Paul's proprietary invention of "the gospel"

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Irish1975
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Re: Paul's proprietary invention of "the gospel"

Post by Irish1975 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:22 am

Irish1975 wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:36 pm
...there must be a causal story as to why the same word is used to link the two, and why "gospel" becomes so profoundly normative a concept for Christians of all stripes beginning in the 2nd century.
Finding a convincing answer to my own question in Jason BeDuhn's The First New Testament. I was behind on the Marcion thing, but now it's all making sense.
Marcion used the term evangelion to describe the narrative of Jesus included in his canon. ...Adolf von Harnack suggested that Marcion may have been the first to transfer this abstract use of the term to the title of a specific textual account of Jesus' life, and the more systematic investigation of Helmut Koester strongly supports this hypothesis. Many other teachings espoused by early Christians may have merited the term evangelion, but Marcion fixed on a narrative account of Jesus as best claiming this designation. ...Soon Christians of all kinds were calling such narratives of Jesus "evangelion according to...". But for Marcion, the narrative he incorporated into his New Testament was the evangelion, whose authority was not to be dissipated by comparison to others. (p. 65)
It's hardly necessary to add that Marcion made Paul's evangelion the central normative evangelion in all of Christianity. The Church followed Marcion in this respect, by making Paul and Jesus equally prominent in the NT, despite all the other ways in which they rejected him.

FJVermeiren
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Re: Paul's proprietary invention of "the gospel"

Post by FJVermeiren » Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:39 pm

In my opinion there is a serious problem with the title and the OP of this thread, and with Mason’s article quoted in the OP. Below I will discuss my objections against the following sentences of Mason’s article.

The novelty of Christian usage [of the word euangelion] is unmistakable.


It was something that he [Paul] connected only with his own work, often in strikingly proprietary terms.

Mason contradicts the first quote himself as he also says ‘the singular neuter form euangelion was extremely rare before the NT.’ This means that the word or notion was not invented by Paul. Mason gives some examples of Greek authors who used the word euangelion, but he forgets one particular use that may be decisive in the analysis. The word euangelion, singular as well as plural, occurs in the Priene Calendar Inscription of 9 BCE. Priene was a city in Asia Minor, one of the working areas of Paul. The use of the word euangelion in a text glorifying the emperor Augustus some decades before Paul’s time shows that this term was part of the imperial cult. The imperial cult was not only in effect during the reign of Augustus, but also afterwards, including Paul’s time.

In summary this means that an important euangelion was active in Paul’s time and working area before his mission started. Paul’s use of this word/notion was not new, but reactive to the imperial cult and deliberately (and extensively) opposing it.

In the second quote Mason says that Paul connected the word euangelion ‘only with his own work’, and this statement is also false. In Galatians 1:6 Paul says: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him [Paul] who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel. And in verse 11 he continues: For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not a man’s gospel. Paul opposes his divine ‘Christ’ gospel to ‘a man’s gospel’, which clarifies the ‘different gospel’ of verse 6. What else could this ‘different gospel’ which is ‘a man’s gospel’ mean in Paul’s time and working area than the ευανγελιων/ευανγελια of the cult of the Roman emperor?

IMO the chronological sequence of the use of the word euangelion in connection with the origins of Christianity is as follows:
1. The use of this word in the context of the cult of the Roman emperor
2. Paul’s use of this word in the context of his preaching of the future Christ (= the future Jewish emperor), in diametrical opposition to the flourishing cult of the Roman emperor.
3. Mark’s use of this word for his text about Jesus, the man who – after Paul’s time – became the incarnation of Paul’s expected, anonymous, future Christ.
www.waroriginsofchristianity.com

The practical modes of concealment are limited only by the imaginative capacity of subordinates.
James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance p. 139

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MrMacSon
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Re: Paul's proprietary invention of "the gospel"

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:45 pm

Irish1975 wrote:
Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:22 am
Irish1975 wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:36 pm
...there must be a causal story as to why the same word is used to link the two, and why "gospel" becomes so profoundly normative a concept for Christians of all stripes beginning in the 2nd century.
Finding a convincing answer to my own question in Jason BeDuhn's The First New Testament. I was behind on the Marcion thing, but now it's all making sense.
Jason BeDuhn wrote: ... Marcion fixed on a narrative account of Jesus as best claiming this designation. ...Soon Christians of all kinds were calling such narratives of Jesus "evangelion according to...". But for Marcion, the narrative he incorporated into his New Testament was the evangelion, whose authority was not to be dissipated by comparison to others. (p. 65)
It's hardly necessary to add that Marcion made Paul's evangelion the central normative evangelion in all of Christianity. The Church followed Marcion in this respect, by making Paul and Jesus equally prominent in the NT, despite all the other ways in which they rejected him.
Jörg Rüpke has said the same thing in his Feb. 2018 book Pantheon, yet he didn't cite BeDuhn (though he briefly cited others who agree, Markus Vinzent and Matthias Klinghardt)

