listen!

Now this translation, I'm reading from Bentley Layton's translation, he's a professor in our department, he's very famous as one of the top Coptologists in the world, and so I'm using his translation of this. But that "whoever has ears to hear should listen!" even though the translation makes it sound slightly different that's just exactly the same thing as you see in the Gospels, "Let him who have ears to hear, hear." Layton just decided to translate it in a big more colloquial English version. That's just like what you would, practically, in the other Gospels. Look in 30, saying 30:

Jesus said, "Where there are three divine beings they are divine. Where there are two or one, I myself dwell with that person."

That sounds a bit more odd, doesn't it? It sounds a bit like a saying of Jesus in the Gospels that says, "Wherever two or three are gathered together I am there in the midst of them." What is this about divine beings? "Where there are three divine beings they are divine. Where there are two or one, I myself dwell with that person." It's a puzzle. You can tell how it's similar but not exactly like the synoptic Gospels. Look at saying 48:

Jesus said, "If two make peace with one another within a single house, they will say to a mountain, 'go elsewhere,' and it will go elsewhere."

Does anybody remember what the synoptic version of that saying says? Anybody know your Bible well enough? Yes sir.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: That's right. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can tell a mountain to remove itself and it'll go. It's--in this thing about two making peace, again with one another within a house, so it's the peacemaking that seems to give the power. Look at 86:

Jesus said, "Foxes have their dens and birds have their nests. But the son of man has nowhere to lay his head and gain repose."

Now that sounds funny. Up until the last couple of words it sounded just like the synoptic Gospels but this--at least Layton has translated it doesn't just say "and get rest"--"lay his head and rest." Professor Layton has for some reason translated to sound a bit odd: "and gain repose." I think what that means is he's trying to signal that these last two words have some kind of special meaning for this author in this text. What kind of special meaning would that be? Then 113, these are just examples of sayings that look very much like what we already have seen in the Bible, "

His disciples said to him, "When is the kingdom going to come?" [Now we've got this in Gospels also in the Bible] Jesus said, "It is not by being waited for that it is going to come. They are not going to say, "Here it is," or "There it is." Rather, the kingdom of the Father is spread out over the earth and people do not see it.

This is not the kingdom coming in the future as we've seen it in Mark, and Matthew, and Luke, this is the kingdom is already here on the earth, and if you don't know that it's just because you aren't recognizing it.

There are really interesting peculiarities of the Gospel of Thomas, and let's look at some of those. First look at 13, these are some sayings that look more odd to us.

Jesus said to his disciples, "Compare me to something and tell me what I resemble." [This is starting off sounding like what we've seen already.] Simon Peter said, "A just angel is whom you resemble." Matthew said to him, "An intelligent philosopher is what you resemble." Thomas said to him, "Teacher, my mouth utterly will not let me say what you resemble." Jesus said "I am not your teacher, for you . . . "

Now notice Layton's letting you know--are you using the same translation that I am? That's right, I thought I gave you the same translation. Layton let's you know, because you can't tell in English whether that "your teacher" is singular "you" or plural "you," and he tells you it's singular in the Coptic. "'I am not your teacher,'" so Jesus is directing this not to all the apostles but to Thomas in particular right here.

"For you have drunk and become intoxicated from the bubbling wellspring that I have personally measured out." [Well what the hell does that mean?] He took him, [that is took Thomas,] withdrew, and said three things to him. Now when Thomas came to his companions they asked him, "What did Jesus say to you?" Thomas said to them, "If I say to you [plural] one of the things that he said to me, you will take stones and stone me, and fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.

Sort of an ancient version of I'd tell you but then I'd have to kill you.

Look at 29:

Jesus said, "It is amazing if it was for the spirit that flesh came into existence. And it is amazing indeed if spirit (came into existence) for the sake of the body. But as for me I am amazed at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty."

What does that mean? Look at the very last saying. I hope some of you noticed this when you were reading over this before you came to class.

Simon Peter said to them, "Mary should leave us," [he's talking about Mary Magdalene probably] for females are not worthy of life." Jesus said, "See, I am going to attract her to make her male so that she too might become a living spirit that resembles you males. For every female that makes itself male will enter the kingdom of heavens."

Okay . . . Look at 24; I'm just picking out some sayings that are rather mysterious.

His disciples said, "Show us the place where you are, for we must seek it." He said to them, "Whoever has ears should listen! There is light existing within a person of light. And it enlightens the whole world: if it does not enlighten, that person is darkness."

The previous saying had this duality of male and female that was somehow significant in some mysterious way. This one shows us there's also a duality, of concern to this author, of light and darkness. There's dualisms, and especially a light/darkness dualism male/female dualism and a soul/body dualism; we've already seen that. There's also this word that Layton translates as the "entirety" and some modern translations will just leave it--they'll just transliterate the Greek that it's from, pleroma. Pleroma is a Greek word that becomes important in some philosophy in the ancient world and some intellectual, and it just means "the all" or "the fullness." It's an abstract word meaning "full" or "fullness," but it comes to be some kind of technical term that refers to, all of existence, or the fullness of being or think of German philosophy with fullness with--Being with a capital "B" or Existence with a capital "E." So that word often occurs here, and when you see the word "entirety" in Layton's translation he's translated that word pleroma. Jesus said, and this is 67, "If anyone should become acquainted with the entirety [the pleroma] and should fall short, at all that person falls short utterly." Several other places, saying 77 has another reference to that.

Notice we've already seen that this text does not take the kingdom of God as something existing in the future. In fact, this text is not at all eschatological. Remember we encountered this word in a previous lecture which just means something having to do with the end, eschaton in Greek meaning the end. This author is not eschatological. He doesn't think Christianity, he doesn't think Jesus' teaching are about the future at all, they're about now, they're about the present. There are several sayings in Thomas, unlike the sayings in the Gospels and the canon, that are not eschatological, they very much point to the present. There's also something else one of these--this author is concerned about something like integration.

Look at saying 61:

Jesus said, "Two will repose on a couch: one will die, one will live." Salome said, "Who are you, O man? Like a stranger you have gotten up on my couch and you have eaten from my table." Jesus said to her, "It is I who come from that which is integrated [I come from that which is one; I come from that which is not divided] I was given some of the things of my Father."

She is apparently--there's a lot of holes in the text where you see these dot-dot-dot's and that's showing that there are lacunae, that is, just holes in the actual document that we get this from, so there are gaps in the text. "I am your female disciple," she seems to say to him at some point and then eventually he seems to answer,

"Therefore I say that such a person once integrated will become full of light, but such a person once divided will become full of darkness."

So there's a divided integrated dualism that's going on in this text also. The kingdom is invisible; I think I've already pointed this out. The idea is that the kingdom is not something you say, look it's over there, or look it's here.

Look at 113, I've already read that, "The kingdom of the Father is spread out over the earth, but most people don't see it." Then look at saying 3, right at the very beginning:

Jesus said, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in heaven, then the birds of heaven will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. But the kingdom is inside of you and it is outside of you. When you become acquainted with yourselves . . ."

Now the word "acquainted" here means when you become really knowledgeable and it comes from--the Greek word here is gnosis, where we get the term Gnostics. That Greek word means gnosis but it doesn't--it means gnosis in some kinds--a technical way in these documents which is, it's not something you just know with your head, it's something you really, really know. To express that Professor Layton usually translate this word as "acquaintance" or "becoming acquainted with it."

When you become acquainted with yourselves, then you will be recognized. And you will understand that it is you who are children of the living father. But if you do not become acquainted with yourself [if you don't have gnosis of yourself] then you are in poverty, and it is you who are the poverty.

What is all this going on? These things are things that sound a bit familiar, and we might be able to figure them out because these are themes. You can tell that they are themes of light and darkness, poor and riches, inside and out, soul and body, spirit and body, male and female, but there are some sayings that are just really inscrutable.

Look at saying 7:

Jesus said. "Blessed is the lion that the human being will devour so that the lion becomes human. And cursed is the human being that the lion devours and the lion will become human."

What does that mean? I have no clue, and that's really honest. Look at 15:

Jesus said, "When you [and here's a plural "you,"] see one who has not been born of woman, fall upon your faces and prostrate yourselves before that one: it is that one who is your father."

Someone not born of women is your father. Look at 97, now you see aren't you glad that I didn't make you do an exegesis paper of these sayings?

Jesus said, "What the kingdom of the father resembles is a woman who is conveying a jar full of meal. When she had traveled far along the road, the handle of the jar broke and the meal spilled out after her along the road. She was not aware of the fact; she had not understood how to toil. When she reached home she put down the jar and found it empty."

How profound, Jesus, she lost her meal and she found her jar empty when she got home. Look at 98 right below that:

Jesus said, "What the kingdom of the father resembles is a man who wanted to assassinate a member of court. At home he drew the dagger and stabbed it into the wall in order to know whether his hand would be firm. Next he murdered the member of court."

That's what the kingdom is like. Now you know exactly what the kingdom is like, right? Look at 105:

Jesus said, "Whoever is acquainted with the father and the mother will be called the offspring a prostitute."

What's going on here? This document has caused, and still causes, all kinds of debate among scholars. You could go online right now and you will see tons and tons, and tons of stuff written about the Gospel of Thomas. Some by real scholars and intelligent, wise people like me, although I've actually never written about the Gospel of Thomas because I don't want to go get in that mess, but I have good scholarly friends who have published on the Gospel of Thomas and argue their theories, others by just absolute kooks who are using the Gospel of Thomas for all kind of experimental, spirituality, and religion, and mind stuff. I'm trying to watch my language. Then you'll also have, even if you took very reputable scholars, you will have wide differences of opinion, and one of the big differences of opinion right now--when the Gospel of Thomas first became published people sort of talked about it as though this is a Gnostic gospel. It represents a form of Gnosticism, which I'll explain in a moment. Other people have said, no, it's not Gnostic, it doesn't have all the main things that we look for; in fact, they've even said we shouldn't even use this term Gnosticism anymore because it doesn't refer to anything we can actually locate in the ancient world. It refers to a whole bunch of different things, and nobody could come up with a good definition of Gnosticism or the Gnostic church. Scholars right now, some scholars will say, let's get rid of the term entirely and call it something else, whatever it is that this thing is, others continue to use the term. Bart Ehrman, wrote your textbook, if you all noticed, he goes ahead and sort of takes the Gospel of Thomas as representing some kind of Gnosticism but maybe not all of whatever we call Gnosticism, and he admits that there is a big debate.

Now I'm going to--a little bit of terminology. I've already told you what the term Gnostic comes from this word gnosis, and the word gnostikos was used by some people in the ancient world to refer to themselves, but they didn't necessarily mean by that they were in some kind of sect called Gnosticism. For example, Clement of Alexandria, who wrote around the year 200, a very famous early Christian scholar considered by later Christianity to be perfectly orthodox, he talked about Gnostic Christians and thought he was himself a "Gnostic Christian." What he meant by that apparently was just that he was one of the more knowledgeable, he was one of the more wise Christians, he was in the know, and he seems also to have had an idea that there were two kinds of Christian knowledge. There's public knowledge that all Christians have and then there's a special kind of hidden knowledge, esoteric knowledge that only certain kinds of Christians have. This idea that you have esoteric knowledge would be called a Gnostic kind of notion. There are even orthodox Christians who might use the term Gnostic in the second century to refer even to themselves. That's just what that word Gnostic often meant. They would have looked at weird to an ancient Greek speaker but it would have been understandable as simply "a knowing person."

There are other terms though that I want to talk about. I've already I mentioned I believe the term proto-Orthodox. The word "orthodox" of course just means "right thinking," "right opinion." Ortho from Greek "right," or "true," or "correct," or "straight;" doxa meaning "opinion," or "thoughts"--and it comes to mean "doctrine" too. The problem with using the word orthodox is that the opposite of orthodox is usually heresy. Eventually through different church councils in the fourth, and fifth, and sixth centuries what counted as Orthodox Christianity became more clearly defined, and then anything that wasn't that could be labeled heretical Christianity, and it was even outlawed at different times in late antiquity. For example, the Nicene Creed, that proclaims that the doctrine of the Trinity becomes orthodox. Doctrines that say that the Trinity is not true or that there's not the Holy Spirit and Jesus, and the Father are not orthodox, they're heretical or sometimes you'll see the term heterodox. Hetero just means "other," so it's not ortho, it's other. Orthodox though--the problem is we can't retroject that term easily back into the second century because in the second century there are tons of different Christians and tons of different churches that had many different views and they didn't all agree.

Some people had started experimenting with the doctrine of the Trinity but a lot of Christians wouldn't have recognized the doctrine of the Trinity in the second century. Some people believe that Jesus was fully divine, other people believed, no, he was fully human but not divine, some people believed he was both, some people believed he was a mixture of both, some believed sometimes he was one, sometimes he was the other. We'll come back to this issue of what did people believe Jesus was and that's the doctrine of Christology. What do you believe about Christ? Right now I'm just going to tell you that we call Christians in the second century and the first century proto-orthodox because we know that calling them orthodox is an anachronistic in this time because there wasn't two clearly delineable orthodox and heretical groups or churches. Proto just means "early" then or the "first," so a lot of scholars, Bart Ehrman is one of them, uses this term proto-orthodox, and all it means is those Christians living in the first or second century whose views happen to win out eventually. They happen to hold views that would eventually be the winners in the fight between orthodoxy and heresy and be declared orthodox or correct Christianity. Proto-orthodox, there was no Christian running around in the second century calling himself a proto-orthodox Christian, they didn't know they were proto-Orthodox yet but their views eventually won out. These different terms will come over and over again, proto-orthodox just means someone who sort of had correct christological views, that is correct by later standards, but they held them before these standards had won out in the debate.

Ancient Gnosticism, if you want to call it that, does not seem to have been one church. What I'm going to call Gnosticism is an intellectual movement that seems to have been around beginning in the second century certainly and becomes important through the second, third, and fourth centuries. It's not a church or an institution in the sense that we doubt that you could have walked into say the town of Antioch and looked for the Gnostic church. It seems like the people who wrote these documents and collected these materials that we find in the Nag Hammadi text in the Gospel of Thomas, they seem to have been intellectuals who were impressed with Jesus, impressed with the Jewish scripture in a lot of cases, impressed with a lot of the teachings of Christianity, but they interpreted them through the eyes of a certain popular Platonism at the time. That is, they seemed to have been influenced by different philosophical views and also just different intellectual views.

When they read the book of Genesis, for example, they would read the book of Genesis but read it as if they were reading it through the eyes of Plato's Timaeus, the great platonic dialogue in which Plato puts forth his own sort of cosmology and his own view of the gods and the world. So some of their writings sound like they were reading basically good scripture but reading it through the eyes of certain kinds of philosophy. What we have come to call Gnosticism in the ancient world is a range of ideas that may have been actually embodied in particular people, or it may have been that some of these intellectuals were just playing around with ideas and writing about the books and having reading clubs, where they got together every Monday night and drank some beer and talked about their Gnostic ideas.

Platonism itself might be called proto-Gnostic, that is, Gnosticism before Gnosticism. For example, in Platonism, especially of this time, you have a strong emphasis of a dualism of body and soul or body and spirit. In that dualism, often the body or the materiality, the fleshly existence that harder matter of things becomes less good, sometimes even probably borderline evil in some people's thoughts, and spirit or the soul or the mind is the good thing. So you have a mind/body dualism, a body and soul dualism and often there's the deprecation of the body and a deprecation of matter as morally inferior. Now why would matter be considered inferior to non-material substance? Because what happens to your body eventually? You all have gorgeous bodies now, but eventually you're going to look like me, your hair's going to fall out, your ear's are going to get too big, your nose won't stop growing, and then eventually you'll even get beyond me and you'll die, and you'll rot, and you'll disappear. The body is material and the ancient thinkers all knew that matter passes away. Anything that is material is going to pass away and be destroyed and be gone, but things that are not material like ideas--the great thing about an idea is that it never need die. The spirit or the soul in platonic theory was superior to material stuff because--and it was the only thing that could live forever, be infinite.

They also sometimes you see, especially in later Platonism, the idea that not only is the body temporary, not eternal and passing away, but the body is also a prison because your spirit, they believed, wants to get out of the body. Aren't you frustrated that you can't just escape your body and go off and go someplace else for a while and zoom out of your body and go to Argentina for the weekend? Not have to pay for airfare--the idea was that the body imprisons your spirit and your soul, and this comes to be a part of Platonism at the time. What scholars will call basic Gnosticism includes some basic themes that they hold in common.

First, the world itself which is material is evil. Salvation, therefore, from the world, must be escaped from this physical world into something else. Gross materiality is not only temporary in some texts but even bad, it's evil. Salvation, therefore, must be the knowledge of how you, that is the real you, your brain--not your brain, your mind or your soul, or your spirit, not your body, that real you is this thing in this material body but salvation will be if it can learn how to escape the body and escape materiality. Salvation will come by knowledge and that knowledge is a secret, not everybody knows it, so only a few people know it. The content of this knowledge is related to human origins and destination. So sometimes you get these elaborate myths developed in some of these texts. Let's say that the supreme, supreme, supreme, supreme god is in fact has no name, is not a particular thing, it's this thought, it's just thinking, it's just abstract thinking. That thinking thinks, well what does a thinking thing think? The thinking thinks thoughts. Those thoughts start becoming emanations out of the thinking, and then those emanations think and emanate, and those become lesser beings still. The different divine beings, there are lots of divine beings in the existing universe, and by thinking and being they emanate inferior forms of being after themselves. Eventually what happened is those inferior forms of being get less good and less like the most ultimate being.

One of them, according to one myth, Sophia which means wisdom, it's a female name but it also means "wisdom." Sophia decides she wants to emanate, and she supposed to do that with a male consort because by this these beings have male and female versions of themselves, she's supposed to only emanate or procreate by doing so with her male consort. She decides she wants to be like the supreme god and be able to emanate on her own, so she puts out a being on her own. In other words, she sort of gives birth without needing a man, just to be on principle. Well, of course when you do that you end up with a monster. The being that came out of Sophia ended up being a clumsy, maybe evil god, all of these are divine beings, that god decided at some point he wanted to create things and so he didn't really do it very well, so he made our earth, he made the world as we know it.

He made little human beings like you just out of dirt and clay, and that's why--we were all creation, not of the supreme God who would do nothing imperfect, but of some stumbling or evil, at least clumsy god, who made us. That explains why things go wrong. Why is it that my arthritis acts up all the time? Couldn't God have made a human body that didn't have arthritis? Well, that's because the supreme God didn't make this body, the evil clumsy god made the body. This happened--and so the world that we created, when you read in Genesis, it says God created the world, that's not the highest God, that's some clumsy god down further on the hierarchy of divine beings in the universe. That god created what we are. Now what happened was at some point, either Sophia or some other beings, they got sorry for all us claylike mud people and somehow a little spark of the divine itself either fell down, or got cut up or put in our bodies, or God placed in our bodies, or blew it into our bodies, but at least some human beings, not all human beings, in fact human beings are in different categories. There's the really low human beings like undergraduates, then there are beings who are a little bit higher like graduate students, and then you have the supreme beings, Gnostics, like professors.

The true Gnostics, it's not really like undergraduates and graduates, because some of you could be Gnostics. You would be the ones who really have a real spark in you, a spark of the divine. That spark of the divine wants to escape the mud body that it's trapped in, but you probably don't even know that you're really a spark trapped in a mud body until somebody comes along and tells you, and that's the job of the redeemer. That's what Jesus did: Jesus was a redeemer from the supreme God who comes in to find those people who have a spark of the divine in them, to blow on that spark, to get it going, and to get you to remember where you came from. You're not a mud body after all. The real you came from Godself, God's very self, the supreme God. The true message of Christianity, according to these guys, is to learn who you are, where you came from, to see if you're going to escape the body and get back to your true origin, that is, you will become one with God again. This was expressed in a poem by Theodotus, it went like this:

Who we were,

what we have become,

where we were,

whither we were thrown,

whither we are hastening,

from what we are redeemed,

what birth is,

what rebirth is.

You answer the riddle, the poem riddle. "Who we were?" If you're a Gnostic who were you? Answer?

Student: Divine being.

Professor Dale Martin: Divine being, thank you. See, it's not hard. I'm not asking questions--I'm just trying--you will remember this better if you answer. What have you become? Mud, entrapped in a dead body, trapped in materiality. Where were you? Heaven, with the divine Father, with God?

Professor Dale Martin: "Whither we were thrown," where have you been thrown?

Student: Into the earth.

Professor Dale Martin: Into the earth, into the world, into materiality. Where are you hastening, where are you going in a hurry--in such a hurry?

Student: Back to the divine.

Professor Dale Martin: Back to the divine God. What are you redeemed from?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: You're redeemed from Jesus?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: The material world. You're redeemed from being embodied. "What is birth?" In this system what is birth?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Damnation, death. When you're born, your spark is entrapped in your body, that's not a good thing. You shouldn't be celebrating your birthday for crying out loud, that's like celebrating when you were thrown in prison. "What is rebirth?"

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Death or learning your true self, learning that the true self won't die at all, so this learning is your rebirth. So the little poem is a riddle that contains these doctrines within itself. Here's a true self, the spark of life is trapped in an alien body with all its sensual passions. Sex, therefore, sensual desire, erotic desire is a bad thing; it's an evil thing because that--you're just trying to trap more sparks into more mud bodies. You're just creating more sparks trapped in mud bodies when you have sex. Evil powers exist--all the different gods that were emanated, a bunch of those are evil, and they fly around the sky in the heavens and they try to keep the true self asleep or drunk in order to keep the evil world together. In other words, they don't want you to learn and they don't want your spark to be able to fly through. But really wise guys like me, we have the secrets and I can give you words, clues, secrets that if you know those things you can use these secrets to unlock the gates that lead back to God.

This is kind of a common storyline or myth, there's the Hymn of the Pearl, that I mentioned before, which basically tells this--that a king of the east sends a royal prince, by way of the region of Mycenae, to Egypt in order to get a precious pearl, which is being guarded by a fierce dragon, it's like a videogame. The prince is poisoned, or actually drugged would be a better accurate translation, and made intoxicated by the Egyptians. But he, the prince, is awakened by a message from the king. He, the prince, takes the pearl by defeating the dragon with the name of his father and returns to the east where he puts on a robe of knowledge, gnosis, and ascends to the king's palace, entering the realm of peace and living happily forever after. It's a nice little fable about a prince who goes to a foreign land, finds the thing of value, defeats the evil purposes and goes back. So some people, therefore, have read the Gospel of Thomas as being precisely this kind of--that some of the sayings of the Gospel of Thomas makes sense if you presuppose these mythological structures and ideas.

Again, some scholars would say, well you're just putting together as a modern scholar a bunch of disparate kind of text and ideas, and putting them in a system. Well, yes, that's where I disagree with some people because I want to say I believe that there's enough commonalities between enough documents that we can say that there were people who had these kinds of common ideas, and this basic structure that I've called the Gnostic structure, the Gnostic myth, certainly influenced ancient writings of some sort and there was some kinds of Christianity that were heavily influenced by this.

For example, look at--back to Thomas for our last closing minutes and let's read some of these sayings that sound puzzling to us, and if we assume this myth maybe we'll read them differently. Look at 21:

Mary said to Jesus, "What do your disciples resemble? He said, "What they resemble is children living in a plot of land that is not theirs. When the owners of the land come they will say, 'Surrender our land to us.' They, for their part stripped naked in their presence, in order to give it back to them, and they give them back their land."

It could be an allegory. Who are the owners of the land? The evil powers that rule the earth. Who are the children, who are the real disciples of Jesus? Those people who know enough to say, when the earth is demanded of you, when your body is demanded of you by these evil powers, give it up, just give it up, it's not valuable anyway. Look at 24:

His disciples said, "Show us the place where you are, for we must seek it." He said to them, "Whoever has ears should listen! There is a light existing within a person of light, that it enlightens the whole world. If it does not enlighten, that person is darkness."

Remember how I said some people are just dark people, they're just mud people, but some people have a light in them, and what it means to become a true Gnostic is to learn that you are one who has that light.

Look at 37:

His disciples said, "When will you be shown forth to us, and when shall we behold you?" Jesus said, "When you strip naked without being ashamed and take your garments and put them under your feet like little children and tread upon them. Then you will see the child of the living and you will not be afraid."

What's the Gnostic interpretation of that?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Stripping the material world off yourself. When you strip your soul, your spark of the body, when you realize that it's not the real you and you come to know the real you, that's what's going to happen. Look at 56:

Jesus said, "Whoever has become acquainted with the world has found a corpse, and the world is not worthy of the one who has found the corpse."

The world is just a dead body, so several of these sayings, if you go back through the Gospel of Thomas with some of this background information I've given you of these ancient myths and ideas, some of these sayings seem to fit that myth and fit that notion.

There are other things though about what I've just told you that you don't find in the Gospel of Thomas, and those are the things emphasized by people who say the Gospel of Thomas shouldn't called Gnostic. For example, there's no mention in here of an evil god that creates the world, like you find in some of these Nag Hammadi texts. You have the Father, you have apparently the good guy, you have Jesus, but tthere's no emphasis on creation here as being a bad thing. Some people said that's one of the fundamental things about the Gnostic myths and it's not in the Gospel of Thomas, therefore the Gospel of Thomas is not Gnostic. There are also simply no string of myths and evil gods' names which you often find in the texts of Nag Hammadi. Some scholars would say the Gospel of Thomas may have some things in common with Platonism of the time, maybe something in common with certain Gnostics, but that it itself is not. If you take the Gospel of Thomas as representing those ideas, then Jesus comes across--the Christology of the Gospel of Thomas becomes something different from the Christology of the other texts, or least Matthew, Mark and Luke.

As we'll see, the Gospel of John looks a lot more like this than the Synoptic Gospels did. Jesus becomes this redeemer figure, this Gnostic redeemer figure who comes into the world of materiality in order to find those who have sparks of life, to blow on their sparks of live, to transmit hidden knowledge to them, so they can get back. If you'll stay with me the rest of the semester, maybe I can give you those secrets and you can escape your mud bodies too. You have your sections this week, by tomorrow they'll be up online at the classes server, and the different instructions for the rest of the sections, and you'll need to look at that because at your section on Thursday or Friday you'll need to choose which day and which topic you'll do your paper for, so that will be online by tomorrow morning. Thank you, see you next time.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 9
The Gospel of Luke
Play Video
The Gospel of Luke

Luke and Acts, a two-volume work, are structured very carefully by the author to outline the ministry of Jesus and the spread of the Gospel to the gentiles. The Gospel of Luke emphasizes the themes of Jesus' Jewish piety, his role as a rejected prophet, and the reversal of earthly status. The Gospel ends in Jerusalem, and the Acts of the Apostles begins there and then follows the spread of the Gospel, both conceptually and geographically, to Samaria and the gentiles. By closely analyzing the Gospel and Acts, we see that the author was not concerned with historicity or chronological order. Rather, he writes his "orderly account" to illustrate the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews and its consequent spread to the gentiles.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 121-140

Bible: The Gospel of Luke


February 9, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: Turn to the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. We're going to go through a lot of Luke and Acts today. Today I'll--I sort of lied on the syllabus. You know how untrustworthy I am by now. I said on the syllabus that we're going to talk about Luke today and have a lecture on Acts on Wednesday. That's not quite true because you can't really talk about Luke without also talking about Acts and you can't much talk about Acts without talking about Luke because they're written by the same person. Almost no scholar doubts that they're written by the same person. There are some scholars who actually argue that you shouldn't read them as two volumes of the same work. Some people even say they think Acts was written a good bit after the Gospel of Luke, but I'm going to treat them as basically two volumes of the same work. Part of the lecture today will focus on Acts, but a whole lot of the lecture will also focus on--I mean part of Luke but also on Acts, and then next time, also, though talking about Acts I'll go back and talk about Luke. Did everyone get a handout of the outline of Luke and Acts? If anybody doesn't--didn't get a handout hold up your hands and we'll get the teaching fellows to hand them around.

Look at the beginning of Luke. "Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account--" now what will "orderly account" mean? "--of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed onto us by those who were from the beginning eyewitnesses and servants of the word." When he tells you that he's gotten some things from--handed down, traditions, accounts from eyewitnesses what's the first thing that that tells you about this author? He's not an eyewitness, precisely.

I, too, decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account [there again] for you, most excellent Theopholis, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

There are several things that this prologue to the Gospel of Luke tells us. One of the things of course, as you just noticed, it's not written by someone who was there. Some people will say that when we get to Acts, at least part of Acts seems to have been written by a person who was actually there, because about halfway through the book of Acts he starts about "we." We did this, and we did this, rather than just Paul or other people in the third person. I don't believe that's the case. I believe he may have used some kind of written document that was--that used the term "we" or sometimes an ancient text, I think sometimes a person would just insert themselves into the narrative to give it a more directness. So I'm not going to teach that this author was an eyewitness of any of the stuff that he writes about, but certainly he's not an eyewitness of the stuff that happens in the Gospels, as he also says. That's one thing that it tells us.

This also tells us that this is a compilation of sources. Now already, when you've been working on the synoptic problem and how to write an exegesis paper, you have figured out that the Gospel writers used other sources. Some of them are written sources, some of them are oral sources. This guy actually admits it up front, so it sounds like he's using both written sources and oral sources. What's one of the written sources we know he used? Mark, exactly, and we think that there's another written source that we call Q that he may have used. What does he mean by "orderly account"? Does it mean that Mark kind of wrote things in one order and this guy knows a better chronological order, a historical order? Is he talking about, I'm writing to you an account that's more like what actually happened when it happened? That's the way this has sometimes been interpreted by people. As we'll see today that's not likely right because we can even tell when this author is creatively shifting events around for his own purposes. He's claiming to write an orderly account, but if he is claiming that he's giving us a more chronologically accurate account then he's wrong, as we'll see. Probably he doesn't even mean that, probably this is no claim to historicity. He's probably just saying that, the way I tell this is better than the way that Mark or Q or some other sources tell it. He's thought about the order in which he puts it and he's thought about how he wants to write his Gospel.

This also tells you what literary form this is. He knows he's writing something that's like other literature in the ancient world. The Gospel of Luke is not a biography but it could have been thought of as a life. In fact, the Greek word for life is bios, where we get biology. Bios could be the name of genre of literature that told about some great man. We separate it from biography because it doesn't have the same kind of concerns that a modern biography does. It seems like he knows that for the Gospel of Luke anyway he's writing a bios of Jesus, a life of Jesus. How do we know that? Because he starts off later in the Gospel with the same kind of stuff that you would see if you read a book about Augustus the Emperor, or Plato the great philosopher. That is, he starts off with narratives about a miraculous birth. Telling stories about a great man and his miraculous birth was a not uncommon way to start a life of someone. Then in Acts it also looks like he knows he's writing something that would look something like a history, and we have histories also from the ancient world. This guy is--much more then Mark, this author is much more self conscious in setting himself forward and setting his work up as a literary work, it has literary form.

Who is Theophilus though? Some people would think, well maybe this is the guy's patron, because often in the ancient world when you wrote a book you started off with the dedication. The dedication, you didn't say, dedicated to so and so, what you said was Dear Theophilus, I am writing this because you've asked me to set down my thoughts. In other words you give a fiction, it's a fiction that your patron, maybe the person who supports you financially or socially, or whatever that person has asked you to set down an account of something. You would start off, Dear Mr. Smith you've asked me repeatedly when we had lunch at Mori's, to describe my recent trip to Africa, so I'm writing this down at your request. That's a dedication to your patron. Who is Theophilus, though? Some people say maybe he's an actual historic person, he calls him "most excellent," the Greek word would seem to imply that this guy is of fairly high class or that our author wants us to believe that he's high class. It's also, though, possible, some people have said, maybe he's a fiction because Theophilus comes from two Greek words meaning theos which is God, and philos beloved or friend. Some people have said he's making up a name that's sort of a fictive name for any God loving or beloved by God reader. We really don't know, so scholars are completely at sea as far is if Theophilus a real person or is he not. Those are several things about that we need to notice. He sets himself up as writing a history by the ancient standards of history, but is it history by our standards of history? The only way to figure that out is to analyze the text itself, so that's what we're going to do.

On your outline you have--on your handout you have an outline of Luke and an outline of Acts. I think I didn't get one, I gave mine away, can I have one? Thank you, Michael. Notice how it's divided up. First you get the beginning of the Gospel which actually starts off with the birth and childhood narratives, and Jesus and John the Baptist, in chapter 1, and then in chapter 3 you get Jesus meeting--Jesus relationship to John the Baptist. All of this starts off partly in Galilee but also partly in Judea. The birth of John happens in Judea, the birth of Jesus, according to Luke, happens in Galilee [correction: Judea]. Luke also, though, has Jesus family go from Judea to Galilee [correction: from Galilee to Judea] for the birth. Now that's different from Matthew, Matthew just started off with the holy family living in Bethlehem. Luke has the idea that this family is living in Galilee and, because of a census, the family is required to go to Bethlehem, which is in Judea. The family is from Galilee, but Luke really starts the action of his Gospel, both for John the Baptist birth and for the birth of Jesus in Judea. That's going to be important.

Then you have, starting in 3:23, the beginning of Jesus' Galilean ministry and that goes all the way to 9:50. You have the beginning of the ministry, there's an announcement in 3:23, this is Jesus began to--in the fifteenth year of reign of Tiberius, then you have a genealogy, then you have the temptation story in chapter 4, and then you have Jesus' inaugural address, which we'll talk about both this time and next time. In 4:14-30 is Jesus' first sermon, it's very clear Luke wants to set this up as Jesus' first sermon and we'll talk about why later. Then you have 4:31 to 8:56, the Galilean ministry proper. That is, this is Jesus going around Galilee, healing people, preaching, teaching. Now look in chapter 9, though, then you get a transition period. Most of chapter 9 is a transition from the Galilee ministry to the other main part of Jesus'--of Luke's passage in the Gospel which is Jesus' trip to Jerusalem. 9:1, "Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over demons and cured diseases." Notice now, he's not really doing the Galilean ministry anymore, he's setting up other things to happen.

Look at--now look all the way at the end of that chapter at 9:51. This is a very big verse in Luke although--but you'd never know it unless you had a scholar kind of point it out to you; 9:51: "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem." Now what is that? "Taken up," --does that refer to Jesus ascension into heaven? Is it for his crucifixion because you put somebody up on a cross? Whatever it is, but notice, we're not even toward the end of the Gospel here, we're only about halfway through--we're not even halfway through the Gospel. We're at still very early in the Gospel compared to what the rest of it is, and yet, what Luke is doing is turning your attention as a reader now to Jerusalem. "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem, he sent messengers ahead of him," and they go through the villages. So all the rest of the next ten chapters Jesus is on the road. [Sings] "On the road again." It's on the road to Jerusalem. Now this big ten chapter on the road trip, Jesus' road trip to Jerusalem, is not found in the other Gospels, it's only in Luke. What does--what is it there for?

Then in 19:45, Jesus finally gets to Jerusalem, and from 19:45 until the end of Luke you have Jesus in Jerusalem. Then Acts starts out, and as I've said before, the next volume Acts starts by retelling a bit of what happened at the end of Luke. You know you're in the second volume of a two volume work here because he rehashes at the beginning of Acts. First you get the time--from one, Acts 1:1 to 9:43, I've designated as the time before the Gentiles. The church is all a Jewish community, they all live mainly in Judea and Jerusalem, they worship together, they even spend a lot of time in the temple, in the Jewish temple. This is very much a Jewish organization, the Gentiles haven't been brought in, and then you have another transition period just like when we had a transition period in Chapter 9 of Luke, in Chapter 10 of Acts you have a transition period from 10:1 to 12:25. First you have the conversion of the first Gentile convert, he's a Roman Centurion, Cornelius, and you have Peter defending his conversion of Cornelius, because this is controversial to bring someone into the church without them being circumcised at this point, according to Luke's narrative. Then you have 11:19-30, look at that, Acts 11:19-30:

Now those who were scattered, because of the persecution that took place over Stephen, traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. And they spoke the word to no one but Jews. But among them were some men from Cyprus and Cyrene who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus.

Now you may have a footnote after the word "Hellenists," does anybody have a food note after the word Hellenist there in your--what does your footnote say?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Greeks, so some texts have "Hellenists" which would be sort of Greek speaking Jews and other manuscripts have just the word "Greeks." In fact, you can even take this term "Hellenist" to be just Greeks themselves. At least there's some idea that these people were speaking not just too Greek--speaking to Greek Jews but also to Greeks. That introduces, then, this period of the Gentiles. You have the introduction to a predominantly Gentile church in Antioch, and that's what you get from 11:19-30, and then you get some persecution in Jerusalem in Chapter 12, and then you get a shift of attention from Jerusalem to the Gentiles in 12:25:

But the word of God continued to advance and gain adherence. Then after completing their mission, Barnabus and Saul returned to Jerusalem and brought with them John, whose other name was Mark.

I actually think that's supposed to be "returned from Jerusalem to Antioch." There's again some manuscript problems because in 13:1 you have, "Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers." From chapter 13 to the rest of Acts, the attention is not in Jerusalem. They go back to Jerusalem, Paul goes back to Jerusalem a few times, and Paul is eventually arrested in Jerusalem and there is a trial, and there's all kinds of interesting, exciting riots and things that happen in Jerusalem. But the rest of Acts the attention is away from Jerusalem and to the rest of the world, the rest of--all the way there. Then you have from 13:1 you have the period called "after the Gentiles," this is after Gentiles have been brought into the church and then the focus is going to be on the Gentile church for the rest of Acts. You get, for example, the first missionary journey of Paul, then you have the Jerusalem conference in chapter 15, which we've talked about already. Then you have the second missionary journey of Paul, and then the third missionary journey of Paul, and then you have Paul in Jerusalem and then arrested and taken to Rome, and then you have Paul in Rome and ending the whole book, chapter 28:17-31.

Notice what's going on here. Luke constructs his two-volume work like this. It starts off in Judea, it keeps coming to Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, it focuses you on Jerusalem, through all the Gospel of Luke, and then the last week of Jesus' life in Jerusalem where he's crucified, he's resurrected. Where did Jesus appear to his disciples after his resurrection according to Matthew? Galilee, exactly. Did Jesus appear to any of his disciples in Jerusalem according to Matthew? No. All the appearances of Jesus--the resurrected Jesus in Matthew take place in Galilee not Jerusalem. Just the opposite of that, at the end of Luke and the beginning of Acts, Jesus tells his disciples after he's risen, several of them see him, and he says, "Stay in Jerusalem, don't go out of Jerusalem or Judea until the Holy Spirit comes." And it says, they stayed in Jerusalem the whole--he--Jesus appeared to his disciples for a stated period of time, according to Acts; I think its forty days. Is that right? Something like that. After that period of time Jesus no longer appeared to his disciples, according to Acts, he ascended into heaven, but that whole time they stayed in Judea, so all the appearances of the resurrected Jesus, according to Luke, take place in Jerusalem. That's interesting see that he starts off in Galilee, he ends up in Jerusalem, and then Acts starts off again in Jerusalem and then it goes out and--to part of the world--it expands its vision to Antioch, to Asia Minor, to Greece, to Europe, and finally Paul ends up in Rome at the end. There's a very schematic geographical system to the way Luke has organized this two volume work, and that's even reflected in the layout of the outline of the book, which is why I wanted to give you that very simple outline.

Now let's go back and see how this is reflected in other parts. Look at Jesus' inaugural speech as put forward by Luke in chapter 4 of Luke. Now we're going to spend a lot of time talking about this because you're going to imitate me when you write your exegesis papers. You're going to pay really good attention to all the details of the pericope. You've learned now that pericope is just a fancy Greek word for section, it's the Greek form of section, both of them mean something cut out, and so pericope is what we biblical scholars often call a little piece of text that you do an exegesis of. You want to concentrate on the details of your pericope to try to find out what the message is. So that's what we're going to do with this passage 4:16-30. Now it would help if you also compared this--we're not going to do that so much right now--with Mark 6:1-6 because Luke is getting this scene from Mark. What's going to be interesting to us is, what does Luke change about the scene he gets from Mark? What does he add to the scene he gets from Mark? You could also compare it with Matthew 13:53-58 because that's where Matthew has it. If you were to compare Mark and Matthew, what you would see is Matthew pretty much just follows Mark here. He takes this story about where he finds it in the story of Mark, and he puts it in his story at chronologically about the same place. And he doesn't have Jesus give a long speech, he just has him appear there and that sort of thing.

Now notice what Luke does. Luke takes this text and he does a lot more with it, so we're going to read it and talk about that. "When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom." Now if you were a good exegete you would notice, "as was his custom"--you might need to look up in a concordance to see if Luke likes that phrase, because he does.

He stood up and read, and the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" He said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Doctor, cure yourself!' And you will say, 'Do here also in your hometown the things we have heard you did in Capernaum.'"

That's interesting, because he hasn't really got to Capernaum yet in Luke's Gospel.

And he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land. Yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." When they heard this--

Now notice they started out the scene, they're all happy, he's the hometown boy, he's come home, they are amazed at his teaching, the mood changes. Why does the mood change right there?

When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbath.

Notice, this is when he moves to Capernaum from Nazareth in Luke's Gospel. In all the synoptic Gospels, Jesus makes Capernaum his home base in Galilee, not his hometown of Nazareth. According to Mark and Matthew it's later in their Gospels that Jesus is rejected in Nazareth and makes his--then moves and makes his home in Capernaum. Notice that Luke knows this, Luke is giving us a clue that he knows he's taking this passage out of its context from where he found it because the people say, "Do for us what you did in Capernaum." Implying that they think of Capernaum as his home base, well that's because by that time in Mark and Matthew, it was his home base, by the time he gives this speech in Nazareth. Luke takes this passage that he finds later in Mark and he moves it and plops it down at the beginning of Jesus' Galilean ministry. He wants this speech to be Jesus' first speech, this sermon, Jesus' first sermon. Maybe that means that if we analyze the content of the sermon we can try to figure out, why did Luke change the setting of the story to be at the beginning of the ministry and then also why did he make it so much bigger? It occupies only a few little verses in Mark, and Luke expands it into this whole speech and makes it this big conflict, so let's look at several different things.

First, I said--he says, "as was his custom." As we'll talk about next week, one of the main themes of the Gospel of Luke and Acts is that good Jewish boys do good Jewish things. They go to synagogue, they know their scripture, they're circumcised, they keep kosher, they worship in the temple. So Jesus also is depicted by Luke as a good Jewish boy. We'll see next time, and I'm going to talk about some of these themes a bit more fully in both Luke and Acts. And I'll talk about, for example, why is it only in Luke that he tells us that Jesus' parents, after he was born, circumcised him on the eighth day like they were supposed to, after a month they take him to the temple for the presentation. All of this, and Luke even tells us, this is to fulfill the scripture and to fulfill the law, and he's referring back to Leviticus. So Jesus' mother and father are good Jewish parents, they do exactly what the law tells them to do, and Jesus is a good Jewish boy, so another clue here, "as was his custom," this is like Jesus goes to temple every Saturday.

Look also, "the spirit of the Lord," he says in verse 18, he cites the text, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor." Again, if you took a concordance and searched all the times in Luke and Acts, when the spirit either called the Holy Spirit or sometimes just the spirit or the spirit of God occurs, you'll find this is one of Luke's favorite themes. The Holy Spirit, in fact, is the main actor in the book of Acts. Jesus is the main actor in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus leaves the scene, he kind of talks from offstage every once in a while--talk to Saul, Saul why do you persecute me? But Jesus is kind of saying that from offstage. The real actor in the book of Luke is the Holy Spirit. --So, again, at the beginning of this lecture, this sermon, Jesus talks about the spirit. Notice also the--"sent me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free." Any of you know the Magnificat? The song that's sung by Mary when she's told by the angel that she is pregnant? It's a very important liturgical piece; I'll talk about it again next time in a little bit more depth. If you go to a Catholic church or an Episcopalian church, chances are you'll say the Magnificat, "My soul blesses the Lord." It's called the Magnificat because "my soul magnifies the Lord." In the Latin the first word of the song that Mary says is magnificat, that is "magnifies," "my soul magnifies the Lord." That song that Mary says has all this stuff about God will--that her son will lift up the poor and oppressed, God will help the poor; he will send the rich away empty. Over and over again that song by Mary, this idea that God's going to perform this great reversal of rich and poor, the poor will be helped and made rich, the rich will be made poor, the high will be sent down low, the low will be raised up high, so we've already seen this theme already in the Gospel of Luke, and now it's right here in Jesus' first sermon. That's another theme.

Look at verse 19, "To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." If you use an older translation, like the King James Version, anybody else have--what do you have for 19, "To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor," anybody have a different translation? Nope--yes sir?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: "The year acceptable to the Lord." A lot of translations--the older translations will say, "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." That's--as we'll see--that's another theme of Luke. He's quoting it from scripture but then he incorporates it. For example, there will be a time later where we'll see that at one point Jesus condemns Jerusalem because "they did not recognize the time of their visitation." Jesus' being there on earth represents this special time. It's a focus of history on one point of time. Again, Jesus in his first sermon quotes this "acceptable year of the Lord" as being his year; it's the Jesus year in Judea.

Then another theme that you see here is what happens to Jesus. First Jesus sets himself up as a prophet, right, by quoting--by citing stories about Elijah, who helped the woman--the widow's son, and Elisha, so Elijah and Elisha are important prophets for Luke and Jesus portrays as being like that, so that's why he says:

No prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown. But the truth is there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, there was severe famine, yet Elijah was not sent to them.

Elijah wasn't sent to the Jews, to any Jewish widows didn't--weren't there Jewish widows who needed a little help too, God? Well yeah, but he wasn't sent to the Jewish widows he was sent to a non-Jewish widow, a woman who lived in Sidon. "There were many lepers in Israel in the time of prophet Elisha." Elisha was the junior prophet to Elijah, Elijah anointed Elisha--not anoint him, he gave him his mantel and so Elisha, after Elijah went up in the fiery chariot, the flying fiery chariot you've heard the story, "swing low swing chariot, coming for to take me home." Elijah doesn't die at the end of his life he's swooped up in a fiery chariot into heaven and, right before that, he gives his mantel to his disciple Elisha and then Elisha is the prophet from there. Elisha also, weren't there many Jewish lepers Elisha? Couldn't you take a nice Jewish leper to heal Elisha? No Jesus says, he wasn't sent to them he was sent to Naaman the Syrian. So I said, when they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage, and I said, why this? What were they so upset with? Now you tell me, why does he say they were filled with rage right then? What, just say it, shout it out. You know. Are there are no Jewish lepers, Elisha? Are there no Jewish widows, Elijah? Why are they mad?

Student: He's saying he's not there for them.

Professor Dale Martin: Yeah, Jesus is saying, I'm not here for you, or at least he's saying Elijah and Elisha were sent to Gentiles, not to Jews. Notice what Luke has done here. He's set up Jesus as a prophet like Elijah and Elisha, and he had Jesus himself predict that the message will go out to the Gentiles. It hasn't gone out yet to Gentiles, in the Gospel of Luke Jesus pretty much sticks with the Jews. In fact, Peter has to have a revelation in Acts before he will go preach to a Gentile, as we'll see next time. The Gentiles are not receiving the Gospel yet but Jesus is predicting that they will, so that's another theme here that Luke is playing on. Notice the other thing, what happens when Jesus does this? He's rejected by his own people. So another theme of Luke and Acts is true prophets get rejected by their own people. A prophet in his own country is not accepted. Jesus is a great Prophet like Elijah and Elisha, he's not accepted in his own country, he's rejected, and the Gentile mission happens after the rejection by the Jews. That's going to be a theme that we'll see over and over in Acts; not so much in the Gospel of Luke. Luke is foreshadowing the book of Acts in this chapter with Jesus' sermon because Jesus himself doesn't go preach to Gentiles. You have to wait until Acts to get that. But Luke is foreshadowing the rejection of the Gospel by Jews and the taking of the Gospel to the Gentiles that you'll then see in Acts, and he foreshadows it all right here in this first sermon by Jesus.

Then the last theme that you have here is them trying to kill Jesus for what he says, which that's going to foreshadow the theme all the way through that the Gospel--wherever the Gospel goes you get persecution. When we get to Acts you'll see this in a way that just drums it into your head: Paul goes to a town, he goes first to the synagogue in the town, he preaches to the Jews in the synagogue, they get all mad, some of them usually accept, a few of them will accept, we'll see that as a theme in Acts also, but the majority of them don't. They reject Paul, they throw him out, they try to stone him, or they try to persecute him, or they try to throw him out town and then Paul turns and preaches the same message to the Gentiles, and they accept, and they form a church. He goes to the next town, he does this in Thessalonica, he does it in Philippi, he does it in Corinth, he tries it in Athens but he's not successful because nobody pays any attention to him in Athens. That's a university town after all, they know better, right? This theme of the prophets being rejected and it's the rejection of the message by the Jews that causes the message then to be taken to the Gentiles. That will play out over and over again, and here again you get it here. So Luke has transposed the story about Jesus preaching in Nazareth from where he finds it in Mark, which is later in Jesus' ministry, and he puts it at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and he packs it up with all this other stuff. That should be a very good clue to you if you're comparing Luke with Mark; you just know this must be important; this must be a way where we really see what this author is about.

Notice: is Luke concerned about when the event in Nazareth actually historically happened? No, he's even--you can tell he's even getting it out of his source from one spot and consciously transferring it to another spot, which tells us one thing, is that to him it's not that important chronologically when this story actually happened. What's important to him is using the story to emphasize the theological message that he wants to emphasize. Now let's look at another place where Luke does this. You have to turn to Acts for this though, look at Acts 11. Any questions about that before I go on? No questions? I love good docile students, always happy with everything I say.

Look at Chapter 11:19. Now I already read this earlier and then I read it actually in another lecture, but it's very important to see what Luke is doing.

Now those who were scattered, because of the persecution that took place over Stephen, traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyrus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful in the Lord with steadfast devotion for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many . . . Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found, him he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

Isn't that a nice little encapsulation? In that little paragraph Luke, the author, who we still tend to call these Gospel writers by these names even though we don't believe historically that this was the historical Luke, but I'll still keep calling him Luke because it's easier then saying "the author" each time. Luke takes a little paragraph in which he shifts your focus here from the whole Jerusalem, Judea, Jewish oriented form of the movement, and now he goes to Antioch and now you get this Greek kind of movement, it's predominantly in a Greek speaking city, Antioch. This is one of the reasons that I think that that word that my translation translates, "Hellenist," they spoke to Hellenists in verse 20; I think that's not correct. I think that either in the original Greek, and some manuscripts have this, or you just would translate this word, it must be that they--it's saying that they spoke to Greeks, that is ethnic Greeks. Why do I think this is a reference to ethnic Greeks and not just Greek speaking Jews? Anybody have an idea? Because this isn't the first time that people--that followers of Jesus have spoken to Greek speaking Jews. We already have in Jerusalem--he has already told us in the earlier part of Acts that in Jerusalem there were already Greek speaking Jews part of the community. In fact it says that, Stephen himself would have talked with these Greek speaking Jews. So we already have before we get to chapter 11, the idea that the Gospel of Jesus has been taken both to Aramaic speaking Jews and Greek speaking Jews because it's already there in Jerusalem. He's talking about something new happening here, this is people not just speaking to Aramaic speaking Jews or to Greek speaking Jews, they're actually speaking to non-Jews. This is the first time you get this indication in the book of Acts, that the movement has now spread out from Jerusalem, and it's also being spread to Greeks, ethnic Greeks. And I think by "Greeks" he just means Gentiles, not just Greeks ethnically but anybody who wasn't a Jew is what he mainly means here.

What's interesting is that this is kind of out of place. One of the things I'm arguing is that unlike this translation I just read, which might lead you to believe that the author is telling us this is the first time they spoke to Greek speaking Jews, I think that the original text must have meant that, this is the first time that these people are speaking to actual non-Jews. Now it's not the first time, though, that people in Acts have spoken to non-Jews, right? When's the first time, according to Acts, that people actually speak to non-Jews and preach the Gospel to non-Jews, and non-Jews become members of the church? When? Have you read Acts yet? Cornelius, the centurion, the Roman centurion. Remember I said, Peter has to have a whole series of revelations on top of the roof before he's convinced to finally go preach to a Gentile and convert him and that takes place in Acts 10. Now keep your finger on Acts 11:19 and flip over to Acts 8:1-4. I think I may have mentioned this already but let's look at it a bit closer now. Acts 8:1-4, this takes place right after the stoning of Stephen. Hmmm. Stephen, is that a good Hebrew or Aramaic name? No, does anybody know where the word--where the name Stephen comes from? Raise your hand, yes sir?

Student: Crown.

Professor Dale Martin: Crown, are you a Stephen? No, you just know. Yes, it comes from the word stephanos in Greek, which means "crown." Notice already there are Greek speaking Jews who have Greeks names in the church, and Stephen's one of them. In fact, the seven deacons who are appointed that we could have read about just right before this in Acts, those are appointed precisely in order, according to Acts, to be able to minister to the Greek speakers, because some Greek speaking widows were being neglected in the distribution of food and funds, according to the text. The seven deacons are appointed. Those seven deacons some of them have--they have Greek names, so there are Greek speaking Jews in Jerusalem already. So right after the stoning of Stephen you have this, chapter 8:

And Saul approved of their killing him. That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house, dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered, after the stoning of Stephen, went from place to place proclaiming the word.

Phillip, who was one of those deacons along with Stephen, Phillip, that's a good Greek name right? At least it's a Macedonian name, named after the king of Macedon. "Phillip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them." Then you get Phillip going to Samaria and so forth and you'll have other things happening. Now keep your finger--you had your finger there, notice that he's saying, "Now those who were scattered went from place to place proclaiming the word." Flip over without thinking anything, don't think anything, Acts 11:19, "Now those who were scattered because of the persecutions that took place over Stephen traveled as far as." You see Luke seems to have had a source, maybe a written source, that had this message about the stoning of Stephen, the persecution that arose in Jerusalem, and then the dispersal of Greek speaking followers of Jesus, and they don't just go to Samaria as Phillip did, it actually says, "Then, they went to Phoenicia, Cyprus, Antioch . . . speaking to no one but Jews," but then it has this message to the Greeks and the Gentiles.

In other word, from 8:4 it must have originally joined on to what goes with 11:19 because you can just see this narrative stops, and then it picks up again in 11:19. Luke took what was a text or a source for him that had this story that this kind of thing in order. Stephen preaches the Gospel to the Jews, they get mad at him, they persecute him and stone him. The persecution of Stephen leads to more persecution of the church in Jerusalem, the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews, the disciples are scattered and they go and who do they preach too? The Gentiles. Haven't we seen this pattern before? We all saw it in the very first sermon of Jesus, right? What Luke has done is he's split this thing which showed that pattern, and in it he put all the stuff that's in chapters 8, 9, and 10 and the first part of 11 in between there. Now you tell me, why did Luke split a narrative and put this material in between those two sentences? What's in that material between 8, 9, 10, and 11 that was--that Luke wanted to insert there? What? Pardon?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Peter preaching to Cornelius, the Gentile. What Luke is doing is he has a source that basically--who were the first people to preach to Gentiles? They're anonymous, according to his source; we don't know who they are. Just some people, some followers of Jesus, Greek speaking followers of Jesus who were--left Jerusalem and Judea, they traveled around different parts, they went to the Eastern Mediterranean, and as they went they took the Gospel with them, and along the way they even spoke not only to Greek speaking Jews but they even spoke to Gentiles, that's what his source says. Luke splits that and--he doesn't want to do that. First he wants to say, well Phillip went to Samaria and he preached to Samaria, so you have Samaria there. Then you have this whole thing with Peter. And you know the story about Peter, he's up on the rooftop praying and this sheet with all these unclean animals, with alligators and snakes, and stuff that was somehow some Sunday school material I had, had a sheet with alligators and snakes and stuff coming down for Peter. It doesn't tell us in the text that there were alligators and snakes, it just part of my Sunday school memory. There are unclean animals, and he's commanded to kill them and eat them, and he says, I'm a good Jew, I don't eat that, that's not kosher, and a voice from heaven says, what God has cleansed don't you declare unclean. The vision happens three times. Why? Because Peter does not want to take the message to Gentiles. Is your hand up? Nope okay.

So finally Peter is forced to take the message to Gentiles, by God, by revelation, and then you have the story of the baptism of Cornelius and his house, the first Gentile converts. And then Peter goes back to Jerusalem and all the people--the Jews in Jerusalem say, why did you do that, you're not supposed to bring in uncircumcised people in the church. And Peter has to defend the whole thing and then finally Peter wins the argument, and even James, the conservative head of the church, turns to them and says, okay well God must have been including the Gentiles also. Luke wants Peter to be the first person to take the message to Gentiles, and he wants Peter to do so only after being compelled by God to do so. Luke knows that the first people who took the message to Gentiles were probably just anonymous followers of Jesus, because in the source it's there. He splits that source and he puts all this stuff about Peter there because he wants Peter to be the first and only then the others. In other words, what you get there is a key to what is the entire outline of Acts.

