Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Pauline Interpolations

In the New Testament, at least two passages have been interpolated into the letters of Paul: 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Today I'll present the evidence for this conclusion that most experts have long known about, but most laymen never hear.


For those not savvy to the study of ancient manuscripts (called textual criticism), an "interpolation" is a word or passage that was added to a text after it was written and disseminated, added of course by someone not the author, who wished to pass off that "interpolated" text as being by the author (or, often times, this insertion happens by accident--but that didn't happen here). We have hundreds and hundreds of examples of interpolations in the Biblical manuscripts (most of which you don't hear about because they are so obviously interpolations that they aren't in your bibles but were deleted by modern scholars, or never got in because our bibles came from only one of many lines of the textual tradition, each line interpolating its own words and passages like crazy). For examples and discussion (and books to consult) see my slideshow (PDF) for the Carrier-Holding debate (and for the most egregious example, see my work on Mark 16:9-20).

It was in that debate with J.P. Holding that I cited as examples of clear interpolations that we don't have manuscript evidence of (because they occurred long before any extant manuscripts were produced) these two passages in Paul. Holding, of course (like most fundamentalists, despite his protestations to the contrary) can't have these be interpolations (as that would require admitting the NT texts are hopelessly corrupt, any passage you care to name could be another interpolation), so he argues against them being so, as have a few devout scholars.

In the debate I chose not to waste time pressing the issue so I could make other points instead, and for purposes of answering the point under time I simply noted that scholars do not agree with each other here (and most scholars do not agree with Holding), which proved one of my key opening debate points that the text of the NT is a product of disputable, fallible, human opinions (and therefore cannot be in any sense infallible, and hardly by any reasonable standard reliable enough to base your life on). I secured that argument quite thoroughly in the debate and Q&A, so hopefully the video will become available so you can see why it's no trivial point to make.

But I did have slides ready refuting his claims regarding the two passages I cited. That information is worth having (since this is generally not accessible to laymen, being buried in esoteric journals and commentaries). So I provide it now, for reference and edutainment...

1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

This is where Paul refers to the end of the Jewish nation and its national cult, even though that occurred at least a decade after he is supposed to have died. In this passage Paul is made to say:
...in Judea...the Jews killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us, and pleased not God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always: but the wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.
Most scholars have concluded this was never written by Paul. The arguments are many, and accumulate to a conclusive case:
  • Paul never blames the Jews for the death of Jesus elsewhere.

  • Paul never talks about God's wrath as having come, but as coming only at the future judgment (see: Romans 2:5, 3:5-6, 4:15).

  • Paul teaches the Jews will be saved, not destroyed (see: Romans 11:25-28).

  • Paul was dead by the time the "wrath had come upon them to the uttermost" (the destruction of the Jewish nation and temple in 70 A.D.).
A very good discussion of this passage and the "best" attempts to "rescue" it as authentic appears at Vridar. He nevertheless sides against authenticity, with good reason, but he shows how some scholars do attempt to insist it's what Paul wrote. (Though most scholars agree it's not: Birger Pearson, "1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation," Harvard Theological Review 64 [1971]: 79-94; G. E. Okeke, "1 Thessalonians 2.13-16: The Fate of the Unbelieving Jews," New Testament Studies 27 [1981]: 127-36.)

So was 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 interpolated? Now, I'm open to the possibility of experts being wrong--because they often are. That they all disagree about a thousand things pertaining to the text of the NT entails every expert is wrong about quite a lot of things, because their pervasive disagreements entail they can't all be right about everything (that's a logical impossibility), and statistically no one of them can be right about everything anyway (nor have we any way to figure out which scholar is the magic infallible bean in that motley bag, even if there were such an impossible creature). Which means if experts can't agree and all are wrong about many things (as must they be), then we can't trust their reconstructed text either (since it's a product of the same fallible opinions and meets with all the same disagreements), except with varying shades of probability, none of which is enough to overcome any natural probabilities (so you can't use any NT passage to prove a miracle occurred, because textual corruption is always more probable).