Flavius Josephus took up the biographical schema, turned it into autobiography, and set it within an imperial frame. He began with a reference to his priestly and royal origins, and ended by referring to his relationship with Augusta Domitia, and to the unremitting good services she had performed for him.82 At the same time that Josephus in Rome expounded on the Jewish War,83 Plutarch and soon also Suetonius were writing their multiple biographies. By the mid-second century at the latest, these texts were joined by many gospels and acts of the apostles, whose production continued without let-up through the third century.84 Marcion’s interest in biography was not exercised solely in his gospel, but also in his selection of Paul’s letters, which allowed readers to follow the apostle from Jerusalem to Rome. Pythagorean vitae began to circulate.85 To the already familiar types of narrative— stories of exemplary lives or of extraordinary phenomena, such as those of Apollonius of Tyana— were added conversion stories. (p. 344)
...
Marcion’s opponents reacted immediately with a weighty intellectual exchange of the sort that a metropolis like Rome made possible; and, as was usual in historiography, they reacted with competing versions.133 ... The author of the text that most plagiarized Marcion was identified a little later, by Marcion himself, as Luke, in an edition that featured the gospel along with some of Paul’s letters. It concentrated on correcting Marcion’s fundamental break with Judaism. With their narratives of Jesus’s childhood, both Luke and Matthew demonstrate how familiar the biographical character of the template was, and also how scant the source background was as soon as one wanted to move beyond that template.
....
The late addition of Luke’s Acts of the Apostles rescued the philosophical core represented by Paul and took a direction that, while no longer avoiding the gray zones of Jewishness, also provided this orientation with a patron.134 Within the same movement, however, spokesmen such as Luke (in Acts of the Apostles) and Justin (in his Apology) —and perhaps earlier the writer of the Epistle of Barnabas— persisted with the genealogy of exclusion, insisting that the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 was a consequence of the crucifixion of the “anointed one.”135

Still others in this same period, such as the author of the Gospel of Peter, did not shrink from obvious anti-Judaism and fawning to the Roman authorities.136 ... such schismatic polemics would remain a critical source of friction over the coming centuries, providing a forum where agendas of inclusion and exclusion could be exchanged. The polemic propagated by many Christian positions against the “gnosticism” of clearly anti-Judaic stances demonstrates the complexity that was emerging at the margins of a developing tradition.

This now historiographically constructed collective, this genealogy of Christ’s apostles, had no basis in any historical reality ...

.. And the new gospels gave rise to no text-based communities. The only exception was Marcion’s group, founded by a typical, religious, small-scale entrepreneur: a well-traveled merchant, an organizer, an arriviste (at least by virtue of his move to Rome), and more successful with his money than with his writings. Beyond this group and the intellectual conversation circles (in which Marcion, at least since Justin’s attack on him, was fully involved at a literary level), “God’s people’s assembly” (ekklēsia) had no lasting institutional basis: no one precisely knew where Peter and Paul had died, to say nothing of where their graves might be ...

..Christianity had thus been invented historiographically [in the 2nd century] by means of the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles complemented by collections of letters. There was as yet no actual community.

Rüpke, Jörg. Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion (pp. 344, 355-358). Princeton University Press.

Rüpke said a really popular text was the Shepherd of Hermas.

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Irish1975
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Re: Paul's proprietary invention of "the gospel"

Post by Irish1975 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:13 pm

FJVermeiren wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:39 pm
In my opinion there is a serious problem with the title and the OP of this thread, and with Mason’s article quoted in the OP. Below I will discuss my objections against the following sentences of Mason’s article.

The novelty of Christian usage [of the word euangelion] is unmistakable.


It was something that he [Paul] connected only with his own work, often in strikingly proprietary terms.

Mason contradicts the first quote himself as he also says ‘the singular neuter form euangelion was extremely rare before the NT.’ This means that the word or notion was not invented by Paul. Mason gives some examples of Greek authors who used the word euangelion, but he forgets one particular use that may be decisive in the analysis. The word euangelion, singular as well as plural, occurs in the Priene Calendar Inscription of 9 BCE. Priene was a city in Asia Minor, one of the working areas of Paul. The use of the word euangelion in a text glorifying the emperor Augustus some decades before Paul’s time shows that this term was part of the imperial cult. The imperial cult was not only in effect during the reign of Augustus, but also afterwards, including Paul’s time.