Look back at Acts 1:8. Acts 1:8 gives you, in a sense, the outline of Acts. This is Jesus about to ascend into heaven, talking to his disciples, right outside Jerusalem in the suburbs of Jerusalem. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit," again there's that Holy Spirit important for Luke, "has come upon you. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." That's exactly the way he will construct the book of Acts. Jerusalem--Judea is the country of Jerusalem; Samaria is actually another part here, but you have this idea that the message is going out in concentric circles. That's why Phillip went--he has Phillip going to Samaria right before Peter goes to the Gentiles with--Cornelius in chapter 10. In chapter 8, Phillip goes to Samaria and then chapter 10 Peter goes--and then so Gentiles--then you have the Gentiles, and you have Rome as where the book ends up. Rome sort of representing symbolically the very ultimate ends of the earth. This is the whole world so why--by looking at the details we can tell that the Luke is not telling us what happened by chronological or historical accuracy. He puts it in an order--even in the order he puts it, even the outline on his books because he wants to have this message of the Gospel centering on Jerusalem, that's why the whole first part of Luke centers in--that's why he has ten full chapters on the journey to Jerusalem. He wants to focus your attention on Jerusalem--through the book, the Gospel. But then what he does is once you're in Jerusalem he focuses your attention on the fact that the Gospel goes beyond Jerusalem.

One last thing, look at Luke 21:20-27. We'll unpack a lot of this much more--next time when we talk about both Luke and Acts as far as what are the major thematic issues in these two. I'll start in again next time with this, or I'll reiterate this, but just to get you thinking look at Luke 21. Luke gets this from Mark 13. Do you remember when we talked about how could we tell when Mark was written because it has this abomination of desolation being set up in the temple, which probably refers to--recalls this idea of the profanation of the temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but Mark believed it was going to happen in the future, probably by the Romans. Right after that happens then the Messiah comes, you have all these terrible things happen and the Messiah comes. Luke is using Mark as his source, Mark 13, but notice how Luke changes it. Verse 20, "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies," that's not in Mark.

When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, those inside the city must flee, for these are the days of vengeance--

I'm going quickly through this, you'll have to read over it yourself. Look at verse 24, "They will fall by the edge of the sword," so the Jews will be defeated, he says. Not only do you have Jerusalem surrounded by the Roman army, but you have them defeated, fall by the sword. "They will be taken away as captives among all nations." Yes, the Jews were taken as slaves to Rome, and then they were sold off and dispersed throughout the nations as slaves. "And Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." None of that was in Luke's source of Mark. This tells us that Luke is writing after the destruction of Jerusalem because he tells you it happens. It even says that there's going to be a time of the Gentile domination of Jerusalem. If you read on it's only after that that you have the Messiah coming on the clouds then as--he picks up again the story. Notice all over Luke and Acts, we can tell by looking at his sources, his editing procedure. Luke was written sometime after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the time he's telling this story is here. What's that time? "the time of the Gentiles." Any questions? See you next time.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 10
The Acts of the Apostles
Play Video
The Acts of the Apostles

The speech that Stephen gives before his accusers in Acts shows how the author of Luke-Acts used and edited his sources. So, also, does the description of the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke, as compared to that in Mark. The major themes of Luke-Acts are 1) the Gospel going first to the Jews and then to gentiles and 2) that of the prophet-martyr, with Jesus as the prophet-martyr par excellence.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 141-162

Bible: Acts


February 11, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: The chronological and geographical structure of Luke-Acts is thematic and theological, not historical. That's what we talked about last time. How you can actually see the author of Luke-Acts taking sources that he took before him, perhaps some oral sources, I've argued that some of these were even written sources, because it seems like you can actually see where he takes something that was in a written account of the spread of Christianity, slices it at one place, separates that, and puts several chapters in Acts between them. It's very clear from the ten chapters in the Gospel of Luke, which we call the journey to Jerusalem section, that this is an artificial construction on the author's part because, he tells us at one point, at this point Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem. And then he's taken material that he's found in the Gospel of Mark in different places, some parables here, some stories here, some teachings here, he's taken other things that he probably found in Q, in different places, although because remember we don't possess an actual written document of Q, it's a hypothetical document, but we figure that if he did this with Mark, whose document we do possess and therefore can see how he changes the order of material he presents from Mark, he probably did the same thing with Q also. We can see that he's taken things from different sources that he had and put them into this ten chapter long journey to Jerusalem.

Luke and Acts looks like a historical document and this is what fools people. Do you remember back earlier in the beginning of the semester where we compared the first two chapters of Paul's letter to the Galatians with the way Paul is presented as being in and out of Jerusalem, and how many times he went to Jerusalem, what happened in Jerusalem, what happened in Damascus, and I asked you to compare those two accounts. Some of you thought, well I believe the Acts account because Paul clearly has an ax to grind in Galatians, he's clearly trying to make a point of his independence from the Jerusalem church. The book of Acts just looks more like a history; it looks more like a historical account. Well by now you know that, yes, even though it looks like a historical account, especially by ancient historiographical standards, it's not a historical account in anything like the modern sense. One of the most important things to realize, these texts you're reading are creative texts, they're put together for purposes, not one of them is coming to you without some kind of ax to grind, without some kind of tendency, without some kind of theological or ethical or political statement to make. I would go further, well I just think I'm an honest realist, some people might call me a cynic, and say that we need to be careful about all texts we read and not take any text that we read as not having some kind of slant, some kind of interest, some kind of ideological message. That's important to read about all texts in my view.

The last time I made this point by pointing out how that we can see some seams in Luke's narrative, where he ripped apart the source he used to splice something between Acts 8:4 and Acts 11:19. Now I want you to look with me at another passage in Acts, we're going to do the same sort of thing with Acts 6 and 7. Get your Bibles out. This is the story of Stephen. We've talked about Stephen several times already, he's supposedly the first Christian martyr. He was one of the Greek speaking Hellenistic Jews who's in Jerusalem at the time after Jesus' death and resurrection, and he is chosen as one of the twelve [correction: seven] deacons to minister to the widows and to do other kinds of ministerial work, probably because the church was made up partly of Aramaic-Hebrew speaking Jews and partly of Greek speaking Jews. Stephen seems to have been one of those who was chosen to kind of take care of the Greek speaking Jewish members of this small little community. Now you have to remember we're talking about a very early period in the history of Christianity. It's not even Christianity yet. This is just a bunch of Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah; they were shocked and horrified when Jesus was crucified because the Messiah was not supposed to be crucified. There was no Jewish expectation that the Messiah would be a suffering Messiah in the ancient Jewish world. That's something that followers of Jesus had to invent once they were shocked at the fact that he was actually crucified. The idea was the Messiah wouldn't be crucified and wouldn't suffer, the Messiah would bring an army and overthrow the Romans. So the fact that they believed he was the Messiah and then he's executed, that just came as a huge shock to these early disciples of Jesus. They basically had to invent a new concept of what the Jewish Messiah was.

This was a very small group of people, huddled in Jerusalem, maybe some of them were in Galilee, maybe in Syria, maybe a few other places but according to Acts they're all in Jerusalem at this time. This small group of people are trying to figure out who Jesus was and what that means for the history of Jerusalem. Stephen is one of these people and he's accused of several things. Look at 6:11, 6:11 in Acts, "They secretly instigated some men--" that is, they that the Jewish opponents of this Jesus group, they had become offended with Stephen and his arguments. "

They secretly instigated some men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God."

They're accusing him of blasphemy against Moses and God. What would this kind of blasphemy against Moses and God mean? Well we're going to pick up a few details. Look at 13:

They set up false witnesses who said, "This man never stopped saying things against this holy place."

What is this holy place? The temple, exactly, "this holy place" refers to the Jerusalem temple. They're accusing him of preaching against the temple and the law.

"For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs that Moses handed onto us."

Now notice, the writer here is telling you these are false accusations. Are they false accusations? Was he really preaching against the temple? Remember, Jesus is portrayed in some of the Gospels as himself having predicted that the temple would be destroyed. Does that mean that Jesus was preaching against the temple? Some Christian writers very quickly portray Jesus as teaching that his followers don't have to keep the Jewish law. I don't think that's actually correct for the historical Jesus as we'll talk about when we get to the historical Jesus. That's clearly how some early Christian writers are portraying Jesus as teaching that, you followers of mine don't have to keep the Jewish law. That's what they're accusing Stephen of doing. So is this a false accusation or is this just maybe what Stephen actually was teaching, as being a different form of the message about Jesus? Notice then we get to--these are the accusations about Stephen, but then in chapter 7 we get Stephen's own speech.

Now this is very interesting. I wish I could read the whole thing because it's rhetorically very powerful. What Stephen does is he starts off just talking about the God who appeared to Abraham in Mesopotamia. He tells the story that any of us Christians would recognize as the story of the Old Testament God and his interactions with Abraham and Moses, and which Jews would recognize as reflected in Jewish scripture, in Jewish tradition. That's the way the most part of the first half of that chapter 7 goes, it's a retelling of the Hebrew Bible story about God, the God of Israel. What really becomes interesting is, though, when he gets to--around verse 37 in chapter 7, I mean 35 in chapter 7, so look at that with me. Now right before this, notice he says:

"'I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people [this is God talking] who were in Egypt and have heard their groaning and I have come down to rescue them. Come now I will send you to Egypt.'"

God's telling Moses, at this point, he's going to send them to Egypt to deliver the people and we expect the whole story then of the Exodus to come next. What does it say in verse 35?

"It was this Moses whom they rejected when they said, 'Who made you ruler and judge?' and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the angel who appeared to him in the bush."

In other words, instead of emphasizing here Moses' activity of leading the Israelites out of captivity, he emphasizes another aspect of the story that's there in the Old Testament story because, yes, one of the Israelites--the story is: Moses comes upon two Israelites who are fighting. They're both--they are slaves in Egypt at this time and he says to one of the Israelites, is that any way to treat your brother? That Israelite rebukes him and says, who set you up as a judge over us? Notice that's the verse that Stephen centers on at this point to emphasize the story about Moses. Not so much Moses as just deliverer but Moses as someone rejected by the people. Have we seen that before? Uh-huh, one of the themes of Luke-Acts is prophets get rejected by the people. Verse 35, that's what he emphasizes. Let's just keep reading there.

"He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, 'God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people, as he raised me up.'"

Now in the Old Testament it seems like Moses is talking about--anybody know? Who follows Moses as the leader of the people of Israel? Yes sir?

Student: Joshua.

Professor Dale Martin: Joshua, exactly. It sounds like Moses is predicting Joshua's being raised up after he dies, but that's not what Stephen thinks. "This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, 'God will raise you . . . '"

"He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai with our ancestors; he received living oracles to give to us. Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead they pushed him aside in their hearts and turned back to Egypt."

Then it tells about the golden calf story, how the Israelites rejected Moses and the law, and made a golden fat calf to worship. Now look at 7:44:

"Our ancestors had the tent of testimony in the wilderness, as God directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to make it according to the pattern he had seen."

This refers to the stories in Exodus about the tabernacle, "the tent of testimony." This is a big tent that's--the construction that we just talked about, this is where God would meet the people Israel and Moses before the building of the temple. Stephen is fine with this, he's saying, God instructed Moses, and Moses directed the people to construct this tent of witness or meeting of God with Israel, and that's where God chose to be with his people according to the Bible. He gives that little history. But then look at 45,

"Our ancestors in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors. And it was there until the time of David . . ."

So up until the time of David the people of Israel had a tabernacle where they met God.

". . .who found favor with God and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the house of Jacob."

David was the first one who raised the idea of having a temple to God, not just a tabernacle but a temple, that's where we're going in the history here.

"But it was Solomon who built the house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands."

Where does the story go? The story's gone fine up to this point. It's just like we see it in Exodus and the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, David wanted to build a temple for God, God said, no. Solomon comes up later and he wants to build temple and finally God says yes, at least according to part of the Hebrew Bible. But another part of the Hebrew Bible always had a little bit of a prejudice against the idea that anybody could build a house for God. Some prophets seem not to like the temple so much, other prophets seem to like the temple so much. What Stephen is doing, he's pulling out of the Hebrew Bible that kind of anti-temple prophetic strain, and he's emphasizing that as part of his message. Then notice what he quotes there, a passage from the Hebrew Bible, and then in verse 51:

"You stiff necked people, uncircumcised of heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do."

What happened to Stephen? He just went--all of a sudden his panties are really in a wad for no obvious reason. He's been telling the story of the building of the temple. He's been going along fine, now he starts--he's gone from preaching now to insulting his audience. He's insulting the Jews in Jerusalem; he's accusing them of being on the wrong side of history. Why? Because they wanted to build a temple.

"Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones who received the law as ordained by angels."

What? Angels gave the Jewish law? I thought God gave the law, the Torah, on Sinai. I thought God wrote the stones with his finger and gave them to Moses, and Moses carried them down the mountain. Well, yeah, that's what the scripture says, but by this time in Jewish history it was not uncommon for Jews, even pious Jews, to believe that God did not himself directly write the law and give it to Moses, angels did. Most of them believed that this was with God's pleasure and principle. God wanted the angels to deliver the law through Jews, but at least they put, between God and Moses, angels. And angels, according to some of these traditions, were the ones who actually gave the law to the Israelites and to Moses. As we'll come to see, Paul believed this also, it wasn't an uncommon view among Jews.

But notice what Stephen does, he actually uses this tradition that the angels were the ones who gave the law to Moses to distance God a bit from the law, to make the law a little bit less connected to God. He demotes the law by reading the angels in between them. Stephen has done two things in this speech. He's grabbed hold of a certain prophetic tradition that we know is already there in the Bible, which criticized the Jerusalem temple. It's there in some prophets, why should God need a house? God doesn't need a house, God lives everywhere. Stephen pulls on that tradition that's already in the Bible, and then he adds this tradition about--that was common at the time about angels being the ones who actually gave the law to Moses rather than God directly. Then he turns all this on his Jewish attackers, his critics, and that's what he accuses them of, and then says, you crucified Jesus just like the people rejected Moses and all the prophets.

When they heard these things they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen, and they stoned him.

Is it any surprise they stoned him? Now I ask the question again, when the author of Acts sets these things up as false accusations against Stephen, who's right? Stephen or the author? Stephen actually does look like, in his own speech, to be attacking both the law and the temple. That is "this holy place" and Moses. I think what's going on here is another place we see the author of Acts taking material he has before him, and sticking it into a place, and then writing around it. For example, the author of Acts is the one who says, these were false accusations against Stephen, they set up and they were totally false, Stephen was totally innocent, but then he actually includes Stephen's speech which backs up the accusations. The other thing that makes this seem to me clearly that the author is using prior material is that this view of the temple that Stephen presents, this view that the temple is not good, that God doesn't like the temple, and it's only stiff necked and uncircumcised of heart people who believe in the temple. That's not the view of the author of Acts.

How do you know that? Because over and over again Luke, the author of Acts, actually portrays the disciples as meeting in the temple right after the resurrection of Jesus; where does it say they met and had prayers and preached, and prayed? In the temple, the disciples of Jesus meet in the temple. They're not anti-temple. When Paul goes off around the world, and then he comes back to Jerusalem, what does he do to show his piety? He takes a vow, a Nazarite vow, he shaves his head, he donates money which goes to the temple for sacrifices, and he himself goes to the temple to worship. Paul worships in the temple. The author of Acts is not himself anti-temple. He believes that the Jerusalem temple is just fine for Jews. He actually doesn't think Gentiles need to pay that much attention to it, but he believes it's perfectly fine for Jews. But he includes in here a speech by Stephen that is both anti-temple and somewhat anti-law. This shows that this author is using these different sources the speech of Stephen comes from a pre-Lukan source and its set into the book of Acts.

Now that means we can see his editorial activity, but notice what it also tells us we can see. We actually have, then, two different forms of early Christianity. Luke represents one and Stephen even embedded within Luke's own document represents another. We've got two different ideas, is the law of Moses something that's given by angels and therefore demoted and not very good, in which the law of Moses gets criticized, or is the law of Moses perfectly fine? The Jewish law with--that signals their ethnicity as being people of Israel, that's the point of view of Luke. Is the temple something that is good, that's a sign of God's covenant with Israel, which seems to be the view of most of the people in Luke-Acts or is the temple something that shows that you're stiff necked if you believe in its efficacy? That seems to be Stephen's view. In other words, we have little hints here that even within one book in the New Testament we have different kinds of early Christianity represented with slightly different theologies.

Now we can also see it several other times where Luke takes and changes things. I talked about this at the very last of my session last time, but I want to just reiterate it very quickly. Some of you, if you don't have Throckmorton's Gospel parallels, or some other Gospel parallels, this is why these are very useful, because I'm going to use this that way I have Mark right here and Luke right here for the same passage and I can compare them very, very directly, see exactly what words they have different. If you don't have that put one of your fingers where we talked about last time, Mark 13:14-27, and put another finger at Luke 21:20-33. And if you have Throckmorton it's paragraph 216, section 216 in Throckmorton. Look at the Mark passage first, 3:14:

"But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand) . . ."

And then he says, get out of town, get out of Judea. Go to the mountains because all hell is breaking loose anytime, and then he gives several things that are there. If you look at Luke where Luke has a parallel in Luke 21:20, Luke doesn't say "the desolating sacrilege," he just says,

"When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near."

There's a common wording there but it's slightly different. Then Luke also says:

"Those inside this city should leave, those out in the country should not enter it."

And then you go on. There's great distress in both places. Look at verse 21 of Mark 13:

"If anyone says to you at this time, 'Look, here's the Messiah!' or 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it."

[These are] false prophets. Now that's also going to be in Luke but in a totally different place that's contained in Luke 17. So Luke's using that false prophet material but not in this context.

Then look at Mark 13:24:

"But in those days after that suffering, the sun will be dark and the moon will not give its light, the stars will be falling from heaven."

In other words, after all this other stuff he's told you, that's when the big catastrophe takes place. The sun eclipses, the stars fall from heaven, the moon is dark. Luke also has something like that in Luke 21:25,

"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth distress among nations caused by the roaring of the seas."

Luke gives slightly different material. The problem is Luke then--yes, notice how right after that it says--Mark has the Son of Man coming with the clouds of glory in verse 26. Right after that you have the Son of Man coming down, but Luke has a bunch more material and you don't get anything until you see Luke 21:32 where he says,

"This generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away."

Then where does--well, I must have passed it. Where is it that Luke talks about the time of the Gentiles? Give me the verse--24? Yes, that's right. In 24:

"There will be great distress on earth and wrath, they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captive among all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles has been fulfilled."

Notice Luke inserts there something that's not there in the other sources, which is that Jerusalem will be captured, it will be destroyed, it will have a time of the Gentiles in between. And then Luke goes on to talk about the coming of Jesus and the very end. Again, one of these places where you can clearly see the editorial seams of the writer and you have the time of the Gentiles. One of the things that we've seen is that Luke is carefully constructing his sources to make his own point.

What I want to do now is now turn our attention to, okay, what are some of those points? What are some of the points we've already talked about? What are some of Luke's basic messages? One, Jesus is like the prophets; Jesus is like Elijah and Elisha. Two, prophets get rejected by their people. Three, when you're rejected by the people then the message goes out to other corners of the earth, and then this schematic view of history that we talked about later from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria, to the ends of the earth.

Now let's look at how some of these things play out. One of Luke's most important messages is "to the Jew first." Let's look at Luke 1:5-7, we're going to spend a little bit of time in Luke now, the beginning parts of Luke. Luke is very concerned to show, as I said last time, that Jesus is a good Jewish boy, his parents are good Jewish parents, he comes from good Jewish extended family. Luke 1:5, this is right after the very beginning of the prologue which I mentioned last--which I talked about last time.

In the days of King Herod of Judea there was a priest named Zachariah who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

Doesn't that sound kind of familiar? Old, very righteous couple, can't have children, she's getting on in years, she's barren, Abraham and Sarah, sounds like lots of--it sounds like Abraham and Sarah, it also is going to sound like Hannah, the mother of Samuel. These are these wonderful stories in the Bible about this old couple who want to have children and can't have children. So this is already evoking this idea of Jesus' family being like a story--they're a family like--you might find them right there in scripture, they're just like that.

Look at 1:25, this is when Elizabeth conceives, for five months she remained in seclusion, she said,

"This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people."

Sounds like its right out of 1 Samuel, second chapter. Look--keep one finger right there--in fact first read 1:46--this is the Magnificat. Look at 1:46, Mary said:

"My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed."

I read this last time, there's a lot of message about the rich will be sent to go away, the poor will be raised up, the reversal of status in the world. Now keep your finger there and go all the way to the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, to 1 Samuel. It's right before the two books called Kings and right after the book called Ruth. 1 Samuel tells about the birth of the prophet Samuel, his mother is Hannah, and here's her story in chapter 2 of 1 Samuel,

Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exalts in the Lord, my strength is exalted in my God, my mouth derides my enemies because I rejoice in my victory. There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one beside you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength."

It's a whole song, you can read the whole thing there, but if you just keep one finger at 1 Samuel 2, and one finger at Luke 1:46, Mary's song is obviously fashioned on the song of Hannah. The message is the reversal of status of rich and poor, weak and powerful. That's not all. Look at 1:14. This is talking about the birth of John the Baptist, his father is the priest Zachariah, his mother is Elizabeth. And this is the prophecy that comes with the angel to Zachariah.

"You will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit."

John the Baptist is portrayed like Elijah. You read stories about Elijah; similar things are said about him. Look at 2:36, we're going to move quickly,

There was a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phaneul, of the tribe of Asher.

You hear how biblical that sounds? That's real biblical. The guy who wrote this, I don't think he was a Jew, I think he was probably a Gentile, but he spoke Greek as his main language. It's not like he's just automatically talking this way in a sense, I think he's consciously constructing his book to sound like the Bible, to sound like the Jewish scripture.

She was of great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four she never left the temple [there's the temple] but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child [that's Jesus] to all who are looking for redemption of Jerusalem.

Anna is this holy woman, just like many of the holy women in the Bible. Then you have these psalms and prayers. I've already talked about the Magnificat, that Mary says. Look also at 1:68, this is the prayer that Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist prays:

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty Savior for us in the house of his servant David."

In other words, he goes on to quote basically what sounds like a psalm. It's very much a psalm-like piece of literary poetry there. Mary had her Magnificat, which sounds like scripture. Zachariah has his Benedictus, again these are these songs that if you're Roman Catholic, or if you're Episcopalian or--do Lutherans say the Magnificat and the Benedictus in these things in liturgy? Any Lutherans in here? Any other denominations in here say these things? I'm not sure I know which ones actually say the Magnificat, "my soul magnifies the Lord," or the Benedictus. If you're Roman Catholic or Episcopalian you say these psalms as part of the liturgy. They come from the New Testament but they sound very much like the Old Testament. Zachariah has one; we call it the Benedictus because in Latin, if you had a Latin Bible in front of you, the first word of that psalm would be benedictus, "blessed be the Lord God of Israel." The other psalm is 2:19, which Simeon prays. Simeon's this holy man living in the temple, again there's that theme of the temple. When he sees Jesus the baby he says,

"Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles."

Already at the very beginning of the Gospel, though Jesus himself won't go to the Gentiles during his life, this is something that Luke will wait until Acts to show us. Simeon predicts it, he prophesied about it in this little psalm. This is called the Nunc Dimittis in Christian liturgical tradition, because in Latin "now departs your servant," that's what the Latin means.

Then there's the piety of the holy family already mentioned before. Only Luke tells us about the circumcision of Jesus, in 2:21. Only Luke tells us in 2:22, this is worth looking at, "That after the prescribed period according to the law of Moses," Jesus' family followed the law of Moses very well.

They brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every first born male shall be designated as holy to the Lord." They offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves and two young pigeons.

In other words, over and over again, I could cite several different other examples, Luke wants to portray the holy family, John the Baptist's family, and the holy family of Jesus and Jesus himself as all being good Jews who honor the temple, who keep the law. They do everything like they're supposed to do. It's no surprise that when you get to the book of Acts the theme that comes out more than anything is "to the Jew first."

Look at Acts, I'm not going to read all of this, but Acts 13:46, this is Paul and Barnabas, they've been speaking on the Sabbath day to a crowd in a synagogue and the people--some of them believe and some get jealous. In 13:46:

Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly saying, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you [that is to the Jews]. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles."

It happens again--the same thing is said in Acts 18:6, the same thing is said in 26:20. Over and over again, see Paul goes to a town, he goes first to the synagogue, he preaches in the synagogue, the Jews reject him, he kind of shakes the dust off his feet, you Jews rejected the Gospel therefore we're going to the Gentiles. But he never gets to a point where he finally and completely turns away from the Jews; he keeps going back to the Jews in every town he gets too. This idea that the message must be preached first to the Jews and only then to the Gentiles, is a point that Acts makes over, and over, and over again. So is it any surprise that in the Gospel of Luke he wanted to--he's careful to set up Jesus as a good Jew? That's the beginning of it. It's only later that it will go to the Gentiles, so that pattern gets played out over and over again until the very end of Acts.

Now look at the end of Acts, chapter 28 of Acts, verse 28. This is at the end of Paul's last speech in Acts. He was in Jerusalem, he was actually trying to go worship in the temple, but some of the bad Jews who didn't like Paul thought he was trying to take Gentiles into the temple, which would have been against the law. So they grab him, a big riot ensues, and they take Paul before the Sanhedrin, the big sort of Jerusalem kind of senate type body, and they put him on trial. Paul's message in all of these things is that, I didn't do anything wrong, I'm just here to obey the law, I'm here to serve my people, to honor the traditions of my people and my ethnic group, the Jews. And then eventually, though, such a big dispute arises that Paul is arrested by the Roman governor in order--he says to protect Paul from being lynched. Paul is imprisoned then. Finally Paul is afraid he's going to lose a trial with these--his Jewish enemies on one side, so he appeals to the Roman governor straight to the Emperor, he says, I'm a Roman citizen, I appeal to the Emperor, so that means he has to go to Rome. They have to take him to Rome for trial.

The last part, chapter 28 is Paul in Rome. He preaches again there, he has the same kind of things happen, he rents a hall where he again conducts classes and conducts sermons, and that sort of thing. And then this last sermon that he's given to the Jewish leaders and the Jewish elders, and notice how it turns out he says:

"Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles. They will listen." He lived there two whole years at his own expense. He welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

In other words, the very end of the two-volume work ends with this message that the message was preached to the Jews, they rejected it, so Paul and the others went to the Gentiles. And it ends up in Rome, the capital of the whole world which represents the idea that the Gospel has now proceeded to the whole world. Isn't it funny that this author doesn't tell us what happened to Paul? Does anybody know how Paul supposedly died? Anybody know? Yes sir?

Student: Decapitated.

Professor Dale Martin: He was decapitated, not accidentally. It was a Roman sword that did it. According to Christian tradition, Paul was martyred by being beheaded because he was a Roman soldier [correction: citizen], again according to tradition, Paul actually never tells us he was a--I mean a Roman citizen. He never tells us that he was a Roman citizen, but according to tradition he was, and in Acts claims that he was a Roman citizen. According to that tradition you can't crucify a Roman citizen. So the tradition was that Paul was martyred but unlike Peter who was crucified upside down, according to tradition, Paul was beheaded in Rome, probably sometime in the 60s, that's the tradition. Why doesn't Luke tell us that story? Wouldn't that be the more logical end of the story? He's told us about Paul's ministry, he's told us about Paul's call, he's told us Paul becoming an Apostle, he's told about Paul's different missionary journeys, and he ends up with Paul living in rented rooms in Rome. I don't think this author wanted to tell us about how the story ended, if it actually ended with Paul being martyred in Rome, because that kind of would spoil the story, wouldn't it? Although you kind of could get the hint that, since all prophets and all messengers of the Gospel, according to this author, are martyred and rejected, then maybe he could have portrayed Paul as a martyr and told about his death after all because, and that's a nice little segue way into the next major theme of Luke-Acts that I'm going to talk about, prophets as martyrs.

Prophets in Luke-Acts get martyred. Jesus was one of them. Notice, first John the Baptist, I'm not going to read this because we're running a little bit out of time. John the Baptist himself gets martyred. Jesus also is a prophet martyr. Look at Luke 9:31, now unfortunately we're going to be going back and forth from Luke to Acts, so you might want to keep fingers in both places. This is a very important point, 9:31 of Luke, this is the transfiguration story, you know how it goes. Jesus takes some of his disciples Peter, John, and James up onto a mountain and while they're up there, this is on their way to Jerusalem, clouds overcome, it's thunder and lightning. Imagine Cecil B. DeMille, Hollywood type lighting effects. And Jesus appears there with Moses and Elijah flaming, they're shining. And Peter says something, and there's a voice from heaven, all that sort of thing. But notice most of the Gospels don't tell us what Jesus and Moses and Elijah were talking about up on the mountain. Luke tells us, [verse] 31:

They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure which was about to be accomplished at Jerusalem.

Now the Greek word there for departure is exodus. Yep, that word, the very word of the second book of the Bible in Greek. They're talking to Jesus about his exodus. If you read that in Greek that would immediately--now I know why Moses is there talking to him. He needs some advice on how to do an exodus, and the exodus doesn't refer to just his leaving the country, it refers to his martyrdom. And Jesus also will be portrayed as the prophet to the Jews first. I've already talked about Stephen being a prophet and a martyr.

The end of Acts with Paul in Rome, again I just read it to you, Paul ends up as a prophet to the Jews, he is the innocent martyr, he's proclaimed innocent over and over again. Several times, as a matter of fact, Paul will be proclaimed--first Jesus is proclaimed as innocent. People--the different rulers will say, this guy's innocent, he's innocent, what are you getting upset about? Over and over again, Paul himself will be taken to governors, Roman governors, and they'll say, well I would have released him but now he's appealed to Rome so we've got to send him to Rome. When he gets to Rome, even the Jewish elders in Rome, who first see him, they say now we've heard rumors, Paul, about you, we've heard some bad stuff about you, but we don't have any good evidence. You're innocent as far as we're concerned. Even the Jewish leaders in Rome declare Paul innocent, so, over and over again, people in the Book of Acts and Luke are portrayed as innocent martyrs and prophets. Notice how we see there all these different diversities of Christianity.

Those are some basic themes, but if you take--what do these different Christian groups believe about the Jewish law? What did Moses believe about the Jewish law? Anybody remember? What was Moses stance on what people should do with the Jewish law? You know, just remember back a week or so. What did I say, Moses? I mean Matthew, I'm sorry. I'm crazy. What was Matthew's view of the Mosaic Law? What did Matthew believe about the Mosaic Law? All followers of Jesus should obey it, it's just there. Matthew doesn't ever get rid of the Jewish law; he never has Jesus get rid of the Jewish law. What does Mark say about the Jewish law? Well, Jesus declared all foods clean, so Jesus modifies the Jewish law in a substantial way for Mark. What does Luke believe about the Jewish law? This is an interesting point. Luke believes that the Jewish law is the ethnic contract, if you will, the ethnic traditions of the Jews. It came from God, it came from Moses, and Jews keep it, so throughout Acts, if you notice, the Jewish followers of Jesus continue to keep the law, even Paul. The Gentile followers of Jesus aren't required to keep the law. It's as if--and people in the ancient world knew this, Americans have their law, Canadians have their law, Britain's have their law, the French have their law, sort of.

Every nation and ethnic group has its own laws, right? This is the way Luke is thinking about the Jewish law. He says, of course it's good, it's good for Jews, so should Jews avoid pork? Yeah, they're Jews. Should Jews be circumcised? Yeah, they're Jews. Even if they're followers of Jesus they still keep the Jewish law. Gentiles? Totally other story; why should they not keep the Law of Moses? They're not Jews. The view of the Law of Moses that you get in Luke and Acts, is that the law is good ethnic law and custom for the Jewish people, and it's perfectly fine for them to obey it and to keep it. It's just not binding on the Gentile followers of Jesus. They will have other ethical things to follow, and he gives you some of those things in chapter 15. That's actually very different from what we've seen in Matthew or even in Mark, right? Luke has a different view of the law. These are diversities of Christianity we see. They weren't all in agreement about this. They probably didn't even know what the others thought. They may have been living in different geographical areas, and just developed their own different views about what is the Jewish law and how should it affect the followers of Jesus.

When we get to Paul it'll be another story entirely because, it may surprise you, Paul will believe--Luke seems to believe that--he doesn't really come out and say it. If there's a Gentile who sort of wants to keep kosher, or wants to get circumcised, well, it's no big deal, in fact he has Paul circumcise Timothy, his follower at one point. Timothy wasn't circumcised, they're going to be going through some Jewish areas, so Paul says, yeah, let's circumcise Timothy. Well the Paul of his letters doesn't like that at all. He basically says, if you're a follower of Jesus and a Gentile, you cannot keep the Jewish law; otherwise you will fall from grace. Trying to keep the law, the Law of Moses, if you're a Gentile disciple of Jesus is anathema for Paul. And that'll get him in big trouble with both Jews and Jewish Christians, Jewish followers of Jesus. The point I'm making is that when we get to Paul we'll see another different kind of view of the law, so it all shows that these people were trying to figure out what does it mean to follow a Jewish Messiah if you're not Jewish? What does it mean that we're following a Messiah who was predicted by Moses in the law and yet we're not keeping the law? In fact, they would say, what does it mean to have a Messiah at all? What does Messiah mean? Here's the last little difference I'll say in the next two or three minutes because we'll come back to this also. We've already seen different Christologies, one of those two bit words again. What does Christology mean? Anybody?

Student: Whether you believe Jesus was human or divine.

Professor Dale Martin: Whether you believe Jesus was human or divine. Very good, it means any doctrine of Jesus. It could be whether he was human or divine, it could be whether he's a fish, any teaching about Jesus is a Christology. It's what is your theology of Jesus Christ, that's Christology and we've already seen different ones. For example, I've already said Mark believes that Jesus' death was a ransom. Jesus died for your sins. His death was sort of like a sacrifice, say. But at one point in Mark 10:45 Jesus says to his disciples, "The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many." In other words, Jesus' death is for you, to buy you up, to save you. That's picked up in Matthew 20:28, do you know what? That saying is never found in Luke. In fact, you can find nothing in the Gospel of Luke which identifies the death of Jesus as being an atonement for sins of people. Luke does not take Jesus' death as being a ransom in the way that Mark and Matthew do. Why? Jesus' death is important for Luke, right? But again what is the meaning of Jesus' death in Luke? A prophet martyr. He's the innocent prophet who is martyred for his prophecy. That's the meaning of the death of Jesus in Luke and Acts. We have very different Christologies about the meaning of the death of Jesus already in these different Gospels.

All of this is just to say we're going to find this again, we can find it in John, we're going to find it in other places. These early Christian texts, if you read them really, really carefully, not quickly, carefully, you'll see amazing ways that it opens up whole windows into the very earliest period of Christianity that most modern people have no idea existed. The idea that there could be Christians who didn't believe Jesus' life was an atonement. The idea that there were Christians who believed every Christian should keep the Jewish law. The idea we've also seen that there could have been Christians who believed that the God who created the world was evil. These were all there. We'll talk about another form of it next week. See you next week.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 11
Johannine Christianity: the Gospel
Play Video
Johannine Christianity: the Gospel

The Gospel of John is a gospel dramatically different from the Synoptic Gospels. It is full of long dialogues, it speaks of "signs" rather than exorcisms or miracles, and its narrative differs at many points from the Synoptics. Themes in the Gospel are also repeated throughout--themes such as ascending and descending, light and darkness, seeing and knowing. Johannine literature also presents a high Christology that equates Jesus with God. The Gospel also reflects the sectarian nature of the community to which the author belonged.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 163-184

Bible: The Gospel of John


February 16, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God"--somebody actually has memorized this. I'm so proud of you. I got me some good Sunday school people in the class, or at least somebody who's done the reading for the day. "And the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God, all things came into being through him." God, what a philosophical sounding term, "being." It screams to be capitalized like Hegel or someone like that would do--being. Do you sit around in your dorm room worried about being? What is the nature of being? What is the nature of existence? Yeah? No? If you do you're a good philosopher. "What has come into being--" now that's also very philosophical, in traditional classical philosophy from Plato on, being is one kind of thing and coming into being is something else. Things that are truly, truly, truly being don't come into being because that means at one time they were not, and this sounds so philosophical. "And the life was the light was all people, the light shines in the darkness, the darkness did not overcome it." You skip down a bit, verse 14, "The word became flesh and lived among us. And we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth." That sounds not only philosophical but downright theological. "No one has ever seen God." Good theological point, right? "It is God the only Son--" have we heard anything like that kind of language so far in this course? "God the only Son." No, we haven't. That sounds like a Christian creed. It doesn't sound like Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It doesn't sound like Acts, it doesn't even sound like Thomas.

We're in a different world with this Gospel. This is not like anything we've seen so far. So from the very beginning of the Gospel of John, you should know you're in a different world from the synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The style, for example, over and over again the style is repetitious. There are phrases and words that come up over and over again, darkness and light, light and darkness. I already did some of that with the--"In the beginning was the word, the word was with God, the word was God, he was in the beginning with God, all things came into being through him without him not one thing came into being, what has come into being." "Come into being" is repeated three times, a little clue: don't write your exegesis papers like this. This is not good American English writing style, you're supposed to vary your terminology, right, a little bit, and alter your terms; that's good English writing style. This of course is actually fairly good ancient Greek writing style which is the different--the writing styles are different. It's also a writing style that we haven't seen so far. There's this repetition of words, there are memorable sayings in the Gospel of John that you don't have in other places. There's a whole lot less action in the Gospel of John and a whole lot more talk. Just flip open the Gospel of John almost anyplace and it'll start off with a scene, often a conflict scene with Jesus in kind of a--in conversation with other people. But pretty quickly it'll go into a dialogue in which Jesus is saying something, the other person says something, they go back and forth a bit, and then it goes even from a dialogue into Jesus just being Chatty Cathy and just talking for paragraphs. We don't have any of this kind of stuff in the synoptics of Jesus just going off on tangents for paragraphs at a time and talking for a whole chapter sometimes. And that's what you get in the Gospel of John.

There are some scenes in the Gospel of John where the characters look actually more lifelike than they do in the synoptic Gospels. Have you noticed in the synoptic Gospels the characters sometimes are just a tax collector, a sinner, a Pharisee, a Syrophoenician woman, a Centurion who had a slave? Most of the time they don't have a name, most of the time they'd say one or two things to Jesus; one of the longest conversations with Jesus that we have with another character is precisely the Syrophoenician woman you've read about, where, you remember she comes and says she wants her daughter to be healed, and she's not a Jew, and so Jesus says, it's not right to take bread from the children's mouths and throw it to the dogs, calling her a dog. And undeterred she says, yes, but the dogs get to eat the crumbs from under the master's table. That's one of the longest dialogues that Jesus has with another person, not his disciple, in the synoptic Gospels. Very different when you get to the Gospel of John. We have this scene we'll go to in a minute where Jesus has as whole chapter talking to Nicodemus, we're told who Nicodemus is, we're told a little bit about him, and then Jesus has a conversation with him. We have a whole scene in which Jesus is talking to this woman at the well, a Samaritan woman. We know more about this woman then we know about just about anybody else in the synoptic Gospels. We know that she's had five husbands, how many people do we know that about? We know that she's a Samaritan, we know where she lives, we know that she goes out to draw water. So there are a lot of places in the Gospel of John where characters actually look much more lifelike and filled out than they have been in the Gospels that we've read so far.

This lecture is going to focus on the Gospel of John, but as you've already figured out, one of the main themes of the course is how were the different forms of early Christianity different from one another? It wasn't just one movement. It's not like some new religion just sprang out of the earth or fell from heaven. So one of the themes of the course has been to look at the different kinds. And the Gospel of John and in the letters of John--I, II and III John which we'll talk about next time--are a wonderful example of this. In fact, if you look at the syllabus, today's lecture constitutes a certain shift in the syllabus because--although I am talking about a Gospel and I have been talking about Gospels-- I put a little subheading under this week that's sort of like the spread of Christianity and how different Christian groups look different. We talked about that with the Book of Acts last time, but this time what we're going to do is we're going to use Johannine Christianity, just one of the fancy scholarly words. This refers to different kinds of John Christianity. We've got the Gospel of John and we have three letters of John, and they are similar enough although it's quite debatable whether they're all written by the same person, we'll talk about that when we get to the letters of John. They're similar enough in their writing style and in their terminology, and in their theological themes that we believe that all four of these documents, the Gospel of John, I, and II, and III John represent one form of early Christianity and we're going to call that Johannine Christianity or somebody might pronounce it Johannine Christianity, it's the same thing; so this lecture's going to focus on that.

Let's first look at the narrative differences in the Gospel of John. I hope you noticed this when you were reading through it. First, there's this prologue that I started reading at the very beginning of the lecture. It has several major themes that will occur throughout the Gospel, and it's just packed into this prologue. There's first Jesus' pre-existence. In no other Gospel do we get the idea that Jesus existed before his birth. That's counterintuitive to a lot of us because whether you're a Christian or not a Christian you're used to thinking about Jesus as an eternal divine being who becomes incarnate as a human being but always existed. That's not in the other Gospels if you noticed, but it's definitely here in the Gospel of John. So we get the pre-existence of Jesus and his divinity, right there in the prologue.

You get this theme of life; you get this theme of light and darkness. Jesus comes from light, he comes into darkness, the darkness doesn't receive him, he brings light to his followers, there's the coming into the world. The world is not simply the physical world that you and I know, it's the cosmos, the Greek word where we get the word cosmology, all the universe. Jesus comes into the cosmos, so the cosmos as a dark enemy place in which Jesus invades it in a sense is one of the major themes of the Gospels that you get right here in the prologue. The world is a place of enmity, the world hates Jesus, the world hates the disciples, the world hates you if you're a follower of Jesus. Birth from God, so there's this idea that people are born from God. Son and father linkage, over and over again, God is Jesus' father in the Gospel of John. That's true in some of the other Gospels but it's just much more so in the Gospel of John.

John the Baptist as the lesser of the two is introduced right in the prologue. We don't take a while to get to John, we have John the Baptist right in verse 6, "There was a man sent from God whose name was John, he came as a witness to testify to the light so that all might believe in him. He himself was not the light." This guy wants you to know from the very beginning John the Baptist is not Jesus' equal, he's a secondary witness, just so you don't get confused. There's the idea that "the law comes from Moses but grace and truth come from Jesus." And there is the emphasis on seeing and knowing as we'll talk about later when I hit some of the major themes of the Gospel; seeing and knowing are two definite themes for the Gospel of John and it's all right there wrapped up in the prologue to the Gospel. John is different from anything else because in this very, very elaborately constructed poetic sounding, almost philosophical sounding prologue, you get lots of the major themes of the Gospel just laid out for you, so that's a narrative difference.

Another major narrative difference is the relationship of Jesus and John the Baptist. In the synoptic Gospels, Jesus' ministry does not begin until the arrest of John. Did you notice this? Jesus goes to John the Baptist to be baptized, and it looks like Jesus, in a sense, is almost a disciple of John, although the Gospel writers try not to tell it that way, but Jesus doesn't start his own preaching ministry and his own healing ministry until the ministry of John the Baptist is over. For the synoptic Gospels, John the Baptist's ministry comes here, John the Baptist's ministry stops, Jesus' starts, very clear. In the Gospel of John that's not the way it is, their two ministries overlap each other. So, for example, sometimes John the Baptist is baptizing and the Gospel of John tells us that Jesus and his disciples are baptizing in another part of the Jordan. What? We don't hear anything like that in the other Gospels. Jesus and his disciples over here in another part of the Jordan baptizing their disciples while John is baptizing his disciples? And then sometimes John's disciples leave John and go over and join Jesus, and then there's some discussions between them. Sometimes John--the disciples--John the Baptist's disciples come and ask Jesus' disciples, what does your master do about this, or this, or that? There's an overlap of the two ministries that you get in the Gospel of John and you don't get it at all in the other Gospels.

Another big difference, Judea and Galilee. If all you had were the first three Gospels, the ideas you would have was that Jesus' entire ministry took place basically in Galilee until the last part of his life. And then he journeys to Jerusalem, and according to the Gospels, he's only basically in Jerusalem for one week and then he's crucified. That's not the way it is in the Gospel of John. In fact, did any of you notice, where is the cleansing of the temple incident in the synoptic Gospels, when does it happen? Wake up, when does the cleansing of the temple incident happen in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all three of them? I'm sorry, at the end, right on like maybe Wednesday before he is executed. It happens the last week of his life right before he is arrested. In fact, the Gospels present that as maybe one of the reasons that he is arrested. When does it happen in the Gospel of John? Chapter 2. Is it 2? I can't remember is it really two? Okay, yes it happens at the very beginning of the Gospel. I couldn't remember exactly what chapter, good. The cleansing of the temple happens at the beginning of the Gospel of John, not the end like in the others.

The length of Jesus' ministry, in the synoptic Gospels, if all you have is synoptic Gospels, it would like the ministry of Jesus probably lasted maybe a year, not much more than that. There's just no indication of how long it takes but he goes to Jerusalem only one time for the Passover and that's at the end of his life. In the Gospel of John there are three different mentions of Passovers. There's the Passover in 2:13, this is when he goes up to Jerusalem and cleanses the temple there. There's another Passover mentioned in 6:4, and there's another Passover mentioned in 13:1, that is the Passover that's at the end of his life when he's arrested. There's three Passovers that occur in Jesus' ministry according to the Gospel of John.

Have you ever heard the tradition that Jesus was thirty years old when he started his ministry, and his ministry lasted three years, so he would have been dead at thirty-three? You may have heard that. Do you know how people got that tradition? It's not in the Bible anywhere. They get the thirty year old idea from reading some passages in Luke and the idea of when he started his ministry. They get the three years from reading the Gospel of John. Notice how they've taken one little detail about Jesus' life from Luke, a different detail from John, they combined them together to give you the tradition, but no Gospel actually has that teaching in it. Christians have pulled these Gospel--the details from the Gospels together. That's because John's the only one that indicates that according to his reckoning Jesus' ministry covered at least three Passovers, the other Gospels don't have that.

Jesus' parents and hometown according to Matthew, Jesus' family is simply from Bethlehem. That's where they start off, that's where they end up, so Jesus' family is from Bethlehem, Jesus later goes to Galilee. According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus' family is from Galilee, they go to Bethlehem only for the census, and then a month or so after the birth they go back to Galilee, so we've got differences right there. Matthew simply has Jesus' family from Judea in the beginning, and they end up moving to Galilee after they go to Egypt. Luke has them from Galilee, go to Judea, go back to Galilee. John doesn't have anything about this Bethlehem birth. In fact he has--in 7:31 people say, "How can you be the Messiah? Who says the Messiah is supposed to come from Galilee? The Messiah doesn't come from Galilee, the Messiah's supposed to come from Bethlehem." The writer of the Gospel of John, wouldn't this be a great time if he could just say, oh these stupid Jews, they don't know that Jesus actually was born in Bethlehem and therefore he is from Judea. He doesn't say anything like that. He just allows the reader, you the reader, to believe that Jesus really was from Galilee and you know what, that doesn't matter. They must have gotten it wrong, they must not have thought that the Messiah could actually come from Galilee but he can. Again, the Gospel of John different in its narrative structures.

The Last Supper, the Last Supper in the synoptic Gospels is a Passover meal. The Last Supper in John is not a Passover meal. In fact, also, the Last Supper is not the institution of the Eucharist in John. In Christian churches we observe the mass or the Eucharist and we say, Jesus established this in his Last Supper with his disciples, "do this in memory of me." That goes back to Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The Gospel of John doesn't have that. There's no place in the Gospel of John where Jesus initiates the Last Supper. He doesn't take the cup, he doesn't take the wine, and say, do this in memory of me. What happens at the Last Supper in the Gospel of John? He has a foot washing, there's a foot washing ceremony. Notice again what Christian tradition has done here. Any of you know what Maundy Thursday means in Christian churches? Maundy Thursday refers to the Thursday before Good Friday, which is the Friday before Easter, and on Good Friday according to the tradition Jesus was executed. The Thursday night before is when he has the Last Supper with his disciples. Now in many Christian churches, on the Thursday before Easter, not only will they have the Eucharist service--or a communion service, but they'll also have a foot washing service. At the church where I go the priests, the different priests will actually get down on their hands and knees and put towels around themselves and wash the feet of anybody in the church who comes forward on Thursday night before Easter. They're doing that in imitation of Jesus' foot washing of his disciples at the Last Supper in John. But notice what we've done here, again Christians have combined the Last Supper and the Eucharist establishment, from the synoptic Gospels, with the foot washing service from the Gospel of John and they've put them together. But they weren't together in our Bible, they were in two separate documents.

The arrest is also very different in the synoptic Gospels. In the Synoptic Gospels they come to arrest Jesus and they just arrest him and there's a few things. In the Gospel of John there's this funny, funny, funny scene, it's actually very humorous where they come up with the swords and the clubs, it's in the middle of the night in the garden, and they come up to Jesus and Jesus says, who are you looking for, and they say, Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus says, I am he, and they all fall over on the ground. It's like an Indiana Jones thing. The power of him saying this knocks them all over, and they get up and do it again, and they all fall over again. The whole scene of the arrest of Jesus is very different in the Gospel of John. At his trial, in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus says almost nothing. Some of the Synoptics say he said nothing, other Synoptics say he said something, but he's very, very quiet. In the Gospel of John he just carries on this whole philosophical discussion with Pilate about what is truth. He just keeps talking and talking, very different scene.

On the crucifixion there's some differences. Remember I'm here rehearsing just narrative differences between the first three Gospels and John. These are places where just the story is different in its details. According to the first three Gospels, the crucifixion takes place on the first day of Passover. The Thursday night supper--remember in Jewish calendar reckoning, a day begins at sundown, so on sundown of Thursday night that's beginning of Friday, and in the Synoptic Gospels that's the beginning of the Passover. So they wait until sundown and they have the Passover meal Thursday night and that's the beginning of Friday, the first day of Passover, and it's on the Friday the first day of Passover that Jesus is actually executed. That's not the way it is in the Gospel of John. Read the execution narrative in the Gospel of John. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus is not crucified on the first day of Passover, he's crucified on the day before Passover, and how do we know that? Because it says when they were crucifying him was the same time they were slaughtering the lambs in the temple. Notice, it's a wonderful little symbolism, right? Right when Jesus is being slaughtered, the lambs for the Passover meal are being slaughtered. Because what you would do of course if you were a Jew in Jerusalem, you would take your lamb to the priest on Thursday, you'd have them slaughter it, pour out the blood, they'd take a little bit of it, then you'd take it back home to your family, or to the hotel where you're staying, or to the picnic ground where you're staying, and you cook your lamb, and that's where you have the Passover meal. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus is executed at the same time that they're slaughtering the lambs, which means he's not executed on the day of Passover but the day before Passover, completely different.

The last big narrative difference with the Gospel of John from the synoptics is this guy named the beloved disciple. Who the hell is the beloved disciple? We don't know who he is. According to Dan Brown and the--what's that awful book? The Da Vinci Code, right--according to The Da Vinci Code the beloved disciple is actually a girl, Mary Magdalene. I guess it's because he couldn't believe that Jesus could be attracted to a guy, so he had to invent a girl to be the beloved disciple. Heterosexist as modern novelists are. No, the beloved disciple is a man and we don't even know who he is. He's Jesus' favorite disciple in the Gospel of John. This character doesn't exist in the other Gospels, he's just not there. Now tradition has said who is the beloved disciple? Well it's the--John, son of Zebedee, younger brother of James, son of Zebedee. If you go to the art gallery, which you will later in the semester, we're all going to take a tour of the Yale Art Gallery, you'll see that when John son of Zebedee is depicted in art he's always the depicted as a young man without a beard, very beautiful, almost feminine looking because he's sort of representing the boy that Jesus loved. Well, we don't know that it was John, the Gospel of John doesn't tell us it was John, it just tells it was the beloved disciple. Most scholars are just willing to say, whoever this beloved disciple was, and maybe it was just a figment of the literary pretentions of this writer, maybe there was no historical beloved disciple, we don't know. But he's a strong character in this Gospel and he doesn't appear anyplace else but in this Gospel. Notice in all those ways, the Gospel of John is very different from the other three Gospels. That in itself makes it really interesting to study. It opens up a window for us of an entirely different kind of early Christianity than we would have if we didn't have this Gospel, so it's really wonderful.

Some major Johannine themes, I'm going to go through this pretty quickly because, if you just take a concordance and look up these terms, you can look at all the different places. First, notice that some of these main themes, I've already mentioned some of them when I was talking about the prologue, these main themes occur over and over and over again like the ringing of bells in the Gospel of John. Every once in a while you'll see one in one chapter, and then you might not hear until the next chapter or a few chapters later, but they'll just keep coming up. This author hits you over the head several times throughout the Gospel with the same themes coming back at you.

One of them is the descending and ascending redeemer figure. Jesus is the one who came down from above who's going up, look at 1:51. Now we're going to run like bunnies through the text here so get your text out and be prepared. Lick your finger, come on lick your finger, you're not going to get sick, it's your own finger. 1:51, "And he said to him, very truly I tell you, you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man," so the angels are ascending. Look at 3:13, "No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man." Look at 3:31, "The one who comes from above is above all, the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all," and I could go on, 1:32, 6:38, 6:41, 6:58, 20:17. Just look up this coming and rising, you look up these words in a concordance and you'll find they occur over and over in the Gospel of John.

Very similar to that one is the theme of being lifted up, so Jesus in 3:14, in 12:32, in 8:28. You don't need to remember these numbers because you can look at a concordance and you can read this and you can just mark out in the margins of your Bible whenever you see this idea, in all of those Jesus is the one who will be lifted up. This is a puzzle, one of the things that we'll find is that the Gospel of John likes puzzles, he likes riddles. So what does this mean when Jesus talks about the Son of Man being lifted up? Does it mean his ascension into heaven? Does it mean his resurrection from the dead? Does it mean his being put on a cross, because when you nail somebody on the cross you did it on the ground and then you put them up like this, so does the lifting up of the Son of Man refer to his crucifixion? or his resurrection? or his ascension going back to the Father? It's a puzzle we're never told exactly and that's one of the wonderful things about this text is that it plays with you all the time. It wants you to wonder about what's being meant here, so that lifted up is one of the themes that goes along with this going up and coming down. And then another part of that theme--see these themes get complicated is when Jesus says, "Everyone who comes to me when I am lifted up I will lift up," so Jesus says, he will lift up people who are his disciples. This going up and coming down is all the way through the Gospel, so that's one of the main themes.

I mentioned seeing; we're going to run like bunnies through the text. 1:18: "No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son who is close to the Father's heart who has made him known." Now see I should have told you, knowing is another theme there, we got two themes right in the same verse, seeing and knowing and the relationship between seeing and knowing in the Gospel of John is also difficult. It's not always clear, do you know by seeing or does seeing lead to an inadequate form of knowing? These are big exegetical problems that the Gospel of John poses and scholars argue about. Look at 1:34, "And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God." I have seen. Look at 1:39, "He came to them, 'Come and see.' And they came and saw where he was staying." In other words, just look in the concordance for every time you find the word see, saw, seeing and you'll just find it over and over again. 3:3, 3:11, 3:32, 3:36, several right there in chapter 3, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Again, it's always a little bit difficult to figure out do you have to see to have faith in the Gospel of John or, because it sounds like one place toward the end of Gospel Jesus says, "Blessed are those who believe without seeing." He says to Thomas, "Blessed are you, you saw and so you believe," so that's okay. "Blessed are those who have not seen and believe." Is seeing an inadequate form of faith? Is it better to have faith without seeing or is seeing necessary for faith? It's a problem. I already mentioned knowing but I could do the same kind of thing. 1:18, 8:55, 14:17, over and over again.

Where Jesus came from and where Jesus is going is a major theme. With the Jews often he'll say, you can't go where I'm going, and they say, what is he talking about going? Is he going to go out to the Greeks and preach to the Greeks? Is he going to go back to Galilee? What does he mean, he's going? People are always misunderstanding this. One of the other points is signs, what are signs in the Gospel of John? Notice the Gospel of John has other differences that I haven't even mentioned; for example, remember in the Synoptic Gospels there are lots of exorcisms of demons. Jesus is going around a lot casting out demons from people, and the demons even confess him. You know there's not one exorcism in the Gospel of John. Jesus is not an exorcist in the Gospel of John as he is in the other three Gospels. Why is that? Obviously this writer knew that there were stories circulating around that Jesus cast out demons, why does he not have Jesus doing any casting out of demons in his Gospel? I don't know. There's probably a dissertation there somewhere if you can find an answer.

