Friday 29 February 2008

Inner Geek - Validated February 2008

As I wrote about here, I am currently working on a series of computer certifications. I will add logo's each month or so to show my progress and update you my readers. They are order from most recently earned to the oldest. I have also added at the bottom a list of the names of exams passed to achieve these designation. These exams are a mix of CompTIA exams and Microsoft Exams.

Earlier I also wrote about having an inner geek, and working on some certifications, specifically the Microsoft Office Specialist, and about playing with multi OS's. Well that combined with some recent schooling has produced a score of computer certifications. Above are the different logo's representing the specific certifications. The Logo's are in the reverse order that I earned the right to use them. And This post will outline the schedule of certifications I plan to write over the next year and a bit.

Here's My setup at work, IBM- Lenovo T61 Docking Station and 2 Viewsonic VA1926W 19InchW monitors.

At home, Tower, and 2 Acer AL2223W monitors:
Notice the way cool C64 Commodore Monitor still in use in the left corner.
You can see my new den here.

Exams Written:

MCTS Deploying & Maintaining Vista Client Office System - Exam 070-624
MCITP Desktop Support Consumer Support - 070-623
CompTIA Network+ 2007 - JK0-012 JK0-010
MCTS Windows Vista Client Configuaration - Exam 072-622 070-622
MCITP Desktop Support - Exam 072-622 070-622
CompTIA A+ Depot Technician - Exam 220-602
CompTIA A+ Remote Support Technician - Exam 220-603

CompTIA A+ IT Technician - Exam JK0-601 220-602
CompTIA A+ Essentials - Exam JK0-601

Microsoft PowerPoint - Exam 810
Microsoft Outlook - Exam 813
Microsoft Access - Exam 807
Microsoft Excel - Exam 804
Microsoft Word - Exam 801

These exams were written either at a Prometric Testing Center or at a Certiport Testing Center for the Office exams. The Exams names that have links link to reviews of the books I used to prepare for those exams.

Wednesday 27 February 2008

Paul and Community

Paul and Community
A sampling of views and opinions on
Paul and His work as community Builder.

In pursuing my studies of Paul, and Pauline theology, I have come to appreciate and understand many themes and issues worthy of discussion and further inquiry. Yet the one that grabbed at my heart and mind to
me for further attention was that of 'Paul and community'. It is of particular concern for me, as the struggles around the meaning of 'community' and the process of building and maintaining 'community' within the Body of Christ are of as much import today as in Paul's day. Since many of his letters are addressed to congregations, nay I say communities he founded and helped shape, yet the same struggles and problems are evident in today's Church thus today's church communities. So I believe that Paul's endeavors to create community, and to sustain it after his leaving are worthy of consideration.

I owe much of my process along this path to Ben Witherington III, and his book The Paul Quest. Which spurred me in this direction. Witherington states in his book "Paul is a community-oriented person who values community preservation over personal privilege." Thus for Paul the community of believers was to come first and foremost. Witherington also states "he (Paul) gained his primary sense of identity not from his physical family but from his Christian family and his relationship with Christ." Thus we see a man who not only put community first, but also gained his own purpose and drive from that community and those relationships. But many questions beg to be asked:
  • Why this focus on community?
  • What sort of community?
  • How is community expressed?
  • How did Paul create community?
From these questions we have a springboard from which to approach the study of Paul and community. However I must state that this list is in no way comprehensive in regards to this topic, but they will lead us on a journey to deeper understanding, and even more questions for further perusal.

The question of why such a focus on community is a good place for us to start. From our previous study on Paul, we must ask why would a Jewish Pharisee begin
witnessing to Gentiles about a Jewish messiah. The answer is in Paul's experience on the Damascus road and the changes that lead to in his heart, mind and spirit. As can be seen from Paul's Superscripto from 2nd Corinthians 1:1 "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,…, to the church of God which is at Corinth." Paul sees himself as an apostle and as being called and sent by God. Again Paul Clearly outlines his self view in Galatians1:11-16 "For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, now was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles."

Here we see a man who used to live in one community, who is now reaching out beyond those boundaries to create a new community that crosses ethnocentric, and religious boundaries. Paul believed he had a call to preach, and his preaching was interwoven with community building. I would go so far as to state that for Paul you could not have Christ followers without having community. Robert Banks also echoes this idea in his book, Paul's idea of Community; he states, "To embrace the gospel, then, is to enter into community. A person cannot have one without the other." Yet this interlinking of the two was deliberate. Banks also states: "In the wake of Paul's travels throughout the Mediterranean, Christian communities sprang up, consolidated and began to multiply. This was the outcome of a deliberate policy on his part. He not only proclaimed the message about Christ and brought people into an intimate relationship with God, but he also explained the consequences of that message for the life of his converts and led them into a personal relationship with one another." Therefore Paul has no choice but to have a focus on community. For that community is interlinked and inseparable from the message of Salvation, which is through Jesus Christ. Now those communities were not perfect and they had problems, much like the Church and churches today still have problems and struggles. This could also then lead us to the question; why is there not clearer instructions on this concept of community in Paul's writings, but that will have to await further studies.

