Paul and Jesus: The True Story

By David Wenham | Go to book overview

16 The true story

We have journeyed far enough with Paul to answer some of the questions with which we started this book. In particular we have been interested in knowing whether Paul was a rogue apostle (as some thought in the early Church, and some think today), claiming to follow Jesus but propounding a different gospel from that of Jesus. We have also been interested in whether the account of Paul's life and ministry in Acts is a trustworthy account, or a sanitized semi-fictional account. We have addressed these questions by travelling a long way with Paul: we have compared Acts and Paul's letters and tried to see how they relate to each other and to a wider historical context, and we have looked at the letters to see what they tell us about Paul and his ministry and in particular to see what light they shed on the question of Paul's knowledge of Jesus.


The story of Paul in Acts

Our examination of Acts has strongly confirmed its historical reliability. We have seen how various scholarly theories that cast doubt on Acts – for example, the widely held view that the Council of Acts 15 corresponds to the meeting of Paul with the Jerusalem leaders described in Galatians 2 – are actually thoroughly implausible. A thoughtful reading of Acts in the light of the historical context (including events such as the expulsion of the Jews from Rome) makes it clear that Acts gets the history right again and again.

Not that Acts tells us the whole story; how could it? There are things that were very important to Paul at particular times, such as the dispute with Peter in Antioch and the collection for Jerusalem, which were not important issues for the author of Acts at the time he wrote his narrative. But this is not a sinister whitewashing or romanticizing of history: why should Acts tell us all the details of the sharp dispute and debate in Antioch, highlighting Peter and Paul's temporary disagreement, which was quite quickly sorted out?

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Paul and Jesus: The True Story
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Part 1: Beginnings 1
  • 1: Before Paul Met Jesus 3
  • 2: The Big Bang! 9
  • 3: New Directions 19
  • 4: Antioch 26
  • Part 2 - Missionary Journeys and Letters 37
  • 5: Travels in and around Calaíta 39
  • 6: What Is Going on in Galatians? 49
  • 7: What Does Galatians Tell Us about Paul and Jesus? 60
  • 8: Travelling in Greece 77
  • 9: What Is Going on in 1 Thessalonians? 91
  • 10: What Does Thessalonians Tell Us about Paul and Jesus? 96
  • 11: A Look at 2 Thessalonians 111
  • 12: Travelling on to Ephesus 121
  • 13: What Is Going on in 7 Corinthians? 127
  • 14: What Does 1 Corinthians Tell Us about Paul and Jesus? 143
  • Part 3 - Finishing the Story 169
  • 15: And So on 171
  • 16: The True Story 179
  • Index of Biblical References 189
  • Index of Subjects 193
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