Look at 2:11, so one of the things is that in the other Gospels they talk about Jesus' miracles, his healings, but the term preferred by this Gospel writer is sign. He talks about the things Jesus did as signs. Now there are not a lot of them, Jesus doesn't do a whole lot of miracles in the Gospel of John. He does some big important ones that become famous, for example, turning water into wine, which is of course, every college student's favorite miracle of Jesus. If only he had turned it into beer that might have been a little bit better right, but Jesus is famous for turning water into wine, one of his major miracles. It's only in the Gospel of John, it's not in the other Gospels, so some of Jesus' famous miracles are in the Gospel of John but they're not called miracles in John, they're called signs. Look at 2:11, "Jesus did this, the first of his signs," this is turning the water into the wine, "in Cana of Galilee and revealed his glory and the disciples believed in him." Notice "the first of his signs." Let's look over it a little bit 4:54, "Now this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee," the second sign. This has actually led some scholars to say that one of the sources this writer may have had is as signs book, a collection of signs, that is, miracles that Jesus did. Notice they're not just a miracle that Jesus does and then casts off. I think that the author uses the term "sign" because most of the time you can actually do an exegesis of these signs narratives and they have some kind of symbolic meaning. The signs in the Gospel of John are not just miracles to prove Jesus' power, they seem to have some kind of theological or symbolic meaning imbedded into them also. The signs, again, are one of the major themes of the Gospel of John.

One of the most important things that drives the Gospel of John is sectarianism. What do I mean by sectarianism? According to sociology of religion, a sect--it's not necessarily just an insult. In other words you don't just say, you're just some member of some crazy little sect out there handling snakes or doing other kinds of things. A sect is a sociological term that refers to any group, whether it's religious or not, although we usually confuse this in religious contexts, that considers itself very well cut off from the rest of society. For example, I grew up in a very, very sectarian fundamentalist church in Texas. By sectarian I mean that we basically believed that we in my church were the only ones going to heaven. In fact, we would call each other "brother" or "sister," and you wouldn't even call a Baptist--I mean we thought the Southern Baptist were going to hell. That's how much we thought we were the only ones --there was nobody who was right like we were right so you'd called each other brother. Brother Lamar, all the old men in the church especially were called brother, but you wouldn't call people brother who were outside that group. We were the only Christians, you had to be in our group, in fact people would even talk about something like, if you brought somebody to church as a visitor, somebody might come up to you and say, well is she a member of the church? They didn't need to say our church, or our denomination, it was just "the church" because "the church" meant our church. This--what made this group a sectarian group was we had very firm boundaries. There were debates about whether it was okay to marry outside of that boundary. Could you actually marry a Methodist? Oh God no, and God help you, a Roman Catholic, so the stronger the walls between your group and outsiders, the more sectarian your social group is.

John's church seems to be a very sectarian group, and that's one of the things people have--why does he talk so much about dark and light? These are stark divisions, insiders, outsiders, up, below, there are children of light and children of darkness, there are children of God and children of Satan. There's no in between, there's no gray area, you're either in or you're out, so scholars define this by talking about Johannine sectarianism, the insider-outsider divisions.

We're going to look at one place where that comes up. Look at chapter 9. I'm going to spend a little more time with this chapter because some scholars have used this to say what's going on in the Gospel of John. So get Chapter 9, get your Bibles out, you know I may lie to you. This is a story about Jesus healing a man born blind, so I'm going to skip around through it, but first he heals him and then 9:10, they kept saying to him, that is the surrounding people:

"Then how were your eyes opened?" He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me. 'Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight." They said to him, "Where is he? [Notice this "where is he?" how do your eyes open?] He said, "I do not know [know, know, know. I now see, see, see--where, where, where is he?]." "They brought him to the Pharisees, the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was the Sabbath day.

Now wait a minute, this is verse 13 for crying out loud, we've been 12 verses into this chapter, into this story, and only at verse 13 are we told that it's the Sabbath day, why not? Why is that? Well because apparently what started out as a simple healing story this author has decided to turn into a conflict story. Have you noticed that in a lot of the stories of the Gospels, some stories just seem to be straightforward miracle stories, other stories seem to be nature miracles, like not just healings but power over nature? And then there are lots of stories that are conflict stories. That is you're told that someone was healed but the real important part of the story, was not just necessarily that they were healed but that they were healed on the Sabbath and that starts a conflict between Jesus and other Jews about what's permitted to do on the Sabbath. By the time you get to verse 13 what started out as simply a healing story, although it may have had symbolic meaning, because the man's blind and he comes to see and those are big important themes for the Gospel of John, now it becomes a conflict story over the Sabbath. He tells the story again to the Pharisees in verse 17:

So they said again to the blind man [this is the Pharisees], "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet." [That's important.] The Jews did not believe [this is verse 18] that he had been born blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he see?" His parents said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that he now sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself." His parents said this [this is the narrator speaking now] because they were afraid of the Jews.

Now wait a minute, all the people in this story are Jews. Jesus is a Jew, the blind man's a Jew, his parents are Jews, they're all Jews. Why are we talking about some people being afraid of "the Jews"? "For the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue."

Now I hate to tell you folks but that's just outright anachronistic. There was no movement going on during the life of Jesus where anybody that confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be excommunicated from the synagogue, that just didn't happen. There were all kinds of people who thought--the Messiah was around. There were debates about this but you didn't have any synagogue rulers going around saying, well, we're going to make a rule, anybody who claims that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah will be excommunicated, we'll take their union card away from them, they can't come to high holy days, we will return their dues. It just wasn't going on. Now it may have been going on decades later when this guy wrote the Gospel you see. Now we'll keep reading. What's going on here of course is what you believe about Jesus the Messiah has to do with whether you will be allowed to stay in the synagogue. If you take Jesus to be just a prophet you might be allowed to stay. If you confess he's the Messiah, you'll be kicked out of the synagogue, that's the basic conflict of the story. We keep reading and they go into more and more conflict, look at verse 30, "Then the man answered," they're basically saying, look we know Moses, this guy can't be the Messiah, he must be wrong.

The man answered, "Here is astonishing thing! [this is the man born blind who now sees] You do not know where he comes from [comes from, comes from, comes from], and yet he opened my eyes [I see, I see, I see]. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God he could do nothing." They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" And they drove him out. [They kicked him out of the synagogue.] Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "And who is he sir? Tell me so that I might believe in him." Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "Lord I believe." And he worshipped him. Jesus said [and this is how the story ends, okay, so this must be important], "I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see--" [Now is Jesus still talking just about blind people? No, we can see that the whole story was an allegory now.] "--and those who do see may become blind." Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not blind, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, 'We see,' your sin remains."

Some scholars have pointed out that what's going on with this chapter, chapter 9 in John, is a wonderful way to see how the writer himself has taken what may have been a simple miracle story that he got from tradition about Jesus healing a blind man, and he does a couple of things with it. For one thing he pulls up to the surface these themes about blindness and seeing, and coming from God, and this all plays into the identity of Jesus as the Messiah. Then he tells the story like the blind man is sort of like someone who comes to faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and he recognizes it. But sure enough, if he really confesses that he's going to be thrown out of the synagogue, and so he leaves the synagogue and he joins up with Jesus. He's thrown out of the synagogue; he becomes a disciple of Jesus. In other words, allegorically speaking, he has to leave the synagogue and, therefore, he becomes a member John's church. There are other people who suspect that Jesus may well be the Messiah, they want to confess him, and they don't do so because they're afraid about being excommunicated from the synagogue.

Notice how this story has become an allegory for what's going on in the time of the writing of the piece itself. The Gospel writer is telling a story about a blind man but he's also telling a story about the conflict that his church is having with the synagogue in the neighborhood. And the main thing that's going on here also is that Jesus is the one who brings about this division that takes place. What's the main focus of the division? Christology. Remember I talked last time about different Christologies? What Christology is, is what do you believe about the nature of Jesus Christ? Is he just human? Is he God? Is he some of both? Is he a prophet? Is he only a prophet? Is he a moral teacher? Is he only a moral teacher? Is he the Son of God? Is he equal to God the Father? All these are options, and the first several hundred years of Christianity is all wrapped up in fights over which of the many different options you have for what you believe about Jesus is going to end up being the right one. What's going to end up as orthodoxy? The Gospel of John is a wonderful place to see this very theme starting out.

Look at 5:19, I'm going to back up in a minute and go back to some other dialogues. Don't worry I'll finish on time today but we will probably take up again some of the Gospel of John next time before we talk about the letters of John. 5:19:

Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And he will show him greater works than these so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and does not come unto judgment but has passed from death to life."

Look at 5:18, right before that:

For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him because he was not only breaking the Sabbath but was also calling God his own Father. . .

Now that's so far where you've gotten in the narrative but notice what the author adds right that. The very next phrase, "thereby making himself equal to God." Is every son always equal to a father? Go like this--nope. All sons are not equal to all fathers. The Gospel writer is editorializing because this is what he believes. He believes that not only is Jesus God's Son in some kind of derivative sense, he believes that by saying that Jesus is God's Son, he's actually equal to God the Father. Look at 8:58, I'm going to come back and talk about chapter 8 next time. Chapter 8 is one of these classic scenes in the Gospel of John which start out with Jesus just talking to someone in what seems to be a cordial and relatively peaceful mood. Then as the conversation goes on, things get more and more heated, and people accuse Jesus of things but Jesus is just as bad, he accuses people of stuff all the time, ridiculous stuff sometimes, like they're children of Satan. And the whole thing ends up with this big division and everybody's starting to throw things at each other. Then the next chapter will start and you'll see them talking again, and again, it comes down to a big division. This is the end of Chapter 8 which is one of these scenes of a discussion turning into fight, turning into a brawl, turning into a division. Where does it end? Verse 58, chapter 8:

Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him.

Isn't that interesting, all he has to say is, I am. Why is that so much of a problem? Where does "I am" come from? Yes.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: That's the declaration of what God is, when God says, "I am," to whom and where in the Bible.

Student: Moses.

Professor Dale Martin: Moses in front of the burning bush, exactly. The very name of God, which those of us who are non-Jewish we usually say is Yahweh, there are only four letters in Hebrew, and those four letters don't have vowels attached to them so we're not really sure how to pronounce them. In your English Bible they're usually translated by "Lord" in small caps. Whenever you see "Lord" in small caps in your English translation of the Hebrew Bible that means that the tetragrammaton, the four letters of God's name are in the Hebrew. But according to pious Jewish usage, you never pronounce those, so you would say something like "the Lord" as a substitute, and that's the way in the Greek Bible it does, since the Greek Bible didn't know what the name was, it just would say adonai or "the Lord" or something like that. And so we would use that in the English translation. The scholars think that perhaps the best translation for those four letters, as they occur in Exodus, is being-ness or "I am."

Notice what Jesus is saying, he's claiming to be the one who spoke to Moses out of the bush. That's radical. That's way more radical than anything we've seen in any of the other Gospels. Jesus could be the Son of God and still not be God. Jesus could be the Son of the Father and still not be equal to the Father. Jesus could be the Messiah and still not be divine, and Jesus could be even the Messiah and divine and still not be "I am." In the Gospel of John, nuh-uh, Jesus says "I am," he's the one who spoke to Moses. It's no wonder that the Jews tried to stone him. We'll talk about that further next time.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 12
Johannine Christianity: the Letters
Play Video
Johannine Christianity: the Letters

The Jesus of the Gospel of John often speaks in riddles so that his dialogues with characters such as Nicodemus appear confusing, rather than clarifying. The focus, however, of the Gospel of John is on Christology. In the Gospel, Jesus is divine. So it is also in 1 John, where many of the themes of the Gospel are echoed. 1, 2, and 3 John possibly present us with correspondences of the Johannine community, a sectarian group insisting on the divinity and humanity of Jesus, against the Docetists and other differing forms of early Christianity.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 185-194

Bible: The Gospel of John 1-3


February 18, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: We're going to continue with the lecture on the Gospel of John that I talked about last time. I want to finish up with some of the material on John that I didn't get to as much as I'd like to, and then we're going to switch to the letters of John--1, 2, and 3 John, so we're going to do both of those things. Now, remember, the rubric under which today's lecture happens is not just the Gospel of John and not just the letters of John. As I've brought up several times, the method that I'm teaching you right now in this class is the historical critical method as it was developed in the twentieth century in Europe and North America. This means that we're not reading these texts for just what the texts say about theology or even the early church or doctrine, or ethics or something like that. We're trying to read the text in a way against the very intention of the text. We're taking the text as being something like a window that we can look through to try to construct, as best as we can guess at it, what kind of social context, what kind of political context, what kind of church, what kind of social groups produced these texts and found them to be compelling, found them to be believable.

There are lots of other ways to read this. Obviously the Gospel of John is very important for Christian doctrine. It's the most Christological of the Gospels, it has the highest form of Christology, that is the Christology--it's the most divine rather than simply being human and so it's very important for doctrine, and for theology, and for faith. What I'm doing right now is just one particular way of reading, which is reading this text as a clue, as a series of clues and traces that we might use to reconstruct what we think was going on in the first century with the growth of Christianity. I'm trying to show you by this that there are different kinds of Christianity that grew up in different places, different geographical settings, and different times.

So what we call Johannine Christianity is what we're going to talk about today. And we're also--one of the wonderful things about the John literature is that by having the Gospel, which is written at one time, and then having 1 John which is the letter written after that time we can tell, that shows us a development of this form of Christianity and than by having 2 and 3 John, which we believe were written still later than 1 John, that gives us a third stage. In fact, what I'm going to be talking about is three or four stages in the development of Johannine Christianity as one branch of early Christian literature. In order to do this--I talked last time about how one of the things going on in the Gospel of John is Jesus and the Gospel of John seems to start off lots of conversations and they lead to division, so the causation of division is one of the themes of the Gospel of John and to show that we're going to walk through a couple of chapters.

First look at chapter 3, this is the story of Nicodemus, so get your Bibles out and follow along with me, because we're going to look at this in depth and then we're going to look at chapter 8 a bit, and then we're going to move off. I said division is the issue, so what we're going to talk about is what the division is. One of the ways that this author does this is he sets up Jesus in these dialogues that don't actually work very well. Jesus is not good on interpersonal communication in the Gospel of John. I'm sorry to have to tell you that. We'll talk about why that's the case. Jesus talks in riddles, so the question we're going to have is why does Jesus talk in riddles in the Gospel of John? What do we get out of that? Chapter 3, "There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews, he came to Jesus by night and said to him"--now by night, darkness is kind of a thematic issue in the Gospel of John, right? Notice I'm not going to bring up all these themes this time, but keep noticing these themes that I talked about last time as they occur even in this little passage.

"Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, and no one else can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Jesus answered him, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above."

How the hell does that follow from what Nicodemus just said? He's gives Jesus a compliment, "you're a teacher from God, no one else can do these signs, . . . apart from the presence of God…," Jesus says, "No one can see the kingdom of"--what is there, is there a thank you? Can Jesus say, "You're smart"? "You just got something there"? No, Jesus starts off changing the subject. Jesus changes the subject in the Gospel of John quite a lot. "No one can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above." Now you're reading it in English translation. My text just said "from above," does anybody's translation have something different there besides "from above"?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: "Without being born anew," "again." The problem is the Greek actually can be translated either "being born again" or "being born all over again," or "being born from above." The same Greek word means both things. Now this is the one place, basically, in the Bible which born-again kind of language comes out, so it's kind of ironic that there's whole branches of American Christianity which base their entire theology and ideology on the idea, have you been born again? Because really it's just from this passage, the other Gospels don't talk about being born again. It's a rather rare metaphor in early Christianity. It comes from this chapter right here, and it comes from a Greek word that could be just as easily translated "be born from above" as "be born again." My English translation--translators have decided to translated, "from above," but notice it's confusing for the hearer because Nicodemus then answers as if he heard it to be, "being born again," so Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Jesus said, "Nicodemus I'm speaking metaphorically and spiritually here, you need to understand that I don't mean particularly that someone has to be actually born physically from their mother again." No, Jesus doesn't say any of that, right? That's what Jesus should have said, probably, if Jesus really wanted to communicate with Nicodemus, but apparently, in John, Jesus is not that interested in communicating very directly with Nicodemus because Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit." What the hell does that mean?

"What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes."

What does that mean? Does it help you to know the Greek word translated here "spirit" is also the Greek word which can be translated as "wind." Notice that the Gospel of John is playing with you with puns, there's already two puns in this passage. One, does the Greek word--is the Greek word "being born again" or is it "born from above"? Well you're not told in the text, in fact it sounds like it may mean a little bit of both. Is this Greek word, pneuma, is it supposed to represent the spirit as a theological term or is it supposed to represent breath or wind? It seems to be doing double duty. Anyway, with all that stuff about wind blowing where it will, so it is with everyone who is born of the spirit Nicodemus tries one more time said to him, "How can these things be?" In other words, Jesus can you give me an explanation of what you're talking about? It's not an unreasonable request.

Jesus answered, "Are you a teacher of Israel and you do not understand these things? [Well that's helpful.] Truly I tell you. we speak of what we know and testify to what we've seen, yet you do not receive our testimony. If I had told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the servant in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."

Well at this point Nicodemus just gives up. We don't hear about Nicodemus anymore in the story so apparently he's decided, I can't get a straight answer out of this guy. Notice also how Jesus starts off in a dialogical stance with Nicodemus but never answers his questions, and then Jesus almost gets kind of, well nasty, toward the end. He kind of just almost insults Nicodemus rather than just explaining what he means. This is kind of the way Jesus sometimes talks in the Gospel of John, and my question is going to be, why? Is Jesus just lacking in social skills?

Look in 8:31, another little interesting dialogue. Jesus has been teaching and now "Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him." Now notice the scene starts out--often in the Gospel of John the Jews are talked about as if they're something other than Jesus is. Of course Jesus is a Jew, his disciples are Jews, they're all Jews in this story but the term "the Jews" gets packed in the Gospel of John with this otherness and this is a reflection of the sectarianism I talked about last time. Now notice Jesus is now starting to talk to the Jews who believe in him. These are not the Jews who have rejected him, that's very important to see at this point in the chapter. These are the Jews who now believe in him.

"If you continue in my word you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free." They answered him, "We are the descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying you will be made free?"

Jesus answered them, "Well I was speaking metaphorically. I meant that, let's say you're slaves to sin and, if you follow me, then I will make you truly free in a spiritual sense, I mean." That's not what Jesus does, right? All right 34:

Jesus answered them, "Very truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household. The son has a place there forever, so if the son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham, yet you look for an opportunity to kill me [Wait a minute, Jesus, these are the people who believe in you.] because there's no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father's presence. As for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father."

They answered him, Well Abraham's our father, we're Jews.

Jesus said to them, "If you are Abraham's children you would be doing what Abraham did. But now you are trying to kill me and a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God, that's not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father said." They said to him, "We are not bastards, we are not illegitimate children, we have one father God Himself.

So they try another tactic, well if he won't be satisfied with Abraham as being the Father, okay, we'll have God as our Father.

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father you would love me, for I came from God, and now I am here. I did not come of my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? Is it because you cannot accept my word? You are from your father the devil."

The devil? These are the people who believe in him, and Jesus ends up the whole thing as I told--they finally end up saying, yeah the Jews in verse 48 the Jews are saying, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Now they're both being antagonistic, and finally the chapter ends way down there as I talked about last time verse 56,

"Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day, he saw it and was glad." Then the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to him, "Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I am."

There's that strong Christological claim of Jesus being God himself, and of course they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. Notice there are these things going on, Jesus speaks in riddles in the Gospel of John. Jesus does not do what a good Yale instructor is supposed to do, which is explain things to you. Jesus talks in riddles. When they ask questions he responds in--with non-sequiturs. And then when they act like they want to believe in him he pushes them and then starts picking at them, and accusing them of stuff and eventually the scene ends up with everybody is all frustrated, Jesus is accusing them of trying to kill him, and sure enough then they do start to try to kill him. Notice how in the Gospel of John repeatedly these issues come down to Christology. Who is the person of Jesus? The point at which they pick up the stones to throw at him is when he makes this claim by quoting Exodus, the very name of God, that Jesus himself is God.

Now with all that going on let's look at how this then plays itself out in the first letter of John. Just to back up, remember how diverse we're finding Christianity, and we're going to start seeing that diversity now representing itself in Christology. We have seen it already in geography, right? We've seen that, and according to the Book of Acts, the Gospel spread out in concentric circles from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria to the ends of the earth, but we also saw how in Acts if you read it critically between the lines you can see it didn't really spread that way. There were anonymous Christians who went off out of Jerusalem after a certain period of persecution and they took the message to Cyrene and to different parts of the east of the Mediterranean and these were anonymous people, we don't know them, they weren't Peter.

Then later Paul and Barnabas take things around, and Phillip goes off to Samaria, and maybe there's this Ethiopian eunuch in the Book of Acts who's converted, and he may take the Gospel back to Ethiopia. So the spread of Christianity historically was much messier then it really is portrayed in any straightforward way in the New Testament. It seemed to have been spread by just people going to their home villages and hometowns and taking back this message that they heard in different places. The way the Gospel spreads, the way Christianity spreads is differently. We saw, for example, that in Thomasine Christianity, which seems to have been very popular in Syria and then all the way into India, that's a form of Christianity that's slightly different from the form of Christianity that's rising up in Rome at the time. Although church tradition says that Peter was the one who took the Gospel to Rome and founded the church there, well, we have good reasons as you can tell why we historians tend to doubt that. Why? Because we attend--we believe basically that again anonymous Christians who are lost to history probably were the first ones who took the Gospel to Rome, and then Peter became connected --with that tradition. There's a certain kind of Christianity that's growing up in Rome, there's another kind of Christianity that's growing up in Syria and India, there's another kind of Christianity that's growing up in Antioch and in that part of western Syria, and there's another kind of Christianity we don't know anything about at this point that's probably growing up in Egypt, we just don't have enough sources to know what kind of Christianity may have been growing up in Egypt.

There's different geographical regions experiencing different kinds of Christianity, and those different kinds of Christianity are diverse with respect to the Torah, the Jewish law right? If there's another--if there is still a form of Christianity that's predominantly Jewish that's located in Jerusalem and it's led by James the brother of Jesus, who seems to have been famous for advocating a certain kind of law observant Torah obedient form of discipleship to Jesus, then you've got a form of Jewish Christianity that still seems to be keeping the law, and we've seen that reflected possibly in the Gospel of Matthew, with its teaching that the law is still something that people ought to obey. We've seen though that the Gospel of Mark teaches a Christianity that maybe it--some people say Mark was written in Rome, other people say maybe Mark was written in Syria or in Galilee, but it's some kind of Christianity that's now predominantly Gentile, although it still has Jewish elements, but these are people who are not keeping the law. They seem to believe that they don't have to keep the Jewish law. Then we've got the form of Christianity in Luke that we saw where the Torah, the law, represents a certain an ethnic tradition of the Jews, so if you're Jewish you should keep the law but if you're a Gentile you don't need to keep the law. Then we saw from the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of John where is the concern about the law at all? It's not really there. You can read all the way through the Gospel of John, sure there are some controversies about the Sabbath, about what you can do on the Sabbath, but disputes about observation of Jewish law are not really at issue in the Gospel of Thomas and they're not really at issue in the Gospel of John.

What is at issue in the Gospel of John is Christology. What do you believe about Jesus? Let's look at the different kinds of Christologies you get in early Christianity too before we move onto the letters. First Mark, the Gospel of Mark, what is Mark's Christology? What is his doctrine of Christ? Well for one thing, according to Mark, Jesus is the Son of God, now that doesn't necessarily mean yet that Jesus is completely divine or equal to God. You can be called a Son of God without necessarily being God himself in this period of Christianity, but at least Mark certainly considers Jesus the Son of God. He also, though, considers Jesus to be the Messiah, the Christ, who has to suffer and Jesus' suffering is for the purpose of ransoming us sinners. Now the Christology that Mark's working with is Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, it's mandated that he suffers, so it's God's will that the Messiah suffer. And that's one of the reasons he writes his Gospel is to convince his readers that Jesus' suffering and execution wasn't an accident and it wasn't a catastrophe, and it wasn't a calamity, it was God's will, it needed to happen. So the suffering Son of God is part of Mark's Christology.

If you get to Luke, as I've said before, this whole idea that Jesus' death was a ransom is not in Luke. In fact, Luke excises that part of Mark when he's copying that part of Mark, and he leaves out that ransom passage from Mark because that doesn't fit his Christology. For the Christology of Luke, do you remember, Luke and Acts, what is the Christology of Luke? Anybody want to venture a remembrance? The martyr prophet exactly. Jesus is the martyr prophet who's an example for Stephen, or Paul, or all of us who are followers of Jesus, we're all martyr prophets, we're called to be martyr prophets, that's not a ransom for many. Luke doesn't have a doctrine of the atonement, the Christian doctrine that says, the death of Jesus was to pay for the sins of humanity or to redeem human beings from the debts of sin, so that's Luke's.

The Gospel of Thomas, there's no death at all in the Gospel of Thomas. The Christology of the Gospel of Thomas though is that Jesus comes across as practically an already resurrected figure. He's a knower, he's a figure of wisdom who's come from the Father, who's come from above, and he comes to give his disciples true knowledge. So Jesus as the revealer of hidden knowledge is the main Christology of the Gospel of Thomas.

Now the Gospel of John, this is when you get closest to what will be seen as orthodox Christianity. A lot of orthodox Christology was set at least, at one of the main periods, at the Council of Nicaea. So we call this the Council of Nicaea in 325 of our era CE, there was a council called together by the Emperor Constantine who was tired of all these Christians squabbling, especially about Christology, and he got bishops and people from around the empire, and he tried to get them to come to an agreement. They wrote what has come down to be called the Nicene Creed. And a lot of Christians, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Anglicans, some other churches, will actually say the Nicene Creed in church as part of the literature. Can anybody say it?

We believe in--some of you know it, yes, you know the Nicene Creed, so that Nicene Creed about Jesus being very God, from very God, God from God, light from light, begotten not made, because that was one of the Christological--so was Jesus Son of God because he was born from eternity as divine or did God say at one point okay he's a really good guy I'm going to graduate him to divinity status? That was one Christology. The Nicene Creed said, no, Jesus did not become divine he always was divine. The orthodox Christology was set to a great extent by the Nicene Creed in 325, but how do we get from the year 30 when Jesus is crucified, the year 70 when the Jerusalem temple is destroyed and the Gospel of Mark may have been published, the 50s when Paul was writing his letters, maybe a year in the 90s when the Gospel of John is writing, from those times all the way to year 325 where there's a whole lot of fighting going on between Christians trying to solidify what the orthodox Christology should be?

Of these different sources we've talked about, the one that comes the closest to the Nicene Creed is this Christology of the Gospel of John, because according to John, Jesus is fully God, co-equal with the Father, he's I am, that is identifying himself with the figure who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, he's the descending and ascending redeemer, he's also the lamb of God sacrificed for the people, and in his sacrifice he takes away the sins of the world. All those elements that would end up becoming orthodox Christianity, orthodox Christology, those can be found in the Gospel of John.

Now how do we get from there to 1 John? Any questions about that? What I want you to really see is I want you to be able to anchor down, not just take my word for it that well, Professor Martin knows all things about all things, and he tells me that there are these different Christology's and these different early Christian documents and so that's what I'm going to write back on a paper. I don't want that. What I want you to do is be able to actually anchor down these ideas into these particular texts that come from particular different places in early Christianity, so any questions about that? Yes sir?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: The Christology of Matthew is quite a bit like Mark. Matthew also believes that the death of Jesus, for example, was as a ransom for people and for sins. Matthew also believes that Jesus is the Son of God and that he is the Messiah. Exactly how divine Jesus is in the Gospel of Matthew is up for grabs, it's not clear, but he still--he definitely seems to believe that Jesus is divine in some sense. Matthew's Christology is not too much different from Mark's. The one thing that makes him a bit different is that he seems to also take Jesus to be something like a new Moses who either--who not is giving a new law but is interpreting the Mosaic Law in the proper way, so Jesus as a law giver and Jesus as a teacher is also important for Matthew's Christology. Any other questions?

Okay look at 1 John, the first letter of John, right toward the end of the New Testament. Now, first, there are several different connections with 1 John to the Gospel that you can see immediately. Let's hop through the Gospel and see these. First look at the very beginning,

"We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands concerning the word of life."

That all should sound familiar, there's the seeing motif, the hearing motif, and even the touching thing because, if you remember, it's in the Gospel of John that you have that famous scene where doubting Thomas wants to touch Jesus' body to make sure about--that this is the real Jesus.

"This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testified to it [testimony and testifying and witnessing is part of the Gospel of John also] and declare to you the eternal life [eternal life is one of the themes from the Gospel of John] that was with the Father and was revealed to us. [There's Jesus as the revealer.] We declared to you what we have seen and heard so that you may also have fellowship with us. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

We're in the same world, the same linguistic, the same discursive, the same theological world as the Gospel of John. Look at 1:5, "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaimed to you that God is light and in him there is no darkness." That wonderful light/darkness motif. Look at verse 7:

If we walk in the light, as he himself in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin.

The blood of Jesus being significant there too. 2:29: "If you know that he is righteous you, may be sure that everyone who does right has been born of him." So born of him recalls this birth stuff we've just seen in John 3. And there are lots of others, if you just read through the first letter of John and you keep your ear attuned to those themes that you've already seen in the Gospel of John, you can just underline them and highlight them all the way through the letter of John, so they're there.

There are some interesting problems with this letter also. Look at 1:8:

If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned we make him a liar and his word is not in us.

All of us are sinners, yay! You just have to confess your sin and Jesus will cure you of sin. We're all sinners. Anybody who says they're not sinners has a problem. Now look at 3:5, "You know that he was revealed to take away sins and in him there is no sin, no one who abides in him sins." I thought we just said we are sinners. "No one who sins has either seen him or known him." That sounds a little problematic.

Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed to this person to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born of God do not sin because God's seed abides in them. They cannot sin because they have been born of God. The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way. All who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters.

Now wait a minute, the first part he says, we all sin and we have to confess our sins. In this part it says, if you're in him you don't sin, and if you do sin you're in the devil. Look at 5:18, "We know that those who are born of God do not sin, but the one who is born of God protects them and the evil one does not touch them." Well which is it? Do Christians in John's church sin or do they not sin? Is there a contradiction here in the text?

That's not the only weird place in this letter, look at what he says about love in 2:5: "Whoever obeys his word truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him." Love is supposed to be there, 2:10, "Whoever loves a brother," now your English translation may say "or sister," but the Greek just says "brother" and maybe it's supposed to include sisters also but the gender of the Greek word is just "brother" at this point in the Greek. "Whoever loves a brother lives in the light and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling." Okay so that talks about loving one's brother, well who is the brother? It seems like the brothers for this writer are other members of the same community. He's not necessarily talking about your physical brother, your blood brother, but he's also not talking about just any human being. Notice how this works several times, so look at 2:15, so we're supposed to love and we're supposed to love our brothers but 2:15, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world." So we're not supposed to love the world, "Love not the world, do not love the world." Remember the word for world I said last time was cosmos, the entire universe. Does this sound a little odd if you think back on what may be the most famous verse in the entire New Testament? If you go to football games anybody know what the most famous football verse is? John 3:16, you see it on posters--do they still--they did that years ago do--they don't still do the posters I guess, right? Just one guy does it all over the whole NFL? John 3:16--yes sir?

Student: Well I was going to say during the VCS National Championship game before the quarterback wore a John 3:16 on his eye block.

Professor Dale Martin: Did they win?

Student: They did win and he made it the number one Google search [inaudible].

Professor Dale Martin: Great! The Florida quarterback wore John 3:16 on his cheeks, these cheeks I suppose, and that's why they won, okay, good. What does John 3:16 say, let's quote it, "For God so loved the world--

Students: "…that he gave his only begotten Son--"

Professor Dale Martin: You all are wimpy. "For God so loved the word that he gave his only begotten Son--," "--for God so loved the world." 1 John 2:15, "Do not love the world." Yes sir?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: I believe so, I actually haven't checked, does anybody have a Greek New Testament? Michael has a Greek, Michael's going to look it up while I continue, this is 2:15 and see if cosmos or some other word is the word for world though. We'll get back to you on that question. Look at 3:1:

See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Love is part of that, look at 3:11:

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

This is loving one another; it's not talking here so much about loving the world. Look at 3:14:

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death.

Look at 3:23:

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

Look at 4:7:

Beloved let us love one another because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Look at 4:11:

Beloved since God loved us so much we ought to love [not the world but] one another.

Verse 12:

No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God loves is in us and his love is perfected in us.

What about the translation?

Student: Same verb, same noun.

Professor Dale Martin: Same verb, same noun in John 3:16 and 1 John 2:15, so is there a contradiction? That's just all I'm asking, the Gospel of John talks about God loving the world, the cosmos, and 1 John says Christians are not supposed to love the cosmos. Contradiction, we don't know, maybe not. Look at 4:16:

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them. [Keep reading.] Love has indeed been perfected among us in this that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment. Because as he is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters are liars. And for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen cannot love God whom they have not seen.

The commandment we have from his is this: those who love God must love all of humanity. What? No, I'm lying to you again; follow along in your Bibles. See, some of you went to sleep. Look at 21:

The commandment we have from him is this, those who love God must love their brothers.

There's nothing in 1 John about loving the world, about loving humanity, about loving all humankind, all mankind, there's nothing like that in the first letter of John. What you do have in the first letter of John is that God is love, but that Christians, the followers of John, must not love the world. The world doesn't love them, they don't love the world. This is again a radically sectarian kind of stance, and in fact, there's nothing here about loving outsiders. According to the first letter of John, all this love that's talked about is basically centered only on the community of believers. It's an internal love, it's brotherly love but that means that the term "brothers" is taken to mean members of John's own community. There's nowhere that Christians in 1 John are told to love people outside the community. They're told repeatedly to love people inside the community. Yes sir?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Out of brother--just to the community of believers? Well you just have to analyze the letter and see how does it occur here and just go through it, it occurs all the way through. For example, I think you could definitely prove it with letters of Paul, who specifically uses it for both Gentiles and Jews but only within the body of Christ. Whether that's the case here, you just have to read the letter. I would argue that it is, and it's precisely because I read the letter as setting up this dichotomy between the outside cosmos and the inside brotherhood, but it's just a matter of reading the letter. The word in itself wouldn't necessarily supply that. Any other questions? Yes sir?

Student: Is that the same as [Inaudible]?

Professor Dale Martin: Yes, I believe--well sometimes it's philia and sometimes agape.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Okay, in the epistles it's almost always agape. Any other questions? In other words, what I'm reading in 1 John is representing again a radical sectarian group. These are people who see themselves as a community set apart from the cosmos. The cosmos is a place of darkness and a place of the devil and that sort of thing. In fact--so now what is the cause of this radical sectarianism? This is the most interesting problem of the letter. Look at 2:18:

Children, it is the last hour. As you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come.

There are these antichrists, and notice it says:

They went out from among us but they did not belong to us. For if they had belonged to us they would have remained in us, but by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.

The people he's calling antichrist are people that used to members of his own community and they left the community for some reason. Now look at 2:22, "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ." He's saying you must believe that Jesus is the Messiah, that's one thing, is that the only thing? Not necessarily; this is the antichrist, "The one who denies the Father and the Son," so some people, he's saying, have left the community because their Christology is not high enough. They're not allowing the true sonship of Jesus, they're not allowing the Messiahship of Jesus; maybe you're saying he's just a prophet or he's just a human being, that's one of the things that's going on. Look at 5:1:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. Everyone who loves the parent loves the child.

That's the main part about Jesus being the Christ, but now look at 4:2, I'll start at the beginning of chapter 4:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist.

One of the things that's going on here--look at also 5:8, just briefly, and we'll move on:

These are three that testified: the spirit and the water and the blood. And these three agree.

In other words, this author is objecting to some people who don't admit the Messiahship of Jesus, and that may have been reflected also in the Gospel. Remember some of the reasons--some of the people there's a division is because the writer of the Gospel of John believes that some people aren't willing to confess that Jesus is divine, that Jesus is the Messiah, that he's the Son of God. Now we get to a different situation, apparently there are other people who have now come up in the community who may be accepting that Jesus was the Christ but they're denying that he was fully human, they're denying that he was flesh and blood, and actually we do see different beginnings of different Christologies.

The people--we have a term for this, these early Christians who said--they said that Jesus--maybe there was a human Jesus but that's not really the Christ, the Christ was this spirit that maybe looked like he was human--in fact some of them said, well if he walked along a wet beach he wouldn't leave footprints because he didn't have a physical body, he just was spirit. He just seemed to be a body, he seemed to be flesh and blood and that--the Greek word for "seem" he just looked like, we get this term we call Docetics. Dokeo is the Greek word for "to seem" or "to look like," so other Christians used this term as a label for those Christians who said, Jesus wasn't truly flesh and blood, because how can a divine being be flesh and blood? That's a contradiction in terms. You can't have a being that's both God and flesh and blood because flesh and blood rots and dies, and goes away. God is eternal, so God by definition can't be flesh and blood, and so they said, if Jesus is divine he must not have been flesh and blood. He must have just seemed like he was flesh and blood. Other Christians said, that's wrong and they call these people the "Seemsters," Docetics. Docetism refers to a Christology that says Jesus is spirit; the Christ is spirit, but not really flesh and blood human.

Notice how this author is arguing against different kinds of ideas and it shows a further split in early Christianity. You have some people believing that Jesus was human but not fully divine, other people believing that he was so divine that he wasn't even human, and this author is trying to hold together these two things. Now how this happened--so that's what's going on, the Gospel--the first letter of John shows a community that's again divided but now it's divided by some of the people within its midst going off because they thought, you can't have a flesh and blood God, and therefore, if you're going to have Jesus as God he can't be flesh and blood, so they've left the community.

Let's look at 2 John, this is a little--I'm going to read all the way through this one because this is going--we need to sort of figure out what's going on. It's a very short letter. "The elder," so he calls himself the elder, so he doesn't even give us his name.

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever . . . I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth just as we have been commanded by the Father.

He's talking to an elect lady and her children, most of us think this is a metaphor and he's actually addressing this to a church. The elect lady probably means the church itself, not a particular human person, but that's just a judgment call.

But now, dear lady, I ask you not as though I were writing to you a new commandment but one we had from the beginning, let us love one another.

There's that love thing, so we're know we're still in the same kind of Christianity that we were with the others.

This is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment that you have heard from the beginning . . . Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. [There are those people again.] Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Be on your guard so that you do not lose what we have worked for but may receive a full reward. Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ but goes beyond it does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching, for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person.

The main purpose of this very short letter is to say, to another church that's in the same kind of community with this one, there are people who have left our community and the reason is they don't believe Jesus was fully flesh and blood. Don't even let them come to visit you, these are traveling preachers, and he says, don't receive them, don't give them money, don't give them food, don't put them up in your guest room, just completely shun them, so he's writing to another church because of this.

Now look at 3 John: "The elder to the beloved Gaius," now it's the same person writing, he says, but now it's to a man named Gaius, not to the elect lady.

I pray that all may go with you, in good health . . . Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you. They have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on in a manner worthy of God, for they began their journey for the sake of Christ accepting no support from non-believers.

This is a letter that has been sent around, probably with other traveling preachers, but these traveling preachers seem to be representatives of the elder himself, the author. He's writing to a man named Gaius and says, you're a good guy, you receive our messengers, you receive the people that we're sending around to preach. "I have written something to the church" --oh he did write a letter to the church, so now you see he wrote another letter to the church, he's writing this letter to an individual.

"But Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come"--in other words, Diotrephes seems to be the leader of a church and has not allowed the elder to send his letter to that church. He's intercepting letters and not allowing these things to be read aloud in the church. All these letters were supposed to be read aloud in churches.

If I come I will call attention to what he is doing in spreading false charges against us. And not content with these charges, he refuses to welcome the friends and even prevents those who want to do so and expels them from the church.

Diotrephes is refusing to welcome the messengers from the elder that the elder sent ahead of himself with the letter that makes up 2 John. You see what's going on here? There's a leader of this Johannine church, probably after the writing of the Gospel, probably after the writing of 1 John, and he writes 2 John as a sort of introductory letter to a church, and he says, I'm sending you some of my messengers, receive them, listen to the letter, give them what they need, help them out financially, put them up in your guest room, and then send them on their way so they can travel around to other Christian churches. Something's gone wrong though, maybe this is a different--maybe 3 John--we don't know, this is speculation, maybe 3 John is another letter that he had to write to an individual in that town because 2 John didn't work. Why? It may be that those people disagreed with him about his Christology also, so they may have received the very people that he thought they shouldn't receive. And so he writes 3 John to an individual saying, Diotrephes is causing a bunch of problems not receiving my messengers and not allowing my letters to be read in church.

You see how this represents--this is all guess work. We don't know what's going on but we see several things about the letter. There's a greeting, there are well wishes, there's praise of the reputation and behavior of the recipients, he attempts to establish a relationship, he talks to this person--he's the father's son or a patron client relationship and there's a letter of recommendation. Send them on, this is what you do in the ancient world, you give a messenger--there's no post office you know. You give a letter to someone who's traveling and that person gets to a friend of yours to where it says, and they show the letter, that letter is read outside--read aloud to the group, and then you put that person up or those people up, you host them for a while, they talk and you share your messages, and then you send them on--you give them a little bit of financial support to send them on their way to the rest of the travel. That's clearly what is going on and both of these letters are letters of recommendation, typical letters of recommendation.

What makes it interesting is that 2 John seems to have been a letter of recommendation that didn't work, maybe. And then 3 John had to be written to an individual because his letter couldn't get through to the whole church. What's the cause of this division? Clearly the cause of division in the Gospel of John is that some people are not accepting a high enough Christology, they're not accepting that Jesus is truly divine. They might be accepting that Jesus is human but not that he is divine. The situation has shifted slightly by the time we get to the 1 John, the letter, because there it seems like yes he's talked about some people are antichrist because they've denied that Jesus is the Messiah but other people are antichrist because they've denied that Jesus is flesh.

He says they have gone out from among us, so the church has been split again on the issue of Christology but now the Christology is do you accept the full fleshness of Jesus, but then when you get to 2 John and 3 John, the split--is the split now doctrinal? Is it Christological? Or is this just a split over who gets to be the leader? Who gets to be the recognized leader of these churches? Is it the elder? Do his letters have to be accepted and his emissaries get accepted in different churches? Or is it this guy Diotrephes? Is he sort of trying to buck the elder for the leadership? Is there a dispute over Christology? Do they disagree about Christology or is it now a purely a personnel leadership issue? It's very difficult to see but you can very quickly see by looking at these four different documents, the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, four different documents which may have been written in the--not by the same person, we don't think they're all written by the same person, but they're clearly written by the same school of early Christianity. They share enough the vocabulary and enough theology. You can almost see four different stages of development and you see what we might expect.

Remember I said that in growing up in Texas we always said "let's make like a Baptist church and split." Early churches also seem to split a lot, is that what we see here? Four different stages of a church with different kinds of divisions happening and, therefore different, kinds of Christianity developing due to these divisions; very possible. Any questions about that? Questions, comments, outbursts? Now what I've just given you is one reading of these texts, and I've done a lot of speculating. For example, you could just say, well 2 John may have been written to one church and 3 John is written to a totally different geographical region, that's entirely possible. I think it's interesting to put them in this way and read them this way, but that's just one historical reconstruction because a lot of what I'm teaching you is let's--how do you imagine history developing if all you have are these texts by which you construct the history of the early church? Next time we're going to shift gears dramatically because now we're not going to be talking about the historical situation of the text, we're going to be talking about how do you get through all these texts to try to figure out the historical Jesus himself? Did Jesus of Nazareth really exist? What did he do? What did he say? What did he think of himself? That's what we'll talk about next time.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 13
The Historical Jesus
Play Video
The Historical Jesus

It is obvious that certain narratives in the New Testament contradict each other and cannot be woven into a historically coherent whole. How, then, do scholars construct who the "historical Jesus" was? There are several principles that historical Jesus researchers follow, which include considering data that 1) has multiple attestations and 2) is dissimilar to a text's theological tendencies as more likely to be historical. Using the modern methods of historical research, it becomes possible to construct a "historical Jesus."

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 224-290


February 23, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: Okay, we've already talked about the problems of using these texts historically. If you remember, early in the semester we talked about Galatians 1 and 2, and Acts, and we tried to compare exactly when did Paul go where with regard to Jerusalem, Damascus, Antioch. And we saw that it's very, very difficult to harmonize Galatians 1 and 2 with the account of Acts in Paul's movements around Jerusalem. We've also got a lot of other situations where this would be very difficult. I mentioned the differences between Matthew and Luke as far as the birth narratives. Just to try to figure out how this would work, if you took the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke it would be very, very difficult to find out historically what happened. For example, if you just take Matthew, as I've said before, Jesus' family seems to simply be in Bethlehem. It doesn't say they're from Galilee, it doesn't say they're originally from Nazareth, they're just in Bethlehem, and they're in Bethlehem well before Jesus is born because the wise men in the East see the star and it takes them enough time to travel from Persia, we're supposed to understand from the narrative because they're called Magi, and those are wise men from Persia, all the way to Jerusalem. They meet up with King Herod the Great, he gets his wise men to consult, they then find out they're supposed to go to Bethlehem, they journey to Bethlehem, and then they get there not long after Jesus is born.

So according to Matthew, you don't have any time actually in the narrative of Matthew for the whole moving from Nazareth to Bethlehem narrative that you get in the Gospel of Luke. You just don't have time in Matthew, they're just there. And then the angel appears to Joseph in a dream and says, Herod's going to kill all the babies, so Joseph takes the family, they move to Egypt for a while. He gets another dream years later, how many years, who knows, saying that Herod the Great is now dead, so they go back--they start to go back to Bethlehem because it says that's their home, right? They go back home, they're going to go to Bethlehem. Instead they move to Galilee to avoid Herod's son, who is at the time, according to Matthew, ruling in Judea. That's the sort of narrative.

You get to Luke and it's very different. They're from Nazareth, that's sort of Mary's hometown, Nazareth. All the pregnancy of Mary takes place with Mary in Nazareth. She even goes to Judea to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth, who is the mother of John the Baptist according to the Gospel of Luke, and then she goes back to Nazareth, and then it's according to this census, the world census that they go to Bethlehem, and it's while they're in Bethlehem in the stable, because you don't have a stable in Matthew, they're just maybe in a home or according to a lot of traditions Jesus was--there was a cave somewhere that Jesus was born in. It's in Luke that you get the whole story about--the Christmas story about the stable that Jesus is born in because there's no room in the inn. They stay in that area for a month, we know that because it says that they first have Jesus circumcised on the eighth day from his birth, and then the time of purification takes place, according to Leviticus, which is about a month long, they take Jesus to the presentation of the temple in Jerusalem. And it's after that, so a month or so after his birth that they then move back home to Nazareth.

Now there's no way you can basically get these two narratives to fit together in any respectable historical way. Does that mean that nobody's ever tried to do it? No, of course you've got all kinds of very, very smart fundamentalists who believe that the New Testament has to be accurate in every historical and scientific detail or they believe then it can't be scripture. They will figure out some way to try to make sure that both these narratives can be fit together, but what I'm telling you is that no reputable historian will accept this because you just have to fudge the stuff too much; you have to fudge the data.

What do we believe about the birth of Jesus? Most of us think we don't know anything about the birth of Jesus. All the Christmas stories are later tradition, probably the one thing most of us would say is that Jesus probably was from Nazareth, his family was simply from Nazareth because he's called Jesus of Nazareth. And the traditions that got him to Bethlehem for his birth are probably later pietistic traditions that Matthew and Luke later developed for different reasons, but to get Jesus born in Bethlehem for fulfillment of prophecy reasons. If you take the birth of Jesus in Luke and Matthew, it's--from a historical point of view it's impossible really to harmonize them without coming up with fantastic unbelievable conjugations of Jesus moving back and forth to Egypt and the holy family and all this sort of thing.

We get lots of other kinds of things about this too. What are some obvious historical problems with the historical Jesus? Well one of the things is the trial of Jesus. There are different versions of the trial of Jesus in the Gospels. Unfortunately, basically most scholars will say that we don't really know what happened at the trial of Jesus. We don't even know for sure whether there was any kind of official trial. It may have been that he was just arrested in the middle of the night, he was just then--they give him permission to be crucified and he was crucified the next day. That would be the sensible way of doing things. You didn't have to have--the Romans didn't need elaborate trials in order to crucify Jews who were rabble rousers in the first century, they did it all the time. If you look at some of the details of the trial notice how they're very different. Notice how they're very different.

Mark 14, get your Bibles out. Today we are talking about the historical Jesus but I'm not just going to tell you what I believe or what scholars believe about the historical Jesus, I'm going to try to show you why scholars come up with ideas that we have, how we get there, what is our method for arriving at historical Jesus discussions. Look at Mark 14:53:

They took Jesus to the high priest and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance right into the courtyard of the high priest, and he was sitting with the guards warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death but they found none. Many gave false testimony against him and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him saying, "We have heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands and in three days I will build another not made with hands.'" But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?" But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus said, "I am. And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven." [That's a quotation from Daniel, so Jesus basically just says, "I am," and then quotes Daniel.] The high priest accused him of blasphemy.

Then look at chapter 15, beginning of chapter 15, "

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" He answered him, "You say so." Then the chief priest accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, "Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you." But Jesus made no further reply so that Pilate was amazed.

Now notice all Jesus says at his trial, according to Mark, the oldest of our written testimonies, is "I am" and a quotation of scripture at one point, and then, "so you say," in the next trial before Pilate. Now compare that to what goes on in the Gospel of John. I mentioned this a bit in my lecture on the Gospel of John, how its narrative details are very different from the synoptic Gospels. One of the places where this is really different is the trial of Jesus. John 18:19, I'm not going to read all of this because it's just way too long, there's a part of--the interesting thing is that the trial of Jesus goes on for a long time in the Gospel of John.

The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught synagogues near the temple where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me?"

Already Jesus has said a ton more now than he has said in the other Gospels at his trial. Then he just keeps going on, he says more things:

When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus in the face saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" Jesus answered, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" Then Annas sent him down to Caiaphas the high priest.

So according to John, Annas and Caiaphas are kinfolk, and they're sort of both members of the high priestly family. You can go on and on. At verse 28 is the trial--they took Jesus to Pilate.

Pilate went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" They answered, "If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law." The Jews answered, "We are not permitted."

It goes on, Pilate talks to Jesus,

"Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about it?" Pilate said, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus said, "My kingdom is--"

Jesus just has a whole conversation with Pilate which leads to that wonderfully quotable phrase that everybody knows about where finally Jesus talks about truth and Pilate says in a phrase that could be sincere or a lot of people answered as being cynical, "What is truth?" Very famous quotation from the Gospel of John. Then of course there's the whole passage, any of you seen the--"Jesus Christ Superstar," the play or the movie? There's a whole scene where Herod, this is actually the son of Herod the Great now, but there's a trial before Herod also in the Gospel of John, not really in Mark at all, but in the Gospel of John you get this whole trial before Herod. And according to "Jesus Christ Superstar" this is when Herod kind of dances around on this raft, and has showgirls, and they all do this, "so you are the Christ,/ you're the great Jesus Christ,/ prove to me that you're no fool,/ walk across my swimming pool," and all this sort of thing. There's a whole scene, and "Jesus Christ Superstar" the whole scene wouldn't be possible without the Gospel of John because it's not in the other Gospels. This is a famous scene.

All of that's different in John, so what's historical? How do scholars decide--you have these very, very different--was Jesus completely silent at his trial as it seems to be in the Gospel of Mark? Did he not offer any reasons for what he did, or did he have theological and philosophical discussions with Pilate about his message? What's historical? In that case, basically most historians are going to say none of it is. None of the trial stuff can you be confident would be historical. For one thing, we just have these very varied differences but there's one very little interesting piece of evidence about this. According to all the Gospels where were the disciples after Jesus was arrested? Anybody remember? They vamoosed. The Gospels say the disciples ran away at the arrest of Jesus. So maybe according to some traditions--according to these traditions maybe Peter was there sort of in a courtyard, out removed from the trial. But none of the disciples of Jesus would have been allowed to be present at any trial whether it was with his high priest or Pilate, they wouldn't have been allowed in. These were peasants from Galilee, they're fishermen, they don't go walking into Pilate's headquarters, so who would have been there to report these different trial things?

There are no stenographers in the ancient world sitting down taking notes of these trials. There are no court records, there are no journalists, nobody was there who later Christians had access to so that they could possibly have known what went on in the trial. According to most historians who just say, all of this trial stuff was very much made up by later Christians. Why? Because they figured you had to have a trial if you're going to have Jesus condemned and so they figured, well what would have taken place? These Gospel writers, or maybe they're using traditions that developed before them, they're using traditions that developed because people just say, well what would have happened at Jesus' trial? What's likely to have happened? Then they make up that likeliness and they put that into the story. Now so you've got a couple of different situations where we historians are very, very skeptical about some of the basic aspects of the Gospels' accounts as far as what they tell us about the historical Jesus. The birth narratives, we just throw up our hands. The trials before Pilate, nope probably none of it rises to the level of history.

This leads to a couple of different problems. The first one I'm going to talk about is, so what? And I'm saying this because once critical scholars start talking about the historical Jesus, we immediately start stepping into sand traps. On the one hand we have good Christian people who are a bit afraid that if you start questioning the historical reliability of the Gospels then you're going to undermine every aspect of Christian faith. If the birth narratives are not as they say they are in the Gospels, then how can you trust any of it to be true? If none of it is true, how do you even know that Jesus actually even existed? Or even if he did exist how do you know that he wasn't a liar or a magician, or just a bum? How do you--and if that's true, why have faith? Why not just give up the whole thing? On the one hand, you've got Christians who are very threatened by using typical historical tools on the Gospels and the very question of the historical Jesus.

On the other hand, we have just as many people who are anti-Christian and they want to grab onto this and say, aha, notice how reputable scholars like Dale Martin, Woolsey Professor or Religious Studies at Yale University, points out that not everything in the Gospels is reliably history. Well that means it's all a bunch of bunk, and every Christian in the world is basing their faith on things that are known by scholars to be lies. Well that's not exactly right either is it? But on both sides you get some people who say--who grab onto any sort of idea that historians would say these are the discrepancies in the Gospels, or these are places where we don't have historical evidence to back us up and they want to run with that precisely in order to impugn the faith of Christians.

So scholars have to be very careful. What we basically want to say--there was actually one or two scholars in the nineteenth century, reputable scholars, Bruno Bauer was one of them, a German scholar who denied that Jesus ever existed. He just said it was all--even the person of Jesus was a myth created by the church. You'll find every once in a while somebody on the web, or the internet, or something or in some crazy blog, saying that Jesus never existed, but reputable historical scholars all admit that Jesus of Nazareth existed. There was a guy back there, Jesus of Nazareth. There's just too much evidence that he existed and it's just not controvertible when it comes to reliable historical evidence. That's a big difference from saying, yes, we believe he existed and there are some things we think we can say about him, to accepting all of the Gospel materials as reliable. Scholars basically are caught in the middle of saying we believe there was a Jesus of Nazareth, we believe we might even be able to say some things as historians about who he was, what he said, what he did, why he may have been executed, and that sort of thing. That means we have to use critical historical tools to analyze these faith-based texts, these theological texts, what are indeed, in some cases, mythological texts. We read theological texts to try to figure out what we could say historically.

That leads to the other issue. I keep saying "the historical Jesus" because a whole lot of people have the idea that once I give you the historical Jesus then you've got the real Jesus. You've got Jesus as he really was and so therefore Jesus as he really is. Now the problem with that is that theologians and I can put on my historical hat most of the time, because I actually have a job as a historian. I don't really have a job as a theologian so I kind of a call myself sometimes an amateur theologian.

If I want to put on my amateur theologian hat, I can make a case for you why the historical Jesus is not a very good foundation for Christian faith. It's not reliable as a foundation of Christian faith, it's not sufficient as a foundation for Christian faith. The theological Jesus, the Jesus of Christian confession is not the historical Jesus. The Jesus of theological confession is the Jesus that matches what the church has traditionally believed about Jesus. For example, Jesus that matches the creeds, a Jesus that matches Christian confessions, so one of the most important things for Christian confession, for example, is--would you lose your faith if you believed that Jesus wasn't born in Bethlehem but was rather born in Nazareth? Probably most Christians would say, well, no that's not really that important. What's the most central thing for most Christians of the Christian faith? Do you believe that somehow God was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world to himself, to quote the Apostle Paul, or do you believe that Jesus Christ is divine? Do you believe that Jesus is God? Do you believe that Jesus is God incarnate, God in the flesh? That's a fundamental aspect of Christian faith for most Christians.

