Monthly Archives: July 2014

1 Corinthians Chapter 15:20-34

We left off with our only hope being in the anointed.

20 Νυνὶ δὲ Χριστὸς ἐγήγερται ἐκ νεκρῶ, ἀπαρχὴ τῶν κεκοιμημένων.

And now  the anointed was raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

‘First fruits’, of course, refer to an offering, a sacrifice. So ‘first fruits of the dead’ implies…what, exactly? That the dead are sacrifices, it would seem. So Jesus–or the anointed–was the first to die as a sacrifice. That certainly is in line with later Christian thought, so there’s nothing surprising here.

20 Nunc autem Christus resurrexit a mortuis, primitiae dormientium.

21 ἐπειδὴ γὰρ δι’ ἀνθρώπου θάνατος, καὶ δι’ ἀνθρώπου ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν:

For since through man (came) death, and (so) through man (c0mes) standing from the dead.

The word here is << ἀνάστασις >>, which means ‘standing up’, as opposed to the more common word, which means, ‘to be raised’. Adding the word “comes” is necessary; Paul is being epigrammatic here, and epigrammatic Greek and Latin means leaving words out. And, of course, this is the whole ‘New Adam’ theme.

21 Quoniam enim per hominem mors, et per hominem resurrectio mortuorum:

22 ὥσπερ γὰρ ἐν τῷ Ἀδὰμ πάντες ἀποθνῄσκουσιν, οὕτως καὶ ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ πάντες ζῳοποιηθήσονται.

For as in (through) Adam all die, in the same way in the anointed all will be made to have life.

‘Made to have life’ is sort of a disassembling of the components of the final word/verb. And now Paul makes the connection to the New Adam explicit.

22 sicut enim in Adam omnes moriuntur, ita et in Christo omnes vivificabuntur.

23 ἕκαστος δὲ ἐν τῷ ἰδίῳ τάγματι: ἀπαρχὴ Χριστός, ἔπειτα οἱ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ:

But each in his/her own way (is) set in order; (through the/because of the) first fruits of the anointed then those of the anointed (will partake) in his parousia.

It’s very tempting to connect ‘life’ from V-22 with the parousia in this verse. The parousia, of course, is the return of the Christ on the clouds, as explained in 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Given the proximity and the flow of the words, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch (if any at all) to infer that those being made alive are made so by virtue of the parousia, but please note that the connection is not explicit. Here we should note that this word is used 4 times in 1 Thessalonians, the most famous of which is Chapter 4:15. This is the only time it’s used to refer to the coming of Jesus in this letter. It seems to appear in only one extended passage in Matthew. It crops up again in later epistles, 2 Thessalonians, James, 2 Peter, and 1 John. It does not appear, as a word, in Luke or John. 

It does not appear in Revelations, where I would certainly expect it, but the concept of the return is certainly clear enough there. Nor does the word appear in Mark; however, as with Revelations, the concept is present, but only in the second half of the gospel, the Christ section. One wishes that Paul would explain this a bit more. Why doesn’t he? I suspect it’s because this was the central core of Paul’s teaching.  

I don’t think he was passing along the sayings of Jesus. Think about it: aside from the possible references to inclusiveness that we saw before, what of Jesus’ message have we heard about? Yes, we got the “quote” about the Last Supper, but that is all, and I fully believe it was something that Paul–or someone else–made up.

The word parousia was used four times in 1 Thessalonians; that, along with the idea of hardships–which may or may not have meant persecution as we think of it–are probably the two most prominent, or at least most persistent, themes in 1 Thessalonians. In Galatians, the theme was the relation of faith in the Christ to the Law. What have been the prominent themes themes here? Sexual immorality comes to mind, and the several chapters Paul spent arguing his superiority to Apollos. And women’s rightful place, in worship, and presumably in the home.

There have been many and varied strands of argumentation put forward to explain Paul’s lack of interest in anything Jesus said. The most popular, and the one that’s always been my default position is that Paul preached about Jesus when he was physically present. These epistles were not, primarily–if at all–intended as ways of teaching about Jesus. The epistles, rather, were intended to respond to specific questions and specific situations. But I’ve come up with another, which could, conceivably, be considered a variation on that.

As I now see it, Paul was not concerned about what Jesus said because what Jesus said did not matter in the long run. Why? Because there was no “long run”. In Paul’s opinion, Jesus was coming back, and soon. As such, the important thing was not what Jesus said about living your life, because you weren’t going to be living it much longer. The return was imminent. That’s why the topic loomed so large in 1 Thessalonians. That’s why the idea of the body not rising is so important here. It was about making yourself one of those of the anointed (works much better in Greek, or Latin), so that you would be ready when Jesus–or, The Christ–returned.

23 Unusquisque autem in suo ordine: primitiae Christus; deinde hi, qui sunt Christi, in adventu eius;

24 εἶτα τὸ τέλος, ὅταν παραδιδῷ τὴν βασιλείαν τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρί, ὅταν καταργήσῃ πᾶσαν ἀρχὴν καὶ πᾶσαν ἐξουσίαν καὶ δύναμιν. then the end, when the kingdom may be handed over to God over, and when, by God all of the rulers and all of those of worth and of power may have been destroyed.

That’s odd; why should the kingdom of God be handed over to God? Perhaps, since the rulers and the powerful will be destroyed, he’s referring in this instance to the earthly realm. And, btw, the verbs are in the subjunctive; I found that a bit odd, too. At first, I thought perhaps it was just me, but I started looking at different grammar books & online sources and I could not exactly come up with a good explanation. The best I can figure is that it’s here meant to signify unreal conditions. But using the subjunctive that way is not exactly the most Greek way to use it. But, there it is.

