Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 16:54:58 -0400 (EDT) From: Yuri KuchinskyClick here to go one level up in the directory.
To: Corpus-paul Subject: Philippians, Munro, and Loisy: Part Two Greetings, 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 solidified. 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. 12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. 15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 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 dead. 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! 18 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 Paul. 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): 6 [Christ Jesus] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 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 translators. Regards, Yuri. 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