Now that we see that Paul's focus on community was a direct result of his understanding of his call, and the Gospel he preached we must now move onto the question of 'What sort of Community?'

The question of 'what sort' of community is much harder to answer than that of why the focus on community. From my course notes for RS209 May 13th 1998 there are 5 distinct advantages to house Churches, and thus early Christian communities:

1. Distinctively Christian Worship.

2. Some members had high social status (Providing the house).
3. Made intelligible the attention Paul makes to Families.
4. Training of early Christians.
5. At least one person in the community had to have a house in the town, thus there could be a safe environment for the Christians to meet in.

Yet even with this understanding of requirements and advantages of Christian Communities, there are many unanswered issues. Abraham Malherbe in his book, Social Aspects of Early Christians, states: "The current interest in the social aspects of early Christian communities has called for attention to be focused on the communities formed by Christians. Several difficulties, however, confront us in our attempts to describe their constitution from within." However Malherbe's recognition of the difficulties, and my own hesitation should not stop us from wrestling with this vital question. Paul himself has much to say on this topic. First Paul has a desires for there to be unity in the church is clearly seen in from Philippians 2:2 he states, "make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose". Paul also goes on to state that he is responsible to preach to many people groups for in Romans 1:14 he says: "I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and foolish." And in verse 16 "For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes - Jews first and also gentiles." Thus we see his belief that this community can encompass all people groups, Jews, Greeks and barbarians. Paul also clearly states that his teachings are for all churches he has been involved with, that Christian doctrine should be universal in application, in 1st Corinthians 4:17 outlines this: "For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church." Here we see a concern on Paul's part for those he has taught, that they continue to grow and learn and practice what he has taught them. Paul also has great concern that the communities continue to live the truth, for in Galatians 1:6,7 Paul clearly states there is but one Gospel, and is concerned that the church in Galatia is turning from it. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ." So therefore from the above argument, if the gospel and community were interrelated realities, the perversion of the one would also be a perversion of the other. Thus if the Galatians turn from the true gospel, they also turn from true community.

Since from this small sampling we see that Paul had great concern for the Christian community, and for the individual churches within that larger community. Witherington states, "Paul clearly believed that "in-house" and "In community" Christianity could make a difference in the first Cent
ury world. … Living as a new community, a model of how the new creation changes things, Christians bore good witness to a new worldview." Therefore the community's lifestyle was not just for their own sake but also for the sake of witness. Wayne Meeks makes some very interesting observations; I would like to share two of them here: "And we see both family code and city code crossed by the claims of new loyalties; an empire on the one hand, on the other a new cult that uses at once language of city, family, and empire and challenges all three." And secondly, "They have detached themselves from those ties of place and of family which, in a rural culture, ordinarily determine a person's identity." Therefore we see that this new community challenged all contemporary cultural rules and settings. Thus Paul was not changing the social aspect of society, he was changing the family and community to a new one. It called for one to realign one's loyalties to a new setting, to a Christ Jesus, and through him to his body the church. "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." Here Paul clearly ties together the binding of Christians one to another through there unity. Which will lead us into our next question.

How is Christian community expressed? We see that the Christian Community is a body as cited in Romans above, therefore, Christians are parts of a body. The body of Christ, and that this body will have unity. That this community takes place on many levels: the individual house church, the city wide or regional church, and the corporate "C"hurch. Meeks describes it this way: "The church in each city thus typically consisted of a number of small cells meeting in various private houses. Where the Christians were lucky enough to have find a convert or sympathizer who could afford a more spacious house, all the cells in a city might come together on occasion for worship and instruction." Meeks in another work of his The First Urban Christians, states clearly that the individual churches knew they belonged to a larger reality. "The Local groups of Christians not only enjoyed a high level of cohesion and group identity, they were also made aware that they belonged to a larger movement." This is also seen when Paul is making collections for those in Jerusalem who are suffering. The different churches respond to funding the work of God.