24 deinde finis, cum tradiderit regnum Deo et Patri, cum evacuaverit omnem principatum et omnem potestatem et virtutem.

25 δεῖ γὰρ αὐτὸν βασιλεύειν ἄχρι οὗ θῇ πάντας τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ. For he must reign until he has placed all the enemies under his feet. 

Another subjunctive, an aorist variety, as was the second verb in the previous clause. This makes sense, because it’s an unreal condition in the past. In one of the JD Crossan books that I read, he talked about apocalyptic writing as revenge fantasy of the downtrodden. I think we can see that here. Now, the thing is, I didn’t put a lot of stock in the idea that Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher; however, given the prominence that Paul gives the theme, I may have to re-think that position. This is a classic piece of revenge fantasy, where the oppressor gets his in the end. But then, a large part of the OT has a lot of this sort of talk, so I need to weigh this evidence out more. 

25 Oportet autem illum regnare, donec ponat omnes inimicos sub pedibus eius.

26 ἔσχατος ἐχθρὸς καταργεῖται ὁ θάνατος: The last enemy, death, will be destroyed will be destroyed.

Now we’re getting into the realm of eternal life. If death is destroyed, what else is there? What is the alternative? So, when we rise up to meet the Christ in the clouds (1 Thess 4:15), we will be rising into eternal life. And this would explain the concern about those who have already ‘fallen asleep’ that was expressed in Galatians, and to a lesser extent, earlier in 1 Corinthians. So the idea of eternal life has entered the arena; it’s part of the thought-world of Paul and his Communities. It’s also present in the last half of Mark, if a bit vaguely. So this was one of the strands of teaching expounded by followers of Jesus. There were others.

26 Novissima autem inimica destruetur mors;

27 πάντα γὰρ ὑπέταξεν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ. ὅταν δὲ εἴπῃ ὅτι πάντα ὑποτέτακται, δῆλον ὅτι ἐκτὸς τοῦ ὑποτάξαντος αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα.

For all are arranged under his feet. But when he would have said that all have been made subject (lit = ‘arranged under’ again), it is evident that he is outside (i.e. not a part of, not grouped with) all those having been made subject to him (God).   

This seems a bit odd. Why does this need to be stated? Of course God would not himself be included in those who are made subject to him. That would seem to go without saying, but apparently not.

27 omnia enim subiecit sub pedibus eius. Cum autem dicat: “Omnia subiecta sunt”, sine dubio praeter eum, qui subiecit ei omnia.

28 ὅταν δὲ ὑποταγῇ αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα, τότε [καὶ] αὐτὸς ὁ υἱὸς ὑποταγήσεται τῷ ὑποτάξαντι αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα, ἵνα ᾖ ὁ θεὸς [τὰ] πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν.

But when all have been subjected to him. then the son himself will be subject to all those having been subjugated to him (the father?) so that God be all in everything.

Once again, Paul rather explicitly says that the son and the father are not equal. The son will be subjected under the father, so that God may be absolute. This is not, I think, a very Jewish conception of God. Paul is saying that God is absolute, and that was not always the belief of Jews. YHWH was, originally, only one god among many. This absolutist interpretation feels more Greek, more like Plato, but that could only be the result of my background. I am more familiar with Greek ideas, so I see the Greek idea poking through. We see what we expect to see, or what we know how to recognise.

28 Cum autem subiecta fuerint illi omnia, tunc ipse Filius subiectus erit illi, qui sibi subiecit omnia, ut sit Deus omnia in omnibus.

29 Ἐπεὶ τί ποιήσουσιν οἱ βαπτιζόμενοι ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν; εἰ ὅλως νεκροὶ οὐκ ἐγείρονται, τί καὶ βαπτίζονται ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν;

Otherwise what do they do those having been baptized over the dead? If all the dead are not raised, whom did they also baptize over them?

This was tough for me to translate, largely because I don’t especially get in when I read it in English. Here is the NASB:     “Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?”

Apparently, people got baptised for the dead? That is, they stood proxy and were baptised with the understanding, or the idea that someone already dead was actually receiving the benefit of baptism? That does make sense, I suppose. To anyone even halfway familiar with the gyrations people went through on behalf of the dead in the later Middle Ages, this makes sense.  Luthere called it “Totenfresserin”; literally, ‘feeders on the dead’. This described the way the Church extorted money from people on behalf of deceased loved ones, to the point that in 15th Century England, a priest could make a good living saying masses on behalf of the deceased at the side altars in the larger churches.

But anyway, this apparently started even here. More important, though are the implications this practice carries for the belief in eternal life. From this we can infer that belief in eternal life was already well-established, at least among, or perhaps within, the communities that Paul had founded; moreover, this belief in the entrance into eternal life was based on the belief that Jesus had been raised from the dead. As such, Paul preached that all who “fell asleep” firm in their faith, would also be raised. But, from what we learned in the last section, someone (Apollos? The James Gang?) was preaching otherwise.  It would be very interesting, and it would provide some extremely valuable historical information to know who this was, and what their ‘pedigree’ was; or, perhaps, what the provenance of this teaching was. Did it derive from James? Or Peter? Or someone else? This would very much help untangle the threads of belief in the generation immediately following Jesus. In turn, it would help explain the threads of tradition that reached Mark.

I have said this before: Jesus preached to many people. As a result, many people came away with many different impressions of Jesus’ message, and many of these messages would have flatly contradicted each other. If you have never seen “The Life Of Brian”, there is a scene in which Brian’s mother hears Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount. But she’s at the back of the crowd, and hears “Blessed are the Greeks”. That sort of distortion happened many, many times. Recent research on eyewitness evidence has demonstrated how faulty and plain wrong it often is.  And Paul was not even an eyewitness, but someone to whom the message and meaning of Jesus came through direct revelation after the fact. 