Notice that's not something that historians can pronounce about one way or another. There's no possible way that I practicing history by the normal historiographical tools of history could tell you whether God was in Jesus Christ, is there? I mean just think about it, how would I test that? How would I figure it out? What would count as a positive proof? What would count as a non-controvertible negative truth? There's no such thing. When I'm talking about the historical Jesus I have to get over several hurdles. One of the hurdles is trying to show you that the historical Jesus is a construction made by historians practicing the typical trade of modern historians. It's just like, for example, if I say what's the historical Socrates? We don't have direct access to Socrates either, right? Socrates left no writings. All we know about Socrates are mainly the things that either Plato, his disciple, said about him or Xenophon another of his disciples said about him and a few other things. You know what? Plato and Xenophon don't give the same picture of Socrates, so figuring out what this--who is the historical Socrates is also a difficult historical question that historians debate about. That's the one thing is just using typical historical data.

For example, if I say, we're going to talk about George Washington and we're going to talk about the George Washington of history, the George Washington that historians will come up with, that's a different George Washington than say, let's talk about the George Washington of popular American piety. The George Washington of popular American piety threw a dollar across the Potomac. No historian believes that George Washington threw a dollar across the Potomac, at least not at Mt. Vernon. If you've been to Mt. Vernon you know that's a super human feat. In popular American piety, George Washington as a little boy chopped down the cherry tree and when his father got onto him he said, I cannot tell a lie father, it is I. That's a George Washington, it's the George Washington of American popular tradition, and it's important to know that about George Washington. No historian believes that George Washington as a child actually chopped down the cherry tree and that happened, and mainly because we actually found the preacher who made up the story for a sermon. It made a good sermon point. Remember my motto, what's the motto of the class? De omnibus dubitandum, especially when you're listening to preachers or professors. The historical Jesus is not the same thing as the theological Jesus, so that's one point to remember.

Another--this is another theoretical issue and this is very confusing for some people when you first start thinking about it. We often use the word "history" in two different ways in common English. We often use the word history to refer simply to stuff in the past. For example, the Civil War is historical. That just means it happened in the past. That's one way we use the word "history" but it's kind of a sloppy way, because if I want to say the history of the Civil War, I'm not really talking in that case of the whole Civil War, right? A historical account of the Civil War is something--is a narrative that will be constructed by a historian to represent a story about whatever happened in the past, but it can't replicate the past, right? In order to replicate the Civil War you would have to actually have the full four years--wasn't it four years? However long the Civil War took to fight you would have to have that amount of time because every tiny detail, every action, every person, every word, every letter, everything anybody said all--every tiny battle, every ant that crawled over a decomposing corpse is part of the past of the Civil War. That's not the history of the Civil War, that's the Civil War as it occurred in the past.

The history of the Civil War is an account of whatever happened in the past that a historian constructs and then tells you. When we use the word "history" in that more professional sense, we're not talking about the past, we're talking about an account of the past. Often philosophers of history like to separate these two words out, and they'll use the word "past" for the event that occurred in the past. They'll use the word "history" for an account of the event that occurred in the past. Now notice what that means. Histories are accessible to us, right? You can go to the store and buy a history of the Civil War, you can buy a history of George Washington, and you can buy a history of Jesus Christ. Does the history of the Civil War that you buy in the store give you the Civil War? No, it gives you an account of the Civil War. The actual Civil War is radically inaccessible to you. It's inaccessible, you can't get it. Think about this, how would you actually recover the actual past of the Civil War? How would you do it? Let's say you can't travel in time like in TV, let's just say that hypothetically. Does the Civil War exist somewhere in space where the light that emitted from it is still flying off in the universe somewhere? If you could faster, than the speed of light, fly out to that thing you could actually experience the Civil War as it actually happened. Well maybe theoretically, but for any of us sitting here in this room, that's not possible is it? In other words, this is a radical thought to some people, but the past no longer exists for you and me, it's radically gone. The past is non-existent when it comes to our experiences of it. All we can experience are different accounts of the past. We can experience different constructions of the past. We cannot experience the past itself. It's gone; it's lost to us forever.

That means the historical Jesus, as Jesus actually existed in history, is inaccessible to you. You will not find him, you cannot find him, you will never find him. What you can do is using the trades--the tricks of the trade of modern historiography, you can play by the rules of modern historiography and you can construct a historical Jesus. That means a Jesus of Nazareth constructed using the same kinds of historical tools as historians would use to construct the historical George Washington, the historical Socrates, the historical Plato, the historical Abraham Lincoln. That's a construction though. Those theoretical points are very important because when I talk about the historical Jesus you cannot think, like most popular people think, that what I'm talking about is the real Jesus, the Jesus as he really was, or certainly not the Jesus of Christian faith. What I'm giving you is an account of Jesus that modern historians construct using the typical tools of modern historiography. That's a lot of theoretical philosophy of history stuff that I tried to boil down in straightforward language. Is there any questions or comments about that before I go on? All that stuff is necessary, though, because people, especially when they turn to objects of faith, that you start asking historical questions, people's minds start turning into mud.

All right, now let's just jump right in, what could we say about the historical Jesus as historians? Today I can't give you the whole thing. If you want the whole thing, all the answers to life--well I won't give you cooking recipes and that kind of thing, but if you want all the answers to historical Jesus stuff as it comes from the expert, moi, you can take my seminar in the fall that I'll be teaching on the historical Jesus; a whole semester just on the historical Jesus question, so I'll do that in the fall. I'm going to give you the next twenty minutes a little version of sort of the results, I'll show you some of the results that we--that I would say about the historical Jesus and I would also say that Bart Ehrman, the author of your textbook, will agree with most of this in his chapter in your textbook. If you want more of that, Bart Ehrman has a book on the historical Jesus called--I think it's called, Jesus of Nazareth or Apocalyptic Prophet of a New Millennium. It's also published by Oxford Press and its several years old, but he and I agree to a great extent about this sort of thing. If you want more of this you can look at Bart's book and it'll pretty much agree with a lot of the stuff that I'm going to say, or you can take my seminar next fall. Here are some things that I think we can agree about, most historians might agree about, the historical Jesus and then I'll tell you how we got there. We're going to talk about first some results and then some methodology.

First, the sign on the cross, does anybody remember what the sign on the cross when Jesus is crucified says? Pardon?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Say it again.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Anybody else?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: What did you say?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Not "here lies" but there's one verse that says "this is Jesus of Nazareth," and it's because the four different Gospels have slightly different wording but they all have something version of "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews," which is of course why you sometimes see this abbreviated from the Latin, right? If you've seen it in churches, INRI, have you ever seen that on a cross or something like that in a church? Jesus of Nazareth in Latin, rex King Iudaeorum of the Jews. Notice how though it's slightly different. Let's look--if you've got your Bibles it's Mark 15:26, if you've got a parallel version, I'm going to be looking at Throckmorton because it has the synoptic parallels, it's Throckmorton paragraph 249, but somebody put your finger on Mark 15:26. It's also Matthew 27:37, it's also Luke 23:38, and it's also John 19:19. Now in Mark 15:26 it says, "The inscription of the charge against him read the King of the Jews," that's it. Then it goes on about other stuff. Look over right next to it on Matthew, it says, "Over his head they put the charge against him said, 'This is Jesus, the King of the Jews,'" so it's slightly different. Luke 23:38, there it is, "There was also an inscription over him, 'This is the King of the Jews,'" and who has the John version? John 19:19, did anybody put their finger on John 19:19? "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews," and doesn't it say in John that it was in different languages or am I--

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: That's right; Hebrew, Latin, and Greek in the Gospel of John, so that's what we've got. One of the things that most scholars will say is, we think that's historical. Why do we think it's historical? Well, for one thing, it comes from at least two independent sources, right? What are the two independent sources that it comes from? It's in all four Gospels but all four Gospels aren't independent sources are they? Why? Because we believe that Matthew and Luke used Mark, so if Matthew and Luke copied it from Mark, that makes Mark one source. Did the author of John use the Gospel of Mark? Not according to the theory we're using in this class. Some people might say yes, some scholars might say yes, but in this class we're going on the theory that the Gospel of John probably didn't use Mark as one of his sources. You've got the Gospel of John as one source for this; you've got the Gospel of Mark as another source for this, so you have two of what scholars are willing to treat as independent sources, which both have this nice little piece of data, this data right there.

Now the other thing is that--might be interesting for you to know, "King of the Jews" is not a Christological title that early Christians used about Jesus. Remember in the Gospels we've seen a lot of different titles for Jesus. He's the teacher, he's the Son of God, he's the Messiah, he's the Holy one of Israel we just saw. He was a lot of things, and these things are obviously things--early Christians call him Lord, they called him Son of God, but they didn't call him King of the Jews. It was one of the titles of Jesus that apparently the earliest followers of Jesus didn't latch onto. So we don't see it in the letters of Paul and we don't see it elsewhere in the Gospels. So what scholars have said is, look, this thing King of the Jews doesn't look like a Christological confessional title that Christians made up and then put into the Gospel. It goes against the tendency of the Christian writers themselves because it's not one of their titles. If it had said, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord of heaven and earth," then scholars would say, well that sounds like a Christian confession. But saying, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews," doesn't sound like a Christian confession so it goes against the tendency of the writers themselves and then we say, well maybe then it's historical, maybe it's a little glimpse of history sitting in there, so that's one thing. The sign on the cross, most scholars say that's historical. Now I'll talk about why that's important; it's a very small detail but it could be very important. Yes sir?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: It could have, exactly. In other words in the--the questions was, didn't this come from the mocking terms in the trial? That's exactly right. The Christians, if you notice, it's the people who are mocking Jesus who call him King of the Jews and so why--this is not something that the Christians writers want to invent and then put in the story. That supports that point, so that is a nice little detail.

One other thing that scholars often say may well be historical: Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Why would scholars say this is historical? Well there's not complete agreement about how it happened. The Gospel of John doesn't exactly tell you about the baptism of Jesus by John but it has Jesus and his disciples, also baptized in the Jordan, and it has Jesus very much connected to John the Baptist in the beginning of its Gospel. The other Gospels do have Jesus baptized by John, but notice how the story goes along. All of the writers who have Jesus baptized by John the Baptist, they have Jesus come to John the Baptist and they say I want to be baptized, and John the Baptist says, oh no I shouldn't baptize you, you're the big kahuna, you're bigger then I am. I'm not worthy to untie your sandals, so I should be baptized by you, you shouldn't--I shouldn't be baptizing you and Jesus says, no, no, no, it's okay baptize me and so he does it and then you have the confession and the voice from heaven and that sort of thing.

Notice what's going on here. The Gospel writers are very concerned because they know that it could be interpreted that John baptizing Jesus makes John superior to Jesus and makes Jesus a disciple of John. And they're not comfortable with that because of course they believed Jesus is the Messiah and so he's therefore superior to John the Baptist, and John the Baptist was just a prophet or a precursor to Jesus. The story is told to play down this baptism a bit and make Jesus come out as insisting on the baptism, wanting to do it for the right kinds of reasons but not making Jesus a disciple of John. And also this tradition about the baptism of Jesus is in different sources in different ways. Again, scholars say, the baptism of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus doesn't look like something early Christians would make up. In fact, you can even see that they try to tone down its implications. It's not something they're likely to make up, it kind of goes against their tradition of raising Jesus up completely, and therefore, it may be historical. Notice what we've got then. We've got two very small details that a lot of scholars would say probably are historical because they seemed to be witnessed by more than one source and they also seem to go against the theological tendency of the documents in which they're found. And they frame the Gospel of Jesus. The baptism of Jesus, the beginning of his ministry, and the charge on the cross at the end of his ministry, and now I'm going to back up. Those two events, let's just say I'm going to argue that those two are certain historical events in the life of Jesus, and then we'll fill in some of the other details later.

Right now let's talk about method, how did I get here? First method, first little rule, and this is something that a lot of people use when they do historical Jesus research. It took all of the twentieth century for people kind of to develop these rules and to spell them out in scholarship but this is kind of where we are now. The first rule, multiple attestation, that means when you have more than one independent source that has a saying or an event about Jesus, you tend to give it a little more weight. Now of course what are independent sources? If you have something in both Matthew and Luke that doesn't count as two independent sources, right? Because both Matthew and Luke could have gotten it from Mark or they could have gotten it from Q, but if you have something in Mark and you have something in John, well those are two independent sources. If you also have something in the Gospel of Thomas then most of us scholars would say, well some people say the Gospel of Thomas may have known the other Gospels, but most of us would say, we're going to treat him as an independent source because he's not verbatim quoting the other Gospels most of the time. If you have an event or a saying that occurs in Mark and John, and Q, and Thomas those are three [correction: four] independent sources.

What if it also occurs in Paul, Paul's letters? There's another independent source. As we'll see there are some places where Paul gives us a little clue about something. Then obviously you can take Q as being one of those sources, so if something is in both Matthew and Luke but it's not in Mark then you can say it's in Q, and sometimes people would even say you have one form of parable that seems to have occurred in Q and you have a different form of that parable that seems to have occurred in Mark. Then you can say, okay we have this one parable in two independent sources, one is Q and one is Mark, but that's kind of complicated because of course the very definition of what's in Q is something that's in both Matthew and Luke but not in Mark, usually. If something is in more than one source it fits this criterion. Now remember criteria is the plural, criterion is the singular.

Let me illustrate this again. One of the things is the sign on the cross, the divorce sayings is another situation. According to Mark 10 and Matthew 19 you have this saying, "What God has joined together let no man put asunder," and then you have a few other sayings. Clearly Jesus, in this passage, is teaching no divorce for his disciples, no divorce at all, period, none, against the rule to get divorced. Then Matthew 5:32 has a parallel with Luke 16:18 which makes it look like a Q source and that has this wording, "Every man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman who has been divorced by her husband commits adultery." In other words, there's another teaching on divorce here, both of which forbid--it also forbids divorce and remarriage, but it's not the same wording as in Mark, so scholars say, that looks like a Q saying on divorce in which Jesus still forbids divorce and remarriage but it's not the same wording as the Mark saying, so we have two separate sayings and different wordings, but they both have Jesus forbidding divorce, at least divorce and remarriage; one in Q, one in Mark, two independent sources.

It's really neat then when we find Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 says this, so this is Paul, a quotation from Paul, "To those who are married I command," that is Paul and then he says, "Not I but the Lord." Paul even knows he's quoting a saying of the Lord Jesus, so he goes onto say, "That the woman must not separate from her husband, if indeed she does separate let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband, and a man must not put away his wife." Now most of us believe that's Paul's wording because you can tell the way he's kind of fudging around with some of the details of the saying. At least Paul gives a witness that he knows of an anti-divorce saying by Jesus also. Three separate independent witnesses that Jesus taught against divorce. One from Mark that Matthew copies, one from Q that both Matthew and Luke have, and one from Paul, so that passes the multiple attestation rule.

It also passes the next rule, which is dissimilarity. When you find something in a source, the early Christian source, that seems to go against the very inclinations of that source, or of early Christianity, it's more likely to be historical. Something that swims against the tide of early Christian expectation. Now why does the--divorce saying is multiply attest--it also passes the dissimilarity thing because almost all of these authors, except for Mark, they both seem to know that Jesus prohibited divorce entirely but then they go on to modify the rule a bit because I mean let's face it people get divorced, early Christians got divorced. So Paul says, well you're not supposed to get divorced, but if you do get divorced then you should do this. The very writers who pass on an anti-divorce saying also fudged the saying just a bit, which shows that the saying is more radical than their own ethics are. In other words, the anti-divorce saying is dissimilar to the very practices of these early Christians. It's more radical then they are themselves practicing and that's a clue that the saying itself goes back to the historical Jesus, according to this method. Dissimilarity is any kind of thing that doesn't fit early Christian tendencies.

The sign on the cross, I already talked about that, it wasn't a confession of Jesus. The baptism of John, it's not something they likely would have invented. There's another one, the swords at Jesus' arrest, and according to Mark 14:47 and it's followed by Matthew and Luke, somebody had a sword at Jesus' arrest in the garden, and somebody used it. According to the different traditions it was Peter, according to John and somebody made--the others don't name, somebody whacked off the high--the ear of the high priest's slave, but there are these different stories about somebody in Jesus' entourage was armed and in some of the sources--one of the sources there are two of them--or there were two swords--others say one sword. Now I think this is historical. Why? Because all the Gospel writers want to go out of their way to say Jesus was not mounting a violent revolution. He was not a criminal, this was not an armed rebellion, he is completely innocent of any political charge of insurrection. But if Jesus' disciples were armed with swords at his arrest, in the middle of the night, at the Passover in Jerusalem, that's insurrection, folks. The Romans did not allow Jews just to go around in the middle of the night in gardens carrying swords. For a Jew to be armed, at the Passover, an especially dangerous time, that the Romans were really worried about, for a Jew to be armed following around a guy who some people were saying was the King of the Jews, you can be arrested for that, you can be crucified for that. I don't think early Christians invented it. I think some of these early Christians knew that at least one and possibly more of Jesus' disciples were armed at his arrest. Why do I think that? Because it's not something they would have invented. In fact, it goes against their tendency.

There's another passage, Mark 10:18 which is also in Luke 18:19. You may have come across this, the man comes and asks Jesus about what should I do to have eternal life, what's the good thing for me to do, and Jesus says, why do you ask me about the good, there's no one good but God. Now, apparently, Mark writing that didn't have a theological hiccup but now let me--I'm a good Episcopalian. Why should you ask Jesus about the good, God's the only who is good. Sound weird? If Jesus is actually God then you wouldn't say it like that. In other words, this sounds like Jesus himself is denying that he's God. Don't ask me about the good, the only one who knows about good is God, and Jesus goes and answers the question. I think this saying was actually--something like this was said by the historical Jesus. Why? Because early followers of Jesus believed Jesus was God in some sense. I don't think this is something they would invent. It goes against their confession. It goes against their theology, so it's one of these cases where it's dissimilar to their faith, and therefore, we tend to give it a higher grade when it comes to historicity.

A couple of other criteria are a bit weaker, these are the two strongest [multiple attestation, dissimilarity]. Social coherence. This is when you say--when you use something that is either anachronistic and it doesn't look like it would fit in with the life of Jesus or it does fit very well with the life of Jesus. If I decide, for example, on lots of different other sayings that I've decided are historical because of these other reasons, and then something looks like it--a saying of Jesus looks like it's apocalyptic and I've already established that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet, then I'm going to say well it coheres with the social situation of Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet in Galilee.

Or take a negative example, in Matthew 18 there are a lot of rules about what you should do in the church, the very word "church" is used. Almost all of us scholars would say a lot of that stuff in Matthew 18 about the church, the church rules, the church leadership, that's not historical. Why? Because the church didn't exist in Jesus' lifetime. Jesus sounds like he's giving rules about a constitution for a church but we think that's anachronistic. The church is something that developed after Jesus' death when his followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead and then they should continue doing things in his name. In Jesus' own lifetime, traveling around Galilee, talking about--now when you have the church you should meet on Sundays, I think for Easter you should wear white--Jesus didn't do this sort of thing. All of that stuff in Matthew 18 that looks very much like later church life, we believe was read back into the life of Jesus by the author of Matthew or other people. Then the last thing is, the last criterion is rather weak, it's called the criterion of coherence. This basically just says, if you've established something as being historical about Jesus by these other stronger criteria, and then something else seems to cohere with it, then you can kind of throw it in the pot. It's a very loose kind of criterion to use for historical purposes. Now--so where are we? That's the methodology.

If we're going to come up with some basic ideas about Jesus here's where I would say I would end up with. There's some of this that's very controversial. I would say, though, that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet, an apocalyptic Jewish prophet. One of the reasons is that Jesus' life was framed by two apocalyptic events. If Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and John the Baptist seems clearly to have been preaching some kind of apocalyptic message about the coming kingdom, that means I think, that Jesus was originally a follower of John the Baptist, although the later Gospel writers will play that down. If Jesus was a follower of an apocalyptic Jewish prophet I think that, at least the beginning of his own ministry, was wreathed in that apocalyptic Jewish prophecy kind of world, and he was executed on a charge of sedition as being the King of the Jews, against the law. Only the Roman senate got to make kings, and if Jesus was going around claiming--and I'm not saying he was claiming, but if other people were claiming that he was the King of the Jews, the only way to understand that I think in this situation is that he believed that he was going to be the Messiah that would come at the end of time and overthrow the Romans. So his death was also apocalyptic.

The temple incident, we could talk about that, did Jesus go in and throw the money changers out and cleanse the temple as it said? I think that's historical. It goes against the tendency of the Gospels to portray Jesus as violent and confrontational in that last week. I think he therefore did it. What did it mean? I think it--this is more debatable, I think it was a prophecy meant to enact what he saw would be the coming future destruction of the temple by God and some kind of apocalyptic event at the end of time. I think Jesus was therefore a lower class Jewish peasant who spoke mainly Aramaic. I think he had a group of disciples of twelve, I won't go into some of these, but I think he actually did form twelve of his disciples to be an inner core group. I think even that's apocalyptic. Why would he have twelve disciples? Why did he choose the number twelve? Because there were twelve tribes of Israel that would be reconstituted at the end of time according to Jewish expectation. I think there are also women that were part of his inner circle, and this is because women later in early Christianity were marginalized from leadership positions, but there's all kinds of evidence from the resurrection narratives, to the presence of Mary Magdalene, to other women that they were part of his inner circle of disciples. I think that he never taught the end of the Jewish law but I think he did teach what was something of a liberalizing version of the Jewish law. In other words, that the ethical treatment of your fellow human beings counted as more important than actual details of observing the Jewish law, such as keeping kosher, washing your hands, keeping the Sabbath.

Did Jesus think he was the Messiah? I think this is a really big problem. I don't know. There seem to be places where he makes no open claim to Messiahship in his ministry, except in the Gospel of John remember. So the Gospel of John actually we tend to treat that as less historically reliable in these things because it looks very much more like Christian theological confession. In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus doesn't make open claims to being the Messiah. On the other hand, he was executed for being King of the Jews. The Romans at least thought he was claiming to be the Messiah, or they thought that other people were claiming that about him. What he thought himself is very difficult. One of the things, though, and I think we can say for sure, and this is where I'll end today. Jesus, himself, I believe, never saw himself as the founder of Christianity. He didn't think about himself as starting a new religion. I believe he saw himself as preparing the people of Israel to make them ready for the apocalyptic in-breaking of God that was to happen at the end of time, or at the end of our time, and the setting up of a new time of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Israel that would incorporate the whole world. The way I would do this is Jesus was an apocalyptic Jewish prophet who was executed because the Romans at least believed that he or his disciples were making dangerous claims that he was the King of the Jews. That's all you get on the historical Jesus, sorry. Next time we start on Paul. See you next time.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 14
Paul as Missionary
Play Video
Paul as Missionary

The New Testament and other texts provide us with many accounts of the Apostle Paul, some that contradict each other. Throughout the history of Christianity, Paul has assumed many different roles for different people. For the early Christians he was primarily a martyr. For St. Augustine, and later Martin Luther, he was a man interpreting the Gospel through his psychological struggle with guilt. The historical Paul seems to have been a man preaching an apocalyptic message to the gentiles.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 291-323

Bible: 1 Thessalonians


February 25, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: The last time we talked about the historical Jesus, and I talked about some of the methodology that scholars debate about what criteria you use to figure out what in the Gospels might tell you something about the actual historical Jesus and what may be later writing, or myths, or legends, or editions of the Gospel writers themselves. There's a very similar kind of problem with Paul, and it's rather debatable what we know historically about the historical Paul than what we find in different literary accounts. With Paul there's a lot more to go on. For one thing, as I'll explain later today, we actually have at least seven letters from Paul that he wrote himself that most scholars believe are actually authentic to Paul. Then we have some other letters that are written in his name. We also have the traditions that are in the Book of Acts of the Apostles that you've read, which talk about Paul and his travels. There's a lot more material to go on with Paul but there's still quite a bit of debate about what is historical about Paul and what is later legend, or what is stuff that's just in some of the letters that may not have been by him at all.

In fact, if you remember, we go back to the lecture we had at the very beginning of the semester, one of the times where we talked about where does Paul go when in the Book of Acts, where does he go according to Galatians 1 and 2. At that point I tried to show that the two accounts of Paul's back and forth between Damascus and Jerusalem, the amount of time he spent in Jerusalem, when he was there, for how long, who he saw, who knew him, all those different things that are presented in the Book of Acts, I argued are probably not historical because if we've got Paul's own descriptions of his movements in Galatians 1 and 2, it's much more likely, we think, that we have more accurate historical material from Galatians then we do from Acts. That's one of the places we would go is first to try to see what we've got in Acts, what do we have in his letters. This is a controversial thing too. What I've said is Paul probably didn't spend nearly as much time in Jerusalem as the Acts of the Apostles wants to make it sound like. I don't believe he started off his ministry in Jerusalem, as Acts makes it sound to be. There will be other things about Paul that I'll talk about today from Acts that I at least believe we should doubt whether they're historical, or at least we can't use them in any kind of dependable way as providing a biography of the Apostle Paul.

What does Paul though tell us about himself? Well actually let me say this, that's not all there is with Paul. There's a ton more material about Paul that you have to work through in the whole European tradition. Paul has been thought of as the founder of Christianity. Some people have said, Jesus was not really the founder of Christianity, he was a moral prophet, he went around talking about different things, Paul was the one who really founded Christianity, he was the one who built churches, he was the one who came up with the dogmas and doctrines of Christianity, he's the one who preached that what's the central aspect of faith is faith in a crucified Messiah who's then raised by God, and it's faith in Christ that's the foundation of Christianity not, some people might say, Jesus of Nazareth's own faithfulness to God himself. All of these things, people have said, makes Paul more the founder of Christianity then Jesus is.

In fact, though, Paul has been read in so many different ways throughout the last 2,000 years that people have even compared him to Proteus. Does anybody remember the Homeric figure of Proteus from the Odyssey? Anybody know? Proteus is this guy that is captured by Odysseus and his sailors, and they're trying to get a secret out of him, so they hold onto him and he turns into different things. He turns into different animals and he turns--and they keep holding onto him until he finally turns back into a man and then they can force him to give him their secret. Wayne Meeks, my predecessor in the chair I occupy here at Yale, published a book in which--it's just come out in a second edition, in which he talks about the Apostle Paul and how he's been represented throughout history. In his essay, he calls Paul the Protean Apostle; because Paul himself even says, "I have become all things to all people," in 1 Corinthians 9. Is Paul the kind of person who everybody makes out of him whatever they want to make out of him? He turns into different kinds of things according to who's looking at him, and that's exactly the way Paul has come across in many different aspects of Western history.

The early church, for example, didn't think of Paul as being so much the great theologian that sometimes he became in later Christian tradition. They certainly didn't think of him as sort of the best Protestant Apostle as he would become for Lutherans and for Calvinists. Paul was mainly known as a martyr. In the early church when you see Paul depicted in art and in literature, most often he's not depicted so much as this great theologian, he's depicted as the great martyr, whose head was cut off in Rome. So the great martyr apostle is the early church's way of looking at him. Then St. Augustine, and then following him Martin Luther, they saw in Paul someone who was more like their own sort of psychological way of thinking about themselves. They saw Paul as this guy who was really trying to be righteous. Luther tried to do everything, he was a Catholic monk, and so he was trying to do all the kind of things that the Catholic Church expected, and he just became crushed under all the requirements of doctrine, and ethics, and Catholic requirements.

He finally--he was--he felt like I have to be perfect in order to be acceptable to God but no matter how much I try I can't do it, I can't keep the law, I can't keep the church's teachings, I'm this total moral failure. And so he read Paul as this person who experienced his life as trying to live up to the requirements of God which they interpreted as the law, and just found out you couldn't do it. This expressed for Luther a sort of universal human experience that all of us feel when we try to live up to very demanding ethical and moral guidelines, and we find out we can't. We always fall short of what God wants us to do, none of us is perfect, we're all sinners. This idea that Paul represented this psychological struggling figure of trying to be righteous and trying to earn his righteousness by works. And then all of a sudden Luther discovers, when he read Galatians and Romans, wait we're saved by faith apart--we're saved by grace through faith apart from works, therefore works don't matter, therefore all the Roman Catholic requirements that we have to do this, and that, and that, that's not where salvation comes from, it comes from simply your faith.

This Paul then became the Paul--not the ancient Christian martyr Apostle so much but the Paul of the psychological discovery that true Gospel is, you're saved by grace through faith. It's nothing you can do, and therefore works of the law don't matter with you and God. The great Lutheran Protestant Paul then becomes invented as this man who had this psychological struggle and through this psychological struggle broke out through that into this discovery of grace, the grace of God. That became this anguished guilt ridden Paul who discovers Grace and that's been one of the main figure of Paul that you get in Protestantism ever since Martin Luther and John Calvin.

As I said, there are other people, even in the modern--the nineteenth and twentieth century, who became more interested history and they noticed that Paul, that Paul's letters don't sound like what you get from Jesus in the Gospels. They just sound like different kinds of stuff. Jesus was preaching the Kingdom of God was going to come. Paul preaches Jesus as the King, Jesus as the Messiah. In fact, people have said the message of Jesus was about God and the Kingdom. By the time you get to Paul, Paul's message is about Jesus himself, so this shift of the proclaimer Jesus, becoming the proclaimed in Paul, that is Jesus being proclaimed by Paul, is one of the shifts that historians noticed in the nineteenth--twentieth century. All of this stuff sort of--are different ways of figuring Paul in history.

In fact, one of the ways that people talked about this was Paul was actually the corrupter of the noble pristine religion of Jesus. Jesus was a great moral teacher; he didn't care about all these Christian doctrines about the trinity, and about hell and heaven, and all this kind of stuff. Jesus was just saying things like, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say that it's Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. I should be in a movie, right? "Jesus of Nazareth at Yale." Jesus comes across sometimes as being this moral teacher who's floating around on boats in the sea of Galilee with his disciples saying things, consider the sparrow, and then Paul comes along, according to this reading, and he turns all that into this stuff about doctrine, and hell, and heaven, and doing the right thing, and God's condemnation. So for these kinds of people Paul was actually the founder of Christianity because he destroyed the kind of message that the historical Jesus taught.

This is what you get from someone like Friedrich Nietzsche, who wasn't that crazy about Jesus but he really hated Paul. So Nietzsche said this, this is Paul the corruptor of Jesus' religion, this is that kind of Paul. "The glad tidings," that is the Gospel, the good news, "were followed closely by the absolutely worst tidings, those of St. Paul. Paul is in the incarnation of a type which is the reverse of that of the Savior. He is a genius in hatred in the standpoint of hatred." Nietzsche goes on to talk about Paul "by making the heroic but unfortunate death of Jesus into a sacrifice for sin," which is what Nietzsche thought Paul had done, "nailed Christ to his cross." That's what Nietzsche says about Paul. The cross was Paul's invention for Christianity and that what's made Christianity.

Or George Bernard Shaw, he has a great thing. When I was a high school kid, remember I told you about this. I grew up in this very conservative church in Texas and I went to this big public high school, and I mean I had gone to Sunday school my whole life and I wasn't very well read in literature. Well in high school we were reading some plays by George Bernard Shaw. We were assigned, I think, mainly the play and I was flipping through a bunch of George Bernard Shaw stuff, and I came across "Androcles and the Lion," I think was the name of the play about the--Androcles is the young man who finds the lion with a thorn in his paw, he pulls the thorn out of the lion's paw, and then the lion's very grateful and then years, years, years later Androcles becomes a Christian and he's thrown into the lions in the Roman Coliseum and it just so happens that the lion whose paw he cured is the one who's supposed to eat him. Of course the lion comes up and recognizes, and licks him, and he saves him. And so "Androcles and the lion" is this story about the Christian martyr who's saved by the lion.

Well that's the play, but Shaw always appended these wonderful introductions to his plays, and sometimes the introductions are more interesting than the plays themselves because this is where Shaw, who was a wonderful atheist in the beginning of the twentieth century, where he just lets loose and he just slams all kinds of political stuff but a lot of religion. He just really doesn't like religion. I remember coming across this in a library or something, and here I was this pious little Protestant boy, growing up in my conservative little church, and here was this guy very, very smart in this introduction to Androcles and the lion explaining to me how bad Christianity was really and how Paul had screwed the whole thing up. It kind of blew my mind. It took me days to get over this, but George Bernard Shaw said this about Paul, "No sooner had Jesus knocked over the dragon of superstition than Paul boldly set it up on its legs again in the name of Jesus." Paul is the one who makes Jesus' movement superstitious or here he said this also, "Paul is the true head and founder of our reformed church, as Peter is of the Roman church. The followers of Paul and Peter made Christendom while the Nazarenes were wiped out." The religion of Jesus, according to Shaw, disappeared from the earth, and all that we were left with is this shell called Christendom.

So all those things are Paul. We're going to talk about--for the next few days we're going to talk about Paul, both the authentic letters he wrote, we're going to try to figure out who he was, and then we're going to talk about how he was depicted by his own followers in the Bible and then by some of his followers outside of the Bible. What does Paul tell us about himself? There are some important things, but there are just a couple of details.

One, in Philippians 3:5-6, Paul tells us that he was of the tribe of Benjamin, so he even knows his tribal identity as a Jew, he was a Pharisee--now that surprises some people. In fact Paul doesn't ever say, I used to be a Pharisee but I'm no longer, he basically just calls himself a Pharisee. In fact Paul's the one Pharisee from pre-70 Judaism that we know much about at all. We don't know--a lot of the rabbis of the Pharisees appear in rabbinic documents but those come from hundreds of years later. Paul's one person who calls himself a Pharisee and whose writings we actually possess; so Paul calls himself a Pharisee. He says that he was a persecutor of the church before he became a follower of Jesus, and he implies that this was out of zeal for the law. Paul started off a very law abiding, in fact zealous for the law Jew, even to the point of being a Pharisee, and he says in Philippians that he was righteous under the law.

Now, this is one of the reasons that scholars in the last part of the twentieth century started questioning this more Lutheran idea that Paul came to his knowledge of grace because he felt like he couldn't keep the law. I've tried to keep the law, I just can't keep the law, I've tried I just can't do it. Well he tells us in Philippians that he actually was pretty righteous with the law, so maybe Paul didn't have such a problem with the law after all for that reason. Those are the things he tells us in Philippians. In Galatians 5:11 he also says at one point, "Am I still preaching circumcision?" Now that just kind of hangs there, "am I still preaching circumcision?" The one thing that at least tells us is that Paul, at one time, preached circumcision. Was that maybe the reason that he was persecuting these followers of Jesus? That some of them were not preaching circumcision. Well we don't know.

Now there are several other things about Paul that we don't get from his letters but that if you pick up most books on Paul nowadays at the bookstore they'd probably tell you these things about Paul's biography, but these are things that we only find in the Acts of the Apostles. As I've tried to get you to see, there are a lot of things in the Acts of the Apostles that we should doubt their historicity, especially when it comes to Paul. Some of the things about Paul that people think they know about Paul as historical facts only come from Acts. What are those? One, he was brought up and educated in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, a very famous first century rabbi. Well it's only in Acts that Paul says that about himself. Is this something that Luke kind of made up or put in there, or part of tradition?

His original name was Saul, according to Acts. Paul never tells us that himself. It's not too unlikely, a lot of Jews then, as Jews now, might have two separate names, sort of their American name and then their Israeli name or something; their Hebrew name and their English name, so maybe Paul did have two names. But he never calls himself Saul in his letters; that's a name that he's given in Acts. He also says in Acts that he's a Roman citizen and that he was born a Roman citizen. That's a pretty impressive thing for a Jew in the eastern part of the Mediterranean to be a Roman citizen, and in the first part of the first century that would have been fairly unusual. But Paul claims that in Acts, but only in Acts. In Acts Paul is portrayed as speaking Hebrew fluently. He gets up in Jerusalem and gives whole long speeches in Hebrew, it may mean Aramaic, but sometimes in ancient Greek texts they'll say Hebrew and what we think they probably were talking about was Aramaic, which is kind of a dialogue of--dialect of Hebrew and Syriac. Paul seems to be speaking Hebrew in Acts. Paul never in his letters gives us any indication that he spoke Hebrew. Did he speak Hebrew? I would say Greek at least seems to be his first language, and we don't have any direct indication that he spoke Hebrew.

Then one of the things that's important for us today: according to Acts, Paul's normal modus operandi, his way of operating, was to go to a town and go to the synagogue first and, only after he was rejected in the synagogue, would he then go preach to the Gentiles. Do you remember? This goes along with that Acts theme that we talked about, to the Jew first and then to the Greeks, so look with me because we're going to talk about 1 Thessalonians in a bit. Acts 17 gives the account of when Paul first went to the Thessalonica, at least according to Acts. Now Thessalonica is an important Roman city in Macedonia, that is the home area of Alexander the Great, and Philip his father, which is now considered by the Romans sort of part of--mainly sort of the area that's ruled also with Achaia or Greece. It's a Greek speaking area but Thessalonica is a Roman kind of city, it's Romanized to some extent, it's right on a major highway running east to west so it's an important place. Here's the way Acts describes Paul's getting to Thessalonica. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to read this carefully because we're going to then go to 1 Thessalonians and say, can we confirm any of the Acts material from Paul's own description about what happened Thessalonica?

After Paul and Silas [this is Acts 17:1] had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead and saying, "This is the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus, whom I am proclaiming to you." Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks, and not a few leading women.

Luke likes that phrase, he likes to say that a few leading women also were converted in different places. It's more than one place he does this.

But the Jews [we see that turn that we've often seen in Acts] became jealous, and with the help of some ruffians in the marketplaces, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. While they were searching for Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly, they attacked Jason's house. When they could not find them they dragged Jason and some believers before the city authorities shouting, "These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has entertained them as guests. They are all acting contrary to the decrees of the emperor, saying that there is another king named Jesus." The people and the city officials were disturbed when they heard this, and after they had taken bail from Jason and the others, they let them go. That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea, and when they arrived they went to the Jewish synagogue.

They're arrested, they have to post bail, and then during the night they send them off, get them out of out, and they go to Berea, and again, Paul and Silas go first to the synagogue.

That's the account from Acts, now let's look though at 1 Thessalonians, and let's compare a few things here. First, we're going to ask, what does 1 Thessalonians tell us about several things. How did Paul work as a missionary? How did he do this? He was going around trying to convince Gentiles to accept that Jesus of Nazareth, this guy they had never heard of before, who had been executed by the Romans way off in a corner of the world in Jerusalem, that this guy was not only the new king of the Jews, he had been raised from the dead and made king of the Jews, but that now he was going to be king of the whole world, and that even Gentiles should be loyal to him, and they should all become loyal to the God of Israel, precisely because the God of Israel had raised this Jesus guy from the dead, and therefore he demanded faith and adherence, and worship from all the world, even Gentiles. That's what he's doing, he's going around to different towns and he's trying to plant little house churches, little cell groups in the different cities of the Greeks where he goes.

Here's what he talks about in 1 Thessalonians. He gives this long thanksgiving.

Paul, Silvanus [Silvanus is the Latinized name of Silas so we're talking about the same person that Acts called Silas called Silvanus here], and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians, and God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, grace to you and peace. We always give thanks to God [and then he goes into this long thanksgiving about their faith] because our message of the Gospel came to you not only in word but also in the power of the Holy Spirit, full conviction just as you know what kind of persons we preach among. You became imitators of us in the Lord in spite of persecutions you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit. You became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. [Achaia refers then to the main part of Greece where Athens of course is and Corinth.] For the word of the Lord had sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. [Now here's the report that they're getting and this has a few clues.] For the people of those regions [that is of Macedonia and Achaia] report about us what kind of welcome we had among you and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

That basically sounds like a little nutshell of what Paul must have preached to them. There's a wrath coming, you're going to be destroyed in that wrath, you can be rescued from that wrath if you turn to this guy, Jesus, that we tell you about, who's the Son of God and God raised him from the dead and you will wait for him to come from heaven and he'll rescue you. That's kind of the nutshell of this message. Notice, who is Paul talking to here? What kind of people were they before they became followers of Jesus? Were they Jews? Is Paul talking to Jews? This is not a trick question, it's right there in front of you. He's talking to Gentiles because he says, "You turned from gods to serve the living and true God." So these are clearly Gentiles he's addressing so that's one clue about this is that Paul is addressing Gentiles in 1 Thessalonians.

Look at Chapter 2:9, he gives us another little clue, "You remember our labor and toil." Now my translation, I'm using the New Revised Standard Version, and in order--as I said before, in order to make this translation usable for liturgical use in churches they've actually made inclusive some of the language. It says--the Greek says, "You remember our labor and toil, brothers." My English translation says, "brothers and sisters," but the Greek just says adelphoi, which means "brothers," it can include women sometimes, so it's sort of like the word "men" in older English when it was supposed to include both women and men. The Greek adelphoi can include women but it's just the masculine Greek word, "brothers," here that's in the text. That's not just a linguistic point-- I'm going to return to that later because I'm going to argue that there's something important about this fact that Paul seems to address only men in 1 Thessalonians.

You remember our labor and toil, brothers. We worked night and day so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the Gospel of God. You are witnesses and God also.

Now one of the things to notice, notice what Paul's saying, he's saying that they themselves practice manual labor. One of the things that Paul wants to insist is that he didn't--he and Silas, and Timothy didn't live off handouts from the Thessalonians. He's insisting, we owned--we earned our own keep, we practiced our own trade, what exactly was Paul's trade is again--Acts calls him a leather worker or a tent maker. The word there in Greek is not exactly clear, but some people have said that if that Acts account is true, then Paul may have been the kind of person--there was not a lot of tents you made for city dwellers, some, but they made awnings that would go--these leather type and canvas awnings that would go in front of shops and everything to keep the sun off, and they did make tents. So if that's true and Paul was a tent maker or a leather worker, that's the kind of thing he would have made, but remember that's only in Acts. At least here we get a definite indication from his own letters that Paul was a manual laborer, he worked with his hands. He doesn't tell us exactly in his letters what he did.

We did night and day so we wouldn't burden you. You are witnesses in God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. As you know we dealt with each one like a father with his children.

They practiced manual labor when they were there. Now look at verse 14, 2:14:

For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. [They're in Macedonia he's talking about the churches also in Judea.] For you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. That displeased God and opposed everyone by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have been constantly filling up the measure of their sins but God's wrath has overtaken them at last.

Now what's going on here is at least that Paul is saying you people in Thessalonica, you received persecution just like the followers of Jesus did in Judea. Who is persecuting these followers of Jesus in Thessalonica? Pardon? Compatriots, in other words, Greeks. They're not being persecuted by Jews, they're being persecuted by their fellow Greeks. They're experiencing persecution too once they've decided to follow this Jewish Messiah. They're not experiencing persecution from Jews, they're experiencing it from Greeks. Now you put all that together, there is no mention of Jews anywhere in 1 Thessalonians at all. In other words, it's pretty clear that Paul is addressing a church that's composed of all Gentiles. They became followers of Jesus by turning away from idols. They weren't Jews. They were also experiencing persecution as the churches in Judea but they don't experience persecution from Jews, they're experiencing persecution from Gentiles, their own neighbors.

Now notice how this doesn't fit the narrative of Acts. According to Acts, Paul goes first to the synagogue, he preaches to the Jews, some of them believe including leading women, and he forms the nucleus of his group with Jews, and then he adds onto that nucleus Gentiles. That doesn't seem to fit 1 Thessalonians where there's no Jews mentioned at all. The only people he addresses are Gentiles, and he says they were persecuted not by Jews, as is in the case in Acts, but by Gentiles. Again Paul's letters seem to provide a somewhat different picture than we got in Acts, and it's easy to see how Acts told the story the way it did. Remember, over and over, the Acts of the Apostles presents Paul in the same pattern. All the people in Acts go to the Jews first, they preach in synagogues first, city after city, they're rejected by the Jews or at least by most of them, and then they go to the Gentiles later, so it's schematic in Acts.

In 1 Thessalonians we don't have a schematic history, we probably have a much better idea of what actually happened, which was that Paul founded this church with Gentile believers and when they experienced persecution it wasn't from the Romans and it wasn't from Jews, it was from their neighbors. We're going to come back to 1 Thessalonians but that's just basically the set up that when we look at what's going on in Thessalonica, we need to look at 1 Thessalonians and not depend on Acts again to tell us the story. Any question about that before I go on?

Okay, other things about Paul, Paul has this many letters in the New Testament [pointing to the board]. As you've been reading in your textbook you've already noticed that Bart Ehrman talks about the undisputed letters. This just means these are the letters that almost all scholars will agree Paul wrote. The disputed letters--that is the letters that scholars disagree about, and then there are three letters that most scholars are agreed are not by Paul. The undisputed letters are Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Philemon. Most of us reject as being by a later disciple of Paul, maybe even written in the second century, some people believe these are decades after Paul's death that these letters are written, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. We also call these the Pastoral Epistles because they show Paul trying to teach Timothy and Titus how to be good pastors of a church. It's Paul giving instruction, so-called Paul, giving instruction to pastors of the church. Now for these letters there's a lot more debate about. I would say that--I've ranked them here according to how likely some scholars believe they may have been written by Paul. More scholars will take 2 Thessalonians as being by Paul; a lot of us doubt it. A few--fewer scholars will take Colossians as being by Paul with more doubt on that, and then Ephesians is a letter, is a different letter written by a different person which used Colossians as a model, and more people believe that Ephesians is not by Paul. In a rank of descending probability, 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, and Ephesians are doubted as being truly by the Apostle Paul. That's just to give you what's going on here.

Just for a moment, let me back up also and tell you before we turn to some particular texts in 1 Thessalonians. Remember the lecture about the house church and remember I talked about the Roman household structure and the patron client structure? Now this will be very important, especially for your discussions this week on Philemon. Remember that the Roman household is a pyramid kind of structure, with the paterfamilias, the Roman head of the household at the top, and that person's sons and daughters being next in the level, the person's slaves in the household being at the very bottom level. Then above the slaves, and below the sons and the daughters, you've got people like freed persons of the householder who become then the householder's clients. The clients give honor to their patron and the patron gives financial security and sometimes legal help or other kinds of help, social help, social connections to the client.

You might even have free people, free men and women who are connected to different households even if they're not connected legally because in Roman law, a freed slave, the freed man was even legally a client of the patron, still owed legal duties to the patron. It wasn't like the person who was freed became entirely free and footloose and happy away from the household. They still had connections, both legal connections, but apart from the legal requirements you would have even other non-legal clients become like clients of a household. That's--we're going to see how different house churches start constructing themselves. Paul, in his letters, will repeatedly then address certain people by name and greet them, and he'll say, and the church that meets in your house or in their house. That's setting up that "I did it." The people he's named are kind of considered the patrons, the paterfamilias of the house church and then the house church has this patron client structure. Keep that in mind when we talk about this.

Let's back up again and say now, so what did Paul teach to the Thessalonians? First, he taught them mainly to turn from idol worship and polytheism. Now this is hard for us to think about today because you don't go around to almost any church and they have an altar call, we had lots of altar calls in my church. They had songs at the end, "Just As I Am" sung with like 75 different verses and they're trying to get you to come down to confess Jesus as your Lord and personal Savior and be prayed for, and maybe be baptized, and they keep singing the invitation song until you finally feel guilty enough that you come down front for the altar call and "yes the busses will wait, the busses will wait, come on down." In almost no situation like that are they saying you need to turn from--stop worshipping Zeus and Apollo and Artemis and turn to the living and true God. Our Gospels today have other kinds of messages, but apparently, the most fundamental message that Paul was telling people when he went around to these Greek cities was idols are not gods, you need to stop worshipping these stones and rocks and things, and start worshipping the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only true God; he's the only living God, all the rest of these are dead gods. That's the main thing that Paul seems to have been teaching as he quotes there in 1 Thessalonians. Like I said, he's teaching them to accept the God of Israel as their God, he's teaching them to accept the kingship of Jesus Christ as God's Son and the Jewish Messiah, to await the salvation of Jesus to come from heaven in the near future, so, yes, Jesus is going to swoop down from heaven, and Paul is expecting this very soon, and then to avoid certain Gentile behaviors, and he kind of will list sometimes things he calls Gentile behaviors.

One of the most important of those Gentile behaviors was sexual immorality, or in the Greek simply the word porneia where we get the word "pornography." This is very difficult to translate into English because it could be used in Greek simply for "sexual intercourse." A porne also was used for "a prostitute" but it didn't mean necessarily someone who sold--a porne just was "a sex person," "a sex woman" or "a sex man," so porneia meant really basically just "sex." To Jews at the time it came to represent every aspect of sexuality that they believed were wrong and that only Gentiles did, but they included a lot of things in this. Adultery would be included in porneia, all kinds of having sex with anybody else but your married partner would be considered porneia, masturbation could be considered porneia, homosexuality could be considered porneia, having the woman on top with a man could be considered porneia, if the woman uses a dildo or something to penetrate the man that could also be porneia, any kind of oral sex whether it was homosexual or heterosexual, any oral sex was considered porneia by the Jews, so porneia was just any list of things that Jews believed shouldn't be done and that Gentiles typically did, and that's one thing Paul is very much against.

He talks about that in one place, look in 1 Thessalonians 4, now remember he's addressing here men who used to be Greeks and who thought--who probably thought nothing at all about having sex with lots of different people. The Greeks didn't seem to have many--of course women weren't supposed to have sex because the woman was the possession of the man, but they didn't care about men having sex with prostitutes, or other men, or other women, there's no danger in that. He's talking to people whose idea of sex was that it's not that big a deal, 4:1:

Finally brothers [he's not saying sisters here the word is "brothers," and you'll see why as he goes on.] We ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that as you learn from us how ought to live and to please God as you are doing, you do so more and more for you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from porneia, [It's translated in your text maybe as "fornication"; it just means any kind of immoral sex.] that each of you know how to control your own vessel ["vessel" is the actual Greek, it may be translated as "body" but it means "vessel" so there's a debate among scholars, is this talking about control your own body as a man or to control your woman whose the vessel for your sexual overflow] in holiness and honor, not with lustful passion not with desire like the Gentiles who do not know God.

Sexual desire and passion are linked in Paul's mind only to the Gentile world, not the body of Christ. "That no one wrong or exploit a brother in this matter," "or sister" is not in the text. You don't exploit your brother and the reason that makes a big difference is that ancient people never thought about defrauding a woman by having sex with her husband, they just didn't think that way, but because the woman was the receptacle for the sexuality of the man, and she was polluted by having sex with any man except her husband, to have sex with another man's woman was depriving that man of his property rights, so it made no sense to talk about defrauding the woman here, the sister. It made perfect sense in Paul's mind to talk about defrauding the brother. "Because the Lord is avenged in all these things. For God did not call you to impurity but holiness, therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God who gives us the Holy Spirit."

Notice what Paul's doing, Paul just like almost anybody else of his society, he's talking to men here, and he says, you guys, now you're in this new church, this new community, this is different from the way you used to live, so you guys, have your own mate and do what you need to do with her. Just control yourself and do what you need to do with her, don't go after the woman of your Christian brother. Why? Notice he says nothing about any concern for the woman. At least in this text he shows no concerns for the woman's interest. What he says is, if you have sex with another man's woman you will be defrauding your brother, you're robbing your brother of his right. That shows this very traditional Jewish sense about porneia sexuality that Paul is expressing. You can see why he needs to say this because he's addressing this group of guys who had all been Greeks.

Now what is he also saying? Look at 5:1-11, this is something else he seems to need to clear up with them:

Concerning the times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you, for you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say there is peace and security, then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, there will be no escape.

He's talking about that Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven now. He's getting to what he's--he eluded to it the first, now he's telling you how it's going to happen. This is how it's going to happen and he's telling them you don't need to be--he's reminding us of this, right? He's always said, you don't need to be told this, I'm reminding you of stuff you already know. This is stuff he's told them.

But you beloved are not in darkness for that day to surprise you like a thief. You are all children of light and children of the day, we are not of the night as of darkness, so let us not fall asleep as others do but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, those who are drunk get drunk at night, but we belong to the day.

In other words, he says, basically, stay awake, stay aware, it's going to happen, you don't know when, just be ready. Why does he remind them of that? Let's look back, 4:13, now this is after he's talked about porneia, 4:13, "But we do not want you to be uninformed brothers," I grew up in that--the King James Version says, "We would not have you ignorant, brothers," which the men in my church like to say, "We wouldn't have you, ignorant brothers, about those who have died." Now notice, now he's telling them something new, this is not stuff they already know. This is new material, so this is not stuff he's preached to them before.

So that you may not grieve as others who do not have hope [He's telling them don't grieve. People in the church seem to have died, he says, don't grieve, don't grieve.] For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, [Paul believes that he probably will still be alive when Jesus comes back] will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with the cry of command, with the archangels' call, with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, the dead in Christ will rise first. [This is not something he's told them before, see.] Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

This is pretty astounding to me. These people did not know what happened to dead people in Christ. Paul hadn't told them that when he preached to them. In modern Christianity, in fact a lot of modern religion in the west, we tend to think one of the main things people become religious for is to live forever, life after death, to go to heaven. What modern Christians think salvation is is salvation from death or salvation from hell. These people converted to this new group without having been told any of that. What seems to have happened is that Paul converted them because he said, Jesus will save you from this big apocalyptic coming wrath of God that's coming upon the whole world. So convert, come to Jesus, and he'll save you from that, he'll rescue you from that wrath. What they seemed to have was that, while they were still living, any week now Jesus would come down, he would destroy the evil people, and he would set up the kingdom of God on earth, and we'd have a new kingdom, a new eon that would last forever. God would be over everything, Jesus would be the king of earth, but it's not like it's going to happen in a thousand years from now, they were all expecting it to happen right now. What they converted to was to escape the wrath and to live on into that kingdom. They weren't expecting anybody to die, and somebody in their community dies, and they go, what?! Mary just died, she's going to miss out on a party, she's not going to get--partake in the parousia, which is this Greek word that means "the coming, the appearing, the presence" of Jesus. It's the word here for "the coming of Jesus." The parousia of Jesus, she's not going to be able to participate because she died.

Paul says, wait, I forgot to tell you something, there will be people that die. Don't grieve. Now that's a pretty radical thing, in the ancient world you just don't go around telling people, don't grieve over your dead. Grieving is a big deal for everybody. You're supposed to grieve, right? Paul is so radical he tells them not to grieve. He says, don't grieve because, Mary's died, but when Jesus comes back before we all get swooped up into the air to be with him, the graves will all open, the dead in Christ will rise up, they'll all fly up in the air, they'll meet Jesus in the air, and then we'll fly up in the air, we'll meet Jesus in the air, and then we'll all come back down here and have the Kingdom of God. Don't worry the dead people won't miss out on anything. Now isn't that curious that Paul has to fill in this big gap in their knowledge. The very thing that most of us modern people think you become a Christian for--which is immortal life or the immorality of the soul, or life after death--the Thessalonians didn't know anything about. They did sort of know this thing about eternal life I think, but I think what they thought was, that if you were still living when Jesus came back then you'd get to live forever. They were upset because people in their community had died and they didn't know what was going to happen to them. So Paul tells them this bit of information.

In other words, what Paul had first told them was what would happen to them when Jesus came back, they would be safe from the wrath of God. Now Paul has to write to them to say, now don't worry, if people in your community die because it's all still going to happen, but they won't get left out either. It gives us a very interesting sense of what kind of group this was, that they didn't know something about Christianity, the resurrection of Christians at the end of time, that's so much part of the Creeds, part of modern faith, part of faith of the last 2,000 years, and these early converts to this group didn't seem to know it. So what kind of group is this?

Now I want to go back to the fact that I said over and over again Paul never addresses any women in this letter. Now it's not because he doesn't address women in other letters, and other letters Paul does talk to women even by name. He talks about women's problems. If you look in 1 Corinthians, and we will when we get there, Paul brings up this issue of sexual immorality again, and there he talks to the husbands and says, you husbands don't go fooling around with somebody else's wife, but he also talks to the wives. In other words, Paul, in other places when he talks to husbands, he talks to wives also. When he talks to men he talks to women, he addresses women's problems in different letters, but in 1 Thessalonians he never talks to a woman at all, and he only talks about women when he's talking about men trying to get them to control themselves sexually. What he says to them is, control your own thing guys, the Greek word translated "body" or "vessel" also means "thing," skuos, that's what Paul uses there, control your thing. Now does "thing" refer to his body, his wife's body, or his genitalia? It's anybody's guess, and different interpreters disagree about how they would want to translate it.