However Witherington makes too very good points: "Literacy as a criterion for Christian leadership in the early church is a factor too seldom considered." And also, "but I support E. A. Judge's conclusions that early Christianity was led and largely supported by an elite minority who were of the higher social strata." Which when brought together indicates that for Witherington the early church leaders were very probably those who were learned and of some social standing. Thus the earliest Christians created the 'codex' system, for easier production and dissemination of there writings. Which when studied in conjunction with the questions of " what sort" of community, even more broadly spans the social strata. The early communities were also to be a people set apart, a people for God. In 1st Thessalonians 4:7,9,10 Paul's states: "For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. … Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for any one to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it towards all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more." Here we see Paul thanking a congregation for their concern for other believers, but still challenging them on to more.

Thus we see community expressed through love and good deeds. Through care and commitment, we also see it expressed through Paul's
continuing concern for the community even when he is not present in person. We see community or at least Christian community as one that attempts to break down the old allegiances, to family, city, state, and have a new commitment to other believers no matter there status, or origins. We see a community that was deliberately fostered and challenged to growth in love and good deeds.

Finally then we are lead to our query, how did Paul create community? Of the four questions being tackled in this essay, I believe this is the most difficult. For it requires the most conjecture. However that being stated it is inferred from Paul's words and actions that he did create community, and communities. This was done through a number of methods used either separately or in conjunction. The first is through personal presence and teaching. Paul spent time with these communities in person. He would teach, preach, admonish and challenge them to faith in Jesus Christ then though that to fellowship with one another. After he moved on to another town, he stayed in contact with the previous community(s), through letters, reports from co-workers, through prayer for them and an expectation of prayer and support from them. Paul deliberately found some with means (those with money) in each community who could then host the church and churches activities. But he also went out into the markets, streets and highways to preach and teach to anyone who would listen. He worked hard to cross cultural barriers, and social economic barriers; he would invite anybody into the kingdom, and expect the church to welcome all who came in the name of Christ Jesus. It reminds me of a story I heard a few years back, "This young man a university student became a Christian through outreach on campus. The following Sunday he heads to the nearest church. He comes in and is wearing torn jeans and a t-shirt, and sandals. He arrives a little late and the pews appear to be full. Walking down to the front he does not find a seat open, so he sits on the floor near the front of the church. Now by now people are whispering and coughing. Then an usher comes forward, an elderly man, wearing a 3-piece suit, walking with a cane. It is heard, said 'Bill will straighten him, out, he doesn't belong here, look no suit. …' And other such remarks. The old usher gets up front and rather than rebuking the young man, he slowly and gingerly lowers himself to the floor and sits beside the young man. At this point the pastor gets up, and says 'what I was about to say you would never remember, what we just witnessed you will never forget.'" That is the type of community Paul was working to build, one where love and care came first.

Thus I must state that even though I looked at four different questions, through this work I have found that the four are very closely interrelated. What answers one, can then be reapplied to the next, or to the previous. I think it important at this point to reiterate that Paul did have a focus on a ne
w community that was the family of God. That this focus leads to a clear understanding of community and roles and responsibilities within that community. Paul deliberately was an architect of building community and community that crossed all barriers, Jews, Greeks, and barbarians, poor and rich, slave and freeman, male and female. That was universal and strived to live the best of both Judaism and Roman culture. For Paul community was integral to being a Christ follower, just as it should be for us today.
(St Paul Preaching.)


  1. The Paul Quest, p.181
  2. The Paul Quest, P.18
  3. NASB, 2nd Cor 1:1, P. 827
  4. NRSV, Gal 1:11-16a
  5. Paul's Idea of Community, p.27
  6. Paul's Idea of Community, p.26
  7. Social Aspects of Early Christians, p.60
  8. NASB, Philippians 2:2, p.842
  9. NASB, Romans 1:14, p.807
  10. NLT, Romans 1:16, p. 961
  11. NRSV, 1 Cor 4:17, p.1667
  12. NKJV, Galatians 1:6,7 p. 1278
  13. The Paul Quest, p.201,202
  14. The Moral World of the First Christians, p. 23
  15. The Moral World of the First Christians, p. 104
  16. KJV, Romans 12:4,5
  17. The Moral World of the First Christians, p. 110
  18. The First Urban Christians, p.107
  19. The Paul Quest, P.92
  20. The Paul Quest, P.93
  21. NASB, 1st Thess 4:7,9,10 p. 847
  22. Source unknown a story I heard.