29 Alioquin quid facient, qui baptizantur pro mortuis? Si omnino mortui non resurgunt, ut quid et baptizantur pro illis?

30 τί καὶ ἡμεῖς κινδυνεύομεν πᾶσαν ὥραν;

And why are we endangered every hour?

I’m sorry, but this is a complete non sequitur. Is it a metaphorical danger? The danger to one’s faith? That is how Calvin interprets this. 

30 Ut quid et nos periclitamur omni hora?

31 καθ’ ἡμέραν ἀποθνῄσκω, νὴ τὴν ὑμετέραν καύχησιν, [ἀδελφοί,] ἣν ἔχω ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν.

Each day I die, I affirm by your boasting, [brothers], that which I have in the anointed Jesus our lord.

Here we go with another one of those sentences. In sitations like this, for sentences like this, being a textual analyst, or even an English major would probably be more help. Calvin is not particularly helpful, either. Has the text been corrupted? If not, we’re in one of those passages that we called ‘consesus’ translations’ when we ran across them in 1 Thessalonians, or Galatians. Either that, or your present commentator is simply obtuse. That is a very real possibility.

31 Cotidie morior, utique per vestram gloriationem, fratres, quam habeo in Christo Iesu Domino nostro!

32 εἰ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον ἐθηριομάχησα ἐν Ἐφέσῳ, τί μοι τὸ ὄφελος; εἰ νεκροὶ οὐκ ἐγείρονται, Φάγωμεν καὶ πίωμεν, αὔριον γὰρ ἀποθνῄσκομεν.

If according to (the manner of) humans, I fought wild beasts in Ephesus, what is owed to me? If the dead are not raised, we should eat and we should drink, for tomorrow we die.

First, the part about fighting wild beasts in Ephesus sounds like being thrown to the lions in the Arena. I don’t especially know why he refers to Ephesus; at the time, it was one of the major Greek cities on the coast of what is now Turkey.  And here’s another instance of the fluid nature of tenses in Greek: “I fought” is an aorist, which is the normal tense for describing a discreet act completed in the past. And yet, I do not think we are to take this as meaning that he actually did this. The point is more, “if I should do that, what good will it do for me?” It’s hypothetical, and it does no good if he dead are not raised. And, obviousy, this all smacks of the stories of Christians being torn apart by wild beasts in the arena: their martyrdom won them salvation; so if the dead are not raised, they died for nothing.

I am frankly skeptical about a lot of the martyr stories, and about the general level of persecution Christians faced. There was some, certainly, but I find it difficult to believe that it was occurring at the tine of this epistle Paul was persecuting followers of Jesus, but he was doing it as a Jew, not as a Roman official. That he says this would take place in Ephesus sounds like it’s an offical sort of Roman legal action. Of course, I could be mistaken, and such persecution could have been occurrng at the time of writing; this passage could represent a fairly strong indicator of this,  or it could have been a general sort of thing that could happen to a lot of people for a lot of reasons.

As for the last bit about eating and drinking, I miss the part about being merry. To be honest, I had no idea this was the origin of that particlar sentiment.  I had even less idea that this line is from Isaiah. Regardless, the implication  of ths is clear enough that I can get it: if the dead are not raised, there is no real incentive to be moral, for we’re just going to die (and fairly soon) anyway. And again, I wish I had a better sense of the state of Jewish thought on this. Most Graeco-Roman adjurations to morality were based on appeals to reason in some way, shape, or form. They were not about being moral to attain an eternal reward; or, at least, not something definite. Marcus Aurelius does not advise right-acting because of some sort of reward, although one does sense that he did get something out of it. The idea of ‘virtue is it’s own reward’ is pretty strong in his writing, and one does sense that this slips into the metaphysical. 

32 Si secundum hominem ad bestias pugnavi Ephesi, quid mihi prodest? Si mortui non resurgunt, manducemus et bibamus, cras enim moriemur.

33 μὴ πλανᾶσθε: Φθείρουσιν ἤθη χρηστὰ ὁμιλίαι κακαί.

Do not wander. They corrupt good morals with bad colloquies. (That’s a real cop-out; the base meaning is ‘intercourse’, as in ‘social intercourse’. So…I’m still stumped, largely beacuse I tend to be too formal in my vocabulary. “Bad company ruins good morals” seems to be the standard translation for this.)

The theme of morality, while perhaps not overly emphasized, is persistent. I guess it’s partl that I expected to find some moral stricture lurking behind every other word, but I’ve been a little surprised that it hasn’t come up more often. Still, itis there, not altogether infrequently, so I suppose morality has to count as an important theme. I would hesitate to call it a major theme at this particular moment, but that may change.   

33 Noli te seduci: “Corrumpunt mores bonos colloquia mala ”.

34 ἐκνήψατε δικαίως καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε, ἀγνωσίαν γὰρ θεοῦ τινες ἔχουσιν: πρὸς ἐντροπὴν ὑμῖν λαλῶ.

Awaken justly, and do not sin, for some have ignorance of God; I say this regarding your shame.

34 Evigilate iuste et nolite peccare! Ignorantiam enim Dei quidam habent; ad reverentiam vobis loquor.

I have rendered this pretty literally, since I couldn’t think of what else to do with it, and rendering literally is kind of what I’m doing here. I’m not sure how one awakens “justly”, but there it is. But then I could not come up with an English equivalent that gets across the sense of movement implied by << πρὸς >>, but nothing came to mind.