But in the case of 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, attempts to defend its authenticity simply make no sense. They require us to believe too many improbable things. Which is exactly what a delusional person finds convincing, but not an objective critical mind. 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 is very unusual in several ways. Not in any of Paul's 20,000 words, and dozens of discussions of the Jews, is anything like it. That immediately casts it into doubt. Paul blaming the Jews for the death of Jesus is simply unprecedented. Paul also never talks about the Jews as if he wasn't one of them (see: Galatians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 9:20; Romans 9:1-5, 11:1; Philippians 3:4-5). And Paul acknowledged Jews as members of his own church, so he wouldn't damn them as a group like this, and never does (see: 1 Corinthians 1:24, 12:13; 2 Corinthians 11:12; Romans 9:24, 10:12; on how this interpolation is undeniably--and uncharacteristically for Paul--Antisemitic, see the analysis again at Vridar).

Instead, Paul says things like... "Did God cast off his people? God forbid! For I also am a Jew, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin" (Romans 11:1). "Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I" (2 Corinthians 11:22). That Paul actually taught the Jews would be saved, not damned, is clear throughout his letters, for instance in Romans 11:25-28:
For I would not have you ignorant of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written...and as touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake.
That Paul believed God's wrath would come only at the future judgment is likewise a constant drumbeat for him (see: Romans 2:5, 3:5-6, 4:15; even 1 Thessalonians 1:10).

So let's look at the questionable passage again in context: 
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Jesus Christ, for you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us, and pleased not God, and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, to fill up their sins for evermore--but the wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.
Paul is writing to pagan converts (see verse 1:9) being persecuted by pagans, not by Jews (this is what he means in the authentic part of verse 2:14, highlighted above), so why would he suddenly break into a tirade against "the Jews" here? This makes no sense in context and violates the entire thread of his argument, that the Thessalonians are awesome for having withstood a pagan persecution.

The passage also says God's wrath has come upon the Jews "to the uttermost" (literally "to the end" / "with finality"). Attempts to reinterpret this as not meaning "with finality" is simply trying to get a word to mean the exact opposite of what it actually means. More importantly, the remark unmistakably refers to something that affected the Jews in Judea ("For you became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea ... for you also suffered the same things of your own countrymen as they did of the Jews who [killed Jesus and the prophets in Judea, and drove us out of Judea, etc.]..."), so the attempt to claim it refers to an earlier expulsion of Jews from Rome is a complete non-starter. That was a purely temporary and isolated event (and thus not by any stretch of the imagination "final"), and hardly anything one would call the wrath of God (unless you think God is really lame--as if the worst he could do to display his "wrath" is force some Jews living in pagan Rome to go back to the Holy Land), and in any case only affected Jews in Rome, not Jews in Judea (so how could God's wrath have been visited on the Jews of Judea by punishing Jews in Rome?).

So "reinterpreting" the passage to mean some other event (or even something "unobservable" like some sort of spiritual abandonment) simply makes no sense whatever of the passage's obvious meaning. The only thing a
"final judgment" on "the Jews" in "Judea" can possibly be is the end of Judea itself (as a province) and the end of the Jewish cult (in the destruction of the Temple), universally recognized by Christians as God's final abandonment of the Jews. No other event makes any sense. And Paul was dead by then. So it's an interpolation. Which is obvious to anyone of sense.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Most experts again believe this is an interpolation. This passage has Paul command:

Let the women keep silence in the churches: because it is not permitted for them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also the law says. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.
We know this wasn't written by Paul because it directly contradicts what Paul says in the very same letter, where he actually gives rules for when women speak in church (in 1 Corinthians 11). So we can be sure someone else wrote this passage, probably influenced by the forgery of 1 Timothy 2 (where we find this misogyny repeated; notably in the authentic letters of Paul, such misogyny does not appear--it was a feature of later Christianity).