What it certainly shows is that Paul's addressing a group of men, and one scholar from Copenhagen has written an article where she says, we ought to take this seriously. At least at this stage in Paul's career, maybe he really did see these groups as being primarily male clubs. Sure, they may have had women and daughters and wives as part of them in a way, but maybe in Paul's conception these things were sort of like fraternities. The fraternity of Jesus, and that's why he addresses only men and he doesn't talk about women. And that's why when he's talking about--and these are a fraternity that seem not to have expected the resurrection and all this other kind of stuff, so Paul writes 1 Thessalonians to clue them in on it. What this would be would be a male club of Greek speaking, Gentile, manual laborers. They've now been initiated into a new group that demands adherence and loyalty to the God of the Jews and an expected Jewish Messiah. In other words, this is an apocalyptic Jewish sect of Gentiles. Now we'll see after spring break how some of Paul's other letters show that his churches, if they started off like that, they became a lot more complex later. See you after spring break. Have--you'll be talking about Philemon, a lot of the stuff we talked about today, house churches, that sort of stuff may be important for your discussion groups this--not this week right you're doing that next time.

Student: We have class next week.

Professor Dale Martin: Oh we have class--that's right, this is not spring break. Good, we can cover all this next time.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 15
Paul as Pastor
Play Video
Paul as Pastor

1 Corinthian and 2 Corinthians give us several snapshots of the development of the Corinthian church and Paul's relationship to it. In 1 Corinthians Paul is concerned with controversies that have been dividing the church, most probably along social status lines. The issues causing controversy include whether one should eat food sacrificed to idols, how one ought to conduct oneself sexually, the practice of speaking in tongues, and how Christians will be resurrected from the dead. 2 Corinthians shows that these issues seem to have been resolved. However, 2 Corinthians 10-13 (probably a separate letter) presents Paul in a defensive posture, struggling to justify his position over and against the new "super apostles" that have infiltrated the Corinthian church.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 324-355

Bible: Corinthians 1-2; Philippians


March 2, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: The situation with Paul's church in Corinth is very different from the situation we saw in 1 Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians shows us a church that is new in its infancy, it has just been founded. 1 Corinthians shows us a church in its sort of adolescent period. They've had some growing pains, and they've got some problems, but you can tell that they're not all brand new Christians. Look at 1 Corinthians 15--take your Bibles out, remember you have to follow along--1 Corinthians 15; this is when Paul is addressing the issue of the resurrection of the body.

Early Christian groups wrestled with the kind of question that people sometimes still do which is, what happens to you when you're dead? Are you dead like Rover and dead all over or does your soul go off to some other place, or does some part of you get reincarnated into somebody else's body? In the orthodox Christian confessions, you confess the resurrection of the body at the end of time, at the end of this worldly time. So Christians were dealing with this stuff. Paul has to address this question in 1 Corinthians 15 because there's some confusion or some debate in the church there. Read along with me. 1 Corinthians 15:20, I'm going to skip around a bit but I'm going to cover a lot of ground in this lecture. You need to really follow along in the text as best you can so you don't get confused with where I am. 1 Corinthians 15:20:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being. For as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and every power.

Notice the resurrection of Jesus for Paul, this is going to be very important, the resurrection of Jesus for Paul is not different in kind from the resurrection that Christians can expect. The resurrection of Christians' bodies will be just like the resurrection of Jesus' body in kind. That's important because a whole lot of people think that what Jesus experienced, what the early Christians believe about Jesus, was something very different from what they confess about Christians, but for Paul they're the same kind of resurrection. That's why he just calls Christ's resurrection "the first fruits." It's just the first apple on the tree, it just lets you know that harvest time is now here, but it's just the first apple, you'll have lots of other apples. Christ's resurrection is the first fruits and then there's a big war type thing and then Christ defeats all the rulers, and the authorities, and powers on earth and hands over the kingdom. Verse 25: "For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet, for the last enemy to be destroyed is death." That's good enough for that point, but now skip down to verse 35.

What happens is that some people in Corinth are questioning this. Now what are they questioning? Are they saying that people don't live forever at all or that there's no afterlife experience? It looks like not, it looks like what they're really questioning is simply the resurrection of the body idea, because of course they're saying--they might be thinking like a lot of people in the ancient world, there were other--lots of Jews believed in the resurrection of the body and so it was an idea that was not unknown to people but think if the people in the ancient world also objected by saying, but how is that possible? We all know the body rots when you put it in the ground, it just decomposes and it just becomes all little molecules of other things, and how did--then that grows into trees and other grass, the molecules from a dead body become recycled in the universe. The ancient people knew this, they would even say, what about sailors who were lost at sea and fish eat their bodies, and then other fish eat those bodies of those fish, and then other fish eat those bodies of those fish, and then maybe one of those fish gets caught and you eat that body. You have some of the little pieces of Fred the sailor in your body, how is God going to pull all that stuff together and resurrect that body?

This was a debate that people in the ancient world had too. Apparently some of the people in Corinth are having this same kind of idea. How is this possible? Paul addresses that.

Someone will ask, "How the dead are raised? With what kind of body do they come?" Fool! [that's just what it says] what you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen and to each kind of seed its own body. [Just like a seed goes into the ground, what comes up is a flower or plant, it doesn't look like the seed, it's not even necessarily all the same complete stuff, its new stuff, but it's still continuous with it.] Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

Now notice that's in kind of a hierarchy there of beings. Humans are higher than animals, animals are higher than birds, birds are higher than fish on this kind of ontological scale of different kinds of bodies that Paul is working with here. This is a common assumption in the ancient world also. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. What are earthly bodies? Ours, this, dogs, cats, everything's a body that's physical for these people. What are the heavenly bodies? The sun, the moon, and the stars; all these things are themselves in ancient ideas bodies that simply actually are fixed into a kind of a dome that's the sky and they travel around on that dome. The earth--all these things in the sky are also bodies.

The glory of the heavenly is one thing that of the earthly is another. There is one glory for the sun, another glory for the moon, another glory for the stars. Indeed star differs from star in glory [again, a hierarchy of different kinds of bodies] so it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. [Now here you get into a translation problem. My translation here says in verse 44:] It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.

Does anybody's translation have something different at that verse?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: "It is sown a natural body and it is raised in a spiritual body," is that what it says? Anybody else have a different translation for those? The problem is the word translated "physical" here is not really the Greek word "physical." There is a Greek word "physical." What they're talking about here is what is sown is as psychic--a body made of psuchos, the Greek word for "soul." What is sown as a "soulish body" is what he's talking about. It's a heavy--it's a denser kind of body, and what is raised is a spiritual body, but whereas in the modern world, we tend to think spiritual is something that's immaterial, spiritual means not matter, it's invisible, it's something that doesn't exist as matter. That's not what pneuma means in the ancient world. In the ancient world pneuma is like--is a stuff, it's like what air is made out of. When the wind blows around that's pneuma, when you take in breath you're taking in a form of pneuma. That Greek word pneuma does refer in the ancient world to some kind of stuff. It doesn't refer to immaterial substance as it does later in Christian theology or in some philosophies. The translation here is misleading because what Paul says is, when your body is put into the ground, when you're dead, what's put in there is sort of a psychic body, it's a body that carries life, sure, because that's what psychic means for--in the ancient Greek world, it's a living body but it is more like something--it's a natural body. It's kind of the body that you're just given naturally. When it's raised it's going to be raised to say a pneumatic body, but now a pneumatic body--so it's not the same thing as it was put in the ground, it's raised a pneumatic body but it's still some kind of stuff.

If there is a physical body there is also a spiritual body, a pneumatic body. Thus it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving pneuma. But it is not the pneuma that is first but the psychic and then the pneuma. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

Notice that he talked about heavenly bodies earlier, and he says the resurrected body is going to be a heavenly body also. This indicates that in a lot of ancient thought they thought that the sun, and the moon, and the stars were themselves pneumatic bodies. They were bodies made of the stuff of pneuma.

As was the man of dust, so are those from the dust; as was the man of heaven, so are those from heaven. Just as we are born in the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. What I am saying, brothers, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." Notice that what he is saying is that the resurrected body that he is expecting is not a flesh and blood body. When Paul's thinking about however the resurrection of Christ happened, he doesn't imagine it as the very same flesh and blood. It's not like it is in the movies, where the very same flesh and blood of the dead Jesus body somehow resuscitates and walks out of the tomb. That's how people popularly imagine it, and that's how clearly some early Christians thought of it. Some early Christians thought precisely that it was the flesh and blood body of Jesus that got up and walked out of the tomb. Paul must not have thought that because he says, the body that we will as Christians, as followers of Christ, have when we are resurrected is a pneumatic body, not a flesh and blood body. It's still a physical body in Paul's sense, but he believes that pneuma is matter, so what will be raised is this pneumatic body.

Why is Paul getting into all this? For one thing it shows, like I said, this is a church that's not a totally infant church but it's also an adolescent church. These are people who have much more exposure to Paul's teaching and to the Gospel, and different Christian ideas than, say, the Thessalonian Christians did. But they're still very confused about a lot of things that Paul seems to be quite certain about. Apparently some of these people in this church, they had heard this teaching about the resurrection of the body, so apparently they have heard this already. They're not like the Thessalonians who just don't seem to know that anything's going to happen to their brothers and sisters after their death so they're--Paul has to say no, no, no, no the dead in Christ will rise, we'll go meet Jesus in the air, there will be a big party, and if they're dead now they won't miss out on the party.

The Corinthians don't have that problem. They know that there's some kind of afterlife preaching and teaching, but some of them seem to be rejecting the most obvious crude way of understanding the resurrection of the body: as if the very flesh and blood will somehow resuscitate and come back to life. And so Paul says no, no that's not how it happens, it's more complicated than that. There is a spiritual body and then there's this natural body, and the spiritual body is the one that's going to be raised. Now it's perfectly natural, though, for people to have raised these objections, precisely because if they heard Paul's preaching about the resurrection of the body, they precisely would think, well now how would that happen? They would skeptical of it, especially if they had any kind of sort of more philosophical education. They would think that's superstition, the idea that body's can--zombies can kind of get up of the grave and walk around, that's just superstition. Simple people might believe that, but we're more educated; we don't believe that kind of stuff. This shows that this church is in a bit of a different situation.

There's going to be some cosmic transformation that will happen at the end of time and this is not an individual thing either. It's not like every individual person sort of experiences your afterlife experience and your resurrection all at a different time. It's all the same time. Paul seems to imagine that people will sleep in the ground, and then, at the end of time, the Messiah will come back, and this big resurrection of pneumatic bodies will occur. Notice though that this is the issue he relates in just 1 Corinthians 15, and we're going to back up then and talk about how does that issue about the resurrection of the body relate to other parts of the letter and how--what does that tell us about this church.

First a little background on what this is. Corinth is a very important city in the ancient Greek world. It's right on the isthmus of Corinth, that little narrow strip of land that connects the main part of Greece where Athens is, Achaea, to the southern part of Greece called the Peloponnese or the Peloponnesus. It was an important throughway, both by land, because all trade and travel that went from northern Greece to southern Greece, or vice versa, had to go right through Corinth so it was very important for trade. It was also, though, where they didn't--they have a canal there now so that you don't have to sail around the southern part of Greece, you can just go through the canal, but back then they didn't have a canal so they had these big tracks and so ships would come up on Cenchrea, one part on one side of Greece and they would unload all their stuff, put them on these big tracks, and they would take it across the isthmus and then load it back on other ships. So this is a hugely important city as far as trade went. It was also important for Rome. Rome had destroyed Corinth previously in the 140s BCE because Corinth was helping to lead rebellions against the Romans who were increasing their power in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. The Romans destroyed Corinth and then left if that way for about 100 years. It had been refounded again in the 40s and then settled with Roman veterans.

By the time that Paul writes this letter, in say the middle of the first century CE, our era, Corinth is still a very Romanized kind of place. So it's got a blend of Greek cultures and a blend of Roman cultures. In fact, the inscriptions in Corinth up until the year 130 or so were still predominantly in Latin in Corinth, which was very unusual in the ancient world, but it shows that the Romans and Latin was very important. Corinth was a Roman colony which made it both a Greek place and a Romanized place. Paul founded the church there himself, it talks about it in Acts 18:1-18, and in this case we don't have a whole lot of way to dispute a lot of what Acts tells us about Corinth, although we can't take it as straightforward historically either.

Paul writes his letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus, as he says in chapter 16. And Paul has gotten his information about what's going on at the church in Corinth from several different sources. We're going to flip around a bit. Look at 1 Corinthians 1:11:

For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there are quarrels among you. Some people say, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ."

Chloe's people, what does that mean? Well Chloe's obviously a woman's name, and when you hear this in Greek, somebody's people, those--it has to be those around Chloe, this refers to probably members of her own household. They could be slaves, they could be her freed persons, they could be clients, it probably refers to clients or slaves, or freed men of Chloe of herself. They're members of this church--now it doesn't tell us that Chloe herself is a member of the church. She might be because Paul names her out by name, but we don't know that for sure, but at least some of the members of her household are, and they have gone to Paul and told him stuff that's going on. He gets some of his information from Chloe's people, and, like I said, those may well be slaves or freed persons. Is that important? Well at least it means they're probably not members of the upper class or high status members.

He also gets information from a letter, so in 7:1 he says, "Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: 'it is well for a man not to touch a woman.'" Then he gets into the issues of sexuality, marriage, divorce, and those kinds of things. He's also, though, received a letter that--from at least other people in Corinth that raises different issues. What do we do about divorce? What do we do about marriage? What do we do about sex? So from chapter 7 on he raises different issues that may have been raised in their letter to him, so that's one place he gets information.

He also mentions in 16:12 that Apollos has come and is with him in Ephesus, and Apollos has come from Corinth. So he probably gets some information from Apollos, who is not--Paul talks about Apollos as a coworker, not as his sort of servant, or his assistant, or anything like that. In fact, when Paul talks about Timothy it's clear that Timothy is Paul's assistant because Paul says, "I sent Timothy" someplace, but when he talks about Apollos he says, "I have urged Apollos to go, to come visit you." In other words, Paul doesn't say he sent Apollos anywhere. This indicates that Apollos is on something more of an equal status with Paul, maybe Apollos is considered another Apostle, or a teacher, or something like that in the early church. Paul may have gotten some of the information there.

Then in 16:17 he talks about, "I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence." Now there are a couple of interesting things about these names. Achaicus would mean--would be sort of a name or a nickname for someone who's from Achaea, the area just north of Corinth; that means that area of Greece. Stephanas is a very Greek word meaning "a crown," and Fortunatus, though, is not a Greek word, it's from the Latin. Fortunatus means "fortune," someone who's fortunate or lucky, like having a person named Lucky. Does this mean that this guy was himself Roman or maybe was a freed person of a Roman, therefore had a Latinized name? We don't know about that, but Paul apparently has gotten information from them also, and he talks about a church in that house. What's going on in Corinth is there seem to be different house churches in Corinth. It's not all one group meeting all the time in one place. We can imagine different house churches meeting in different places and maybe made up of different kinds of people.

One of the ways we're going to talk about this is to see what was the social class of these people. In 1 Corinthians 1:26 we get our first major clue, "Consider your own call brothers and sisters not many of you," again the Greek doesn't have "sisters" they've added into the English to make it more inclusive. "Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth." Now all three of those words in the Greek are status symbol words. "Wise" doesn't mean just smart, it means "educated." Not many of you are well educated, not many of you are powerful, that is you're not people occupying government positions or anything like that and you're not of noble birth.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are.

Now at one point those verses were taken to indicate that all of the Corinthian church were just completely low class, that they were all either slaves, or poor freed men, or lower class manual laborers. This kind of went along with the image that you saw a lot about Christianity in popular movies like "Ben Hur," or "The Robe," or things like this which has the earliest Christians all kind of hiding away from the Romans in little dark rooms and all being very much laboring class people. More recently scholars have said, yeah but that's not exactly what Paul says, he says "not many of you" were these things, which at least implies that some people in the Corinthian church actually were wise, maybe educated, of noble birth or having some kind of access to power. This is one clue that's caused scholars in the last thirty, forty years to reread the Corinthian correspondence, both 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, precisely by looking at what's going on with regard to social status and social class.

And now it gets really interesting because the typical way to read the Bible that most of us grew up with is you read it very piously. You read it as having something to say about theology, you read it as having something to say about God, and all those are obviously important ways to read the Bible. It's also when you add in issues like, might this text not only have something to say about theology but also about issues like social class and power, and scholars have said it's precisely in 1 Corinthians, it's one of the places we see in the New Testament, the best evidence we have that the early churches weren't all homogeneous when it comes to their social status level and they may have actually experienced conflicts in their groups due precisely to differences in social status and social power. That's the way I have interpreted 1 Corinthians, and it's debated by some people, but it's much more the consensus view now among scholars that--especially the Corinthian correspondence does have these evidences of class levels.

Let's see, how is this working out, I just read the first passage where Paul seems to say, some of you are claiming I'm for Paul, I'm one of Paul's people, I'm one of Apollos' people, I'm one of the Cephas' people, and of course Cephas is just the Aramaic name for Peter, exactly. Peter is the Greek name, Cephas is the Aramaic name for "the rock," and some people in the church are saying, I'm one of Christ's men. There are parties that seem to have been developed or at least there are some kind of glomming onto different leaders. Some people have said these may actually represent four different specific delineable parties in Corinth. I tend to doubt that because I don't think you see any evidence the rest of the way in the correspondence that there are four distinct groups. I do think there are basically two groups that are going on in opposition to one another in Corinth and that's what I build my reconstruction on. People are having their favorite Apostles, what are some of the other--the resurrection of the body is one thing but there are several other issues and now that you've all read 1 Corinthians so carefully in the last several days, and read it over I'm sure three or four times each day, you yourselves can tell me what are some of the other issues that come out in 1 Corinthians. First, we have favorite Apostles and we have differences about the resurrection of the body. Those are two of the issues that Paul has to address in 1 Corinthians, what are some of the others? Anybody?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Okay, sexual conduct, and what kinds? because there are actually several different issues on sexual conduct in Corinthians.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Exactly, a man is sleeping with his stepmother and Paul says that's a big no, no, even for the Greeks he says; even the Greeks don't do that kind of stuff. What other sexual conduct issues are going on? How about chapter 6 in Corinthians--1 Corinthians? Some men in a church are visiting prostitutes, what it means in 1 Corinthians 6 when it says, "Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her," so some men in the church seem to think, well what's the big deal, I'm in Christ, I'm a Christian? But what you do with your body is not that important, so every guy's got needs, so some of these Christian men are visiting prostitutes, and Paul has to address that issue. Any other issues of sexuality that Paul has to address in 1 Corinthians? There's one more major one.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Pardon?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Virginity. He does bring it up but that's not as big an issue for him as simply the idea of should you get married. Remember in 1 Corinthians 7:1 they seem to have asked him, this is actually put into quotation marks in some of your Bibles, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman." Now scholars debate, is that Paul's view or is that a quotation of a slogan of theirs that he's quoting back to them? So there's a debate about that among some scholars, but at least some people in Corinth have written him asking particularly about should we have sex at all or should we be totally ascetic, that is avoid sex and be totally continent. Sex and asceticism, which leads to also issues of marriage and divorce, so what other issues are going on?

What about the first part of 1 Corinthians 6? "When any of you has a grievance against one another do you dare to take it to a court before the unrighteous instead of taking it before the saints?" Now notice this is the part in 1 Corinthians that's before Paul mentions the letter, so this seems to be part of the information he's gotten, maybe from Chloe's people, that some people in the Corinthian church are taking other members of the church to court and suing them; so court cases is one issue. Right after that it's the one about the prostitutes, then marriage and divorce in chapter 7.

And then chapters 8-11 are all about one big complex issue, and that is food offered to idols. Now why is that a problem? Well in the ancient world most of the time--I'll talk about this a little bit further, most of the time meat was expensive, and if you were not rich it was hard to come by. The one place where most people in the ancient world actually had any chance to eat meat was in a sacrificial festival. What would happen in Greek sacrifices is that somebody rich, or the city, would pay for a bunch of cattle, or different kinds of animals, to all be slaughtered, the blood would be poured out and part of the animals would be put on an altar and burned for the gods, but all the rest of the meat would then be passed out, and different people who went to the festival would eat it. You would go with your buds and you would get a big hunk of meat from the sacrifice, then you'd go off and barbeque it, and have your own barbeque as part of this sacrificial festival; or you'd take it back to your family, store some it, boil some of it, that sort of thing. So the main place that most people in the ancient world ate meat was connected to some kind of sacrifice to some kind of god.

Now of course this is part of the sacrificial cult, you're eating--you're sharing a table with that god by eating that sacrificed material. It's like you're sitting down to dinner with Zeus when you do this, right? If you're a Jew in the ancient world this causes problems because it means you don't believe in these gods, you're supposed to avoid these gods, you're supposed to avoid idolatry, but if you eat that meat you're seen by many Jews as participating in that cult with that god. Also, some people believed, some of the people thought this was kind of superstitious, that if you ate that stuff then whatever the power that lie behind that god could get into your body by means of the food. You can imagine how this happened. A lot of Jews believed that--they didn't believe that the idols were just nothing but stone, or rock, or wood, or metal. They believed there was something there that was causing that thing to have power, because they looked around and they said, this person claimed to be healed by Asclepius. Well I can see he's now healed, so who healed him? I don't believe that Asclepius is actually a god, but I believe Asclepius is a demon. So a lot of Jews would go around--and Christians later saying--that the powers that lie behind the gods of other nations are not really gods but they may be demons, and if you participated in eating their meat, that demon could get in your body. Food offered to idols became a big problem in the early church. Should you eat it? If so, would it hurt you? Did it mean you were participating in sacrifice?

In chapter 11 another issue: women praying without veiling their heads; Paul has to address that. Notice he doesn't say that women can't pray in church, but he says, if they are going to pray in church they need to put a veil over their heads because of the angels, whatever that means. There's been a lot of us who've written a lot on that, and I have my own theories, which most of my friends don't like. In chapter 11 later he gets into a big conversation about what they're supposed to do in The Lord's Supper when they come together to eat the Lord's Supper, and it's not turning out the way it's supposed to be, so that's another issue, the Lord's Supper. In chapters 12-14, nobody raised this issue, chapters 12-14 what's the big issue that Paul has to address there?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Speaking in tongues, so the technical term for that is often glossolalia, which comes from the Greek word for "tongues," so speaking in tongues. Some people in the church are speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues of course just refers to speaking some kind of unknown esoteric language that you'd only know by miracle, it's a special gift. It's not a language you learn. There's a debate among people about when people talk about speaking in tongues, are they talking about speaking some other human language, which is known but not learned by you? That's what it sounds like in Acts. In Acts the tongues of fire come down upon the Apostles, and they all start speaking these strange languages, and it says everybody who was there visiting from around the world could understand the Apostles speaking in their own language. So the writer of Acts seems to think that speaking in tongues in the early church refers to this speaking other known human languages. Other scholars think that at other times it referred to just speaking some kind of unknown language that would sound to anybody like gibberish, and that's often how it happens nowadays. If you go to a church where they're speaking in tongues, they're not speaking another discernible human language. They're speaking something else. Paul calls it, at one point, the language of angels, so some of these early Christians seem to think that when they spoke in tongues they were speaking the angelic language and they were learning it miraculously. So speaking in tongues is an issue, and Paul addresses that in those chapters, in 12 through 14. Then as we said, the last major issue is the resurrection of the body.

Now what holds these different issues together? Are these just random sorts of things that are splitting the church? Is it just because some people like speaking in tongues and others don't? Some people are doing it and others don't, is it just because the court cases, it's just an isolated incident here or there? Is the issue of food offered to idols, and their debate about that, is that at all connected to their disagreements about the resurrection of the body? Are those connected to their disagreements about sexual conduct? Because obviously they're disagreeing about this, this is why Paul is getting different reports from people. He's getting some reports from Chloe's people and then some others write a letter, and whoever wrote the letter is probably not the same people that are giving him the oral reports, so Paul's getting information from different factions in this church.

The big question is: do all of these issues just represent totally different disparate arguments or is there some bigger reason that these are a debate and is there some sort of major divide along which people are lining up? You get a really wonderful brilliant book written by a famous New Testament scholar, moi, called The Corinthian Body. What I tried to do in that book was precisely to take all of these different issues and show how they could line up on one or two sides of what was a social status issue. I argued that--it wouldn't be totally neatly but I tried to say is that in a bunch of these different issues if you you had more money, if you had more access to power, if you had a better education, likely you would end up on one side of these issues. If you didn't have money, you didn't have power, and you didn't have education, you were more likely to line up on the other side of these issues. I argued that the Corinthian church, which, remember, was in different house churches, and it may have been that one house church tended to be on one side, and another house church tended to be on another, we don't know that. We know that there were different house churches being represented here in the church in Corinth, so when we talk about the church in Corinth we're not just talking about one house church, we're talking about the collection of them, and apparently they may have all gotten together sometimes for a special sort of festival for the Lord's Supper at times, but they apparently would have been meeting in other people's houses at other kinds of times.

Let's look at how this would work. First, the whole Lord's Supper issue, and here is something that I didn't write about on my own, this was by a famous scholar named Gerd Theissen, a German scholar. He published a series of articles in the 70's and 80's in which he made this argument. He pointed out just like I already have, that meat--the availability of meat in the ancient world was very much linked to sacrificial cult, the argument I just gave you. Even if you weren't going to participate in the sacrifice itself, chances are if you went to a butcher shop and wanted to buy meat, and it would be expensive if it was meat at all, the chances are that butcher had gotten that meat from some kind of sacrificial activity because the priests sometimes would own the meat--sometimes in order to make money for themselves they would sell meat to butcher shops. It would be almost impossible, it would be very difficult unless you yourself were wealthy and you could raise your own meat, have it slaughtered your way, and consume it yourself and know that it wasn't connected to the sacrifices at all, but if you weren't wealthy and couldn't raise your own meat like that, and you just depended upon festivals or the butcher shop it would be very difficult to avoid meat that had not been sacrificed to idols. So he argued about that.

He also pointed out that the Lord's Supper, when we look at the Lord's Supper, notice what is happening. This is in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. Start reading at chapter 11:17:

Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine. [I think he's being ironic there but it could be a debate.] When you come together it is not really to eat the Lord's Supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry, and another goes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in, or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?

What's going on here apparently, remember I said, the early Christian Eucharist service, the Lord's Supper wasn't simply a little bit of wafer and a little bit of wine. It's a meal of which part of it would be then the saying the consecration thing; repeating what Paul says Jesus had said, "This is my body, do this in remembrance of me, this is my blood, do this in my memory." That might be part of it but it's clearly part of a wider meal and it looks like it was something like a potluck.

Either the rich--the rich are members of the church and I don't mean to imply that they're really, really rich, we don't think any of these members of Paul's churches were actually members of the top elite of the Roman Empire. They weren't senators, they weren't even equestrians but some of them clearly had their own homes, some of them clearly had slaves, some of them clearly had some kind of access to financial power. If they show up at the dinner first, chances are they've either paid for it themselves, because in the ancient world it was typical for people who were wealthier to supply something for the community. The wealthy people provided the sacrifices for town sacrifices if the town didn't buy it themselves. Usually the town didn't buy it themselves; usually what the town did was it expected wealthy people in the town to pay for big civic festivities and sacrifices, so that's what happened. Usually the wealthier people would provide the stuff for the festival or the supper by paying for it, or they might have brought it themselves.

Imagine what you have is a potluck like this. If you're fairly well off you can show up at, say, five o'clock. I'm going to show up at five o'clock with my buds, we're going to have a little drink before dinner, brought a bottle wine, and then the other people will show up when they can when they get off work. Well, when you get off work, if you're a laboring person or a slave in the ancient world, and slaves didn't work at regular jobs so they would follow a work day. You got off work at sundown. If you're a working person or especially a slave you can't go to the church service until the sun is down. By that time, apparently some of the better off people have already been there, and Paul seems to say they're already drinking and eating, and having a good time before the rest of the people even show up. What he says, he talks about people who have nothing, and he says, don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Well a lot of people in the church would have said, no we don't have homes; we're poor. The poor lived kind of anywhere they could.

Paul is addressing two different kinds of people in this very chapter, some of them have--in fact he calls them the haves and the have-nots, that's the Greek he uses. The Lord's Supper is splitting the church along this social status line and Paul's solution, Paul even says, if you take The Lord's Supper without discerning the body, and what I think he's talking about is discerning the body of Christ, that is the other people there, and discerning the body of your neighbor, if you don't pay attention to the needs of the other bodies that are there, and you take the Lord's Supper, it will turn into poison and it will kill you. He says that's why some of you are getting sick. Paul believes that some of the Corinthians, because they're not taking the Lord's Supper with the proper ethical concerns for their neighbors, the other church members, are actually getting sick off the Lord's Supper rather than it helping them. What is Paul's solution? Wait. If you're that hungry, eat at home before you get there so you can wait on the other people to come who have to come later. Paul's solution is to alter the behavior of the higher status members of the church to accommodate the needs of the lower status members of the church.

If you see what's going on here you can see that Paul does this over and over again with these different activities. I can't go into much detail, go out and buy the book, The Corinthian Body, you can get it on and you can read all about it. On each of these things I tried to argue there that food offered to idols, what is Paul's solution? Well he says it won't actually--you don't really have to worry about it, but those of you who think it's okay to eat food offered to idols should give it up if it's going to cause people who think it's wrong to do it, to do it anyway, because that might hurt their conscience. In other words--and it's also clear that the people who would have thought this whole thing about--worrying about demons getting to you because you eat idol meat, if they thought that was ridiculous, chances are they had some kind of exposure to ancient education because ancient education taught people that that was ridiculous, gods don't do that sort of thing. The food offered to idols, again, looks like it split the church along these social class lines. The resurrection of the body, I said who would have found the resurrection of the body to be a ridiculous idea, people with more education, people exposed to a little bit more education.

Who would have been taking people to court? If you were poor in the ancient world you didn't take people to court because you would lose. Roman law was even explicit, telling judges if you have a rich man in your case and a poor man in the case, well of course you'll decide in the favor of the rich man because he has less incentive to cheat. The poor are the ones who have incentive to cheat, so Roman law was clearly biased toward the wealthy and the people with power. If anybody is taking other Christians to court it would be people of higher status not people of lower status, and it may have been that people of higher status were taking their lower status Christian brothers to court. Paul then tells them, don't go to court. If you have a dispute let it be handled within the church itself. Now notice again, just like he talked about Philemon last time, who would have been the majority in the Corinthian church, rich people or poor people? Poor people. There may have been some people who were better off but they would have been vastly outnumbered by the poorer people. By telling the rich people they have to handle their problems within the whole church, he's placing the rich in a situation where they're the minority and that therefore increases the power of those of lower status. In each of these cases, in other words, I've argued that the Corinthian church's problems--were they were coming to different views about Christ, about the body, about sex, about women and covering their heads when they pray and prophesy and that sort of thing, they were coming to these different views because they had different exposures to upper class ideology or lower class ideology, to different exposures of levels of education.

Now what happened? Well apparently 1 Corinthians, as a letter did some good, because we have fortunately other materials. From most of Paul's letters we don't know whether they succeeded or not because we don't have any other writing. We do have 2 Corinthians, which is made up of at least two other letters. 2 Corinthians is actually--the first part of it is one letter and then chapters 10-13 of 2 Corinthians is another letter, and if you read them side by side you can tell because Paul's tone changes radically when he gets to chapter 10 in 2 Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians we have at least two more letters that Paul wrote. And then Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians another letter he wrote to them, so there was another letter going back and forth; we don't have that one probably. In 2 Corinthians Paul mentions a tearful letter, a letter he sent but was very difficult for him to write, he cried over it. Is that referring to another letter, or does that refer to 2 Corinthians 10-13, which is a very angry letter? We don't know and there's a debate about that.

What we can tell is that the basic things about Paul that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians seem to have been settled by the time we get to 2 Corinthians, although he has other problems. The biggest problem is in that section 10-13 of 2 Corinthians, because here we get Paul having to defend himself. And this is very telling because Paul says, well you're talking about these "super Apostles," some other people must have come on the scene we don't know who they were, but Paul ironically calls them super Apostles. You talk about these super Apostles, they're perfectly willing to mistreat you, they're arrogant, they treat you as if they have all the power, pardon me that I was too weak to do that. I treated you well, but maybe that's my weakness showing itself. Somebody has said, well he's very strong in his letters, but in person he's kind of a wimp, he's very weak in person. His speaking style, well this was a social status thing. A man in the ancient world, if he was upper class, upper status he was supposed to be able to talk powerfully in public and if he couldn't he was servile. In 2 Corinthians Paul is forced to defend himself from charges that he is uneducated, weak, and powerless, and therefore not much of an Apostle.

Now that goes on in 2 Corinthians, eventually what happens, we don't know what happened. Did writing this really scathing letter to them in 2 Corinthians 10-13, did that settle the issue? Did they all just say, okay, we were wrong, you're our Apostle, you're the big daddy, everything's fine? We don't know. We do have a reference in 2 Clement [correction: 1 Clement], which is a letter written in Rome around the end of the first century, beginning of the second century, in which an author talks about the Corinthians as being an ancient and great church. So at least by the next generation the church in Corinth is strong and powerful and respected, so eventually Paul's work in Corinth succeeded. What we see by looking at 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians all together, is the struggles it took for Paul to get that church from this, what I call an adolescent phase, where they're arguing about everything, they're really confused about what they think about basic doctrinal or life issues, and then to finally settle down into some kind of coherence.

That's what makes these letters really fascinating for us is that they give us little snapshots of one church that Paul founded at at least three different stages of its development. Those three stages being represented by what we can read from 1 Corinthians, which kind of gives us one snapshot of this problem they're having, what we can read from 2 Corinthians the first nine chapters, which sounds like they've made up and things are okay, and what we can read by 2 Corinthians 10-13, which we don't know whether that written after the first part of 2 Corinthians or before it. It's difficult to place these things, but it shows Paul in a very defensive posture with regard to this church. We get a very good idea of how churches struggled to actually start becoming what we are seeing will become Christianity. They've got a long way to go yet. Any questions or comments? I've covered a lot of area today, you can go back and read it. And I haven't even talked about Philippians because I wanted to make sure that you understood what was going on in scholarly opinion about the Corinthian epistles. Any questions, comments, outbursts? Okay, I will see you on Wednesday.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 16
Paul as Jewish Theologian
Play Video
Paul as Jewish Theologian

The Apostle Paul's description of the Jewish Law in his letter to the Galatians demotes from being an expression of Jewish faith to an object of idolatry and one that imprisons those who follow it. Paul is careful to nuance this position, however, in his letter to the Romans. In Romans, it seems that Paul is defending himself against charges of being antinomian. Perhaps Paul treads carefully in order to ensure that his deliverance of a donation to the Jerusalem church from the gentile churches is received in a spirit of church unity.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 356-368

Bible: Galatians; Romans


March 4, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: Paul founded several, probably small, house churches in the area of Galatia. There's some debate about exactly what part of Asia Minor he's referring to because there are different parts that were called Galatia. Of course the word "Galatia" you recognize probably just comes from the word for "Gaul", that is the people who occupied France, later the Gauls were tribes that tended to be in different parts of Europe at different times, so there's part of Asia Minor, that is, modern day Turkey, the central part of it that was called Galatia after the Gauls. Paul was there at some point, we don't know exactly when, he founded some churches there. These were all Gentile churches, there's no record at all that he had any contact in the area with Jews themselves, and there is no record in the letter to the Galatians that he's addressing Jews at all in the letter. If you notice from the letter, also, it's not directed simply to one house church or even one town. Galatia refers to an area that included different towns, and so this is something like a circular letter that would have gone around to different parts.

Other traveling teachers obviously have come along at some point, and quite reasonable enough, they may themselves be Jewish followers of Jesus or they may be Gentiles themselves but who became law observant when they started following Jesus. This would be natural. I mean if you come along and say, well you're now worshipping the God of Israel, now you're sort of claiming to be followers of Abraham, you're claiming to be children of Abraham, you're claiming to be followers of a Jewish Messiah. Well, it's okay that you're followers and its okay that you were baptized, but if you really want to be a full citizen in this group you need to get circumcised like other Jews do, you need to keep kosher; you need to follow the Jewish law. The Jewish ethnic laws are written for Jews; they're still enforced, and if you want to be a part of the people of Israel and follow the God of Israel, then keep the Jewish law. A perfectly natural idea, but it sends Paul way over the edge. He writes Galatians to this group trying to convince them not to accept this, what he calls a new teaching or a different Gospel, and this is where Paul is in his most angry and most vituperative of just about all of his letters.

We're going to go through several parts of it because what I'm going to point out right now is, how did Paul try to convince them? Look at Galatians with me, we're going to skip around in several parts. Galatians 2:15, the first two chapters you've already read because we read it at the very beginning of the semester, this is when Paul tells the story of where he was in Jerusalem, where he was in Damascus, how he got his own Gospel. He emphasizes his independence from the leadership of the churches in Judea, Peter, James, John, precisely because it may well have been that the people who came to Galatia after he did and were teaching these people otherwise, they might have said, well Paul, sure, he told you some of the Gospel, but Paul's not really one of the original Apostles. The original Apostles are Peter, and James, and John, and we represent their point of view. Paul initially separates himself from that at all and says, I didn't get my Gospel from Peter, James, and John, they are not the core Apostles, I am just as much an Apostle as they are, I got my Gospel straight from Jesus.

Then he goes on to talk about the law 2:15, "We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners." "Gentile sinners" was just like two words that almost automatically went together in some Jewish rhetoric and propaganda in this period. Being outside of Israel, being outside of the people of God made you a sinner practically in itself, at least according to some points of view, and Paul tends to share that point of view because he uses "Gentile sinners" himself more than once.

Yet we know that a person is justified not by works of law but through faith in Jesus Christ. We have come to believe in Jesus Christ so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by doing the works of the law because no one will be justified by the works of the law. But if in our effort to be justified in Christ we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I'm a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. For if justification comes through the law then Christ died for nothing.

That's a pretty big statement. If the law gets you anywhere, then Christ didn't need to die at all. Notice what he says in 3:12, he gets even worse with what he says--3:12:

The law does not rest on faith, on the contrary, whoever does the works of the law will live by them.

Notice he's separating out faith and law, that's not something that almost any Jew would do. The idea that somehow you don't have faith in God because you keep kosher is ridiculous to a lot of Jews. In fact you're keeping kosher, you're keeping the law is an expression of your faith in God. And so Paul's saying this, it might sound almost commonsensical if you've been raised in a Christian church. But if you put yourself in the mind of a Jew of the first century, hearing this, that somehow the law and faith are opposed to one another, is just very shocking.

Look at 3:15:

Brothers I give an example from daily life, once a person's will has been ratified no one adds to it or annuls it. The promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say "and to offsprings."

And what he's doing is he's playing on the Greek word "seed" is what is translated here as "offspring." He's saying this was given to Abraham's seed and the Greek word is singular, "seed," it doesn't say "seeds," so that means that it has to refer to Christ. Christ is the seed of Abraham not all the people of Israel.

My point is this, the law which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance comes from the law it no longer is from promise, but God granted to Abraham through promise.

Notice what he's doing here, he differentiates the law from promise, which would be very odd coming for a Jew at the time. Separating off the law from faith, separating off the law from promise is counter intuitive in Jewish theology at the time. Then what he also says is the law came 430 years after God made his first covenant with Abraham. Abraham just--God justified Abraham by faith, although he was circumcised later, but the circumcision was not what justified him; it was his faith that justified him, even Abraham. He takes all the way back to the father of the Jews and says, God made a commitment with Abraham, the law came 430 years later, so the law is a late comer in the whole system of how God was dealing with people.

Then look at what he says in 3:19 right after that, "Why then the law?" In other words if you had the covenant with Abraham why did the law come about anyway? You didn't need the law to have the covenant according to his theology. He says,

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made, and it was ordained through angels by a mediator.

Now this is really weird. "The law came about for transgressions." Now there's a way to--there's a couple ways you could understand this, and the way most modern Christians read it is the law came about to keep people from sinning. You know what you're not supposed to do by reading the law, so the law comes back to keep you from transgressing, but I don't think that's what Paul's doing because precisely in Romans 5:20 when he makes a similar statement, it's very clear there that the law came in to increase transgressions. What he's saying here is somehow the law came in after the covenant was already established and it was precisely brought in through--much later and it was added to increase sin in the world. It's a very odd thing to say.

Notice what he also says, "It was ordained by angels." I've talked about this before when we talked about the speech of Stephen. Paul's saying that God wasn't even the one who gave the law to Moses, it was given by angels. He says, "It was ordained through angels by a mediator." Well who was the mediator? Moses right? "Now a mediator involves more than one party; but God is one." That's odd, but it seems to express what would have been sort of a legal theory in the ancient world. For example, if I want to sign a contract with all of you we don't have to have a mediator, you just basically choose one of you or a committee of you to represent you, and I represent myself. If I want to sign a contract just with Jude, then we don't need a mediator, we just sign the contract together. But if you have two groups of people wanting to come to some kind of agreement to have a contract, a covenant, you need a mediator who can be in the middle and not represent either of their interests but be neutral. What he's saying is that there's a mediator here, all the Jews know that Moses was the mediator, but if the contract was between God--if the law was between God and the Israelites you didn't have to have a mediator, and he says that's precisely why they had to have mediator, it wasn't between God and the Israelites, it was between the angels and the Israelites. Notice how demoting this is, how a certain piety of the law, you believe the law came 430 years after the covenant, it was given by angels to Moses, not even directly from God, and it was given in order to make sin worse not to get rid of sin.

Look what he says in 3:23, he's digging himself deeper though. He's saying more and more negative things about the Jewish law. 3:23: "Before faith came we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed." Now the law becomes a prison guard that keeps humanity, and he seems to talking about all of humanity not just Jews, somehow the law, the Jewish law put all of humanity in prison and kept it there all those years. Look what he says in 3:24, "Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came so that we might be justified by faith." Well the word "disciplinarian" there is the Greek word "pedagogue." Does anybody have pedagogue in your Greek translation there at 3:24? Does anybody have a different translation at 3:24 then disciplinarian? Yes sir in the back.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: What is 3:24, "Therefore the law was our--

Student: The law was [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Okay, it was put in charge, so it's someone charge. It refers to the slave, because these were almost always slaves, who took care of young boys when they were going to school. A child would, up to a certain age, would under the care--obviously they were talking about upper class people who had slaves and could--and would put their children into the care of nurses and slaves. The child at a very young age would be under the care of a nurse, but at a certain age, maybe five or six, the child, the boy especially, would be put in the charge of a slave who basically was assigned to watch over the kid. The "pedagogue," contrary to the way this has come into English as pedagogue, didn't refer primarily to the teacher of the child. That was a different term. The pedagogue was a slave who just basically took care of the boy, made sure the boy--carried the kid's books to school, had the tablets, the wax tablets they wrote on and the blocks they wrote on, kept the kid's stuff in a little satchel, and watched the kid, took the kid to school to make sure the kid got there safely, make sure no older boys were bullies or make sure the kid didn't get into any trouble, and then stayed in school and sat--maybe sat in the classroom or sat outside the classroom until school was over, then took the kid back home, made sure the kid did his homework. And according to a lot of Greek literature, pedagogues are--not only are they slaves, they're ugly, we have lots and lots of artistic representations of pedagogues in ancient terra cotta and that sort of thing, and they're usually depicted as this ugly, stumped slaves, and they're often depicted as mean and cruel, and they beat the kids all the time. By calling the law a pedagogue here, I don't think Paul's saying that the law was our teacher, I think what he's saying is the law is that slave, a serviling who kept us basically enslaved; remember he just said we're prisoners.

Look what he says in 4:3, "So with us when we were minors we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the cosmos." The term "elemental spirits" goes back to something I talked about previously; I think it was in my lecture when I talked about Stephen's speech in Acts. This is that Greek word stoichea, stoichea is a very, very big major Greek word, it can used in all kinds of ways. For one thing it just referred to ranks of soldiers. If soldiers were lined up in different ranks those ranks were stoichea, rows. It could refer to all kinds of other rows, it could refer to letters of an alphabet that could be talked about as stoichea because what do you do, you put them--you put all the letters of the alphabet in a row and you--and there are different elements. Stoichea also could refer to what we would call chemical elements, the table of elements; those would be called stoichea in Greek.

For example, they took wind, fire, water, and air, and sometimes there were other four--earth sometimes, you've heard this theory right, that the Greeks believed and the ancient people believed there were four fundamental elements of all matter, and those--or sometimes they said six, sometimes eight, sometimes others, but quite often they'd settle on four classical elements--and they believed that everything was made up of some combination of earth, fire, water, and air, and everything is some matter though. The thicker stuff has more earth in it and less air, the lighter stuff has more air in it and less earth, but all matter is made up of these four elements. These elements constitute the whole cosmos but what's really interesting is, at least a lot of people in the ancient world believed that these--this term also referred to the sort of angelic or demonic, or godlike beings who constitute the universe also. In other words, they didn't believe necessarily that air was simply an inert material.

It also was a god or some kind of demonic being. Or some people would say that each of these different layers of the universe, say the layer that is earth or the layer that is water, or the layer that is air, or the top layer that is fire or ether, that those are all divine beings themselves, or they could talk about them as being not divine beings themselves but being ruled by divine beings. Even Jews, for example, would think that there were certain angels who were in charge of different rows of the universe. For example, if you--this is what we talked about in Gnosticism, if you wanted to go to God, according to some magical texts for example, you had to figure out the tricks to go through the different ranks of demons or angels that lived in the sky between you and God. One way to do that is to learn the secret passwords, so magical texts often will give you what look like passwords, because we've had this password, and when your soul is flying up to God, you can give the password to whatever demon or angel is guarding different gates between you and God. These stoichea refers to elements of the universe in a physical sense but it also refers to these spiritual beings that rule the cosmos, or even make up the stuff of the cosmos and a lot of ancient thought.

Now notice what Paul is saying here, "When we were under the law we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the universe." Being under the law is being enslaved to these, and he says you want to go back to that slavery? Wait a minute, what are the Galatians doing? They're not saying, we want to go back and serve idols. What Paul is saying is, when you served idols you were actually serving the stoichea of the universe. They weren't real gods they were fake gods. These are some kind of angelic beings or demonic beings. Paul, I think, believed they were real beings behind idols but they were demons or something like that, and the stoichea were those. The Galatians are not wanting to go back to idol worship apparently, what are they wanting to do? They're just thinking, well we're going to keep the Jewish law. But Paul, not they, equates keeping the Jewish law, if you're a Gentile, with going back to idolatry. That is radical, for any Jew in the first century to equate law observance, keeping kosher, being circumcised with actually worshipping idols. That's radical, and yet that's what Paul's doing here in Galatians.

I say that because in 4:8 he says, "Formerly, when you did not know God you were enslaved to beings that are by nature not gods." That is you're enslaved to demons or some kind of other being like that. "Now however that you've come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly stoichea?" He's equating their attempt to keep kosher or be circumcised with their returning to idolatry. Then look what he says in his little exegesis in 4:21, here he has a good ten verses that are important so I'm going to read the whole ten verses.

Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law will you not listen to the law? [He's going to give you a little exegesis here.] For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. One, the child of a slave, was born according to the flesh, the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. Now this is an allegory, these women are two covenants. One woman in fact is Hagar from Mt. Sinai bearing children for slavery.

Wait minute, Hagar is the slave of Abraham not his wife. Sarah is the wife of Abraham not his slave. Isaac, who then had Jacob, who then had Joseph and all the brothers, from whom the people of Israel came, came through Sarah not Hagar. According to Jewish mythology who were the descendants of Hagar and Ishmael?

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Pardon? Who are the--

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Not Muslims but Arabs. Yes--because not all Muslims--but according to Jewish mythology Arabs are the ones who descend from Hagar and Ishmael, not the Jews. Paul equates Hagar with Mt. Sinai, which is the mountain from which Moses got the law. Why does he connect Hagar who represents the non-Jews with Sinai which represents the law? You would think he would represent Sarah with Sinai. "Now Hagar is Mt. Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem . . ." Jerusalem? Sarah should correspond to Jerusalem, ". . . for she is in slavery with her children, but the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above." Now he gets another Jerusalem, now there's some kind of heavenly Jerusalem that's--what's represented by Sarah. "

She is free and she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, you childless one who bear no children, burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pains, for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous then the children of the one who is married." Now you my friends are children of promise like Isaac.

Now he's talking to Gentiles here, he's not talking to Jews. He's saying, you Gentiles are children of promise, you're connected to Isaac. "But just as that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the spirit, so it is now also." Wait a minute, it seems like he's accusing the Jews of persecuting non-Jews, followers of Jesus.

What does the scripture say? "Drive out the slave and her child for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman." So friends we are children not of the slave but of the free woman.

Drive out the slave woman. If he's equated the slave woman Hagar with Mt. Sinai, with Jerusalem in Judea, it seems like he's equating Hagar with the Jews, at least the law observant Jews, and he says, drive them out? That is very radical.

And then finally he ends up later in Chapter 5:4 and then I'll move on, "You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ, you have fallen away from grace." Notice he's not saying that you're going to fall away from grace if you sin. That doesn't seem to be the problem. He's saying, if you Gentile followers of Jesus even attempt to keep the Jewish law, you'll be cut off from the grace of God. That's radical. It's no wonder that all this stuff got Paul into trouble.

Now we don't know what happened with Paul's letters to the Galatians. We don't know whether he convinced them that he was right and the other people who were coming--telling them--teaching them to obey the law were wrong. We don't have second Galatians unfortunately, or any other letters. It has been pointed by some scholars that Paul never talks about the collection that he later takes up which--among his different churches which I'll talk about in a minute. He never talks about that in Galatians, nor does he ever mention the area of Galatians again to any of his other churches in other areas, and that's led some people to suggest, well maybe Paul lost the battle in the churches of Galatia, and, therefore, he just didn't deal with them anymore after that. We have references in his his letters to churches in Achaea, like Corinth. We have reference to his churches in Macedonia, we have reference to churches in Ephesus, we have reference to different churches where we know Paul founded churches, but we don't ever have any reference elsewhere to Galatia. Some people have said, maybe he lost the battle, maybe he lost the argument, and that's why we don't hear anymore about it. But we don't know that for sure. The letter though, if Paul went around teaching this kind of stuff, it clearly, though, got him in trouble with other people who just thought, not only was this wrong but it sounded antinomian, it sounded anti-law in general, and that leads us to Romans.

Now turn over to Romans. Romans is written in a very different situation, but let's first just see, what does Romans tell us about Paul's reputation with regard to the law? Look in Romans 3:8. Now in chapter 3 he's talking about a lot of different things about justification by faith, apart from law, but just in verse 8 I'm just going to take a clue out here, "But why not say, as some people slander us by saying that we say, let us do evil that good may come? Their condemnation is deserved." Paul denies the charge, but is it very hard to imagine why some people who may have heard about the kinds of stuff he says about the law, the law was brought in to increase transgression, and then transgression increased so that God could have more grace and mercy? Doesn't that sound like Paul is saying, let us do evil so that good may come? Apparently some people thought it did, so Paul brings up the charge and denies it, but it shows that Paul had already developed by this time some kind of antinomian reputation.

Notice what he says in Romans 6, in the sixth chapter: "What then are we to say, should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?" It sounds like that would be the logical outcome, Paul. You've just said several times that as sin increased in the world grace increases more, so let's sin. We're not saved by doing good anyway, we're not saved by following the law, so let's just ignore the law and sin, and grace will abound. Paul again seems to be echoing something that could be a very logical charge against him. How does he answer it? "By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?" Here he goes on to answer the charge in the rest of Chapter 6 by saying, by coming--by being baptized in the Christ you have so vacated the whole realm of sin that it's inconceivable that you could go back to it. As long as you're in Christ you can have nothing to do with the whole world of sin. He gets rid of that charge, but we can see that some people saw that there was a logical connection between some of the things he had said in places like Galatians. He has to deny it.

He does the same thing in 6:15, "What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" He says no, no, no, no by no means; that's not what I mean. You can see how he got the accusation. Then in 3:20, some of the other places he talks about the law in Romans. "For no human being will be justified in his sight by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes knowledge of sin." You can hear Paul's gears working, he's trying to nuance some of the things he's saying about the law so that it doesn't sound quite as radical as he had sounded in Galatians, and that he may likely have sounded elsewhere. Right here he admits, therefore, well the law is good for some things, through the law came knowledge of sin, so that's a good thing.

Look what he says in 3:21, right below that: "But now apart from law the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and it is attested by the law and the prophets." So both the Torah, the law, and the prophets at least bears witness to the righteousness of God, because, as you'll notice, throughout both Galatians and Romans, Paul quotes Jewish scripture more than he does in any of his other letters. It's precisely when Paul is dealing with the problem of what is the relationship between non-Jews to Jewish law that Paul actually quotes Jewish scripture the most, and that's in Galatians and Romans. Here he's saying we can look at the law and the prophets to learn about this doctrine of righteousness that I'm now saying to you because the law will attest to it. It's a much more positive view of the law. And then he also says, we uphold the law by doing this.

Look at 3:27:

Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from what is prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not God of the Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one.

Look at the last verse of that chapter: "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith?" You would have thought from things that he said in Galatians that the answer to that would be "yes." "By no means, on the contrary, we uphold the law." And then look one more place here 7:12, Romans 7:12 --back up one verse to verse 11, "For sin seizing an opportunity in the commandment deceived me and through it killed me." Notice what happens here. Sin is talked about as this agent of the cosmos; sin is almost like one of the stoichea, kind of an intelligent being. This is actually a debate among scholars of Paul. Some people really believe that sin is a hypostatized intelligent being of some sort in the cosmos. Other people say no, no, Paul's talking metaphorically when he talks about sin in these words, and we need to see sin not at this actual hypostatized being but simply a metaphor, a metaphorical being. So scholars themselves debate about what Paul means when he talks about sin as this agent. At least he talks about sin as the agent who uses the commandment, uses the law--where was I just reading?

Student: 7:11.

Professor Dale Martin: 7:11 yes, "Sin seizing an opportunity of the commandment," so sin uses the commandment to deceive the human beings and kill them. Paul is not talking about himself personally here; he's talking about himself as a representative of all human beings. Then he says, "So the law is holy and the commandment is holy, and just, and good." Doesn't it strike you that that little addition of verse 12 doesn't seem to follow so logically from verse 11? How can the law be holy, and just, and good if it's deceiving people? What's clearly going on is Paul is backing off the more radical things he's said about the law and trying to nuance this, and that's the question I'll ask.

Let's read the rest of that,

For we know that the law is spiritual but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions, for I do not do what I want; I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want I agree that the law is good, but in fact it is no longer I that do it, but the sin that dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want it is no longer I that do it but sin that lives within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self but I see in my members another law at work with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Well all of that is very confusing, and if you want to get a PhD you can do the exegesis of it for the rest of your life. The main thing I'm pointing out here is that Paul is being very careful to nuance a straightforwardly negative depiction of Jewish law and say that, well it's still good in a sense. It still is true, it's still holy, and he's doing this because I think he knows that he's got a reputation as being anti-law and being antinomian.

So why these differences between Romans and Galatians? Well we need to understand a little bit more about the Roman situation. First, Paul did not found the church in Rome; it grew up on its own by other people. According to church tradition, according to Roman Catholic tradition, Peter, the Apostle Peter founded the church in Rome, but that's tradition and we don't have any historical data to really prove it. And I personally believe that probably the church in Rome was started by anonymous Jews who happened to hear about Jesus and went to Rome and then started little house groups of Jesus followers on their own, and then Apostles came later, just like Paul seems to have gone there later. The Roman church, at the time Paul is writing this letter, is by this time no longer a purely Jewish group. They now seem to be predominantly Gentile, with some Jews in the churches in Rome also. And remember we're not talking about one church building or even one house church; we're talking about probably several different house churches that met in different people's houses, or in their apartments, in tenements and these sorts of things. Maybe some of them had more Judaism than others. But the overall church in Rome is by now apparently Gentile and when Paul writes Romans he directs his rhetoric to Gentiles. He does say hello to some Jews in the last chapter. He greets the Jews who are there that he knows. But if you look through the rhetoric of Romans, more and more of us scholars are convinced that the main recipients of Paul's rhetoric is supposed to be Gentile believers in Jesus.

Why does Paul write this letter? Several different reasons, not just one. For one thing he can't write like he's written most of his other letters as talking to a group he founded. He can't talk about himself as their father in the faith in that way, he can't set himself up as their Apostle in a straightforward way because he's never been there at this point. He didn't found the churches there, so he's writing a letter, this is one of the very, very few things we have of him--well the only letter perhaps where he writes a letter to a church that he himself didn't found, so that's important. What do we find out? Why is he writing it? Look at 15--Romans 15:22:

This is the reason I have so often been hindered from coming to you. [so he's wanted to go to Rome] But now with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you once I have enjoyed your company for a little while.