As for the content, there really isn’t much to say. But that doesn’t mean that we can add “wake up from your drunken stupor” as the NASB does. That is the sort of flagrant addition to the text that convinced me to take this more literally. 

Advertisements

1 Corinthians 15:1-19

This is another very long chapter, with no really good, clean breaks, so please bear with me. But there are some really good theological concepts and ideas discussed here, so I think it should be, as Spock was wont to say, fascinating.

1 Γνωρίζω δὲ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ὃ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν, ὃ καὶ παρελάβετε, ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἑστήκατε,

But I made known to you, brothers, the good news which I have gospelized, and which you have received, and in which you stand,

Nothing shocking here. The rhetorical quirk is that he evangelized the evangelion; that is, he gospelized the gospel, or good-newsed the good news.

Spoiler Alert! John Calvin says that some members of the Community in Corinth have ceased to believe in the Resurrection. I certainly don’t get that from this first verse, so he must have read ahead. If this is true, then this presents some very, very interesting questions about the development of belief among the followers of Jesus.

1 Notum autem vobis facio, fratres, evangelium, quod evangelizavi vobis, quod et accepistis, in quo et statis,

2 δι’ οὗ καὶ σῴζεσθε, τίνι λόγῳ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν εἰ κατέχετε, ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ εἰκῇ ἐπιστεύσατε.

and through which you are saved, for which reason I have gospelized you, if you have it, otherwise out of it you believe vainly.

(= I have gospelized you, if you [still] have it, otherwise, if you are now outside of the news [if you’ve forgotten it], then you believe vainly. 

We’re back to being saved. In Mark, this word is used almost exclusively for a physical salvation, as in saving one’s mortal life, or even being healed in the case of the bleeding woman. In 1 Corinthians–and not before–we get some other sense of saved. At least, I think we do.  I don’t think saving their mortal lives makes sense here. Naturally, the tendency and the impetus is to read this as it came to be read by the Christian Church, in terms of eternal salvation. Honestly, though, if you look at how it’s used even in Matthew and Luke, that later Christian sense is not terribly prominent. It’s not until John 3:17 that, I think, we can be fairly confident that we have moved into the Christian sense of the concept. 

Here’s a thought. Maybe it did mean saving the mortal life, even for Paul. Think back to 1 Thessalonians 4, when Jesus would be coming down to meet us and those who are saved would be raised up to meet him in mid-air, on the clouds. We do not get the sense that this is a spiritual event; rather, it’s a physical one. So maybe Paul does intend this in the more common sense of  ‘to save’. At the very least, we cannot be convincingly certain that Paul is talking about the salvation of the soul. I don’t think this idea is truly present in Paul. It may be implicit, and implied, but it’s not the fully-formed concept that it became in the Christian Church of the Second, or probably more like the Third Century.

But let’s take a look at that very last bit: otherwise you believe vainly. Everyone–including John Calvin and the Vulgate below– puts this in the past tense: you have believed in vain; but it’s a present indicative: you believe. Now, the idea of past & present tenses is much more fluid in Greek than it is in English. And it does make sense to put it in past tense: if you no longer hold what I taught, then you believed in vain. And yet, and yet…He’s not, I think, saying that they don’t believe. I think he’s saying that what they believe is wrong. IOW, they believe one of those other gospels. Perhaps like the one of Apollos. Remember him? How Paul planted the seed, and Apollos watered it? Honestly, I do believe that this is what Paul means.

2 per quod et salvamini, qua ratione evangelizaverim vobis, si tenetis, nisi si frustra credidistis!

3 παρέδωκα γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν πρώτοις, ὃ καὶ παρέλαβον, ὅτι Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν κατὰ τὰς γραφάς,

For I gave over to you first (lit = ‘in first’, which makes no sense in English), and that which you received, that the anointed died for our sins, accordingly as it was written.

Yes, ‘anointed’ = ‘the christ’. The more times I run across this word, the less certain I am about whether to capitalize it or not.

But the anointed, or the Anointed, died for our sins. Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: this is exactly the second time that the idea of Jesus dying for our sins is mentioned. The first came in Galatians 1:4, where Paul uses almost the same expression. And, oddly, it doesn’t show up all that much in Mark, nor even in Matthew. Why not?

Seriously. Why not? Is this not one of, if not the crucial part of the message? This is how we are put right before God; doesn’t it deserve a bit more emphasis? One thing I wonder: the idea of repenting sins was the central message of the Baptist; does that explain the lack of emphasis from Paul? I honesty don’t know, but the very casual attitude towards such a key idea seems really odd.

The ‘according to the writing’ refers, per Monsieur Calvin, to Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:26, and Psalm 22. Who am I to argue? Now, Psalm 22 is the one that begins, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”, which Jesus quoted on the cross in Mark, only to be misunderstood by the passersby. And all three of these passages talk about someone who, while innocent, has been punished, perhaps unto death, by God. the passage from Isaiah–technically, Deutero-Isaiah–has become known as the “Suffering Servant” theme. It is largely because of the way that Christians have appropriated this chapter as a prophecy about Jesus, that I, raised as a Christian, assumed Isaiah to be the most significant of the Hebrew profits. Jews, however, would, by and large, assign this role to Elijah. Of course, had I been more educated in the Hebrew Scriptures, I might have arrived at a more accurate conclusion.

The three talk about an innocent man seemingly abandoned by God, and broken by men. And Isaiah pretty explicitly says that this Suffering Servant, whom no one regarded, was punished for the sins of the people, meaning Israel.  So, the scriptural precedent is there, or can be interpreted as being there without stretching the matter too much. It is fairly plain.  The question is, was Paul the first to make this connection? There are echoes of this theme in Mark, especially in the latter half of Mark, even though the remission of sins theme is confined to six references in Chapters 1 & 2, the first two of which refer to the Baptist. But Mark does not link the Suffering Servant with remission of, or forgiveness from, sins. In fact, the word for sin, << ἁμαρτία >> is not used after Chapter 2:10.

