What Do You Think Of When You Think Of Paul The Apostle?

What Do You Think Of When You Think Of Paul The Apostle? August 28, 2014

What do you think of Paul 2014

I tried something new in the first meeting of my class on Paul and the Early Church this semester. I got students to submit words that they associate with Paul the Apostle to a poll that I had already set up on Poll Everywhere. If more people submitted a word, it became larger, and the result was the word cloud above.

Are you surprised by what is on it, what isn’t on it, or the size of any of the words? What would you have written if you were in my class?


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Samphire

    Circumcision. Contradictory. Coat-losing. Cosmic. And Clearly Crazy.

  • Mark

    Huh… Where is “grace” and “faith”?

  • csiems

    Surprised that Law is there, but not Faith or Grace. Also Gentiles, but that wouldn’t be a surprise if they are new to the academic study of religion.

  • I’d add “revelation” and “new covenant”. I’m a bit surprised by the size of “foundation”.

  • redpill99

    Jesus mythicists do not regard Acts as a credible source of information regarding Paul for the obvious reason it depicts Paul meeting a historical James and Peter, and preaching a historical Jesus. They say Acts is pure 100% fiction. Is Acts a credible source of information regarding Paul?

    have you Bart Ehrman or anyone mainstream reviewed Richard Carrier’s latest book

    On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt.

    • Kris Rhodes

      AFAIK Carrier has no problem with Paul having met the historical Peter. He actually somewhat surprisingly suggests that I Peter is actually written by THE Peter. (Unfortunately his argument for the plausibility of this seems suspect to me. He says the “only”–his word–argument for a late date non-Petrine authorship is that Peter was actually an illiterate fisherman. Wikipedia, anyway, would seem to indicate there are a few more arguments than that.)

      • Kris Rhodes

        (Also, one mythicism-sympathizer-at-least to another, at the risk of taking on the role of “thread cop,” I do want to note that your post seems off-topic. James is pretty generous in the near-complete freedom he gives people to post on his blog but I think it’s best to try to keep things on topic for the purpose of being constructive. Best foot forward and all that…)

    • Treating Acts as 100% fiction won’t work, because some of the details Acts includes can be confirmed from other sources, whether Paul’s letters or extracanonical ones. Carrier has the strange stance of providing evidence that, at the very least, Acts is really good historical fiction, since the author clearly knew the background. But because his aim is apparently less to depict things accurately, and more to insult Christianity, he also claims that Acts is bad historical fiction. But in relation to his own claims, that makes no sense. It may be good or bad history, if it is trying to be history. But if it is, as he claims, historical fiction, then it is clearly an excellent example of the genre, not a poor one.

      • redpill99

        thanks for replying. Yeah historical fiction and therefore not reliable. Bart Ehrman quotes Paul’s speeches in Acts as additional info his his book. Other than Acts there does not appear to be other evidence of Paul, nor dating Paul’s letters.

        it is claimed “On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt.” passed peer review.

        • You seem confused both about the evidence for Paul, and the significance of peer review. A huge number of studies which draw conclusions that support there having been a historical Paul and a historical Jesus have passed peer review. Do you think that in and of itself proves something? If not, then perhaps you could clarify your point.

          • redpill99

            i was alluding to this –

            On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt


            – June 3, 2014


            Richard Carrier

            The assumption that Jesus existed as a historical person has
            occasionally been questioned in the course of the last hundred years or
            so, but any doubts that have been raised have usually been put to rest
            in favor of imagining a blend of the historical, the mythical and the
            theological in the surviving records of Jesus. Carrier re-examines the
            whole question and finds compelling reasons to suspect the more daring
            assumption is correct. He lays out extensive research on the evidence
            for Jesus and the origins of Christianity and poses the key questions
            that must now be answered if the historicity of Jesus is to survive as a
            dominant paradigm. Carrier contrasts the most credible reconstruction
            of a historical Jesus with the most credible theory of Christian origins
            if a historical Jesus did not exist. Such a theory would posit that the
            Jesus figure was originally conceived of as a celestial being known
            only through private revelations and hidden messages in scripture; then
            stories placing this being in earth history were crafted to communicate
            the claims of the gospel allegorically; such stories eventually came to
            be believed or promoted in the struggle for control of the Christian
            churches that survived the tribulations of the first century. Carrier
            finds the latter theory more credible than has been previously imagined.
            He explains why it offers a better explanation for all the disparate
            evidence surviving from the first two centuries of the Christian era. He
            argues that we need a more careful and robust theory of cultural
            syncretism between Jewish theology and politics of the second-temple
            period and the most popular features of pagan religion and philosophy of
            the time. For anyone intent on defending a historical Jesus, this is
            the book to challenge.

            the claim

            – Questioning or Defending the Historicity of Jesus – with Dr. Richard Carrier


            Posted on May 28, 2014 by Admin

            Richard Carrier’s new book On the Historicity of Jesus will soon be available, and this August course is your opportunity to explore its controversial stances on Jesus.

            Description: This course discusses the best arguments for and against
            the historical existence of Jesus (as the putative founder of
            Christianity), and we will proceed step-by-step through ways to approach
            them and evaluate them. Working from the first peer reviewed academic book arguing Jesus might not have existed,
            taught by the author himself, you will learn how to distinguish good
            arguments from bad, and about the background and context of the origins
            of Christianity as a whole. This is the best opportunity to ask Dr.
            Carrier, who holds a PhD in ancient history from Columbia University,
            all your questions about his controversial research and the
            historical(?) figure of Jesus.

          • Right. He has made a case. And like most other cases made in peer-reviewed literature, the odds are that he is wrong, and will be shown to be wrong. But by all means insist that there are faster-than-light neutrinos because you saw a peer-reviewed paper on it, if that is your cup of tea. Expect the response to be an explanation of the peer review process and its role in the scholarly process.

  • Darach Conneely

    I would have said, for all our opinions about Paul, he was really into preaching love. Doing a quick word search from Romans to Philemon (yes I know), Paul talks about love 149 times, that is almost as much as he talks about faith 164 times, and significantly more than grace 94 times.

  • Anne T

    Misogynist, Spin Doctor

  • Jeff Carter

    Jew or Jewish aren’t on the list? really?

  • Roman citizen.

  • Benjamin Martin

    George Alan Rekers. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Alan_Rekers
    Couldn’t keep hands off the young male traveling companion’s pee-pee. Because religion. (Acts 16:3) Found young slave-boys “useful.” Because religion. (Philemon1:11)

    • I think you meant this for a different thread. Or are you so obsessed with sex that you feel you must bring this up on every post, and find references to circumcision are not about conversion to Judaism but about sex – presumably like everything else, in your mind?

  • Chris Eyre

    “Convert” or “conversion” would be very high on my list, and not just because of Alan Segal’s book.

  • Sean Garrigan

    Dedicated, committed, tireless, zealous, brilliant, inspired, loyal, fearless.

  • R Vogel

    Outside Sales Rep. 😉