I’m in the middle of a thread on the class debates that I assign for my Introduction to the New Testament. This started by my remarking on the debate I did with myself in front of the class, on whether the book of Acts is historically reliable; I haven’t yet gotten to what it is I argued (both affirmative and negative), but will do so! First I need to set the broader context.
As I’ve indicated, every student is required to participate in one of three debates in their 20-person recitation. The first debate will be next week, after Spring break. This resolution strikes me as a particularly important one:
RESOLVED: Paul and Jesus Advocated Fundamentally Different Religions.
For my money, this gets to the very heart of the formation of early Christianity. Did the religion that emerged after Jesus’ death correspond closely to the religion that he himself followed and proclaimed? Or not?
I could obviously devote a large number of posts to just this question. Here let me point out that as will be the case with the other debates, this one hinges to a great extent on the wording of the resolution. In particular, what does the word “fundamentally” mean? Clearly Paul’s views were different from Jesus’. But were they *fundamentally* different? It depends how you understand the word.
That they were different should …
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