Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

Paul, Man of Conflict

Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

Paul, Man of Conflict

Article excerpt

JBL 60 (1941): 77-79 Paul, Man of Conflict, by Donald Wayne Riddle, Nashville, Cokesbury, 1940, pp. 244, $2.00.

A reviewer who has read other reviews of the book assigned is at a disadvantage. The situation is not unlike that of the student in English I who must at all costs avoid plagiarism, be original and not imitative, and at the same time cover the subject adequately. The disadvantage is obviated, in the present case, by the fact that her own major criticism has been entirely overlooked in the reviews read, and that the others' objections, to her, do not seem to militate against the value of the book concerned.

To any one who has followed Professor Riddle's work during the past decade it comes as no surprise that he would repeat in this book the first two commandments of his scholars' decalogue: Thou shalt not separate Luke-Acts and Thou shalt understand and appreciate the purpose of Luke-Acts as "defence" literature, and see it as history in the hellenistic manner. It is his consistent adherence to the primary source, Paul's letters, that has drawn fire. To the present reviewer that method constitutes one of the main excellences of the book, even though we do lose the student of Gamaliel and the Roman citizen. But the layman, Paul, is delineated with such skill that the loss is not a severe one, and with the eminent W. W. Tarn instructing us that it could be only potential citizenship anyway for the person unwilling to worship the state gods, the disuse of Acts at these points is not serious (Tarn points out a case where ¢ potential citizen did appeal to the emperor, Hellenistic Civilization, p. 193).

The acceptance of a new chronology seems erratic to one reviewer and thoroughly plausible to another. Here, too, the objection is ultimately based on confidence in the secondary source. This chronology has obvious advantages. Paul needs no longer to be pictured as having worked for twenty years before he wrote even I Thess; it is surely more natural to see the letters as belonging to those years in which he was most actively engaged. It is startling to see Col antedating Gal and I Cor, but Col is what it is in content because the situation in Colossae was what it was, rather than because it was written near the end of Paul's life or for any other reason that has been advanced. Many scholars no longer see it as un-Pauline. In it and in Phil the preexistence of Christ is noted; in it and in Rom Christ's death was of cosmic significance; in it and in Gal Judaism figures in the situation facing Paul, though as the author points out there is no crisis in reference to Judaism in Colossae as there was in Galatia. There is something especially fitting in Rom as the last letter of Paul, and hospitality to the idea of Ephesus as the scene of Paul's imprisonment - or imprisonments - has been gaining ground in recent years.

It is easy for me to agree with one reviewer in his keen appreciation of the chapters that show Paul's inner conflict over his inability to achieve the standards of Torah, of his essential loyalty to Judaism as he believed it revealed in the Scriptures. Consequently, the claim of another review that conflict is a too simple motivation seems to me to lack support. All agree that the book contains penetrating insights, that it is well written, provocative, and stimulating. …

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