Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

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Irish1975
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Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

Post by Irish1975 » Tue Jan 12, 2021 11:38 am

Paul's concern to raise a large donation from his flock in Galatia, Macedonia, and Achaia and deliver it to "the saints" or "the poor" in Jerusalem is a major preoccupation in his epistles (Galatians 2:10; 1 Cor 16:1–4; 2 Cor 8:1–9:15; Rom 15:14–32).

This concern appears to have spanned his whole career as an apostle. It didn't begin with his alliance with the pillars (Galatians 2:10), nor did it cease after relations with them broke down. So I don't think the collection was about apostolic unity with James or Cephas at all. Nor would an act of generosity by itself have been able to bridge their profound disagreements about torah observance and the new covenant in Christ.

So why was it important to Paul?

Unless you think that Paul was some master grifter, isn't the obvious explanation his tremendous guilt for having persecuted the church of God? The collection for the poor/saints in Jerusalem, in Paul's mind, meant forgiveness and atonement for his past misdeeds. They, "the churches of Judea in Christ", were the ones he had persecuted, so he wanted to make restitution. This explanation seems not only obvious but entirely sufficient, though I don't recall coming across it in Pauline scholarship. Let me know if you've seen it somewhere.

rgprice
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Re: Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

Post by rgprice » Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:04 pm

Perhaps. I've often wondered if Paul saw any distinction between what he preached and standard Judaism. It seems the only real issue was whether Gentiles needed to undergo circumcision and follow the law. But Paul wasn't alone in these ideas. This is a common issue. It seems that the consensus was that Jews were favorable toward Gentiles who worshiped The Most High God (the God of Israel) and welcomed them into synagogues, but they didn't consider them "real Jews" unless they underwent circumcision and pledged to be bound by the laws of the Torah.

But prior to Paul the Temple had long accepted donations from non-kosher Gentiles. So, as you say, I don't think the issue was that he wanted to give an offering to show that the Gentiles were okay, Jews had long accepted such offerings already. So you may be right, or it could also simply be that Paul cared about the poor. It could also be that Paul saw the brining in of offering from "the nations" as some kind of prerequisite for the Final Judgement, though he doesn't say this, so its hard to know.

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MrMacSon
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Re: Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:40 pm

Irish1975 wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 11:38 am

isn't the obvious explanation his tremendous guilt for having persecuted the church of God? ... They, "the churches of Judea in Christ", were the ones he had persecuted, so he wanted to make restitution. This explanation seems not only obvious but entirely sufficient,
.
What church of God? What 'churches of Judea 'in Christ'' ??

Sorry to be blunt, but I think it's part of impression, an inference, an illusion: it's an oblique way to create an implication that there had been 'churches 'in Christ' in Judea' before or during 'Paul's time' (or perhaps that what might have been churches synagogues(!) 'in Christ' -eg. messianic- might have been, 'in 'Jesus''.

And raising funds is another subtle layer to creating the inference: it's a form of gaslighting.

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Irish1975
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Re: Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

Post by Irish1975 » Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:58 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:40 pm
Irish1975 wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 11:38 am

isn't the obvious explanation his tremendous guilt for having persecuted the church of God? ... They, "the churches of Judea in Christ", were the ones he had persecuted, so he wanted to make restitution. This explanation seems not only obvious but entirely sufficient,
.
What church of God? What 'churches of Judea 'in Christ'' ??

Sorry to be blunt, but I think it's part of impression, an inference, an illusion: it's an oblique way to create an implication that there had been 'churches 'in Christ' in Judea' before or during 'Paul's time' (or perhaps that what might have been churches synagogues(!) 'in Christ' -eg. messianic- might have been, 'in 'Jesus''.

