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Old 04-22-2001, 07:23 PM   #1
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Post Paul in Rome? (attn: Polycarp)

Polycarp wrote, in the thread Paul the Persecutor

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Paulís letters, Clement, Irenaeus, Justin, and on and on all clearly indicate that Paulís message was the same as the other disciples. Paulís letter to the Romans is a perfect example. He is writing to Rome in about 57 CE, but heís never been to Rome. In addition, he presupposes common beliefs with the Christians in Rome even though he didnít establish the church. How is this possible according to your theory? It is clear that the other early Christian missionaries were preaching the same basic message as Paul. The differences between early Christians (including Paul) related to how the Mosaic Law should be applied to Gentiles. ďDid they have to first become Jews before becoming a Christisn?Ē, etc.</font>
What evidence is there that Paul had not yet been to Rome before writing his letter to the Romans? I was always under the impression, even back when I was a Christian, that Paul's letter to the Romans was written to a church he himself founded.

Who did found the church in Rome, if not Paul?

Catholics have a tradition that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome, but this tradition has long been disputed by Protestants. Do you know of any hard evidence one way or the other on this question?
 
Old 04-23-2001, 06:37 AM   #2
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Kate Long: What evidence is there that Paul had not yet been to Rome before writing his letter to the Romans? I was always under the impression, even back when I was a Christian, that Paul's letter to the Romans was written to a church he himself founded.
Who did found the church in Rome, if not Paul?
Catholics have a tradition that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome, but this tradition has long been disputed by Protestants. Do you know of any hard evidence one way or the other on this question?
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</font>
First, there is no evidence to indicate that Paul had ever been to Rome before being sent to prison there in about 60 C.E. His letters never mention a visit to Rome prior to this, and Acts never mentions a visit prior to this imprisonment. On this basis alone it is almost certain that Paul never went to Rome prior to this event. But thereís much moreÖ

In Paulís letter to Rome (Romans) he gives several clear indicators that he has never been there. In Romans 1:10-15 he says

ďand I always ask in my prayers, if perhaps now at last I may succeed in visiting you in the will of God. 1:11 For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, 1:12 that is, that we may be mutually comforted by one another's faith, both yours and mine. 1:13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I often intended to come to you (and was prevented until now), so that I may have some fruit even among you, just as I already have among the rest of the Gentiles. 1:14 I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 1:15 Thus I am eager also to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome.Ē

This clearly indicates that Paul has never been to Rome, but he has wanted to do so for a long time. At the time he is writing this letter he now has definite plans to go there. We see his plans in more detail later in the letter. In Romans 15:22-29 he say this:

ď15:22 This is the reason I was often hindered from coming to you. 15:23 But now there is nothing more to keep me in these regions, and I have for many years desired to come to you 15:24 when I go to Spain. For I hope to visit you when I pass through and that you will help me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.
15:25 But now I go to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 15:26 For Macedonia and Achaia are pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 15:27 For they were pleased to do this, and indeed they are indebted to the Jerusalem saints. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are obligated also to minister to them in material things. 15:28 Therefore after I have completed this and have safely delivered this bounty to them, I will set out for Spain by way of you, 15:29 and I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of Christ's blessing.Ē

It is apparent that Paul had never been to Rome when writing this letter. However, heís finally planning to do so shortly after this letter was written.

I donít think there is sufficient evidence to claim that Peter STARTED the church in Rome. It is clear that he was active in Rome later in the 60ís C.E., but he wasnít the one who started the church. Nobody really knows exactly who brought Christianity to Rome. There were a lot of missionaries. In addition, many Jews of Rome would travel to Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem they would have been in contact with Christians. These people may have then returned to Rome as Christians. So we really donít know specifically who the first Christian was in Rome, but we do know there were Christians in Rome no later than the 40ís C.E. We know this from passages such as Acts 18:1-3 which tell us:

18:1 After this Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 18:2 He found there a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to depart from Rome. Paul approached them, 18:3 and because he worked at the same trade, he stayed with them and worked with them (for they were tentmakers by trade).

Claudius expelled Jews from Rome in 49 C.E. Aquila and Priscilla were Christians in Rome at the time of this expulsion.

Despite the pleas of Catholics I seriously doubt that Peter was the one who first brought Christianity to Rome. Somebody did, but it wasnít Peter or Paul.

Peace,

Polycarp

 
Old 04-23-2001, 11:07 AM   #3
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Who founded the church in Rome?

Well, as Polycarp has shown, it clearly wasn't Paul. It appears to have began as a Jewish Christian sect of a conservative bent. I've begun a thread on this:

http://www.infidels.org/electronic/f...ML/000443.html
 
Old 04-26-2001, 03:30 PM   #4
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Can we rule out the possibility that the Church in Rome might have been founded by someone associated with Paul, even if Paul himself did not found it?
 
Old 04-26-2001, 03:41 PM   #5
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Kate Long:
Can we rule out the possibility that the Church in Rome might have been founded by someone associated with Paul, even if Paul himself did not found it?</font>
I believe so.

