Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 13:32:53 -0400 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: a tale of two missions A TALE OF TWO MISSIONS AUTHOR: Goulder, M. D. UNIFORM TITLE: Tale of two missions TITLE: St. Paul versus St. Peter: a tale of two missions EDITION: 1st American ed. PUBLISHED: Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: xii, 196 p. ; 22 cm. This is a very well-researched, interesting, and provocative book. It is written for the general reader, in an easy to read, even somewhat chatty style, and has few footnotes. Goulder certainly has a view of his own on these matters. While there are some things there that I may tend to disagree with, still his main thesis has a lot to recommend itself. And his main thesis is that during a certain period of time there had been a great power struggle within the Church, and the two main factions battling for supremacy were those of Peter vs. Paul. It seems like the struggle was rather prolonged, for it continued well into the second century, and later. According to Goulder (p. 181ff), a good illustration, and perhaps the highpoint of this struggle can be found as late as in the late second century. This was the quartodeciman controversy that took place ca. 190 AD, and we know about it through the writings of Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea in the fourth century, who compiled, seemingly without too much concern for historical objectivity, his HISTORY OF THE CHURCH. Myself, I've always been interested in the quartodecimans, and so I was very interested to read Goulder's treatment of this subject. According to him, in 190 the outcome of the struggle was still up in the air, as quartodecimans were still very strong, and perhaps predominant, in the greater Church. The main struggle as Goulder sees it involved basically, on the one hand, the Jewish-Christian wing of the Church, headed originally by Peter and James (the spiritual fathers of the quartodecimans of the second c.), and based at its early high point of influence in Jerusalem before the destruction of the city in the war of 70 AD. And on the opposite side was the Pauline Gentile-oriented faction. So in effect Goulder, as he himself admits (p. 194), has reopened in broad outline the hypothesis proposed back in 1831 by Ferdinand Baur of Tubingen. Baur's original Two-Mission hypothesis was broadly accepted at the time, but there were some problems with it, as pointed out especially by W. Lutgert in 1908. Baur's thesis seemed to be undermined, and its acceptance diminished. Goulder claims to have dealt with Lutgert's objections: "I found answers to Lutgert's difficulties, and worked out many modifications to Baur's proposal during the 1980s." (p. 195) Here Goulder cites a number of his more academic publications on the subject. Myself, I have also explored this subject in some detail, and have posted about this on Crosstalk. See, for example, my review of another very useful recent work on the subject by Craig C. Hill available on my webpage. Craig C. Hill, HELLENISTS AND HEBREWS: REAPPRAISING DIVISIONS WITHIN THE EARLIEST CHURCH, 1992, Fortress. I don't think one can really deny that there was plenty of conflict between these two wings of the Church, although I may disagree with Goulder about some particulars. The letters of Paul contain good record of some of these early struggles, and Goulder examines this evidence at length in his book. Here's his basic summary, "The two missions were agreed about the supreme significance of Jesus, but they disagreed about almost everything else -- the validity of the Bible, whether the kingdom of God had arrived or not, sex, money, work, tongues, visions, healings, Jesus' divinity, and the resurrection of the dead, for example." (pp. ix-x) And Goulder deals with all of these matters in some detail. Here's how Goulder summarizes his task: "The book tries to tell the story of the early church, and the New Testament which it produced. It does not attempt the much more difficult task of isolating what Jesus taught. (p. xi) This is certainly a very realistic approach, and I find it very interesting that this approach for the most part parallels what Alfred Loisy was trying to do in his scholarship. It is my impression that Loisy was somewhat sceptical about our ability to reconstruct the _ipsissima verba_ of Jesus, and he was on the whole rather sceptical about the importance of the Q-source. (It seems like our rediscovery of the Gospel of Thomas may have helped to cast some significant new light on this subject, but this was after Loisy's time.) Indeed, all the early Christian literature that we have is the product of post-Easter developments. It is reasonable to suppose that it can provide us with some good evidence for these developments. So we can be reasonably optimistic, as historians, that this is within our reach: to reconstruct the earliest post-Easter history of the movement, and how the books of the NT were composed. This is, I believe, what Loisy has already done very competently, although his most important work is still being almost entirely neglected by scholarship at large. It is my opinion that only after the above task is accomplished should we try to go from this to trying to discern, however imperfectly, the pre-Easter developments. With his book Goulder contributed significantly to the task of understanding this earliest history of the Christian