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Old 04-12-2001, 04:02 PM   #1
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Post Paul the Persecutor

This is a spin-off topic related to Nomad’s “What Happened?” discussion. One thing I know that happened in that thread is that the posts became excrutiatingly long, and my attention span is far too short for such things. This post will attempt to slightly narrow the topic, but maybe everyone involved feels this ground has already been covered.

The scholarly community agrees in dating the conversion of Paul to around 32-33 C.E. This is only 2-3 years after the death of Jesus. Scholars ranging from the most liberal (the Jesus Seminar in their “Acts of Jesus” book dates it to 32-33 C.E.) to the most conservative agree on this general date for Paul’s conversion to Christianity. In addition to this, we have references of Paul in his letters to his persecution of Christians prior to his conversion.

Galatians 1:13-14 - “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.”

1 Corinthians 15:9 - “For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

This claim is verified by the information in Acts:

Acts 22:3-5 - “"I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gama'li-el, educated according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as you all are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders bear me witness."

Acts 26:9-11 - "I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem; I not only shut up many of the saints in prison, by authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme; and in raging fury against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.”


My question is: “Why did Paul persecute Christians prior to his conversion?”

Peace,

Polycarp
 
Old 04-12-2001, 05:31 PM   #2
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Because Saul/Paul thought that they were wicked heretics who deserved a good sendoff to That Hot Place.
 
Old 04-12-2001, 06:12 PM   #3
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:
Because Saul/Paul thought that they were wicked heretics who deserved a good sendoff to That Hot Place.
Quote:
</font>
I'm feeling rather light-headed at the moment. What the... Could it be? I.. I.. I agree with you !!!

Yes, Paul considered the Christians to be heretics. Now what did those nasty Christians believe that would make poor Paul so upset? Hmmm...

Peace,

Polycarp


 
Old 04-12-2001, 06:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Polycarp:
[b] I'm feeling rather light-headed at the moment. What the... Could it be? I.. I.. I agree with you !!!

Yes, Paul considered the Christians to be heretics. Now what did those nasty Christians believe that would make poor Paul so upset? Hmmm...

Peace,

Polycarp

</font>
Was that you sounding so reasonable on the TheologyOnline forum? I popped over there the other day, but the Evo/Cre forum there is a bust.

Polycarp, doesn't Paul himself tell us why (I do not know, am asking)?

Michael


 
Old 04-12-2001, 06:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Polycarp:
...Now what did those nasty Christians believe that would make poor Paul so upset? Hmmm...

Peace,

Polycarp

</font>
They believed the heir of David, rightful king of Israel had come to liberate their nation from Roman overlordship.

[This message has been edited by smugg (edited April 12, 2001).]
 
Old 04-12-2001, 07:21 PM   #6
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
Was that you sounding so reasonable on the TheologyOnline forum? I popped over there the other day, but the Evo/Cre forum there is a bust.

Polycarp, doesn't Paul himself tell us why (I do not know, am asking)?
</font>
Hey Michael,

I think you answered YOUR own quetion when you said the suspect was "reasonable". It could not have been me because I've never been one to be "reasonable" But seriously... It wasn't me. I have never posted at TheologyOnline. Was someone else using the moniker "Polycarp" ?

To answer your question, according to what Paul says, the people who were Christians before him believed basically the same things he believed after he converted. They didn’t agree on every minor detail, but the main belief system was identical. Prior to his conversion, Paul was a Pharisee devoted entirely to the law. He considered it blasphemy to worship an executed criminal. I think this is the thing that made him the most upset. Jews just weren’t supposed to worship another human in place of god.

Peace,

Polycarp


 
Old 04-12-2001, 07:24 PM   #7
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by smugg:
They believed the heir of David, rightful king of Israel had come to liberate their nation from Roman overlordship.
Quote:
</font>
This is possible, but I don't think its probable. Why would this belief make Paul so upset to the point he would actively persecute the movement? All of the Jews wanted freedom from Roman oppression.

Peace,

Polycarp
 
Old 04-12-2001, 08:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Polycarp:
This is possible, but I don't think its probable. Why would this belief make Paul so upset to the point he would actively persecute the movement? All of the Jews wanted freedom from Roman oppression.

Peace,

Polycarp
</font>
But Paul was Roman as well as Jewish, maybe more Roman than Jewish. He was from Asia Minor -- a land more Hellenic than Hebrew. His sympathies may have been with the "conservative party" rather than the rebels.

Do you really think he'd go around stoning peace cult members who probably had their hands full with all that cheek-turning and loving their neighbors? Or, were the early Christians involved in violent civil unrest (Matt. 21:12, Mark 11:15, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:14-15), involved in what could only have been perceived as gathering armies outside of town (Matthew 14:19, Mark 6:44, Luke 9:14, John 6:10), and claimed to have a king without the emperor's consent (with terms like son of David, Lord, and Messiah -- too many instances to cite).

Please understand that I'm working under the assumption that these books contain only facts (which they obviously don't) but we're assuming Paul told the truth and that's pretty suspect as well.

[And I also meant to point out:]

Not all the Jews were nationalists, several are depicted in the New Testament as tolerating (at least) a Roman presence in Palestine.

[This message has been edited by smugg (edited April 12, 2001).]
 
Old 04-12-2001, 08:59 PM   #9
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To be more specific about possible reasons, the early Christians had worshipped "Christ as if a god" [Christo quasi deo], according to Pliny the Younger. And worshipping extra deities is, of course, a heresy in Judaism. So as a good Jew, Paul had tried to give those heretics what he believed they deserved.

 
Old 04-12-2001, 09:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by smugg:
But Paul was Roman as well as Jewish, maybe more Roman than Jewish. He was from Asia Minor -- a land more Hellenic than Hebrew. His sympathies may have been with the "conservative party" rather than the rebels.

Do you really think he'd go around stoning peace cult members who probably had their hands full with all that cheek-turning and loving their neighbors? Or, were the early Christians involved in violent civil unrest (Matt. 21:12, Mark 11:15, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:14-15), involved in what could only have been perceived as gathering armies outside of town (Matthew 14:19, Mark 6:44, Luke 9:14, John 6:10), and claimed to have a king without the emperor's consent (with terms like son of David, Lord, and Messiah -- too many instances to cite).

Please understand that I'm working under the assumption that these books contain only facts (which they obviously don't) but we're assuming Paul told the truth and that's pretty suspect as well.

[And I also meant to point out:]

Not all the Jews were nationalists, several are depicted in the New Testament as tolerating (at least) a Roman presence in Palestine.

[This message has been edited by smugg (edited April 12, 2001).]
</font>
Actually, stoning a peaceful group, although unusual for the Romans, would not be as unexpected from a zealous Jew convinced that the targets were guilty of blasphemy. And, we have no evidence of Roman persecution of Christians. After Jesus was killed, they did not persecute his followers. However, there is ample evidence that the Jews were persecuting the Christians. Paul's own testimony, both before his conversion and after it. The persecutions recorded in Acts. And Josephus' description of the killing of James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem Church at the hands of the high priest.

No, the Christians were being persecuted for religious reasons. Religious reasons that implied blasphemy.
 
 

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