THE EARLY YEARS
Before examining the various hypotheses which have been advanced to account for the origin of Paulinism, the investigator must consider first the outline of Paul's life, at least so far as the formative years are concerned. Paulinism has been explained by the influence upon Paul of various features of his environment. It is important, therefore, to determine at what points Paul came into contact with his environment. What, in view of the outline of his life, were his probable opportunities for acquainting himself with the historical Jesus and with the primitive Jerusalem Church? Whence did he derive his Judaism? Where, if at all, could he naturally have been influenced by contemporary paganism? Such questions, it is hoped, may be answered by the two following chapters.
In these chapters, the outline of Paul's life will be considered not for its own sake, but merely for the light that it may shed upon the origin of his thought and experience. Many questions, therefore, may be ignored. For example, it would here be entirely aside from the point to discuss such intricate matters as the history of Paul's journeys to Corinth attested by the Corinthian Epistles. The present discussion is concerned only with those events in the life of Paul which determined the nature of his contact with the surrounding world, both Jewish and pagan, and particularly the nature of his contact with Jesus and the earliest disciples of Jesus.
Paul was born at Tarsus, the chief city of Cilicia. This fact is attested only by the Book of Acts, and formerly it did not escape unchallenged. It was called in question, for example, in 1890 by Krenkel, in an elaborate argument.1 But Krenkel's argument is now completely antiquated, not merely because of the rising credit of the Book of Acts, but also be
1 Krenkel, BeitrSge zur Aufhellung der Oeschichte and der Briefs des Apostels PauUu, 1890, pp. 1-17.
cause the birth of Paul in a Greek city like Tarsus is in harmony with modern reconstructions. Krenkel argued, for example, that the apostle shows little acquaintance with Greek culture, and therefore could not have spent his youth in a Greek uersity city. Such assertions appear very strange to-day. Recent philological investigation of the Pauline Epistles has proved that the author uses the Greek language in such masterly fashion that he must have become familiar with it very early in life; the language of the Epistles is certainly no Jewish-Greek jargon. With regard to the origin of the ideas, also, the tendency of recent criticism is directly contrary to Krenkel; Paulinism is now often explained as being based either upon paganism or else upon a Hellenized Judaism. To such reconstructions it is a highly welcome piece of information when the Book of Acts makes Paul a native not of Jerusalem but of Tarsus. The author of Acts, it is said, is here preserving a bit of genuine tradition, which is the more trustworthy because it runs counter to the tendency, thought to be otherwise in evidence in Acts, which brings Paul into the closest possible relation to Palestine. Thus, whether for good or for bad reasons, the birth of Paul in Tarsus is now uersally accepted, and does not require defense.
A very interesting tradition preserved by Jerome does indeed make Paul a native of Gischala in Galilee; but no one to-day would be inclined to follow Krenkel in giving credence to Jerome rather than to Acts. The Gischala tradition does not look like a pure fiction, but it is evident that Jerome has at any rate exercised his peculiar talent for bringing things into confusion. Zahn 1 has suggested, with considerable plausibility, that the shorter reference to Gischala in the treatise "De viris illustribus"2 is a confused abridgment of the longer reference in the "Commentary on Philemon." 3 The latter passage asserts not that Paul himself but only that the parents of Paul came from Gischala. That assertion may possibly be correct. It would explain the Aramaic and Palestinian tradition which undoubtedly was preserved in the boyhood home of Paul.
1 Einleitung in das Neue Testament, 3te Aufl., i, 1906, pp. 48-50 (English Translation, Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed., 1909, 1, pp. 68-70). 1De vir. ill. 5 (ed. Vail, ii, 836). 'Comm. in Philem. 23 (ed. Vail, vii, 762).
Tarsus was an important city. Its commercial importance, though of course inferior to that of places like Antioch or Corinth, was considerable; and it was also well known as a center of intellectual life. Although the dramatic possibilities of representing the future Christian missionary growing up unknown under the shadow of a Greek uersity may sometimes have led to an exaggeration of the academic fame of Tarsus, still it remains true that Tarsus was a real uersity city, and could boast of great names like that of Athenodorus, the Stoic philosopher, and others. The life of Tarsus has recently been made the subject of two elaborate monographs, by Ramsay 1 and by Bohlig,2 who have collected a mass of information about the birthplace of Paul. The nature of the pagan religious atmosphere which surrounded the future apostle is of peculiar interest; but the amount of direct information which has come down to us should not be exaggerated.
The social position of Paul's family in Tarsus must not be regarded as very humble; for according to the Book of Acts not only Paul himself, but his father before him, possessed the Roman citizenship, which in the provinces was still in the first century a highly prized privilege from which the great masses of the people were excluded. The Roman citizenship of Paul is not attested by the Pauline Epistles, but the representation of Acts is at this point uersally, or almost uersally, accepted. Only one objection might be urged against it. If Paul was a Roman citizen, how could he have been subjected three times to the Roman punishment of beating with rods (2 Cor. xi. 25), from which citizens were exempted by law? The difficulty is not insuperable. Paul may on some occasions have been unwilling to appeal to a privilege which separated him from his Jewish countrymen; or he may have wanted to avoid the delay which an appeal to his privilege, with the subsequent investigation and trial, might have caused. At any rate, the difficulty, whether easily removable or not, is quite inadequate to overthrow the abundant evidence for the fact of Paul's Roman citizenship. That fact is absolutely necessary to account for the entire representation which the Book of Acts gives of the journey of Paul as a prisoner to Rome, which representation, it will be remembered,
1 The Cities of St. Paid, 1908, pp.. 85-244. 1 Die Oeisteskultur von Tarsos, 1913.
is contained in the we-sections. The whole account of the relation between Paul and Roman authorities, which is contained in the Pauline Epistles, the Book of Acts, and trustworthy Christian tradition, is explicable only if Paul possessed the rights of citizenship.1
Birth in a Greek uersity city and Roman citizenship constitute the two facts which bring Paul into early connection with the larger Gentile world of his day. Other facts, equally well-attested, separate him just as clearly from the Gentile world and represent him as being from childhood a strict Jew. These facts might have been called in question, in view of the present tendency of criticism, if they had been attested only by the Book of Acts. But fortunately it is just these facts which are attested also by the epistles of Paul.