Paul sees himself as the Apostle to the Gentiles, as Peter was the Apostle to the Jews. So why not?--I mean he didn't found the church there but if he believes that he's already done all this missionizing in Asia Minor and Greece. It's kind of ironic for Paul to say this because what had he actually done? Christianity wasn't this big movement with thousands of people everywhere. It wasn't even like there was a Christian church in each city or town, but Paul seems to act like he's done everything he can in the East. Yep, everything in Greece and Asia Minor, my churches are all doing great, I got to get out of here, my work here is done. And so he's taking off to the west. It's kind of exaggerating, I think, just exactly what he's accomplished, but in his mind by planting a few house churches in major cities, he's sort of done the first job of evangelization that he saw himself called by God and sent out to do. Now he's looking to the west, and he wants to go to Spain, and so he's going to stop in Rome. Notice how he says, "I want you to send me on." That Greek actually means that he's asking them--he's asking them for a financial contribution, sending him along is not just, hey Paul don't let the door hit your butt on the way out! It's sending him along with money. What he's doing is saying, I want a little contribution from you so I want some support from you, both symbolic support and financial support. That's what he's--he's writing to them to talk about his further mission to Spain. He's writing to them also because Rome is the center of the earth for the Romans and for many people, and so he's the Apostle to the Gentiles of the whole earth. So what more likely place for him to go than to Rome, at least sometime, on his way to Spain. That's one thing he's doing.

We'll keep reading there at 15:25. "At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints." A liturgy, he's taking some help to what he calls "the saints" in Jerusalem. "The saints" just means "the holy ones," he's probably talking about believing Jews, Jews in Judean Jerusalem who believe that Jesus is the Messiah. So he's taking them some kind of help too.

For Macedonia and Achaea [remember his churches in Philippi and Thessalonica or in Macedonia, his church in Corinth is in Achaea] have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them. For the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they also ought to be of service to them in material things.

He's taking money that he's been collecting in his different churches that are Gentiles churches back as a gift to the poor followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, the Jews.

So when I have completed this and have delivered to them what--has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain. And I know that when I come I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

This collection was much more important to Paul than a lot of modern Christians seem to think. It's just kind of--all churches take up money. But remember Paul had agreed when he met in Jerusalem with Peter, James, and John, and other people, that he would go to the Gentiles, and they didn't have to circumcise the Gentiles. Peter would go to the Jews. The one thing they said was, remember the poor. And so this was interpreted that in the different churches that Paul founded among non-Jews, he would continue to take up financial contributions to send back to Jerusalem. This was partly, just of course, they were poorer there. But it's also apparently seen by Paul as very symbolically important. The giving of money from the Gentile churches to the Jerusalem churches would be an acknowledgement by them, by the Gentiles, of the somewhat superiority, at least in time in the Gospel. They got their Gospel from the Jews; it's an acknowledgement of the importance and the centrality of Jews in the Jesus movement by Gentiles.

It's also reciprocal. Remember I talked about--we talked about the patron client structures and we've talked about gifts, and people giving things to other people. In the ancient world the whole patron client structure was very much centered around giving and receiving, so if I give you something you're indebted to me and if you don't want to be shamed you have to give something back to me, so giving and receiving is always a very important issue with status and relationships and friendships in the ancient world, whether you're talking about equals or people on different statuses. Paul is setting up the relationship between the Judean churches, predominantly Jewish, and his Gentile churches that he's founded as something like a patron client structure where the Jews gave the Gentiles something, the Gospel; now the Gentiles owe it to the Jewish followers to give them something. So he's taking this collection. Paul has talked about this collection in several of his letters, it's been very important to him, and so he's on his way to Jerusalem to do this.

But now notice what happens. We know a little bit about Paul's last trip to Jerusalem as is depicted in Acts. How does Acts portray this? Paul goes to Jerusalem, he's got some Gentiles with him, he's got some other Jews with him. He goes to the temple purely to pray, to be a good Jew. Other people, non-believing Jews, see him there, and they think that he's trying to bring Gentiles into the temple. So he's arrested, he's tried, and then he has to eventually appeal to Caesar to get to Rome. What does Acts tell us about the collection? What happened to the collection in Acts? We don't know. The writer of Acts may have known about this collection. It was certainly one of the most important things to Paul in his ministry. The writer of Acts tells us nothing. Notice also, Paul seems to be a little nervous if you read between the lines, because what happens if he's collected all this money and he takes it to Jerusalem and the Jewish leaders say, Paul do you know what kind of rumors have been flying about what you're saying about the law? Do you know what we've heard? We're not going to take your money; we're not going to justify your activities. I think Paul was concerned that the Jerusalem churches wouldn't take his money, and that would be catastrophic for his vision of having a united church, that included both Jews and Gentiles.

He writes to the Romans partly because he's going to Spain and he wants to prepare the ground for a trip to Rome and to Spain, but also he goes so carefully to explain what he really believes about the law and justification, because I think, he's afraid of what may happen in Jerusalem. He's, in a sense, trying to get the Roman Christians on his side before his trip to Jerusalem.

That takes us to what's become a new interpretation of Romans. I'm going to do this quickly and we can talk about it maybe more after the break, but the traditional interpretation of Romans was that this was Paul's theological treatise. It didn't have much of anything to do with the circumstances. Paul just kind of decided he was going to Rome, so he sits down and he says, what's really my Gospel in 16 chapters? He writes it up; he sends it to the churches in Rome to present my Gospel to them. This is sort of a theological treatise, and the main point of the treatise is: you're not justified by works of law, by any works no matter which law, you're justified by grace through faith alone.

The big Protestant, the Lutheran, the Calvinist reading of Romans set Romans as the center book of the Bible, and it's thought that what it's mainly about is individual salvation, your personal salvation. You need to recognize that you won't be saved by your works, by anything you do. Not only you're not saved by Jewish law; you're not saved by Roman Catholic rules, you're not saved by any law, you're saved by putting your faith in Jesus, accepting Jesus as your Lord and personal Savior, or something like that. It's individual salvation, and it's a doctrine of individual salvation by faith that's the reason Paul wrote Romans. And that's what its central message is: very individualistic, very doctrinal, very theological.

That reading of Romans has been severely challenged in the last forty years or so. Now people are starting to say it's not the first few chapters of Romans that constitute the most important part of Romans, which has always been the Protestant interpretation, because that's where Paul talks doctrinally about justification by faith. Scholars have said now, look to the end of Romans, chapter 9-11 the latter part of Romans, that's where you'll see what the real point of Romans is, and it's not about individual salvation. It's about the relationship between the nations--when I say "Gentiles" remember that's just a term that Jews used for all the nations except themselves, so when I say "the nations" I mean all non-Jewish peoples in the ancient world. That's the way the Gentiles [correction: Jews] used the term. In fact, "Gentiles" is just sort of Latinized translation of the Greek work "nations." When you see "Gentiles" in Paul's text, read "nations," they refer to the non-Jewish nations. What's the relationship of the nations to Israel and the God of Israel?

Look at a few places. In chapter 9 Paul basically gives this apocalyptic expectation, he even quotes Hosea saying, "The people who are not my people will be my people." In other words, again Paul's quoting Jewish scripture to enforce his belief that at the end of time Gentiles would become people of God and this was common in Jewish apocalyptic idea. The basic scenario was, the Messiah's going to come at the end. The Messiah will bring in--will overthrow the oppressors of the Jews, and the Messiah will bring in all the other nations, all the nations, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans will all come to the temple in Jerusalem. They'll bring gifts; they'll all worship the God of Israel. You find this in Isaiah; you find it in Hosea. So Jewish scripture itself gave Jews of Paul's day the idea that the apocalyptic end would bring all the nations in. The Messiah had already come for Paul, so that's why he seems himself as going to get the Gentiles in. His whole mission is part of this end time scenario.

What does that mean? Look at Romans 11:13:

I'm speaking to you Gentiles, [so he turns directly to the Romans] in as much then as I am an Apostle of the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry in order to make my own people jealous and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If a part of dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy. If the root is holy then the branches are also holy.

Paul gives a theology here of the remnant. Some of the--a lot of the Jews have not accepted that Jesus is the Messiah. Therefore, they seem to be cut off, they're like branches of an olive tree that are cut off. And the Gentiles, who are not natural branches of the olive tree, have been grafted in their place. That means that they're part of Israel now. Notice what this means.

That you may not claim to be wiser than you are brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery. A hardening has come upon part of Israel [some of the Jews don't believe] until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. [That's his job is trying to bring in the full number of the Gentiles.] And so all Israel will be saved.

Wow, all Israel? Notice he doesn't explain how this happens, but in Romans 9-11 Paul presents this magnificent scenario that he believes was prophesied in Jewish scripture itself. That at the end of this cosmos, the end of this world, the Messiah would come, overthrow the oppressors of the Jews, set up Jerusalem as the center of the earth. And then all the Gentiles, all the nations, would come to the God of Israel, they would be grafted into the nation of Israel, they would worship the God of Israel. Paul's addition to this myth is simply that you don't need to keep the law in order to do this. All that Paul is saying about the law is secondary to his main point, which is, you're now part of Israel.

Paul is not about starting a new religion. There's no "Christianity" in Paul. There are no "Christians" in Paul's letters. You can't find the word. You can't find the concept. There's no "Christianity" or "Christians" in Paul's world. He believed that he was the Apostle to the Gentiles to bring them into Israel to make the Gentiles part of Israel. Then, as he says right here, most wildly along he somehow believes, although he doesn't tell us how it's going to happen, that somehow God and God's miraculous mercy is going to figure out a way in the end to even bring all of Israel back in also. All Israel, he says, will be saved. Paul's not necessarily the first Christian theologian. He's one of the most radical Jewish theologians in the ancient world. Okay, we'll stop now and papers will be handed out. You all come up here to hand out the papers.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 17
Paul's Disciples
Play Video
Paul's Disciples

In ancient times, documents that were falsely attributed to an author, called pseudepigrapha, were a common phenomenon. Both the Letters to the Colossians and Ephesians are most likely pseudonymous works attributed to the Apostle Paul. The writer of Colossians assures his readers that they already possess all the benefits of salvation and do not need to observe rules concerning feast days, Sabbaths, and worship of the angels. Ephesians seems somewhat based on Colossians, although it reads more like an ethical or moral treatise. Both letters differ from Pauline Christology in their realized eschatology and high Christology.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 369-392

Bible: Colossians; Ephesians


March 23, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: King Abgar over in the East Syrian region writes to Jesus saying, "I've heard this great stuff about you, I'm a little sick, can you come heal me? The people in Jerusalem don't like you, you'll find a nice peaceful home here." Jesus wrote back apparently:

Blessed are you for believing in me, although you have not seen me. For it is written concerning me that those who have seen me will not believe me, and that those who have not seen me they will believe and be saved. But concerning what you wrote to me namely to come to you, it is necessary for me to complete here all for which I was sent, and after the completion to be received up to Him that sent me. But when I am received up, I shall send one of my disciples to you to heal your affliction and to impart life to you and your people.

There you have it. Letter from King Abgar to Jesus, a letter to Jesus back to King Abgar; do you believe it? Kind of go like this or like this. Come on take a stand. Go out on a limb. Decide you're just going to do something wild and crazy and have an opinion. Do you believe that those letters are authentic? No. Does anybody believe they're authentic? If so I've got some land I want to sell you. Nobody believes that the letters from King Abgar to Jesus are authentic letters, and nobody believes that the letter from Jesus to Abgar is authentic. We believe they are pseudepigrapha; remember this from before? What's the meaning of anonymity? Name me a document in the New Testament that is anonymous.

Student: The Gospels.

Professor Dale Martin: The Gospels, exactly. The names in the Gospels were added by later scribes. They weren't part of the original document, so they're not pseudonymous, because the Gospel of Matthew actually doesn't claim itself to be by Matthew. It just is out there, so they're anonymous. The letter to the Hebrews is anonymous; it doesn't even claim to be by Paul or by anybody else that we know of. It's just a letter that's there in the text. The text is just there by itself. Name me a document we've talked about that is pseudonymous, anybody? What?

Student: I, II, III John.

Professor Dale Martin: I, II, III John, actually they don't claim to be by John. That's again anonymous letters. We will get to them today. Pseudonimity means it claims to be by someone who it's not by, who we just don't believe it's by. The letters of Abgar--the letter of Abgar to Jesus and of Jesus to Abgar, scholars call that pseudonymous. They're written in their names but we don't believe they actually wrote them. Now why do you say you don't believe those letters are authentic? I mean obviously the tone of my voice, I was messing with them, so that could have tipped you off. And you may think, well I've just never heard that there was an actual letter of Jesus of Nazareth that survives, so you would think that you would have heard about that in The New York Times if there actually was one that was authentic. What else about the letters that you heard might tip you off that they're pseudonymous? Yes sir.

Student: If the letter was written in Greek then that would be a good indication.

Professor Dale Martin: Exactly, the letters are written in Greek. If the letters are written in Greek--well we don't really have any evidence that Jesus spoke Greek, and if he did speak Greek he probably didn't write Greek at the literary level that those letters were obviously written. I mean I don't know if you noticed but there's a certain style to them, even in the English translation, that sounds like these are written by educated people. They know how to write good letter forms. Jesus--we don't know anything about King Abgar much but we can certainly say that most of us don't believe Jesus had the kind of education that he could have written a Greek letter like that, so that's one indication. Anything else? Yes sir.

Student: Sounds like the Gospel of John.

Professor Dale Martin: It sounds like the Gospel of John exactly. Remember the line that said, some people have seen me and not believed in me, it's just almost like a quotation from the Gospel of John. You kind of think, this sounds like something that some Christian scribe would write long after the life of Jesus. And why not? I mean, if you're a Christian scribe living in the third century, some scholars date these letters to around 250, the year 250 or so, that's a guess but--if you're a scribe living in around the year 250, and to you Jesus is the Son of God, he's divine, he's this miracle--he's powerful, he's a miracle, he's the emperor of the cosmos, the world. And so you kind of think in your popular mindset, well, why wouldn't kings who lived during the time of Jesus have heard about him and know about him? He did all these miraculous deeds; wouldn't he have been world famous? In fact a lot of modern people have the same idea. They're very surprised when they realize that Jesus actually--nobody knew anything about him in his lifetime. They say, but he did all these miracles and the Gospel--these crowds that followed him and these kinds of things, wouldn't that really have made the headlines of the time? You say, well there actually were a lot of miracle workers running around the ancient world. There were a lot of prophets; there were a lot of people claiming to raise the dead. It wasn't that unusual a thing. So, no, Jesus wasn't famous during his own lifetime. But you can imagine how a scribe, a Christian scribe, in the middle of the third century would naturally think that this person he worships as Lord must have been famous, and, therefore, it's entirely believable that there could have been correspondences between Jesus and kings around the world, and so these letters get made up as part of just basic Christian piety. If the letters didn't exist, they ought to exist, so we'll write them.

We have other examples of pseudonimity. We have, for example, letters between Paul and the philosopher Seneca, which nobody believes they're authentic, nobody believes that the philosopher Seneca, who is the aide if you recall, to the Emperor Nero. He was an advisor to Nero until he fell out of favor, and Nero kicked him out and all that sort of thing. But Seneca was one of the most famous first century Stoic philosophers. Somebody wrote letters years later which Seneca writes to Paul and says, you are such a great philosopher Paul. I wonder if we could get together and have a little coffee klatch? Paul writes back and says, I'm really busy right now but we've got some--so they write letters back and forth.

We have all kinds of things. These are not just Christian letters. There are a whole bunch of letters written under the names of very famous Cynic philosophers. Now the word "cynic" in this context doesn't mean just the adjective for someone who is cynical. It comes from the Greek word for "dog," kunos, and certain--there's a certain philosophical movement in the ancient world in which certain men, and in a few cases, women, tried to teach that you should live completely according to nature. For example, if it's natural to eat and have sex then you should--there's nothing shameful about eating or having sex, even in public. If it's natural for people to follow their desires, then you should just follow your desires. And so these Cynics got called "doggie philosophers" by other people, because they did the kinds of stuff that humans don't do in public but dogs do in public. Or they also got the nickname for several other reasons. Somebody in late antiquity decided that they wanted a series of letters that talk about the philosophy of Cynicism and so they have letters back and forth under the names of famous philosophers of the Cynic movement which talk about the morality of the Cynic movement or debate different issues about the Cynic movement.

There are all kinds--letters of Plato, we have a big difficulty trying to figure out, are all the letters that exist in ancient Greek manuscripts that claim to be letters of the philosopher Plato, are they really by Plato? Almost no scholar believes they all are by Plato. Many scholars believe that at least some of the letters that have been passed down over tradition being by Plato may really be by Plato, but certainly not all of them. The phenomenon of pseudepigraphy, that is, writings under a false name, was very, very popular in the ancient world, and we have all kinds of evidences for it.

Now you have to imagine how would this work? How would, for example, these letters be produced? Well I've said Christians might do it because it's a work of piety. They think that these letters ought to exist. But then you have to say, well how would they have been published? Remember we don't have printing presses, so you can't just send something off anonymously or pseudonymously to a publisher, and just try to get it published with a printing press. Everything's done one copy, by one copy by hand. Everything in the ancient world has to be copied by hand, one letter at a time. In fact, they did copy one letter at a time. You can tell by reading manuscripts: they're almost all capital letters; they're kind of block capital letters, and they don't have spaces between words. Most of the time, they don't have spaces often between sentences, and you can tell these scribes are copying one letter at a time, often. And that's why we get so many mistakes in our New Testament manuscripts. We have thousands of New Testament manuscripts, and there's not two of them that are alike exactly. We have more mistakes in New--in the Greek copies of the New Testament than we even have manuscripts of the Greek copies of the New Testament, and that's in the thousands. Nobody knows how many mistakes we have in the Greek New Testament and different manuscripts. There are so many, nobody's ever been able to count them, and it would be almost impossible to count them. The reason we have this is because it all had to be done one letter by one letter, one scribe with one scribe, and that's why you have them.

You have to imagine, then, if you want to publish a letter from King Abgar to Jesus and then a letter from Jesus back to King Abgar, well how do you do it? Well, you know you're a scribe so you write up these letters and then maybe you write up a few copies and send them around to people, or show them to people, or you might claim that you found this in a library of a monastery where you work, or you might just send it to a book seller and get the book seller to notice it, or you might put it in a page of another manuscript. Say you're compiling a manuscript, a book that has the different Gospels, and you decide, I'm going to put this on the back fly leaf of this book that I'm copying. Pseudepigraphic letters were distributed and recopied and passed around the world. It's not a Christian phenomenon; it's not just a Jewish phenomenon. Everybody was doing it.

Today we get to the first two letters we're going to talk about of the Pauline Corpus. The last time we talked about the seven undisputed letters of Paul. Now we're going to get to the time where we talk about the disputed letters of Paul. Remember I've talked about how Paul's letters can be divided up into three camps, the undisputed seven letters which are listed--I've already listed them for you and I'm not going to do it now, they're also in your textbook, and then there's the letters that almost all scholars, critical scholars, believe are pseudepigraphic, which are I and II Timothy and Titus. Then there are the disputed letters that some scholars will accept as being by Paul and other scholars doubt are by Paul. The two that are the most debated probably now are Colossians and Ephesians. Some people, like me, say that they're not written by Paul, but they're pseudepigrapha. And some people say they are written by Paul. Yes sir.

Student: What is the church's opinion on the letters?

Professor Dale Martin: The church's--

Student: The Catholic Church.

Professor Dale Martin: The Roman Catholic Church? The Roman Catholic Church traditionally would have said there's no such thing as pseudepigraphy in the Bible, but that's changed in the twentieth century, especially with Vatican II, which happened in the 1960s. The Roman Catholic Council of Vatican II said that historical criticism as it's practiced in the twentieth century is perfectly legitimate to practice on the New Testament documents. So you will even find good faithful Roman Catholic scholars who will also either accept or reject the Pauline authorship of this. The Roman Catholic Church has no official doctrinal position on the authorship of the different pieces of the Bible. They may have at one time just assumed that everything that says it's written by Paul was written by Paul, but especially since Vatican II Roman Catholic scholars are completely free to make their own decision about this based purely on the kinds of historical and linguistic criteria that Protestant scholars use also. Any other questions before I move on?

Why do I say that Colossians and Ephesians were not written by Paul but by a disciple of Paul later? The main reason I want to give is writing style. Just like if you turn in a paper to your teaching fellow, and say the first paper that you turned in early in the semester was written in a certain kind of style and then you turn in the second paper and it's in a very different style. Say it has very elaborate sentences whereas your first paper had sort of straightforward simple sentences. It uses lots of dependent clauses whereas your first paper didn't use so many dependent clauses. Your first paper used rather simple language, your second paper uses all this kind of language, and you either have all of a sudden gotten a different kind of education or you went thesaurus crazy or something. So your teaching fellow might say, I'm getting suspicious that this letter doesn't look like it's written by the same person. We can tell things by writing style. Now you've read seven letters that almost all scholars believe Paul actually wrote. Here is the way Colossians starts out, this is Colossians 1:3-8. In fact, get your Bibles out, follow along with me because what is our motto for the semester's course? De omnibus dubitandum, doubt everything. Why do you bring your Bibles to class? Because I'll lie to you, exactly. I'm going to read my own translation of Colossians 1:3-8, notice this is a good five verses. I read my translation because you will notice in your translation that the editors have broken up this one sentence. This is all one sentence in Greek. The editors have broken it up into several different sentences because it just doesn't read like an English sentence. Here's what it is in Greek:

We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ always for you when we pray, hearing of your faithfulness in Christ Jesus and the love which you have toward all the holy ones [that is, the saints] because of the hope laid in store for you in the heavens, which hope you heard about before in the word of the truth of the Gospel that came to you, just as also in all the cosmos it is bearing fruit and growing, just as also among you from which day you heard and recognize the grace of God in truth, just as you learned from Epaphras, our beloved co-slave, who is your trustworthy servant of Christ and who also made clear to us your love in the spirit.

One sentence. Notice how yours was chopped up into several other clauses and smaller sentences. I kept using relative pronouns like "who did this," "which this," and using ing-words, participles, because that's what you use in the Greek to string along clause after clause after clause. Now if you turn in a sentence like this, expect to get a C on your paper because this is not good American English writing style, right? You recognize that now, don't you, right? Nod your head; yes we recognize that's not good English writing style in contemporary America. But it actually was pretty good writing style in the nineteenth century. Sometimes in the--you read older English and they--educated writers will often write with these complex sentences with dependent clause, and dependent clause, and dependent clause all nestled together. That's called periodic style, a period is this looping Greek or Latin sentence that loops around on itself and then comes into this nice big whole. Now that was a good writing style in Latin, it was a good writing style in ancient classical Greek, and so this writer is actually writing in a fine style; there's nothing bad. Just because our styles have changed, and it's no longer considered good writing style in modern English, but it was good writing style in Greek. And you can recognize it when you read it in the original Greek in a way that you can't recognize it so much when you read it in your English translation. Now here's the first sentence--not the first sentence but Ephesians 1:3-14, again one sentence. Now if you thought that Colossians sentence was long, listen to this one.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the cosmos, that we might be holy and blameless in his presence and love, having foreordained for us the sonship [or the adoption], through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the pleasure of his will for the praise of the glory of his grace, which he granted us and the one he loves, in whom we have the washing through his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished on us in all wisdom and prudence, making known to us the mystery of his will according to his pleasure, which he set forth previously in him until the building up of the fullness of the times, recapitulating everything in Christ, things in the heavens and on the earth in him, in whom also we have become heirs foreordained, according to the plan of the one who accomplishes everything, according to the plan of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who were the first to hope in Christ in whom also you, hearing the word of truth, the announcement of your salvation, and in whom also you believed, who were sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit which is the seal of our inheritance for the washing of the possession for the praise of his glory.

Thank you very much. It sounds like--who's the comedian? George Carlin doesn't it? It sounds like something George Carlin would come up with, this stringing together all this stuff together, that's actually one sentence. In Greek it's 201 words by my last count, or incidentally, when I translated this into English it actually comes out to be 250 words in the English translation, so that's a long sentence. Now I do all that just to say this is a good lesson, you should learn Greek, you should learn Greek because it's actually fun to read some of these texts in the original language because the English translations change it enough that you don't get the feel of it. You can get the feel of it even in English. If you sit there and read all those verses in the first chapter of Ephesians, just in your own English translation, you'll get some of that rhythm because they try to maintain a little bit of that long kind of feeling. But it's only in Greek that you figure out that this is one sentence. Now Paul is capable of writing a complex sentence like that, but he just doesn't. You can search all the way through the seven authentic letters of Paul and you just tell--especially the Ephesians passage, it just doesn't sound like Paul. Paul writes fairly straightforward sentences. Sometimes they have grammatical problems, sometimes he kind of starts and stops, sometimes it's hard to figure out exactly, syntactically, how a sentence works together, but Paul's capable of writing perfectly fine Greek sentences. But Paul writes his letters almost more the way you would expect somebody to talk, not like this, which is very elaborate in its construction. This author is obviously working to make an elaborate introductory sentence that's the first thing that's heard in this congregation who's hearing this letter read out loud.

One of the first things that I would say is that I just don't think these letters are by Paul because they don't sound like Paul, they don't sound like his style. They're very, very different as far just the style of the writing and the Greek. Other people could say, well there's also the vocabulary, the vocabulary is quite a bit different in Colossians and Ephesians. If you noticed the Colossians sentence was long but it was not nearly as elaborate as that Ephesians sentence, right? If you notice they sounded similar in places. They both talk about the heavenlies. It's the plural for heaven, so the heavens or the heavenly places is this Greek word. They both used that kind of language. As we'll go through, they both--Colossians and Ephesians--look a lot alike, both in their theology and in their style, and in even the structure of the two letters. Were they written by the same person? Some people think so, some people say they think it's more likely that Paul may have written Colossians because it at least is not so different from some of his other letters, and then they'll say, but a pseudonymous writer wrote Ephesians.

What I think is that Colossians was written by one disciple of Paul. He knew Pauline theology; I think that he knew Paul's theology pretty well. It's just that it's not--what he ends up teaching in Colossians is not exactly Paul's theology, as I'll show today. I think, though, that Ephesians came along and was written by somebody else using Colossians as a model. And that's why I think--if you get Ephesians you have this long, long, long sentence that is longer than the similar sentence in Colossians but seems to borrow some from it. I think a different disciple came around, knew about the letter to the Colossians, used Colossians as a model, and then wrote the letter to the Ephesians as another pseudonymous letter. The way I'm going to teach this--and this is something that some scholars won't agree with me about, obviously--but I'm going to take the seven undisputed letters of Paul as being by Paul. Colossians I'm going to teach is written by one disciple of Paul using his ideas but elaborating them differently and using a very different writing style. And Ephesians is written by another disciple of Paul using Colossians and Paul's letters as models.

What is the issue? Let's start with Colossians now, what is the issue in Colossians? First I'll stop, are there any questions or outbursts about what we've done so far? Yes sir.

Student: What says the seven confirmed ones are his and the other two are not his? Why is one style his and one style--

Professor Dale Martin: Okay the question is what says that the seven that I've called the undisputed letters are actually Paul and the others are not Paul? In other words you--basically what it is is that you've got to have something that you're willing to say is Paul if you're ever going to say something else is not Paul. The undisputed letters, we just say that's the historical Paul, if there's anything. Now of course there's a joke in scholarship that basically says, well the seven letters that are the undisputed letters of Paul--called that by some scholars, they weren't really written by Paul, they were written by another guy named Paul. At some point you just have to say, well we're going to posit that there was a historical Paul, and if anything in the Bible was written by that guy that we're going to assume was the historical Paul, it's those seven letters. They have enough of the style the same, they cohere well together, all seven of them. Now there are scholars who will doubt some of those seven also, one of the seven, but it's sort of like somebody else said, well I don't believe Romans and Galatians were by Paul, than I kind of say, well then they're written by another Apostle who was named Paul and had the exact same ideas and the same writing style. I mean I--at some point you just have to throw up your hands, but yes it's a good question. Basically scholars just start off saying, if there is a historical Paul then what are the letters that look enough alike to form one body of literature, and those are those seven letters. Any other questions?

Let's look at Colossians now and go through it and talk about what's at issue in Colossians and what is this letter actually about? Now I asked you to read Colossians before Ephesians, although it comes after in the Canon because I think Colossians predates Ephesians and instead of--basically you've got a choice. These are similar enough in their style and content that you sort of have to say either the same person wrote both of them and that's why they're so much alike, or if you said, like I did, that different people wrote them, one of them used the other as a model. I argue that Colossians was first and used as a model by Ephesians because I think Colossians is more elaborated in the Ephesians document. Of course Colossians doesn't come before Ephesians even though I'm saying it was written before it, and why does Colossians come after Ephesians in the Canon? You should be able to guess this now if we haven't already talked about it. I think we talked about it earlier in the semester. Why does Colossians come after Ephesians in the Canon? Why does 1 Corinthians come after Romans in the Canon? Anybody want to make a guess? How are the letters of Paul arranged in the Canon by order? Sorry, somebody said it.

Student: Length.

Professor Dale Martin: Length, exactly that's right. The longer letters are first, and they get shorter as you go, so Colossians is shorter than Ephesians and therefore it comes after Ephesians in the Canon but that's just the way the Canon got to be formed. Let's look and see what's going on here and for this what is the issue? Let's look at Colossians 2:16:

Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink, or of observing festivals, new moons or Sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking and not holding fast to the head from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe [remember those are the stoicheia we talked about in Galatians, the elemental spirits of the universe], why do you live as if you still belong to the world? Why do you submit to regulations? "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch," all these regulations refer to things that perish with use, they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.

What's going on here? This is basically some form of asceticism, the control of the body. Asceticism comes from the Greek word for exercise, an ascetic is someone who disciplines the body. So "asceticism" refers to usually the avoidance of something like food or luxurious foods or sex, or anything that has desire or passion as part of it. So apparently this author is writing to a community that's been bothered by people who are teaching certain forms of self-control and discipline of the body, the worship of angels. Now there's a debate about whether this refers to people worshipping angels or whether it refers to people who think they're joining with angels in the worship of God. I think it must refer to people who believe they're worshipping angels because this author does link that to stoicheia of the universe. I think what the author is doing is something that Paul sort of did too, which is somehow equate in a sense the stoicheia of the universe with angels who try to manipulate things on the earth and below us. I think that what this author is probably referring is that somebody has come along and is teaching some churches of Paul, Paul's churches, to do some elaborate sort of ascetic practices to gain some kind of great spiritual status. Maybe these people are teaching, you live on the earth now but if you want to fly up through the different regions of the heavens--remember there are several different layers of heavens in ancient cosmology--if you want to fly up through the different layers of heavens then you have to stop eating meat, you have to stop having sex, you need to join in this worship of the angels. Why? Because angels control the gateways to all these different layers of heaven. What's going on is some aspect of asceticism is being taught to these people and some of them seem to be giving into it.

What is the answer this author gives? 1:19:

For in Him, that is in Christ [Colossians 1:19] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Look at 3:1-4. In other words, what the author says is, you don't need all these ascetic practices because if you are in Christ you already possess everything that the heavens have to offer. You don't need these extra practices. So he says in Chapter 3:1, "If you have been raised with Christ," that's interesting. He's basically attributing the resurrection already to these people's current state. Now maybe he's talking about baptism. Maybe the idea is that in your baptism when you go down into the water; remember in ancient baptism they all dunked them like good Baptists these days, not a little sprinkling of stuff; they dunked them in the water. If you go down in the water like you're being buried, you come up out of the water, and that's like you're being raised from the grave. He may be talking about if you've been baptized you have been raised with Christ already.

If you've been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, [he's talking about these people as if they've already experienced death] and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

This author basically is saying, you don't need these different practices because you already, perhaps in your baptism, have experienced death and resurrection. The only thing these people haven't experienced, that they will experience in heaven, according to this author, is simply the revelation of their glory. They're still leather workers, and waitresses, and working in the quarry, so they don't look like kings right now. Their skin doesn't glow. When Christ is revealed then their skin will glow and all their neighbors will go, oh my God I thought you were just a waiter, now I see that you're living in glory in heaven. That's the only thing they have, now all that you would possess in the heavens, this author says, you already possess. Now compare this with Paul, keep your finger in Colossians and go back to Romans 6. "What then are we to say?" Now remember in Romans Paul is defending himself against charges that he has been antinomian--no law, just anything goes, do anything you want to do.

What are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Paul's Christians have also been baptized into death. "Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father so we also have been raised from death." You all are like sheep, no that's not what it says! I'm lying to you, that's why I want you to read along with me. That's the way most modern Christians read that passage though. They take the Colossians account that has--the author kind of acts like they've been not only buried in baptism but also risen in baptism, and they take that Colossians and read it back into Romans 6. That's not what Paul says in Romans 6, he doesn't say they have been raised yet. Christians have been buried, but then he says, "So we too might walk in newness of life," that's not happened yet, according to Paul. "If we had been united with him in a death like his we will certainly be reunited with him in a resurrection like his."

For Paul the resurrection of Christians hasn't happened yet. Christians for Paul are living in this in between state, having been baptized into death, but not having been raised yet.

We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed and we might no longer be enslaved to him. For whoever has died is freed from sin.

There are some of these things like that but basically for Paul in baptism you participate in the death and burial of Christ, but you don't yet participate in the resurrection. Notice that's quite different from what you found in Colossians. Colossians pulls the resurrection, that for Paul is still in the future, and he puts it in the present. This is called by scholars "realized eschatology." What's eschatology? Somebody say it. Sorry?

Student: The end of the world.

Professor Dale Martin: Sorry, the end of the world, doctrine about the end of the world, doctrine about the last things, eschaton is the Greek word for "the end" or "the last," so eschatology is what do you believe about the last things, how things are going to end up. "Realized eschatology" basically is the term we scholars give, this is not Paul's term or any other ancient writer. The idea that the eschatological expectations that Paul expected to happen at the end of this world is--has already been realized in the lives of the church. What Paul has is not realized eschatology because the resurrection and all the benefits that you get from being saved by Christ are still in the future. Let's just call that "reserved eschatology." So whereas in Paul's letters it's very important for Paul's theology that the end hasn't happened yet, the resurrection hasn't happened yet. The resurrection of Christ has happened, but remember Paul says he's just the first fruits of those who sleep. He's the first apple on the tree. That's Christ's resurrection, but all the rest of us are just little apple blossoms, or little immature apples. We haven't gotten to maturity yet. We have to wait until either Jesus comes back in the parousia or we die and are resurrected at the end. Colossians has a realized eschatology and Paul has a reserved eschatology, and this is one of the major theological differences between Paul's undisputed letters and Colossians, that some of us scholars grasp onto to say it's not Pauline.

Now other people would say, no, no, no Paul just was emphasizing different things when he wrote Colossians because the situation was different. He changed his writing style a bit because he was writing to a different group, and he wanted to have a more elevated style. He changed his eschatology a bit and emphasized current enjoyment of these things because of the different situation. That's one way to read this, so some people say either Paul's views changed or Paul just emphasized different aspects of theology--if you want to say Paul wrote Colossians, and there are many scholars who do. I say, no this is good evidence that we're talking about a different author who has a slightly different theology that would be, in some ways, pretty fundamentally different. Like Paul was doing, though, notice how these people are doing what Paul's people in Galatians did. They're looking for something else to add onto the requirements of faith that will somehow guarantee their possession of the blessings of salvation. This author though provides a different answer.

Paul's answer, what was Paul's answer to people in Galatians who wanted to add on circumcision and kosher? He basically said no, you're actually nullifying the faithfulness of God. Justification for Paul in Romans has always been by faith, even Abraham was justified by faith not by circumcision. And so Paul makes a big argument by saying, justification has always been by faith, therefore nothing else can be added onto it. This is important for Paul because that's God's faithfulness. For Paul the most important thing is, if God wasn't always justifying people by faith that would mean God changed his mind and God was not faithful to the original covenant to Abraham. For Paul, God justifies by faith, he always has justified by faith, even all the way back to Abraham. The Colossians writer does it a bit differently. He also talks about faith, that's important to him, but basically he says, you don't need all these additions because you already possess them, you've already experienced the resurrection of Jesus, you already sit in the heavenly places, and therefore you don't need these other things.

Now Ephesians uses Colossians as a model and then just builds on it even more. Let's look over to Ephesians and look at Ephesians 1:20:

God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority, and power, and dominion, and above every name that is named not only in this age but also in the age to come. He has put all things under his feet and made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Christ is already now seated in the heavenly places, which he is for Paul theology too, but what makes it different is--look at 2:6, chapter 2, verse 6, "And raised us up with him" So again the resurrection is something the Ephesians writer says they've already experienced.

. . . and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable richness--riches of his grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Already--notice verse 8 of chapter 2, "For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing it is the gift of God." Now that's something that you might not notice, but scholars like to pick on little things like that, and most scholars will point out that if you look at just Paul's seven undisputed letters, salvation is something that for Paul exists in the future. Justification is something that you've experienced in the past. So Paul can say you have been justified, but Paul almost never acts like Christians have been saved. For example, when someone knocks on your door and someone says, "Have you been saved?" You can say, well, no, because the Apostle Paul reserves salvation for the end time. I've been justified but I haven't been saved. That's good Pauline theology. The people who talk about "have you been saved?" they're using theology from Ephesians perhaps, or from Colossians, but it doesn't really fit Paul's theology. For Paul's theology, justification is something you've experienced, but salvation is something you still have to wait on. For Ephesians, though, salvation is something you have experienced through faith.

Notice that Ephesians therefore actually looks like it's using Colossians in the example, it has some of the same themes, some of the same styles, but Ephesians actually looks even more like a treatise and not like a real letter. If you outline Ephesians, you get the first three chapters, which are very elaborate doctrinal teachings about what Christ has accomplished, what you, if you're a follower of Christ, have experienced. And one of the main focuses of Ephesians is that Gentiles and Jews, the whole world, has been joined at one humanity in the body of Christ. The dividing wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles, probably the law in this guy's thinking, has been broken down and all followers of Christ have experienced this. The first three chapters do that, and then chapters 4-6 in Ephesians look more like a section on ethics, or as scholars will often say, paraenesis. This is just a fancy, anglicization of a Greek word, which means "instruction" or "moral instruction." It's like when your mom says do this, don't do that, behave yourself, don't pick your nose at the table, say excuse me when you burp, so there's a lot of Christian material that are sort of do this, don't do that ethics and that's what the last half of Ephesians looks more like. So scholars will often say Ephesians looks like a very nice treatise, a very well organized outline of Christian doctrine and teaching; the first half of it being doctrine and the second half of it being ethics.

Why do I say that Ephesians was written by a different author and not simply the same author? There's really just one reason and this was argued by a young man, Jeremy Hultin, who teaches in The Divinity School here and he did a PhD here at Yale several years ago. The PhD was mainly on foul language in early Christianity. What counts as cussing? What counts as dirty language? Why both Ephesians and Colossians talk about don't use--the term in Greek is aischrologia, shameful speech. Well Jeremy kind of sat there and he thought, well--back when I was a kid my mom wouldn't let us say "darn," we were really strict. You certainly couldn't say "dang," that was worse than "darn," and "damn" was worse than any of them, so don't get caught saying "damn." Now I've actually caught my mother saying it a few times lately but things change. What makes "damn" bad for some people and "darn" okay? Well these are cultural differences, right? Why is it that in some cultures body parts, certain body parts, or excrement is considered a foul word that you're not supposed to say in polite company? Why is it that some cultures have curse words and some of those curse words are related to sacred things? Like why in some cultures is it considered bad language and offensive language to say "Jesus Christ," especially if you say "Jesus H. Christ"? Whereas, as in other cultures, calling on the name of a god or a goddess wouldn't be considered shameful language at all.

So Jeremy said, what do these people mean by shameful language? How do you know shameful language when you see it in the ancient world and what were they talking about? His dissertation is on that, but one thing he points out is that although both the writer of Colossians and Ephesians tell people not to use shameful language, the writer of Colossians actually tells people in his church to use witty language. He says, and your translation may something like this, "Let your speech be seasoned with salt." And Jeremy pointed out that this is a reference to witty language, to a language of wit. The writer to Ephesians condemns that kind of language. He just noticed that these two writers are very similar in some ways but when it comes down to what counts as shameful speech, the writer of the Ephesians considered shameful speech even to include witticisms, making jokes, that also was considered shameful speech. Whereas the writer of Colossians doesn't include that. In fact, he tells people to use wit in their language. So that's just one of the reasons. Before that I kind of thought, well, probably the same person wrote both these letters, and they were just different in some ways. But he convinced me that quite probably they were written by two different, very similar, but two different followers of Jesus, with Colossians being the earlier letter and the Ephesians writer using Colossians as a model and then capitalizing on it.

Another interesting thing is we don't really know whether the letter to the Ephesians was written to the Ephesians. There's an interesting problem in the Greek manuscripts. A lot of the Greek manuscripts don't have "to the Ephesians," some of them have another place name there, and some of them seem to have just a blank. This has led some scholars to say maybe Ephesians was written as a circular letter. In fact some people have even said, maybe Ephesians was written when a collection of Paul's letters was made and some scribe or editor decided, well I'm going to write an introductory letter that will encapsulate Paul's Gospel in Paul's message, and I'm going to do it in a very elevated style, and we'll put that at the beginning of the collection to sort of be an introductory letter for all the collection of Paul's letters. One of the things is that we think that Ephesians may have been a circular letter because of this idea that not all the Greek manuscripts have Ephesians and some have other things. The idea is that the guy may have written a letter with the idea that you would leave "to the blank" and then fill it in with different place names, according to where you were going to send the letter, or that you would send it one place and then they could fill in another name and send it to other places. Ephesians, by many of our reckoning, may have been written as a circular letter, intended to be circulated around different churches, maybe even as sort of an introductory letter to a collection of Paul's other letters.

What, though, are the other developments, and we'll close in just a few minutes here. What makes these letters different from Pauline Christianity? There are a few things. Number one, I said Colossians and Ephesians both have realized eschatology; Paul has reserved eschatology. In other words, for Paul all the enjoyments that Christians would experience are still in the future. It's like for Paul the blessings of the eschaton, the eschatology, is still horizontal. We're here, we're going there, we're on earth, we'll be in heaven. We have experienced death, we will experience resurrection. For Ephesians and Colossians, they've taken this axis and turned it like this, so that the things that--there's the cosmos and there's the heavenlies but they all still exist right now, so the rest of the world is down here on earth, but followers of Jesus have been translated already right now into the heavenly places, and they already enjoy these benefits. It's almost as if the eschatological timeline, the axis in Paul's letter, has been just flipped up like this in Colossians and Ephesians, so that's one major difference.

Another major difference is Colossians and Ephesians have a slightly higher Christology. The Colossians writer, very famously, says, in Christ the entire fullness of God was pleased to dwell. Paul never says anything quite like that. In fact, Paul's letters are kind of problematic from a good orthodox theological point of view because Paul seems to assume what we would later call a subordinationist Christology. Subordinationist Christology, which was declared heretical by the time you get to the creeds in the fourth century, says that Jesus is another person, separate from God the Father, and Jesus is inferior to God the Father, so Jesus is subordinate to God the Father. There are several passages in Paul's letters, one of them in 1 Corinthians 15 that we've talked about and read in this class already, where Paul seems to still believe that God the Father is here, Christ is here. Then there was 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul talks about, "Man is the head of woman, Christ is the head of man, and God is the head of Christ." Well that's a hierarchy. God, Christ, man, woman. So Paul seems to hold what we would call almost a subordinationist form of Christology, whereas Colossians and Ephesians tend to have Christ as more fully God.

Another of the changes, and I won't go into this too much, but if you look at the household codes, and we'll get to this later when we talk about Christianity in the family. In Colossians 3:18-4:1 and Ephesians 5:21-6:9, you have an elaborate set of rules for the head of the household, the wife, the children, the slaves. Everybody has their job to do. In Colossians and Ephesians there is clearly a patriarchal household structure that's hierarchical. The wife and the children submit to the husband, the father, the slaves submit to the master. This is much more hierarchical and pro-household than what you get in Paul's authentic letters. Paul is perfectly willing to kind of have women and men, husbands and wives more mutual. He says in 1 Corinthians 7, "The husband controls the wife's body but the wife also controls the husband's body. They each have authority over each other's body." That's not the way it is in Colossians and Ephesians where it's much more hierarchical, much more patriarchal.

There are some kinds of differences, but what does it say about Paul? Already by these letters, then, by these pseudonymous letters, we have Paul being thought of now as a figure in the past whose reputation can now be built on to advance a slightly different version of the Christian Gospel and Christian message than you got in Paul's letters. Paul is already starting to recede into the past now, and, as we'll see as the semester goes on, we'll read other texts that have Paul even further in the past, and then he can be drawn on to justify or promote another form of early Christianity. Any questions about that? Next time what we'll do is we'll look at the letter of James in which we have someone who may indeed be actually opposing Paul's Gospel and Paul's message rather than just building on it. See you next time.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 18
Arguing with Paul?
Play Video
Arguing with Paul?

Early Christianity presents us with a wide diversity in attitudes towards the law. There were also many different Christologies circulating in different communities. The book of James presents one unique perspective. It seems to be written in the tradition of Jewish wisdom literature in its presentation of sayings and its concern for the poor. James also presents a view of works and faith that seems to oppose Pauline teaching. However, the terms "faith" and "works" function differently in Paul's writings and in the book of James.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 454-456

Bible: The Letter of James


March 25, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: We've reviewed several times already, at least some of the stuff for your paper this week, if you're writing a paper on Judaism and the law in early Christianity; different varieties. If you'll remember--and I've reviewed this several times so this is just really briefly, but one of the main themes of the whole course is the diversity of early Christianity. How many different kinds of early Christianities there were, and one of the important things is--or ways to look at that, is what were their different views of the law, so of course with Matthew, as we've seen, Matthew treats the law, the Jewish law, as something that apparently he considers his--the followers of his own church to continue to keep. There's no hint in Matthew that the law would be abrogated. It's interpreted, of course, so some of the aspects of Sabbath observance Jesus interprets differently in Matthew than do say, the Pharisees in Matthew or the Scribes in Matthew or other Jews. Matthew tends to give us the idea that the law is just there to be observed by everybody.

When we got to Luke/Acts we saw that the Noachide laws, that is the laws given after the flood to Noah, which are only four of them, right? You don't eat things that are strangled, you don't eat blood, you don't sacrifice idols and eat idol meat, and I can't remember what one of them was, but there are certain laws that the Jews considered were given to Noah after the flood and that all peoples, even Gentiles, were expected to follow those rules, but the Jews didn't expect Gentiles to keep other peculiarly Jewish laws. Jews never expected Gentiles not to eat pork, to keep the Sabbath, to circumcise their children, and they never thought there was anything wrong with Gentiles doing those things. Of course that's one of the things that separated them from the Jews. Luke/Acts seems to take that kind of view of the law, that the law is an ethnic--the ethnic customs of the Jews, similar to the ways that the Romans would have their own laws and customs, the Greeks would have their own laws and customs, the Egyptians would have their laws and customs, the Babylonians or the Persians would have their laws and customs. So that seems to be the way the Jewish law is treated in Luke and Acts.

Paul, we've talked about Paul in Romans and Galatians. He has a much more radical teaching about the law, that the law is--Paul never says that Jewish followers of Jesus shouldn't keep the law but he certainly discourages--in fact he forbids--Gentile converts to keep the law. In Galatians he says, you would be justified by the law, you're cut off from grace. Paul has a much more radical position and we could look at others. We talked about Marcion, remember Marcion at the very beginning of the course, the guy in the second century in Rome, he taught a version of Christianity in which he only recognized the Gospel of Luke and just the letters of Paul. He was the first one to come up with a canon list, we think, and then he edited those to where anything positive about the Jewish law or the God of the Jews was taken out because he believed that was a junior false bad god and not the Father of Jesus Christ. So Marcion threw out the whole Hebrew Bible, the scriptures of Jews entirely, and substituted for Jewish scripture his own edited version of Luke and the letters of Paul. All of these are different ways that early Christians talked about what to do about the law. We'll get to some of that again in James today because we can--you can read James, as Lutheran and some people read it, as being basically a disagreement with Pauline Christianity. We'll talk about whether that's a good reading of James or not, but quite often especially in Protestant Christianity, James has been read to be arguing against Paul's law-free Gospel or justification by grace through faith alone.

Before we get to James I want to highlight one other aspect that we have talked about a bit but I want to review it again as another illustration of the diversities of early Christianity, and this is our wonderful favorite topic, Christologies. We've talked about different Christologies all along. We've looked at different ones in John and that sort of thing. But let's just look at a few texts and read them together. First look at Luke, of course Christology, as you recall, is what do you believe about Christ? What kind of nature is Jesus Christ or was Jesus Christ? Luke 3:22:

The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son the beloved with you I am well pleased."

Now if you notice that's a quotation from the Psalms, you can see it down in your footnotes, if you have a study Bible, Psalm 2:7, also it cites Isaiah 42:1. If you also note there are some little words, little numbers that have footnotes, probably if you--it's certainly in the New Revised Standard Version, the letter footnote numbers. There's one that says, "Other ancient authorities read, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'" I've talked about this already in the class. Now the debate among scholars would be was "today I have begotten you" originally in Luke's Gospel, and then some scribe took it out, because we do find it in some Greek manuscripts, or was it not there originally in Luke's Gospel and other scribes put it in? Nice question. Did the original Gospel of Luke have "today I have begotten you" said by the voice from heaven at the baptism of Jesus," or not? Now why would this be an important issue? Because if the voice from heaven is saying, "today I have begotten you," which is a quote from the Psalm after all, then wouldn't that imply that Jesus was not the Son of God yesterday? That's exactly the way some Christians took it. They believed that Jesus became the Son of God. He wasn't born the Son of God, he was adopted as the Son of God. And some Christians said it was at his baptism and they would cite some Greek version of this text. Now scholars have debated about whether it was originally in the text. If it's not in the text how would it get there? Well a scribe would see this, "You are my beloved son," and the scribe might know the Psalms very well, and might know that the next line of the Psalm was, "today I have begotten you," and so just quoted it almost from memory from the Psalm and therefore it got into the text.

Or, as Bart Ehrman, the author of your textbook has said, Bart actually became very famous first as a text critic of the New Testament. That is, his profession was trying to figure out what was the most likely original reading of the Greek New Testament text by comparing all these different manuscripts. He's argued that he thinks that maybe the text originally said, "today I have begotten you," and orthodox scribes took it out in the second century. You can tell why orthodox scribes may have taken it out. If they thought that that gave weight to an adoptionist Christology, which they considered heretical, they would take it out of the text. It's an open question, some scholars say they think that, "today I have begotten you," was not there originally, and therefore they agree with the New Revised Standard Version in not putting it in the Bible, but putting it in a footnote instead. And others would agree with Bart Ehrman and say, no it probably was in the text and orthodox scribes took it out because it didn't sound orthodox for them. Anyway that's a clue that one of the Christologies that was around and was debated in the second century was precisely, was Jesus born Son of God or did he become Son of God by adoption at his baptism? Psalm 2:7 is one that you can look that up for also.

Now look at Luke 9:35: "Then from the cloud came a voice," this is at the transfiguration of Jesus. Remember when he's up on the mountain and his clothing changes, his face changes, he starts shining. Now here's what the voice from the heavens says this time: "This is my Son, my chosen, listen to him." "My chosen," again that sounds like God the Father chose Jesus, maybe because of his special righteousness, to be his Son. Look at Acts 2:36. Now Acts, of course written by the same person who wrote Luke, so we're not changing authors here we're just changing books. Acts 2:36, this is in a speech, a sermon, one of the first sermons in Acts by Peter. From the day of Pentecost--you know the story, the spirit and flames come down and rest on the Christians and they all start speaking in tongues and languages of everybody around the world, and Peter gives a sermon. 2:36: "Therefore let the entire house of Israel…," now this is the way he ends the sermon so this is an emphatic position in the text. This is the end of Peter's sermon. "Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified." "Has made him," again that idea. Look at Acts 13:33, go back to verse 32:

"And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us their children by raising Jesus. As also it is written in the second Psalm, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'"

Now it's the today, but what is the day that this text seems to be referring too? The resurrection. Is this a hint that there were other Christians who believed that Jesus was human until he was raised from the dead and that's when he became divine and the Son of God? Look at Romans now. We're going to go to Paul, Romans 1:3-4:

...which he promised beforehand through his prophets and the holy scriptures, the Gospel concerning his Son who was descended from David, according to the flesh, and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead.

Now I would dispute that translation. The Greek there that's translated by your Bible as "declared," or at least by the NRSV, I think is actually better translated as "appoint" or "designate." Does anybody else have a different word for "declare" in that verse? Let me read it again; you look at verses 3 and 4 of Romans 1, "and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead." Anybody else have a different word than declare? Yes?

Student: Designated.

Professor Dale Martin: "Designated," see that's exactly the word I would have used. Is there a difference? Well it could be, there could be a slight difference in the idea. Did God just announce that Jesus was divine at his resurrection, or did he make him, designate him, like when you designate someone to be the leader of the class, to be the President of the United States, you designate someone to an office and it's at the designation of the office that the actual person becomes that official. I think that's actually the better translation of the Greek. That again, though, would imply that Paul may be quoting a phrase that he maybe gets from elsewhere that believed that Jesus became the Son of God, divine, at his resurrection. Now of course I say Paul quoted something because there are other indications in Paul that he probably didn't believe that. Paul seems to give the idea in other places that he had a Christology that Jesus was preexistence as divine. In Philippians you get the famous hymn where Christ descends into the body and he suffers as a slave and is raised back up. There you almost get the idea that Paul believed that Jesus was in a preexistent state as the Son of God, so this may not be Paul's own considered theology or Christology, and therefore some scholars have said maybe he's quoting a line that he gets from someplace else. It does show us that there may have been other Christians who believed that Jesus became divine only at his resurrection.

In other words, we can map out all these differences, and of course, what was the Christology of the Gospel of John? When did Jesus become divine according to the Gospel of John? Anybody? He always was. He was with God from the very beginning. Everything was created through him. The beginning of the Gospel of John ends up having the Christology that now has become orthodox Christianity. These other Christologies were all declared heretical at some point in Christian history. Notice how what we've got. Let's say we've got the historical Jesus, and we can say certainly he was a prophet. He was recognized as a prophet, he seems to accept himself as a prophet, and it may be that he claimed to be a king or a Messiah, but certainly by the time of his execution some people thought he was a king because that's the charge on which he was executed. This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, so the Romans executed Jesus because at least either he or other people were claiming that he was a king. He's a prophet and he's a king.

Does that mean Jesus is divine? No of course not. The Jews had lots of kings that were not divine. The Jews had lots of prophets that were not divine. Modern people sometimes get the idea that the word "Christ" or "Messiah" in itself signifies divinity, but it doesn't. The "Messiah" in Paul's day, in Jesus' day was simply some Jewish figure who would rise up and take over the throne of David and reestablish the Kingdom of Israel. Calling someone the Messiah in the ancient world didn't mean that he was divine. It might, but it didn't necessarily at all. Jesus is a prophet; maybe he's even considered the Messiah. That doesn't make him divine. Some Christians therefore had to make a decision. Is he human and only human? Is he human and divine? This is the take that most followers of Jesus end up taking, although there were some followers of Jesus who existed all the way into the second century who believed he was purely human. They tended to be Jewish followers of Jesus, they accepted him as a great prophet, they even accepted him as a Messiah, but that didn't mean they thought he was God. They still wanted to be complete monotheists and have only one God. So they said, no Jesus can't be divine. So some followers of Jesus chose this route. Others, as we've seen in the New Testament, chose this route.

Then, though you have to split this up. Was he always divine or did he become divine? Am I doing this right? Is this the next level? I had this chart in my notes by I gave it to [a teaching fellow] because I thought she might have to lecture today and I forgot it, so we're winging it folks. If he became divine, he always was divine. If he became divine then when did he become divine? You had different choices again like we've said: at his birth, because then you have the songs that all the angels sing and you take some of those songs at the beginning of Luke and it sounds like they're talking about he's divine now; at his baptism, as we've seen some people tend to believe; or at his resurrection. So, Christians again seem to have divided up. Do you take him as becoming divine at his birth, his baptism, or his resurrection?

We've seen other Christians say, no he always was divine, but even then they split up into different choices too because some of them said he was divine but also fully human, so he was both divine but also fleshly. Where have seen this? A letter in the New Testament insisting that you can't have Jesus as divine without also having him as come in the flesh, do you remember? 1 John, exactly. The letters of John get into this argument. Apparently some people in the Johannine community were claiming that Jesus was fully divine but not fleshly. Then you have--so this became that position, flesh and divine, and the other position I called it when I lectured on John, Docetism. That is, what came to be a heresy, remember, in the second century there was no organized church that could be able to declare what counted as orthodoxy and heresy, but this idea was Jesus was not fully flesh. He was so divine he was God so that when he walked along on the wet sand on the beach his feet didn't leave footprints. That's how divine he was. He didn't have any weight about him; he was not even fully flesh.