And raising funds is another subtle layer to creating the inference: it's a form of gaslighting.
I'm not sure if what you're saying here is that Paul is full of it and we can't take him seriously about there being some "church of God." But I'm arguing directly from the epistles:

Galatians 1:22
ἤμην δὲ ἀγνοούμενος τῷ προσώπῳ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Ἰουδαίας ταῖς ἐν Χριστῷ

What Paul meant by "the Church of God" is a critical topic, as I wrote in this earlier thread:

The phrase "the church of God" (he ekklesia tou theou), or, "the churches of God," is a distinctive usage in authentic Paul. Apart from a casual and vague and possibly inauthentic line in the appendix to Romans ("all the churches of Christ greet you," 16:16), Paul seems never to speak of the church of Christ, of Jesus Christ, or of Christ Jesus. By contrast, other NT authors use the term "church" quite differently, and only use "church of God" for pseudo-Paul (Acts 20:28, 1 Timothy 3:5), but without Paul's usual connotations.


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MrMacSon
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Re: Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Jan 12, 2021 1:25 pm

Irish1975 wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:58 pm
I'm not sure if what you're saying here is that Paul is full of it and we can't take him seriously about there being some "church of God."
Yes, that's essentially what I'm saying.

Irish1975 wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:58 pm

But I'm arguing directly from the epistles:

Galatians 1:22
ἤμην δὲ ἀγνοούμενος τῷ προσώπῳ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Ἰουδαίας ταῖς ἐν Χριστῷ

What Paul meant by "the Church of God" is a critical topic, as I wrote in this earlier thread:

The phrase "the church of God" (he ekklesia tou theou), or, "the churches of God," is a distinctive usage in authentic Paul. Apart from a casual and vague and possibly inauthentic line in the appendix to Romans ("all the churches of Christ greet you," 16:16), Paul seems never to speak of the church of Christ, of Jesus Christ, or of Christ Jesus. By contrast, other NT authors use the term "church" quite differently, and only use "church of God" for pseudo-Paul (Acts 20:28, 1 Timothy 3:5), but without Paul's usual connotations.

Yes, as you say, -

" ... "the churches of God," is a distinctive usage in 'authentic Paul' ..."

but the question is: is it authentic? and, (how much of 'authentic Paul' is really authentic?)

As you also say, -

"Apart from a casual and vague and possibly inauthentic line in the appendix to Romans ("all the churches of Christ greet you," 16:16), Paul seems never to speak of the church of Christ, of Jesus Christ, or of Christ Jesus."

I am saying the fund-raising could be a trope to mislead and to reify the notion these churches had existed when they in fact hadn't.

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Irish1975
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Re: Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

Post by Irish1975 » Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:01 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 1:25 pm
Yes, as you say, -

" ... "the churches of God," is a distinctive usage in 'authentic Paul' ..."

but the question is: is it authentic? and, (how much of 'authentic Paul' is really authentic?)

As you also say, -

"Apart from a casual and vague and possibly inauthentic line in the appendix to Romans ("all the churches of Christ greet you," 16:16), Paul seems never to speak of the church of Christ, of Jesus Christ, or of Christ Jesus."

I am saying the fund-raising could be a trope to mislead and to reify the notion these churches had existed when they in fact hadn't.
I wonder why, If Paul had made up the idea of there being "churches of God" in Judea, in order to swindle the believers in Greece, he would have used that particular designation "church of God." It is an abstract name. You would think church of Christ Jesus or whatever would have been a better fit.

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Re: Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Wed Jan 13, 2021 4:58 am

Irish1975 wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 11:38 am
Paul's concern to raise a large donation from his flock in Galatia, Macedonia, and Achaia and deliver it to "the saints" or "the poor" in Jerusalem is a major preoccupation in his epistles (Galatians 2:10; 1 Cor 16:1–4; 2 Cor 8:1–9:15; Rom 15:14–32).

This concern appears to have spanned his whole career as an apostle. It didn't begin with his alliance with the pillars (Galatians 2:10), nor did it cease after relations with them broke down. So I don't think the collection was about apostolic unity with James or Cephas at all. Nor would an act of generosity by itself have been able to bridge their profound disagreements about torah observance and the new covenant in Christ.

So why was it important to Paul?
According to Paul's statements in 2 Corinthians 9:12, the donation had both a charitable and a cultic purpose.

