Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE LETTEKS OF PAUL

GENERAL NOTE

A Year or two after the death of Jeans, one of the brilliant leaders in the Jewish party of the Pharisees suddenly (icaTtfii7/i<£#n» iir6 Xpitrrov) became a Christian. Like John Knox, for the earlier part of his life Paul is largely a mystery, and even after his change into the Christian faith a serious gap occurs, unfilled by many incidents. But during the closing decade of his life he had a brilliant crowded career which has left copious and distinct traces of its effectiveness. The moral and spiritual change in Paul turned out to be a crisis for the Christian society as well as for himself.1 To many minds and hearts in that age he proved a veritable priest of the wonder and bloom of the Christian faith. But even apart from the new sweep given to the Christian spirit by his thought and practical energies,' nis preaching brought to ahead the conflict which had been implied in previous discussions, especially in the matter of Stephen's attitude, between the universalism of the Christian principle and the time-honoured privileges of the \aos, the vopos, and the Sytos roirot (Ac 2188). His activity represents the expansion of the new faith into its legitimate sphere and destined vocation. It implied from the outset the enterprise of reaching the Gentiles, an expansion which came to be shaped constructively in controversy, first with Judaic principles, then, at a later period, with Hellenic speculation. These phases, especially the former, come out in Paul's letters, and give them a large part of their historic significance. In the mosaics of the Arian baptistery at Ravenna Paul is represented beside the throne of Jesus carrying in his hand two rolls of parchment; and from the point of view of the NT literature this gives an exact symbol of his position. Others may have written, but if so their writings perished. Several of Paul's own letters have been also lost. But even with those nine or ten which are still extant, graphic, pregnant, and suggestive, he remains the chief literary witness to a remarkable side of that church life in which he played himself so notable a part. He threw himself upon his age with an energy of insight and practical service which—the evidence amply justifies us in believing—was not equalled, as it was hardly approached by any one of the original disciples or of their immediate successors. In relation to the Christian faith, he performed two signal services: reflection and expression.3 By means of his correspondence,

1 " Here, if at any point in history, we may believe that the Spirit of the World, if the world has a spirit, was at work " (Goldwin Smith).

1 Note an incidental proof of his immediate impressiveness and attraction (Ac 915, «' ^««»t«) mtnZ), unless the title be a prolepsis.

* "The upshot of his meditation was a body of doctrine which for subtlety, penetration, harmony, and completeness, is unsurpassed in the history of religious it is feasible to construct not only an outline of his characteristic personality, but also a sketch of the general situation within many of the early Christian societies. Thanks to those missives which have survived, more materials exist for gaining some inner knowledge of the Christian history between 45 and 60, than for almost any other period within the first century. These years at least are vocal. To step after step within the whole of that period Paul is a contemporary witness in the same exact and historical sense as (say) Andokides to the crisis of 415-390 B.C. in Athens, Philo to the sufferings of the Jews under Sejanus and Caligula, or Procopius to the African campaigns of Belisarius. His letters indeed are transcripts of an individual mind. The " beautiful human Paul," whom Steck so strangely misses outside1 the pages of "Acts," can be recognised most distinctly in his epistles. At the same time, the Pauline letters have an even wider and more representative value. In many a passage they reflect the common ideas and emotions that surged round nimself and other members of the Christian communities in that age under the pressure exerted by its civil and religious environment. Paul stood in the mid-current of his time. He has gathered up in himself and expressed not merely the activity and far-reaching views which characterised the best Christianity among his contemporaries, but also its two features of supreme interest and significance — the transition of Judaism into or away from Christianity, and the earliest attempts of the new faith to define its attitude towards the responsibilities and destinies involved in a mature existence. It is this representative element that brings the Pauline letters irresistibly to the mind as we read the vaster correspondence of a man like Bernard in the twelfth century. Lying at opposite poles of conviction and interest, both mirror as they helped originally to move, in its personal and social aspects, a religious force which spread with flooding waves over contemporary life; both also are the revelation of a personal ascendancy quite unique in its range, and of a strangely isolated influence over these communities and individuals who were drawn within the circle of its passionate imperious devotion, to be swayed and served.

A scheme of Paul's life, with his work and works, lies outside the scope of these pages. At this point there is only need and room for an outline of the author's career that may serve as a setting for his writings.