Meeks, Wayne
The Moral World of the first Christians,
SPCK, London: 1987

The First Urban Christians,
Yale University Press, Binghamton, N.Y.: 1983

Banks, Robert
Paul's Idea of Community,
Hendrickson, Peabody: 1998

Malherbe, Abraham J.
Social Aspects of Early Christianity,
Louisiana State University Press, Kingsport: 1977

Witherington III, Ben
The Paul Quest,
IVP, Downers Grove: 1998


New King James Version
(Possibility Thinkers Edition)
Thomas Nelson, New York: 1984

New Revised Standard Version
(HarperCollins Study Bible)
Harper Collins, San Francisco: 1997

New American Standard Bible
RBW Graphics, Canada: 1986

New Living Translation
(New Believers Bible)
Tyndale, Wheaton: 1996

King James Bible

(First Written for RS398 Selected Reading in Paul Winter 2001. Note The links go to specific reviews of those books.)

Monday 25 February 2008

Who is Paul? Can we really know? This is my approach to Paul and Pauline Studies.

Who is Paul? Can we really know?
This is my approach to Paul and Pauline Studies.



Appendix I Pauline Chronology
Appendix II Chronology and Notes on Pauline Canon


Who is Paul? Why is there so much debate about Him? Why is there such controversy around him and his writings? Does it matter to me as a scholar? Should it matter to me as a believer? These are some of the questions that I approach this paper with. My purpose is to examine my approach to Paul and Pauline studies, to clarify my research and work to date, and where it can lead in the future. I will approach this topic through three avenues, the importance of Paul: 1) to history, 2) to Christian history and church thought and 3) the Paul of my understanding. Yet the more I read and study the less I feel equipped to do this vast topic justice. So my first task will be to map my journey to this point of writing a paper on Paul. Then I will endeavour to engage the sources for Pauline information, and the appropriateness of them to this work. Then I will look at some titles, or better some categories, that I have discovered, that are overlaid upon Paul, and his life, his ministry and his writings. I will also include two appendices that are really my starting points for this work. The first dealing with a chronology or Paul's life, and the second a chronology of his writings.

In researching this topic, I have come to realize that I have two great weaknesses in doing this subject any real justice. The first is my lack of training in Greek. I have come to realize to enter into full debate with the theologians, authors and Pauline scholars it is essential to have a very fluent handle on the Greek. Of the books I engaged there were sections in some with more Greek per page then English. This limits me to accepting their discussions on the nuisances in the Greek, and in debating the various translations into English. However as an attempt to counter this weakness, I have utilised up to five English translations of Paul's letters. (NIV, NRSV, NASB, NLT, NJKV)

The second area where I have discovered self-weakness is in presuppositions. I have come to realize more and more, as I progress academically that I look at everything through a plethora of lenses. Each of these lenses colours what I read, hear, study and affect how I interpret each of the previous three. I have the lens of having been raised Roman Catholic, on my fathers side, and Being an Irish Roman Catholic that was always taught to fight and struggle and question all. The second perspective if that of a Gaelic warrior poet, often seeing and embracing the extremes, and believing moderation was for monks. The third most predominant lens is that as bible believing born again Christian. This third lens, allows me to study this material academically, but it always brings up more and more questions as opposed to answers.

These lenses affect my sight in many and varied ways. I was reared to believe that Paul was one of the greatest of Catholic 'Saints', which though he had sinned much, repented and atoned much. That he lived the rest of his life from conversion, that his suffering and persecutions were a form of atonement. Yet through my own readings of his letters that is not how he presents his trials and sufferings. So even though I will endeavour to overcome these lenses and do Paul and his thought world justice, or as much justice as I can.

I feel as if I am standing under a great arch, a mass of Pauline scholarship and theology, though
I admit to some shortcoming in my abilities. I will be do justice to Paul to the extent I can. Just as no scholar has yet come up with a complete composite of Paul, neither will I. Nevertheless this enterprise will still be worthwhile. However I will engage Paul and the theologians, and come out enriched, stretched and with more questions to lead me further on this quest. I will endeavour to be careful to avoid the trap of isogesis, while approaching Paul and Pauline texts and the secondary sources of other theologians and academics. I will also attempt to avoid being anachronisms in applying modern tools, psychology, thoughts or approaches to Paul the man.

I have come to the conclusion that there are two sources for the study of Paul, and in each source there are three sub-categories. The two categories are Cannon and then the secondary source of Theological sources. In the category of Canon there is: the seven Authentic or for the most part undisputed letters; which are 1 Corinthians, Philippians, I Thessalonians, Galatians, 2nd Corinthians, Philemon, and Romans. As well as six pseudo-epigraphic Pauline letters, then secondary cannons, both the book of Acts and those writings that did not make canon such as "The Acts of Paul". Then for the area of theological works, I subdivide into three classes as well, Christian Theologians, Jewish Scholars, and other religious academic works(Not that the first two are not academic, but the third category has no specific religious affiliation).

