The Real Paul

Submitted by Peter on

A slow rumbling has been building up among New Testament scholars. A new Paul is beginning to emerge - one who differs from the Paul of Augustine and Luther, who is no friend to traditional orthodoxy, who may prove an even more radical challenge to church and society than did the historical Jesus.

In addition, we will be using "The Authentic Letters of Paul - A New Reading of Paul's Rhetoric and Meaning" to help sort through what Paul really (probably) wrote. The Authentic Letters of Paul (1) distinguishes Paul's letters from others attributed to him in the canon, (2) disentangles component pieces of correspondence from the composite letters, (3) places the authentic letters in their chronological order and historical context, and (4) restores Paul's voice in a fresh translation from the original Greek (well, not from the autographs...)

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1 – What do you think Paul did to receive 39 lashes?
2 – Do you think Paul's life was a success or failure? What do you think Paul though about the success / failure question?
3 – How does the “collection and its delegation demonstrate that the end-time event was now in play.”?
4 – Paul shows no concern for the Christ of Faith. Do you agree and does this statement make sense to you?
5 – Site sources for the movement of the “Jesus to Christ” transition back through time.
6 – Comment on Scott saying that the first written notice of Christians by Rome was Pliny (the younger's) letter to Emperor Trajan in 112 CE, VS the story we heard a couple of weeks ago from the pulpit about Nero using Christians as torches. Notice the dates.
7 – What is our author's point in adding the NON-Pauline section at the end?
8 – How would you reconstruct Christianity to save it from Empire?

Real Paul – Chapter 14
1 – What details can you think of that would be different between our current “religion as institution” and the ancient “divine sphere”?
2 - What do you see as the biggest difference between our current “Christianity” and the “People of the Way”?
3 – How important do you think the monotheism of the Jews was to their clear thinking aobut life, as opposed to the multiple Gods of the Greeks?
4 – The division between Jews and Greeks goes back to the offspring of Abraham. Why do you think this parallel development is not well known?
5 – Is Rom 8:31-32 talking about life on earth or life after death?
6 – Do you agree with Paul in Rom 8:37-39? Why (or not)?
7 – It is so easy to read “the old man in the sky” into Paul's God. What do we get if we try more modern theology in place of what seems to be Paul's view of God?
8 – How do you think Paul understood “overcoming death”?
9 – So is the only advantage of the Jews that they were first?
10 – Probably for the second or third time: Are you made righteous by faithfulness to God? How important is this to you?

Week 12
Authentic Letters – Romans
Real Paul – Chapter 13 – Romans
1 – Does Paul ever say directly that worshiping the emperor is a bad idea?
2 - “my wrath will go forth like fire, and burn with no one to quench it”: is this related to California wildfires?
3 – What do you think of the way diatribe is laid out in Authentic Letters?
4 – Are people “made right” by the faithfulness of the Anointed or by their own faithfulness?
5 – What is the benefit of moderation in an unlimited goods society? (Wax holds the WINGS of Icarus together.)
6 – How (where) do you practice moderation? (or not!?)
7 – How much time have you spent considering that your God might be an idol? Why is it always the other person's God who (which?) is the idol?
8 - “Paul disagrees that self-mastery can be taught.”: What do you think?
9 - “For Paul the only way out of enslavement caused by idolatry is by identifying with the crucified body of the Anointed.” How does this work? I don't understand.

Chapter 12 Real Paul
First, I recommend you (re)read Galatians in The Authentic Letters. The last question is from there.
1 – If justification by faith is on one end of the scale and justification by works (of law) is on the other end, where do you fit? (most of the time?)
2 – What are we talking about in “law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2)?
3 – So how is Paul using “law”?
4 – What do you think about: “The intention and effort to be obedient constitute the conditions for remaining in the covenant, but they do not earn it.”?
5 – How long do you think it took Paul to come up with things like the difference in the Law for Jews and for the nations?
6 – Does faithfulness get you what you want?
7 – Do you feel like an heir of the Kingdom of God?
8 – Before reading this chapter, did you have any idea how Paul understood the Isaac / Ishmael story? Do you now?
From “The Authentic Letters”:
9 – What (if anything) has replaced “the benefit flow from the Divine Benefactor” for today's culture?