In 2 Cor. xi. 22, Paul is declared to be a "Hebrew," and in Phil. iii. 5 he appears as a "Hebrew of Hebrews." The word "Hebrew" in these passages cannot indicate merely Israelitish descent or general adherence to the Jews' religion. If it did so it would be a meaningless repetition of the other terms used in the same passages. Obviously it is used in some narrower , sense. The key to its meaning is found in Acts vi. 1, where, within Judaism, the "Hellenists" are distinguished from the "Hebrews," the Hellenists being the Jews of the Dispersion who spoke Greek, and the Hebrews the Jews of Palestine who spoke Aramaic. In Phil. iii. 5, therefore, Paul declares that he was an Aramaic-speaking Jew and descended from Aramaicspeaking Jews; Aramaic was used in his boyhood home, and the Palestinian tradition was preserved. This testimony is not contrary to what was said above about Paul's use of the Greek language—not improbably Paul used both Aramaic and Greek in childhood—but it does contradict all those modern representations which make Paul fundamentally a Jew of the Dispersion. Though he was born in Tarsus, he was, in the essential character of his family tradition, a Jew of Palestine.
Even more important is the assertion, found in the same verse in Philippians, that Paul was "as touching the law a Pharisee." Conceivably, indeed, it might be argued that his Pharisaism was not derived from his boyhood home, but was acquired later. But surely it requires no excessively favorable estimate of Acts to give credence to the assertion in Acts
1Compare Mommsen, "Die Rechtsverhaltnisse des Apostels Paulus," in Zeitschrift fiir die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, ii, 1901, pp. 88-96.
xxiii. 6 that Paul was not only a Pharisee but the "son of Pharisees"; and it is exceedingly unlikely that this phrase refers, as Lightfoot 1 suggested, to teachers rather than to ancestors. For when Paul says in Gal. i. 14 that he advanced in the Jews' religion beyond many of his contemporaries, being more exceedingly zealous for his paternal traditions, it is surely natural, whatever interpretation may be given to the word "paternal," to find a reference to the Pharisaic traditions cultivated in his boyhood home.
There is not the slightest evidence, therefore, for supposing that Paul spent his early years in an atmosphere of "liberal Judaism"—a Judaism really though unconsciously hospitable to pagan notions and predisposed to relax the strict requirements of the Law and break down the barrier that separated Israel from the Gentile world. Whether such a liberal Judaism even existed in Tarsus we do not know. At any rate, if it did exist, the household of Paul's father was not in sympathy with it. Surely the definite testimony of Paul himself is here worth more than all modern conjectures. And Paul himself declares that he was in language and in spirit a Jew of Palestine rather than of the Dispersion, and as touching the Law a Pharisee.
According to the Book of Acts, Paul went at an early age to Jerusalem, received instruction there from Gamaliel, the famous rabbi, and finally, just before his conversion, persecuted the Jerusalem Church (Acts xxii. 3; vii. 58-viii. 1; ix. 1, etc.). In recent years, this entire representation has been questioned. It has been maintained by Mommsen,2 Bousset3, Heitmiiller,4 and Loisy 5 that Paul never was in Jerusalem before his conversion. That he persecuted the Church is, of course, attested unequivocally by his own Epistles, but the persecution, it is said, really took place only in such cities as Damascus, and not at all in Palestine.
This elimination of the early residence of Paul in Jerusalem
•On Phil. iii. S.
•Op. cit., pp. 85f.
* Kyrios Christos, 1913, p. 92. Bousset's doubt with regard to the early Jerusalem residence of Paul extended, explicitly at least, only to the persecution in Jerusalem, and it was a doubt merely, not a positive denial. In his supplementary work he has admitted that his doubt was unjustified (Jenu der Herr, 1916, p. 31).
4"Zum Problem Paulus und Jesus," in Zeitschrift fur die neuteslamentliche Wisseruchaft, xiii, 1912, pp. 320-337.
■ L'ipitre aux Qalates, 1916, pp. 68-73; Les mysteres patens et le mystere chritien, 1919, pp. 317-320.
is no mere by-product of a generally skeptical attitude toward the Book of Acts, but is important for the entire reconstruction of early Christian history which Bousset and Heitmuller and Loisy propose; it is made to assist in explaining the origin of the Pauline Christology. Paul regarded Jesus Christ as a supernatural person, come to earth for the redemption of men; and toward this divine Christ he assumed a distinctly religious attitude. How could he have formed such a conception of a human being who had died but a few years before? If he had been separated from Jesus by several generations, so that the nimbus of distance and mystery would have had time to form about the figure of the Galilean prophet, then his lofty conception of Jesus might be explained. But as a matter of fact he was actually a contemporary of the Jesus whose simple human traits he obscured. How could the "smell of earth" have been so completely removed from the figure of the Galilean teacher that He could actually be regarded by one of His contemporaries as a divine Redeemer? The question could perhaps be more easily answered if Paul, before his lofty conception of Christ was fully formed, never came into any connection with those who had seen Jesus subject to the petty limitations of human life. Thus the elimination of the early Jerusalem residence of Paul, by putting a geographical if not a temporal gulf between Jesus and Paul, is thought to make the formation of the Pauline Christology more comprehensible. Peter and the original disciples, it is thought, never could have separated Jesus so completely from the limitations of ordinary humanity; the simple memory of Galilean days would in their case have been an effective barrier against Christological speculation. But Paul was subject to no such limitation; having lived far away from Palestine, in the company, for the most part, of those who like himself had never seen Jesus, he was free to transpose to the Galilean teacher attributes which to those who had known the real Jesus would have seemed excessive or absurd.
Before examining the grounds upon which this elimination of Paul's early Jerusalem residence is based, it may first be observed that even such heroic measures do not really bring about the desired result; even this radical rewriting of the story of Paul's boyhood and youth will not serve to explain on naturalistic principles the origin of the Pauline Christology. Even if before his conversion Paul got no nearer to Jerusalem than Damascus, it still remains true that after his conversion he conferred with Peter and lived in more or less extended intercourse with Palestinian disciples. The total lack of any evidence of a conflict between the Christology of Paul and the views of those who had walked and talked with Jesus of Nazareth remains, for any naturalistic reconstruction, a puzzling fact. Even without the early Jerusalem residence, Paul remains too near to Jesus both temporally and geographically to have formed a conception of Him entirely without reference to the historical person. Even with their radical treatment of the Book of Acts, therefore, Bousset and Heitmuller have not succeeded at all in explaining how the Pauline Christology ever came to be attached to the Galilean prophet.