Everyone concurs that the passage contradicts Paul's teachings in the very same letter. So the only rebuttal fundamentalists have is that Paul must be quoting his opponents here, and arguing against it, not actually issuing this command himself. They do this with a raft of special pleading. Here is the whole passage in context, here using the ASV translation, but parsing the paragraph according to the argument made for these verses' authenticity (1 Corinthians 14:29-40):
Let the prophets speak by two or three, and let the others discern. But if a revelation be made to another sitting by, let the first keep silence. For ye all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. Let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church. What!? Was it from you that the word of God went forth? Or came it unto you alone? If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord. But if any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant. Wherefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. But let all things be done decently and in order.
The argument is that the material in bold is a quotation of his opponents and that Paul is denouncing the statement. But this is illogical in several ways, not least being the fact that he doesn't denounce the statement. If he were, he would specifically say the statement is wrong or command them to let women speak in due order. No such remarks are present (obviously, because the interpolator intended us to think this was Paul's commandment).

It's rather lamely said the exclamation "What!?" alone constitutes a denunciation of the statement, which it is not (any author of the period would follow such an exclamation with a declarative sentence were that the case). Moreover, that exclamation is not actually in the Greek. It's a modern translator's conjecture. So no argument can stand on its presence here. The word that's actually there is simply "or" (and it is exactly so translated everywhere else in Paul's corpus). Nor is indirect speech indicated here, as the argument requires it be: there is simply no grammatical structure indicating Paul is quoting his opponents, unlike other passages
where he does (1 Corinthians 7:1, "concerning what you wrote..."; 15:12, "some among you say..."; 15:35, "some say..."; note that in 6:12 he's not quoting his opponents but himself: cf. 10:23 in light of
8:1-9:1 and 9:20-22).
 

Therefore the "quoting others" argument has no basis in the text itself and in fact goes against all the grammatical and rhetorical practices of the period generally and Paul specifically. Instead, we can be sure the original reading of  1 Corinthians 14:31-37 was:
For you all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted, and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. [---] Or did the word of God originate with you, or come only to you? If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord.
In other words, Paul is simply concluding the argument of the entire chapter, that they can't gainsay what he has just said "as if the word of God came only to them" because what he is saying is the definitive and universal commandment of God. The digression about women doesn't even fit here.

And in fact we know this is how the passage originally read, because in some manuscripts this is exactly what Paul says: the insertion about the women is moved to the end of the chapter. Which means (a) it was understood to be a separate unit (in thought and meaning, grammatically and rhetorically) and (b) the "challenge" question (what some bible translations render as beginning with the exclamation "What!?") was understood by many scribes and readers as directed at those promoting "confusion" rather than "peace," not the issue of letting women speak. (Thus Paul responds to the challenge question by declaring his rule does come from God and is found in all the churches, so Corinthians can't act like they received special instructions from God on any of these matters.)

In other words, the version I have just proposed, of what Paul originally said and what it meant, is exactly the version we find in some actual manuscripts of the Bible. The final clincher is that we know there were once manuscripts that didn't contain the interpolated verses at all, which confirms they were interpolated. This evidence is presented in Philip Payne's article "Fuldensis, Sigla for Variants in Vaticanus, and 1 Cor 14:34-5" in New Testament Studies 41 (1995): pp. 240-50.  I only just learned this the day before my debate with Holding (when I finished my complete literature search in preparation), which illustrates (a) how hard it is to claim you know what the original text said when you can't possibly have studied all the literature on every single verse! and (b) interpolations were once proven by manuscripts we no longer have (a crucial point we ought never forget), and (c) there is evidence even now in known manuscripts that scholars still have yet to discover (the manuscript evidence Payne reported in 1995 had been available to scholars for over a hundred years, some of it in fact over a thousand years; how much else is just sitting there unnoticed?).