Chapter 11 Real Paul
Start by reading 1 Cor. 7
1 – What difference does it make if 1 Cor. 7:1 is a (quoted) slogan or not?
2 – Why would commanding celibacy put Paul at odds with Roman authorities?
3 – How much difference in sexual freedom do you think a) Paul was recommending and 2) Roman culture was recommending?
4 – Where else (besides sex) can hierarchy be well replaced by mutuality?
5 – Are your children “unclean” or “holy”? What does this mean?
6 – Any comments about the Ephesian hierarchical model?
Read Eph. 4, 5. You may want to compare more than one translations if that's easy for you.
7 – Does this sound like the same person you read in 1 Cor. 7? Are you better able to hear the difference because of our studies?
8 – How long will it take the general public to separate the Real Paul from the rest? How much will the church help?
9 – How well do you think you understand how strong the hierarchy of the Pauline period was and how much of life is affected?

Chapter 10 Real Paul
(I recommend reading 1 Cor. 1 to start with)
1 – What experience have you had where you had to “work it out as [you] proceed[ed]”?
2 – How are wisdom and power differently obtained in our culture compared to Paul's?
3 – Can you have order without hierarchy?
4 – How are you “in Christ”?
5 – Do you have the feeling that you half understand “in the Anointed”, as if when you try really hard you seem to understand something, but then, moments later, that understanding seems to have vanished and the world looks just like it usually does?
(At this point, I recommend reading 1 Cor. 12 & 14, skipping 13)
6 – Do you know of a Biblical argument that life does NOT begin (and end) with breath?
7 – What is the difference between spirit and Holy Spirit (in our opinion)?
8 – If the community's confession that Jesus is Lord is really God speaking, then is the community God?
9 – Paul says we have nothing to boast about. What do you think?
10 – When have you felt (badly) like a second class citizen?
11 – Comment on the last sentence in the chapter.

Chapter 9 Real Paul
1 – How do you see God's righteousness manifest in Jesus' faithfulness?
2 – What problems arise from 1) eating with “others” and 2) marrying “others”? Consider also, then vs. now.
3 – Why does lineage no longer have the importance it once had?
4 – What is happening to our confidence in God in a post modern era?
5 – Have you yet learned enough about Paul to be comfortable deciding whether you think Paul was speaking to “universal humanity” or to non Jews under Roman control (the nations)?
6 – How do you understand “Only the ungodly can trust God and God rectifies only the ungodly”?
7 – Do you feel you are “destined to be counted right”? In your answer, indicate what story you use for you decision.
8 – Why do you think “Later Christian theology saw the binding of Isaac not a a test of Abraham but as prefiguring the sacrifice of Jesus...”?

I recommend (re)reading the middle of Galatians and Romans 3, 4, 5(up to :8) to refresh your thinking.

Chapter 8
1 - Faith in Jesus or Faith of Jesus? Describe how these are different for you.
2 – How does the theology change when we change the meaning (or translation)?
3 – How has your faith in Jesus or faith of Jesus changed over time?
4 – What do you think about faith AS work? Can you believe six unbelievable things before breakfast?
5 – Why does Paul use slave as his own designator?
(At this point I took a break from RP and read Rom: 1 – 4 in AL, plus the Romans Intro.)
6 – After reading the footnote on pg 212 of Authentic Letters, does your answer to 5 above change?
7 – Is “the meaning still (appears to be) tied in knots”?
8 – Do you have a good example of strict justice as opposed to merciful justice?
9 – If the issue is behavior, how important is it to have a clear view of how Jesus lived in order to follow that behavior? Or is it enough to know he was crucified without protest?
10 – How important is it to you to be made righteous? Why?
11 – What do you think of substitutionary atonement?
12 – Do you get to the same conclusion our author does in his last sentence?

Chapter 7
1 – How would you feel about eating at 1) a Jewish meal? 2) a Roman meal? Or 3) a mixed Jewish / Roman meal?
2 – What do you think about Cephas vs. Peter? (a question particularly close to my heart)
3 – What corresponds to “libations for the emperor” in our time?
4 – What do you think was the final outcome of the confrontation at Antioch?
Digression into Authentic Letters
5 – I find Galatians 2:11 – 21 a good review of Paul's position. How have you thought about this idea in the past, and has your view changed since we started the Paul study?
6 – How would you compare Paul's view of the nations living “ethnikos” with us living in Pharaoh's house?
Authentic Letters
1 Corinthians – Interpolations section (at the end of the chapter)
7 - Does your Bible include something like “go beyond what is written”?
8 – 11:2 – 16 comments about this section?
9 – Comments about 1 Corinthians 13?

