Saturday, February 27, 2010

Face to Faith: St. Paul the radical.

St Paul is often dismissed as a finger-wagging bigot. This could not be further from the truth.

Tom Holland The Guardian, Saturday 27 February 2010

Saint Paul remains topical today in a way that no one else in the Bible (with the admitted exception of God) can rival. Whenever tensions rise between the rival claims of Christian and secular morality, it is a fair bet that there will be a Pauline maxim lurking somewhere in the background.

Conservatives in the Church of England who fret about women bishops, and vicars who instruct their female parishioners to submit to their husbands, are consciously echoing Paul's first letter to Timothy: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

Read article here

Comment: To me the thing about St. Paul is that he stands in the tradition of rabbis who would debate and develop doctrine on the hoof. Sadly the death of any rabbi stops that process and in Paul's case further development of that thought is doubly stopped with the setting of the canon of scripture.

Had he lived longer - or were he alive today - I think he would continue to engage in theological debate, and be prepared to move his position in the light of that debate. As Tom points out what we know of Paul is that his writings represented his thinking at the time. Is there evidence in his writings that his position on certain issues was moving? Yes there is.

That being said who is to say that it would not have moved further had he lived longer, or that he expected his collected writings, each being a snapshot of his current religious thinking, to be gathered together and viewed as the difinitive word on what he discussed?

Tantalisingly what we might also consider are what might have been in Paul's lost epistles.

UPDATE: Anyone in the U.K can watch Tom Holland develop these ideas On C4, Sunday evening 28th Feb, in "The Bible: A History" at 7.00 pm.