Payne shows that scribal marks in one of our earliest manuscripts of this letter indicate the passage was known not to appear in some manuscripts available to the copier, and that we have an explicit representation of this knowledge in a later manuscript prepared and supervised by Bishop Victor of Capua in A.D. 546, who ordered a rewrite of this section to omit verses 34-35, in the bottom margin of Codex Fuldensis. Bishop Victor's other corrections of the text in Codex Fuldensis routinely reflect his awareness of manuscripts with the readings he advised. Therefore Victor knew of a manuscript lacking vv. 34-35. So there once were manuscripts proving vv. 34-35 an interpolation, including some that must have been composed in the 3rd century, before almost all of the manuscripts we even now have.

Conclusion

There can be no doubt that these passages are interpolations (1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). This proves Christians had no problem doctoring the letters of Paul to make him say things he didn't say. And if they did this in these two cases, how many other passages in Paul are inauthentic? Remember, we caught these cases because we got lucky (the interpolators were sloppy, they just happened to pick things to say that contradicted Paul, and we just happen to have some telltale evidence in the manuscripts). Most interpolations won't have left such evidence (most will not so blatantly contradict Paul, and most of the ones, like these, that were inserted before 200 A.D. won't have just by chance left any evidence in the manuscripts). It is therefore necessarily the case that there are three or more interpolations in the letters of Paul that we don't know about (statistically, if most won't be evident, and two are evident, then there must be at least three not evident). Would you ever bet your life on which passage isn't one of them?

33 comments:

Edward T. Babinski said...

Excellent points Richard. I was also wondering whether or not some passages or ideas in The Wisdom of Solomon (not to be confused with the Book of Proverbs, but an apocryphal work attributed to “Solomon”) might also have been inserted into Pauline letters, pseudo-Pauline letters and the book of Acts? Alternatively, such pssages and ideas from The Wisdom of Solomon may have been cited by Paul, pseudo-Pauline writers and the author of Acts, because they all held The Wisdom of Solomon in high regard as a valuable work in the early church?

Romans 1:19-23 (compare with Wisdom 13:1-5)

Romans 9:19-23 (compare with Wisdom 12:12-18 and 15:7)

Romans 13:10 (compare with Wisdom 6:18)

1 Corinthians 6:2 (compare with Wisdom 3:8)

Ephesians 6:11-17 (compare with Wisdom 5:17-20)

2 Timothy 4:8 (compare with Wisdom 5:16.)

Acts 17:27 (compare with Wisdom 13:6)

Acts 17:30 (compare with Wisdom 11:23)

Bernard said...

Here is what I found out:
Interpolations in Romans: Ro16:25-27
Interpolations in 1Corinthians: 1:4-9, 14:34-35, 15:3-11, 15:23-28, 15:56
Interpolations in 2Corinthians: 5:10-11, 6:14-7:1
Interpolations in Galatians: 2:7-8
Interpolations in 1Thessalonians: 1:10, 2:14-16
Interpolations in Philippians: 3:20b-21
Furthermore, 1Corinthians, 2Corinthians and Philippians, for each one of them, is the result of the combination of three separate epistles.

AIGBusted said...

Here's another comment Carrier made that I feel certainly should have made this blog post, as it clarifies his position:

"[A]s I pointed out, the NT isn't just used for broad stroke claims like that [that Jesus was crucified or Mark described the discovery of an empty tomb], it is used to make countless specific points from specific passages (even specific word choices in those passages), and on that point he certainly lost."

Ben said...

I bet my eternal life on the perils of textual criticism every day 5 times before breakfast.

I'm curious. Are you saying you know that Holding would defend these specific passages as authentic?

Ben said...

Thank you Google.

http://www.tektonics.org/gk/inflaw.html

"In these verses, Paul is quoting his OPPONENTS whom he disagrees with in the next verses."

Well, there you go.

The Uncredible Hallq said...

Awesome post Richard. Does anyone remember if Ehrman covers both of these passages in Misquoting Jesus? (I think he covers at least one).

