Part 3 The three faces (Phases) of Paul
Dear Gentle Reader,
I trust that so far in this study I have given you a wee food for thought to go with your Irish cream cheese muffins and that strong Irish tea that you've drinking. Remember that Paul’s writings or letters, the earliest writings in the New Testament, are filled with allusions, images, and quotations from what we today call the Old Testament or as Paul called it, Scriptures. These were the body of writings that comprised the sacred text of Israel.. It would be misleading to refer to this Scripture as the "Hebrew Bible," because the original Hebrew language of the biblical writings were not of a concern of Paul. His citations follow the Septuagint (LXX), a Greek translation of the Hebrew writings dating from the second or third century B. C. E., which was in common use in the Hellenistic synagogues during Paul’s lifetime.
Now for our advanced theologians who might want to question my reasoning so far, I need to point out that rarely do Paul’s quotations agree with the Masoretic Hebrew text (MT) against the LXX; even the few cases of apparent agreement with the Hebrew can be explained as evidence of variant LXX text forms that have been subjected to "hebraizing revisions, " a tendency well attested elsewhere by the Greek versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. It would seem that since Paul concentrated on predominantly Gentile congregations in Asia Minor and Greece, he would read and cite Scripture in Greek, which was the common language of the eastern empire in his time.
‘Wow! A lot of technical stuff Denis" you might say. Well go ahead and say it and then I give you the easy explanation. Which will give you a heads up on that smart aleck that obnoxiously conceited and self-assertive person with pretensions to smartness or cleverness, down the street who thinks that just because he/she goes to church that makes him/her a "real Christian" . Rather like standing in a car park, doesn’t make you a car.
So when you point out that Paul is quoting from the Old Testament and they begin to argue with you that Paul is not quoting exactly what they think he should.
So lets review, 1) Paul was now a "real follower of the Messiah- a completed Jew" 2)Paul was using the Greek translation of the Hebrew writings in his citations 3) Paul was going to those who were called God fearers (those who were acquainted with the basic understanding of Jewish Scriptures.
Now with that out of the way, lets look at the second face (phase) of Paul. Reminding ourselves that Paul was evolving, again reminding ourselves that evolving is in fact growth of the intellect. You are not the same person you were seven years ago. There were changes in your waistline, or perhaps your health. In any case you have changed perhaps not intellectually, but if not mores the pity!
When we come to the second phase I am perplexed for if the New Testament dating that I have researched is correct then Philemon might have been written in 62 A.D. in the his first imprisonment while Ephesians and Colossians the two books we want to consider next would have been written two years later in 64 A.D. Bishop John Lightfoot places the writing of these two books at the same time, (I would note for those keeping score in the quaint little game "Catch the Doc" that writing something does not necessarily equate as publishing at the same time)
Also for those scholars who hold the position that Ephesians and Colossians are probably not from Paul based on judgements of difference in style, tone, vocabulary and content between the first seven and the later seven, they are entitled to hold that position as I am mine.
However when we look as the Prison epistles, one would think that there might be a change in ones writing and for that matter thinking. Wouldn’t you agree?
We see the advice to believing slaves and believing Masters to be quite clear in both Colossians Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God Col 3:22 KJV) and Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. (Col 4:1 KJV). And in Ephesians Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. (Eph 6:5-9 KJV).
In both passages, slaves get the first and most attention while masters get second and least attention. In each case, four verses are addressed to slaves and only one addressed to Masters. Both begin with the same wording "Slaves obey your earthly Masters. " And in his letter to the Colossians, Paul ends by commanding masters to "treat your slaves justly and fairly," while he tells the Ephesians to "stop threatening them" because in both cases slaves and masters alike have the same Master in heaven. This is the "Liberal Paul’ because he at least demands mutuality and reciprocity of obligation between slave (full obedience) and master (fair treatment). And perhaps more significantly he addresses both groups directly.
Now one might ask if Paul is evolving or regressing in his understanding? I think that perhaps he is being the consummate Diplomat. For perhaps he realizes that he was not called to upset the status quo. But allow those within to evolve at their own pace " For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Php 2:13 KJV)
So Gentle reader,
There is what I call the second face of Paul the Apostle the "liberal" Paul or is he just being what we would like to think "This is the way God treats each of us, with grace allowing our better side to come through"
Food for thought hmmm?
Next time we’ll look at the conservative Paul.