Monday, November 5, 2007

Paul's Fact Checking

In an earlier post, I questioned whether Paul ever verified any facts about Jesus with the original apostles. My doubt arose from his insistence in the first chapter of Galatians that he got his revelation directly from Christ and from the fact that he preached successfully for three years before he met with any of them. I found it difficult to reconcile the passage in Galatians with Gary Habermas' description of Paul as an eyewitness and wondered what connection he saw. (I am new to all this stuff so I apologize for going through points that have probably been beaten to death.)

Imagine my surprise when I found a Habermas essay that links Paul to the original apostles using the very same passage that seemed to me to say so explicitly that Paul had not gotten anything from them. The essay titled "Why I Believe the Miracles of Jesus Actually Happened" is found in the book "Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe." According to Habermas, what the NIV translates as Paul "getting acquainted" with Peter in Galatians 1:18 really implied a more thorough factual investigation based on Paul's use of the word Greek word "historeo." According to Habermas, when Paul describes "receiving" his knowledge of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:3, he is referring to this meeting. However, didn't he say in Galatians 1:11 that he received it by revelation from Christ? In the entire Habermas article, he does not once refer to Paul's repeated denials that any man had anything to do with his message.

Now I freely admit that I have no qualifications whatsoever to comment on the translation of ancient Greek, but is it really too much to expect Habermas to deal with the apparent contradiction between what he sees as implicit in Galatians 1:18 and what Paul makes explicit in the rest of that chapter and the next? At one point, Habermas says that "[t]he topic in the immediate context both both before (Gal. 1:11-17) and after (2:1-10) Paul's first trip to Jerusalem is the nature of gospel," but Habermas conveniently overlooks the fact that Paul's point was that he did not get anything that he was teaching from any other man. Does that strike anyone other than me as more than a little disingenuous?

1 comment:

  1. I noticed your comment on a post on my blog regarding a Lee Strobel book I've been reading. I've read several of your posts and this particular one got my attention.

    I wanted to just point you to a couple passages in the Bible for your consideration.

    Acts 9:1-30 outlines the conversion of Saul. Verse 20 indicates that "Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus."

    Nevertheless, I think what is more important to consider in your questioning is the upbringing of Paul.

    Philippians 3:4-7 points out a couple important facts about Paul.

    1.) He was a Hebrew of Hebrews
    2.) He was a Pharisee
    3.) He was faultless in the law

    Acts 22:3 points out that Paul was trained under Gamaliel, a very prestigious man.

    The fact that Paul was brought up under the Jewish law and was educated by one of the best educators means that he was well aware of the prophecy of the messiah and all that surrounds that concept.

    Given his conversion experience and following blindness...I'm not convinced that he really needed much time with the disciples.

    Galatians 2:11-21 further outlines a dispute between Paul and Peter regarding the issue of circumcision. One that Paul prevails in...

    On a seperate account, Peter discribes (Acts 10) how he was taught that salvation was not just for the jews but also the gentiles.

    Given the occupation and education of the disciples when compared to makes perfect sense to me that Paul wouldn't have needed significant training. I do believe however, he wanted to hear various elements of what Christ has said tobetter grasp what Christ accomplished and how the law was to be applied in light of him.

    I look forward to some open conversations with you as I'm really coming at this whole topic from a different perspective. I wasn't raised in a church, but have personal experience with the Holy Spirit the has forever cemented my belief in Jesus Christ. I have NO doubt that what I have experience and personally witnessed is real. Now my quest is to really understand why I beleive what I believe and better understand how others, such as yourself, view these beliefs.