movement. Goulder is very good at outlining how the earliest Christian literature betrays the many echoes of this central "Peter vs. Paul" conflict that is the subject of his book. Goulder thinks Lk and Jn, the two later gospels, came from the same basic exegetical school, and are in league with each other theologically. He carefully points out how Jn betrays his clear anti-Petrine bias (pp. 21, 51). Goulder thinks that all the NT gospels with the exception of Mt (which is trying to "bridge the gap") are basically Pauline in inspiration and theology. The area in Goulder's book that was most interesting to me personally was the one dealing with the early Adoptionism. In his book Goulder describes this doctrine as Possessionism; the early belief, according to him, was that the Spirit of God "possessed" Jesus (or else "adopted" him) for the duration of his earthly career. Goulder considers that the Petrines, the Jerusalem based Jewish-Christians, later known to the Catholic Christians as "the Ebionites", were all Possessionists, but, according to him, Paul broke away from this (on this I have my doubts). RESURRECTION-ADOPTIONISM VS. BAPTISM-ADOPTIONISM I have described on Crosstalk previously the two types of Possessionism/Adoptionism that we come across in early Christian literature, the Resurrection-Adoptionism, and the Baptism-Adoptionism. It is my belief that Resurrection-Adoptionism was the earliest faith, but that this was supplanted from early on by the Baptism-Adoptionism. So this is one place where I tend to disagree with Goulder; by my lights, he generally disregards some important evidence indicating this very early evolutionary development. But otherwise, Goulder seems to be right on target in so far as he recognises that the more traditional early Jerusalem faith was basically Adoptionist in nature. "...it seems clear that, even where other views are later associated with Jewish Christians, a mainstream christology in their communities was the possessionist interpretation of Jesus." (p. 111) (In mainstream academic literature these sorts of views are normally described as "Docetist", but, on p. 117, Goulder notes, quite correctly, that this term is confusing and "encourages muddle", and that he prefers to use Possessionist instead.) >From the point of view of Christology, Goulder believes that the Possessionists' view was that Jesus was fully human, but was possessed by Christ, who was a sort of an angel, and I agree with him here. "The Jewish Christian (Ebionite) movement denied vigorously that _Christ Jesus was revealed in flesh_: they thought that Jesus was a man of flesh like us, and Christ possessed him." (p. 120) But the Paulines were the first, according to Goulder, to introduce, as a weapon in this polemic against the Adoptionists, the joint title, Christ-Jesus, to stress the unity of the spiritual and the fleshly aspects of Jesus. Ignatius of Antioch was one of the most influential Pauline fathers of the Church, and Goulder finds in his writings, as well as in the strongly Pauline Pastoral Epistles, plenty of such anti-Petrine polemic. "Jesus is referred to about 130 times in Ignatius, and of these 120 are in the form Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus. The Pastorals have Christ alone once only and the double name (in either order) 30 times. This at once suggests that both authors are facing the same threat, a christology which separates Christ from Jesus, and they are alike insisting on his unity by constantly combining the two names. There's no question that the opposition which the Pastoral are attacking are Jewish Christians..." (p. 118) Here's a nice summary: "The Petrines had Christ leave Jesus on the cross, and Jesus resurrected independently; ... But for the Paulines Christ Jesus was a single eternal being, on an equality with God..." Goulder believes that Jn is essentially a strongly Pauline gospel, since it incorporates within itself some rather bitter Pauline anti-Petrine polemics dating from the time of its composition. It is interesting, as Goulder notes (p. 124), that in Jn Jesus argues not against "the Jews", but against "the Jews who believed in Jesus" (Jn 8:31ff)! These opponents, or so it seems, are in fact the Jewish-Christians of the early second century who were predated into the life-time of Jesus by the author (or the editor) of Jn. In his Chapter 18, Goulder says that the Possessionist Christology formed the original basis, or "underlined" Mk, which would seem to provide some support for the pMk hypothesis. But this question is too complex to get into here, and Goulder is generally somewhat vague on the subject. Here's what Goulder thinks about the Resurrection of Our Lord, "...we have reason to think that the more concrete elements in the tradition, the eating, drinking, touching and empty tomb themes, are a later development: they arise from the controversy with the Petrine, spiritual-resurrection view, and are composed by Pauline evangelists, Mark, Luke and John, to support the physical-resurrection doctrine. The visual evidence [i.e. visual appearances] is from much earlier, and goes back to the events immediately following he crucifixion. But they should be understood today as internal events." (p. 179) A very sensible view, it appears to me. SOME PROBLEMS And now I will try to outline some areas where Goulder's analysis seems somewhat problematic. The most obvious difficulties come probably