But is the elimination of the early Jerusalem residence of Paul historically justifiable? Mere congruity with a plausible' theory of development will not serve to justify it. For the Jerusalem residence is strongly attested by the Book of Acts. The testimony of Acts can no longer be ruled out except for very weighty reasons; the history of recent criticism has on the whole exhibited the rise of a more and more favorable estimate of the book. And in the case of the early Jerusalem residence of Paul the testimony is so insistent and so closely connected with lifelike details that the discrediting of it involves an exceedingly radical skepticism. The presence of Paul at the stoning of Stephen is narrated in the Book of Acts in a concrete way which bears every mark of trustworthiness; the connection of Paul with Gamaliel is what might have been expected in view of the self-testimony of the apostle; the account of Paul's vision in the Temple (Ac^s xxii. 17-21) is based, in a manner which is psychologically very natural, upon the fact of Paul's persecuting activity in Jerusalem; the presence of Paul's sister's son in Jerusalem, attested in a part of the narrative of which the essential historicity must be uersally admitted (Acts xxiii. 16-22), suggests that family connections may have facilitated Paul's residence in the city. Finally, the geographical details of the three narratives of the conversion, which place the event on a journey of Paul from Jerusalem to Damascus, certainly look as though they were founded upon genuine tradition. One of the details— the place of the conversion itself—is confirmed in a purely
incidental way by the Epistle to the Galatians, and the reader has the impression that if Paul had happened to introduce other details in the Epistles the rest of the narrative in Acts would have been similarly confirmed. Except for Paul's incidental reference to Damascus in Gal. i. 17, the conversion might have been put by Heitmuller and others in a place even more conveniently remote than Damascus from the scene of Jesus' earthly labors. But the incidental confirmation of Acts at this point raises a distinct presumption in favor of the account as a whole. The main trend of modern criticism has been favorable on the whole to the tradition embodied in the accounts of the conversion; it is a very extreme form of skepticism which rejects the whole framework of the tradition by eliminating the journey from Jerusalem to Damascus.
Enough has been said to show that the early Jerusalem residence of Paul stood absolutely firm in the tradition used by the author of Acts; the author has taken it as a matter of course and woven it in with his narrative at many points. Such a tradition certainly cannot be lightly rejected; the burden of proof clearly rests upon those who would deny its truthworthiness.
The only definite proof which is forthcoming is found in Gal. i. 22, where Paul says that after his departure for Syria and Cilicia, three years after his conversion, he was "unknown by face to the churches of Judaea which are in Christ." If he had engaged in active persecution of those churches, it is argued, how could he have been personally unknown to them?
By this argument a tremendous weight is hung upon one verse. And, rightly interpreted, the verse will not bear the weight at all. In Gal. i. 22, Paul is not speaking so much of what took place before the departure for Syria and Cilicia, as of the condition which prevailed at the time of that departure and during the immediately ensuing period; he is simply drawing attention to the significance for his argument of the departure from Jerusalem. Certainly he would not have been able to speak as he does if before he left Jerusalem he had had extended intercourse with the Judaean churches, but when he says that the knowledge of the Judaean churches about him in the period just succeeding his departure from Jerusalem was a hearsay knowledge merely, it would have been pedantic for him to think about the question whether some of the members of those churches had or had not seen him years before as a persecutor.
Furthermore, it is by no means clear that the word "Judaea" in Gal. i. 22 includes Jerusalem at all. In Mark iii. 7, 8, for example, "Jerusalem" is clearly not included in "Judaea," but is distinguished from it; "Judaea" means the country outside of the capital. It may well be so also in Gal. i. 22; and if so, then the verse does not exclude a personal acquaintance of Paul with the Jerusalem Church. But even if "Judaea" is not used so as to exclude the capital, still Paul's words would be natural enough. That the Jerusalem Church formed an exception to the general assertion was suggested by the account of the visit in Jerusalem immediately preceding, and was probably well known to his Galatian readers. All that Paul means is that he went away to Syria and Cilicia without becoming acquainted generally with the churches of Judaea. It is indeed often said that since the whole point of Paul's argument in Galatians was to show his lack of contact with the pillars of the Jerusalem Church, his acquaintance or lack of acquaintance with the churches of Judaea outside of Jerusalem was unworthy of mention, so that he must at least be including Jerusalem when he speaks of Judaea. But this argument is not decisive. If, as is altogether probable, the apostles except Peter were out of the city at the time of Paul's visit, and were engaging in missionary work in Judaean churches, then acquaintance with the Judaean churches would have meant intercourse with the apostles, so that it was very much to the point for Paul to deny that he had had such acquaintance. Of course, this whole argument against the early Jerusalem residence of Paul, based on Gal. i. 22, involves a rejection of the account which the Book of Acts gives of the visit of Paul to Jerusalem three years after his conversion. If Gal. i. 22 means that Paul was unknown by sight to the Jerusalem Church, then he could not have gone in and out among the disciples at Jerusalem as Acts ix. 28 represents, but must have been in strict hiding when he was in the city. Such is the account of the matter which is widely prevalent in recent years. Not even so much correction of Acts is at all required by a correct understanding of Gal. i. 22. But it is a still more unjustifiable use of that verse when it is made to exclude even the persecuting activity of Paul in Jerusalem.