The Paul of scriptures, and other early non-canonical writings is one of conflict and one of varied uncertainty and debate. The easiest to identify is the differing accounts of the Apostolic Council written about by both Paul, and by Luke, by Paul in Galatians 2:1-10 compared with Acts 15. The key question in these passages is, weather Torah had soterological relevance to the Gentles. Paul clearly paints a different picture of this event or at least the decisions made then the account appearing in Acts. So from this very early period there was some debate and problems between Jewish believers and between Gentile converts.

Thus we see a Paul, both in his writings and in Acts as one who does not back down from debate within or without of the body of believers. Thus often Paul ends up having to defend his credentials, and his purpose and actions. Galatians 1 is a great example of this, Alan Segal states in relation to this passage and I agree; "Paul is displaying his credentials because the other apostles do not recognize a person as an apostle who did not know Jesus." There for as Paul himself states, he had conflict with other believers, with Jews, and with Greeks. As can be seen in 2 Corinthians 11:22-28 especially verse 26.

The Christian Scriptures, thus the Letters of Paul, I regard as Canon, as such the debate of the authenticity of Pauline Authorship to my faith is of little importance. Therefore since I consider the disputed writings to be of Pauline authorship, then it is legitimate to consider them to analyze Pauline theology and thought. For if God allowed them into the Canon they are there for my growth and development. As second Timothy 3:16 States, all scripture is profitable, and useful, and God breathed. However as a scholar, I must evaluate the evidence, the opinions and debates, and pursue my studies with academic integrity. (At this juncture I would ask you to pursue Appendix I and II my chronology of Paul and Pauline Books, and arguments for authorship.)

Then when we move on to the secondary source theological texts, it could almost be said there are as many different views of Paul as there are Pauline Scholars. Daniel Boyarin wants to reclaim Paul as an important Jewish thinker and cultural critic. David Wenham questions weather Paul was a Christ follower or the real founder of Christianity? Both J. Christiaan Beker and N. T Write present Paul's Christianity of the completion of the Covenant, or fulfillment of the Old Testament. Thus I see Paul's ministry and teaching as that of a Spiritual Father deliberately building a Family of God that is universal in its invitation. A man passionate for God and committed to following His vision of Christ no matter the personal cost. At this point I will look at some of these categories in specific detail, starting with a Jewish scholar.

Jewish scholar Daniel Boyarin in the introduction to his book A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity states: "This book is the record of an encounter with some of the most remarkable texts in the canon of western literature, the letters of Paul. If one measure of the greatness of a work of literature is its ability to support many interpretations, then certainly these texts must rank among the very greatest of literature, for they have spawned and continue to spawn - anew every morning - not only ne
w interpretations of particular passages but entirely new constructions of their complete thought world." (p.1) While I agree with some of Boyarin's statements, I disagree with others. I agree with the importance of these works, it's continuous effect throughout western history, and western thought. Whereas Boyarin looks at these writings primarily as cultural criticism of Judaism in the Roman period, I approach them as Divine scriptures. As such there material is not just important from a philosophical perspective, but also from a religious or practical use. Boyarin goes on to state: "This means that Judaism formed itself for good and for ill in the context of Pauline (and other Christian) thought, sometimes undoubtedly reacting simply for the purpose of self-definition but also more, more positively, answering in its own distinctive fashion theological and other challenges placed before it by Pauline Christianity. (p.2)" I would go so far as to state that the converse is also true, that Christianity, especially Pauline Christianity formed itself, in many regards initially in reaction to its mother religion of Judaism, and specifically in regards to what Paul calls "Judiazers", Specifically in Galatians 5 and 6. I also strongly disagree and agree with Alan F. Segal, who states in his book Paul the Convert, "Although we have considerable writings from Paul, his biography is incompletely known. … Paul's letters, though widely read, thus turn out to be among the most difficult and complicated writings in western literature. (p.xiii)" I agree with his analysis that Paul's biography is very incomplete with many holes in it. But I do not believe that his letters are difficult. From my perspective they are often straightforward and written to be understood at face value. The problem comes in trying to make them say something they do not say the error of Isogesis, or trying to not have them say what they say or imply.