Chapter 6
1 – Have you ever been “called”? If so, how?
2 – Notice how “intellectual, moral, religious” match up with “true, good, beautiful”. Comments?
3 – If you (have) had a conversion experience, which of the three dimensions would be (was) most affected?
4 – What difference (if any) do you see between Luther's “great insight” and Paul's vision (as explained by Scott)?
5 – Comments about Alan Segal seeing Paul's change as both call and intellectual conversion?
6 – Does law have to be written for us to know that we are breaking it?
7 – Have you been in a situation where your credentials didn't help? How/When?
8 – Tentmaker: Acts only!
9 – How strongly do you feel about Jewish = works: Christian = faith?
10 – Does having the faith of Jesus Anointed get you into the covenant?
11 – Comments about the Old Model vs. New Model?

I recommend reading First Corinthians and Philippians as background.

Real Paul
1 – Disciples vs Apostles – What have you thought about this before?
2 – What does you Bible call Junia? See what is happening here? (I have three bibles that call her Junias, a male name)
3 – pg. 42 To whom do He and His refer? Does this quote make any sense to you?
4 – What characteristic of slave do you think Paul was most emphasizing?
5 – How can Rome's power be “void” if they can still kill you?
6 – Many writers contrast the gospel of Jesus/God with the gospel of Rome. What does that contrast look like today?
7 – What period would you most like to live in, if you could change dates? Has this changed over your lifetime?
8 – What are some ramifications of the Out Loud/Public vs Silent /Private character of the gospel?
9 – James appears to be a very late Envoy.
10 – pg. 54 How does Paul's understanding of the Gospel differ from Mark's understanding?

Authentic Letters
1 – What are some ramifications of being on the cusp between oral and
written culture?
2 – What part of 1 Th. 2:13-16 implies that Jerusalem had already been
destroyed? You may have to check a different translation for this.
3 – What might be lacking in the Thessalonian's understanding of what it
means to Trust in God? 1 Th. 3:10
4 – How do you understand “belongs to Jesus”? How do you think Paul
understood it?
5 – What questions do you have about 1 Th.? For discussion only, not
necessarily for definitive answers.
6 – How would Paul's argument to ghe Galatians work since he was not
speaking to Jews, but the “the nations”? It seems as if he (Paul)
should be extolling Greek virtues, not Jewish virtues.
7 – How can Paul's extensive list of contrasts be converted so as to
accommodate both sides?
8 – Did Paul's prophetic experience move him from conservative to
liberal (using today's terms)? Wouldn't a move in the opposite
direction be more likely?
9 – What would be the implications of Paul losing the argument about
eating with “the nations”/
10 – Can you make a succinct statement of Paul's message? The author's
talk around it.

Real Paul (RP)
Chapter 3
1 – How do you envision Paul getting to where he is in the first half of Galatians? What would you “fill in” for his biography?
2 – How have you overcome the paradox of the crucifixion? Paul didn't have 2000 years of Christian teaching to help. How did he overcome the same paradox?
3 – How much of Christian guilt/sin do you think comes from the Bible and how much from later interpretations?
Chapter 4
4 – Did you read the three Acts references?
5 – Would all revelations seem (to him) to come from God? Where else could they come from?
6 – How do you understand apocalypsis?
7 – How has your view of “Christianity vs Judaism” as oppsed to “Christianity vs Empire” changed over the years?
8 – I think I'm missing some conclusion I should make about sons on the last full page of Chap-4. We should discuss it.

Real Paul (RP) Preface
1 – What expectations do you have for yourself and the group as we explore Paul?
Chapter 1 – Getting Started
2 – You probably want to write on your bookmark: Paul was Called. Paul's concern is for the nations. Paul addresses a particular situation.
3 – What do you think is the difference between Call and Conversion?
4 – Any new insights on “the egg”?
5 – Every translation is a __________. (fill in the blank)
6 – If you write in your books, you may want to move pange numbers from the Table of Contents in the Authentic Letters (AL) to the Table of Canonical vs. Authentic facing pg. 1.
Chapter 2 – Finding Paul
7 – How would you decide what evidence to use? (pick any problem to solve)
8 – Does your life have a central event?
Authentic Letters (AL) Introduction
9 – How do you see the difference in how material is presented in AL vs. Adam Hamilton's “Making Sense of the Bible”? Do you have a preference?
10 – Do you see similarities between what Pastor Lee is doing with Revival and what the authors of the letters written in Paul's name (but NOT by Paul) are doing?
11 – Comment on any questions raised in the Introduction.
12 – How big a difference do you see between “faith in Christ” and “faith of Christ”? Does it change if you use “the confidence of the Anointed”?
13 – How have you benefited from the flow of divine power?
14 – Paul “is trying to make a persuasive case on which his listeners will have the last word and vote.” Is this what I (Peter) am doing?
15 – Do you have an opinion on whether or not to use Acts to understand Paul?
16 – Be very careful in your use of “gentiles”. What do you think it means?