1 Corinthians Chapter 1:10-17

Chapter 1 continues….

10 Παρακαλῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ λέγητε πάντες, καὶ μὴ ᾖ ἐν ὑμῖν σχίσματα, ἦτε δὲ κατηρτισμένοι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ νοῒ καὶ ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ γνώμῃ.

For I implore you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that you all say the same things, and that (there) not (be) divisions among you, that you may be completed in the same mind and the same knowing.

Divisions. Frankly, I don’t think that enough emphasis has been placed on this. I talked about it before we did Mark, and it seems even more important now. There were multiple message streams. Different groups apparently had different views, or interpretations, if not outright separate beliefs. And here, it seems the same occurred even within what was nominally the same group. Imagine the differences that would have developed between groups in different cities, or towns, especially if the Good News was brought by Paul to one group, and by Apollos (see below) to another. And remember the guy casting out demons in Jesus’ name, even though he wasn’t part of the group (Mk 9:38)? Was he also preaching? What was his message?

Those are not rhetorical questions. Assuming that we can take this as in some way historical, it matters. It matters a lot, and it’s a shame that it hasn’t gotten more attention than it has (which is, as far as I can tell, about none). Is it historical? Given what Paul is telling us, I don’t see why we should doubt it. Paul provides a first-hand account by a primary source; historians cannot ask for better evidence. He was there; he saw it; he wrote it down (or maybe his secretary did after Paul dictated it). Primary, eyewitness evidence. And there is no reason to think that things improved between Paul and Mark; that is, there is no reason to think that the number of interpretations of Jesus decreased. It would be just the opposite. And again, this is not an inference based on likelihood; given the amount of time the early Church Fathers spent combating heresy, we know that the problem of multiple, differing interpretations only continued for the next,  oh, 500 years, continued on for another 500 in the Greek Empire, and then started up again in the Latin West. The differing interpretations have not abated. 

Given this, my idea that Mark encountered two separate strains, which he then welded together, is not hard to imagine. It seems like a gross oversimplification, if anything.

10 Obsecro autem vos, fratres, per nomen Domini nostri Iesu Christi, ut idipsum dicatis omnes, et non sint in vobis schismata, sitis autem perfecti in eodem sensu et in eadem sententia.

11 ἐδηλώθη γάρ μοι περὶ ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί μου, ὑπὸ τῶν Χλόης ὅτι ἔριδες ἐν ὑμῖν εἰσιν.

For it has been stated to me about you, my brothers, about the household of Chloe, that there is contention amongst you. 

Comment deferred for  moment.

11 Significatum est enim mihi de vobis, fratres mei, ab his, qui sunt Chloes, quia contentiones inter vos sunt.

12 λέγω δὲ τοῦτο, ὅτι ἕκαστος ὑμῶν λέγει, Ἐγὼ μέν εἰμι Παύλου, Ἐγὼ δὲ Ἀπολλῶ, Ἐγὼ δὲ Κηφᾶ, Ἐγὼ δὲ Χριστοῦ.

But I say to you this, that each of you say, “I, on the one hand, am of Paul, but I one the other am of Apollos, but I am of Cephas (Peter), while (but) I am of Christ.

Here is the Apollos I mentioned in the comment to V-10. Now, one of the factions is that of Cephas, Peter. Given what we were told in Galatians, about how Peter tended to defer to James, can we infer that this would be the Judaizing faction of James? Well, we can infer it, but with how much confidence? I would put it well within the realm of likelihood; we know that this faction existed, and we know that Peter was part of it, so I would put the probability somewhere above 80% that this is what Paul means. And (likelihood > 80%) is a pretty good answer for an issue this diffuse that occurred that long ago. And we know what Paul’s group believed, more or less. What about Apollos? How did he differ? How much did he differ? Did he differ? Those questions cannot be answered with much more than about 10% likelihood, IMO. In fact, it would be closer to zero than ten.

The “I am of Christ” I think…well, I don’t know exactly what to think. Is this the same as Paul’s group? If so, then why distinguish the two? Is this just a rhetorical flourish, without real meaning? Entirely possible, with a likelihood around 30% (based on speculation, without any really hard evidence). Is it simply a stand-in for the ‘true’ (or ‘True’) interpretation? The likelihood of this is probably about the same 30%, which would mean that it’s better than 50/50 that there is no real doctrinal difference in this position in relation to the other three.

12 Hoc autem dico, quod unusquisque vestrum dicit: “ Ego quidem sum Pauli ”, “ Ego autem Apollo ”, “ Ego vero Cephae ”, “ Ego autem Christi ”.

13 μεμέρισται ὁ Χριστός; μὴ Παῦλος ἐσταυρώθη ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ἢ εἰς τὸ ὄνομα Παύλου ἐβαπτίσθητε;

Has Christ been divided? It wasn’t Paul who was crucified over you, or in the name of Paul that you were baptised.

This comment about baptism is interesting in light of how this develops.