Ben said...

Also, on Theologyweb, Holding seems to endorse (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?2375-1-Cor.-14-34-36-women-speaking-in-the-church&p=45472#post45472) this statement made by another contributor (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?2375-1-Cor.-14-34-36-women-speaking-in-the-church&p=45193#post45193):

"I hold to a different view now, and all because of a little one-letter particle word in the Greek language. The Greek particle e (an eta, not an epsilon), when appearing at the head of a sentence, often goes untranslated, or is translated or in the sense of a contrary view, or can be translated: What!? It often means: “I totally disagree with the mistaken position that I just cited from my opponents.”"

And it appears you have addressed this argument. He says it goes untranslated and among other things, you say the "what?!" doesn't exist in the originals. Am I missing anything?

Ben said...

Thank you Google again. You answer my prayers much more often than Thor does.

Holding defends the other verses as well on Theologyweb (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?14126-1-Thessalonians-2-14-16-is-an-Interpolation&p=312254#post312254). I'll grab some quotes here in a minute.

Steven Carr said...

Expulsion of Jews...

' and in any case only affected Jews in Rome'

And it seems to have affected Christians in Rome, if Acts is to be believed.

Acts 18

'There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.'

shreddakj said...

I have 2 months off soon, and just picked up a copy of Sense and Goodness without God, The Christian Delusion and Ehrman's new book 'Forged'.

I'm very much looking forward to reading all three of them, and this post has made me itch to read them now even though I don't have time!

That passage saying women weren't allowed to speak always puzzled me, as did the one about requiring women to cover their heads. It's interesting that either way (authentic or not) they can be used as a criticism of the Christian Faith.

Tommy Holland said...

Uncredible Hallq: Yes, Ehrman does cover this topic in 'Misquoting Jesus.' The I Corinthians passage is explored on p. 183 (paperback) and Ehrman too states that Paul almost certainly didn't write the portion in question. The 1 Thessalonians passage is briefly mentioned on p. 188.

Richard Carrier said...

shreddakj said... That passage saying women weren't allowed to speak always puzzled me, as did the one about requiring women to cover their heads.

The latter is surely authentic (it's in 1 Cor. 11), not least since it's one of those things too strange to imagine any later Christian wanting to put it in. The context is that in the Middle East pious women were expected to wear head scarves (that wasn't a modern invention), so he's defending and reiterating what was already a common (albeit conservative) practice, and Paul clearly had given this (or bought) a mythical explanation in the rape (or seduction) of women long ago by the fallen angels (described briefly in Genesis, though the notion that these angels were fallen came much later, that appears in the book of Enoch, a major scripture used by the Christians). That story seems here assumed as necessitating the head coverings so as not to tempt the angels.

Paul also certainly agreed with the subordination of wives to husbands in Genesis. He just wasn't a dick about it, letting women speak and have positions of influence in his church, and anticipating their equality at the resurrection (when there will be neither slave nor free, neither male nor female...).

Later Christians chucked that as being too liberal minded (Tertullian, for example, harrumphed at this notion and insisted women will remain subordinate in heaven, in fact in his eyes that's why their flesh had to be raised, to ensure their inferiority would be perpetuated).

Richard Carrier said...

Other Interpolations

Edward T. Babinski: I just assume Paul (like many early Christians) used The Wisdom of Solomon as inspiration or scripture. I see no need to suppose those uses are interpolations.

Bernard: Not all of the passages you refer to are interpolations, strictly speaking. Many are authentic passages, which became misplaced from editing (like you note, and many a scholar agrees, the letters we have often appear to be pastiches of sections of other letters, but still letters by Paul--more worrying in these cases is not interpolation but deletion, i.e. what in those letters, and the whole ones we have, has been cut?). I'll also remind readers that some of the interpolations you identify have less secure evidence for their status as inauthentic than the two I surveyed. That doesn't mean they aren't interpolations (as many scholars do back them as such), just that we shouldn't lump everything together without distinction.