Through my readings and studies, I have come to see that many people apply categories or titles, roles and positions onto Paul, and his work. I have observed book after book, written upon a specific aspect of one or another of these classes. These groups include such things as Prophet, Priest, Pharisee, founder of a religion, Apostate to his faith and people, teacher, preacher or radical counter cultural revolutionary. There is also debate on almost ever view of Paul, from feminist liberator to Patriarchal repressor of women. Then within these roles, there are different interpretations of events or actions on his part. The most debated is the Damascus Road experience thus the issue of convert and or call. In that we also have the questions about what happened at this critical juncture in Paul's life, was it a revelation of God, if so what of and what is the significance of it? If not what prompted the radical changed in Paul.

From Paul's own writings we have many of his views on some of these categories. In Galatians 1:1 we have the synopsis of Paul's self-thought, he sees himself as an apostle, sent of God, the God who raised Christ from the dead. Furthermore he states in Galatians 1:11,12,16 That he has received a direct revelation from God, that his teachings do not come down from men, and that he has been called to preach to the gentiles. In this chapter in v15, 16 he specifically speaks about a Call from God, and a mission to the Gentiles. Then again in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 he speaks about a new life in Christ, having a ministry of reconciliation, and of Paul himself being an Ambassador for God and Christ Jesus.

Yet for all the c
larity in Paul's descriptions of himself and his role, the theologians have had a continuous debate from the time of Paul to present, and it does not appear it will cease to be an issue any time soon. I agree with Gunther Bornkamm's approach to viewing Paul: "Paul himself has little to say about his conversion and call, and when he does mention them it is with reserve. But we can now see that this is not something to deplore. The power of the concern for the Gospel which lighted upon Paul and became his own is also revealed in the way he speaks of his conversion. This again confirms that for him the one thing of importance was the gospel he was given and not his own person. (P.25)" But I must disagree with the first part. Bornkamm does not make a distinction between conversion and call, The Conversion is the road to Damascus, and the road from Damascus is the call to ministry, the gentiles. I do not observe this hesitance to speak of his call, as can be seen from the numerous references to it in the previous paragraph, from Paul's own writings. I also believe that Richard N Longnecker makes a very valid point in stating "that what he (Paul) says in his letters about his conversion is set within the respective purpose of each of those letters" (P.19)6 Thus we must read Paul within the context of his writings and not just pull out the meanings we want to see.

As Alan Bloom states in The Closing of the American Mind, "Lack of education simply results in students' seeking for enlightenment wherever it i
s readily available, without being able to distinguish between the sublime and trash, insight and propaganda" (P.64) I feel like this is a description of Pauline theological works. From my samplings of Pauline literature, thought and opinion. I have yet to be convinced of many issues that are hotly debated. However I do feel that I have grown, and been stretched by the process. I have been challenged to pursue the bibliographies from each book I have read for this course, each was like a step deeper into the pool of Pauline Theology, each asked the question of 'where to go next?' thus leading me to pursue a thought or theme further, until I have wrestled with these issues and like Jacob's night with an angel, come up blessed after the long hard night of work.

I do have some beliefs and convictions about Paul, his writings, and his thought. But those beliefs have not become dogma's, they are not so locked as to override all other beliefs and convictions. I am open to being convinced of my error, and of my mistake
s. So I will continue to pursue Paul, to seek for the truest essence of His thought and writings.

In conclusion this paper has demonstrated in part that Paul is not just a Jewish
critique, as Boyarin would have us believe. Thus my Paul is the Jew, who was a follower of Christ, who experienced a call, this call led him to become a witness beyond Judaism to the gentiles. As such I would disagree strongly with Bornkamm's statement that Paul is reluctant to talk about his call. A man fully committed to following God. He was a Pharisee, who till the end claimed allegiance to that sect of Judaism, but lived and taught it very differently then most Pharisee's would have accepted. As such he was a founder of churches, and a deliberate builder of a new paradigm of community.

In conclusion I fell as if I have entered a vast library filled only with Pauline thought and opinions, and have wandered around randomly selec
ting texts to engage with. Now I must refocus and become more selective, and discerning. I have but sampled this great area of research and am left with a hunger for more. As I began I wondered where this exercise is leading, and I have as of yet no definite answers. I do know that Pauline literature will always be an interest and passion of mine. I could see myself pursuing a thesis on a particular topic in this vast field.

Paul was a man who lived in troubled times, but who lived out his faith. I will
endeavour to do the same.


1. Paul The Convert: P.13
2. A Radical Jew: P.1
3. A Radical Jew: P.2

4. Paul The Convert: P.xiii
5. Paul: P.25
6. The Road From Damascus: P. 19

7. The Closing of the American Mind: P.64
8. The Paul Quest: P.112
9. The Paul Quest: P.113

Appendix I
Pauline Chronology

The working out of a Pauline Chronology presents some difficulty, but I do not believe that it is impossible. In working on this chronology we must realize that there are both dates of Absolute and also dates of relative Chronology from which we are working. So we must work with Absolute dates, such as times or rules or Emperors, or Governorship with those we know link. Still to some extent there is guess work or conjecture, but there are a few solid pins around which we can build this timeline. The best such pin is Gallio, in Acts 18:12 we have an uprising while Gallio was proconsul, tying this to "the Gallio inscription at Delphi" we can thus place Paul in Corinth in the Spring of 51AD.