Notice all of these are choices that followers of Jesus had to make in the decades following his death. Some of them took the human route, some of them took the human and divine route, some of them --believed that he became divine. This became declared as a heresy. We call it adoptionism of some sort. Then of those who took the always divine route, which became orthodoxy, some of them also took the docetic route: that he wasn't fully human and fleshly. And than others took this route, like the Gospel of John does and the letters of John, that he is both fleshly and divine. Notice how what this shows is that from simply the historical existence of Jesus and his existence as a prophet or a king, you had to make all these different choices to get down to this one because which of these--all these different--we have one, two, three, four, five different possibilities down here, six right there. Out of six choices, only one of them is considered orthodox by the later church. I do this just to show these diversities are there. If you're a Christian you believe that, well, the Holy Spirit or God's providence led the way through this history so that what we end up with is the Nicene Creed, or the Creed of Chalcedon, which is what we ought to believe as Christians, but as a historian you can't make that judgment.

As a historian you simply have to point out that there were lots of complexities in early Christianity that finally got whittled down into a more united consensus view on Christology. Any questions about any of that? I'm doing this partly just to show you how this happened historically and this actually gets you into a post-New Testament kind of subject. You could easily take a course after this, say the one taught by Bentley Layton or Steven Davis, that analyzes--it's called "From Jesus to Augustine," I think he's taken it past Augustine now. That covers a little bit of the New Testament text but really that's a course on the development of early Christianity in its first few centuries. You could even take courses that talk about the development of Christianity all the way up from the beginning to the Reformation, or even beyond. In any of these historical courses you're going to see this kind of diversity and the shaping of this that comes about. Part of what I'm doing is just illustrating the diversity of Christianity and how it came about, but I'm also trying to model a behavior for you of thinking historically about what are actually theological texts. Thinking about the growth of Christianity as if it didn't just plop out of the sky all in one orthodox piece, but it took a historical process of struggle to come about, and it was a complicated historical process.

Now where does that leave us with James? James provides us another example of differences in notions of faith and works when compared to Paul. First, I'm going to take some examples from Hebrew scripture, so if you've got your Bible, now I haven't taught you a song for the Old Testament books, the books of Hebrew scripture, so you'll just have to follow along as best you can. Proverbs, in my Bible it's page 904 in the Hebrew Bible, but that's not the Bible you have, I would hasten to say. The Proverbs of Solomon, Son of David, King of Israel,

For learning about wisdom and instruction, for understanding words of insight, for gaining instruction and wise dealing, righteousness, justice and equity, to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young, let the wise also hear and gain in learning and the discerning acquire skill to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord [this is one of my mom's favorite verses when I was a kid, quoted all the time to us] is the beginning of wisdom, fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Kind of a motherly type verse isn't it? What you've got in Proverbs is a whole series of teachings, wisdom sayings, and some of them are pretty --they're just like cover your mouth when you cough type things, there are some things that aren't particularly heavy or philosophical, or theological, but just sayings, wisdom sayings. Another one of my mother's favorite ones was, there was a women's club at the college she went to, the Christian college she went to, and the quotation of it was from this proverb where it's talking about a worthy woman and the quotation from the Bible was, "Her price is far above rubies," and that was the motto for this girls club. And my mother always said, "I wonder how much Ruby charges." That's sort of--it's little sayings--not "how much does Ruby charge," that's not part of the scripture but the other part, is part of the scripture. These are wisdom sayings, and this is wisdom literature, so in the Jewish scripture you have whole books that are basically wisdom literature, and scholars will use that term. They're sayings of wisdom kind of sayings. You get it also in Job, look at Job, it's before Psalms, Job 14:1. Job is also one version of wisdom literature.

A mortal born of woman, few of days, and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last.

Ah, how sad. Notice wisdom literature isn't always very cheery. A lot of wisdom literature is about how difficult life is, that life is fleeting, that you just come up like a flower, you're beautiful and young for two weeks and then you fade and get old and ugly, and then you die. A lot of wisdom literature is sort of like, life's a bitch so just enjoy it while you can, and that's where you get some of the sayings out of Job and the Proverbs. The Wisdom of Solomon, that may be in your--I don't have the Wisdom of Solomon. In your Apocrypha, if you have a Bible that has the Apocrypha in it, you would find the Wisdom of Solomon, which also has--if you look at the Wisdom of Solomon 6:17-20 has some wonderful wisdom sayings. Sirach 4 has sayings about the poor, about remembering the poor, it's an admonition to rich people to remember the poor, do not forsake the poor, and Sirach 6:5 has a warning about speech, control your speech, watch your tongue. Notice these sayings, things about how life is fleeting, you come up like flowers, like grass, it fades, take care of the poor, don't forget the poor. Wisdom literature often seems to be written within a context of people who are fairly well off themselves, rich people, and it's written to these rich people but in order to also get them not to forget the poor. Then the saying about watch your mouth, control the tongue that we see in Sirach 6:5 is also there.

Now, with that in mind, all these other kinds of wisdom literature, turn to James and look at chapter 3 of James.

Not many of you should become teachers my brothers [my translation says "sisters" but in the Greek it's just "brothers"] for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us we guide their whole bodies.

Notice this is just folk wisdom, right? Look how you control a horse, you put a bit in its mouth, you pull the horse's mouth this way, the horse goes this way; you pull the horse's mouth that way, the horse goes that way. This is nothing really big revelation type stuff right? This is not kind of revealing secrets of God, or this is not even revealing secrets of the Gospel, this is just folk wisdom. That's what a lot of wisdom literature in the Bible also looks like folk wisdom. Or look at ships he says, another example:

. . . though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder, wherever the will of the pilot directs, so also the tongue is a small member yet it boasts of great exploits.

Almost--it just really echoes that kind of stuff you can see in Sirach, in Proverbs, and those kinds of things. One of the things that James is, the letter of James is a representation of typical Jewish wisdom literature. Why do I say Jewish? Because this is actually a very Jewish document, there's almost no mention of Christ in it. If you took out a few sentences here and there, the letter of James could read as a non-Christian document, because most of this stuff about the tongue, how you control the tongue, about remembering the poor, all these sorts of things, this is stuff anybody--any Jewish person in the ancient world could have said. It's not particularly Christian. So James is an example of ancient typical Jewish wisdom literature.

But, and here's where James becomes very interesting for Christian readings. Let's read Romans 4, Romans 4:1. Now you're familiar with this, you've already talked about Paul, you've written about Paul, you know about Paul:

What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works he has something to boast about but not before God. For what does the scripture say? " Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."

Now keep that scripture in mind, that's a quotation from Genesis. Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift, but as something due. But to one who without work trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.

Then Paul goes on and takes his argument further. Galatians 3 has a very similar thing, it quotes the same kind of scriptures from Galatians, and Paul in Galatians makes the same point. Abraham was not justified by works, and he quotes some of this very scripture to prove, according to Paul, that Genesis shows that Abraham was not justified by works, he was justified by faith.

Now look back at James 1, first chapter of James, verses 22-25:

But be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror. For they look at themselves and on going away immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty and persevere, not being hearers who forgot but doers who act, they will be blessed in their doing.

Look at James 2:14:

What good is it my brothers if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? [Well I think Paul would say, as a matter of fact James, yes.] If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what good is that? Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Look at 21-26 of the same chapter, James 2:21-26:

Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."

Notice this guy quotes the exact same verse Paul quotes, but to make the opposite point. Paul had quoted this very verse to argue that Abraham was justified by his faith not by works; this writer quotes the same verse from Genesis to say Abraham was justified by works.

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road?

This is when the Israelites were surrounding the city of Jericho before they marched around it and made all the walls fall down. Two of the spies came into Jericho and they were received by a prostitute, Rahab, "For just as the body without the spirit is dead so faith without works is also dead." Now these texts seem to be arguing against Paul, and it makes us wonder, does the author actually have texts of Paul in front of him? Is he actually reading Romans and Galatians and he sees that Paul quotes this passage from Genesis, and therefore, he quotes the same passage to make the opposite point? Or has he heard about Paul's Gospel about a works free Gospel in some places and he's responding to rumors? Or is he just responding to Paul-type Christians? He may not know Paul himself, he may not even have access to Paul's work, but he's heard some people who are followers of Paul and promote his kind of law-free, faith dominated Gospel, and he's writing against those kinds of people. It's very difficult to say. As I think Bart Ehrman in the textbook points out, and other people have said all along, there is a way to sort of get beyond this contradiction. To say that maybe the writer of James is not saying really the opposite of what Paul is saying after all. Have any of you picked up on that argument? Yes, what's the argument?

Student: They're operating on different definitions of works and faith?

Professor Dale Martin: Yes, they're operating on different definitions of works and faith, and that's a very good point. Notice for example, what was faith for Paul? Faith, and this is something that modern people, Christians as well as non-Christians, radical atheists, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens published these books saying, religious people in general are crazy people who believe lots of ridiculous things before breakfast, and just think that--the idea is that if you're a religious person you do believe that people go around walking on water all the time, that hell exists under the ground below our feet, that God is this man with a beard who sits up in the clouds somewhere, and so there are a lot of people who think, what is religious faith? Well, it's actually believing certain propositions. Its believing a proposition like there is a God, God is alive in the same way that you would believe the proposition is it's sun shining outside. It's a proposition, you just look at nature, you figure it out.

Now in the Terry lectures a year ago--I believe a year ago, Terry Eagleton who's a very famous Marxist literary critic, but he grew up Catholic. He gave the Terry lectures; they've just come out in publication by Yale University Press. I recommend them very highly. He gave four lectures in which he took on these sort of radical atheists, and Terry Eagleton wasn't arguing himself for Christian faith, I don't even know whether he believes Christian stuff or not, but what he was trying to argue is that what has counted as Christian faith over the centuries is more complicated than simply believing a proposition, that say the proposition God exists.

For Paul, as a matter of fact, having faith is more a sense of putting your trust in God, so talking about trust, faith for Paul is trusting God to do what you need. Faith is not simply a belief in certain kinds of propositions, like a scientific proposition, it's actually an attitude of putting all of your trust in God through Jesus Christ. This notion therefore that faith is something that you believe about is not really matched by Paul's writings on faith, which are much more complex and they're much more like the idea that faith is a way of living; faith is a decision. Soren Kierkegaard, The Great Leap of Faith, the nineteenth century philosopher. Faith is this willingness to just throw it all in even though all the evidence might be to the contrary. It's a decision you make, it's a leap of faith, in Kierkegaard's understanding. That's what it's more like for Paul. But notice that's not exactly what James seems to think faith is, and this is why some people have said that Paul and James are not really disagreeing with each other because they're working with different notions of faith and works.

What does James say? James 2:19, "You believe that God is one, you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder." That's a pretty big clue. Do you think Paul would have ever said that demons have faith in Christ? No. Paul actually doesn't talk about demons enough for us to really be sure. He only mentions demons once in all of his letters, and that's in 1 Corinthians 10, and he's just talking to the Corinthians saying, don't participate in idol sacrifices because that's participating in the table of demons. Paul's not too concerned about demons. I would think it would be outlandish to think that Paul would have considered demons as having faith in Christ. Do demons believe that Christ exists? Paul would say, yeah, of course. Demons know God exists, demons know Christ exists, so that's not what Paul's definition of Christian faith is. But that is what James seems to be thinking faith is. It's simply the mental acknowledgement of the existence of God and that God is one, that is, the rejection of idolatry and polytheism and the idea that God is one. Now faith, therefore, for James is not the same kind of thing as faith is for Paul, and that's why you can have Paul saying, you're justified by faith and James disagreeing with him by saying, look even demons have faith, they believe and they're not saved by it, so you have to have works also.

But also works is not really the same thing for Paul as for James. Remember I talked about how the traditional way of understanding Paul, this sort of Lutheran way, was that when Paul was talking about salvation by works versus salvation by faith, what he's talking about--and this is sort of the Protestant way of thinking that's become more popular in the modern world--"works" stand for anything humans can do. For Martin Luther works weren't just circumcision or keeping kashrut, or keeping the Sabbath--in other words, works of the Jewish law. For Martin Luther works were indulgences sold by the Roman Catholic Church. Works were even being baptized; works were confessing and doing penance. For Martin Luther, the works he was saying don't save you were any activity that human beings do in order to try earn their own salvation. That's not what works are for Paul. When Paul talks about works in Romans he's clearly talking about works of Jewish law. He's talking about circumcision. Now I'm not saying that that means that you can't read Paul as a Protestant. If you want to read Paul as a Protestant that's fine. You can read a certain kind of idea of salvation by grace through faith, apart from even human endeavor, in Paul's letter to the Romans, but that's not the main thing Paul was talking about. The main thing Paul was doing was trying to get Gentiles in Rome not to feel like they had to keep Jewish law, but also then not to despise Jewish followers of Jesus and not to despise Israel. Romans is a complicated letter, but it wasn't as simple you might give the idea from traditional Protestant piety which is, works are human activity.

That is obviously what James takes works to be, right? He's not talking about works of Jewish law; he's not talking about circumcision. There's nowhere in the letter of James that he tells his followers, you have to be circumcised. There's nowhere he says, you have to keep the Sabbath. What he does say, is you've got to take care of the poor, you have to do justice, you have to right things. Notice how the social situation of James churches might tell us something about why he comes to his belief in faith that he does and why he comes to a belief about works that he does. Look at James 2:1-7, and remember now, when I was reading about--I mentioned Sirach and these other wisdom literature that mentioned the poor.

My brothers do you with your acts of favoritism [that is favoring the rich in your church] really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? If a person with gold rings and fine clothes come into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, you take no notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that is invoked over you?

James is written not to the rich, it's written to the poor. It's saying, don't kow-tow to the rich in your town, don't give them the best places in church. Look at James 5:1-6, he gets really heated toward the end of the sermon because it actually reads more like sermon than it does a letter. "Come now you rich people," now he's talking to the rich but I think he's kind of talking to the rich with the understanding that his real audience are the poor. He wants them to overhear him condemn the rich.

...weep and wail for the miseries that are coming on you. Your riches have rotted, your clothes are moth eaten, your gold and silver have rusted, their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept by back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure, you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter, you have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.

James is written to a Christian community that's apparently either very Jewish or he himself is writing from a very Jewish kind of point of view. He uses this wisdom tradition of Jewish literature that's already very well known by the time--we've got all kinds of books in this kind of wisdom tradition. He uses common sayings, but notice what kind of context he's writing in. He's writing in a context where most of the members of his church are poor, not wealthy. He's writing to condemn the rich for not taking that into account. When James says you can't be saved by faith apart from works, what are the works he's talking about? Justice. It's sort of like that bumper sticker that says you can't have peace without justice. Some people running around the world saying, oh let's have peace, let's have peace, let's have peace, well it's easy to say if you're rich, or you're middle class, but if you're poor and you're oppressed, then just hollering about peace all the time doesn't sound very just, does it? The bumper sticker, if you want peace work for justice, that's where James is. What works is for James doesn't--he's not talking so much about circumcision, the Sabbath, keeping Kosher like it seems to have been for Paul, what he's talking about is, you have to have justice.

It's almost as if the writer of James is in a social situation where he didn't have the luxury of teaching salvation by faith alone. He needed to talk about what you needed to do to supplement your belief that God exists with pursuing justice toward the poor. And here's the debate among scholars, some people have given this answer of why James and Paul don't really disagree. Because, as some of you already picked up, they're working with what seem to be different definitions of both faith and works. Clearly, James thinks he's disagreeing with some kind of version of Christianity that looks an awful lot like Paul's letters. James may think he's disagreeing with Paul even, it's hard to say, he doesn't ever mention him by name. But this writer may indeed think he's disagreeing with another form of Christianity that he may view as dangerous because if it teaches you that you're justified by faith alone apart from works, then that may let a lot of rich people off the hook. They don't have to do anything to prove their faith.

James and Paul may indeed still be in something of a disagreement, although you can see how they wouldn't be disagreeing with each other quite directly. But James is operating in a situation where it's almost as if he looks at some Gospel that says, you're not saved by works, you're saved by faith, and he says, well that's nice and convenient for those people who don't want to work for justice. He writes his letter even interpreting the same verses from Genesis that Paul had used but using them to emphasize justice as the work that has to supplement your faith rather than an idea that you're saved by faith alone. So does he disagree with Paul? Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe it's a little bit of both. Does he have a different view of law? Maybe yes, maybe no. That's for you to decide and to write your paper about this week or make scintillating comments in your discussion sections. Questions, comments, outbursts? We're more than halfway through the semester; you're not confused about anything? Good, I'm such a good teacher. See you next week.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 19
Play Video
The "Household" Paul: the Pastorals

In the undisputed Pauline epistles, marriage is seen as a way to extirpate sexual desire - neither as a means for procreation nor as the preferred social status. The Pastoral Epistles, written to instruct in the pastoring of churches and appointing of church offices, presents quite un-Pauline attitudes. In the Pastoral Epistles, the church, rather than an ecclesia, becomes a household, a specifically patriarchal structure in which men hold offices and women are not to have authority over them. They present a pro-family, anti-ascetic message in contrast to the Pauline epistles.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 393-415

Bible: Timothy 1-2; Titus


March 30, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: What we're doing this week is extending our conversation we started last week about how was Paul used as a figure in early Christianity. Today we're going to talk about the Pastoral Epistles, which is I and II Timothy and Titus, and then next time we'll talk about The Acts of Paul and Thecla because these are two practically opposite ways of interpreting Paul and using Paul that came about probably in the second century. The Pastoral Epistles are called "pastoral" because it presents Paul as writing to Timothy and Titus, two of his followers, but he's telling them how to be good pastors of a church. In fact he's also doing something like almost acting like they're going to become bishops; they are also supposed to be appointing other people as pastors of churches. We call these the Pastoral Epistles because it presents Paul as himself serving in a sort of pastoral role for his churches and assigning Timothy and Titus pastoral roles for his churches also, and establishing leadership positions, what kind of leadership structures he wants to go on in the churches.

Most of us scholars believe that these letters are pseudonymous. We don't believe Paul wrote them. There has been some question in the last several years that maybe the actual historical Paul wrote II Timothy because II Timothy looks sort of like a last will and testament of Paul that he may have written in prison. But I don't tend to buy that. I tend to group all three of them together as being probably by the same author and all being pseudonymous. Why do we think they're pseudonymous? Well again, as we saw with Ephesians and Colossians, the writing style in these letters is very different from the seven letters that scholars all agree Paul actually wrote, so the writing style is a big issue. As I'll show today there are a lot of ways of seeing that these letters simply presuppose a different stage in early Christianity. They don't look like they're from the more primitive sort of time of when Paul was actually founding churches. The theology looks different, the church structure looks different, as I'll talk about, positions on the household, on marriage, on slavery, on family, on women, all of these things are different.

I'm using the Pastoral Epistles in this lecture as one illustration of how Christianity changes in different trajectories. One trajectory becomes very much pro-household. The traditional Roman style or Greco-Roman family is promoted as the Christian way for families to be and even the church itself is molded to look like a household with a paterfamilias, the head of the household on top, women below that, children and slaves below that. When we get to The Acts of Paul and Thecla, we'll see that that interpretation of Paul makes Paul anti-household. He actually is presented as going around preaching against marriage, against sex, against the Roman household, and preaching a very kind of hierarchical disrupting, even city-, polis-disrupting Gospel and certainly a household- and family-disrupting Apostle. These two trajectories of Pauline Christianity show the diversity of Christianity as it developed, and even how they used the same figure, Paul, as founder of Christianity in radically different ways.

When did these letters come about? It's everybody guess. I actually tend to think that the Pastoral Epistles were probably written sometime in the second century, and maybe even toward the middle of the second century. That's a bit later than a lot of scholars would put them, and we're just guessing anyway. We sort of have to imagine what kind of level of early Christianity, what kind of phase of early Christianity do we imagine taking place before we can get this kind of a letter with this kind of theology and church structure written. It is interesting that when we talked about Marcion early, remember the heretic in Rome who made his own first Canon list of New Testament books? Remember he included Luke as his Gospel in his own edited version of it and he included the letters of Paul. We don't have any evidence that Marcion actually knew about these three letters, I and II Timothy and Titus. If Marcion was writing in the middle of the second century, maybe Marcion, if he didn't mention them, maybe he didn't know them, and maybe that's evidence that they weren't yet highly circulated so that's one of the things that people have talked about, the dating of these letters. Since Marcion didn't seem to know them, perhaps they were either just being written or not long written around the middle of the second century.

First let me back up because I want to go through Paul really quickly and talk about what Paul's own view of the household is. Look with me in 1 Corinthians 7, we're going to review some things that we've gone on before but keep your Bibles in front of you. Look at 1 Corinthians 7:1:

Concerning the matters about which you wrote, "it is well for a man not to touch a woman." But because of cases of sexual immorality each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband; the husband should give his wife her conjugal rights, likewise the wife to her husband.

Notice how Paul balances these things. He tells basically the man, you have control of the body of your wife, but he also tells to the woman, you have control of the body of your husband. There's something of reciprocity in 1 Corinthians 7. This will be important because that kind of reciprocity doesn't exist when you get to the Pastoral Epistles. That's one thing to notice. Verse 5:

Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self control. This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am but each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

Notice he's basically saying, have sex within marriage. He's not condemning sex, but he really prefers that all Christians be single like he himself is. Paul's preference is not marriage and sex within marriage. That's a concession that he gives for people that he says can't control themselves.

To the unmarried and widows, I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am, but if they are not practicing self control they should marry. It is better to marry than to burn.

That's what the Greek actually says, "It is better to marry than to burn." That's been an interesting question of scholars, what does he mean by "burn"? Does he mean burn in hell? That it's better to marry than to be tempted to sin with sex outside of marriage and then you'd burn in hell? I've argued that what he means is "burn with desire" because it was very common in ancient Greek culture to portray any kind of erotic desire as actually a physical burning. They even portrayed it as a disease. When you start having that itchy feeling that we all know so well, that's because your body is actually heating up, and that's what causes that desire. The ancient Greek doctors, Greek and Roman doctors, gave all kinds of prescriptions to people to control that burning so they can control their erotic desire because they felt like it made you actually unhealthy. Desire was unhealthy and sexual activity was dangerous. This was a concern throughout the ancient world and I think that's what Paul's talking about. What I've argued, and have argued this in my Corinthian body book and a few other places, is that Paul actually prefers that people avoid sex entirely, Christians avoid sex entirely. If they can't avoid sex entirely, and they're starting to have sexual desire burning in them and that gets dangerous, then they should get married and have sex but only to decrease the burning. What Paul wants is for them to experience sexual intercourse, even in marriage, without any erotic desire. Now that's kind of a radical idea but I believe that's actually what Paul was teaching here, is that he concedes it possible that Christians could have sex without experiencing desire, and that's his goal.

Notice Paul doesn't have a very positive view of sex, even within marriage, it's a concession he allows people. Notice in none of this passage does he talk at all about having kids. Sexuality for Paul is not to make children in Paul's own letters. You have sex in marriage only to keep you from desiring. That's Paul's concern. That will change later. That's one place where--we also saw in I Thessalonians 4, if you'll remember, we had this same kind of thing. There, Paul is just talking to the men of the congregation and he says, don't you start wanting your brother's wife. He calls them skeuos, your vessel, he says, "Each of you should have your vessel." And the debate is whether he's talking about their genitalia, which is one possible interpretation of the Greek, or their wife's body, which is another possible interpretation of the Greek. For Paul, in I Thessalonians 4, he's telling men also, control yourself--and he says, "Not in passion of desire like the Gentiles," so there again, in I Thessalonians, 4, Paul is really concerned that the Thessalonian disciples are not lusting after their fellow Christian's wife. Keep your own vessel, and that's how your control yourself. And notice again he's excluding the idea of passion and desire. It just does not have a part in it. I admit that this is kind of a radical argument, and there are a lot of people out there who haven't bought my argument, but that seems to me to be precisely what the text is saying. Paul never allows for a good notion of sexual pleasure or sexual desire. He seems to want to exclude it in order to keep you from experiencing desire and he believes that he can do that even by having sex. In those ways we see Paul is not anti-marriage exactly, but he's certainly not pro-marriage, and he's not anti-sex exactly, but he's certainly is not pro-sex. The one thing he does seem to be anti is desire, sexual desire.

All right, where do women fit in all this? I pointed out that in I Thessalonians 4 Paul doesn't seem to think about women at all there. In fact, I even proposed when I lectured on I Thessalonians that by the time Paul wrote that letter, which is one of his earliest letters, maybe the earliest letter we have in the Canon, Paul may have been conceiving of the Christian group as being sort of a male club because that's the way he tends to be talking to them. A male club of mainly working class manual laborers. That's changed by the time we get to I Corinthians, right? Because Paul directly talks about women a lot, he sees women as being in something like a co-relationship with their husbands and sexual activity in I Corinthians 7. He addresses women as leaders of churches at times. So by the time Paul writes I Corinthians, women are acknowledged as an important part of his churches.

But in 1 Corinthians 11, look there, he doesn't have women on a completely equal stance with men apparently. In I Corinthians 11 he says:

I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them onto you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man and the husband is ahead of the wife as God is ahead of the church.

There is a clear hierarchy there, and Paul goes on to talk about what this is going to have to do with women veiling their heads when they pray and prophesy, which another very complicated and controversial passage in Paul. It's clear that Paul views, just as he views God as the head of Christ, that is Christ of being somewhat inferior person compared to God the Father, so women are in an inferior position with regard to their husbands. The Greek words here, they're just the words for "man" and "woman." But since the Greek doesn't have special terms for "husband" and "wife," when you see a Greek term like this in this context, you have to make the decision: are you going to translate this as "man" or "woman," and make this a generic kind of idea that women in general are supposed to be subordinated to men in general, or do you take the terms and translate them into "husband" and "wife." Both translations are fine, as far as the Greek goes, and then you're taking that sort of inferiority subordination complex to be something that's talking about with husbands and wives.

Look at I Corinthians 14:33:

As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches for they are not permitted to speak but should be subordinate as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a women to speak in church, or did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached?

That's odd, he seems to telling the women not to speak in church at all, although previously he had given instructions for how they could pray and prophesy in church as long as they are wearing a veil. What is going on here? Also, doesn't this have something--have something of a conflict with Galatians 3:28 which is a famous verse in which Paul says, "In Christ there is no Jew nor Greek, there's no free or slave, there's no male and female." Now that verse has been interpreted, especially since the 1970s, as teaching that Paul taught the equality of men and women in Christ; if in Christ there's no male and female doesn't that mean they're equal? Yes sir.

Student: What letter is that?

Professor Dale Martin: Galatians 3:28. This has been an argument, this is why I'm talking about the stuff--those of you who are writing papers this week need to talk about, but notice this is complex. You've got Galatians 3:28 that looks like an egalitarian statement, except a very famous biblical scholar wrote an article arguing that Galatians 3:28 is not an egalitarian statement because Paul was talking about in the resurrection human beings--Christians will be androgynes, that they'll be male/female combinations, and in that male/female combination the masculinity is still superior to femininity even in the androgyne body of the resurrection. Is Galatians 3:28 an egalitarian statement by Paul? Some people say yes. Is it not an egalitarian statement by Paul? I say it's not. That's a complicated argument also. If Galatians 3:28 is an egalitarian statement, how does that fit then with this 1 Corinthians 14 passage where Paul seems to be saying women should be silent in church and be subordinate, ask your husband at home.

Did any of you notice that those verses I just read in 1 Corinthians 14 are in some translations in brackets, in parentheses? How many people have a translation of 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 that's in either brackets or parentheses? Raise your hand. How many people have a translation where they're not in brackets or parentheses, anybody? Okay, so some of you don't have them in brackets. That's showing you that these editors are not sure whether that was actually part of the original letter. There's a dispute here. If you looked at your footnotes of your Bible, your footnotes might even say, "some ancient authorities" don't include this or include these verses in a different place. This is the issue, and we do have some Greek texts, some Greek manuscripts that either don't have these verses or have them in a different place in the text. Well how would that happen?

Well, the idea goes that some scribe, at some point, was copying over I Corinthians 14 and got to the point where this is in the text and wrote out in the margin, well wait a minute this is not right because of course the scribes are living at a later time when women definitely were in a more inferior position in churches. They couldn't be priests, they couldn't be bishops and this sort of thing, and that scribe writes in, well no, of course, women can't do that, so there's a little note that occurs there on the margins of the text. Other scribes come along and find this manuscript and they decide, well that shouldn't be out here in the margin; that should go into the text someplace. So one scribe copying it over puts that excerpt in this part of the text and another one puts it in this part of the text in different places. And then those manuscripts are copied over by other scribes. And you end up with Greek manuscripts with these verses in different places in I Corinthians 14. Some scholars have said that all looks like those verses that teach the subordination of women in I Corinthians 14 were not originally by Paul but were a later scribal interpolation, insertion into the text. Other scholars disagree with that, and they think that these verses were original with I Corinthians 14.

In other words, I've given you a lot of problems to deal with. If you're going to talk about what was Paul's view of women you've got to figure out, well, what do you think Galatians 3:28 really teaches. Is it an egalitarian statement or not? Is I Corinthians 14--these verses--is that part of Paul's original teaching or not? Then you've got the situation where in Romans 16, several verses in Romans 16, Paul actually addresses women as leaders of churches. There are places where Paul is willing to talk to women as leaders of churches. In fact, one of the verses in I Corinthians 16, Paul addresses two people, Andronicus and Junia, and he says, "These are esteemed among the Apostles." "Among the Apostles," that sounds like he's actually saying that Andronicus and Junia are themselves Apostles. And Paul thinks himself--the Apostles, in Paul's view, doesn't include just the twelve, right? Because he thinks he's an Apostle and he's not one of the twelve. The word "Apostle" for Paul is wider than the twelve, and it refers to people who go out and spread the Gospel. Apparently, Paul is calling two people, Andronicus and Junia, "Apostles" in Romans 16. Interestingly enough, that word "Junia," that might be in your translation as "Junia" nowadays, but in older English versions, it was translated as "Junias," which would be a man's name. In Latin, if you add an "s" on that word it looks like a man's name, if you don't have the "s," it looks like a woman's name. There was debate among scholars about how to translate it. It looks the same basically in Greek because of the way the word occurs in the sentence.

When you translated it, are you going to make it a man's name or a woman's name? People had always made it a man's name. Why? Because scholars just thought--of course all these scholars are men themselves throughout hundreds of years of tradition--they thought, well you can't have a woman Apostle, so it must be a man's name. In the seventies some feminist biblical scholars came along and pointed out that "Junias" is a very, very, very rare man's name but "Junia" is a very common woman's name, and argued again through textual criticism that Paul originally was addressing a woman, Junia. And now you have basically most scholars admitting that this is a woman. It's a woman's name. Paul was addressing a man, Andronicus, and a woman, Junia, and calling them both Apostles. There's some evidence that Paul actually doesn't have such a negative view of women if he's going to allow them to have leadership roles in his churches.

So you've got Paul in rather confusing situations. Is Paul a feminist? Is he for egalitarian theology with men and women? How does this relate to these different issues that come up in his letters? Those are Paul's basic views of both marriage and the family, and sex, and the roles of women. Often in early Christianity, in the history of Christianity, these two things go together. What a text is going to teach about the role of women in the church and in the world often has something to do with what it teaches about the family. Most of the time when a text is really, really pro-family, they teach the subordination of women more directly. When they're anti-family, they often tend to allow women bigger roles in their congregations. So it's kind of a pairing that goes along, and that's exactly what we'll see this week when we see the Pastoral Epistles that take Paul down the pro-family anti-woman route, and The Acts of Paul and Thecla, which takes Paul down the anti-family pro-woman route.

Let's look at the Pastorals, first. What is this author in I Timothy attacking? I'm going to spend most of my time in I Timothy because that's where I can get these examples. A lot of this stuff occurs in the letter to Titus also because the letter to Titus repeats a lot of the stuff that's in the first letter of Timothy. In I Timothy 1:3,

I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith.

This and vain discussions and genealogies--in I Timothy 4:7 he talks about godless and silly myths. Titus 1:10 and 14 also--and he also in Titus says that he's against people who are teaching circumcision and Jewish myths, he calls them. What are these myths? Well, we're not really sure. Are these sort of Gnostic-type myths about many different gods doing things and having to placate those gods in order to reach the highest God as we've seen in some Gnostic texts that we talked about earlier in the semester? We don't know, but there's some kind of stories about either angels or gods that some people are teaching, and this author is writing against it. Some aspect--something's Jewish about this he doesn't like.

Look at I Timothy 4:1:

Now the spirit expressly says that in later times [in the latter days] some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth."

This author is against people who are challenging marriage. He's against people who are promoting some kind of ascetic behavior with regard to food, so avoiding certain kinds of foods: is this kashrut? Maybe he's talking about people who are teaching people not to eat pork, not to eat shellfish. Are they teaching Jewish food laws? He's not explicit. He's against people who are teaching that, he's against people who are forbidding marriage and teaching any kind of dietary restrictions.

Look at I Timothy 5:23. This is when he tells Timothy, "No longer drink only water but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." Why does he have to tell somebody to drink some wine and not just drink water? Well, because there were ascetics who taught to avoid wine in the ancient world. That was one of those things that very strict ascetics might decide to avoid was wine and rich food. This author says to Timothy, nope, you should drink wine. This was our favorite verse when I grew up in a church that didn't allow drinking, of course. I always like to throw this one back at the elders of the church. Look at I Timothy 6:20, "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the profane chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge." What is the Greek word for knowledge? Pardon?

Student: Gnosis.

Professor Dale Martin: Gnosis, exactly. See, you're getting more than you paid for in this course. You didn't know you were going to learn Greek, and you're getting some good cocktail party information, and even some Greek language. Gnosis is the word for knowledge here, and this guy is attacking people who are going around boasting about falsely called knowledge. Again, that's led some scholars to say is he talking about some kind of Gnosticism? Is that what he's opposing? That would go along with this idea that they're using this word gnosis in ways he doesn't like. They're teaching myths, they're teaching asceticism, they're teaching the avoidance of marriage, well that does look a bit like other early Christian, second century Christian groups, some of whom their opponents would call Gnostics, but we don't have enough information for it to be easy to tell.

Now look at one more text, this is II Timothy 2:18, he's actually giving some names of people he doesn't like. In 2:18 it says, "These people have swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place." He's condemning that. Remember how I even talked about with Colossians and Ephesians last time, you had this idea that they almost sound like the resurrection has already taken place. In your baptism with Christ you have been raised with Christ, and maybe there are other people wandering around the second century, Christians, saying that you've already been raised from the dead, you've already experienced the resurrection. This author really condemns that. He wants to say, no, the resurrection hasn't taken place yet, so he's condemning false teachers for all kinds of different activities and teachings that he doesn't like. So we're seeing a definite split here between different kinds of Paulinism. There's a Paulinism represented by these texts which is pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-procreation. We'll talk about later that he's for having children and mentions this explicitly; anti-asceticism, against forcing people to control what they eat and these sorts of things and this idea about maybe Jewish myths being something and the teaching of the resurrection.

I Timothy 1:9, then, gets us into another issue: what is the law and what is this author's take on it? I Timothy 1:9, 8: "Now we know that the law is good if one uses it legitimately." That of course can be a quotation right out of Romans because Romans itself has Paul says the law is good.

This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, or murderers, fornicators, sodomite, slave traders, liars, perjurers, whatever else is contrary to sound teaching that contradicts the gracious, the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Notice this guy doesn't have really a problem with the law that we've seen sometimes in Paul's writings. The law is basically just a set of rules designed to keep people who can't control themselves in line. In fact, he goes on to say that if you're a good person you don't even need to worry about the law. Now this is again different from what Paul's view is. Paul did not want his Gentile followers to keep the Jewish law, and Paul said in Romans that the law is good. For Paul the law is still this cosmic entity almost that invaded history. This is very much Galatians, remember when I gave the lecture on Galatians and Romans I talked about how the Jewish law for Paul is not simply a list of rules. It was this thing that came into the cosmos as an invader, it enslaved humanity, it was the pedagogue that swatted humanity down when humanity was in its childish state. Obeying the law for Paul is equal to trying to worship the stoichea of the cosmos, these elemental spirits of the universe. So the law for Paul isn't simply a list of rules. The law for Paul is a very ambiguous cosmic entity. It's just mythological in a sense for Paul.

For this author that's not what the law is. The law--you don't need to obey it, he says, and he's against teaching his Gentile converts to keep the Jewish law, but he just says, it's not important. It's only for people who are sinners who can't control themselves. As long as you're not a sinner, as long as you don't do this list of things that I can give you, you don't need to concern yourself about the law. So this is another one of the reasons that people like me say, this is not Paul writing. People who believe Paul wrote these letters would say, well they're written years later, it's to a different context, and Paul changed his mind, or Paul's nuancing his message differently for a different context. So there are scholars who would defend these letters being by Paul and that's what they would say. I look at it and I say that's so not like Paul. It's a totally different view of the law and its role in the cosmos than you see in Romans or Galatians, which is another piece of evidence for me that Paul is not the author of this letter.

The strategy, then, of this author, he's trying to argue against all kinds of myths and practices that somebody's going through Paul's churches and teaching. So he writes a letter in Paul's name, seemingly addressed to Paul's follower Timothy, and he lays out what he doesn't like about that. But that's not all of his strategy. What is his strategy for combating these things that he considers false teachings? First, he makes the church itself a household. Now this is where all that lecturing in the first part of the semester, when I talked over and over again, what is the patriarchal household, what is the Roman household, what is the paterfamilias, what is the structure of the household, what is the patron client relationship, what is the role of wives and women in the household, and children, and slaves? All of that was because when you get to some of these aspects of early Christianity, this author is using the Roman household as the model for the church itself. That wasn't the way Paul did it, right? Paul never talked about the church as if it just had the same structure of a household. He didn't talk about men always being on top of the leadership organization, and he didn't promote marriage very much, which is what this author does. I Timothy 3:14:

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that if I am delayed you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

The church is the household of God. The same thing happens in I Timothy 5, the beginning of I Timothy 5:

Do not speak harshly to an older man; speak to him as a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

Notice everybody in the church has some familial role. Older guys are fathers, your younger men in the church are your brothers, younger women sisters, older women mothers, everybody has a household role in the church. This is different--we might think this is automatic but, notice, this is not treating the church as an ecclesia, that Greek word that we translate "church." Where did the term ecclesia come from? Do you remember? In Greek, what does the term ecclesia originally refer to in classical Greek?

Student: Assembly.

Professor Dale Martin: The assembly of the city. It's the assembly of the city-state that came together for political purposes and to vote. It comes out of the Greek democracy, with its notions of some kind of equality among citizens and all the--at least the men citizens getting a vote. It's important that early Christians, for some reason, chose this word ecclesia to describe their house churches. It was ridiculous. An outsider would have--might have thought this is kind of ridiculous; you're using the term that people would have heard as the town assembly for a few people who can fit into one dining room? It's kind of acceding more importance to yourself than you really should. I think it's important that early Christian groups use that term for themselves. Why didn't early Christian groups call themselves "synagogues"? That was a term already in use by Jews; it would have been a normal term to use. We don't find many early Christians using the term "synagogue" for their groups. We do find them using ecclesia very quickly, but an ecclesia isn't a household. What this author is doing is shifting, in a not so subtle way, understanding these house groups as being more like town assemblies, and making them look more like Roman household.

Also, then, men have certain roles. I Timothy 2:8: "I desire than that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument, also that the women should pray lifting up holy hands without argument." No, Dale's lying to you again.

The women should dress themselves modestly, decently, and in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided [girls, are you listening?] or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man. She is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived, and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness with modesty.

Now this is something that my mom used to hate it when they would preach about this in church. Also, it's controversial; does it mean that she's saved from the dangers of childbirth? That's one way of reading it. She'll be saved from the dangers of childbirth if she lives a pious and holy life. Or, a bit more of a radical way of reading, it would be to say, by having babies women help constitute their own salvation--that having children is one of the ways that women save themselves. Either way you look at it, this author really wants women to be in a subordinate role, silent in church. They can't have any leadership authority or teaching authority over a man. As we'll see, they do have some offices. There are roles that women can play in the Pastoral Epistles, but not in authority over men. Then there's this odd thing about childbearing. And I think what it means is that childbearing actually can help save women from their sins in some way. Women have to be modestly dressed, no jewelry, saved through childbearing. In order to maintain this kind of household structure, a very hierarchical household structure, this author sets up offices in the church. And here's another reason to call these "the Pastoral Epistles," because he's setting up pastoral offices. Look in I Timothy 3:1-7, "The saying is sure whoever is aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task." Now a bishop--does anybody have a different translation for what I just read as "bishop"?

Student: "Overseer."

Professor Dale Martin: "Overseer," yes, "overseer" is a translation. Anybody have a different translation? The word "bishop" here is--the Greek word is episkopos, where we get the English word "bishop" and you get the name for the Episcopal church because it's a church that has bishops. In Greek it basically means "an overseer" or "someone in charge." "

The bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way. For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God's church?

Again the church is a household. If you're going to be the bishop over the church you have to be married, because how can you manage the household of the church if you can't prove it by managing your own household well? "He must not be a recent convert…" The bishop or the episkopos is already himself now a male head of household. The other office he talks about in 5:17, "Let the elders," now just as the word we translated "bishop" or "overseer," comes from the Greek word episkopos, the Greek for elder here is presbyteros, presbyter, and this is where the Presbyterian church gets the name of its church. They're Presbyterians because the Presbyterian church rejected the use of bishops like they found in Catholic and Anglican churches, and chose a plurality of elders, so they're called "elders" in the Presbyterian church, and the Presbyterian church comes from this Greek word meaning "elder," presbyteros and this is actually--this came to be later in English the name for a bishop who was not just the head of one particular church but became the head of a series of churches, a bunch of churches, that is the bishop now is not the head of one church but the head of a whole diocese, that is a geographical grouping. The word's changed a bit but that's--bishop comes from this word and presbyteros turned into the word priest, so one of the suggested etymology's for where the English word "priest" came from is from this Greek word itself, and you can kind of say presbyteros, priest. It just kind of happens in English over a few hundred years.

Elders also have to have wives, be family men, and all this sort of thing. There are other offices to look at--real quickly we're going to go through this. Deacons: 3:8:

Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money. They must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. Let them first be tested, then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. Women likewise must be serious.

Now there's an exegetical problem, does this "women" refer to women who would themselves independently be deacons? In other words, is he allowing women to be deacons on their own, or is it supposed to be taken to be just the wives of the male deacons? That they're called deacons also, or deaconesses; the word for "deacon" here comes from the Greek diakonos, it comes into English directly, and that word just means "a servant," "someone who serves or ministers." The women in 3:11--some exegetes would say this shows that this author does allow at least women to be deacons, deaconesses, and they have certain kinds of roles. Verse 12: "Let deacons be married only once, let them manage their children and their households well, for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves."

Notice, in the beginning, all of these roles, whether it's the elder, presbyter, or the bishop--and there's some debate about whether "presbyter" refers to the same role as a bishop in these letters--they seem to be combined in some of the later pastoral letters, or whether they refer to two separate offices, so there's a bit of a debate. All of these people, whether you're from bishops, presbyters, deacons, they all are required to be married and all are required to have children. In the beginning of early Christianity, see, you did not have the celibate ministr. The celibate ministry comes about later. This is in line with this author's intention to set up the church as a household structure with men on top, women having their own roles.

Now there are other roles here too, look at I Timothy 5:3-10, "Honor widows," this is I Timothy 5:3:

Honor widows who are really widows. If a widow has children or grandchildren they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents, for this is pleasing in God's sight. The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers, night and day. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give these commands as well so that they may be above reproach. Whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." [Now it gets really interesting.] Let a widow be put on the list, let her be registered.

It seems like he's actually creating another kind of office in the church, that is, the office of widows. And, sure enough, in Christianity later, "widow" became almost like an office in early Christianity. They could be registered, and they received financial help from the churches. "Let a widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old and has been married only once." Notice over and over here, we've seen this thing about being married once. Apparently this author believes in marriage and wants people to be married, but his ideal is that people should be married once. You certainly should not be divorced and remarried. Paul himself forbids people in his church from being divorced and remarried, as we saw in I Corinthians 11. But this author seems to say that if you're married and your spouse dies, he still kind of prefers that these women be married once.

He also said that the bishop or the presbyteros should be men who are married only once, so multiple marriages are really frowned on even though marriage itself is highly valued. This led to what is currently the practice in many of the eastern churches. Eastern Orthodox, the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, they do not forbid their priests from being married, but you have to be married before you become a priest. So you'll have a lot of young men in Greece or Russia who are going to become priests, and they want to quickly get married right out of seminary. So they're looking around for a partner, because if they become ordained as a priest and they're not married, they're expected to stay unmarried. If their wife dies after they become a priest, they're expected to stay celibate and single for the rest of their lives also. This led to the tradition in Eastern Christianity, that you can be a married priest, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, but only if you get married before you become a priest. And it kept this idea of being married once only.

I can't go into the rest of this but notice how this whole hierarchy of man and woman in a household, old and young, is also extended to children and slaves. Already in Colossians and Ephesians we had what we called the household codes: masters treat your slaves well; slaves be obedient to your masters; husbands treat your wives well; wives submit to your husbands; children submit to your fathers; fathers treat your children--these are called household codes. Already in Colossians and Ephesians they set up the household in a clear hierarchical patriarchal situation. That is intensified in the Pastoral Epistles. You have much longer household codes, and, whereas in Colossians and Ephesians that--those writers at least said there was some reciprocity. They would address the slaves, you would have to obey the master but they would also address the master and say, treat your slaves well. When you get to the Pastoral Epistles they left out the reciprocity, it's mainly directed to the slaves, to the children, to the wives, saying, submit.

This is the strategy that this writer uses to combat the forms of Christianity that he doesn't like, to construct the church as a rigid patriarchal household in which each person has a role. Even young women, he says they're not supposed to be enrolled as widows, if you have young women who are widows, and they start running around gossiping and getting in a lot of trouble, he says get them married off again. Old women, of course, you couldn't marry off again, they're not enough old men around in the ancient world to marry them off, so he creates this structure by which women, older women, get pulled back into the household by this role as widows. No matter what happens to a woman, in this author's view, they have to be put back into their submissive place in the household structure, even if that means creating a new role for them called "widows." This strategy this author uses to bring Paul into his own time. He's taking a Paul that we've seen as a bit different from this and he's reinventing Paul for a second century Christian environment and restructuring the church as a household. We'll see an author on Wednesday doing precisely the opposite with Paul. See you next time.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 20
Play Video
The "Anti-household" Paul: Thecla

The Acts of Paul and Thecla has a narrative quite similar to those in ancient Greco-Roman novels: Thecla becomes enamored of Paul and they share a number of adventures. However, the Acts redirects eroticism towards a belief in a gospel of purity and asceticism. The Acts of Paul and Thecla present an ascetic, anti-marriage, anti-family message that would break the cycle of sex, birth, death, and decay that was so obvious in the ancient world. Given that Thecla emerges from the story as the true hero (and not Paul), is it possible to read the story as a feminist one?

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 375-377

Bible: Acts of Paul and Tecla


April 1, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: This topic today is really fun. I love the Acts of Paul and Thecla. It is such a bizarre document. I hope you read it before class as the syllabus instructed you to. It's not an easy document to get into if it's the first time you've come across this kind of non-canonical early Christian literature. Sometimes we'll call this stuff "apocryphal" which is just the Greek word for "hidden." This is not part of the apocrypha that's published in your Bible, your study Bible if you bought the Bible that I requested which was the Oxford Study Bible with Apocrypha. That apocrypha, as I explained at the beginning of the whole semester is Jewish literature that was written sometime in the Second Temple period and it's not explicitly Christian literature for the most part. When people talk about The Apocrypha that's published in a modern Bible, they're talking about that Jewish literature that survived in Greek mainly. In fact this is why those books were rejected by the reformers Martin Luther and Calvin, and Melanchthon. They tended to not use the apocrypha in a Protestant Bible precisely because they wanted to go back to the Hebrew Bible like the rabbis were using, and so The Apocrypha, although it has continued to be part of the Roman Catholic Bible, and as something having a secondary status, has not been part of the Protestant Bible. That term "apocrypha" refers to that very varying list because what is actually even included in that Jewish apocrypha varies according to which publication you may pick up.

Sometimes people will also use this word "apocrypha" for what they call something like New Testament apocrypha or early Christian apocrypha. That's kind of a misleading term because there's nothing hidden about this literature at all. It's always been there, it's just not part of the Christian canon. Some of it is entirely orthodox, some of it is rather heretical, and some of it is somewhere not completely in tune with later orthodoxy but nevertheless reflecting what was definitely orthodox in its own day. All this literature is written in the second century, our document today, the Acts of Paul and Thecla, was composed in the second century and it was considered quite good literature by many early Christians. It just wasn't part of the New Testament, mainly because people knew it was a bit later of a document, not so much because of concerns for orthodoxy.

One of the purposes of my teaching this course, one of my purposes of teaching all of my courses, is to get students to start thinking completely differently. In other words, you've noticed, perhaps, that one of the things I stress in my lectures is how odd the ancient world is, even how odd early Christianity is from what most of us tend to come at it. This is because I teach New Testament studies and the history of early Christianity almost like ethnography. I try to get you to imagine yourself coming into a culture that's really different from the culture you grew up in. This is something I think is basic to religious studies as a discipline, and religious studies teaches you to look at some kind of group of people, or an activity, or a belief structure that seems to you initially absolutely bizarre. And you think, how could any rational person do that? How can any rational person belief that? To keep looking at it seriously and to look at it with enough sympathy that you actually can see eventually how it is perfectly rational. This document today is a great place to illustrate that, because whenever I teach this document to people your age, eighteen to twenty-two year old college students, if you read this carefully and you get into this stuff, it should be bizarre to you.

This document depicts young people who are attracted to a version of Christianity that forbids having sex entirely. It's completely ascetic. The Paul in the Acts of Paul and Thecla says, if you have sex you're probably not going to go to heaven. Basically the gospel mentioned in this document is continence, by which this document means avoiding sex. And that's going to be bizarre enough because people in the modern world kind of have the idea, well why would somebody join any movement that forbade sexual intimacy entirely? What kind of draw did that have for people? Why did that gospel succeed? What may be surprising to you is it did succeed. In the ancient world a lot of people, especially it seems sometimes even young people, were drawn to early Christianity precisely because it was ascetic. It taught this radical asceticism of watching what you eat and especially avoiding sex, or if not avoiding sex entirely, severely limiting sexual intercourse and sexual attraction. \What is it about the ancient culture, what is it about these people that caused them not only to be converted to Christianity but to be converted especially to a form of it that was radically ascetic? In order to see why that kind of Christianity was--because that's the actual kind of Christianity that was successful in the ancient world.

If you were listening to most modern American Christians, modern American people generally, what are the two most important teachings about Christianity in the minds of most Americans? The family, the importance of the family, and by that they mean the heterosexual nuclear family, but even the liberal churches which are willing to recognize gay relationships, they still construe that as gay marriage or just gay versions of the nuclear family. The family is the most important thing about Christianity in the minds of a lot of Americans. The second thing is nationalism, patriotism. If you took away patriotism and nationalism, and the family out of Christianity, most people in modern America wouldn't recognize it as such. What's odd is that, when you read these ancient documents, that's precisely the two things that Christianity attacks. This form of early Christianity was anti-family, for the most part, and it was anti-patriotic. The people who say, but this is traditional Christianity, those people don't know their history before 1950, because the church, the overall Christian churches were never pro-family for the first 1500 years of its existence. The Roman Catholic Church, up until the Reformation, always had as its official position, not just popular ideas, its official position was celibacy is superior to sexuality. If you have to have sex, if you can't control yourself you're allowed to get married and have sex within the bounds of marriage. But the better thing, the better virtue would be to avoid sex entirely for your entire life. The next best thing is to have sex if you need just to make babies, but then as soon as you have your babies, stop having sex and be ascetic the rest of your life. If your spouse dies, you are permitted to get remarried, most of the time, but the higher virtue would be in remaining unmarried and remaining celibate for the rest of your life. That was considered the doctrine in Christianity, at least up until the Reformation, so the sixteenth century.

When people talk about "traditional family values" being traditionally the Christian way, they're not talking about Christianity as it existed from the time of Jesus all the way up until around 1600, and even then from 1600 until 1950, the ideal form in most Christianity was not the nuclear family but some kind of household. In Puritan New England, people didn't live in little nuclear families--townships, the New Haven Colony, the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they were organized into households that were run by the male head of household, his wife under him, children under that, servants and other free people often living in the household also or connected to the household. If you are, for example, an adult male, twenty-five years old in New England, in Puritan New England, and you weren't married, you weren't really supposed to live alone or with other men. That happens sometimes, but the town fathers--and these colonies were ruled as communities, not individual people--the town fathers would want to put you into somebody else's household, into the household of another man. They certainly wouldn't let women, adult women live separately. Notice, this is not individualism in the modern sense, and it's not the nuclear family in the modern sense, these are extended family households. That was the New England Protestant way. When did the idea that the best form of the family was the nuclear family come about in popular culture overall? The 1950s. When people talk about that being the Christian thing they're forgetting the vast sweep of Christian history. They're just ignoring it. This document is a good place to see why that made sense for people, especially in the ancient world, and to make it--since for the Middle Ages and all the rest of the time you'll have to take another course.

One of the things I want you to do is enter into this text as if you're an ethnographer, an anthropologist and try to see how does this make sense, how does this gospel that this text proclaimed, how did it make sense to people and why was it so wildly popular, because it was wildly popular. First, you have to know a bit about the Greco-Roman novel. I talked about this early in the semester when we talked about the Acts of the Apostles. Greek novels are very interesting, there are six of them that survive in almost whole, and in fragments of a lot of others, and you can find these in the English translation. Help me out teaching fellows, what's the name of the collection of the Greek novels? It's called something like Collected Greek Novels, yes. Reardon is the editor: R-E-A-R-D-O-N. If you want to dip into these just get the collected ancient novels - edited by Reardon and read through some of them. They're very entertaining.

One of the things that the typical plot is, a woman of high elite status, these are--these usually are people--young people of elite families--they're usually set in classical Greece although they're not written until the first century, second century, third century of our era, but they're often set in a more classical Greek setting. They are upper class people: a young woman who's of an upper class family falls in love with a young man who's also from an upper class family, and in a few of the Greek novels they actually get married and have a little honeymoon, a brief honeymoon period, and then all hell breaks loose and something happens. In some cases they don't even get to consummate their love yet because something intervenes. Usually what happens is a disaster strikes.

In one--I think I mentioned this to you, by Chariton, Chaereas and Callirhoe, in one the husband gets jealous thinking that his wife has had an affair he--in a fit of rage--he kicks her, she falls over and everybody thinks she's dead. So he's grieving and grieving because of course he's still madly in love with her. They're both madly in love with each other. But they bury her in the tomb, the big family tomb that's on the shore by the water. Of course like--and Shakespeare stole mercilessly from these kinds of things--she wakes up in the tomb after they've already sealed the tomb and she can't get out, and she says, woe is me, they've buried me, I will never see my loved one. Pirates, who happened to be outside, there were always pirates in these things, lots of pirates. Pirates happened to be outside, they hear her crying, and they break into the tomb. They were just going to do a little tomb robbery, they were just attempting a tomb robbery, but they find this living maiden--not maiden anymore she's had sex now so she's a maid, not a maiden anymore. Anyway a beautiful young woman and they decide, well great this--we can get more for her than from the stuff in here. We'll kidnap her, sell her as into slavery at some other port. And they do. So they take her off, they take her around over to Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. And there they sell her to this wealthy man. He falls in love with her, so he decides to marry her. And then something else happens and they go to the King of Persia, and the King of Persia falls in love with her. So he steals her away from the Greek guy. And then wars break out. And her husband as soon as he finds that she's been stolen away, he starts traveling all around the Mediterranean looking for her. And he'll get just to Alexandria in Egypt the day after she's been sold off to slavery someplace else. These two traipse around the Mediterranean looking for their--because they're madly in love and they want to consummate their marriage. And of course everybody falls in love with both of them.