Richard Carrier said...

P.S. Although if we can find, say, four more "obvious" interpolations (as from Bernard's list), then the number of "hidden" interpolations in addition to those (which would amount to six known ones in all) would be seven or more in number, not just three. By inescapable logic.

Richard Carrier said...

Ben said… Are you saying you know that Holding would defend these specific passages as authentic?

Indeed. He defended their authenticity in the debate. And I knew he would, because he also has online articles defending them (which I read in advance of the debate).

[As you found]

Richard Carrier said...

Ben said… [Holding says] "The Greek particle e (an eta, not an epsilon), when appearing at the head of a sentence, often goes untranslated, or is translated or in the sense of a contrary view"

It's certainly not the particle, it's either the disjunctive conjunction (literally the word "or") or the interrogative adverb (which in English simply converts a sentence into a question), either of which has an identical meaning here.

Holding might be confusing this for the exclamation "h h" (his "e" repeated twice) which means "hey hey!" (like the English "tsk tsk"), which only occurs with the word duplicated (and since it isn't duplicated here, this is not the exclamation of disapproval). By itself it just means "Hey!" (as in "Hey you!" i.e. to get someone's attention), and does not connote disapproval. Either way, this is obviously not the word used here.

No, even Bible translators are recognizing it as the "Or do you..." interrogative (or interrogative conjunction), and are just non-literally trying to guess a loose equivalent meaning in English, hence some of them come up with the "What!?" But that's a translator's guess as to Paul's intent, not the actual literal meaning of the word. The literal meaning of the word is simply "Or did the word of God originate with you, or [this is same exact word again] come only to you?"

The Greek exclamation "What!?" is actually ti or ti dai, or is not represented by a specific word but a structure, e.g. 1 Cor. 6:5 literally says "So isn't there...!?" using houtws ("so") in an exclamatory fashion, which certainly can be rendered in English as "What, isn't there...?" (and in some Bibles actually is) but that's not the structure here. Likewise 1 Cor. 11:22 says "Don't you have...!?" using a standard interrogative structure beginning with mh and that can also be rendered in English as "What, don't you have...!?" (and in some Bibles actually is) but again that's not the structure or word used here.

Bernard said...

Thank for your answer. Your post is excellent and certainly the two interpolations you selected are the most obvious. They offer good examples of tampering in canonical texts, and that can be used against those who believe their sacred writings have not been corrupted.
You mention some misplacing. That's definitively the case for Rom16:25-27, seen through antiquity at different locations inside the epistle. But the style of that passage is so much different of Paul's one, that, in my judgement, it is an interpolation. And yes, if the canonical Corinthians and Philippians epistles incorporate several letters in each one, I do not contest the components were initially written by Paul (except interpolations, of course). I do not know about cutting, besides intros and endings of most of these original letters (and at least one complete Pauline epistle!).
You made a good comment about angels looking at the hair of women. I always wondered what Paul was thinking at when he wrote, rather dictated, that.
In 1Cor11:3-10, Paul is lowering the status of women in order to make a point about them covering their head, alluding to Genesis. However he realized that would not go well with the female believers, more so the ones (i.e from Philippi) who were sponsoring him. Then, in the next five verses, he frantically reestablish equality between men and women. That shows Paul was still a Jew deep inside, but also someone in need of funding. Money talks!

The Nerd said...

"That story seems here assumed as necessitating the head coverings so as not to tempt the angels."

Looks like the women in Paul's day needed to get their SlutWalk on. http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/about/why

Ben said...

So what you are saying is that if I wear pants, fallen angels can't see my junk, right? Whew...huge relief. All this time I was worried the supernatural realm had x-ray vision.

Loren said...

So 1 Cor 13 on women shutting up is likely a later insertion, like the Pastorals, which teach much the same thing. But might 1 Cor 11 also be an interpolation? It's also rather misogynist, stating a leadership hierarchy

God > Christ > man > woman

and saying that the female sex comes from the male one instead of vice versa.