The Absolute dates I will be working with in this endeavour are:
  • Governor Festus in Judea 59-62AD
  • Governor Felix in Palestine 52-60AD
  • Pilate in Jerusalem 26-36AD
  • Emperor Claudius 41-54AD

Combining those Dates with Paul's most extensive chronology in Galatians 1 A
s well as events in Acts. From this info and Acts 24:27 we can place Paul in Caesarea at the time of the Changeover between Felix and Festus which had to take place sometime in 59 or 60AD. Also with a little liberty if we assume the Saul in Acts 7:58 to be Paul, then we can presume he was a young man at this time, would have been young at the time of Christ's death. Therefore I come up with the following Chronology for Paul or Saul or Tarsus.
Pauline Timeline:
From Galatians 1:13-2:1
1:13,14 Paul Pharisee
1:15-17 Conversion
Arabia/Damascus 3 years
1:18-20 Jerusalem 1st visit 15 days

1:21 Duration 14 days Syria Cilicia 14 years
2:14 Jerusalem 2nd visit
Apostolic Counsel

(Note: 3 years before 1st Jerusalem visit Galatians 1:18, some scholars include this
in the Galatians 2:1, but not most Scholars)

Thus giving us 17 Years or 16 years +/- 1 year.

If we set Jesus death at AD 30.

Paul's Birth AD 5 +/- 3 0r 4 Years

Paul's Training in Jerusalem AD 15-20
Paul Persecutes in Jerusalem AD 30-32
Conversion/Call AD 32
1st Jerusalem Visit AD 34/35
1st Missionary Journey AD 46-48

2nd Jerusalem Visit AD 48
Paul in Corinth AD 51 Spring (Gallio)
2nd Missionary Journey AD 48-51 (Acts 19:10)
3rd Missionary Journey AD 52-55

3rd Jerusalem Visit AD 56
Paul in Caesarea AD 57-59 (59 Felix/Festus)

Paul In Rome AD 60/61
(Possible release and Further Missions?)
Paul's Death in Rome AD 64-69 (Dependent upon if release and second imprisonment in Rome or not.)

(Note: Above Chart build from readings and Course notes RS 209 May 6th 1998 P. Frick)

Appendix II
Chronology and Notes on Pauline Canon

First I would like to argue for the possibility and I would say probability of the authenticity of all Pauline Canon in the New Testament. There are two quotes from Ben Witherington III, supporting an authentic possibility of the disputed Pauline
letters I would like to share, from his book The Paul Quest: "I for one am not yet convinced by the arguments for inauthenticity, and it is notable that many New Testament scholars who had spent years on these letters were not convinced either (cf. the commentaries by J.N.D. Kelly, C. Spicq, Joachim Jeremais, George Knight, and on 2nd Timothy especially, Luke Thomas Johnson. (P.112)" …"It is quite unbelievable that Paul the letter writer, if indeed released from house arrest in Rome in 62, would never again write to his converts and never again be concerned about the churches he had already founded, even if he still planned to head west to Spain. It is even more unbelievable that he would have left Timothy and Titus in the lurch if he had had an opportunity to encourage them shortly before he died. (P.113)" However because of the considerable debate on this fact the Pastorals will be left as an aside to this study for the most part.

I think the most interesting of the correspondences from a historical perspective is the rebuilding of the Corinthian Correspondences. My belief is that there were at least 5 letters from Paul to this church. Letter A has been lost to us. Letter B is what we now call 1st Corinthians, for in chapter 5 versus 9,11 Paul mentions a previous letter. Then 2nd Corinthians appears to be made up from at least 3 different fragments of letters. Letters C is the Apology, Letter D the letter of tears, and finally letter E ref, to letter of tears and plans to visit them again.

The most unique of the Letters is Romans, first it is a letter written to a congregati
on he has yet had any direct contact with. Second it is not in response to specific problems in the congregation, and is the closet thing we have to a systematic theology by Paul. All of his other letters appear to have been written 'on the fly' and in response to specific issues. Peter Frick said in a lecture for RS 209 June 8th 1998 "With just the book of Romans, and no other books of the bible Christianity would have probably developed the same."