So this is a highly significant, and extremely important passage. Too much to be discussed adequately here. So I’m compelled to make note of it and move on–for the moment.

3 Tradidi enim vobis in primis, quod et accepi, quoniam Christus mortuus est pro peccatis nostris secundum Scripturas

4 καὶ ὅτι ἐτάφη, καὶ ὅτι ἐγήγερται τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ κατὰ τὰς γραφάς,

And that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day, according to the writing (=scriptures).

Now this is interesting: M. Calvin cites the passages for the Suffering Servant, but not the part about being raised from the dead. Here we have to go back to the passive voice: he was raised, not he rose, which implies that Jesus was not the actor, but the object. To me, this is a huge distinction. It’s not quibbling over tenses in Greek verbs, whether it’s an aorist or a perfect, or a present indicative. Rather, it’s about the subject of the sentence. The passive voice switches subject and object: she threw the ball vs the ball was thrown by her. 

To the best of my knowledge, there is no precedent for this in the OT. Yes, prophets do raise others–the famous ‘dry bones’ story being the best example, because it’s not a single person, but many. However, none of the prophets themselves rose, or were raised, from the dead. Elijah was taken up into Heaven, as Jesus was later. And, in John, Jesus raised Lazarus, which does parallel the way the OT prophets raised others. But here, Jesus does not rise himself; he was raised by God, as we were told in Galatians 1:1.

Why is this important? It speaks to the question of how Jesus was seen by his earliest followers. Recall that Mark was very ambivalent about Jesus’ divinity for much of his gospel, only describing him in terms of divinity in the latter chapters; that is, in the “Christ Section” of the gospel. Matthew, Luke, and John, OTOH, have no such qualms. Jesus was divine from before birth, divinely conceived by the breath of God.

That Jesus was raised by another agent–God–implies very strongly that Paul did not believe that Jesus was divine. That is, Paul apparently believed that Jesus was a man. The Christ, on the other hand, the one who was raised from the dead, is probably a different story.

Finally, just want to revisit the ‘according to the scriptures’. Which scriptures? Some have pointed out that Paul, on occasion, played a bit fast and loose with his scriptural citations. Sometimes, they say, Paul implied that the OT said things that really didn’t. Here, Paul says that something was written that, maybe, wasn’t. Again, here is where we have to make that crucial distinction between Truth and factual accuracy. Paul, I think, would have been horrified by someone calling him a liar. He did not intend to deceive. Rather, he was speaking to a Higher Truth, rather than recounting dry fact. This is a very important distinction that must always be kept in mind. It is one, I think, that the QHJ completely misses.

4 et quia sepultus est et quia suscitatus est tertia die secundum Scripturas

5 καὶ ὅτι ὤφθη Κηφᾷ, εἶτα τοῖς δώδεκα:

And that he was seen by Cephas, and then by the Twelve.

First, this kind of blows a hole in my idea that the Twelve were a later invention, perhaps as late as Mark. I can, perhaps, massage this, but it gets more difficult. However, it does not mean that the Twelve were created by Jesus. They may have been a creation of the post-Easter community. Because, recall, that there were only Eleven on Easter.

More importantly, Jesus was seen by Cephas. But more to follow.

5 et quia visus est Cephae et post haec Duodecim;

6 ἔπειτα ὤφθη ἐπάνω πεντακοσίοις ἀδελφοῖς ἐφάπαξ, ἐξ ὧν οἱ πλείονες μένουσιν ἕως ἄρτι, τινὲς δὲ ἐκοιμήθησαν:

Then he was seen later by five hundred brothers (any sisters in there?), of whom the majority remained until now, even if some of them fell asleep (= ‘died’).

6 deinde visus est plus quam quingentis fratribus simul, ex quibus plures manent usque adhuc, quidam autem dormierunt;

7 ἔπειτα ὤφθηἸακώβῳ, εἶτα τοῖς ἀποστόλοις πᾶσιν:

Then he was seen by James, then by all the apostles;

7 deinde visus est Iacobo, deinde apostolis omnibus;

8 ἔσχατον δὲ πάντων ὡσπερεὶ τῷ ἐκτρώματιὤφθη κἀμοί.

Last/finally, of all as untimely born, even by me.

A whole bunch of stuff in there. First, note that the Twelve and the apostles are not the same group. He appeared to one, then to the other.  Ergo, the Twelve Apostles is highly problematic, and a great example of how things get expanded and conflated as time passes and the story is retold. This is, I think, an example of how later writers, put two groups together that were not really the same. It’s less confusing that way.

Secondly, the idea of 500 brothers. Now, what my historian’s training is telling me is that Cephas was part of the Twelve, and that the Twelve perhaps were the leadership council of the 500 (and probably others). James, however, was not part of this group; he was one of the apostles, or the lead person of the apostles. So, right from the start, you have two separate factions coming out of the teaching of one person. And note that we are not told how many apostles there were; was this the smaller group? So was Cephas the leader of the larger group? I think there is basis for this conclusion. Paul separates them, and groups them. I think we can justifiably infer that these groupings reflected reality in some way.

(Note: leader should perhaps be rendered as ‘prominent among’ that particular group. Calling someone leader may distort the situation, but it is a useful shorthand.)

Third, there were 500 brothers. That indicates a significant following. Is this why Mark tells us that Jesus was so popular? Most likely. 