13 Divisus est Christus? Numquid Paulus crucifixus est pro vobis, aut in nomine Pauli baptizati estis?

14 εὐχαριστῶ [τῷ θεῷ] ὅτι οὐδένα ὑμῶν ἐβάπτισα εἰ μὴ Κρίσπον καὶ Γάϊον,

I give thanks to God that I baptised none of you except Crispus and Gaius.

Now, this is interesting: Paul, presumably, established this community of followers of Jesus, but he only baptised two of them. That would strike me as odd, given the emphasis that is later put on baptism.

14 Gratias ago Deo quod neminem vestrum baptizavi, nisi Crispum et Gaium,

15 ἵνα μή τις εἴπῃ ὅτι εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα ἐβαπτίσθητε.

As a result, no one can say that in my name he was baptised.

He seems to be bragging about this, doesn’t he? Or, if not bragging, then perhaps relieved?

“As a result” is, technically, a bit of a loose translation of <<  ἵνα >>, but I believe it’s justified.

15 ne quis dicat quod in nomine meo baptizati sitis.

16 ἐβάπτισα δὲ καὶ τὸν Στεφανᾶ οἶκον: λοιπὸν οὐκ οἶδα εἴ τινα ἄλλον ἐβάπτισα.

For I also baptised the household of Stephan; the rest I don’t know, if I baptised anyone else.

He doesn’t remember? That’s a bit odd, isn’t it? Shouldn’t this be a memorable moment in the life of the community? In the life of the new member of the assembly? What is up with Paul’s attitude here? Seriously, doesn’t he seem to be dismissive, at the least of baptism?

16 Baptizavi autem et Stephanae domum; ceterum nescio si quem alium baptizaverim.

17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλέν με Χριστὸς βαπτίζειν ἀλλὰ εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου, ἵνα μὴ κενωθῇ ὁ σταυρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

For Christ did not sent me to baptize, but to evangelize (= “preach the good news”), not in wisdom, so as not to invalidate the cross of Christ.

17 Non enim misit me Christus baptizare, sed evangelizare; non in sapientia verbi, ut non evacuetur crux Christi.

Taking the last bit first: wisdom would somehow invalidate the cross of Christ. This is why I made the comment in V-5 that it was unusual to hear Paul talking about wisdom in a positive way.  But we will pick up on this in the next post on Chapter 1.

Before that, we have a !Holy Toledo! moment that is something of the culmination of the past few verses in which Paul seems not terribly keen on the idea of baptism. For Paul says, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to evangelize”. How does this square with “…unless you are born again of water and the Holy Spirit…” That is, unless you are baptized. And yet Paul, apparently, puts no value on this practice. In fact, he seems downright disdainful of it . Perhaps what we have here is an excellent indication of the “Two (at least) Jesus” theory that I’ve now put forward. If you’ll recall, my idea was that the Wonder Worker part of Mark was derived, ultimately, from the Baptist/Wonder-Worker? Jewish wing of the movement, which I suspect was headed by James. Paul, of course, is from the Christ/Gentile wing of the movement, which was led by, well, Paul. I believe this split persisted for possibly hundreds of years. The former was responsible, I believe, for the Didache, and for the portion of the so-called “Pseudo-Clementines” known as the Recognitiones.

We know, we absolutely know that there was a big variety of opinion on who Jesus was, and what he meant. There were possibly dozens of groups with peculiar ideas about Jesus the person, Jesus the Saviour,  Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Son of God. It is very, very important that the last three of these terms were not necessarily synonymous for a very long time even though, to modern Christians, they are, if not interchangeable, then descriptions of various aspects of Jesus. Paul and James had disagreements, apparently about cult practice: the disputes were about circumcision, unclean food, & c; this is not stuff that directly attaches to Jesus personally. or Jesus as the Christ. But they may indicated disagreements about the nature of Jesus, here using the term ‘nature’ in its theological sense: his human vs his divine natures. Credit where it’s due, Aslan pointed out that raising Jesus to divine status took the belief in Jesus out of the realm of Judaism, with its emphasis on a strict monotheism. As such, the Judaic wing of the movement would likely have resisted this elevation of Jesus.

The thing is, baptism is a cult practice. It’s a ritual. It has its roots in Judaic tradition and practice. As such, it’s part–at least peripherally–of The Law, and we know how Paul felt about The Law. Given these two premises, it’s not hard to deduce that Paul probably wasn’t a big fan of baptism, because, to him, it smacked of traditional cult practice. Believing was what mattered to Paul. It sounds like he did baptize, but perhaps reluctantly. So this almost off-hand remark–perhaps–gives some additional insight into the status quo in the years on either side of 55 CE.

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About James, brother of Jesus

I have a BA from the University of Toronto in Greek and Roman History. For this, I had to learn classical Greek and Latin. In seminar-style classes, we discussed both the meaning of the text and the language. U of T has a great Classics Dept. One of the professors I took a Senior Seminar with is now at Harvard. I started reading the New Testament as a way to brush up on my Greek, and the process grew into this. I plan to comment on as much of the NT as possible, starting with some of Paul's letters. After that, I'll start in on the Gospels, starting with Mark.

Posted on November 5, 2013, in 1 Corinthians, epistles, Paul's Letters and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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