Please review my discussion of the founders of the church in Rome. Therein I discuss the evidence that the Church in Rome was founded by conservative Jewish Christians.

http://www.infidels.org/electronic/f...ML/000443.html

I would add that many of the scholars I have read on this issue also detect a very different tone in Paul's letter to the Romans than can be found in his letters to churches with which he was affiliated.

Are you aware of any evidence that the church in Rome was founded by Paul or one of his affiliates?
 
Old 04-26-2001, 03:55 PM   #6
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Kate Long:
Can we rule out the possibility that the Church in Rome might have been founded by someone associated with Paul, even if Paul himself did not found it?</font>
I wouldnít say its absolutely impossible, but I would say it is unlikely. Paul makes frequent mention of his fellow workers and their travels (1 Cor 4:17, 1 Cor 16:10-18, 2 Cor 12:18, etc) but he never talks about sending anyone to Rome. There is no hint of evidence to support a claim that the church in Rome was founded by a follower of Paul. It is just as likely that it was founded by a follower of Peter, or even an original disciple of Jesus. There is simply not enough evidence to name a specific individual. I donít think the church at Rome was begun by a missionary who had traveled there.

The most likely scenario seems to me that Christianity arrived in Rome like this: Jews in Rome made pilgrimages to Jerusalem. When in Jerusalem they came into contact with Christians. Upon returning to Rome these new Christians made converts. Even as late as the 90ís C.E. it is clear that the church in Rome had a heavy Jewish influence unlike Pauline Christianity. We know this from Clementís letter which is written by a church leader in Rome writing in 95 C.E. who greatly admires both Peter and Paul.

When there isnít enough evidence to support a position, I donít claim dogmatism. Iím open to hearing other ideas provided theyíre supported with persuasive evidence. Do you have any evidence that supports the idea that Christianity was brought to Rome by a follower of Paul?

Peace,

Polycarp


 
Old 04-26-2001, 05:38 PM   #7
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Originally posted by Polycarp:
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Do you have any evidence that supports the idea that Christianity was brought to Rome by a follower of Paul?</font>
Not that I know of.

Thus, it now appears to me that we do not have proof (and perhaps not even strong evidence) for the hypothesis that Christianity as we know it was founded by Paul, but, it seems, we cannot absolutely rule out that hypothesis either. My impression from the threads on this board is that the entire early history of Christianity seems pretty murky, given how few historical sources we have for that era at all.
 
Old 04-26-2001, 05:44 PM   #8
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Kate Long:
Originally posted by Polycarp:
Not that I know of.

Thus, it now appears to me that we do not have proof (and perhaps not even strong evidence) for the hypothesis that Christianity as we know it was founded by Paul, but, it seems, we cannot absolutely rule out that hypothesis either. My impression from the threads on this board is that the entire early history of Christianity seems pretty murky, given how few historical sources we have for that era at all.
</font>
I disagree with your characterization.

We have abosultely zero evidence that Paul founded the church in Rome. We have absolutely zero evidence that one of Paul's disciples founded the church in Rome.

On the other hand, we have first hand evidence from Paul himself, strong secondary evidence from an associate of Paul's to the same regard in Acts, and ample secondary evidence from early Christian writings, and preserved conservative Jewish practices that strongly indicate a strong Jewish bent among the founders of the Roman church. A bent not found in either Paul's letters or the churches he founded.

There is nothing murky about it.

Zero vs. First and Second Hand accounts & strong indirect corroboration.



[This message has been edited by Layman (edited April 26, 2001).]
 
Old 04-27-2001, 08:37 AM   #9
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You may be right that the Paul-as-founder-of-Christianity hypothesis is not plausible.

The aim of Maccoby's hypothesis was as a way to explain the non-Jewish nature of some aspects of Christian theology by alleging that Christianity as we know it today came from a source distinct from the original (and, Maccoby hypothesized, more purely Jewish in their theology) followers of Jesus.

However, Maccoby's hypothesis isn't really necessary in order to explain where the pagan influences on Christianity might have come from. Jerusalem attracted Jewish pilgrims -- some of them probably pretty Hellenized -- from all over the known world. Thus, some pagan-influenced expectations about the Jewish Messiah could easily have been introduced into Jewish culture, much to the horror of Jewish purists.


[This message has been edited by Kate Long (edited April 27, 2001).]
 
Old 04-27-2001, 09:08 AM   #10
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The aim of Maccoby's hypothesis was as a way to explain the non-Jewish nature of some aspects of Christian theology by alleging that Christianity as we know it today came from a source distinct from the original (and, Maccoby hypothesized, more purely Jewish in their theology) followers of Jesus.</font>
My opinion on this is that Maccoby goes wrong by trying to find a single source for the Jesus movement. Even before the fall of Jerusalem (as hinted at in Paul's letters) you had different groups disagreeing with each other over matters of doctrine. And the community in Alexandria was extremely influenced by local culture. For example, early Christians there buried their dead with Egyptian ankhs. Philo used Greek mysticism to interpret Moses as manna -- influencing several Jews there, which might help to explain why the author of John felt it necessary to have Jesus say "I am the bread of life." My point is that we're better off looking at the whole exchange of ideas between people and cultures that was so prominent at the time rather than thinking of Christianity as something which emerged in isolation of the cultures around it.

James
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