Fourth, note the progression: from Cephas, ultimately, to Paul. We are going in a descending order of importance. Cephas was first; ergo he was the important one. Ergo he was probably a companion of Jesus. I believe that we can bank on that as an historical fact. James came later. He was not as important. Now, we have to consider whether the dispute between James and Paul left a certain bitter taste in Paul’s mouth, and he strikes me as the sort of person who could hold a grudge. So, we have to account for that when we assign levels of rank.

Finally, he appeared to Paul. This is a very significant claim, and has major implications for what it means that ‘Jesus was seen by’ someone. In the later gospels, we get Jesus as a physical being, who was physically present, notably eating with them until…when? Luke, of course, tells us Jesus was taken up into Heaven. But Luke is the only one who says this. Matthew and John just sort of leave it all hanging.  

So what happened to Jesus after the Resurrection? Taking Luke’s story, since it’s the only one we have, Jesus was around for 40 days until he ascended into Heaven, never to be seen on earth again. Paul says no such thing. Now, the  << ἔσχατον >> can mean a lot of things; one of them is that Jesus was seen by no one after Paul. And, I think. that is exactly what he means here. IOW, he was the last one in, and he shut the door behind him, so to speak, so that no one subsequently can claim the revelation from Jesus–or the Christ–himself.

Given all this, we can take ‘he was seen’ to mean any number of things. What I do not think we can infer, OTOH, is that Paul saw the Christ in any physical sense. That part, I think, came later, as a means of emphasizing that what those who saw Jesus were not seeing a vision, or some sort of spiritual visitation (common enough among pagans), but the actual, physical Jesus. This would have another raft of theological implications–the raising of the physical body as the Pharisees believed among them–but those are for another discussion.

For now, suffice it that Paul was convinced that he saw the resurrected Christ, and that this Christ imparted the words that Paul was preaching. IOW, how dare Apollos–or anyone–impugn Paul’s message?

8 novissime autem omnium, tamquam abortivo, visus est et mihi.

9 Ἐγὼ γάρ εἰμι ὁ ἐλάχιστος τῶν ἀποστόλων, ὃς οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς καλεῖσθαι ἀπόστολος, διότι ἐδίωξα τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ:

For I am the least of the Apostles, I who am not worthy to be called apostle, because I persecuted the assembly (community) of God.

Well, he may be the least, but by gadfrey, he’s still an apostle. And for the life of me, it would be really interesting to know what exactly Paul means when he says he persecuted the communities of God.  This is one of those topics on which it’s hard to get good evidence. Or any evidence at all, really, aside from a few comments like this, and the horror stories propagated by the later Christians.

9 Ego enim sum minimus apostolorum, qui non sum dignus vocari apostolus, quoniam persecutus sum ecclesiam Dei;

10 χάριτι δὲ θεοῦ εἰμι ὅ εἰμι, καὶ ἡ χάρις αὐτοῦ ἡ εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ κενὴ ἐγενήθη, ἀλλὰ περισσότερον αὐτῶν πάντων ἐκοπίασα, οὐκ ἐγὼ δὲ ἀλλὰ ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ [ἡ] σὺν ἐμοί.

By the favor of God I am what I am. and the gift which is to me did not become vain, but more than all others I have toiled, but it is not I, other than the grace of God which is with me. 

This is a bit garbled at the end. I think it’s something like, he’s not the one accomplishing the task; rather, it’s done by the grace/favor/gift of God. Remember, I don’t like using grace because of the overburden of implications that are now loaded onto the word.  

And note how Paul reminds us that he worked more than anyone. These little clues, I think, give some good insight into Paul’s personality. He seems often to have felt put upon, he whines a bit, and he’s not going to pass up a chance to blow his own horn. These hints matter. They matter because they are the traits of someone who is not going to afraid to make decisions, and to make them on his own authority. He may feel a bit nervous about doing so, but this won’t stop him, and he will try his best to tough his way through them. As such, it will be ever more difficult to separate between what he says/decides, and what he got from Jesus.

But!

If he “got it from Jesus” what that means is that he believes that his thoughts are divinely inspired. He has no reason to be concerned with what Jesus the man said; he is only concerned with what the Resurrected Christ revealed to him.

10 gratia autem Dei sum id, quod sum, et gratia eius in me vacua non fuit, sed abundantius illis omnibus laboravi; non ego autem, sed gratia Dei mecum.

11 εἴτε οὖν ἐγὼ εἴτε ἐκεῖνοι, οὕτως κηρύσσομεν καὶ οὕτως ἐπιστεύσατε.

Therefore, whether I or another, we preach in this way and in this way you believe. 

Then, after all that, it doesn’t matter who preaches? This is true if we assume a unity of message. However, I don’t think that is anywhere near having been demonstrated.

11 Igitur sive ego sive illi, sic praedicamus, et sic credidistis.

12 Εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς κηρύσσεται ὅτι ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγήγερται, πῶς λέγουσιν ἐν ὑμῖν τινες ὅτι ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν οὐκ ἔστιν;

But if the anointed should be preached that he was raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection from the dead?

Recall that back in V-1 of this chapter, M Calvin dropped a spoiler that some in the Community did not believe in the Resurrection. Well, that is not quite what is being said here. The belief here is that there was no resurrection at all. This was the position of the Sadducees, and most pagans did not believe in the resurrection of the body, either. Now, given syllogistic logic–which was invented in Greece, if no bodies are resurrected, and Jesus had a body, therefore Jesus did not rise (technically, was not raised). If P then Q. Not Q. Therefore, not Q.

