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The Accuracy of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

  I’m a couple of days behind on my Weekly Readers’ Mailbag.  I’ve been so caught up in talking about the conversion of the Roman empire to Christianity that I forgot all about it!  So here is last week’s a day late.  IN it I deal with one question which turns out to be three questions, all of them related to the the historical accuracy of Paul’s letter to the Galatians..   QUESTION:   Bart, quick question that’s bothering me. You often say that we can’t be sure of the gospels’ accuracy (due to intentional and unintentional changes over time and location). The idea is that we can’t know what the original really said (even if it names its author (e.g. 1 Tim, 2, Tim, etc.). You often say there are so many changes that we can’t really know what the original was. I always assume you mean in the small details and that you assume the main sense of the texts are fairly accurate to the original. Anyway, I’ve heard you say emphatically that [...]

The Letters of Paul: Mailbag April 1, 2016

In today’s Readers’ Mailbag, I will be answering questions connected with the writings of Paul: what is the earliest manuscript of his letters; did the author of Acts know Paul’s letters; and is Paul described as a heretic in the Dead Sea Scrolls. ******************************************************************************************* QUESTION Bart, early in your book Misquoting Jesus (p. 4) you wrote a sudden, shocking surprise (to many born-again Christians) when you said “As we learned at Moody in one of the first courses in the curriculum, we don’t actually have the original writings of the New Testament.” I’ve witnessed my own neighbor’s disbelief and visible anger when I pointed this out to him. … My interest is your response to my question “How old are the earliest copies we have of Paul’s letters 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians.” … As you know, these books describe, in part, the resurrection of Jesus.   RESPONSE It is a little difficult for me to know the question behind this question, so first let me answer the direct question and then to respond to [...]

Why I Wish We Had More of Paul’s Letters

In the previous post I began to answer the question of which lost books of early Christianity I would most like to have discovered, and I started my answer with the earliest writings of which we are familiar, the letters of Paul, most of which (presumably) have been lost.  I would love for us to find some of them.  I doubt if we ever will, but who knows?  Maybe someone will announce that one is to be published later this year! Seriously, we would all love to have more letters from Paul, and not merely for sentimental reasons (Oh, wouldn’t that be *nice*?).   Paul is without a doubt the most important figure in the Christian tradition next to Jesus himself.  His writings have served as a basis for Christian ethical and theological thought for centuries.  And yet we know so little about what he thought and taught. When people read Paul’s letters, they frequently neglect to realize that these are all “occasional” writings.  By that I do not mean that Paul occasionally wrote letters, but [...]

2020-04-03T13:56:39-04:00March 12th, 2015|Paul and His Letters, Reader’s Questions|
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