No matter where this young woman goes every man around falls in love with her, and that causes problems all over the place. Of course in the ancient world everywhere the young man goes everybody falls in love with him, both women and men, because that was quite common. And so they both have all this eroticism. They're describing their beauty all the time. Usually there's someplace in the novel where they can get naked. Where somehow the plot happens where she's stripped because she's going to be punished, or he's stripped because he's going to be crucified, or something has happened and the story kind of concentrates on how beautiful their bodies are. In other words, the novels are about being faithful to the person you loved in your youth, because they both try not to have sex with anybody else if they can at all do that. Be faithful to your lover from your youth. But the erotic drive is just all the way through the novel. The novels are full of eroticism and the eroticism of the eye.

This Acts of Paul and Thecla is so wonderfully like those things because it also uses eroticism. Did you notice how often Thecla is portrayed as gorgeous and even stripped so you, as the voyeuristic reader, can imagine her naked body before she's thrown into the vat of killer man-eating seals. You remember that scene. The erotic is here in this text, but the erotic is used to the opposite purpose. The erotic is used to actually teach you to avoid sex. To really read this text of the Acts of Paul and Thecla it helps if you know the way these ancient Greek novels often work.

Let's look at the text now, and I'll show you some of these things. Look at paragraph 18. I don't know if you have the pages, there are a couple of different editions that I've used in this class. I don't know which I had for downloading with you but I'm going to not talk about page numbers most of the time but paragraph numbers because the texts are all divided up into paragraph numbers. In paragraph 18, Thecla has gone off to prison. Of course the story goes that she hears Paul preaching in her hometown, and she falls in love with him just from hearing his preaching. Now the text doesn't really say she falls in love with him, right? But it describes her as being enamored of Paul, at least of his gospel, and so she goes to visit him in prison. He's been thrown in prison because wherever Paul goes he gets into trouble with the men of the city. And it's always the men of the city he gets in trough with, right? It's because he's teaching wives not to have sex with their husbands anymore. Well, this gets the guys upset. He's teaching unmarried women not to get married and young men not to get married. Well, if you don't get married and you don't have sex, you're not going to have children, you're not going to have babies, and the households will all fall apart. So Paul gets in trouble precisely because of his anti-household, anti-sex message because the men of the city know full well that if you don't have sex and you don't have households, you're not going to have a city. Civilization is going to fall apart, in their view. He's arrested, she goes to visit him in prison, and then it says, "To the jailer she gave a silver mirror," a mirror is in the ancient world is a typical sign for femininity in women. On tombstones you'll often see a mirror carved when it's a girl, a young girl who's buried at that tomb. So she gives the jailer her silver mirror.

She went into Paul and sat at his feet and heard him proclaim the mighty acts of God. Paul feared nothing but comported himself with full confidence in God, and her faith was also increased as she kissed his fetters.

Next paragraph down 20: "He commanded Paul to be brought to the judgment seat. But Thecla rolled herself on the place where Paul taught as he sat in prison." She's rolling around in the dust where Paul had sat earlier. Did you ever hear old people talk about how in very strict Roman Catholic schools and stuff, guys were not supposed to sit in the same folding chair that a girl had just sat in because it would be warm, and that was considered a little too erotic? Yep. People were screwed up. "She stood there looking steadily at Paul," and a little further, "Thecla sought for Paul as a lamb in the wilderness looks about for shepherd." In paragraph 22:

The young men and the maidens brought wood and straw that Thecla might be burned, and as she was brought in naked the governor wept and marveled at the power that was in her.

I'm not too sure about the writing here. Notice how over and over again in this text there's something about kissing or marveling, or looking, and right at the point where you think that the body should be what's being referred to, the author says something like "power" or "message." There's a direction toward the body all the way through this text, and then a diversion of your attention as a reader away from the body to the gospel. But the body is still there just hovering right around the edge of your vision. So the text does that over and over again. Look at paragraph 25--well over and over again--I'm not going to go through anymore examples of that because they're just all the way through the text. Sex is the driving force of this piece of literature even though the piece of literature is going to try to teach you not to have sex, and so there's also desire and passion all the way through.

But, as I said, the main message of the text is don't have sex. So look at paragraph 5, this is where Paul is giving his own version of the beatitudes that you're familiar with from Matthew and Luke. Paul's version is very different though, right? It says in paragraph 5:

When Paul was entered into the house of Onesiphorus, there was great joy, bowing of knees, breaking of bread, and the word of God concerning continence and the resurrection.

Now the word "continence" there is just referring to asceticism, but in this text it doesn't mean just controlling your sex life, it means not having sex entirely. When this author, this translation says "continence," you read that as complete sexual asceticism, so that's the message. Notice how continence is linked to resurrection, so the avoidance of sex is directly linked to the resurrection of the body in this text. These are the beatitudes:

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are they who have kept the flesh pure [and don't be misled in this text that means not having sex] for they shall become a temple of God. Blessed are the continent for to them God will speak. Blessed are they who have renounced this world for they shall be well pleasing unto God. Blessed are they who have wives as if they had them not for they shall inherit God.

Now that's actually almost a quotation from Paul's letter. Paul talks about having, as if you did not have, and this sort of thing, living your life "as if." "Blessed are they who have fear of God for they shall become angels of God." Now it might help you to know there that angels in the ancient world are often depicted as androgynous, as not being sexual. Anybody seen the movie "Dogma"? How many have seen the movie "Dogma"? Raise your hand so I can see them. If you haven't seen the movie "Dogma" go rent it. It's a highly important theological movie. It's a very theological movie actually. If you've seen it you remember there's a place where the angel who's appearing to the woman who's going to be the chosen one, the Mary-type figure, he appears in her bedroom in the middle of the night, right? She thinks he's there to rape her so she takes a baseball bat and she's going to try to--and he's trying to not get pummeled with the baseball bat, so he pulls his pants down to show her that he's an angel. Why does that work? Because he doesn't have genitalia, and so that proves to her, or it's supposed to prove to her, she's just confused. She doesn't know her angelology properly. If she knew her angelology she would know that angels, at least in one dominant form of tradition, are androgynous, so they don't have genitalia or they're either completely male or something like that, so that's why Paul says in this beatitude, "You will be as the angels of God."

"Blessed are they who have kept their baptism secure." Again one of the teachings of early Christianity like this was, once you're baptized you're not allowed to sin anymore. Baptism, according to some teachings in early Christianity, would cleanse you of all the sins you had committed up until the time you're baptized. What if you sin after your baptism? Well, there might be other ways to get forgiveness for that, but you're in trouble. This is why a lot of emperors would not get baptized until their deathbed, because they wanted to make sure--emperors have to sin, they have to kill people, they have to fight wars, so the idea was you just don't get baptized until right before you die and then you can go to heaven. That's what this is talking about, keeping your baptism pure.

Below that the last blessed, "Blessed are the bodies of the virgins for they shall be well pleasing to God and shall not lose the reward of their purity." Right below that in paragraph 7:

Thamyris sat at a nearby window and listened night and day to the word of the virgin life, as it was spoken by Paul, moreover she saw many women and virgins going into Paul, she desired to be counted worthy herself to stand in Paul's presence.

Now look right at paragraph 9:

"All the women and young people go into him and are taught by him. You must, he says, fear one single God only and live chastely. And my daughter also, like a spider at the window bound by his words, is dominated by a new desire."

This is her mother talking because her mother is very upset that Thecla has done this because Thecla broke off her great engagement to the richest guy in town in order to follow Paul. So the mother doesn't like this. ". . . dominated by a new desire and a fearful passion." So notice desire and passion again are still part of the narrative, but now they're redirected to a desire and a passion precisely for celibacy.

Also, the bad guys in this are anti-ascetic. Look at paragraph 13. Paul and the good guys are all ascetic. In paragraph 13, in fact, right above that this is Demos and Hermogenes--now a bunch of the names in this document actually come from Pauline literature from the New Testament. So this writer probably knows the Pastoral Epistles and some of the other writings that make up the New Testament because the writer is taking details out of Paul's life, as you would see it in the New Testament, like these names for example. Demos is mentioned in the Pastoral Epistles as someone for forsook Paul, "being in love with the present world," is what it says, so this writer is talking--using the same name. Demos is a bad guy here who had been a follower of Paul but he's now betraying Paul.

They say, "Who this man is we do not know. But he deprives young men of wives, maidens of husbands, saying otherwise there is no resurrection for you except you remain chaste and do not defile the flesh but keep it pure."

They know what Paul's teaching, this radical asceticism, and Paul links this to the resurrection. If you're not chaste and pure, you won't experience the resurrection.

Thamyris said to them, "Come into my house you men and rest with me." And they went off to a sumptuous banquet with much wine, great wealth, and a splendid table.

Notice, these guys who betray Paul are not only teaching that people should get married and have sex, but they're also having great wine, they're having a lot of food, they're doing all the anti-ascetic stuff. They're anti-ascetic. The enemies of Paul, and the gospel here, are the anti-ascetics, and of course that makes you think, who does this look like that we've been reading lately who says, "Drink a little wine for your stomach's sake"? It's the writer of the Pastoral Epistles. Remember we saw that? The writer of I Timothy admonishes Timothy to drink wine, not to be an ascetic and avoid wine. The writer of the Pastoral Epistles teaches that it's the enemies of Paul who forbid marriage. So the Pastoral Epistles, if this author knows the Pastoral Epistles, he's writing against it. And if the Pastoral Epistles knows the Acts of Paul and Thecla, they're written against this. We don't know that they knew each other exactly, although it's entirely possible that this author knew Paul's writings.

So, basically, what is the problem of life according to this author? Sex and family. What's the answer to life? Avoiding sex and family, and then you experience the resurrection. What is the deeper problem then that this is addressing? Here the problem you can see it in paragraph 17. This is Paul talking to the proconsul:

"The living God, the God of vengeance, the jealous God, the God who has need of nothing, has sent me since he desires the salvation of men that I may draw them away from corruption and impurity, all pleasure and death, that they may sin no more."

Notice corruption, impurity, pleasure, death, those are all linked together. And here's the clue that helps you see what's going on with the allure of asceticism for these ancient Christians. In the ancient world… This is something that's also changed radically since the 1970s. The 1970s changed dramatically with regard to family, sexuality. It's the time of the sexual revolution. The time of the people's attitudes changing completely. We went back on that in the 1980s with the AIDs scare, and then the way right wingers used AIDS to try to make sex fearful to everybody. But that was sort of reactionary. The 1980s and a lot of the 1990s was reactionary to the sexual revolution. What happened in the 1970s that changed the way people thought about these sorts of things? Two things that were big pushes toward changing people's attitudes about sexuality and the family. The women's movement, which basically was springing off the civil rights movement and saying that women and men are equal, the radical notion that women are people is what feminism is, so women and men are equal.

Now why was that so important for issues like sex? Because the way sexuality had always been construed up to that point was that the sex act itself, the heterosexual sex act--and homosexual sex acts were always interpreted in the frame of heterosexual sex--the heterosexual sex act embodies in its very practices the hierarchy of man over woman. The idea is, man is superior. He's supposed to be on top. So the preferred position is the missionary position. And in fact, in ancient Judaism and Christianity it was considered abominable--it was considered sex "against nature"--to have the woman penetrate the man in any way. Why? Because they considered it only natural that the man is the superior one and he penetrates the woman. It's male to penetrate; it's feminine to be penetrated. And they believed that whether it was penis/vagina sex, or whether it was oral sex, or whether it was anything. Any kind of sexual intercourse in the ancient world, and this continued pretty much all the way until the modern world, the man is superior, masculinity is superior, and femininity is inferior. And that's embodied in the sex act itsel: the superiority of the penetrator and the inferiority of the penetrated. That's why the word "fucked," is a bad thing, although actually most of think actually doing it is not such a bad thing. Why is that in our--in slang and curse words we still use words like "that sucks"? A lot of people don't even know that it refers to sex, but yeah of course it refers to sex. Something that "sucks" is considered bad, it's not considered [bad] to be sucked. Something that fucks is not bad, it's considered bad to be fucked. Why is that? Because our entire history has penetration is superior; it's inferior to be penetrated. It's embodied in our culture.

That started to be challenged--now see you may find this kind of weird that I'm insisting so literally on the interpretation of these words because that may not be the way you use them or hear them. What I'm saying is that if it's not the way you use them or hear them is because society has changed radically in the last thirty or forty years. No longer is it automatically considered that women are inferior to men, and therefore the sex act is not considered to be one that necessarily has to be hierarchal. The reason that people in the ancient world, if they opposed homosexual sex, the reason they opposed it is they assumed that one man would have to be penetrated by another man, and that was horrible because it disrupted the hierarchy. Or a woman would have to penetrate another woman, and that also disrupted the hierarchy. It has to be man/woman because the hierarchy is man/woman, and every sex act was supposed to imitate that hierarchy. That changed radically beginning in the 1970s.

The other big thing that changed was the Pill. Now of course there had been contraception for years and years before that, for time immemorial. Human beings have always known how to avoid getting pregnant to some extent. But with the 1970s and the wide availability of contraceptive medicines, drugs, it was much easier to have heterosexual sex and not be worried about whether you were going to get pregnant. Before that, and this is also something that people your age just have trouble getting through your heads, before that every time a woman had heterosexual sex of any kind of penetrated way--the normal way people were having sex she was--she had to at least be partly worried that she was going to get pregnant. Every time a man and a woman had sex, pregnancy, the danger of pregnancy, was always there hanging over their heads. They could accept it and they could want it, but if they didn't want it, it was still hanging over their heads. That's not true for us today. We have enough reliable means of contraception that we can pretty much decide that we want to have sex just for fun without worrying about pregnancy.

These two things, the women's movement, which challenged the basic hierarchy of the sex act, and the availability of contraception, radically changed notions of sex. Before that, and here's what goes back to the ancient world, I've mentioned this before and we've been talking about other texts already but just to review: for the ancient mind, sex was simply one cog in a wheel. Why did you have sex? In order to make babies. Why did you need to make babies? Because so many of them were dying all the time. I think I've told you the statistic that in the ancient world, for the population of the Roman Empire just to remain stable--not for it to grow, just for it to remain stable--every woman who lived to childbearing age, which was considered about fourteen in the ancient world, had to have an average of five childbirths for the population to remain stable. Think of these girls, every one of you would have to have at least five childbirths on average just to maintain the population. That just shows how many people died in childbirth, how many women died in childbirth, how many infants died. So in people's minds, every birth was automatically linked in their mind to death. Because it was a dangerous thing, people died often in childbirth, women died giving birth, and so many children died. They also knew that they had to keep having babies or the population would shrink, and populations in the ancient world did often shrink, and that was dangerous because whole cities could disappear. Whole populations could disappear if the birthrate didn't remain high. Every birth was considered--because you had to have babies; why do you need babies? Because people were always dying. The idea was you have sex, birth, death, decay. Sex, birth, death, decay, sex, birth, death, decay, that's all what life is. Life is a big circle of sex, birth, death and decay.

Now comes Christianity which says, we're going to teach you to break that cycle. How do you break the cycle? Well, it may not be intuitive to you, but this seemed to be intuitive to a lot of ancient people who incorporated this into their teachings about Christianity. The Christians said, stop it at sex. Break the cycle at sex. And that's why in these text--it's not intuitive to us, but it's intuitive to them--that if you want to stop that cycle of sex, birth, death, and decay the easiest place for human beings to stop it is at sex. Just break the cycle. Don't have sex, don't have childbirth, don't have death. And of course they believed they had an answer for the death part because they believed, with Christianity, with Jesus Christ, you would have resurrection, the body would be raised, so you don't need childbirth anymore. If you're a faithful Christian you'll live forever anyway, so you don't need to replenish the population by having more babies. All the people who are Christians, who come into Christ, will be resurrected and will live forever, so there's no need for more and more population.

The reason that these texts, and this is not the only one, this is just one place where it's very clear, because whenever Paul talks about sex he also talks about death. He talks about corruption and he talks about resurrection. So this text very clearly pulls all of these issues into one another. The basic sensibility of this gospel that we moderns don't have, and you have to imagine yourself back into their world, is the radical availability of death and the linkage of death with sex in ancient minds, and then also the linkage of all these other things with sexuality and death and corruption. Christianity said, stop the cycle at sex and you get rid of death, radical as that may sound to us.

The problem of course is, in this text, the people who find that message very compelling are young women, a lot of wives, although not all of them, and even young men. Also, people who find that message compelling happen to be lionesses. The female animals also like this message, right? Who are the ones who gang up on the bad male animals who are trying to attack Thecla in the arena? The female lion. The text is set up as an opposition. Now notice, I said young men are also included in the good side of this sometimes. What is the opposition to Paul's gospel? It's not men versus women, right? What is the opposition? It's male heads of households against everybody else who would be members of their household. The people who opposed Paul the most in this text are male heads of households, precisely because they recognize that challenging the centrality of sex and childbirth will in itself challenge their households. In their system, you have to have sex and childbirth in order to maintain the household structure. They're the ones who are against Paul, so Paul appeals mostly to women and young people. I already think--I read part of that in paragraph 7, "The women and the virgins are going to hear him." In paragraph 9 it talks about women and young people going to him and are talking to him, so that's who it. Then in 12, I read this passage in paragraph 12, "He deprives young men of wives and maidens of husbands," so he's depriving the men who want to continue the household structure and that's why they're opposed to him.

Notice paragraph 26 and 27: this guy sees Thecla in a different place, Alexander sees Thecla, and he falls in love with her. As is typical in these kinds of texts, there's always a beautiful woman, no man can resist her. He says he wants to marry her:

"I did not wish to marry Thamyris, I've been cast out of the city . . . Taking hold of Alexander [so here she takes hold of this Alexander] she ripped his cloak, took off the crown from his head and made him a laughing stock. But he, partly out of love for her and partly in shame at what had befallen him, brought her before the governor. And when she confessed that she had done these things he condemned her to the beasts. But the women were panic stricken and cried out before the judgment seat, "An evil judgment! A godless judgment!" But Thecla asked the governor that she might remain pure until she was to fight with the beast. [In other words she says; just don't make me have sex. I'll be glad to go into the arena and fight with the beast, just don't make me have sex.] A rich woman named Tryphaena, whose wife [correction: husband] had died, took her under her protection and found comfort. When the beasts were led in procession they bound her to a fierce lioness, and the Queen Tryphaena followed her. And as Thecla sat upon her back, the lioness licked her feet, and all the crowed was amazed."

You have this situation where--what's the problem with Alexander? He's shamed. So in this honor/shame system of the ancient world, this is also an important point: male heads of household occupy the position of honor. By tearing his clothes, by knocking his crown off, she shames him in public, and this of course totally disrupts this hierarchy of the man over the woman, and that's part of what's going on here. Women who refuse their role as child bearers, as sex objects, shame the men who put them in that role. And so that's what the conflict is about, shaming men and rebelling against the household structure. Then of course there's the solidarity of women with everybody else.

Notice in this, Paul himself is rather ambiguously placed. He's a man. What is Paul's role in all of this? I think it's interesting that Paul doesn't come across in this text, at least in my reading, as being a totally positive character. It praises him, of course, and presents him as a man of God. But notice some of the things that Paul does. Paul refuses to baptize her. Remember, she has to baptize herself. This is that wonderful scene where she's being martyred--they're trying to martyr her again, and they strip her naked, and then they have this big vat of killer man-eating seals--yes that's what it says. You probably didn't even know there were man-eating seals, but there were in the ancient Mediterranean world. Instead of waiting to be thrown into the vat of man eating seals, a lightning bolt comes out of the sky, strikes the water, all the man-eating seals die, so God saves her. And then, though, not to let the scene finish she--she's all right, there's water, she's asked Paul to baptize her once and he wouldn't do it, so she throws herself into the water and baptizes herself. This is a woman! You're not supposed to let women go around baptizing themselves! That could just disrupt all kinds of stuff. Paul, at one point, says he doesn't even know her in one place. He refuses to baptize her. And Paul gets in trouble. He runs off and hides in caves and stuff.

Who's the big hero of this story? It's not Paul. He's one of the heroes but it's really Thecla. It's this woman who totally refuses to accept her role as a baby factory. And that's what women are in the ancient world, baby factories. She totally refuses to accept that role. She baptizes herself when Paul hesitates to baptize her. And then of course at the very end of the document, remember how it ends? She goes to Paul and she says she wants to be a follower of his, and he kind of--again he kind of just says, no go leave me alone. Paul is not all that great with her. What does she do? First she inherits a bunch of money; another rich woman left her a ton of money, so she's able to support herself and her mother. I guess she and her mother, by the end of the thing, are now on good terms. I mean if you survive lightening and man-eating seals, and God saves you, maybe your mother will like you better and let you not get married. She supports herself financially through an inheritance that she gets from another woman, and then what does she do? She cuts her hair short, she dresses like a man, she actually becomes an Apostle. She goes off to spread the message of this ascetic, sex avoiding, anti-family, anti-household gospel that she got from Paul. Thecla becomes her own Apostle spreading the message.

Notice what kind of gospel she's going around teaching. This is not pro-family, this is not patriotic, this is not nationalism. This is putting all your eggs in the basket of the kingdom of God. That's the only thing worth living for, is the kingdom of God. How do you get into the kingdom of God? By avoiding sex and avoiding the household, that's how you get in and enjoy--and remain. How do you avoid death? By being resurrected. This message is a very erotic message, in a sense. It's not getting sexual eroticism or sexual desire and throwing it all out the window. It's actually using eroticism and the appeal to beauty, and the appeal of sexual desire, and it's capitalizing on it. The author is trying to get you, as a young person who's afraid about death, to convert to a message of the gospel that will liberate you from the cycle of corruption and death, that you will get into if you agree to go along with sex, birth, death, decay, and that's what you do if you choose the household. It's a radical document.

Now the question is, is this a feminist document? It's a good question. Its raises Thecla up even above Paul, and it gives a message of liberation to women, at least from whatever it is that keeps them down at the time, which is the patriarchal household. It gives them a way out of that. This is one of the reasons that there are a lot of women in the ancient world who became nuns, who wanted to avoid the household, and you had women running away from their husbands all the time. Church leaders talk about it. Why? Because that was--you had to get out of the household if you wanted to have any kind of independence or liberty. If you wanted to have any kind of exercise of power you had to get out of the male dominated household. So Christianity, the whole strain of Christianity appealed to precisely those kinds of people, and the author is trying to get you as a young person to make that choice also. Now the big question is do you think it's feminist? Is this feminism or is there something wrong with thinking about it as feminism? If you're writing a paper this week maybe you can talk about that.

Another big question is, do you think this author is actually attacking the Pastoral Epistles? Are the Pastoral Epistles attacking this author? They are presenting two diametrically opposed versions of Paul. They both claim Paul as their author. They both claim to be representing Paul's gospel, Paul's message. But one of them is very pro-household, and marriage, and sex, and childbirth; and the other is anti-marriage, anti-household, anti-childbirth, and anti-sex. They both claim Paul as the author of their gospel. Do they know each other? That's the interesting historical question. Or is it just by accident that we have these two very radically different appropriations of Paul? All of those questions I hope you'll talk about in your discussion groups later this week, and if you're writing papers, push yourself to answer some big questions in your papers. Any questions? Yes.

Student: Is it possible or conceivable that a woman would have written it?

Professor Dale Martin: Is it possible or conceivable that a woman would have written it? It's completely possible. We don't know who the author was. Wait, is this the one that--what's the one that Tertullian says up--okay he knew--we actually know that it was written by a priest, right?

Student: Yes.

Professor Dale Martin: This one wasn't written by a woman, but for some of the text in the ancient world they could be written by--

Student: Not everyone believes Tertullian.

Professor Dale Martin: What?

Student: Not everyone believes Tertullian.

Professor Dale Martin: Not everyone believes Tertullian.

Student: [Inaudible]

Professor Dale Martin: Okay Tertullian--some people say Tertullian was wrong. Tertullian is a church father who wrote around the year 200 in Latin. He knows the story, and he condemns it partly because he doesn't want Thecla baptizing herself. She's too big for her britches in Tertullian's view. Tertullian says that they know who wrote it and it was a man but the Teaching Fellow says that other people dispute that. Okay, see you next week.

[end of transcript]

Lecture 21
Interpreting Scripture: Hebrews
Play Video
Interpreting Scripture: Hebrews

There are many ways of interpreting the text, and ancient methods of interpretation may seem bizarre to our modern sensibilities. The New Testament offers us many examples of how an early Christian might interpret the text of the Hebrew Bible, which was their scripture. The Letter to the Hebrews, which is not really a letter but a speech of encouragement, structures its argument around the thesis that Jesus' liturgy and priesthood is superior to that in the Hebrew Bible. The author of Hebrews proves this through several interesting interpretations of passages from the Hebrew Bible.

Reading assignment:

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, pp. 416-434

Bible: Letter to the Hebrews


April 6, 2009

Professor Dale Martin: We last week talked about the issue of women and early Christianity, and I obviously didn't address all the different texts in early Christianity that are relevant for your discussion last week on women. We concentrated on the Pastoral Epistles, I and II Timothy and Titus, as representing one kind of early Christian way of handling women in their early communities. Then we talked about the Acts of Paul and Thecla as a very different kind of way to do that. We're going to shift gears for this week. This week will also have something of a theme about it, and the theme this week is the interpretation of scripture. How do you interpret texts? I'm going to change gears from what could be the basic method I've been using in the class all along, which is the historical critical method, which I've talked about sometimes and explained what that is. We're going to talk about, is that the only way for Christians to interpret scripture?

Today I get into that by talking about the letter to the Hebrews as one very good example, from the first period of Christianity, of the interpretation of scripture themselves. This is how Christians themselves interpreted their scripture in the ancient world. This will be a lecture on Hebrews to kind of talk about the content of the letter of the Hebrews, but the main--it's also used to shift our gears away from a purely historical critical analysis of scripture and show how ancient people did it themselves. Then next class period, on Wednesday, we'll talk about medieval exegesis, late ancient and medieval exegesis--interpretations of the Bible. Now I got the feeling last week, when I was lecturing about the Acts of Paul and Thecla, that there were quite a few of you in attendance who perhaps had not printed out and actually read the Acts of Paul and Thecla. I had a few blank faces and blank eyes when I was bringing up things from that text. I know it's going to take work for you actually to download the reading for Wednesday, because it's not in your Bible. Download it--I would actually prefer if you don't carry your computer around and can read the text because I want you to look at the text as we're talking about it on Wednesday, just like I want you to look at Hebrews today.

Print it out if you need to and bring it to class because I will be talking about that, and your reading for Wednesday is not part of the Bible. It's from a very, very, very important book, one chapter, which you probably should all rush right out and buy. It's so brilliant and so wonderfully written. I published the book last summer, it's called, Pedagogy of the Bible, and I'll set that in a little bit of context. What that is, is I actually went around and studied ten different seminaries and divinity schools around the country, all Protestant seminaries, but very different. Some of them were very conservative, with conservative denominations in churches; some were very liberal and progressive. What I did was I interviewed both professors and students, about fifty professors and about fifty students, most of whom were planning to be ordained into the ministry of some sort. Most of these students are people who are studying theology and scripture precisely because they will end up preaching about this and working in churches for most of their cases. I asked them, how are you taught to study the Bible? I reported that material back in the first chapter of that book, Pedagogy of the Bible. I basically have said, here is what I've found, and the main thing I found was that, almost all these people, although they were really being taught--they were supposed to be taught how to read this text as a theological document for modern Christians. They actually are pretty much only being taught historical criticism, what the text meant in the ancient world, just like I am teaching you in this class.

Now I think that this makes perfect for me to use the historical critical method to teach you because this is a secular environment. I don't assume that you're Christian, I don't assume that you're religious at all, I don't assume that you're coming into this class with the interest of studying the New Testament as a document for your faith. For some of you that's clearly the case, but that's not the structure of this course, as I explained from the very beginning of the semester. I use the historical method as the way to introduce you to this material simply because it's an easy way to introduce modern students to a historical document as we approach it that way. I've also said several times in the class, that's not the only way to read these texts. What we're going to talk about this week is, what are other ways to read these texts? That's what I did in that book. Then in the second chapter of that book was introducing theories of interpretation, some of which I'll do today, textual theory and interpretation theory. The third chapter of the book was pre-modern interpretation of scripture, which is the chapter that I'm asking you to read. That's where I take certain key figures among the church fathers, such as Origen, Augustine, the Venerable Bede in England, Bernard of Clairvaux in the Middle Ages, and Thomas Aquinas. I show how those people read the Bible before the invention of the modern method of historical criticism. I don't just do that because I think it's interesting. I'm putting it in that book because I'm trying to advocate in that book how schools should change their curriculum, how Christian theological schools should change their curriculum so that it will better teach people who are going to be ministers how to interpret scripture theologically and not just historically. The third chapter is pre-modern stuff.

The fourth chapter of that book, which you won't read, unless you rush right out and order it from and read it on your own time, is on theological interpretation. What does it mean to talk about a theological interpretation of text that's not the same as a historical interpretation? I explained that, I give examples of it, and then in the last chapter of the book, the fifth chapter, I lay out what I would propose as a new curriculum for theological education and what the role of scripture should be in that. I talk about that precisely because I want you to know that when you're reading that chapter for Wednesday, and I do want you to read it ahead of time, I'm not going to cover everything of that chapter, so please read it ahead of time before you come to class on Wednesday. I'll use examples from it. You'll realize that that's part of a bigger project that I had, which was to address the difference between historical interpretation and theological interpretation. That's one of the things that I'm going to talk about today is some of the stuff also that you would have gotten in chapter 2 of that book had I assigned it.

What does the text mean? How do you ascertain what a text means? We talked about this a bit already in the course but we're going to concentrate on it today. When there are different and even contradictory interpretations of a text, whether it's the Bible, the Constitution of the United States, state laws, a contract in business, when we have disputes about the interpretation of the text, how do you settle those disputes? Two honest people, both of good will, both basically intelligent, read the same text, and think it means something different. How do you adjudicate disputes about a text's meaning? Where does a text's meaning lie? Is it with what the author intended the text to mean? Is it in somehow the literal words, how they would be read by an educated, intelligent, native speaker? Are texts allowed to have multiple meanings? What kinds of text are interpreted in what manners? All of these things fall under the philosophical field of hermeneutics or hermeneutical theory, which is just a fancy word meaning "interpretation theory," and especially the term "hermeneutics" in theological education means the interpretation of the Bible and how that should be done.

I talked about, one time previously, adoptionist Christology. Remember this? I said there were obviously some early Christians who believed not that Jesus had always been divine but that at some point in his life he was adopted by God, either at his birth, or at his baptism, or his resurrection. In fact I cited Luke 3:22, where, according to Luke's version of the baptism of Jesus, a voice comes from heaven, and at least in some of the manuscript says, "Today I have begotten you." Remember that? Of course that is a quotation from Psalm 22. But the person quoting it is implying that Jesus was adopted by God, or begotten by God at his baptism, not at his birth or before. Now if you disagreed with that interpretation, and if you're a good orthodox Christian you should disagree with that interpretation because that's not now Christian orthodoxy. Orthodoxy in the way we think of it now, it didn't exist of course in the first century in a fully defined way. It took a few centuries to develop. At that this time if you're an orthodox Christian you're not supposed to believe that Jesus was simply adopted by God at his baptism. If someone came to you with that reading of that text in the Gospel of Luke arguing for an adoptionist Christology, how would you argue against that interpretation? You might have argued, for example, by saying, let's look at how this story is told in say the Gospel of Mark or in other places, where that "today I have begotten you" is not found. You say, well we're supposed to use Mark in order to interpret Luke, but the other interpreter could just come back and say, well Mark didn't include it but that's not a denial of it. Luke obviously included it for some other reason.

You could also say, well that's probably not what Luke meant, what the author of Luke meant to say, because Luke seems to have other passages in Luke and Acts where it seems he's accepting that Jesus was divine in some sense before his baptism, maybe even at his birth, because the angels announce it, and there's the worship of Jesus that happens then. You might say, well we have to look at other parts of Luke in order to interpret this verse and not just take this verse. They could just come right back and say, well, who says? I mean this is the clearest key in Luke of when precisely Jesus actually becomes the Son of God. It's not contradicted by anything else in Luke, so you should take this verse much more heavily than what you're willing to take it.

One of the ways, I don't know if I mentioned this before is--did I talk about how some ancient Christians pointed out that the dove descends upon Jesus at his baptism in these texts, right? The Greek word for "dove" is peristera; did I talk about this already? I can't remember what I talked about in my different lectures on this and what I don't. The Greek word for "dove," and that's in the text when the dove comes down on Jesus' baptism. Some of these Christian exegetes said, well if you took all the Greek letters here--you know how Greek letters are just like Hebrew letters have numerical value--if you give each of these letters its numerical value and you add them all up, it equals 801, that's proof. It's right there in the text, 801. You don't know what 801 is? You don't know your numerology very well? What if I told you that 801 also is the addition of alpha, because it's obviously one, and what do you think 800 would be? You want to make a guess? Omega. Alpha plus omega is 801. And what do we know about alpha plus omega? That's the nature of God, that's the numerical value of God and Christ at the end of the book of Revelation. They went to Revelation, the last part of Revelation, where God at one point says it and Jesus says it, "I am the alpha and the omega," alpha/omega equals 801. Peristera added together equals 801, that proves that the fullness of God, the alpha and the omega, came upon Jesus in the form of this dove at his baptism; numerical, textual proof of their Christology. It's right there in the text. You could say, but that's not what the text says, but they could just say, of course it says it, it's right there, add up the numbers, you idiot.

You see how we would not accept that interpretation of this text, right? Because we don't practice that kind of textual interpretation most of the time. That just sounds too foreign to us. We just say that's not what the text means; you're just playing with the text. You're getting these numbers and you could make numbers mean all kinds of things. Do you know there are actually a good many people in the modern world, Christians in the modern world, who still do this sort of thing? You can buy a book called Theomatics that adds up all the letters of the Bible in different ways and shows you how different things in the Bible numerically refer to other kinds of prophecy events and all this sort of thing. There are actually religious people now who still practice this form of interpretation. How would you argue against that form of interpretation, if you just want to say that's not what the text says? There's nothing you could do that would basically prove to a person who believes that, that that's not what the text says. You can't just go to Mark and say, but look let me read it to you, that's not what it says, and they could just say, no you read it of course that's what it says. You just read it; the numbers were there when you read them. There's no way just appealing to a text itself can settle disputes about the meaning of a text unless you and the other person doing the arguing share the basic presuppositions about what counts as a good interpretation and what doesn't count as a good interpretation. You have to share assumptions about method of interpretation before you can even come to an agreement about the meaning of the text. What that proves is that the text can't control its own meaning. The meaning of the text is not contained there in the text simply to be passively seen by someone. You have to interpret it, and you have to learn the methods of interpretation that are appropriate in your society for a particular text. So the fact, though, is the way ancient people interpret a text, as this example shows, is not the way I have been teaching you in this class to interpret texts.

What we want to do is put our imaginations back, what counted for early Christians as a good interpretation of the text, and see what methods they used, and stretch our imaginations a bit more. It's not hard to do because the New Testament writers themselves are repeatedly interpreting scripture for themselves. Now remember, the New Testament writers aren't interpreting the New Testament as scripture because they are writing the New Testament. The New Testament didn't exist yet as scripture. When we read a Gospel writer who has Jesus interpreting scripture, the scripture he's interpreting is what Christians would call the Old Testament, or what Jews would call the Hebrew Bible. For them it was just scripture, Jewish scripture, that was all the scripture that existed for the earliest Christians was Jewish scripture. When they're interpreting what we today might call the Old Testament, they're not interpreting the New Testament, but this is great because we have New Testament writers who now occupy the scripture for Christians interpreting other scripture that was scripture for them, so we can see how they did it.

Look, for example, at Psalm--well, I've already done that I'm not going to do that. Psalm 22, if you want to look at that at some point, is the Psalm that talks about Jesus--see I did it myself. It's not talking about Jesus; Psalm 22 in its historical context is talking about King David or some heroic figure who's suffering, a righteous man who suffers. It talks about someone's hands and feet being pierced, it talks about them dividing his garments and casting lots for his clothes, it talks about drinking vinegar and gall mixed together, or wine, and it sounds like someone being crucified. And sure enough early Christians interpreted that Psalm as a prophetic Psalm about the crucifixion of Jesus. In fact, when you see the crucifixion of Jesus, the different things that happen in the Gospel accounts for the crucifixion of Jesus are echoing the things in that Psalm because the later writers said, well Psalm 22 must be talking about Jesus' crucifixion, so we'll add details to the account to make it fit Psalm 22. In that case what you already got is Christian writers, followers of Jesus, very quickly interpreting the text, their holy text, to be not about the historical Jewish king that the text originally referred to, or that we as historical critics would say. Historical critics would say, no Psalm 22 was not about Jesus; it's about some king in the ancient near eastern situation, centuries before Jesus. That's not the way the early Christians did it. They said, no, it's got to be about Jesus, so they're already doing something that modern historical critics would then reject. It my lecture next time on medieval exegesis, I'm actually going to walk you through some of the basic presuppositions of modern historical critical method that you've been learning in this class, and I'm going to make it explicit what you've already been learning so you'll have the method clear in your head. I'm also going to talk about how did this method arise in the modern world and why did it arise in the modern world, so we'll talk about that a little bit later.

Let's just look at how New Testament writers then interpret text. Look at Mark 10, this is when some Pharisees come and they question Jesus about divorce. Is it okay, in his teaching, for a man to divorce his wife? Now of course, notice it's already put in a patriarchal context because it's not about how a wife can divorce her husband, or how both of them can divorce one another. We're already in a patriarchal context because the question is phrased as, is it alright for a man to divorce his wife? Look at 10:3, "He answered them, "'What did Moses command you?'" Ah, that's a good thing. Let's just look at scripture. Scripture will probably tell us whether divorce is allowed by God. "They said, 'Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.'" Jesus says, well there's your answer. No that's not what Jesus says, right? "Jesus said to them, 'Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you, but from the beginning of creation God made them male and female.'" Well that sounds like a quotation, where is that a quotation from? I can't hear you.

Students: Genesis.

Professor Dale Martin: Thank you. I'm not asking these questions to hear myself talk. I know they're rhetorical questions but just answer them anyway, okay? That's one quotation from Genesis, but then the next one--"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother be joined to his wife." That's also from--say it.

Students: Genesis.

Professor Dale Martin: Genesis, but are these two quotations from the same part of Genesis? No, they're from two separate chapters. Notice what's going on here, Jesus first says, what did Moses write?, which seems to show he's saying, okay we'll just go to scripture and scripture will tell us and that'll give us--read scripture like a rulebook and it'll tell us whether divorce is allowed. Then they quote back what is exactly the proper scripture. They're quoting Deuteronomy 24, the twenty-fourth chapter of Deuteronomy, in the law of Moses, it says, if a man wants to divorce his wife that's fine, but what it says, he has to give her a written certificate of divorce, send her away, she's free to remarry somebody else. But if she's divorced from the second husband she can't go back and be joined again to the first husband. In other words, the law is, you can divorce your wife, but once you've divorced her, and she ends up with another guy, you can't take her back again. That was the ruling in the Law of Moses. They cite a text that's actually about divorce. Jesus doesn't accept that text, and his interpretation sets aside that law--that rule by saying, oh well that was a concession that Moses did for your hardness of heart, that really wasn't God's will. God's will on this is seen in a different text, and I'll quote you that text.

But where in Genesis 1 and 2 is divorce ever mentioned? Nowhere. The Genesis passage that Jesus quotes here is not about divorce, it's about marriage. Genesis doesn't forbid divorce explicitly, it just says, men and women will get together and get married. God made them male and female, man will leave his parents and come to his wife. There's nothing in Genesis--Jesus is basically breaking one of the major rules of textual interpretation of hermeneutical theory that's not only around in the modern world, but also was around even the ancient world, which is: interpret the obscure by reference to the clear. In other words, if you have a text that you're not clear about the interpretation of it, it's okay in ancient interpretation theory to go to another text that might shed light on that cloudy text. If you've got a text that's clear, don't go looking for a more obscure text and try to illuminate the clear text with the obscure text. That of course is against common sense, right? But that's exactly what Jesus is doing here. He feels that he has the liberty to basically set aside a clear teaching that permits divorce, and he goes and looks for two other texts that don't say anything about divorce, and he uses them to express God's will. Of course what he has to do is add to the text. He basically has to add to the Genesis text that not only is this a teaching about marriage, but therefore, it is implicitly therefore a teaching against divorce, whereas, you and I might read that Genesis text and not see anything about divorce in it at all. What this shows is Jesus himself is presented as interpreting scripture in ways that would be completely unacceptable in a modern context to most scholars of the Bible who are going to say, no, you're breaking several rules about interpretation.

There's all kinds of things on this. Remember when we talked about Galatians? I read you Paul's interpretation of the Hagar and Sarah story from Genesis. Remember how the story goes? Abraham's married to Sarah, but she's not having any children, she's barren. At least that's--in the ancient world it was always the women--woman's fault, it was the woman who was barren, never the man in common ways of thinking. Of course we know differently than that now, but they always present it as, Sarah was barren. Abraham has a child with Hagar, Sarah's slave. Then Paul, instead of taking Sarah as representing Judaism, the Torah, Moses, the law, and Jerusalem, he makes Hagar represent the law, the current Jewish people, and Jerusalem, Jerusalem of the Jews. Paul also seems perfectly free to turn this text of Genesis, which seems like simply a historical talk about how did Abraham start having his descendants, one through his wife and one through his slave, and he flips that around into being an allegory about Gentiles and Jews and how non-Jews would be taken into Israel and at least some of Israel would be rejected by God and the law would be put aside. Paul also interprets scripture in ways that seem to us not only very free but actually rather bizarre in some ways, if you're not used to seeing this in the ancient world.

Let's look at Hebrews now because what Hebrews is, is one long extended sermon that is also an interpretation of Jewish scripture. What's really odd is that Hebrews is a text that uses interpretation of Jewish scripture to argue against the superiority of Jewish worship and tradition. First thing, what is Hebrews and what is it not? I said from the very beginning of the semester, it was called the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle to the Jews, and I said it's not really either. It's not a letter. In fact, it even tells you in chapter 13 that it's a sermon of admonition; it says a speech of encouragement, he says in 13:22. It's not a letter really, it has a letter closing added to it a bit, but it's not really a letter, it's a sermon, and it even looks like it quite possibly could have been written to be spoken out loud as a sermon.

It's also not by Paul. Now it doesn't claim to be by Paul, but some Christians throughout the centuries have assumed that it was by Paul, and that's why it's included in the Canon after Paul's letters. Notice how Hebrews is a long document and we've noticed that the order of canonicity in Paul's letters in the New Testament is by length of book. They didn't follow a chronological order; they put Romans first because it's the longest and then the letters of Paul come in the Canon, more or less with some exceptions, by length. You get to Philemon as the last of the thirteen letters of Paul, and it's of course very short, one little page. Then you have Hebrews, which is a big book, so what's clearly going on is that it sort of got connected up to the letters of Paul in antiquity even though it doesn't claim to be by Paul, and some people in antiquity thought it was Paul. In fact some people believed that's how it got into the Canon because it was kind of a controversial letter in the ancient world so some people didn't want it in the Canon. Some people think it got into the Canon precisely because some people claimed, oh well it's really by Paul after all. Who is--who wrote it though if Paul didn't? There have been guesses all over the place. Some people say Luke wrote it because it looks like a very--it looks very good Greek. For example, there's some books in the New Testament that are really lousy Greek. The book of Revelation is lousy Greek. Yes sir.

Student: Do you mean the author of the [inaudible]?

Professor Dale Martin: Well, sometimes people say it was Luke, the physician, who also was the author of Luke and Acts, and then also of Hebrews. Some people say it was whoever wrote Luke, although we don't know who that was, so the people have proposed different theories. Since the Epistle to the Hebrews does look like it has some influence from Pauline type theology, which has led some people to say, since Luke was a traveling companion of Paul, even if the Gospel of Luke was not by Luke maybe Luke who was more educated, he's called a physician in Acts, maybe he was the one who wrote it. So there have been lots of theories. Some people have said Apollos, because remember Apollos is called in Acts someone who really has a good gift of speech. He's a great rhetorician. Apollos is depicted in Acts as a great rhetorician. Well this is good rhetoric, so somebody could say maybe this is by Apollos and just doesn't have his name. Some people said maybe it's by Barnabas. Remember it says it calls itself a speech of encouragement, and we're told in Acts that Barnabas' name was given to him because it means a "son of encouragement," so some people say maybe Barnabas wrote this. And then some people, it was asked last week whether a woman may have written the Acts of Paul and Thecla and I said, probably not since there is a second century author who says he knows who wrote it. That's disputed. Some people have said Prisca may be the author of this letter, so maybe a woman was actually written--maybe a woman has actually written one piece of our New Testament after all. The problem with all these suggestions is that they're absolute guesses. We have no evidence at all neither from the letter itself, nor from the ancient world. In fact, the smartest exegete in the ancient world was a church father named Origen and he gave some different guesses about who may have written it and then at the end he said, God knows, God knows who the author of Hebrews is, and God's the only one apparently who knows who wrote Hebrews.

It is a word of encouragement though, it's a sermon, it uses Hellenistic Jewish style--speech styles and rhetoric and Hellenistic Jewish exegetical techniques. In fact, it's an example of a certain kind of Jewish Platonism or popular Platonism because it contrasts the real and the apparent, the eternal versus the temporal, the spiritual is superior for example to the physical and the shadow, so you've got the spiritual is contrasted with the shadow of things. All these are dualisms that come up in sort of popular Platonizing rhetoric of the time. Now so it's clearly--that doesn't mean it's written by a Jew. It could have been written by a Gentile who just happens to be very well educated in Jewish scripture and has picked up also this Jewish exegetical kind of technique, which is what he uses.

I should also say this exegetical technique I'm talking about was not special to the Jews. Greeks could read texts like this also. So there were all kinds of attempts to read Homer, for example, the Iliad or the Odyssey as allegories for physical science. The different gods represented air, or fire, or other elements of the universe. By the first century, when this speech was composed, this way of interpreting texts was already well known to educated people more broadly, not just Jews. But Jews used it also in reading scripture. In fact, the most famous was Philo of Alexandria, who lived a bit before the time of Paul. Well, he was around the same time but he probably died before Paul died. Philo has--we have lots and lots of text in which he interprets the Jewish scripture through these allegorical kinds of methods among other methods.

I've given you an outline to the letter of Hebrews. So look at that. And I want to walk you through it real quick because one of the things you can tell immediately about this text is that it's very carefully constructed. If you're just reading through in one sitting you might not catch all this, so I've made the outline and I'll talk you through it. First, there's the introduction and the thesis, the first two verses, let me get there first. I wish I knew a New Testament song so I would know exactly where to find Hebrews. "Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets." We know this is going to be about the message of God given through the Jewish prophets. "But in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son whom he appointed heir of all things through whom he also created the world." He's going to contrast what was said long ago through the prophets with what we followers of Jesus have learned through him. Already this contrast of things is--the thesis of the whole speech is the old and the new, and the superiority of the new over the old.

The next section, section two on your handout, the introduction to the superiority of Jesus. The first part is 1:3 through 2:18; he shows that Jesus is superior to the angels. "To what angel did God ever say you are my son?" He takes quotations from the Psalms that God is addressing to the Davidic King in the Psalms, he takes those as being references to Jesus and then he shows God never made these kinds of promises to angels, therefore Jesus is superior to angels. B, from 3:1 to 4:13, Jesus is superior to Moses, so he shows, through quoting scripture again, Jewish scripture, that God says things to Jesus that he doesn't say to Moses and to Joshua. Of course Joshua is just the one who inherited Moses' position so he's including it in this superiority of Jesus to both Moses and Joshua. And C, from 4:15 to 5:10, Jesus is superior to the old high priesthood, the Israelite high priesthood.

Then you've got, I put them in bold, a digression, a kind of excursus in the main outline, and these are very important because these are very skillful digressions that will foreshadow something that's going to come up later in the same sermon. This one he talks a bit about Melchizedek. And so this little section, after 5:10, is foreshadowing what we'll see in V down further in your handout; so the foreshadowing of Melchizedek. Then you have III which a digression of--that goes from 5:11 to 6:12, and there you get a longer digression, which is an invitation to higher doctrine. He says you need to stop being babies, you've been drinking milk, I'm going to give you some meat, so we're going to go onto higher things; so that's a digression which is an invitation. Then there's another foreshadowing, the mention of examples of faith at 6:12 foreshadows what will be in section VII below when he gives a long list of examples of faith in the Jewish scripture. Then IV, the introduction to the second half of the sermon, which is our assurances, "We can be assured as followers of Jesus that we have…" So 6:13 to 6:20 is the introduction to the second half of the sermon.

Then in section V, Jesus is compared to Melchizedek, I'll talk about that in a little bit more detail in a minute. First, (a) Melchizedek is superior to Abraham and the Levitical priesthood in 7:1-14, then in (b) Jesus is himself the new Melchizedek, 7:15-28. VI, the reality compared to the shadow. Now this is where you get this thing of the reality is always superior to the shadow and he makes Jesus and the liturgy, the service, the worship that Jesus introduces superior to the shadow that is the previous Jewish high priesthood and tabernacle liturgy. You have a comparison here between earthly and heavenly liturgies. Then section VII, this is called is paranesis, the Greek word just means "ethical instruction." I've introduced this word before when I was talking about James, so this is the paranetical section of the sermon, "Therefore," he says in chapter 10:19, "you should do this." You have (a) an introduction to these things, (b) do this in spite of sufferings, (c) several examples of faith in chapter 11. Chapter 11 is basically a list of examples of faith in the Jewish scripture; (d) encouragement chapter, chapter 12, then practical detailed paranesis in chapter 13. Then finally a call to leave the camp, chapter 13:8-16, which I'll come back to in a minute, and then in closing admonition and benediction.

Now notice what you've got. This is a very well structured, well outlined speech, and it even has hints of what's going to come later, so you have foreshadows of things and you have reminders of things that are have come about. The basic point of the letter then is this superiority of Jesus' leitourgia, this is from the Greek word--this is where we get the English word "liturgy." In modern English it refers to worship services, so the liturgy of a worship service is what you do. Do you cross yourself? Do you bow? Do you kneel? What prayers do you say? What does your prayer book say and that sort of thing? Those are all liturgy in English, but it comes from the Greek work which had a much broader reference. It meant any kind of service. For example, when a rich man gave a bunch of money to a town and they had a big sacrifice, and a parade, and a festival, that was called a liturgy, a leitourgia. It was a service to the gods, but it was also a service to the town. So this comes to mean a broader sense of service and worship and all that sort of thing, and that's the Greek word that's here translated as service. In fact, the word leitourgos, the same word but with o-s on the end of it, means "a servant" and that's what he calls angels in Hebrews 1:7 and 1:14. So angels are called servants; they're using the same word.

In most of Hebrews, therefore, I said, is a comparison between two liturgies, two leitourgiai. One is between that of Moses and the Tabernacle, as we see in the Hebrew Bible and the other is that of Jesus introduced by his priesthood. In fact what we have--we have another Greek word. So you get all this good Greek you can use at cocktail parties and impress your friends and get new jobs. You know that the Wall Street banks will be really impressed that you know some Greek words, right? The Greek word for comparison is synkrisis--do we have an English word? We don't have an English word that comes from that, do we? Synchretic is not--is different then synkrisis. So it comes from the Greek word for "judgment," krisis, and we get "crisis" from it, which means a "judgment" or some critical thing happening, and the Greek word for "with." When you judge something with something else that's a comparison, so synkrisis is a rhetorical term used by ancient education to describe precisely this kind of speech: a comparison of one thing to another. If you were a high school boy, you would have learned rhetorical styles, you would have practiced at how to give a synkrisis speech, a speech of comparison. Sort of like in high school you were taught to do a compare and contrast essay, right? You're taught a form, that's what Hebrews is, is a speech in the synkrisis form and these two things.

Now notice though what the means of demonstration is. Look at Hebrews 8:7, he's going to prove to you, the hearers--of course you're not going to need a whole lot of proof because you're already in this Christian community. You wouldn't be listening to this sermon if you weren't already a believer. He's trying to convince you, though, that what you've got in Jesus is superior to anything that the Jews could give you when it comes to this liturgy, leitourgia. Hebrews 8:7, he says, how do you know it's superior? "For if that first covenant had been flawless there would have been no need to look for a second one." That's very interesting. Basically he's saying, because Christianity exists, that proves it's superior to Judaism, because otherwise, God wouldn't have brought it about. So the very existence of the second liturgy, he says, the second service, that is the service--the priesthood initiated by Christ, the very existence is used to prove, for this writer, that it's superior to what it supplanted.

The main way he proves this point is proofs from scripture, and so we're going to look at a few more of that. All the way through here he's quoting texts that are from the Hebrew Bible. He's actually is quoting them from the Greek Bible, he probably doesn't read Hebrew; he's quoting them from Greek translations of Hebrew scripture. Most of them don't talk about the Temple. You might be reading like when he talks about the high priesthood and the way these structures were--he even talks about the building. He's not talking about the Temple in Jerusalem. He's talking about the tabernacle, the big tent that is described in Exodus, because that's what the people of Israel are using when they're going through the desert before they enter the promised land. They've constructed it according to Mosaic instructions, given to Moses by God, exactly how this big tent will look, what materials it will have, what decorations it will have, its structure in different compartments. And that's where they believed God, Yahweh, was living in the camp with them as they wandered through the desert. This writer reads the descriptions of the tabernacle given in Exodus, and he reads the descriptions of the priesthood, what they're supposed to wear, what they're supposed to do; sacrifices. He says, the real meaning of all that stuff is not at all the ancient Israelites wandering around in the desert; it's talking about us as the new house of God, as the new tabernacle of God. It's talking about Christ's priesthood as the new priesthood. So everything in Exodus he just reads through the lens of Christ himself. Christ becomes this lens that all of ancient scripture then can be read through.

What God says to somebody--now notice the author of scripture is not, in Hebrews, Moses necessarily, although he would believe Moses did write it. He takes the main author of scripture to be God or the Holy Spirit. Well it can even refer to Christ in 11:26, Christ can be the speaker in scripture. God, or the Holy Spirit, or Christ, are the actual authors of this text, even though it had human authors. This is one way where he's already showing a very different world from our modern world. He's not too concerned about what the human author thought or what the human author intended. He believes that God is the author of this text, and so you can figure out God's mind from reading the text itself. God is the author of the text, the centrality of Christ as key for scriptural interpretation. And it's from the very beginning. He said it in the beginning--remember in the thesis, we've learned this now through the Son, not through the prophets--not just through the prophets.

Let's look at one particular passage, and we'll talk about this briefly and then I'm going to stop, and if I need to come back to this at the beginning of next lecture I will because there's a few other things I want to cover. Look at chapter seven; this is where he talks about this Melchizedek figure.

This King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him. And to him Abraham apportioned one-tenth of everything.

The basic story is referring back to a Genesis account. Abraham has gone off to liberate some of his kinsmen who have been kidnapped for ransom. Abraham raises a little army of his own. He goes off, he defeats these united kings, and he gets his kinsmen, he gets his slaves, he liberates everybody, gets the booty, the plunder of the war, and he's traveling back home. And he comes to this placed called Salem, which just happens to be Jerusalem. Of course Salem means "peace," shalom, but this writer is taking it that Melchizedek is the King of Salem and connecting it to Jerusalem. The story is, Abraham then gives a tithe, a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek as an offering. In other words, Abraham is recognizing Melchizedek as being a priest of Yahweh. And so he gives a tithe for the war.

To him Abraham apportioned one-tenth of everything. His name, in the first place, means "king of righteousness."

Melech means King in Hebrew, zedek means righteousness. Now as I said he's using Greek but he must have some kind of word key. He knows enough Hebrew that he knows how to interpret this Hebrew word "Melchizedek" to mean "king of righteousness." He's taking the name as having a hidden meaning. Next he's called the King of Salem. Well shalom means peace, so that means he's also the king of peace. He takes this, again, "without father, without mother, without geneaology, having neither beginning of days nor end of life," why does he say that? Well Melchizedek comes up in the text of Genesis without us knowing anything else about him. You know how in Genesis and the other parts of the Hebrew Bible it'll say, so and so begat so and so begat so and so, it tells you everybody's lineage. It tells you who is everybody's father, even their names, son of so and so is a reference their father and their ancestors. He noticed Melchizedek just comes out of the text out of nowhere, and so he takes that as a sign that Melchizedek actually had no father or mother. He sprang out autochthonous, just all on his own. He has no descendants because they're mentioned in the text. Well who else is the king of righteousness, who else is the king of peace, who else does not have a human father and a human father in any normal way? Who else has no genealogy? Who else has no end of days or end of life? Well Jesus! So Melchizedek is simply a foreshadowing, he's a sign of Jesus.

See how great he is! Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils. And those descendants of Levi who received the priestly office had a commandment in the law to collect tithes from the people, that is from their kindred, though these descended from Abraham. But this man who does not belong to their ancestry [Melchizedek wasn't a Jew, he's