Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 16:54:58 -0400 (EDT)
From: Yuri Kuchinsky 
To: Corpus-paul
Subject: Philippians, Munro, and Loisy: Part Two


This message is based on the one posted to Crosstalk-l (the old
Crosstalk). I have revised it a little.

24 March, 1999
Subject: Philippians
From: y.kuchinsky

Greetings all,

It is my view that while not all of the epistle of Paul to the Philippians
was written by Paul himself, parts of it were indeed written by Paul.

The letter seems to have been originally two letters, written at different
times (or possibly three). Scholars are arguing about this (cf. the
article in Anchor BD). In my view, these original Pauline letters were
conflated, re-edited, and secondary material was added to them, probably
more than once. 

ABD also provides good background on the debates re authenticity. 
Authenticity was rejected way back by C. Baur, and the Tubingen school,
and by others. Such theories were quite widespread 100 years ago, but it
seems like in the last few decades the traditionalist backlash had

These letters were probably written by Paul from the Roman prison, where
he spent about two years, previously to finally being found guilty of
sedition, and executed.

In particular, the passage 1:12-18 (and also possibly continuing up to
1:27) seems authentic to me. 

       Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has      
       happened to me has really served to advance the      
       As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole
       palace guard and to everyone else that I am  
       in chains for Christ.                                
       Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the    
       Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God   
       more courageously and fearlessly.                    
       It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and
       rivalry, but others out of goodwill.                 
       The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here 
       for the defense of the gospel.                       
       The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not
       sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble   
       for me while I am in chains.            
       But what does it matter? The important thing is that 
       in every way, whether from false motives or true,    
       Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.   
       Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,

This passage is actually quite remarkable for a number or reasons. First
of all, it provides some very good explanation for why Paul was eventually
condemned. He was condemned most likely because many powerful enemies,
mostly traditionalist Jews, whether Christian or non-Christian, wanted him

Paul writes that he became quite a cause celebre in Rome, and this is good
for the Gospel, according to him (finding a silver lining in his sad
plight?). His imprisonment was encouraging other missionaries to proclaim
the Gospel. 

But who was proclaiming the Gospel at the time in Rome? It turns out that
some of them were not nice at all, preaching as they did "out of envy and
rivalry"! And stirring up trouble for him.

So here we glimpse some Jewish-Christian missionaries, probably
traditionalist Jews, trying to get him condemned. A very valuable
historical testimony, it seems to me.

But Paul is amazingly open minded about all this! 

       But what does it matter? The important thing is that 
       in every way, whether from false motives or true,    
       Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.   

This is surely quite remarkable. In this passage, proclaiming the name of
Christ is good regardless of who is doing the proclaiming, and for
whatever reasons. (This is somewhat similar to the "whoever is not against
you is for you" passage in Lk, featuring "another exorcist" (Lk 9:49-50),
except that the idea is taken even further in Phil to include even those
who are explicitly against you!) 

And now, let's look at our Hymn to Christ in Phil 2:6-11. Baur thought
that the hymn was gnostic (ABD), with which Koester agrees. Loisy thought
that the hymn, while not written by Paul, and from a later age, was rather
early. Earlier, according to him, than the similar material in Heb, and
also actually earlier that the moral instructions among which it was
inserted. He thought the transition in v. 5 is "artificial". 

On the basis of all this, I would conclude that the hymn dates from the
period ca 70-90, shortly after Paul's death. In my view, it is primarily
the high Christology of the hymn that will put it after the lifetime of

I also agree that the hymn is clearly gnostic in inspiration. It carries
in it some rather complex and profound metaphysical insights and beliefs.

Phil 2:6-11 (KJV):

       [Christ Jesus] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not
       robbery to be equal with God:                                
       But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him 
       the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness  
       of men:                                              
       And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled      
       himself, and became obedient unto death, even the    
       death of the cross.                                  
       Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given
       him a name which is above every name:
       That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of
       things in heaven, and things in earth, and things  
       under the earth;                                   
       And that every tongue should confess that Jesus    
       Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In particular, the verse 6 is quite interesting, and often mistranslated, 
it seems.

The original Greek is,

"os en morphe theou iparkhon oukh harpagmon egesato to einai isa theo"

meaning literally, 

"Who in the form of God subsisting (iparkhon), deemed (egesato) it not
robbery (harpagmon) to be equal with God"

Here is the translation of this verse that I myself prefer,

"Who, while in the form of God,      
did not esteem it as his lawful prize
to become equal to God."

(Here, harpagmos, the term that does seem to imply considerable violence,
is taken to mean res rapienda [something to be seized], as it were, rather
than res rapta [something that was his by right]. But the interpretation
of this word is disputed widely, of course, and a large literature exists
on this.)

Also the Darby version is quite interesting and quite close to the
original (it seems to be based on the Vulgate translation of the Greek),

"Who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it
an object of rapine [=robbery] to be on an equality with God.."

And here is the standard (and somewhat problematic) "modern" translation,

NIV: "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped..."

Also followed by NASB, RSV, WE, etc.

The implication here is that the Christ possessed equality with God right
from the beginning. But I doubt that the very high Christology implied by
such a reading would have been the Christology that early Christians would
have embraced.

What the Greek text actually alludes to, I believe, is the myth of the
rebellious angels. Christ did not join in that rebellion, of course.

So I don't think that the original Greek (and the Darby translation)
implies that the Christ was equal to God from the beginning. What the
Greek seem to say is that Christ was originally one of the angels (i.e.
spiritual beings) who, while not quite on a par with God, were
nevertheless on the similar heavenly level with the Father. But while the
other angels then proceeded to rebel unlawfully, he did not do like they
did, and remained faithful to God. 

Then, after the rebellious angels' rebellion brought great discord into
the world, Christ was sent on a mission to restore the world to its
original shape, and ended up suffering on the Cross. And thus he helped to
correct all the trouble started by the rebellious angels. Total defeat for
Satan will be the end result. (Coming up soon -- the Millennium!)

In other words, the Greek seems to convey a very special gnosis and a very
special metaphysical world view that is seemingly missed by the modern


Yuri Kuchinsky || Toronto
"No theory is too false, no fable too absurd, no superstition too
degrading for acceptance when it has become imbedded in common belief" --
Henry George

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