If, however, the words of Galatians are really to be taken in the strictest and most literal sense, what is to be done with Gal. i. 23, where (immediately after the words which have just been discussed) Paul says that the churches of Judaea were receiving the report, "He that persecuted us formerly is now preaching as a gospel the faith which formerly he laid waste"? What is meant by the pronoun "us" in this verse? Conceivably it might be taken in a broad sense, as referring to all disciples wherever found; conceivably, therefore, the persecution referred to by the Judsean disciples might be persecution of their brethren in the faith in Tarsus or Damascus. But that is not the kind of interpretation which has just been applied to the preceding verse, and upon which such a vast structure has been reared. It may well be urged against Heitmuller and those like him that if Paul's words are to be taken so strictly in one verse they should be taken in the same way in the other; if the "Judaea" and "unknown by face" of verse 22 are to be taken so strictly, then the "us" of verse 23 should also be taken strictly, and in that case Paul is made to contradict himself, which of course is absurd. Verse 23 certainly does not fully confirm the representation of Acts about the persecuting activity of Paul in Judaea, but at any rate it tends to confirm that representation at least as strongly as verse 22 tends to discredit it.1
Thus the early Jerusalem residence of Paul is strongly attested by the Book of Acts, and is thoroughly in harmony with everything that Paul says about his Pharisaic past. It is not surprising that Bousset has now receded from his original position and admits that Paul was in Jerusalem before his conversion and engaged in persecution of the Jerusalem Church.
That admission does not necessarily carry with it an acceptance of all that the Book of Acts says about the Jerusalem period in Paul's life, particularly all that it says about his having been a disciple of Gamaliel. But the decisive point has been gained. If the entire account of the early Jerusalem residence of Paul is not ruled out by the testimony of his own Epistles, then.there is at least no decisive objection against the testimony of Acts with regard to the details. Certainly
•Compare Wellhausen, Kritische Analyse der Apostelgeschichte, 1914, p. 16,
the common opinion to the effect that Paul went to Jerusalem to receive rabbinical training is admirably in accord with everything that he says in his Epistles about his zeal for the Law. It is also in accord with his habits of thought and expression, which were transformed and glorified, rather than destroyed, by his Christian experience. The decision about every detail of course depends ultimately upon the particular conclusion which the investigator may have reached with regard to the Book of Acts. If that book was written by a companion of Paul—an opinion which is gaining ground even in circles which were formerly hostile—then there is every reason to suppose that Paul was brought up in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts xxii. 3). Some important questions indeed still remain unanswered, even with full acceptance of the Lucan testimony. It can never be determined, for example, at exactly what age Paul went to Jerusalem. The words, "brought up in this city," in Acts xxii. 3 might seem to suggest that Paul went to Jerusalem in early childhood, in which case his birthplace would be of comparatively little importance in his preparation for his lifework, and all the elaborate investigations of Tarsus, so far as they are intended to shed light upon the environment of the apostle in his formative years, would become valueless. But the Greek word "brought up" or "nourished" might be used figuratively in a somewhat flexible way; it remains, therefore, perfectly possible that Paul's Jerusalem training began, not in childhood, but in early youth. At any rate, an early residence in Jerusalem is not excluded by the masterly way in which the apostle uses the Greek language. It must always be remembered that Palestine in the first century was a bilingual country;1 the presence of hosts of Greek-speaking Jews even in Jerusalem is amply attested, for example, by the early chapters of Acts. Moreover, even after Paul's Jerusalem studies had begun, his connection with Tarsus need not have been broken off. The distance between the two cities was considerable (some four or five hundred miles), but travel in those days was safe and easy. A period of training in Jerusalem may have been followed by a long residence at Tarsus.
1 See Zahn, Einleitung in das Neue Testament, 3te Aufl., 1, 1906, pp. 24-32, 39-47 (English Translation, Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd Ed., 1917, i, pp. 34-46, 57-66).
At this point, an interesting question arises, which, however, can never be answered with any certainty. Did Paul ever see Jesus before the crucifixion? In the light of what has just been established about the outline of Paul's life, an affirmative answer might seem to be natural. Paul was in Jerusalem both before and after the public ministry of Jesus—before it when he was being "brought up" in Jerusalem, and after it when he was engaged in persecution of the Jerusalem Church. Where was he during the interval? Where was he on those occasions when Jesus visited Jerusalem—especially at the time of that last Passover? If he was in Jerusalem, it seems probable that he would have seen the great prophet, whose coming caused such a stir among the people. And that he was in the city at Passover time would seem natural in view of his devotion to the Law. But the matter is by no means certain. He may have returned to Tarsus, in the manner which has just been suggested.
The question could only be decided on the basis of actual testimony either in Acts or in the Epistles. One verse has often been thought to provide such testimony. In 2 Cor. v. 16, Paul says, "Even if we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer." Knowledge of Christ after the flesh can only mean, it is said, knowledge of Him by the ordinary use of the senses, in the manner in which one man in ordinary human intercourse knows another. That kind of knowledge, Paul says, has ceased to have significance for the Christian in his relation to other men; it has also ceased to have significance for him in his relation to Christ. But it is that kind of knowledge which Paul seems to predicate of himself, as having existed in a previous period of his life. He does not use the unreal form of condition; he does not say, "Even if we had known Christ after the flesh (though as a matter of fact we never knew Him so at all), yet now we should know Him so no longer." Apparently, then, when he says "if" he means "although"; he means to say, "Although we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no longer." The knowledge of Christ after the flesh is thus put as an actual fact in Paul's experience, and that can only mean that he knew Him in the way in which His contemporaries knew Him in Galilee and in Jerusalem, a way which in itself, Paul says, was altogether without spiritual significance.
One objection to this interpretation of the passage is that it proves too much. If it means anything, it means that Paul had extended personal acquaintance with Jesus before the crucifixion; for if Paul merely saw Him for a few moments— for example, when the crowds were surging about Him at the time of the last Passover—he could hardly be said to have "known" Him. But, for obvious reasons, any extended intercourse between Paul and Jesus in Palestine is exceedingly improbable. It is natural, therefore, to look for some other interpretation.