Bernard said...

Loren,
On my previous posting, I said:
"In 1Cor11:3-10, Paul is lowering the status of women in order to make a point about them covering their head, alluding to Genesis. However he realized that would not go well with the female believers, more so the ones (i.e from Philippi) who were sponsoring him. Then, in the next five verses, he frantically reestablish equality between men and women."
So I do not think it is an interpolation. Just that Paul showed is Jewishness regarding women, but realizing who sponsored him (Php3:14-19,4:2-3, Ac16:13-15,18:5), he backtracked. The inner Paul revealed himself but other considerations took over. And they did not have delete and backspace buttons in these days!

Morrison said...

Apart from the question of interpolations, Richard, it looks like you admit that we have some actuall letters from Paul...and of course this means that he actually existed.

Is that your position?

Morrison said...

By the way, Richard, could you reference your qualifications in Textual Criticism?

We have been assigned to ready Metzger this summer, in prep for fall, and I wanted to make some comparisons.

Thanks.

Richard Carrier said...

Morrison said... Apart from the question of interpolations, Richard, it looks like you admit that we have some actual letters from Paul...and of course this means that he actually existed. Is that your position?

Yes, of course. Why would you even ask?

…could you reference your qualifications in Textual Criticism?

I took a full graduate course in textual criticism under Leonardo Taran at Columbia University, as well as courses in ancient Greek dialects and linguistics and a year long course in papyrology under Roger Bagnall (likewise at Columbia), plus many course-years in Greek and Latin translation and documents. I also presented a paper on textual criticism at an academic conference (at UC Berkeley, but during my tenure at Columbia) and will soon have two papers in textual criticism published under peer review.

Richard Carrier said...

Ben said… So what you are saying is that if I wear pants, fallen angels can't see my junk, right?

Yes, but then that means those poor Scotts got giggling angels checking out their junk and maybe even fondling it on a regular basis. Dirty little angels.

Richard Carrier said...

In 1Cor11:3-10, Paul is lowering the status of women in order to make a point about them covering their head, alluding to Genesis. However he realized that would not go well with the female believers, more so the ones (i.e from Philippi) who were sponsoring him.

Just to be clear, I do not believe we are entitled to assume it would "not go well" with devout women of influence in the church. According to established sociology of dominance hierarchies, women are often the first to support such things as head scarves for competing females (observe how often it is women even now who oppose "revealing" clothing--and attack "sexually liberated" women as immoral, rather than simply socially equal to men). I don't see Paul as nervously treading two different contradictory positions, but comfortably describing a single coherent and common position that was clearly prevalent in his churches, actually and in his own ideal vision: that women need to know their place and behave, just as men do (everyone does), but that this does not entail women cannot be outspoken, powerful, or influential, so long as they follow the protocols that make it "safe" for them to assert such rights (such as by downplaying their sexuality and not emasculating their husbands in public).

Loren said… But might 1 Cor 11 also be an interpolation? It's also rather misogynist, stating a leadership hierarchy [God > Christ > man > woman] and saying that the female sex comes from the male one instead of vice versa.

But all of that is properly biblical and a common cultural assumption of his time, so there isn't anything anachronistic about it, particularly as he does not infer from these commonplace Jewish beliefs that this in any way meant women couldn't speak in church or teach or take leadership rolls (a semi-liberal view many a Jew shared). Thus we have no actual evidence there is any interpolation here (nothing seems out of place, nothing is inconsistent, etc.). Indeed, to the contrary, his argument for head coverings is, in the context of later Christian literature, comparatively bizarre, and thus not the sort of thing we'd expect to be "added" to his text.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said… You mention some misplacing. That's definitively the case for Rom16:25-27, seen through antiquity at different locations inside the epistle. But the style of that passage is so much different of Paul's one, that, in my judgement, it is an interpolation.

