Quotes for the Day: Epiphenomenal Paul

“However frequently one encounters distasteful attitudes in Paul’s epistles, these moments are irrelevant. They should be treated as epiphenomenal, like a rain shower occuring in the face of a volcanic eruption. Whatever his rebarbarative moments, Paul seems to me to be the character who is most authentically defined of all the figures we find in the Tanakh, the New Testament, and the Talmuds… Paul is a jagged, flawed, and therefore totally convincing human being. And, unlike everyone else in the scriptures and the Talmuds, he has left us writings that are not merely ascibed to him by others, but are unassailably his own creation. Saint Paul we meet in person; and when we finally become at ease with his angular personality, he talks to us in his oblique way of the historical Jesus and starts us on an historical pilgrimage that is pure joy.” (Donald Akenson, Saint Saul: A Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus, p 13)

“In the case of New Testament criticism, the most accessible personality has got to be Paul. His letters convey a person wracked with both doubt and hope that can still touch us today… What makes historical criticism so interesting are all the interesting people that it studies. Never forget that in the end we are studying humans and that we too are all human, just as complicated, talented, and flawed as those whom we study.”(Stephen Carlson)

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