[Whoa! Time out. The resurrection of the body. This is why it became so critical for Matthew, Luke, & John to emphasis the physical nature of the risen Jesus. To demonstrate that the resurrection of the body was true, as well as True. This is huge! ]

 So, it seems that some among the Corinthians are preaching that the Christ was not raised from the dead, because there was no resurrection of the body. Now, Paul does not (at least, has not yet, anyway) say that anyone is denying that Jesus was raised, but that is the logical conclusion of a denial of the resurrection of the body. And this is what I referred to in the previous chapter: there is no unity in the message being taught. So, with this additional insight, we realize that Paul was being a tad ironic in the last verse: it doesn’t matter who preaches; except we know it does.

But this is a really significant aberration. In 1 Thessalonians and Galatians, and to this point in this epistle, the resurrection has been a mainstay of Paul’s belief and preaching. To the point that we (or maybe I) have been lulled into thinking that this was a generally accepted message. Except now we run into this. All I can say about this is “Wow”. The implications for the historical process of growing a heterogeneous group of followers into a (mostly) unified church was neither a straight nor a simple process.  Again, I want to stress, that, so far at least, we are not told that Jesus raising is being questioned.

12 Si autem Christus praedicatur quod suscitatus est a mortuis, quomodo quidam dicunt in vobis quoniam resurrectio mortuorum non est?

13 εἰ δὲ ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν οὐκ ἔστιν, οὐδὲ Χριστὸς ἐγήγερται:

For if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither was Christ raised.

Well, Paul draws the conclusion, but he still stops short of saying that anyone is actually preaching this.

13 Si autem resurrectio mortuorum non est, neque Christus suscitatus est!

14 εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς οὐκ ἐγήγερται, κενὸν ἄρα [καὶ] τὸ κήρυγμα ἡμῶν, κενὴ καὶ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν,

But if the anointed was not raised, then our preaching is empty, and empty is our faith, 

I still get the sense he’s hypothetical here. Yes, this is the logical concluision, but that’s still all. So far.

14 Si autem Christus non suscitatus est, inanis est ergo praedicatio nostra, inanis est et fides vestra;

15 εὑρισκόμεθα δὲ καὶ ψευδομάρτυρες τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅτι ἐμαρτυρήσαμεν κατὰ τοῦ θεοῦὅτι ἤγειρεν τὸν Χριστόν, ὃν οὐκ ἤγειρεν εἴπερ ἄρα νεκροὶ οὐκ ἐγείρονται.

but we are also found (to be) false witnesses of God, that we have testified against the raising of God the anointed, whom he did not raise if the dead are not raised.

This is what I mean about Paul. Now he’s turned this back to him: he has been a false witness if he’s been preaching something that did not/cannot happen. He takes this personally. He feels impugned. All of this is important if we’re going to sort through the various layers here.

15 invenimur autem et falsi testes Dei, quoniam testimonium diximus adversus Deum quod suscitaverit Christum, quem non suscitavit, si revera mortui non resurgunt.

16 εἰ γὰρ νεκροὶ οὐκ ἐγείρονται, οὐδὲ Χριστὸς ἐγήγερται:

For if the dead are not raise, neither was the anointed raised.

Basically repeats V-13.

16 Nam si mortui non resurgunt, neque Christus resurrexit;

17 εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς οὐκ ἐγήγερται, ματαία ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν, ἔτι ἐστὲ ἐν ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν.

But if the anointed was not raised, our faith is vain, and you are still in your sins.

This is not surprising. Paul recognised that the resurrection was the sine qua non of the faith. Without it, Jesus was just another wise man, like the Baptist and Socrates before him. 

But, think about this for a moment. What is Paul saying here, perhaps without realizing it? He is saying, he is telling us that Jesus was a man, who was not divine. It was the resurrection that made Jesus The Christ, and the resurrection was what removed our sins.

This is embarrassing, but I have to admit that I only at this very moment understood the whole “New Adam” thing. Death was introduced by Adam’s sin. By dying for our sins, and then be raised, death–the curse of Adam, to which Adam succumbed–was overcome.  Well, maybe I did get that before, but the clarity of it has never been so…clear.

17 quod si Christus non resurrexit, stulta est fides vestra; adhuc estis in peccatis vestris.

18 ἄρα καὶ οἱ κοιμηθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ  ἀπώλοντο.

And so the ones having fallen asleep in the anointed perished.

Here’s something to note. I have been trying to use more value-neutral terms, to avoid falling into the mindset of what “everyone knows” about Christianity: wherever possible, I avoid church, H/holy S/spirit, grace…The latest one is substituting ‘anointed’ for ‘christos’. In the sentence above, no one would blink if I rendered it as ‘fallen asleep in Christ’. That’s how it’s translated. But, I had to render as ‘fallen asleep in the anointed’, just as we would have to say, ‘fallen asleep in the Messiah’. Why? Because we’ve absorbed ‘Christ’ as a surname. It’s not. It was not taken so by the earliest of Jesus’ followers. Translating it as such is, I believe, very misleading.

18 Ergo et, qui dormierunt in Christo, perierunt.

19 εἰ ἐν τῇ ζωῇ ταύτῃ ἐν Χριστῷ  ἠλπικότες ἐσμὲν μόνον, ἐλεεινότεροι πάντων ἀνθρώπων ἐσμέν.

If in this life we are only hoping in the anointed, we are pitied of all people.

19 Si in hac vita tantum in Christo sperantes sumus, miserabiliores sumus omnibus hominibus.

We are to be pitied if we only hope in the anointed, and the anointed was not raised from the dead. If if the anointed was not raised, neither will we be, consigning us to a very uncertain, but likely unpleasant, afterlife.  Contemporary concepts of the afterlife varied, but not many of them held out the sort of hope that the Christian afterlife came to promise. I’ve always considered this one of the main reasons why this particular religion eventually won out over all the competitors. And there were many competing religions and systems of belief.

