Dec 8, 2008

Quote of the Day

“That Christ’s vicarious sacrifice for our sins was the central element of the gospel that Paul received on the Damascus road may be inferred from his persecution of the Hellenist Christians. Even [J. D. G.] Dunn agrees that the Hellenists rejected the Jerusalem temple out of their belief that Christ’s death was the eschatological atonement that ended all sacrifices. After seeing the crucified Jesus as vindicated by God on the Damascus road, Paul joined them. It would be most unnatural if Paul had failed to see the appearance of the risen Christ as a confirmation of their belief. So we will have to conclude that at Damascus Paul accepted their kerygma that Christ died for the sins of humankind.”

Seyoon Kim, Paul and the New Perspective: Second Thoughts on the Origin of Paul's Gospel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 49.

1 comment:

LTD said...


I find it very difficult to believe that Christ's vicarious sacrifice was the "central element of the gospel that Paul received" given the text of Acts. Luke's telling of Paul's Damascus road experience, and Paul's retelling of it (according to Luke), includes no such detail (Acts 9, 22, 26). Further, Paul's own language about his 'revelations' from Jesus is not language of "vicarious sacrifice." Rather, according to Luke's account of Paul's retelling, Jesus' call to Paul explicitly involved the appointment "to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles -- to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (Acts 26.15-18). Nor can Paul's acceptance of their kerygma in terms of vicarious sacrifice be "inferred" by his relations, pre- and post-call, with the Hellenists. There were many points of disagreement between the Hellenist Christians and the faithful Jews. Why see Christ's vicarious sacrifice as the "central" element of such disagreements which influenced Paul? And how is it "most unnatural" for Paul to have not understood Jesus' appearance in terms of his "vicarious sacrifice"? If anything, it is unnatural to make such a claim, given the data of the texts.