For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

Philippians 4:12 also focuses on the second aspect.

I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

If we were nuns and monks of a wealthy abbey, wouldn't we donate something to an impoverished mother monastery?

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:13 am

Irish1975 wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 11:38 am
Unless you think that Paul was some master grifter, isn't the obvious explanation his tremendous guilt for having persecuted the church of God? The collection for the poor/saints in Jerusalem, in Paul's mind, meant forgiveness and atonement for his past misdeeds. They, "the churches of Judea in Christ", were the ones he had persecuted, so he wanted to make restitution. This explanation seems not only obvious but entirely sufficient, though I don't recall coming across it in Pauline scholarship. Let me know if you've seen it somewhere.
Lots of human actions, possibly most, have multiple layers of motives. I agree that your proposal could be the psychological reason for the collection, and I like that explanation in that context quite a lot.

I believe the reason he himself would have openly given, though, is scriptural:
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:22 pm
Paul bringing money from gentile congregations to the Jerusalem "mother church" would have been a deliberate and transparent attempt to fulfill the prophecy:

Isaiah 60.5, 11:

5 Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice;
Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you,
The wealth of the nations [ἐθνῶν, gentiles] will come to you.

....

11 Your gates will be open continually;
They will not be closed day or night,
So that people may bring you the wealth of the nations,
With their kings led in procession.

(Alternately, if Robert happens to be right about the whole thing being a Pauline scam, then this prophecy would have been its pretext. In either case, Isaiah is what lurks behind the whole idea.)

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Irish1975
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Re: Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

Post by Irish1975 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:40 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:13 am
Lots of human actions, possibly most, have multiple layers of motives. I agree that your proposal could be the psychological reason for the collection, and I like that explanation in that context quite a lot.
I’m glad this makes sense to you. Have you seen this idea in Paul scholarship?
I believe the reason he himself would have openly given, though, is scriptural:
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:22 pm
Paul bringing money from gentile congregations to the Jerusalem "mother church" would have been a deliberate and transparent attempt to fulfill the prophecy:

Isaiah 60.5, 11:

5 Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice;
Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you,
The wealth of the nations [ἐθνῶν, gentiles] will come to you.

....

11 Your gates will be open continually;
They will not be closed day or night,
So that people may bring you the wealth of the nations,
With their kings led in procession.

(Alternately, if Robert happens to be right about the whole thing being a Pauline scam, then this prophecy would have been its pretext. In either case, Isaiah is what lurks behind the whole idea.)
Isn’t Isaiah speaking of the whole people of Israel/Judah? The fact that Paul is going to Jerusalem where the original churches of God are does not make it clear to me that he would have identified them with the whole people spoken to in Isaiah.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Paul's Motive for the Jerusalem Collection

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jan 13, 2021 9:40 am

Irish1975 wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:40 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 5:13 am
Lots of human actions, possibly most, have multiple layers of motives. I agree that your proposal could be the psychological reason for the collection, and I like that explanation in that context quite a lot.
I’m glad this makes sense to you. Have you seen this idea in Paul scholarship?
Not that I can recall.
I believe the reason he himself would have openly given, though, is scriptural:
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:22 pm
Paul bringing money from gentile congregations to the Jerusalem "mother church" would have been a deliberate and transparent attempt to fulfill the prophecy:

Isaiah 60.5, 11:

5 Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice;
Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you,
The wealth of the nations [ἐθνῶν, gentiles] will come to you.

....

11 Your gates will be open continually;
They will not be closed day or night,
So that people may bring you the wealth of the nations,
With their kings led in procession.

(Alternately, if Robert happens to be right about the whole thing being a Pauline scam, then this prophecy would have been its pretext. In either case, Isaiah is what lurks behind the whole idea.)
Isn’t Isaiah speaking of the whole people of Israel/Judah? The fact that Paul is going to Jerusalem where the original churches of God are does not make it clear to me that he would have identified them with the whole people spoken to in Isaiah.
It is just remnant theology. The faithful part represents the not always faithful whole.

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