Summary 1 Corinthians Chapter 14

While going through a chapter in translation and comment, I make mental notes of the sort of things that I believe will be important for the summary. What is the main theme and significance of the chapter? In this case, I was very sure that there would be lengthy discussion about speaking in tongues. After all, that was the thing that Paul seemed to be talking about the most. And this seemed to be the theme almost until the end. But, once there, I realized that the whole chapter had been nothing but a prologue for Verses 33-35. That was the climax, and the pay-off of the chapter, the real theme.

That is when we are told that women should be silent in the assembly. Everything before that had been a precursor, leading up to that. It is, we are told, shameful for a woman to speak during the worship. Shameful. We came across this once before, in 11:16, when we were told it was shameful for a woman to pray with her head uncovered. Pauline apologists have taken the responsibility for the message of Ephesians away from Paul and given it to one of the Deutero-Pauline writers. Ephesians is famous for the passage telling women to submit to their husbands. Paul, however, did not write these words; one of his followers did. Regardless, the thought expressed in Ephesians is not at all dissimilar to what we have gotten, both in Chapter 11 and again here in Chapter 14. Paul has a very traditional view of the role of women, and this role does not include taking a speaking role in worship. That is for the man to do.

So what does this do to my contention that Paul was trying to limit the innovations being introduced into the beliefs and teachings of the Community? Well, on one hand, it may undercut my argument. For if Paul isn’t tryng to squelch new ideas that are expressed–presumably–in tongues, then that puts a real crimp in the flow of my argument. OTOH, this more or less proves my point. Because to have women praying with uncovered heads, or to have them speaking–let alone speaking in tongues or prophesying–in the worship was nothing if not an innovation. As Paul tells us, this was part of the Law. And as an innovation, he is trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

All of this, though, requires that we ask: why did women feel that they could participate? If they didn’t feel they could participate, and so did not, then Paul would not have to forbid this behaviour. That is the nub of this chapter rather than Paul’s attempts to counteract new ideas, such as, perhaps, those of Apollonius, or the ‘other gospel’ that seduced the Galatians.

As for women feeling free to participate, this raises the question of whether Jesus’ message, or part of his message, was about inclusiveness. Now, we all ‘know’ that it was. Right? We know this because it’s intrinsic to the message of the gospels, right? But let’s think back to Mark: where did Jesus talk about his inclusiveness? Well, there’s the part where Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners; there’s also the part at the end of Chapter 3 in which Jesus says that those who do God’s will are his siblings. Aside from these two, there’s the parable of the mustard seed, describing how the kingdom will become big. That implies the inclusion of lots of people. Doesn’t it? And there is the story of the woman outside Tyre, implying the inclusion of non-Jews.

Realistically, however, one really has to acknowledge that, when thinking about Mark’s gospel, ‘inclusiveness’ s not the first or second or third theme that comes to mind. Now, when I was charting out Mark by themes, I did start with a couple of passages that I labeled as indicative of inclusiveness; however, they did not make the final cut. There is no inclusiveness theme in my final analysis; honestly, at this point, I cannot recall the mindset that led me to jettison the theme, but I did because there wasn’t enough evidence, apparently, to convince me there was enough evidence to have it stay. The two stories mentioned above are the only ones that I remember of this potential cluster. Given this, my conclusion is that we cannot state with any conviction that Jesus preached a gospel of universal siblinghood. Or, if he did, it was neither explicit nor prominent. It can be teased out, but that’s the point: it must be teased out. If anyone disagrees, please let me know. If I’ve learned one thing from this study, it’s that interpretation can vary dramatically with different readings.

The thing is, if we are justified in concluding that Jesus did not envision a prominent role for women in his teachings, IOW, that he was a man of his times, just as Paul was, then why did the women believe that they could participate. If Jesus did not have a radical message of egalitarianism, at least not between men and women, then how to explain the behaviour?

There are really only two or three possibilities. In some ways, the simplest is that male/female equality was part of Jesus’ message. If so, we have the source for the behaviour that Paul was trying to squelch. But this would imply that Paul is overriding Jesus in this section. I don’t necessarily believe that Paul would shrink from such an action. In fact, I think it would be something that he would do, since he has indicated that he has done it elsewhere.

Another possibility is that the women believed that a level of equality could be inferred from Paul’s other teaching. Most notably, this would include passages like Galatians 3:28: Neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. That sure seems to be a message of inclusiveness. But. Maybe Paul only meant this in a fairly narrow way, that all could believe in Jesus, all could share the faith, all could hope to be saved. But not all could participate fully in the workings of the Community at worship.

The third possibility is that this idea of inclusiveness came from somewhere else. Now, a fair number pagan cults did have female priests. Since Corinth was a pagan city, perhaps the women who joined Paul’s Community had been priestesses of Isis, or Cybele. As such, perhaps, they felt entitled to take a more active role in the worship, only to run into Paul’s determined existence.

In the end, I believe that the most attractive thesis is some combination of #2 and #3. It’s a bit of a wishy-washy position, neither fish nor fowl, but historical causation is rarely all of this and none of that. One imagines that, for Paul, to have women claim a rightful place with the men probably–or certainly–appalled him. That it was a pagan idea probably appalled him even further. That these women may have used his own teaching to justify their position probably sent him ’round the bend. To the point that he considered the behaviour “shamefull”. That is a strong word. Paul felt this very deeply.

My apologies that this took so long to produce. I had to do some serious re-evaluation once I hit the injunction against women. In short, I had to reassess a lot of things, among them Jesus’ message about inclusiveness. And, as always, my conclusions are subject to change without notice. But you will get an explanation.