Other interpretations undoubtedly are possible. Some of the interpretations that have been proposed must indeed be eliminated. For example, Paul cannot possibly be contrasting a former immature stage of his Christian experience with the present mature stage; he cannot possibly mean, "Even if in the first period after my conversion I had a low view of Christ, which made of Him merely the son of David and the Jewish Messiah, yet now I have come to a higher conception of His divine nature." For the whole point of the passage is found in the sharp break which comes in a man's experience when he appropriates the death and resurrection of Christ. Any consciousness of a subsequent revolution in the thinking of the Christian is not only unsupported anywhere in the Pauline Epistles, but is absolutely excluded by the present passage. Another interpretation also must be eliminated. Paul cannot possibly be contrasting his pre-Christian notions about the Messiah with the higher knowledge which came to him with his conversion; he cannot possibly mean, "Even if before I knew the fulfillment of the Messianic promise I cherished carnal notions of what the Messiah was to be, even if I thought of 'Him merely as an earthly ruler who was to conquer the enemies of Israel, yet now I have come to have a loftier, more spiritual conception of Him." For the word "Christ," especially without the article, can hardly here be anything other than a proper name, and must refer not to the conception of Messiahship but to the concrete person of Jesus. But another interpretation remains. The key to it is found in the flexible use of the first person plural in the Pauline Epistles. Undoubtedly, the "we" of the whole passage in which 2 Cor. v. 16 is contained refers primarily to Paul himself. But, especially in 2 Cor. v. 16, it may include also all true ambassadors for Christ whose principles are the same as Paul's. Among such true ambassadors there were no doubt to be found some who had known Christ by way of ordinary intercourse in Palestine. "But," says Paul, "even if some of us have known Christ in that way, we know him so no longer." This interpretation is linguistically more satisfactory, perhaps, than that which explains the sentence as simply a more vivid way of presenting a condition contrary to fact. "Granted," Paul would say according to this interpretation, "even that we have known Christ according to the flesh (which as a matter of fact we have not), yet now we know him so no longer." But our interpretation really amounts to almost the same thing so far as Paul is concerned. At any rate, the passage is not so clear as to justify any certain conclusions about Paul's life in Palestine; it does not clearly imply any acquaintance of Paul with Jesus before the passion.
If such acquaintance is to be established, therefore, it must be established on the basis of other evidence. J. Weiss 1 seeks to establish it by the very fact of Paul's conversion. Paul, Weiss believes, saw a vision of the risen Christ. How did he know that the figure which appeared to him in the vision was Jesus? Why did he not think, for example, merely that it was the Messiah, who according to one strain of Jewish Messianic expectation was already existent in heaven? Apparently he recognized the person who appeared to him as Jesus of Nazareth. But how could he have recognized Him as Jesus unless he had seen Jesus before?
This argument depends, of course, altogether upon the naturalistic conception of the conversion of Paul, which regards the experience as an hallucination. In the account of the conversion given in the Book of Acts, on the contrary, it is distinctly said that far from recognizing the person who appeared to him, Paul was obliged to ask the question, "Who art thou, Lord?" and then received the answer, "I am Jesus." Such a conversation between Paul and the One who appeared to him is perfectly possible if there was a real appearance of the risen Christ, but it exceeds the ordinary limits of hallucinations. Weiss has therefore merely pointed out an additional psychological difficulty in explaining the experience of Paul
xPaulus unci Jesus, 1909, pp. 22, 23. Compare Ramsay, The Teaching of Paul in Terms of the Present Day, 1914, pp. 21-30.
as an hallucination, a difficulty which, on naturalistic principles, may have to be removed by the assumption that Paul had seen Jesus before the passion. But if Jesus really appeared to Paul in such a way as to be able to answer his questions, then it is not necessary to suppose that Paul recognized Him. The failure of Paul to recognize Jesus (according to the narrative in Acts) does not indeed positively exclude such previous acquaintance; the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, for example, also failed to recognize the Lord, though they had been acquainted with Him before. But, at any rate, if the supernaturalistic view of Paul's conversion be accepted, the experience sheds no light whatever upon any previous personal acquaintance with Jesus.
Thus there is no clear evidence for supposing that Paul saw Jesus before the passion. At the same time there is no evidence to the contrary, except the evidence that is to be found in the silence of the Epistles.
The argument from silence, precarious as it is, must here be allowed a certain amount of weight. If Paul had seen Jesus before the crucifixion, would not so important a fact have been mentioned somewhere in the Epistles? The matter is by no means absolutely clear; a brief glimpse of Jesus in the days of His flesh would perhaps not have seemed so important to Paul, in view of the richer knowledge which came afterwards, as it would seem to us. The silence of the Epistles does, however, render improbable any extended contact between Paul and Jesus, particularly any active opposition of the youthful Paul toward Jesus. Paul was deeply penitent for having persecuted the Church; if he had committed the more terrible sin of having helped bring the Lord Himself to the shameful cross, the fact would naturally have appeared in his expressions of penitence. Even if Paul did see Jesus in Palestine, then, it is highly improbable that he was one of those who cried out to Pilate, "Crucify him, crucify him!"
One thing, however, is certain. If Paul never saw Jesus in Palestine, he certainly heard about Him. The ministry of Jesus caused considerable stir both in Galilee and in Jerusalem. These things were not done in a corner. The appearance of Jesus at the last Passover aroused the passions of the multitude, and evidently caused the deepest concern to the authorities. Even one who was indifferent to the whole matter could hardly have helped learning something of the content of Jesus' teaching, and the main outline of the story of His death. But Paul, at least at a time only a very few years after the crucifixion, was not indifferent; for he was an active persecutor. If he was in Palestine at all during the previous period, his interest probably began then. The outlines of Jesus' life and death were known to friend and foe alike, and certainly were not unknown to Paul before his conversion, at the time when he was persecuting the Church. It is only a woeful lack of historical imagination which can attribute to Paul, even before his conversion, a total ignorance of the earthly life of Jesus.
The opposite error, however, is even more serious. If Paul before his conversion was not totally ignorant of Jesus, on the other hand his knowledge only increased his opposition to Jesus and Jesus' followers. It is not true that before the conversion Paul was gradually coming nearer to Christianity. Against any such supposition stands the explicit testimony of the Epistles.
Despite that testimony, various attempts have been made to trace a psychological development in Paul which could have led to the conversion. Paul was converted through a vision of the risen Christ. According to the supernaturalistic view that vision was a "vision," not in any specialized meaning of the word, but in its original etymological meaning; Paul actually "saw" the risen Lord. According to the modern naturalistic view, which rejects any direct creative interposition of God in the course of nature, different in kind from His works of providence, the vision was produced by the internal condition of the subject, accompanied perhaps by favorable conditions without—the heat of the sun or a thunder storm or the like. But was the condition of the subject, in the case of Paul, really favorable to a vision of the risen Christ? If the vision of Christ was an hallucination, as it is held to be by modern naturalistic historians, how may the genesis of this pathological experience be explained?