In summary this means that an important euangelion was active in Paul’s time and working area before his mission started. Paul’s use of this word/notion was not new, but reactive to the imperial cult and deliberately (and extensively) opposing it.
Thanks for your response. I disagree with you on several points, but won't hold it against you for attacking my title and OP!

1) There is a difference between the use or occurrence of a word, and a distinctive (Pauline) usage of it. (Example: the slogan "America first" has a long history and various meanings apart from the significance that the current president gives to it.) So Mason is not contradicting himself.

2) In the article, Mason does allude to the Augustan usage:
Was Christian euangelion adapted from the Septuagint’s cognate verb (e.g., at Isa 52:7)? Did Jesus himself use it or a related Hebrew term [e.g., besorah]? Or was Christian usage more a response to Roman imperial propaganda about good news and peace brought by Augustus and his successors?
3) On this site I found a Greek/English version of the Priene inscription and I see two plural occurrences, <euangelia> and <euangeliown> (genitive plural), but no occurence of <to evangelion> as we see it in the NT (posting.php?mode=quote&f=3&p=71360):

The Priene [Calendar] Inscription ((Text, transliteration and translation, of a few lines only): -

It seemed good to the Greeks of Asia, in the opinion of the high priest Apollonius of Menophilus Azanitus: ‘Since Providence, which has ordered all things and is deeply interested in our life, has set in most perfect order by giving us Augustus, whom she filled with virtue that he might benefit humankind, sending him as a saviour, both for us and for our descendants, that he might end war and arrange all things, and since he, Caesar, by his appearance (excelled even our anticipations), surpassing all previous benefactors, and not even leaving to posterity any hope of surpassing what he has done, and since the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good tidings for the world that came by reason of him which Asia resolved in Smyrna.

Εδοξεν τοις επι της Ασιας Ελλησιν, γνωμη του αρχιερεως Απολλωνιου του Μηνοφιλου Αζανιτου· Επειδη η παντα διαταξασα του βιου ημων προνοια σπουδην εισενενκαμενη και φιλοτιμιαν το τεληοτατον τω βιω διεκοσμησεν ενενκαμενη τον Σεβαστον, ον εις ευεργεσιαν ανθρωπων επληρωσεν αρετης, ωσπερ ημειν και τοις μεθ ημας σωτηρα πεμψασα τον παυσοντα μεν πολεμον, κοσμησοντα δε παντα, επιφανεις δε ο Καισαρ τας ελπιδας των προλαβοντων ευανγελια παντων υπερεθηκεν, ου μονον τους προ αυτου γεγονοτας ευεργετας υπερβαλομενος, αλλ ουδ εν τοις εσομενοις ελπιδα υπολιπων υπερβολης, ηρξεν δε τω κοσμω των δι αυτον ευανγελιων η γενεθλιος ημερα του θεου· της δε Ασιας εψηφισμενης εν Σμυρνη.

In the second quote Mason says that Paul connected the word euangelion ‘only with his own work’, and this statement is also false. In Galatians 1:6 Paul says: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him [Paul] who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel. And in verse 11 he continues: For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not a man’s gospel. Paul opposes his divine ‘Christ’ gospel to ‘a man’s gospel’, which clarifies the ‘different gospel’ of verse 6. What else could this ‘different gospel’ which is ‘a man’s gospel’ mean in Paul’s time and working area than the ευανγελιων/ευανγελια of the cult of the Roman emperor?
4) You left out a really important part (!) where he says "not that there is any other gospel." This is the whole point. Not that Paul thinks that there are not other preachers or other apostles (of course he does) but that he thinks so little of what they might amount to compared with his gospel. I am baffled that you think he is alluding to the imperial cult.

FJVermeiren
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Re: Paul's proprietary invention of "the gospel"

Post by FJVermeiren » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:45 pm

Irish1975 wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:13 pm
FJVermeiren wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:39 pm
In my opinion there is a serious problem with the title and the OP of this thread, and with Mason’s article quoted in the OP. Below I will discuss my objections against the following sentences of Mason’s article.

The novelty of Christian usage [of the word euangelion] is unmistakable.


It was something that he [Paul] connected only with his own work, often in strikingly proprietary terms.

Mason contradicts the first quote himself as he also says ‘the singular neuter form euangelion was extremely rare before the NT.’ This means that the word or notion was not invented by Paul. Mason gives some examples of Greek authors who used the word euangelion, but he forgets one particular use that may be decisive in the analysis. The word euangelion, singular as well as plural, occurs in the Priene Calendar Inscription of 9 BCE. Priene was a city in Asia Minor, one of the working areas of Paul. The use of the word euangelion in a text glorifying the emperor Augustus some decades before Paul’s time shows that this term was part of the imperial cult. The imperial cult was not only in effect during the reign of Augustus, but also afterwards, including Paul’s time.