To conceive of literary composition as anything like a predominating interest, and thus to underestimate the absorbing claims of his practical mission, would be as erroneous in a study of Paul as in an appreciation, for example, of EzekiePs career among the Jews in Babylon. But there are two noticeable features upon the surface of his biography, (o) Paul's literary productions—those at least which have come down to us —were evidently occasional. Within the closing decade of his life they

speculation. It bears the same relation to dogmatic Christianity that Platonism does to Greek philosophy, being the source to which Christianity lias had to return for refreshment and renewal at every crisis of her history. It proceeds on the assumption that if Christianity is to be fitted for universal acceptance, it must rely on something more than the mere testimony of eye-witnesses, or the demonstrations of fulfilled prophecy—or even of such visions as he himself had had" (J. B. Orozier, Hist. Intell. Developm.,, pp. 340,341). (Havet, "Je ne dirai pas: Voila la theologie de Paul. Je dirai: Voila la theologie !) Cp. also Wrede, Ueher Aufgabe u. Mcthmie d. sogen. NT Th. (1897), p. 64 f.

1 On the contrast between the Paul of Acts and the Paul of the epistles, see Dr. Cone, Paul the Man, the Missionary, and the Teacher, ch. vii., where most of the chief points are thrown into sharp relief.

spring up to meet the moment's need, although they presuppose wide thought and labour, and are the outcome of a lengthy deep experience,

[table]

even in their most unpremeditated sallies. His writings were not the true events of his life, nor were they intended to present his ordinary teaching and average ideas. Like the rest of the apostles, he had a mission first and foremost to teach and preach among the early Christian communities. But—

"As mistakes arose or discords fell,
Or bold seducers taught them to rebel,
As charity grew cold or faction hot,
Or long neglect their lessons had forgot,
For all their wants they wisely did provide,
And preaching by Epistles was supplied:
So great physicians cannot all attend,
But some they visit and to some they send.
Tet all those letters were not writ to all,
Nor first intended but occasional—
Their absent sermons."1

(6) Further, he did not outlive himself as a writer. His last letter bears no evidence of slackened force or wavering insight. We shut up the story of his days with the impression of a mental and religious fulness which, so far from being on the point of degenerating, seems rather to combine the riper experience and grasp of age with something of a youth's vigour. Paul dies at his work, and he dies in the increasing momentum of his power. With all respect to its authors, the attempt to explain the style of Tim-Tit by discovering throughout these writings evidence of Paul the old man's looser, less sustained, less vigorous intellect,8 must be pronounced little better than a myth of desperate and needless conservatism. It is not quite on a par with the similar attempt to explain the characteristics of 2 Peter from as imaginary a senility; but it scarcely seems to merit any more serious consideration. The difference between Galatians and Col-Philippians is the difference between the earlier and the later styles of a man for whom wider interests and maturer conceptions have arisen, necessitating fresh expressions. The difference, again, between Col-Philippians and the "pastorals " is almost the difference between one world and another; and the element of undoubted "Paulinism " in the latter (both in idea and phrase) only serves to emphasise their perfectly new setting and development. Besides, the interval in the latter case— three years at the outside—would not be adequate to account for so complete an alteration, especially in a style like that of Paul, which, for all its flexibility, had become well marked and characteristic. Neither the length nor the contents of the period 60-64 (64-67.) are at all sufficient to meet the demands made by this hypothesis of senility. It is unnecessary and unworthy. The apostle disappears from the NT with a message of strenuous personal confidence (Ph 41B ss) which contains implicitly a note of quiet triumph 3: acnra^ovTai vitas navrts ot ayioi, fidJiurra 8e oi (k rijs Kaia-apos olxlas. The words have a ring of satisfaction. His hope had been realised. His work had carried the church into the heart of the empire, and the consciousness that this aim had been successfully achieved brought him a strange new joy upon the very edge of death.

Tne critical scheme of his epistles involves two questions, relating to their order and their dates.

A. Their Order.

The consecutive arrangement of the letters, as printed in this edition, is one which commands the support of a consensus of excellent author

1 Dryden in The Hind and the Panther, part ii.

'' Dr. Stalker's happy comparison of Paul's style (Life of iSK. Paul, p. 89) to that of Cromwell, in point of rugged effectiveness and a certain formlej>s originality, applies pre-eminently to tlie Galatian, Corinthian, and Philippian letters. They were appeals struck out of crises, words for an emergency.