In the first place, a certain basis for the experience is sought in the physical organism of the subject. According to the Epistles, it is said, the apostle was subject to a recurrent malady; this malady is spoken of in 2 Cor. xii. 1-8 in connection with visions and revelations. In Gal. iv. 14, where it is said that the Galatians did not "spit out" when the apostle was with them, an allusion is sometimes discovered to the ancient custom of spitting to avoid contagion. A combination of this passage with the one in 2 Corinthians ia thought to establish a diagnosis of epilepsy, the effort being made to show that "spitting out" was particularly prevalent in the case of that disease. The visions then become an additional symptom of the epileptic seizures.1
But the diagnosis rests upon totally insufficient data. The visions are not regarded in 2 Corinthians as part of the buffetings of the angel of Satan; on the contrary, the two things are sharply separated in Paul's mind; he rejoices in the visions, but prays the Lord that the buffetings may cease. It is not even said that the visions and the buffetings came close together; there is no real basis for the view that the buffetings consisted in nervous exhaustion following the visions. In Gal. iv. 14, the "spitting out" is probably to be taken figuratively, and the object is "your temptation in my flesh." The meaning then is simply, "You did not reject me or spue me out"; and there is no allusion to the custom of "spitting out" for the purpose of avoiding contagion. It is unnecessary, therefore, to examine the elaborate argument of Krenkel by which he sought to show that epilepsy was particularly the disease against which spitting was practised as a prophylactic measure.
There is therefore absolutely no evidence to show that Paul was an epileptic, unless the very fact of his having visions be thought to furnish such evidence. But such a use of the visions prejudges the great question at issue, which concerns the objective validity of Paul's religious convictions. Furthermore, the fact should always be borne in mind that Paul distinguished the visions very sharply from the experience which he had near Damascus, when he saw the Lord. The visions are spoken of in 2 Corinthians apparently with reluctance, as something which concerned the apostle alone; the Damascus experience was part of the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, and had a fundamental place in the apostle's missionary preaching. All efforts to break down this distinction have failed. The apostle regarded the Damascus experience
1See Krenkel, Beitrage zur Aufhellung der Oeschichte und der Briefe des Apostels Paulvs, 1890, pp. 47-125.
as unique—not a mystery like the experiences which are mentioned in 2 Corinthians, but a plain, palpable fact capable of being understood by all.
But if the Damascus experience is to be regarded as an hallucination, it is not sufficient to exhibit a basis for it in the physical weakness of the apostle. Even if Paul was constitutionally predisposed to hallucinations, the experience of this particular hallucination must be shown to be possible. The challenge has often been accepted by modern historians. It is maintained that the elements of Paul's new conviction must have been forming gradually in his mind; the Damascus experience, it is said, merely brought to light what was really already present. In this way, the enormous disparity between effect and cause is thought to be removed; the untold benefits of Paulinism are no longer to be regarded as due to the fortunate chance of an hallucination, induced by the weakness of the apostle and the heat of the desert sun, but rather to a spiritual development which the hallucination merely revealed. Thus the modern view of Paul's conversion, it is thought, may face bravely the scorn of Beyschlag, who exclaimed, when speaking of the naturalistic explanation of Paul's vision, "Oh blessed drop of blood . . . which by pressing at the right moment upon the brain of Paul, produced such a moral wonder." 1 The drop of blood, it is said, or whatever may have been the physical basis of the Damascus experience, did not produce the wonders of the Pauline gospel; it merely brought into the sphere of consciousness a psychological process which had really been going on before.
The existence of such a psychological process, by which the apostle was coming nearer to Christ, is sometimes thought to receive documentary support in one verse of the New Testament. In Acts xxvi. 14, the risen Christ is represented as saying to Paul, "It is hard for thee to kick against the goads." According to this verse, it is said, Paul had been resisting a better conviction, gradually forming in his mind, that the disciples might be right about Jesus and he might be wrong; that, it is said, was the goad which was really driving him. He had indeed been resisting vigorously; he had been stifling his doubts by more and more feverish activity in persecution.
1 Beyschlag, "Die Bekehrung des Apostels Paulus," in Theologische Studien und Kritiken, xxxvii, 1864, p. 241.
But the resistance had not really brought him peace; the goad was really there. And at last, near Damascus, the resistance was overcome; the subconscious conviction which had brought tumult into his soul was at last allowed to come to the surface and rule his conscious life.
At this point, the historian is in grave danger of becoming untrue to his own critical principles. Attention to the Book of Acts, it has been maintained, is not to be allowed to color the interpretation of the Pauline Epistles, which are the primary sources of information. But here the procedure is reversed. In the interests of a verse in Acts, standing, moreover, in a context which on naturalistic principles cannot be regarded as historical, the clear testimony of the Epistles is neglected. For Paul was certainly not conscious of any goad which before his conversion was forcing him into the new faith; he knows nothing of doubts which assailed him during the period of his activity in persecution. On the contrary, the very point of the passage in Galatians, where he alludes to his persecuting activity, is the suddenness of his conversion. Far from gradually coming nearer to Christ he was in the very midst of his zeal for the Law when Christ called him. The purpose of the passage is to show that his gospel came to him without human intermediation. Before the conversion, he says, there was of course no human intermediation, since he was an active persecutor. He could not have spoken in this way if before the conversion he had already become half convinced that those whom he was persecuting were right. Moreover, throughout the Epistles there appears in the apostle not the slightest consciousness of his having acted against better convictions when he persecuted the Church. In 1 Tim. i. 13 he distinctly says that he carried on the persecution in ignorance; and even if Timothy be regarded as post-Pauline, the silence of the other epistles at least points in the same direction. Paul was deeply penitent for having persecuted the Church of God, but apparently he did not lay to his charge the black sin of having carried on the persecution in the face of better convictions. When he laid the Church waste he thought he was doing God service. In the very midst of his mad persecuting activity, he says, apart from any teaching from men—apart, we may certainly infer, from any favorable impressions formed in his mind—the Lord appeared to him and gave him his gospel. Paul stakes everything upon the evidential value of the appearance, which was able suddenly to overcome an altogether hostile attitude. Such is the selftestimony of the apostle. It rests as a serious weight upon all attempts at making the conversion the result of a psychological process.