In summary this means that an important euangelion was active in Paul’s time and working area before his mission started. Paul’s use of this word/notion was not new, but reactive to the imperial cult and deliberately (and extensively) opposing it.
Thanks for your response. I disagree with you on several points, but won't hold it against you for attacking my title and OP!

1) There is a difference between the use or occurrence of a word, and a distinctive (Pauline) usage of it. (Example: the slogan "America first" has a long history and various meanings apart from the significance that the current president gives to it.) So Mason is not contradicting himself.

2) In the article, Mason does allude to the Augustan usage:
Was Christian euangelion adapted from the Septuagint’s cognate verb (e.g., at Isa 52:7)? Did Jesus himself use it or a related Hebrew term [e.g., besorah]? Or was Christian usage more a response to Roman imperial propaganda about good news and peace brought by Augustus and his successors?
3) On this site I found a Greek/English version of the Priene inscription and I see two plural occurrences, <euangelia> and <euangeliown> (genitive plural), but no occurence of <to evangelion> as we see it in the NT (posting.php?mode=quote&f=3&p=71360):

The Priene [Calendar] Inscription ((Text, transliteration and translation, of a few lines only): -

It seemed good to the Greeks of Asia, in the opinion of the high priest Apollonius of Menophilus Azanitus: ‘Since Providence, which has ordered all things and is deeply interested in our life, has set in most perfect order by giving us Augustus, whom she filled with virtue that he might benefit humankind, sending him as a saviour, both for us and for our descendants, that he might end war and arrange all things, and since he, Caesar, by his appearance (excelled even our anticipations), surpassing all previous benefactors, and not even leaving to posterity any hope of surpassing what he has done, and since the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good tidings for the world that came by reason of him which Asia resolved in Smyrna.

Εδοξεν τοις επι της Ασιας Ελλησιν, γνωμη του αρχιερεως Απολλωνιου του Μηνοφιλου Αζανιτου· Επειδη η παντα διαταξασα του βιου ημων προνοια σπουδην εισενενκαμενη και φιλοτιμιαν το τεληοτατον τω βιω διεκοσμησεν ενενκαμενη τον Σεβαστον, ον εις ευεργεσιαν ανθρωπων επληρωσεν αρετης, ωσπερ ημειν και τοις μεθ ημας σωτηρα πεμψασα τον παυσοντα μεν πολεμον, κοσμησοντα δε παντα, επιφανεις δε ο Καισαρ τας ελπιδας των προλαβοντων ευανγελια παντων υπερεθηκεν, ου μονον τους προ αυτου γεγονοτας ευεργετας υπερβαλομενος, αλλ ουδ εν τοις εσομενοις ελπιδα υπολιπων υπερβολης, ηρξεν δε τω κοσμω των δι αυτον ευανγελιων η γενεθλιος ημερα του θεου· της δε Ασιας εψηφισμενης εν Σμυρνη.

In the second quote Mason says that Paul connected the word euangelion ‘only with his own work’, and this statement is also false. In Galatians 1:6 Paul says: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him [Paul] who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel. And in verse 11 he continues: For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not a man’s gospel. Paul opposes his divine ‘Christ’ gospel to ‘a man’s gospel’, which clarifies the ‘different gospel’ of verse 6. What else could this ‘different gospel’ which is ‘a man’s gospel’ mean in Paul’s time and working area than the ευανγελιων/ευανγελια of the cult of the Roman emperor?
4) You left out a really important part (!) where he says "not that there is any other gospel." This is the whole point. Not that Paul thinks that there are not other preachers or other apostles (of course he does) but that he thinks so little of what they might amount to compared with his gospel. I am baffled that you think he is alluding to the imperial cult.
Ad 1: If the imperial cult was spreading the good news of the blessing of the emperor, and Paul proclaimed the Christ as a Jewish anti-emperor, is then Paul's usage of euangelion new?

Ad 2: Mason alludes, for me the answer is affirmative. Note that Mason uses ‘good news’ in relation to Augustus. Isn’t he saying this way that euangelion was used in a Roman political context before Paul (who in my opinion used it in an anti-Roman political context)?

Ad 3: Twice the plural in the Priene Calendar Inscription indeed. My mistake.

Ad 4: There is an anti-Roman tenor throughout Paul’s letters. See for example Norman A. Beck’s Anti-Roman Cryptograms in the New Testament, and - specifically for Galatians - Justin K. Hardin’s Galatians and the Imperial Cult. At this moment I am reading B. Blumenfeld’s The Political Paul, which depicts Paul as a political thinker and activist, founder and supporter of messianic communities throughout the Roman empire.
www.waroriginsofchristianity.com

The practical modes of concealment are limited only by the imaginative capacity of subordinates.
James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance p. 139

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