as the inevitable result of the very ambitious scope of the theory Goulder is putting forth. He is proposing a global theory of a very far-reaching and universal opposition between the Petrine and the Pauline factions. This seems like over-schematization to me, in a number of areas. (I think Mark G. recently commented that Goulder always seems to overstate his case.) It seems to me that in a few areas Goulder is trying very hard to fit the existing data into a rather too narrow straight-jacket of his hypothesis. And facts are stubborn things, as has been oft remarked... One obvious problem that I see is in regards to the question of whether or not the Petrines/Ebionites were committed to celibacy, i.e. whether they married. Goulder asserts that they were all "virgins" who condemned marriage. But much historical evidence indicates otherwise. In fact we have some reports that they were _obliged to marry_! On this, see _Patristic evidence for Jewish-Christian sects._, by A.F.J. Klijn and G.J. Reinink, Brill 1973. Testimonies from Epiphanius found in this volume indicate that Ebionites had an obligation to marry (which was apparently introduced at a later stage) (p. 33). Epiphanius even says that they had to remarry up to 7 times. (According to Klijn, this rather unusual requirement is not found in Pseudo-Clementine literature which is usually considered to come from similar Jewish-Christian sources.) Such a global theory as Goulder proposes, of necessity, will have the most difficulties in accounting for the very early history of such a massive split -- of such a split happening within a movement of spiritual brothers and sisters worshipping the same founding figure. Such a movement, having been united once, can never have a fast, clean and easy split. Myself, I'm sure _there was_ such a split in the early Christianity, but I would assume this split came about over great many years, in fact over generations. It seems to me that Goulder is best in describing this big split in its later stages, as traceable in the developments happening in the second century. But I find many difficulties in Goulder's attempted reconstruction of the early stages of this split. And here comes the problem of Paul... PAUL PROBLEM I have written on Crosstalk about this already, and have stated my views. This is a very difficult subject. It is my belief that the only way to reconstruct the Historical Paul in a way that would make any human sense at all, is by taking a much more conservative view about the authenticity of many of the Pauline writings than is current in mainstream scholarship. Of course I realize how entrenched is the opposing view, and how difficult it is to get people even to consider such views. But, in Luther's words, Here I stand. It's a whole new paradigm in biblical interpretation as has been proposed by Alfred Loisy, and further developed by Munro and others. And new paradigms can never find a quick acceptance... Goulder is apparently unaware of any such sceptical view re: Pauline authorship as I've outlined above. To the contrary, his tendency is actually to accept as authentic even more of the Pauline writings than is customary among contemporary scholars. Needless to say, in my view, this creates very considerable problems for Goulder. I will not dwell on this subject here, except to give some quick examples of what I mean. This is what Goulder writes about some of the writings of Paul, and, certainly, this view has been parallelled by scholar after scholar who tried to make sense of Paul. I have such citations aplenty in my notes for the book I'm writing now: "The arguments of the Paulines on the Law are a series of evasions, muddles and contradictions..." (p. 37) Well, I think, here we can go even further and say that _most of the writings attributed to Paul_, if taken as really written by Paul, would appear like this, in any case... I believe a claim by any mainstream scholar really to understand Paul is a mirage, contradicted readily by the claims of any other scholar. I don't think it is really possible to understand the Historical Paul if we insist on accepting all these writings as written by Paul... All through the book, Goulder tries to struggle valiantly with these "muddles and contradictions", and the results often seem problematic to me. For example, on p. 148, commenting on Acts 13:13, and Rom 1:3f, Goulder basically says Paul was an Adoptionist, and so he shared the doctrine with the earliest Jerusalem Church, later to become designated as Ebionite. This certainly makes sense to me. And the Adoptionist doctrine of course presupposed a spiritual, i.e. non-physical, resurrection. On p. 168, Goulder accepts that much. He says, "Paul taught consistently the traditional Jewish line." But then he continues with something of a non-sequitur, describing Paul's views further, "Jesus had risen _physically_, his _body_ had been raised..." Of course elsewhere Goulder says repeatedly that the Jewish-Christians believed in no such thing... So there does seem to be a bit of confusion here. Examples can be multiplied. Nevertheless, if one glosses over the early history of the Big Split as described by Goulder, and focuses on his admittedly valid insights for the later history of this Split, his book is a great contribution to scholarship. Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away -=O=- Philip K. DickClick here to go one level up in the directory.