Certainly the passage in Acts will not help to bear the weight. When the risen Christ says to Paul, "It is hard for thee to kick against the goads," He need not mean at all that the presence of the goad had been known to Paul before that hour. The meaning may be simply that the will of Christ is resistless; all opposition is in vain, the appointed hour of Christ has arrived. Conscious opposition on the part of Paul to a better conviction is certainly not at all implied. No doubt Paul was really miserable when he was a persecutor; all activity contrary to the plan of Christ brings misery. But that he had the slightest inkling of the source of his misery or even of the fact of it need not be supposed. It is even possible that the "hardness" of resistance to the goad is to be found only in the very moment of the conversion. "All resistance," says the risen Christ, "all hesitation, is as hopeless as for the ox to kick against the goad; instant obedience alone is in place."
The weight of the apostle's own testimony is therefore in no sense removed by Acts xxvi. 14. That testimony is unequivocally opposed to all attempts at exhibiting a psychological process culminating in the conversion. These attempts, however, because of the importance which has been attributed to them, must now be examined. In general, they are becoming less and less elaborate; contemporary scholars are usually content to dismiss the psychological problem of the conversion with a few general observations about the secret of personality, or, at the most, a brief word about the possible condition of the apostle's mind. Since the direct interposition of the risen Christ is rejected, it is held that there must have been some psychological preparation for the Damascus experience, but what that preparation was remains hidden, it is said, in the secret places of the soul, which no psychological analysis can ever fully reveal.
If, however, the problem is not thus to be dismissed as insoluble, no unanimity has been achieved among those who attempt a solution. Two principal lines of solution of the problem may perhaps be distinguished—that which begins with the objective evidence as it presented itself to the persecutor, and that which starts with the seventh chapter of Romans and the persecutor's own sense of need. The former line was followed by Holsten, whose monographs still constitute the most elaborate exposition of the psychological process supposed to lie back of the conversion.1 According to Holsten, the process centered in the consideration of the Cross of Christ. That consideration of course resulted at first in an attitude of hostility on the part of Paul. The Cross was a shameful thing; the proclamation of a crucified Messiah appeared, therefore, to the devout Pharisee as an outrageous blasphemy. But the disciples represented the Cross as in accordance with the will of God, and supported their contention by the evidence for the resurrection; the resurrection was made to overcome the offense of the Cross. But against the evidence for the resurrection, Holsten believes, Paul was helpless, the possibility of resurrection being fully recognized in his Pharisaic training. What then if the resurrection really vindicated the claims of Jesus to be the Messiah? Paul was by no means convinced, Holsten believes, that such was the case. But the possibility was necessarily in his mind, if only for the purposes of refutation. At this point Paul began to advance, according to Holsten, beyond the earlier disciples. On the assumption that the resurrection really did vindicate the claims of Jesus, the Cross would have to be explained. But an explanation lay ready to hand, and Paul applied this explanation with a thoroughness which the earlier disciples had not attained. The earlier disciples removed the offense of the Cross by representing the Cross as part of the plan of God for the Messiah; Paul exhibited the meaning of that plan much more clearly than they. He exhibited the meaning of the Cross by applying to it the category of vicarious suffering, which could be found, for example, in Isaiah liii. At this point the preChristian development of Paul was over. The Pauline "gnosis
1 Holsten, Zum Evangelium des Paulus und des Petrus, 1868. Against Holsten, see Beyschlag, "Die Bekehrung des Apostels Paulus, mit besonderer Rucksicht auf die Erklarungsversuche von Baur und Holsten," in Theologische Studien und Kritiken, xxxvii, 1864, pp. 197-264; "Die Visionshypothese in Hirer neuesten Begrttndung. Eine Duplik gegen D. Holsten," ibid., xliii, 1870, pp. 7-50, 189-263.
of the Cross" was already formed. Of course, before the conversion it was to Paul entirely a matter of supposition. On the supposition, still regarded as false, that the resurrection had really taken place, the Cross, far from being an offense, would become a glorious fact. All the essential elements of Paul's gospel of the Cross were thus present in Paul's mind before the conversion; the validity of them had been posited by him for the purposes of argument. The only thing that was lacking to make Paul a disciple of Jesus was conviction of the fact of the resurrection. That conviction was supplied by the Damascus experience. The unstable equilibrium then was over; the elements of the Pauline gospel, which were all present before, fell at once into their proper places.
The other way of explaining the conversion starts from the seventh chapter of Romans and the dissatisfaction which Paul is thought to have experienced under the Law. Paul, it is said, was a Pharisee; he made every effort to keep the Law of God. But he was too earnest to be satisfied with a merely external obedience; and real obedience he had not attained. He was therefore tormented by a sense of sin. That sense of sin no doubt led him into a more and more feverish effort to keep the letter of the Law and particularly to show his zeal by persecuting the disciples of Jesus. But all his efforts were vain; his obedience remained insufficient; the curse of the Law still rested upon him. What if the vain effort could be abandoned? What if the disciples of Jesus were right? i Of course, he believed, they were not right, but what if they were? What if the Messiah had really died for the sins of believers, in accordance with Isaiah liii? What if salvation were , attainable not by merit but by divine grace? These questions, ( it is supposed, were in the mind of Paul. He answered them still in the negative, but his misery kept them ever before his mind. The Law was thus a schoolmaster to bring him to Christ. He was ready for the vision.
In both of these lines of explanation importance is often attributed to the impression produced upon Paul's mind by the character of the disciples. Whence did they derive their bravery and their joy in the midst of persecution? Whence came the fervor of their love, whence the firmness of their faith? The persecutor, it is said, was impressed against his will.
The fundamental objection to all these theories of psychological development is that they describe only what might have been or what ought to have been, and not what actually was. No doubt Paul ought to have been coming nearer to Christianity; but as a matter of fact he was rather getting further away, and he records the fact in no uncertain terms in his Epistles. There are objections, moreover, to the various theories of development in detail; and the advocates of one theory are often the severest critics of another.
With regard to Holsten's exposition of the "gnosis of the Cross," for example, there is not the slightest evidence that the pre-Christian Jews interpreted Isaiah liii of the vicarious sufferings of the Messiah, or had any notion of the Messiah's vicarious death.1 It is not true, moreover, as Beyschlag pointed out against Holsten, that Paul was helpless in the face of the evidence for the resurrection.2 According to Paul's Pharisaic training, the resurrection would come only at the end of the age; a resurrection like the resurrection of Jesus, therefore, was by no means a matter of course, and could be established only by positive evidence of the most direct and unequivocal kind.
