Category Archives: Confessions

Bits that I actually believe or have believed.

Paul and the Oral Gospel

Paul wrote in clumps between 57 and 67, often in prison, and almost entirely through dictation. At varying points he shows different levels of acceptance, and not entirely in progressive order. Human that he is, his writings show possibly waffling about women’s issues as well as the degree to which gentiles were included in his ministry. Paul encountered God, and that gave him the inspiration and need to minister. However the only dictation that happened was from Paul to his scribe(s). Direct revelation provided the impetus of his journeying, but not necessarily the content. All that God tells him in the encounter is essentially, you’re blind, stop being a dick and killing people, now go to Damascus. It would be wonderful to know all that Ananias and the other disciples in Damascus taught Paul. I would guess that Paul’s short term as Ananias’s pupil was likely the time during which the entirety of the oral gospel (Q?) reached Paul’s ears. As all baby Christians, Paul got excited and taught for a little while in Damascus until he pissed people off and escapes, and then in Jerusalem where the disciples were still focused on ethnocentric ministry, and then, as with many baby Christians, he got excited and ticked people off again, and so he retreated to Tarsus. It’s something like 12 years before his first missionary journey. The only source for what was probably taught to Saul during those early days in Damascus is the oral lessons that were later written, which we call the gospels. And so, the oral Gospel message was Paul’s source, but then Paul’s teachings affected the later written Gospel. It’s not the perfect, infallible Word of God, but it is a beautiful 4-dimensional puzzle that points to deific inspiration, and a piece of the story of how people attempted to come to terms with what kind of relationship a people may have with the creator, and what a relationship with God might mean. I don’t take direct instruction from Paul. I read Paul and say, “Ah, so that’s what he thought about God.”

I’d have been hung or burnt as a heretic.