Chronology of Pauline Letters: (If Pauline Authorship is accepted for all.)

1st Thessalonians AD 50 (Spring Gallio)
2nd Thessalonians AD 51 or 52
Galatians AD 53/54
Corinthian Correspondence AD 54/55
Philippians AD 57-59
Romans AD 57
Ephesians AD 60

Philemon AD 60
Colossians AD 60
1st Timothy AD 61,62
2nd Timothy AD 62,63

Titus AD 63-65

Bloom, Allan
The Closing of the American Mind.
New York: Touchstone, 1987

Bornkamm, Gunther
New York Harper and Row, 1971

Boyarin, Daniel
A Radical Jew: Paul and The Politics of Identity.
Berkley: University of California press, 1994

Longnecker, Richard N.
The Road from Damascus.
Grand Rapids Eerdmans, 1997

Segal, Alan F.
Paul The Convert.
New Haven Yale University Press, 1990

Witherington III, Ben
The Paul Quest.
Downers Grove InterVarsity Press,1998

(First Written for RS398 Selected Reading in Paul Winter 2001. Note The links go to specific reviews of those books.)

Saturday 23 February 2008

The Dark Hills Divide by: Patrick Carman - The Land of Elyon Book 1

The Dark Hills Divide
The Land of Elyon Book 1

Patrick Carman

ISBN 0439700930

Orchard Books

Famous Children's author Madeliene L'Engle once stated that writing children's literature was harder than writing for adults because children ask more questions; children just do not accept what an author writes the way most adults will. He
r statements have always stuck with me and since doing a children's literature course a few years back, I have continued to read children's and teen fiction regularly. Usually I look for books that have a lot of buzz about them, have then been nominated for a Newbury, or Mr. Christie, American Library Association or here in Canada a Governor General's Literary Award (more commonly know as the GG's.). If so I try to pick it up and give it a read. Because of that I tend to browse the children's and teen sections at Chapters when I happen to be in a store.

The cover of this book captured my attention and almost compelled me to purchase it. The representation of our Heroine Alexa is a very striking image. I purchased this book when it came out nearly 2 years ago and yet only just recently picked it up to read. I now regret that I did not read it sooner. In part, I hesitated reading the book because the cover art was so powerful and cast such a spell upon me, I feared the text not living up to the story I had begin to build in my imagination. Those fears were unfounded.

The Story is set in a walled kingdom. A Kingdom built like 3 spokes on a wheel. Alexa is from Lathbury, the south western spoke, from the hub of Bridewell. This walled Kingdom was built by the Warvold after his extensive travels in the wild mysterious world. He built walls around the central town of Bridewell, and walled roads out to the three surrounding towns of Lunenburg, Turlock and Lathbury. Yet upon the eve of his death, he hints to Alexa that the walls, once thought to be the salvation of the towns and their civilization, he now considers to be a mistake. Alexa begins an adventure shortly after the Warvold's death that will affect her and this kingdom for time to come.

Yet the Warvold's death has caused a society once stable and thriving to start to spin out of control. Alexa sneaks outside the wall and meets a dwarf and a talking wolf and is summoned to a council, the severity and importance of which not even the participants can realize. Can Alexa fufill a calling upon her life that the Warvold foresaw and that some others are trying to help happen and others wish to thwart?

This is one of those great books, originally written for children, that can captivate an audience of any age. Carman has an extremely mature voice and he writes in a manner of a master wordsmith. Carman only conceived of this series in his mid thirties; it is an extremely well- rounded and crafted world - a pleasure to visit, and I plan to re-enter the land of Elyon again and again.

(First Published in Imprint 2008-02-22.)

Other of Patrick Carman Books:

The Dark Hills Divide - The Land of Elyon Book 1
Beyond the Valley of Thorns - The Land of Elyon Book 2

The Tenth City - The Land of Elyon Book 3
Into The Mist - The Land of Elyon Prequel
Stargazer - The Land of Elyon Book 4

The House of Power - Atherton Book 1
Rivers of Fire - Atherton, Book 2
The Dark Planet - Atherron Book 3

Saving Mr Nibbles
- Elliot's Park Book 1
Haunted Hike - Elliot's Park Book 2
The Walnut Cup - Elliot's Park Book 3
A Windy Tale - Elliot's Park Book 4

Skeleton Creek - Skeleton Creek Book 1 - A Prereview.
Ghost in the Machine - Skeleton Creek Book 2

Crossbones - Skeleton Creek Book 3
The Raven - Skeleton Creek Book 4

The Black Circle
- 39 Clues Book 5

Trackers #1

Thirteen Days to Midnight