* Cp. the close of his biography by the author of Acts, ch. 2S3"- 31. The correct interpretation of i» <>« Ts rrf>«i»«p<> (Ph l13) as the supreme court of judicial authorities is given by Mommscn, SB HA (1895), p. 498 f.

ities. A different order, however, has often been adopted both in the earlier and in the later letters, for which a case can be reasonably stated. When reduced to its simplest terms,1 the whole question at issue turns upon the relative position of (I) " Galatians" in the earlier, and (II) "Philippians" in the later period.

I. The relative date of Galatians depends upon two questions—(a) Did the Galatians addressed belong to the territory of northern Galatia, a district inhabited by Kelts—especially to its chief cities, Ancyra, Pessinus (Juliopolis ?) Germa, and Tavium—or to the Roman province of Galatia, which would include the southern cities, Derbe, Lystra, Ikonium, and Pisidian Antioch? The letter seems to imply two previous visits (41S, finfYytkiardftrjv vjiiv To wporrepov). As upon the northern Galatian theory, these occurred during the second (Ac 16e) and third (Ac 1823) tours, the epistle—written shortly after the latter of these visits (Gal 1") —was composed later than Paul's visit and epistles to Thessalonika. Upon the southern Galatian theory, as the two visits took place on the first (Ac 13-14) and second (Ac 161-6) tours, the epistle can be put much earlier than in the northern Galatian theory. It is then possible to place it either in the interval between the second and third tours, or in the latter part of the second tour itself; at any rate, it must be dated before, not after, Ae 182Sb (tupxoptvos Ka6(£rjs Tt)v TdKariKrjv x<ipav), which refers to a third visit of Paul.

Still, even these results do not close the question of the date. Upon the northern Galatian theory, Galatians must be subsequent to 1 and 2 Thessalonians: it may be either prior or subsequent to 1 and 2 Corinthians. Upon the southern Galatian theory, Galatians must be prior to

1 and 2 Corinthians: it may be either prior or subsequent to 1 and

2 Thessalonians. A fixed point is the composition of 1 and 2 Thessalonians at Corinth, a few months after Paul's visit thereupon his second tour. The southern Galatian theory puts Paul's second' visit to Galatia in the earlier part of this tour; hence the epistle to the Christians of that province may have been written between that visit and Paul's arrival at Corinth. In this case it would be the earliest of his extant epistles.2 But while this position is favoured by the southern Galatian theory,3 it is not necessarily involved in it. So far as the facts of the situation are concerned, Galatians may have been composed either at Corinth after

1 The older theory (of Grotius, Ewald, Laurent, and—from his own standpoint— Baur) which put 2 Thess. previous to 1 Thess. may be regarded as extinguished. 2 Thess. does not, it is true, refer (unless ii. 2!=i. 417; cp. ii. 215) to 1 Thess., but this is because it goes further back in order to elaborate part of the oral teaching which preceded that epistle. The other grounds for the theory are even less conclusive, and in fact the reversed order is not only needless but beset with additional difficulties of its own creation. In the ordinary arrangement, from which there is no reason to depart, the first epistle lies close to the original founding of the Christian community at Thessalonika, while, if the second be genuine, it presupposes an interval during which matters had appreciably developed (cp. Johannes, Comm. 1 Thessalon. (1898), pp. 124-128).

2 So Hausrath, iii. pp. 188, 219 (dating Galatians in the autumn of 53, and 1 Thess. 54); Bartlet (AA, p. 113 f.); Weizsiicker (AA, i. 270-275), and Pfieiderer, Urc. pp. 57-78 j Kendall, Exp* ix. 254 (from Corinth), and McGiffert, AA, 226-230 (from Antiocb, between Ac 1530 and 16'). Also Bacon, WT, 56 f. (from Corinth). See p. 708, and 0. Holtzmann, NT Zeitgesch. (1895), § 17.

8 For a concise statement of the theory and a list of authorities, cp. Ramsay's article on '' Galatia," DJS, vol. ii. pp. 89 f. Add, in favour of the position, Adeney, BI, pp. 372, 373. Mr. Askwith in his monograph (TJie Ep. lo the Oalatians, its destination and dale, 1899) accepts the southern Galatian theory, but adheres to Lightfoot's order of the epistles, while Schmiedel (EBi, ii. 1596 f.) vigorously opposes Ramsay.

« AnteriorContinuar »