I am skeptical that you can make a valid argument from so short a passage that it violates Pauline style. Stylistic deviations have to be extreme for such a short passage to have a high probability of being actually deviant (as opposed to no more deviant than random chance would produce from the very same author). An example is the shorter ending of Mark, but this passage is not extremely un-Pauline the way the shorter ending is extremely un-Markan.

I would be curious to know, though, if you can cite any papers or books containing scholarly arguments for this pssg. being un-Pauline on judgment of style. Do send them my way if you do.

truthseek2002 said...

Hi Richard,

I just saw your documentary "The God Who Wasn't There," and I just wanted to say I wasn't that impressed. Actually I feel really sorry for you. Its unfortunate that you are spending your entire grown up life trying to shake apart a power that you, my good man, will never be able to get your hands around. None of us can and for folks like you, that's what bugs you to death. You can not quantify or put boundaries on our Father. Your documentary has inspired me in a way that I don't think you were intending. You, tonight, have reminded me how thankful I am to have Jesus as my Savior. I am thankful for his endless grace and compassion, the likes of which will never be matched. I pray that one day you may be able to forgive those who have wronged you at your childhood school, accept responsibility for your deepest questions you are too afraid to answer, and come to know God in his fullest. Thanks Richard. I'll be praying for ya.

Landon Hedrick said...

Truthseek2002,

That wasn't Richard's documentary. You're confusing Richard (who was briefly interviewed in the film) with the actual film maker (Brian Flemming, I believe).

And you are clearly ignorant of Richard's work. I recommend reading The Christian Delusion (particularly, Carrier's chapter on the resurrection) before coming here and telling him that he's just spinning his wheels.

It would reflect rather poor judgment on your part to gauge Carrier by that documentary. I happened to re-watch it today (on Netflix instant) and thought there were a number of problems with it. But they aren't Richard's problems. And the problems I have in mind don't justify Christianity.

Richard Carrier said...

Truthseek2002, Landon is right (above), that wasn't my documentary (and I wasn't the one who went to that school, depicted in the film--I myself had no bad experiences with religion until after I became an atheist). Indeed I had no involvement in that film's production, editing, or content, other than being interviewed for it. See my review and commentary on it here, on this very blog (The God Who Wasn't There).

Of course, to mistake me for the lead in that film does not suggest you have a very good grasp on reality, but in any case, good luck figuring out the truth of things.

Pikemann Urge said...

You've pretty much addressed all of the arguments (in condensed form) that Glen Miller makes in favour of the opponent-quoting hypothesis. However, he did write that

The older commentator Findlay, in the Expositor's Greek Testament, used the phrase "indignant protest" to describe Paul's intent with the particle.

If I assume that you are 100% correct, then Miller is citing reliable scholarship but seems to be using it in the wrong way.

Richard Carrier said...

Pikemann Urge, I'm not sure I understand your question. In my own blog post above I note that some actual scholars have attempted that argument. That Miller can cite one is thus nothing I didn't already acknowledge. My arguments simply refute them.

So you can say Miller doesn't have any new argument there. Citing someone else who makes the same error does not make for a rebuttal. I'm reminded of Acharya S defending herself against the correct criticism that she confused "immaculate conception" for "virgin birth" by citing other people making exactly the same mistake, as if their past error somehow cancels her own.

Pikemann Urge said...

I'm not sure I understand your question.

Probably because I misunderstood what the Expositor's Greek Testament was! So I went to archive.org and had a browse through one of the volumes. This work was written over a hundred years ago. I assumed 1960s or after. So of course it's going to have mistakes in it.

In short, Findlay is incorrect, then. Problem solved!

I'm reminded of Acharya S defending herself against the correct criticism that she confused "immaculate conception" for "virgin birth"

Ouch. I can understand being confused by the two, but there's no excuse for it once the correction is pointed out. Many Christians actually don't know the difference either, AFAIK.