With regard to the sense of sin as the goad which forced Paul to accept the Saviour, there is no evidence that before his conversion Paul was under real conviction of sin. It is very doubtful whether Rom. vii. 7-25, with its account of the struggle between the flesh and the higher nature of man, refers to the unregenerate rather than to the regenerate life; and even if the former view is correct, it is doubtful whether the description is taken from the apostle's own experience. At any rate, the struggle, even if it be a struggle in the unregenerate man, is described from the point of view of the regenerate; it is not implied, therefore, that before the entrance of the Spirit of God a man is fully conscious of his own helplessness and of the desperateness of the struggle. The passage therefore, does not afford any certain information about the pre-Christian life of Paul. Undoubtedly before the conversion the conscience of Paul was aroused; he was conscientious in
1See SehUrer, Oeschichte des jiidischen Volkes, 4te Aufl., ii, 1907, pp. 648-651 (English Translation, A History of the Jewish People, Division II, vol. ii, 1885, pp. 184-187).
1 Beyschlag, "Die Visionshypothese in ihrer neuesten BegrUndung," in Theologische Studien nnd Kritiken, xliii, 1870, pp. 19-21.
his devotion to the Law. Probably he was conscious of his failings. But that such consciousness of failure amounted to anything like that genuine conviction of sin which leads a man to accept the Saviour remains very doubtful. Recognized failure to keep the Law perfectly led in the case of Paul merely to greater zeal for the Law, a zeal which was manifested especially in the persecution of a blasphemous sect whose teaching was subversive of the authority of Moses.
Finally, it is highly improbable that Paul was favorably impressed by the bravery of those whom he was persecuting. It may seem strange at first sight that the same man who wrote the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians should have haled helpless men and women to prison without a qualm, or listened without pity to the dying words of Stephen, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." But it is very dangerous to argue back from the Christian life of Paul to the life of Paul the Pharisee. Paul himself was conscious of a complete moral transformation as having taken place in him when he saw the Lord near Damascus. What was impossible for him after that transformation may well have been possible before. Moreover, if, despite such considerations, we could argue back from Paul the disciple of Jesus to Paul the Pharisee, there is one characteristic of the apostle which would never have permitted him to persecute those by whom he was favorably impressed—namely, his complete sincerity. The picture of Saul the doubter, torn by conflicting emotions, impressed by the calmness and bravery and magnanimity of those whom he was persecuting, yet stifling such impressions by persecuting zeal, is very romantic, but very un-Pauline.
But in attributing the conversion of Paul altogether to the experience on the road to Damascus, are we not heaping up into one moment what must of very necessity in conscious life be the work of years? Is it conceivable that ideas should have been implanted in the mind of a person not by processes of acquisition but mechanically as though by a hypodermic syringe? Would not such an experience, even if it were possible, be altogether destructive of personality?
The objection serves to correct possible misunderstandings. The view of the conversion which has just been set forth does not mean that when Paul drew near to Damascus on that memorable day he was ignorant of the facts about Jesus. If he had never heard of Jesus, or if having heard of Him he knew absolutely nothing about Him, then perhaps the conversion would have been not only supernatural but inconceivable. But it is not the traditional view of the conversion which is guilty of such exaggerations. They are the product rather of that separation of Paul from the historical Jesus which appears for example in Wrede and in Bousset. According to any reasonable view of Paul's pre-Christian experience, Paul was well acquainted, before the conversion, with many of the facts about Jesus' life and death; what he received on the road to Damascus was a new interpretation of the facts and a new attitude toward them. He had known the facts before, but they had filled him with hatred; now his hatred was changed into love.
Even after exaggerations have been removed, however, the change wrought by the Damascus experience remains revolutionary enough. Is that change conceivable? Could hatred have been changed into love merely by an experience which convinced Paul of the fact of the resurrection? The answer to this question depends altogether upon the nature of the Damascus experience. If that experience was merely an hallucination, the question must be answered in the negative; an hallucination could never have produced the profound changes in the personal life of Paul which have just been contemplated; and the historian would be obliged to fall back, despite the unequivocal testimony of the Epistles, upon some theory of psychological development of which the hallucination would only be the climax. But even those who maintain the supernaturalistic view of the conversion have too often failed to do justice to the content of the experience. One fundamental feature of the experience has too often been forgotten—the appearance on the road to Damascus was the appearance of a person. Sometimes the event has been regarded merely as • a supernatural interposition of God intended to produce belief in the fact of the resurrection, as merely a sign. Undoubtedly it was a sign. But it was far more; it was contact between persons. But contact between persons, even under ordinary conditions, is exceedingly mysterious; merely a look or the tone of the voice sometimes produces astonishing results. Who has not experienced the transition from mere hearsay knowledge of a person to actual contact? One meeting is
often sufficient to revolutionize the entire impression; indifference or hostility gives place at once to enthusiastic devotion. Those who speak of the transformation wrought in Paul by the appearance of Jesus as magical or mechanical or inconceivable have never reflected upon the mysteries of personal intercourse.
Only, it must have been a real person whom Paul met on the road to Damascus—not a vision, not a mere sign. If it was merely a vision or a sign, all the objections remain in force. But if it was really Jesus, the sight of His face and the words of love which He uttered may have been amply sufficient, provided the heart of Paul was renewed by the power of God's Spirit, to transform hatred into love. To call such an experience magic is to blaspheme all that is highest in human life. God was using no unworthy instrument when, by the personal presence of the Saviour, He transformed the life of Paul.
There is, therefore, no moral or psychological objection in the way of a simple acceptance of Paul's testimony about the conversion. And that testimony is unequivocal. Paul was not converted by any teaching which he received from men; 'he was not converted as Christians are usually converted, by the preaching of the truth or by that revelation of Christ which is contained in the lives of His followers. Jesus Himself in the case of Paul did in visible presence what He ordi'narily does by the means which He has appointed. Upon this immediateness of the conversion, Paul is willing to stake the whole of his life; upon it he bases his apostolic authority.
CHAPTER III THE TRIUMPH OF GENTILE FREEDOM